Too many things at once

I learnt a long time ago that trying to combine too many activities into one bundle usually doesn’t work. However, something compels me to test this rule periodically, just in case it is no longer true. After the latest test, I can report that it is still true. I hope this finding will benefit those who are considering tests of their own…


For one reason and another, we gave in to the temptation to combine two handbell peals and a tower bell peal, and it didn’t work out. The Kent Royal was perhaps a little too ambitious, and those of us who had just rung a tower bell peal were a little tired. Anyway, we didn’t do very well, but we did eventually manage a quarter.

The tower bell peal, by the way, was very good.

Yuckshire and gridsight

Mad peal day commenced with Simon, our chief and for the most part, only, conductor going off to the Cathedral to ring a tower bell peal. That left Angela, Jonathan, Robin and myself to ring what really ought to have been a straightforward peal of Yorkshire Major.  It was straightforward, and a bit rubbish.  While we didn’t quite fire out, we also never had much in the way of a clean stretch of ringing to relax and gain confidence.  So we put it out of its misery.


Why did we lack confidence?  Mostly it was the very inexperienced conductor (that being me).  Had we got through to the end, it would have been my second peal as conductor, on anything.  I discovered very quickly that I had both under-prepared, and had just tried to learn the wrong things.

I knew that my ability to put anybody straight was extremely limited, but in fact I found it amazing difficult to just keep myself straight and make sure the bobs went into the right place.  I hardly had time to notice the coursing order I had spent so much time memorizing.

Turns out, the rest of the band was quite capable of tracking the coursing order, and it would have been much more useful had I spent a bit more time studying the method structure so that I could have said some helpful general comments, like whether there was dodging or hunting above the treble.  While nobody was really hopelessly lost, we had a bit of a problem with getting slightly out of sync, which just kept things the wrong side of unstable.

The lovely Robin McKinley writes in her blog that handbell ringing is harder than tower bell ringing beause when you ring the same method but start from a different pair it is like learning a completely new method (‘Twin fiends: handbells and technology‘ about paragraph six). She is, of course, absolutely right.  But there does come a point when you learn enough about a method that you start to see the bigger picture, and see how the different pairs fit together, and how the whole structure of the method works.  I know that this is true because I hear other people talk about it.

It is ‘gridsight’.  And I really don’t have it.  I think I need it if I am to try this again.

London Falling


The two-week hiatus between attempts at London Major has not been beneficial for our band.  We had three goes last night, and not once did we make it as far as we had a fortnight before.  Overall, the ringing quality was better, so it meant that instead of limping from one signpost to the next, we were either ringing quite well or fired out.  There wasn’t much in between that.

We were all, in our various ways, having a bad night.  How bad?  Well, I managed to swap with somebody else during a plain course of Kent.  Simon couldn’t even manage a mildly cutting remark.  He was lost for words, and just goggled at me.

In the meantime, we have the Mad Peal Day to prepare for.  This would be two handbell peal attempts and a tower bell attempt in the same day, and some of us have a composition to learn.  Watch this space.

Of course, not everyone had a bad night.  Thomas, our son, came in from a late swimming lesson, swallowed a hamburger nearly whole, rattled off a plain course of Bob Minor, and took himself off to bed.


Another Quarter Peal for Josy

Having learned our lesson about warming up before starting a lengthy piece of handbell ringing, we were rewarded with a successful quarter peal:

Scottish Association
1 Albany Quadrant
Wednesday 19 October 2011
1260 Plain Bob Minor
1-2   Tina R Stoecklin
3-4   Simon J Gay (C)
5-6   Josy Shewell Brockway
First on an inside pair: 5-6

(or view the performance on Campanophile)

The girl did well, and even managed to ring a course of Kent on an inside pair afterwards.

On another topic, the star system we developed for helping Thomas to get a grip on the pairs in Plain Bob Minor doesn’t seem to be working all that well.  Though, frankly, we are never good at keeping up with this kind of thing.  Thomas finally confessed that he finds it too hard to count whilst ringing and was getting lost trying to do too many things at once.

So, we told him to not worry about counting and just ring it.  Last night we concentrated on rehearsing the opposites lead from the trebles, and when we put it together with the first two leads, we just carried on, and by golly he rang a Plain Course.  We think a bit more practice on the fourth lead and he will be ringing it with confidence.   He went to bed asking when he could ring a quarter peal.



Some Minor Fun Ringing

Our regular band was one short last night, so we rang a quarter peal of minor and named a method.  It is a six-bell version of something we have been ringing on 8 in the tower, and is a perfectly straightforward method on paper.

However, in handbells, the many places on the front made it a landmine field for swapping bells over.  It took us a few attempts to get to the end, but the final attempt came out good, and  with good ringing as well.

Scottish Association
1 Albany Quadrant
Monday 17 October 2011
1440 Kelvinbridge Surprise Minor
1-2   Tina R Stoecklin
3-4   Jonathan S Frye
5-6   Simon J Gay (C)
Kelvinbridge Surprise Minor: x36x14x12x1236x1234x36 le 16 (view the line)

(or see the quarter in Campanophile).

PS. While we were submitting the quarter peal, we found that our friend Robin Hall had been having fun with Abel in Shanghai.  Oh how we laughed….




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