Arriving in the town particularly early, I took the chance to explore the centre a little, learn the road layouts, and do a quick check over the suggested pubs to see if they’d match up to expectations – they didn’t. So I went onto an easy pub to find for those arriving by train: The King’s Head, Salisbury’s Weatherspoons. A quick pint here, and I headed off to collect the keys for the church hall, before being joined by Alan, Jen and Nick. We then took a ride around the maze of one-way back streets, to pick up Peter whose train arrived 10 minutes before ringing at Britford.
Britford was an interesting tower – pretty much in the middle of nowhere, 6 ropes hung in the circle of an 8, rung from the crossing point of the chancel, and with a very long draught (without rope guides). It didn’t help that most of the ropes were pretty long, and that the tail end of the 3 unwound as I was ringing it to the first touch of the evening… A bit of expert retucking by Peter got it to a reasonable length and made it ringable again. Once we got used to the bells, they seemed alright (as far as I can remember after the evening’s drinking!)
The evening’s drinking consisted of a pub called The Queen (which seemed surprised that it had customers!) followed by some UL dithering, Wagamama, and then finally ending up in The New Inn – a Badger pub, much to Peter’s pleasure and Eleanor’s displeasure.
Saturday morning saw us being ejected from the hall by 9am – the Samaritans had a booking for the day, so we got out of their way by starting the day in the traditional UL way – in a pub (‘spoons).
Our first tower of the day was unscheduled, mainly because it has no bells – Salisbury Cathedral. But we had to grab it anyway, even if it was just a few short touches on the handbells outside! Then onwards to St Thomas’, a fairly heavy 8, (as Peter discovered when trying to ring up the tenor on his own!), Stapleford, a recently rehung 6 with an odd weight ordering around the front, and a 3 that’s easy to put up the wrong way.
Lunch in the King’s Head Chitterne was pretty reasonable, even if the paint was still fresh on the walls inside. As the next was a 5, this was a perfect chance for us to all brush up on our doubles methods and variations. Apart from being a little odd struck, I enjoyed the bells.
Shrewton was our final tower of the day, and lined up to be the comedy tower, it wasn’t far under our expectations: the tenor wouldn’t go to the balance at backstroke, and the wheel on the 5th was very unlikely to be circular. I count this tower as a success, having looked up St Clements that morning, and just about recovered from the beer at lunch, I managed to get through my first touch in the method and possibly my first attempt at the method, too!
A drive back to Stapleford (tractors are too slow), to rescue forgotten Diagrams books, the discovery of a playground, and more handbells (this time up a tower!)
A much more informed pub choice saw us taking up residence in the Wig and Quill for several hours (FizBuzz!), followed by a takeaway in the hall and more drinking games, including the famed “remember the code to turn off the burglar alarm when it goes off due to power cuts”. I don’t think the rest is mentionable to those who weren’t there, although Sibley does not know his prime numbers, and I’m not good with words, even when sober.
Sunday saw yet more handbells in the hall, with doughnuts as a substitute for breakfast, followed by joining the St Martin’s ringers for the service ringing, and then a massive picnic (and more handbells) on top of Old Sarum.
By Thomas Wood