Having arrived at Hook station bright and early, we were led off to the first tower of the day, Rotherwick, a decidedly uninteresting six with the only highlights being a post in the middle of the floor with Grandsire written out on each side, and a tenor which was so light set that each touch had to allow extra time for it to be stood. We already knew, though, that the next tower would be much more interesting.
Our itinerary informed us that Heckfield was a 15 cwt. anticlockwise five and while this alone would have been enough to make it the comedy tower of the day, it was only when Mariko had got the second most of the way up that we found out what made this ring even more exciting. After a few minutes of trying, and with Peter’s help, Mariko managed to stand the bell, it having slipped wheel several times. The local blithely informed us that ‘That doesn’t happen very often’ so with Peter optimistically planning to ring it for some plain hunt, we pulled off.
Rounds was relatively uneventful, with the Master leaping into the air with every pull on the tenor because ‘The rope was a bit short and it was the only way to stop it ringing down’. Only when the method started did the second immediately slip wheel several strokes in a row. Richard Saddleton was the next to step up to the plate, blaming his wheel-slipping on a dodgy pulley and poorly aligned holes. With our spirit fading, we decided to ring down and we knew that nothing would go wrong this time and we would have a faultless lower… Alas, even James White could not prevent the bell from slipping wheel – no wonder we mere mortals had had such trouble! Thankfully, we managed to ring down and left to go to the pub, where the lack of bar staff appeared to have thwarted our plans to get a pint quickly. Clara offered to go behind the bar and pull pints, but, astonishingly, her aid was refused!
Arriving early at St Michael, Sandhurst, we tested out our fighting skills with a battle to live on in military history as snowballs flew across the car park, hitting friend and foe alike. Harry was cruelly brought down by a shot from ‘Nasty’ Nick who then courageously fled inside to join a band ringing (for no good reason) British Scholars’ Pleasure. The next tower on the itinerary was Immaculate Conception, Sandhurst, but before that, Nasty Nick had a surprise waiting for him, as Harry and his henchman Richard had prepared an ambush to teach him a lesson. He ran when they broke cover but could not prevent being brought down by a barrage of snowballs.
The final tower of the day, then, was a 11/2 cwt. ring of 6. While one band rang, the rest could stand in the church hall and see the bells through a window into the tower or listen to the wise words from Harry as he stood at the lectern in the corner. The local appeared happier to stand in the corner and look disapproving… On leaving, the phenomenon of evening took Tom the fresher by surprise as he exclaimed ‘It’s got dark!’ but he managed to reconcile himself to it and so we returned to London, to the inevitable post-Winter Tour Jugged Hare drinking session and curry.
By ‘Nasty’ Nick Hartley