Friday 28th August
Today was the day that the UL descended on Lincoln for our annual summer tour. Our first target was the university halls where we would be staying, and more importantly the location of the 144 pints (in 4 polypins) acquired by Chris B.
The UL are clearly creatures of habit and being in a completely new city, while we patiently awaited the arrival of our tour organiser, we headed to spoons for dinner. There were several train sagas on route to Lincoln Central… Ben Meyer’s being the most spectacular. As tour organiser he finally arrived at 01.55. This, of course, didn’t prevent a drinking session and the most dedicated started tour in true ringers’ fashion, retiring to their beds close to 4am.
Saturday 29th August
Up and out of bed far too early for a Saturday morning, some had time to take a leisurely stroll and there was time for a pastry stop or coffee and bacon sarnie at the station, half of us a quick walk and others… woke up at only 07.30 and had a rather quick jog to the station but unbelievably we all managed to catch the 08.01 train from Lincoln to Peterborough. Very impressive for those that had only gone to bed 4 hours previously. I feel also a small miracle for the same ‘reliable’ train service that had caused Ben such a convoluted journey not that many hours before.
An hour and a half on the train later and a quick walk we arrived at the first tower of tour: St Mary’s (8 bells, 8-3-17). There was great excitement at the coloured ropes; unfortunately for Chris R. who was running the ringing he was unable to identify the blue treble and black tenor. An advanced party left the remainder of us to have some colour call changes, which was another struggle for colour blind Chris. Kate’s mind clearly already on the pub she suggested port, wine and merlot all as colours.
St John the Baptist (8 bells, 26-2-22) was our second tower of the day. We had some good ringing here run by our new master Richard and we were offered a last minute opportunity to ring at the cathedral. The wedding of two local ringers was at Peterborough Cathedral (12 bells, 21 cwt) that afternoon and with most of the couple’s ringing friends attending the actual wedding we were going to ring them out… so no pressure!
And… Another train dash! This time to Newark (10 bells, 31 cwt) for the last tower of the day. According to the tour sheet (I know! what tour sheet?) Newark is notable for the tower and the octagonal spire being the highest in Nottinghamshire. Our numbers were slightly diminished by this point and the tiredness had hit Ben who forgot his own name when writing in the visitor’s book. So as well as being joined by Ben Royal (whoever he was) we were joined by Jemma and managed to successfully not scare her off as a new fresher joining us in September. We decided we didn’t much like the bells and they were hard work without more of us. Ryan tried hard to motivate us but with the tower swaying so much it was visible in the pictures hung on the wall, we headed to the pub for a cure to our sea sickness.
A very busy day ringing in 3 different counties: Cambridgeshire, Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire. Back at the halls we had many games of Twister. With Becca becoming twister champion without even playing…!
Sunday 30th August
David spent much of the morning telling the story of the laptop incident from the previous night when Ben M. had decided to try to sleep on his desk. Kate and Asher had a different tale to tell. They had used Saturday afternoon to buy new pillows and we were all informed just how much better they had slept. It had to be agreed that the beds in the halls were terrible.
Today we joined the local ringers for Sunday morning ringing around Lincoln. A brisk morning walk up the hill, over the top, and down the hill for the first tower of the day: St Giles (8 bells, 18-0-02) also apparently known locally as ‘the church that moved’. Others didn’t fancy this and caught a taxi or claimed a seat in a car from those driving. Some didn’t make it at all but I hear there was some nice ringing here on a pleasant 8.
Next we headed towards the Cathedral and found ourselves in the middle of the steampunk festival. The Asylum Steampunk Festival is the largest and longest running steampunk festival in the World, attracting participants from around the globe. It takes place over the August Bank Holiday weekend in the historic City of Lincoln. Their website suggests to festival goers that: The Asylum is the perfect place to deck out in your most splendid and eye catching outfit. There were certainly many corsets and indescribable costumes all accessorised with wonderful head gear and flying goggles!
Lincoln Cathedral (12 bells, 23-3-13) is the third largest in Britain (in floor space) after St Paul’s and York Minster and it was reputedly the tallest building in the world for 238 years (1311-1549). After a lot of stairs we joined the regular Cathedral ringers. Everyone had the opportunity to ring with rounds and call changes to surprise maximus.
