Stuff that we've done within living memory. More will appear as and when people write it. And they WILL write it, or they'll have me to answer to. Annual Dinner reports can be found in the annual dinner section (obviously!).
The new stuff:
The old stuff:
On the Sunday of the annual dinner, a group of us decided that it would be a good idea to base a ringing outing around a pub, which in this instance was the Tom Cobley in Spreyton on Dartmoor. This happened to be the CAMRA Pub of the Year 2006 and was highly recommended by Bungle for its wide variety of ales and ciders.
Soon afterwards, we had a band in place (Tom decided to come down specially) and with our eyes fixed on Spreyton we went on the approach, via Moretonhampstead and then Chagford.
We started off with the harder stuff and rang Stedman Triples at Moretonhampstead. Some queasiness was caused by the holes in the floor here. We rang at a leisurely but steady pace and the striking was good throughout.
With that, it was on to Chagford, where we attempted Lincolnshire. The bells were a little more tough to handle here, but the striking settled down after everyone worked out how to strike over the 7 and 8. Particular note goes to Steph, who successfully hauled the 7th through this quarter - before collapsing onto the floor in a heap at the end!
With nourishment obviously a necessity, we sallied forth towards Spreyton, where we met with Daisy and Alice, who had come for lunch. Everyone enjoyed the pub - some more than others - and it was mooted that a staycation should be held in the area, by merit of the pub!
So, we moved on to our third quarter of the day - at Spreyton. Having had to sweet-talk the tower captain into letting us ring in the first place by giving assurances that no knots would be tied in the ropes, we rang with coils. The tower captain himself hung around in the church to make sure of this rule! This was probably the most drunken quarter I've ever rung in, with a couple of fits of the giggles making their rounds. There was also an incident where Steph ejaculated an expletive and Martin suddenly had an extra sally, kindly donated to him by Tom. However, within 42 minutes, we had another quarter.
After the drive home, a curry was had at Real India. All-in-all then, what with a ringing outing based around a pub followed by a curry, one could say that this had been a true ECG day out!
Andrew Browne writes...
On the 1st of June, at the rather unpleasantly early time of 7.30am, I had to get up to prepare for my first Bristol outing with Exeter Change Ringing Society, which this year also included the Plymouth Youths. As the youngest (and only) fresher this year, it was my responsibility to bear our gnome mascot, Gnorman, who the ringers from Bristol traditionally attempt to steal or destroy. With him safely in the pocket of my hoody, I arrived in time for our first tower of the day: St Petrock's in Exeter.
It did not take long for the ringers from Bristol and Plymouth to arrive, and everyone was ready and eager to actually get some ringing done. However, the tower remained locked, and it soon emerged that the man who was supposed to open the tower for us was on holiday, and hadn't told anyone about our visit. A replacement tower opener was called in to try and prevent this being a total lock-out. Eventually, at 9.45 we were let into the tower, and had time to ring four times. It was my first time ringing in this tower, and on light bells, so my ringing didn't start very well, but fortunately I got a bit more used to it and didn't ring too badly in the end.
We then got on the train and arrived at our next destination: Topsham. Here we rang at another six bell tower. Daisy and Steph also joined us there, and Daisy hatched her cunning plan to ensure Gnorman's safety, by giving me a decoy gnome, who was transferred into my pocket when no-one noticed. The church was set in a very nice area, with a stunning view from the wall, and many of us looked out at it, and also at the front of the tower where a wedding party was gathering (ultimately, the bride was more than 20 minutes late, so we moved on to lunch). This tower felt a bit easier to ring than St Petrock's for me, and I was happy with my ringing. The more experienced ringers rang things such as Cambridge, Stedman, Grandsire and Norwich and did a good job.
Before our third tower of the day, we had lunch at the Swan Inn in Lympstone. It was a lovely day, so we all sat out on the benches outside, and it was a good opportunity for a bit of a rest. After lunch, we headed to our tower, another six bell tower, and arrived just in time for the wedding to finish. After everyone had finally left the church itself, we began our ringing with a crack touch of Cambridge as a compliment to the bride and groom, followed by some smashing called changes. The Bristol ringers, who had been surprisingly uncommitted to stealing our gnome, started eyeing up the decoy between methods. When it was time for me to ring, the wedding guests still had not left the church grounds. It was a daunting prospect having to ring when so many people could hear, as I had only started ringing in September and could just about manage rounds, but I managed to do well here, to my amazement, only losing the bell once towards the very end of the ringing.
The final tower for us was a twelve bell tower in Withycombe Rayleigh, Exmouth. This was going to be my first time ringing on a twelve bell tower and fortunately Grich helped me with the ringing, doing the handstrokes for me, and I was able to give it a reasonable attempt and learn a little bit about how twelve bell ringing is different. At this tower, we rang a variety of methods, branching out our repertoire and ringing methods such as Grandsire Cinques and Yorkshire Major. Everyone rang well.
With our final tower behind us, we headed to Exmouth for some fun and relaxation. After stopping at an ice-cream hut, we found a long open stretch of beach, sat there, and set up a game of rounders. It was Exeter against Plymouth and Bristol and it's fair to say that we were annihilated in the first game, going out before everyone had had a chance to bat. The second game proved much more successful for us, even though we still didn't win. Some of us also played some Ultimate Frisbee, and we all enjoyed watching Plymouth's dog, Cookie, playing fetch.
On the way back from the beach, Bristol decided to actually take the gnome seriously, however I had found two willing accomplices to take care of the gnomes while I played rounders. We split up to go separate ways to the fish and chips shop where we would be getting dinner, during which time I was given back the decoy gnome, and upon Bristol's arrival, they noticed that I still had a gnome (I may have shown them to prove it), and pounced. Despite mine and Vicky's best efforts to protect him, the decoy gnome was stolen from me, and ferried off to Bristol. However, they never found Gnorman, the real gnome, so the decoy did his job well.
The Exeter ringers were now the only ones left, as Plymouth had went back towards the end of our time on the beach, and we enjoyed dinner on a few park benches near the train station, before deciding to head back home.
All in all, I had a very enjoyable day. It was good to socialise with some ringers from other universities, and have a go ringing for myself at some other towers, with more success than I had expected, and I'm very much looking forward to next year's outing.
On a very wet and grey Friday afternoon, Steph and I braved the national rail system to navigate our way to Cambridge for the annual Southern Universities Association (SUA) ringing weekend. After a mad dash across central London we finally arrived in Cambridge, to be met at the station by Tom (who used to ring with us but then decided Cambridge was better so moved there). We were taken to the first of many pubs to start socialising before an open practice at St. Bene't's church (allegedly the oldest in Cambridge!). It was brilliant to see the Bristol ringers again (which I'm going to get lynched for, because apparently Bristol smell) and to catch up with them before heading to ring.
