The first lost peal this year

It sounds almost unbelievable, but on Thursday we had the first lost handbell peal of the year. And it's not as if we've just been ringing easy things: my total of nine peals includes four of Bristol, one of London, and one of the Nottingham Eight.

We had arranged for Julia to come for a peal this week, but we only decided at the last minute what to ring: spliced London, Bristol, Cambridge and Yorkshire. I found this composition by Don Morrison:

5,184 Spliced Surprise Major (4 methods)
Donald F Morrison (no. 7435)

23456  M  B  W  H
56234  2     -     L.B.C.L
63542     -        CY.CY
46532  3     -     L.CYYLC.LLC.Y.B
52364  -     -  2  L.C.BB.B.
43265  -       [-] L.CL.
Six part, omitting [-] from alternate parts.

Contains 1,728 London, 1,536 Cambridge and 960 each Bristol and Yorkshire, 
with 132 changes of method.

It's not particularly designed as a handbell composition, but 5-6 do the same work in each part, which helps (and I was calling it from 5-6). In this style of composition, I like to call the bobs Home in parts 2, 4 and 6, so they come when 5-6 are the right way around, which feels familiar.

So what went wrong? The ringing was generally good, but I found myself repeatedly making mistakes in the Cambridge and Yorkshire in the third course, which should have been a nice easy section. In the fifth part I got very lost, and then the composition went completely out of my head and I miscalled it. Never mind, we'll go for it again when we can.


Cambridge Maximus: the 5-6 position

For completeness, here are the leads of the 5-6 position, although I'm starting to doubt whether there is much insight to be gained from going through this exercise for anything other than coursing and 3-4. First, here are the leads that involve an exceptional place bell.

Four of the remaining leads have a pattern with overlapping Cambridge places, but further apart than the overlapping Cambridge places in the 3-4 position. A feature of this pattern is that both bells make internal places simultaneously, which is unusual and can feel a little odd to ring. Also, below the treble there is some work in the 5-6 hunting position, which gives some "opposites" work on the front six.

Finally, the symmetrical lead has some work in the 3-4 position below the treble.

Cambridge Maximus: the 7-8 position

The leads of the 7-8 position can be classified similarly to those of the 9-10 position. First, the six leads that combine an exceptional place bell with a normal place bell.


The symmetrical lead has two sets of 9-10 places, finishing and starting at the half lead.

Two other leads have 9-10 places and 3-4 places starting or finishing simultaneously.

Finally, two leads have some coursing below the treble.

Cambridge Maximus: the 9-10 position

In a previous article, quite a long time ago now, I classified the place bells of Cambridge Maximus as "normal" (containing a set of places) and "exceptional" (2nd, 3rd and 5th place bells). The idea is that if both of your bells are ringing normal place bells, then there is a pattern that depends on which position you are in (coursing, 3-4 etc) but is somewhat independent of which lead you are ringing within that position. If one of your bells is ringing an exceptional place bell, then you don't have the benefit of a standard pattern, but it doesn't matter too much because the exceptional place bells are well known and have simple regular work of their own. Ringing two exceptional place bells, which happens in the 3-4 and coursing positions, is also relatively straightforward.

We had a handbell day yesterday (more about that later) and before it we had a Friday evening Cambridge Maximus practice. That's prompted me to finish discussing the positions, as I only looked at coursing and 3-4 previously.

The 9-10 position can't ring two exceptional place bells simultaneously, so there are 6 leads that combine an exceptional place bell with a normal place bell. Here they are.

The remaining leads fall into a further two groups. Three of them have some coursing below the treble.

Finally, the first and last leads of the course are less regular.

Grappling with the Bristol family

This week we have been on our annual "Hulliday", a holiday with a group of ringing friends. It was a smaller group than usual, and there was a bit more ringing, with two afternoon mini-outings for the benefit of the youngsters. We have also done a lot of handbell ringing: some plain hunting and Plain Bob Minor; some Cambridge Minor; some Stedman Triples; and intensive Bristol.

Early in the week, the idea came up of trying to ring a course of Bristol Maximus. It has usually been rung on previous Hullidays, including a peal attempt last year, but this year's band was less experienced with only two people who have rung a peal of it on handbells. We worked on it nearly every evening, and by yesterday we managed to get to the end of a plain course, although the last lead wasn't completely convincing. Today we sat down to ring earlier, with high hopes of mastering it, but it was not to be...we seemed to be doing much worse than before. That's the way it goes sometimes. We all made good progress though, and Tina and I enjoyed trying something that we can't do during the rest of the year.

One evening, after firing out the Bristol Maximus, we rang a course of Bristol Royal. It was ever so much easier! It made me feel that we could have a chance of ringing it at home when we can get five people together, perhaps after we have managed to ring our peal of London Royal.

We also rang an excellent peal of Bristol Major, which was extremely satisfying. I called David Maynard's composition again, and with the band we had, I was able to ring the tenors, which always enables me to ring slightly better. That makes seven handbell peals this year, with no losses, which is almost unbelievable.


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