We had a rather long walk all the walk back down the hill to our next tower, St Botolph’s (6 bells, 9-2-2). This tower had a circus like ladder up to the bells. This was enough to typically UL style cause a very advanced party to the pub. Kate ran the ringing here very well after it had been surprised upon her.
Lunch was taken at the Ritz.
The last tower of the day, St Mary le Wigford (4 bells, 6-1-7), we had Erin and Bristol, a whole array of Canterbury topped off nicely with some crumble and custard. We had some imaginative ringing to make use of more than 4 ringers at once by Plain hunt with 8 people. We even managed a current student band at this tower!
I feel a request for reinstating a UL quotes page (although it may be at slight expense of our lovely past master – who wasn’t even present to defend herself). On attempting to ring Roesmary and Thyme:
‘No then we will go into rosemary to finish’ Chris was certain. However, Ben felt we were ‘struggling with the front bits’. Ryan helpfully pointed out that ‘most of the bits are on the front’.
A big thank you to Jemma for keeping us well entertained for an hour on 4!
Becca and Ryan (with appropriate eye protection for chopping onions) with the help of several sous-chefs did cooking on grand scale to feed us all Spaghetti bolognaise. We then had crumble made by Rachael and Robert. Hills on hearing there was a shortage of bowls turned up in the kitchen with a saucepan to have his dessert in!
Monday 31st August
A rail strike hampered plans for today (which had been for the Grimsby area) and a rain check was taken on an alternate bus plan due to it being a bank holiday. Talking of… rain, rain, rain was the main theme of the day!
A few car shuttles and we started at St Andrew, Potterhanworth (6 bells, 6-3-24). We were not a complete group. We had lost those friends only with us for the weekend and some opted for a lie in. They then decided to further explore the wonders of the Steampunk festival, attending the wacky races and updating their knowledge of the gadgets and gizmo’s required for this unique theatrical appearance.
Fortunately for us our lovely tower contact would be with us for the day and he had a car! As the torrential rain continued we arrived at our second tower, All Saints, Nocton (6 bells, 8-1-11). There were not any lights on the spiral staircase here! Our imagination for ringing on 6 was improving and Rachel ran the ringing here for us. Becca and her fellow car passengers left us here to begin to head homebound. So with a shuttle again we headed to the pub for lunch and of course necessary rehydration. Here we were surprised by the morning Steam punk festival goers. They had obviously missed us too much to stay away. Disappointingly none of them had gained any flying goggle accessories though.
A short walk around the corner to St Peter, Dunston (5 bells, 8-0-8). Before lunch, on hearing that the next tower was a 5, Hills responded with a ‘aiuapsebf’ (that is how he told me to write it!) noise of excitement, so suitably he ran the ringing for us here. Sibley found a very small chair to sit on and then took a nap.
Our final tower of the day was St Wilfrid, Metheringham (8 bells, 6-3-13) and apparently the lightest 8 in Lincolnshire. There were a couple of mishaps on the way. I had a moment and left my debit card in the reader at the Co-op, to be chased down the street by a very helpful man to get me to come back to collect it. When we arrived at the church we could see that where the road ended Chris had taken the footpath in his car, resulting in some slight abandonment parking.
Nix ran the ringing here with a cup of Lemsip in hand (Which I had been ID’d for in the co-op!). Our tower contact who had stuck with us for the day could not quite understand wanting to come to this tower… The 8 bells were an interesting selection. You could choose the bell with no backstrokes or
alternatively the one with a cracked stay or if you were feeling adventurous the bell with the loose gudgeon.
Back in the halls helped by some wonderful sous chefs I made curry on a vast scale followed by chocolate brownie. Rather gooey brownie following a lot of measurement guess work without a set of scales. Not at all how Mary Berry would cook. But I think it is fair to say it went down well and I think David particularly enjoyed his portion and seconds and thirds, with half round his face.
Tuesday 1st September
Ben made it 2 steps down the path before deciding that a morning run wouldn’t end well. Chris and Jacqui went on a mini bus hunt. So, we started our day with our first mini bus outing of tour.