Open practice at St. Bene't's was a great way to kick off the weekend, with everything from rounds and call changes to Cambridge Minor being rung. It was my first experience of half-muffled bells - I thought they sounded lovely.
We moved seamlessly on to the second pub for food and merriment - you'll be pleased to know at this point that Exeter's reputation was upheld by both Master and Secretary, unlike some of the London contingency..!
Lodging in the church hall that night, we found a comfy corner to kip in, sandwiched between Southampton and Bristol (ooh-er). After a somewhat disturbed night (London!) and three hours sleep, Steph and I blearily walked around Cambridge, admiring the city and trying to find a cup of coffee. The 8-bell competition was scheduled to start at StAG at 9am, so we moseyed on over that way to listen to the ringing. Some of it was very good (Cambridge - who went on to win it) and some was... questionable (London - I wonder why..!). We had tea and coffee in Christ's College which was very enjoyable, and then headed to Great St. Mary's for open ringing.
GSM has 12 bells, which was a tad scary, but they went well and sounded splendiferous. After an hour there we met up with another ex-Exeter ringer, Hazel, and as she and Tom went to the pub, Steph and I headed to St. Edward's for some more ringing. These bells were... tinny, and pretty ghastly to be honest. Neither Steph nor I stayed long, we decided after ringing once that the pub was the next stop. It was then we heard that the Exeter-themed scratch band had been pulled first in the draw and that we were ringing at St. Bene't's at half past two. This meant a speedy lunch and hot-footing it back to the church for our spot.
This was the first competition I had ever rung in, and even though as a scratch band we weren't eligible to win, I was nervous. Tom had decided we should ring Exeter College Little Bob Minor, and I was not too hopeful about it. We had our practice time and I was still dubious about ringing it, but with some coaxing agreed. We rang it, got through it and I was fairly pleased with the results. Maybe it was the adrenaline at having rung something new and not having messed up completely; maybe it was the lack of sleep... I don't know. The scratch band is pictured right - as you can see, we coerced poor, unsuspecting ringers to join us and we're forever grateful for it.
We didn't come last in the competition - a miracle.
Saturday night was the ceilidh, which was an excellent amount of fun. I'm not a dancer, but even I was persuaded to get up and have a go. The lack of ventilation, the delirium of not having much sleep and the quantities of alcohol meant that I had a very meaningful conversation with some ringers from Bath about a new concept we've formulated: ceilidh ringing dances. The idea is based on having rows of ringers representing bells and then dancing a method. We're convinced it has potential, even if the reason for coming up with it was just because I wanted to shout 'Go Grandsire!'
Sleep was much more forthcoming that night and I was away in minutes. Waking up the next morning, Steph and I made our way to St. Bene't's for Sunday service ringing, and then quickly on to GSM for more service ringing. We were able to observe the Remembrance Day procession going in to GSM and the two-minutes silence held throughout Cambridge, which was a very moving experience.
Having mistakenly booked our tickets home for a rather late train, Steph and I then spent the rest of the afternoon window shopping, walking around Cambridge, listening to a quarter, and finally doing some last ringing at GSM in the evening.
We made it home safe, tired and happy (and having found Paddington Bear at London Paddington Station) and will certainly be going to SUA again next year!
At not such an ungodly hour as the previous Cardiff outing, five brave Exeter ringers met outside St. David's church in order to depart to Somerset, where five towers and a pub would surely await us. The first inkling I got of this being an unusual day, was when Steph proudly presented me with Gnick, the resident gnome. I knew of the gnome tradition, and protested that I was not the youngest and therefore did not have to bear the gnome. This fell on deaf ears and a technicality of "yes, but you are the youngest fresher!" and I saw that indeed, I was the gnome bearer.
We set off to our first tower, Evercreech, a very nice set of 10 in a chocolate box village somewhere in rural Somerset. Even though I was supposed to be using my internal GPS to navigate (which really just consisted of me sticking my head out the window to look at signs and occasionally shaking my iPhone into map mode) we didn't get too lost. At Evercreech I was met by a rather odd fellow, who turned out to be the tower captain. He appeared to have some sort of obsession with white pieces of paper and Elizabethan ruffs. We soon got going, ringing everything from rounds and call changes to Stedman Caters. I kept a beady eye on my bag, containing Gnick, but Bristol were yet to pounce on us.
After Evercreech we made our way to Wells for lunch, which was enjoyed by most by sitting in the sun, on the grass, in front of Wells Cathedral. Merriment was made and stolen airline prosecco consumed. Our next tower was Wells St. Cuthbert - there were a few Hot Fuzz moments before we climbed the 70 steps to the ringing chamber. Once up there, I could see Bristol's hands itching to get to poor Gnick. Unfortunately, he was snaffled whilst I was ringing. After wrestling two Bristol ringers to the ground, a few rugby style passes later and I was back in possession of the gnome. In order to preserve his safety and my dignity, Jeremy and I decided it would be best if we adjourned to the sunshine outside. Craftily, as I left the chamber, a Bristol ringer yet again snatched the gnome, but Tom was in there with deft precision (we could tell he'd done this before) and we retained possession of the gnome. Outside, Jeremy and I listened to the ringing (again, a really nice set of bells) which consisted of once again, rounds and call changes, some plain hunt on 7 for me and a range of other methods, from Grandsire Triples to Bristol Surprise Major.
Then the time came to trot off to Westbury-sub-Mendip, where we were met by a brave two people who had rung a peal earlier that day. Tom and I tried to double-bluff the ringers by 'hiding' Gnick, but they got wise to us and... I let the team down. Gnick was smashed to smithereens in the churchyard of Westbury-sub-Mendip. In his honour we gathered up his remains, erected a cross and a coffin for him. After we had rung at Westbury-sub-Mendip, which consisted of such exciting things as a touch of Spliced Surprise Minor, along with the usual call changes, plain hunt, and so on, we made our way back to the car. I detoured via the village shop and bought some superglue, whilst Jeremy enjoyed some pigs. The foamy kind.
Cheddar was our next stop, and the one Steph and I were so keen about seeing - if only because our tower contact had an awesome name (cheers Mrs. P!). I have to say that Cheddar was my favourite tower in terms of sound and bell handling. For a novice ringer it was a really pleasant tower to ring at. I trebled to some call changes, which was a bit of a challenge as I had to avoid the clock mechanism whilst ringing. Stedman Triples, Yorkshire Surprise Major, and a touch of Eight Spliced Surprise Major were also rung in the time we had at Cheddar. In the tower, Tom and I snuck into a corner and hatched our plan: to glue Gnick back together. This is the first time this has been attempted on an outing, and I'm pleased to report that we succeeded rather well. We found 90% of his remains and were able to accurately glue him back together, even if I did glue most of myself to the gnome as well. Children of Exeter, be warned. Superglue is not for the fainthearted.
