2012’s Easter Tour saw the UL descend on the Isle of Wight for a weekend of drinking, socialising, and of course ringing (most of it good!). The tour started on Friday the 30th of March with 11 ringers turning up in Portsmouth ready to catch the 9pm ferry to the island. Some confusion arose as to whether passports were needed, but thankfully everybody managed to make it across the border.
After finding the campsite (and picking a spot as far away from civilisation as possible) the only challenge that remained was to erect the 10 man tent. At this point we were joined by Tom Wood, who had cycled to the island earlier, making our numbers up to 12. No time was wasted in breaking open the gin and tonic, and a game of “guess the UL member” was played with the freshly printed Top Trumps cards. Fortunately everyone had remembered to bring a sleeping bag!
Saturday marked the start of the ringing; the first tower, after a breakfast in the local Weatherspoons, was the imposing 8 bell All Saints’ Church in Ryde. This tower was being run by Ryan, and although the bells were heavy (26 cwt) they sounded nice and rang well, allowing for some surprise major to be rung.
After an hour in Ryde we moved on to the 8 bell St. Mary the Virgin in Brading (9 cwt), the ringing chamber of which could only be entered via ladder from the church porch below. This tower was run by me, and although the bells here were not especially easy going, I tried to continue to ensure a good variety of ringing, with methods including Grandsire and Pudsey.
The third tower we visited was St. Saviour on the Cliff, Shanklin (18 cwt). This tower was run by Sophie, who organised ringing including Steadman and spliced Surprise Major; meanwhile I managed to live up to my “fire power” rating of 7 and fire out some unusual call changes. A poster spotted by Mariko on the notice board advertised a Ceilidh being held that evening, our attendance at which was agreed upon over lunch, a majority of the group being keen to go.
Lunch was held at a pub in Shanklin, and after a quick look around the shops and a visit to the beach we made our way to the fourth tower, Arreton St. George, a light ring of 6 (8 cwt). Becca was responsible for running this tower, and put on methods including Reverse Canterbury Doubles, Wight Bob Minor and Isle of Wight “Tremble” Bob Minor.
The final tower of the day was the 12 bell at Newport (16 cwt), run by (a reluctant!) Jenny. Upon entering the chamber we were surprised to find a local member of the band repainting the room; needless to say we were very careful not to touch the walls! A couple of peals of call changes were rung on the 12 and a very tuneful rendition of Yorkshire Major was rung on bells 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 10, 11 and 12.
That evening was spent at the Ceilidh, which was enjoyed by all despite some less than perfect dancing from the locals! I can personally attest to the quality of the Bulmer’s cider with crushed red berries, which I have yet to find again on the mainland.
Sunday saw a deviation from the itinerary with service ringing at the 10 bell St. Mary the Virgin, Carisbrooke. This was followed by a trip on the historic steam railway, the first leg of which took us from Havenstreet to Wootton, where we stopped for lunch in a local pub. After lunch we took the steam train to the other end of the line, Smallbrook Junction, the interchange station at which the steam railway connects with the electric railway, and saw some of the ex-underground rolling stock (Peter claimed it to be the end of the central line). Many UL favourites were sung on the short trip
back to Havenstreet, where we enjoyed a falconry show before it was time to catch the 3 pm ferry back to Portsmouth.
Thanks to Sophie for providing the tent, Peter, Jenny and Tom Sibley for driving and of course Harry for organising a memorable trip!
By Roxy Hughes