The 2004 Dinner

David Maynard writes...

As is traditional the weekend started with a gathering in the Imperial.  The evening provided a good opportunity for the new members to meet the past members of the society.  It was also good to see lots of friends and supporters there.  The atmosphere was lively and even noisier than usual.  At some point during the hilarity the crocodile got burst and Alex lost his meal. The current students gave updates and amusing anecdotes about the recent goings on of the society and a great deal of beer got drunk.

Saturday's outing was to the area East of Exeter, and first stop was Ottery St Mary.  Having arrived 20 minutes early we enjoyed a good breakfast before making our way to the beautiful medieval church.  The interior has survived the Reformation and the Victorian era surprisingly well, the decoration and the Lady Chapel being of particular interest.  We enjoyed some good ringing on the superb sounding ring of eight, including Stedman Triples and Cambridge Major.  After stopping to take a few photos now that it had actually stopped raining we set off for Honiton.  Again arriving early we stopped for a cup of tea in the church hall and Shaun had a quick blast on the organ.  Having overcome some confusion over who was supposed to be letting us in, the churchwarden opened up for us.  The open staircase inside the ringing chamber caused some amusement, and there was some respectable ringing.

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Next was the grab everyone was really looking forward to - the pub at Sidbury!  The outing had been well researched and the beer was absolutely excellent.  We even found a friend for the gnome, and they posed together at the bar!  We also found an interesting old photo of some regulars from a Dorset pub in the 1890s who had over 250 years drinking experience between the four of them...  Having paid a visit to the unusual wishing well, we crossed the road to sample the glorious Taylor eight at Sidbury church. Here we met up with the peal band, who reported a successful peal of Yorkshire S Major at Colyton - a real achievement for the society.  With the reinforcements we had some of the best ringing of the day, including some very good leads of London.  Back in the bus we made our way to Sidmouth to much musical accompaniment.  We enjoyed some good ringing on the pleasant 10 at St. Nicholas, including Yorkshire Royal and some very good Grandsire Caters.  Many of the new students also had their first go at ringing on ten and did extremely well.  Everyone seemed to enjoy the outing greatly, although there were a few complaints that 2 hours was nowhere near enough time to get ready!

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Assembling at the Southgate Hotel for the pre-dinner drinks, we met many more guests who had been unable to make the outing.  The room had been decorated skillfully, with some really good helium balloons.  An excellent menu had been prepared for us and everyone was happy with the food, which was very tasty. If anyone knows where the chutney that came with the cheeseboard was from, I would be interested to know!  Ian Campbell then spoke about the handbell group and this was followed by a well-struck course of Plain Bob Major by, 1-2 Kathryn Louise Ward, 3-4 David Maynard, 5-6 Matthew Hilling, 7-8 Ian Campbell. 

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Kathryn Ward then gave an account of the societies achievements over the previous 12 months, after which the Master spoke about more light-hearted aspects of the year's activities.  This was followed by a course of Grandsire Caters on the society handbells, 1-2 Andrew Digby, 3-4 David Maynard, 5-6 John Longridge, 7-8 David Atkins, 9-10 Matthew Hilling.  The serious business of barn dancing then began.  The dancing seemed especially lively this year and one or two people took a tumble in the course of the excitement!  The band were absolutely superb and I'm sure everyone is looking forward to seeing them again next year. 

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Sunday ringing was a little early for some people, as was coffee at the Boston Tea Party!  Those of us who did make it in time had a very sociable morning however, which was followed by lunch on the Quay.  Ringing at Exeter Cathedral for the afternoon service was of a respectable standard, and included a very good touch of Grandsire Cinques.  Once again it was a thoroughly enjoyable weekend, and it is to be hoped that just as many members will return for next year's event.

Photos supplied by Stephen Chambers, David Maynard and Andrew Mead. [Click photo to enlarge.]