After Cheddar we headed to our last tower, in Meare. This 13th century church was up a relatively slippery path laden with cowpats. So much for rural Somerset. We got into the church to find that the ropes were so long that one band of ringers actually kneeled to ring a plain course of Plain Bob Minor. Again, this was a bit nervous-making for a novice ringer, but I stuck to my guns and gritted my teeth (how many clichés can I get in here?) and it went down fine. I think. We rang another wide range of exciting things, including London Surprise Minor and then the excitement mounted as we knew that the next stop was the pub.
The pub Steph and I had chosen was in Ashcott and aptly named The Ring o'Bells. We were put into the function room with the all-important skittle alley and treated to some fine ales and equally fine food. We then gathered our strengths together for the annual skittle match. I am proud to say that despite my fears of accidentally smashing someone's window (or head) in with a heavy skittle ball, this didn't happen, and Exeter went on to win the match. Clearly, we are just that awesome.
Many thanks to all those who came on the outing and who made it a success, thanks to Jeremy for driving us and Steph and Tom for running towers for us. And yes, Gnick did make it back in his patched-up state, and now holds fort in the tower at St. David's.
Despite my best efforts to arrive at my transporter's house looking refreshed, this was hard given the ridiculously early start to get to Bath Abbey for 9:30. Once on the M5, the treacherous journey to The North began. Two hours and one dead bird later, we met in the tower at Bath Abbey for our first ring. Bath Abbey has the only anti-clockwise ring of 10 bells in the world, so looking left instead of right when ringing proved to be an interesting feat to master. Nevertheless, we combined all our efforts to produce a reasonable sound. Exeter appeared to be outnumbered somewhat by the Cardiff ringers, but we put forward several good bands and upheld our "reputation" - if there ever was such a thing.
Unfortunately the tower that preceded lunch was cancelled, but this did give us the opportunity to sniff our way around Bath's numerous pasty shops and explore this fine city. Whilst standing in the centre of the city, our next tower was pointed out. At first we thought this was a bit of a joke - but apparently not. Lansdown church, for those of you who don't know, is built on the top of one of the steepest hills in Bath. Time to work off those pasties then! Much puffing, several bizarre dances and photo-poses later we eventually arrived at Lansdown, a very light ring of 6 bells (2cwt). This being my first bell lighter than the treble at St D's, I snuck my way over to the tenor and was greeted by a very new style of ringing. Once we'd got the hang of these small (but perfectly sweet sounding) bells some fine methods and call changes were rung.
The next tower was downhill (yay!) and across town, so a brisk walk to Larkhall saw us arrive at 8 bells with a decent 10cwt on the tenor. Feeling much more at home here, we proceeded to ring x, y and z along with the usual call changes for us novices. I have nothing special or funny to add to this, so I'll just go onto the next tower, which was Bathwick. Another set of 10, this time in the usual clockwise setting, they sounded very nice and there was some 8-Spliced rung on a joint band from both societies. Heading outside to listen to the bells in the evening sun we once again frightened some tourists with more bizarre dancing before heading to... well, the only place ringers can go after an outing. I'll leave you to figure it out.
Overall, an enjoyable day (albeit cold) was had by all and I certainly look forward to the next one!
This year's Freshers' week started off with handbell ringing on the usual Wednesday lunchtime slot. We had a dramatic turnout of four new Freshers and soon we were ringing plain hunt on six for each of them. One did so well, he even rang the 3-4 pair on his first ever hour of ringing! At the end, Matt and I were joined by Margaret Chapman, with whom we then demonstrated a plain course of Plain Bob Minor.
That evening, the St. David's practice was well atended. New faces were certainly more than welcome in the tower. Those completely new to ringing were given a couple of turns each throughout the course of the evening. We rang Rounds and Call Changes, Plain Hunt on 7 and even some Stedman Triples, catering for all abilities present. We then retired to the Farmer's Union and made merry conversation.
On the Sunday morning we had enough people there to ring all eight bells and then it was onwards to the Activities Fair. We had five out of the seven comittee members present and so seized upon this opportunity and took a group photograph under the St. Petrock's demonstration bell.
Vicky, Kerensa, Martin, Emma, Hazel
At one point, we had enough to ring all of our twelve handbells and when we had sucessfully rung these, we adopted our 'normal' ECG pose. Credit goes at this point to Vicky and Kerensa for picking up handbells for the first time and making significant progress in a noisy environment and limited time. Grich did a sterling effort throughout the day ordering the troops about and demonstrating the demonstration bell.
In the end we managed to sign up at least 25 people to the ECG at the Activities Fair. Special thanks to Tom for approaching absolutely everybody he could in the course of the day in order to rope people in to the society. Also to Mr. Whittaker for being a steay hand there as well as well as everybody else who took part.
This year our joint outing was arranged by the Bristol ringers, who decided to conduct it in Taunton.
Starting off, it must be remarked upon that Bungle, Steph and Kerensa showed great enthusiasm by all catching the 7am train from St. David's. Such dedication is exemplarily. Our first tower of the day was St. George's, Wilton. This was a light 10, where we started off by ringing some called changes on 10, progressing onto Grandsire and Stedman Caters. The weather was perfect for those not ringing as we sat out on the grass.
The second tower of the day was St. James', Taunton. Much amusement was caused by unfolding the map and debating which direction the tower was, completely forgetting the local amongst us! At St. James' we rang a variety of things up to half a course of Yorkshire S Major. Following this, we moved on to St. Mary's, Taunton, much acknowledged by all present to be a very difficult 12. We decided to play it safe and stick to called changes and a bit of plain hunt on 11. Queens and Kings were called on 12, which were pleasant to listen to, despite being difficult to ring.
After St. Mary's, we decided to go for lunch. After finding pasties and ice cream and having a free, guided tour of historic Taunton, we drove onto our 4th tower, which was West Monkton. West Monkton are a pleasant 8 and the tower captain said he was much impressed by our striking. A special mention goes to Vicky at West Monkton for ringing called changes on 8 for the first time. Very successful they were too. It was at this point that our gnome (Gnoel) decided to commit suicide by jumping into the arms of a Bristolian, who was being deceptive and wearing a decoy green rugby shirt. Needless to say this person helped clear him back up again.
Our 5th tower for the day was Creech St. Michael, a fairly lumpy 6. We catered for everyone as usual. The highlight of this tower was that we rang Spliced Plain, Little and St. Clement's Minor to finish with. Everyone outside basked in the sun and made daisy chains. Our 6th tower was North Curry. which is a picturesque place looking over the Somerset levels. This tower is a ring of 8, which at first appearances looked very nice: Large ringing chamber, nice carpets and a clean room. But really handled very badly (the 4th and 5th being particularly odd struck) and very loud, as the bells were but 10 feet above our heads. Calling changes required one to bellow them out across the room and hope that they were heard. However, we managed some good striking regardless of the odd-struckness of the bells with some more Yorkshire.
Our chosen venue of the annual Exeter-Bristol skittles match was the Nag's Head at Thornfalcon. A large pie and a lasagne were baked for us in our honour by the house (which one nameless individual thought was for free). There was good chat all evening and good ale. The skittles commenced and the Exeter ringers won the tournament for the first time in two years.
After this, we all decided to call it a day and wended our weary ways home. We hope to see you all next year!
As the last week of term coincided with Holy Week, there was no ringing at St David's on the Wednesday. A suitable alternative was found however, and we all headed down to Topsham for a curry at Denley's Essence of India, breaking the mould of our usual consumer loyalty to the Chadni in Heavitree. And it was certainly well worth the experiment! Otter Bright at the bar, good service, and a number of award winning curries, including the Tamarand Chicken, sampled by Bungle and Grich, made it a night to remember. Jimi's red hot chilli pepper accompanying his Chicken Madras turned out to be even more red hot than he had expected! The close proximity to the Bridge was another excellent feature, making 'Curry and Bridge' far easier, and we all popped in for a quick drink before catching the train back home. An excellent way to end the term!
This year's Christmas dinner was again held at The White Hart, giving us all the opportunity to eat, drink and be merry in what I've always felt to be one of Exeter's best pubs. The food, beverages, and company were all excellent, providing a nice way to finish off the autumn term.
[Ed: If anyone has any photos please send them to me...]
Bright and early on the 7th November the ECG and ringers from St. David's all headed out to Dunsford for our ringing outing, very kindly organised by Jimi. The ringing started at Dunsford, a very nice, if heavy, six and the bells were well complimented by all. We then progressed from Dunsford to Moretonhampstead, we enjoyed ringing on the eight here and noticed that their fines are much heavier than those levied at St. David's - being two pence for each 'crime' committed! Our last ring before lunch took us to the top of the hill at Okehampton, we rang the eight here and then piled back down to the town for lunch! Jimi had generously allocated a large chunk of time for this (vital!) activity; after a good meal the group broke down into two - some decided that the best way to spend the time was to go shopping, others decided that the pub proved an equally irresistible offer and chose to have another swift pint or two! Following on from lunch, shopping and beer, we all headed across for our last ring of the day: Bow. At this point it should be noted that several of our learners came with us for their first ringing outing and their ringing and enthusiasm was exemplary at all of the towers. Finally, after a good days' ringing we all made our way to the Devon Dumpling where we all enjoyed the tremendous food! Many thanks to Jimi for organising a superb day out!
On Sunday 25th October, the ECG made a welcome return to its favourite curry house, the Chadni in Heavitree, to sample the excellent range of curroi on offer! The usual Sunday 'all you can eat' buffet gave everyone the opportunity to eat curry to their heart's content. Afterwards we popped down to the Royal Oak for a few drinks and a little sing-song... Some hardy souls then continued the festivities into the wee small hours at the Bungalow - many thanks Grich and Bungle. We look forward to returning to the Chadni soon!
A wave of enthusiasm at St David's this term led to us entering both the Guild 6 and 8 bell striking competitions on Saturday 17th October. The 6-bell was held at Pinhoe, and despite changes to the start time, and Bungle being pushed to superhuman efforts to get up the hill on time on his bike, our competition piece (Plain Bob Doubles) went very well indeed. We then retired to the church hall for some tea and biscuits, before making our way to the Bungalow for further refreshment prior to the 8-bell competition at Heavitree in the afternoon. At the draw, the results of the 6-bell were given, and we were pleased to have come a creditable 5th, reaching the ultimate ECG achievement of Not Coming Last! We were then drawn 5th to ring in the 8-bell, so went downstairs to the Rifford Room for more tea and biscuits (seeing a theme here??!).
Finally, after a team photo, the moment arrived, and, despite a few nerves, our 252 of Plain Bob Triples came round with very few mistakes, and some jolly good ringing. A trip to the pub filled in the time before the results, where we learnt we had again succeeded in not coming last, finishing in 7ths place. Proudly clutching our certificates, we then headed off to the third Saturday practice at the Cathedral, where a good time was had by all, before popping into the White Hart for a drink or two. A return trip to the Bungalow for a few rounds of 'Worms 2: Armageddon' provided a highly entertaining end to a rather busy, but very enjoyable, day.
An innocent first year writes....
Unbeknown to the innocent freshers the ECG would introduce them to ringing and post-ringing activities at Exeter in some style!!
The week's activities began with the usual Wednesday afternoon handbell practice in the Harrison Building, with Ian's handbell ringing simulator adding to the fun... Not many freshers came along to the practice, so they were obviously saving their energy for the evening, as the practice at St David's on Wednesday evening was very well attended. Both seasoned fresher ringers and some very enthusiastic learners turned out in force, the latter being ably put through their paces by some of the ECG's more experienced ringers. Once we had all enjoyed the delight of the St. David's bells we headed (very speedily I might add!) to the pub, every ringer's favourite haunt, giving a chance to do a bit more socialising and to get to know one another.
No sooner had Wednesday been and gone it was Friday and time for the eagerly awaited trip to The Bridge at Topsham. It didn't disappoint, being a night of top-quality beer and excellent company and definitely the best pub I have visited since coming to Exeter. It was also my first view of the infamous quote book which was added to considerably in the course of the evening!
8.30am on Sunday morning and I'm leaving campus, asking myself what on earth possessed me to get up this early!! Why ringing at St David's of course. Luckily most others were not as bleary eyed as me and ringing was followed by a hearty breakfast at the Impy. Some of the ECG were then rushing on to the Fresher's Squash where I got roped in to demonstrate handbell ringing (having never properly rung handbells in my life!!). Despite this fact it was a very successful day with the recruitment of 19 freshers. Even better is that this year the ECG has 28 members, the most for a number of years!! Exhausted and satisfied at the end of a long day at the squash we packed Kat's car full to the brim with all manner of ringing related things, so much so that I would say Tom's safety was slightly compromised by being sandwiched in the back corner. However I was more worried about whether the St Petrock's bell would hold up!
I would like to thank all the ECG ringers for a great Freshers' week, especially Tom and Kat for their dedication in organising so much. I hope that this has set the tone for the rest of what should be a year to remember!
On Sunday morning despite the rather suspect grey skies, a group of 9 intrepid explorers/bellringers/BBQ-ers set off for Exmouth. We stopped at Somerfield to pick up essential supplies, which this year included two foam toy swords. (See pictures for details.) Jimi and Kathryn met us there with the precious cargo of burgers. The BBQ food was cooked by a team of ECG BBQ chefs and most of the food was eaten by us - except for the unattended sausage which was later stolen by a seagull!! The afternoon also saw many games of frisbee, football and sword fighting contests. After having worked off the BBQ food, the intrepid explorers returned to the station - with the aid of an ice-cream to give them an energy boost. A lovely day was had by all.
Saturday 9th May saw the annual Joint Outing with the University of Bristol ringers. Attendance was up on last year, with around thirty ringers from the ECG and UBSCR coming along for a day of good company, drink, a number of desperate assaults on the new gnome, and a little bit of ringing too! The towers ranged from the good, such as the light and easy-going Preston Plucknett, to the bad, like the heavy and odd-struck Yeovil, and the downright ugly; East Chinnock, a 19cwt, anti-clockwise, ground floor, out of tune ring of five certainly fits into this description! As the tower contact there put it 'people who come here to visit don't tend to come back'.
Yeovil was also the site of the brutal assault on the gnome by certain UBSCR members, who managed to shatter him in spectacular fashion. I'm not sure what the local ringers thought, but we were certainly unimpressed! Luckily, James was on hand with his hat to cart poor Gnigel away. Before the day was out, yet another new gnome (Gnoel) had been acquired, and a retaliatory (but sadly unsuccessful) attempt to lock most of UBSCR inside Haselbury Plucknett church had been arranged!
After ringing at Crewkerne, we all retired to the Good Beer Guide-listed pub 'The Muddled Man' in West Chinnock for the traditional skittles match, a hearty meal, and the promised good beer. A vicious attack on the newest gnome was foiled by swift action from Martin, who took refuge with 'Gnoel' in a nearby field. Unfortunately, Bristol proved too strong for us in the skittles match, despite a good performance from the ECG side. Revenge awaits next year!
The traditional pancake party was, as always, a great success. Large quantities of pancakes were consumed, with fillings ranging from the usual lemon and sugar to the more exotic culinary heights of Bungle's mascarpone, raspberry and dark chocolate filling. In keeping with his curry-house escapades, Martin brought some extra hot Bird's Eye chilli sauce, later combining it with some of Bungle's mascarpone! Once everyone had eaten their fill of pancakes for the year, Absolute Balderdash was produced, and a fierce contest between the six teams ensued. The game included classics such as 'tyrosepiphilly', which one team claimed meant 'an erotic sexual practice involving herbs' (thanks Maff!), and another suggested was a fungus affecting the eyes of horses causing them to revolve 'manically'. Many thanks to James and Amy for hosting an excellent evening!
Martin Gentile writes...
The idea of an outing with Cardiff came from the fact that I already knew the president of the Cardiff society since an early age. Since Bristol is approximately equidistant from Exeter and Cardiff, a ringing outing to Bristol seemed like a good idea. It'd be an ideal opportunity to ring at some of Bristol's towers and catch up and make new friendships. However, choosing Bristol in the first place nearly ended in disaster.
This was nearly an outing that never was. Firstly, I discovered after arranging the idea of a joint outing with Cardiff in principle, the Bristol towers were open to tours on a centralised system. So I promptly sent off the list of towers we wished to visit together with a booking fee three months in advance. It wasn't until practically a week before the outing in February that I received any information at all about which towers we were going to be visiting and when. However, the information was received and posted to the Facebook group. Evidently people took heed of this and we all duly met up at Bristol Temple Meads by 9am.
The first tower of the day was Bristol cathedral, a lovely ring of eight. Taking the lead, we did three rounds of called changes with different teams, a course of Cambridge S Major and a touch of Plain B Triples, accommodating everybody's abilities.
The second tower was St. Stephens', a ring of twelve. There was a little drama at this tower before we arrived in the form of the clapper falling out of the tenor. Fortunately, this was repaired for us in time and we were able to ring all twelve. Tom did a good job of running this tower and everybody got the opportunity to ring. There were several comments about the poor state of the stay on the treble (it was cracked), which made ringing it an interesting experience. More Cambridge was rung on the back eight which were a pleasure to ring. It must be said that it was at this tower both Merediths arrived, providing us with much welcome chocolate.
From here it was on to the last tower before lunch, in the form of Christ Church, a ring of ten. These were "bells with character" as Tom observed before we arrived and I would say he was correct. Firstly, they sounded like dropping a wooden pole against a concrete floor when rung and secondly the tenor was balanced in a very odd way, necessitating the combined efforts of Rob and Tom to pull it up right on the second attempt. The bells now up, Sarah (president of the CSBS) took charge and instructed called changes on ten followed by a plain course of Stedman Caters, which went very smoothly. More called changes were to follow on ten, so I took the treble. I called a total of three changes before disaster happened. The stay on the four broke and the rope de-wheeled as well, causing the tail to hang suspended nine feet above the ground. We all immediately stood our bells and inspected the damage. With five minutes of ringing to go at this tower anyway little ringing was lost, but it certainly caused a few red faces!
After trying and failing to get into a local Wetherspoon's, we all split up for lunch, recombining at the Lord Mayor's Chapel at 2:15pm. Here we didn't have room to fit many more people in the ringing chamber than were ringing, so we split up into four teams of six and rang what we wanted by taking turns. London S Minor, Grandsire and Plain Bob were rung.
The fifth tower of the day was St. John on the Wall, which literally is on a wall, with an archway below. This was an Exeter-led tower, with Norwich S Minor, Called Changes, Plain B Minor and Stedman being rung, catering for all.
The last tower of the day was St. Michael on the Mount Without. This was a Cardiff-led tower and some "interesting doubles" were rung for something a bit different, in the form of St. Simon's, St. Martin's and St. Osmund's.
After leaving our thanks and tower donations, it was time to say goodbye to our Bristol hosts and onwards to the local pub for a bit of socialising. All in all, everybody had an opportunity to ring what they wanted to ring and many people made progress on the day they might not otherwise have done at home. Events like these bring together different ways of doing things (like pulling off in Welsh!) and these differences are to be admired and learnt from. We hope to continue our new-found friendship with the CSBS in the coming years.
Any excuse to pay a visit to the ECG's favourite curry house, the Chadni, is always warmly welcomed, so on Sunday 9th November, a group of students, graduates and friends gathered at Chadni's to consume lots and lots of curry! A good time was had by all (even Martin, despite bravely trying the Vindaloo!) We look forward eagerly to future visits!
Tom Hinks writes...
Once again, Maff managed to fix the weather perfectly for the annual ECG beach barbeque. After morning ringing at St David's, a gaggle of ringers and friends made the journey to Exmouth seafront, stopping at Somerfield on the way to stock up on meat, condiments and even some salad! Despite strong winds, and the absence of the usual chef Mr Bennett, we managed to light the barbeque without too much difficulty. Whilst half the group did battle with the barbeque, the other half played frisbee and catch (with varying degrees of success!), and it wasn't long until the food was ready. Meanwhile, Martin climbed a tree. Too late to add his skills to the cooking, Mr Bennett turned up in time to help eat the large (some might say excessive) number of sausages on offer. After a hearty meal, more games were enjoyed, before heading down to the Powder Monkey for one last drink on the way back to Exeter.
Martin Gentile writes...
After arriving at Bath Spa railway station, we were greeted by members of the Bristol ringers who proceeded to show us to the first tower of the day (Bathwick). This is a lovely ring of 10, unfortunately all the time we were there we were unable to ring more than 8, due to lack of people. One (nameless) ringer from Bristol had decided to cycle in and got lost around Bath. Touches of plain bob were rung on the front and back bells, together with a nice bit of St. Clements on the front 6.
After Bathwick, we then moved on to St. Michael's. During the rising of the bells, it was commented that the tenor sounded distinctly like hitting a frying pan. This didn't put us off however, and Rob called some excellent Devon call changes for us, despite Bristol not quite having got the idea of the closed handstroke lead yet.
Some Cambridge Minor and a lower later, it was on to lunchtime, where most of us disappeared to the local Waitrose and Gregg's bakery. After finding a green space, we sat in the shadow of the Abbey generally socialising. It was at this point another two people joined us from UBSCR. It was also at this point Gnobby decided to get some fresh air.
After lunch, it was on up the hill to St. Stephen's church, Lansdown. Here the vicar greeted us on the door and insisted upon a group picture. Here, the gnome decided to do a forwards somersault, encouraged by a certain Bristolian foot, causing the gnome's head to shatter. After this tragic episode, it was up the tower to rise the bells (a ring of 6 with a 2cwt tenor). After rising, it was noted that the treble had a tendency to double strike if pulled too hard at backstroke, so David lowered the bell to make sure it wasn't up wrong. As it turned out it wasn't, but it did demand a bit of care to ring. This tower was generally acknowledged to be a lovely musical ring of bells, quite in spite of their lightness.
The next tower was St. Saviour's church, Larkhall, whose bells were quite loud, especially if you stood in the ringing chamber. Dom turned up at this point and organised some surprise major, of Yorkshire and (appropriately) of Bristol.
The final tower of the day was St. Matthew, Widcombe, quite a walk away from the previous tower. After trudging through mud and along the canal for about two miles and ringing the bells up, it was noticed that the third and fourth sounded almost identical! Maybe this was attributed to the way the bells were hung, but after some called changes it was decided they didn't sound too bad if they were kept apart. As a highlight, David then called some spliced Little and Plain Bob, before letting them down.
After this, we headed pubwards. There we enjoyed some hot food and each other's company before the traditional skittles match. Needless to say, after some luck and skill, Exeter pulled through by 6 points, with "probably the best skittles team in the world"!
Finally, after a hasty goodbye due to train times, we said farewell to the UBSCR and boarded the train back to Exeter. All in all, progress was made by all, notably to Rob who rang inside for touches of plain bob throughout the day, despite others going wrong! A special thanks goes here to Tom from Bristol for organising the trip and we hope to see you all next year.
On 12th June, with the academic year drawing to a close, the ECG gathered in the Bungalow for a spectacular pudding party. A wide range of puddings were sampled, with profiteroles, chocolate cake and strawberries being particularly popular. However, the Pimms proved of greater interest, with two bottles to get through, and only one evening in which to do it! Bungle put in a top notch performance, downing a half yard of Pimms in one go. David's Fez (still resident in Exeter!) was also popular, doing the rounds of most of those present! Photographs below...
It was pancake day. We met at Bungle's flat (The "Bunglelow") and ate, drank and enjoyed... [Someone can do a proper write up if they like... Ed.]
Jimi K writes (in February 2008!):
As this was a while ago, there is as much detail here as I can remember!
We met up at the not-too-ungodly hour of 8.45 outside St David's so that we could organise who was going with which driver (since the minibus had fallen through). Although Maff was driving he and his carload had to go out to the Archdeacon of Exeter's Aunty Penny) in order to pick the vehicle up as it had just gone through a service. Many thanks must go to Penny for coming in and picking up these chaps, and also for the use of the car.
The first tower we visited was the superb 8 at Holsworthy (weighing in at 15 cwt), where we were met by Scott Adams who was joining us for the morning. Although slightly heavier than some of us are used to, we had some very good ringing including some well struck plain hunt triples and a good rise and lower. The next stop was Black Torrington, a tricky 8 3/4 cwt 6. Once we got the bells up, we were able to get some reasonably good striking and a very good 120 of plain bob doubles - something we failed to do on our last trip!
We headed off to the Kings Arm's at Winkleigh for lunch, Scott leaving us to attend the Devon Association AGM. The food was very good (when we eventually got the right things) and the beer excellent - Skinners brewery, a hit every time! After our leisurely lunch we took the short walk to Winkleigh church to ring on yet another superb heavy 8 (19 1/4 cwt, for those interested in such things). Due to the weight and lack of expertise we only rang call changes here but we did have some very good striking and Rob managed to the tenor up in peal on his own - I take my hat off to him!
The next tower on our itinerary was Down St Mary, a reasonably good light 6 (8 1/2 cwt). Here we attempted some of 'The Method' - or plain bob minor as it is known to the rest of the world. Things we going nicely until someone (mentioning no names, but you know who you are!) fell asleep in the second course and it all fell apart. Other than this our striking was again of a good standard. Susie had to leave us here, but the rest of us moved on to the last tower of the day, Spreyton. Kathryn's car (using Jimi-nav(TM)) arrived promptly and went to wait in the church. We waited and then waited some more for Maff's car (using Sat-nav). When he finally arrived we were 15 minutes late starting, although this was no bad thing...I'd been to Spreyton a few times before and remembered them as being quite tricky but ringable, however on November 10th 2007 we found them very hard going, almost to the point of unringable. Although we managed to get through some bob doubles the ringing was never going to be very good, and after half an hour of ringing we decided that we'd had enough.
And so to the ulterior motive for going to Spreyton: The Tom Cobley Tavern, CAMRA Pub of the Year 2006. Upon arrival Roger, the landlord, apologised for having 20 ales on, but we forgave him and set about trying them all while waiting for our table in the restaurant to become available. It turns out we were not the only ringers in the pub that evening as a group of ringers from Stoke Gabriel arrived just after us. This served to make the atmosphere even more convivial than it already was. The evening meal was excellent and all were absolutely stuffed afterwards. It now only remains to try and work out how we can have another ringing trip that ends here!
Ringers on the trip: Alex, Andy, James W, Jimi, Joseph, Kathryn, Maff, Rob, Susie and Scott Adams (am only)
Robert D writes...
This year, the ECG and Bristol joint outing went to the Wells area of Somerset, an area that has been visited before but not for a few years. In all, 6 towers were booked (some with plenty of bell metal upstairs), followed by the traditional pub and skittles match.
After leaving Exeter at around 9:30am, we arrived at our first tower, Wedmore. Bristol had already arrived and were rising the back bells. They would have needed their Weetabix, for the tenor there was the heaviest of the whole day - 30cwt. Considering the weight, the 8 bells rang very well, although the length of some ropes prompted discussion, especially when one of the Bristol ringers rang the seventh on his knees!
Following Wedmore came Wookey, a (much) lighter 6 around 11cwt. Time at this tower was tight because of a very long 30mph speed limit on the way which I didn't know about. Wookey were an interesting set, each bell being slightly tricky, but nothing that stopped us having one or two good peals. Not even the lack of visibility from the fifth rope, handily tucked away behind the casing of the clock. This was the source of some amusement when Jimi K started waving through the windows of the clock casing.
After Wookey, it was onto Wells to find some lunch. The City Arms was recommended to us for food, as well as being very close to our next tower, Wells St. Cuthbert. A good hour was spent in the pub with some nice food and good beer before it was time to do some more ringing.
Wells St. Cuthbert held the second heaviest set of the day, a 27cwt 8. This is also the church used in the movie 'Hot Fuzz', which added to the reasons for ringing here. A small advance party ascended comprising 2 Bristol Ringers and me. The Bristol pair grabbed the tenor (probably to make a point!) and rose it fairly quickly, though they were fortunate that the tenor was not prone to going false clappered! I had the seventh which took a little longer. With the back ones up the front 6 followed swiftly, most people by now having got up to the ringing chamber. Once the bells were up, they were a pleasure to ring, the tower being a strong contender for the best of the day.
Westbury-sub-Mendip was our next port of call. This light 6 (9cwt) felt like tin pots after Wells, but once everyone had readjusted there was some quite reasonable ringing. This definitely helped the learners, not least because the bells were light and easy. However, it was not so easy to fit in the ringing chamber, which was built for 6 people and not much else. This meant that everyone not ringing had to sit outside the church - just as well it was a glorious afternoon!
A few miles further on was Cheddar - the place of cheese! Although the ECG didn't make it to a cheese shop, the bells more than made up for this disappointment. Except for the first set of call changes, where what should have been a respectable peal of Exploding Tittums descended into complete chaos, with no-one really knowing where they were (apart from at Cheddar of course!). It was a good thing that the next band turned out a very nice touch of Bob Triples and saved us from total disgrace! After a roaring semi-professional lower, it was on to Axbridge, our last tower and evening stop for beer and skittles.
Axbridge are a 19cwt 6, but thankfully they go smoothly. There are many peal attempts at Axbridge (so I am told) and I can see why! Our best ringing of the day came from this tower, both by Bristol and Exeter. This was the only place where we had a team made up entirely of Exeter ringers at the ropes. After some respectable Grandsire and call changes, Bristol decided to show Exeter how to ring and produced a touch of Norwich. In reply, Exeter showed them how to ring call changes, turning out something that wouldn't be out of place in a Devon Call Change Competition. The friendly rivalry already under way, we headed for the pub.
For skittles and evening meal, The Lamb Inn at Axbridge proved ideal. The food was good, the beer was excellent, and the skittle alley fitted our needs perfectly. During numerous distractions with the gnome, some fiddling of scores took place on both sides, but it didn't stop Bristol beating us by an ample margin. Of more concern was the desecration of the gnome. During an attempt by Bristol to steal the gnome, the Bristol Ringing Master managed to get out into the beer garden, and threw the gnome when he found he couldn't escape any further. Consequently the gnome lost his right eye. The gnome bearer, responsible for breaking the gnome himself on the first ringing trip back in September, failed in his duty to protect it, and is now conducting reconstructive surgery again.
All in all it was a good day out, with some very nice peals of bells, and a good evening of beer and skittles. Thanks go to Bristol for making it a good trip and helping with the heavy bells, and also well done to them for winning the skittles, despite attempts to slow their accumulation of points. Also thanks to those who provided transport and map reading skills, and to the towers we visited for letting us ring.
We are now waiting to see what Bristol can come up with for next year (apart from a tube of superglue and surgical tape).
Robert D writes...
Tuesday 20th February this year, as you know, was Shrove Tuesday. So the EUCRS decided to mark it with a Pancake and Pandemonium Evening. We all made our separate ways to Alex's flat where we were greeted with the smell of pancakes, and a rather extensive selection of ales that was augmented by those who had brought various extra bottles.
Pancakes were top of the list however, and one or two interesting recipes for pancakes emerged, notably Grich's Cheese and Chile savoury pancake, and Jimi's Mascarpone and Grated Chocolate.
Over the course of the evening we watched the Top Gear American Special in all its glory, and also their attempts to launch a Reliant Robin Space Shuttle from Norfolk (spontaneously prompting a discussion between the physicists on the flight dynamics of a Reliant Robin). The latter was during a break from Cranium, a rather interesting and humorous board game, which involves things like spelling words backwards, modelling objects in plastecine, and drawing sketches with your eyes closed (which some people are very good at!).
We also had a couple of Gumby sketches from Monty Python's Flying Circus, 'Flower Arranging'; and the 'Brain Surgeon'. These preceded Alex reading a Cranium question in a Gumby style with Robert contributing odd words now and again.
This didn't affect the results of the Cranium unduly:
1st; Girls + Mr Bennet (Kathryn, Amy, Laura, Mr Bennett)
All in all, it was a good evening, and thanks to Alex for the use of his flat and beer collection, Jimi and Laura for keeping the pancake supplies running, and also thanks to Mr Whittaker for providing transport. And not forgetting thanks to Jimi and Kathryn for bringing Cranium; lots of fun!
So the new academic year begins, as ever, with fresher's week! This year we managed to put out a good range of activities, all of which were well attended by both old and new! The handbells session on Wednesday lunchtime drew at least six new people in (many finding us from the Extunes leaflet) and the practise was marked by the 'lapping' version of plain hunt whereby Ian had us lined up in rows 'dancing' plain hunt with handbells! The Wednesday evening practise was suitably manic, with many new learners (and some re-fresher's) all keen to get on the end of a rope; the excitement being cut short ten minutes before the end when a fuse blew and plunged us all into darkness! The Thursday night Extunes concert saw Matt, James W and Richard ring handbells to advertise the society, the performance getting (to my bias ears!) one of the biggest applause's of the night! Finally on Sunday came the squash where, Jess, James W and Richard ran the stall with help from Alex, Jonathan, Joanna and others as they passed through. The handbells stole the show, gaining much interest and as such we have nine new names on our sheet at the end of a successful week!
The day started grey and damp as we waited for our 'Merrie Bande' to arrive so we could sort out who was driving which ringers to each destination at the relatively sane time of 9.45 am. When everyone had arrived it was decided that Alex and Richard would go with Pete, Maff and one of our new freshers Robert would go with James W (back to do a PGCE what a nutter!) and Kathryn and Jimi would travel together and lead the convoy across the county as they had the OS maps. Lynette would be joining us after lunch as she had an AGM to attend in the morning.
The first tower of the day was Uplowman, a nice enough set of bells that rang well but were difficult to hear in the ringing chamber itself. Some good call changes were rung, but we surprisingly failed to get a touch of Bob Doubles (hereafter referred to as 'The Method') to come around much to everyone's general annoyance. After a good lower it was time to move on to the next tower.
In a change to the billed location, the second tower was Halberton due to a wedding at Tiverton St Paul that was sprung on the tower captain at the last minute. Halberton's ringing chamber is dominated by the clock workings, so much so that the tenor ringer has to stand underneath it! The bells were the heaviest of the day (17 and a bit cwt) and also the only upstairs ring and as a consequence the ringing chamber swayed a bit, which made the small bell in the corner to ring of its own accord. After a fairly disastrous rise it was quickly decided that there was no way we were going to be able to ring The Method so we stuck to call changes and some good striking was heard.
For lunch we found the Wetherspoon's in Tiverton. Unfortunately its car park was full so we spent nearly quarter of an hour trying to find a car park. When everyone had eaten their lunch it was time to move on. Calverleigh, the next tower, has a small set of bells that we found tricky to ring, partially because of the old gnarly ropes and partially due to the 'friendliness' of the tower. As we had got held up in Tiverton we arrived a little late but still managed to have some good ringing on what were pretty rubbish sound bells. Due to the time constraints here we didn't have chance to attempt The Method.
The next tower, Poughill, was half an hour's car journey down some narrow roads that were flanked by some beautiful and very much alive game birds. When we arrived we quickly found that the bells very easy to ring and absolutely clear to listen to, easily the best tower of the day. Some fantastic call change ringing was spoiled by a rather poor attempt at The Method (although this time it was definitely not my fault!), but we finished with a well struck 60s on thirds and lower which would've put some call change teams to shame. Richard found, in the church, a board claiming that the Poughill bells are 'the sweetest in Devon'. Jimi disagreed with this claim using a very technical argument that cannot be printed here due to space constraints.
To get to Cadeleigh we had to travel down some winding country lanes with grass growing up the middle. The bells were tricky and not easy to ring, and we found that when we tried ringing plain hunt on them the tenor dropped like a stone. We did seem to get some good striking out of the bells, despite the bell's best efforts, but everyone was looking forward to the next tower.
Bickleigh was our final stop, and the only downstairs ring of the day. Lynette's partner Gerrard (who is learning to ring you're never too old!) joined us at the tower and after a good rise he came in to ring some rounds. The quality of the ringing was generally good even though the bells are difficult to hear and we managed to get through a full extent of The Method without any major crunching. We finished with some more call changes and a good lower, and then the main object of the day was complete. This left just one more issue to resolve, what to eat and drink at the Fisherman's Cot! Even though not everyone was able to come we did find a picture that had a character that looked remarkably like James Bennett who had fallen off his horse. After a hearty meal and some picture taking we all agreed that it had been a good day, and all of us looking forward to the rest of the term which we hope will be as successful as the trip.
Having been moved from its usual post-Easter date due to peal ringing commitments (not on the part of the ECG, obviously!), the joint Exeter-Bristol outing took place a couple of weeks before the end of the year, in the scorching heat of June, rather than the usual damp mists of Spring. The tour took place in the Minehead area, on the fringes of Exmoor. The first tower of the day was Porlock, a pleasant six and a relatively relaxing introduction to a day spent mostly charging around the Somerset countryside desperately trying to get to the next tower on time.
The second tower of the day was Selworthy, which commanded glorious views of the surrounding countryside. The bells weren't bad either but they were constantly facing a loosing battle against the possibility of soaking up the glorious sunshine in the churchyard. My yearly attempt to get everyone to ring St. Clement's Minor also had to be aborted to allow us to get to the next tower, Minehead, where we were due to ring as part of the Queen's birthday celebrations, in time. Minehead turned out to be a heavy but rewarding ten, although it did prove to be somewhat of a challenge to reach.
We then proceeded to Dunster to eat lunch, either in the grounds of the castle (for those who brought a packed lunch) or in a very fine pub in Dunster itself. After lunch we wondered up the high street to ring at Dunster church, another heavy ring where managed to ring some pleasing touches including Stedman Triples and some Surprise Major.
The next stop was Carhampton, where the cramped ringing room forced those not actively engaged in ringing to relax in the sunshine and play some Frisbee. Unfortunately our best attempts to patronise the nearby pub (purely so we could park in its car park, obviously) came to nothing.
Sadly we were unable to ring at the 4 at Withycombe (and to think, I'd learned Bristol Minimus specially?), as had originally been planned, and instead rang at St. Decuman's, which proved to be a challenging set of bells, especially since some people were more concerned with other important matters, such as deciding what to eat at dinner.
The final tower of the day was Old Cleeve, where despite the early start and a tiring day, we achieved some good ringing including some more Surprise Major. The final stop of the day was The Blue Anchor Hotel at Blue Anchor, for the traditional beer and skittles. After two years of loosing the skittles the Exeter team were determined to win, and win we did, despite some dodgy mathematics on the part of our scorers. Sadly the gnome keeper was unable to attend so we couldn't demonstrate the indestructibility of our new, resin, mascot. Still, there's always next year for his triumphant return.
Thanks must go to Edd Colliss of Bristol for organising such a successful outing.