Someone made the revelation that it was the first day of the month and an old school playground game came out. With Dixie definitely feeling the most pinches and punches. Next we wondered: ‘What would constitute an emergency?’ (and the need to use the little glass hammer). Dixie wanted to post a letter, I wanted to dry my hair… We decided if an aroma of last night’s curry made an appearance it may require emergency action. Chris stated that whoever first opened a window would be buying the first round in the pub. Chris cracked a window first so it seemed drinks were on him!
We had cancelled the first tower of the day in Sibsey as finding the mini bus had taken slightly longer than planned. However our day still began in Sibsey, at the Windmill. Sibsey windmill was built in 1877 and apparently in its day it was the ‘Rolls Royce’ of windmills. Something that Ben had kept quiet was that he used to work in a windmill so we had ourselves a personal tour guide. We tried to test him with tricky questions but we were impressed with this secret knowledge. We followed the leader round the balcony and headed down, noting some highbrow graffiti on the way.
We had time for a civilised cup of tea and cake in the little coffee shop. Well most of us choose cake. Luke had some interesting breakfast eating the whole jar of pickled vegetables from the windmill shop. There were clocks covering nearly all the wall space in the little café room and as they headed towards the hour they sang and chimed and the cuckoo popped out. However they all seemed to be set at different times we had an entertaining time guessing which would be next, or spotting the one making the current sound.
Ben was too polite to tell the old man that we had to leave. Arriving at St Botolph’s, The Boston Stump (10 bells, 21-1-10) over half an hour late we had our first (and actually only) lock out of tour.
Not to worry the UL soon found a pub to pass away the time instead. Tim and I managed to locate a fancy dress shop and purchased a gift for Chris. We had decided that as mini bus driver he needed to have a chauffeur’s hat!
All aboard the mini bus and with Chris looking dashing in his new hat we headed to our next tower St Mary’s, Frampton (6 bells, 12-2-26). This tower had lots of peal boards showing peals that had set new records in spliced surprise minor. We turned up and fired out attempts of LukeO Steadman multiple times and most of the other things we attempted to ring.
Back in the mini bus and onto St Andrew, Kirton in Lindsey (8 bells, 12-1-10). This was a ground floor ring with a very long draft! The more enthusiastic among us managed some good ringing here while the rest of us re-learnt the school gymnastic skill of teddy bear rolls in the carpeted aisle.
Our last tower of the day was St Lawrence, Surfleet (12 bells, 12-0-9). It seemed that the church was double booked with a brownie guide choir. We were very happy for them to sing first while we went to the pub, but the pub was shut! At a loss of what to do Robert took a sun bathe in a rather unfortunate place in front of grave. The leader was very adamant that they were going to sing. However, unfortunately for them their organist did not turn up.
An even longer draft here and the spire seemed to be trying to fall over. It was on such a lean that the point of the spire was directly above the back wall. Sibley had left us at lunch and so 12 bells with only 12 ringers was hard work. Ben and Chris soon found some Lego in the children’s corner and with reducing numbers an attempt of Luke O Steadman was made again.
The pub was still shut! So all back in the mini bus and a Morrison’s trip was made for alcohol and pizza! Stuffed full the cards against humanity came out. The game started fairly tamely. With more alcohol (the Buckfast was out and Ben’s grandmothers lethal sloe gin) the answers got better, although we suffered a few casualties to sleep. We all decided maybe it was bedtime though when David threatened Ben with a knife… I think that he was still dwelling on the laptop incident.
Wednesday 2nd September
There were a lot of specific methods for today listed on the tour sheet (I know, what tour sheet?):
- Alford alliance minor
- A beer bob minor
- Beer treble place minor
- Beer delight minor
- Beer surprise major
Our numbers were diminished further. We started at St Peter & St Paul, Old Bollingbroke (6 bells, 12cwt); a pleasant ground floor ring. Following the ringing here we walked round the corner to the ruins of Bollingbroke Castle. We had fun climbing on the walls and posed for a great group shot.
Back in the mini bus we had Disney after Disney song with very loud choruses. The revelation that David has seen Phantom of the opera 11 times and in 4 different languages (I think, my memory may not be completely accurate). Ben, in charge of navigation, took us on the scenic route. He directed us through a large estate where we seemed to have driven into our very own Cluedo game.
We had a visit to Ben’s house for keys and then onto St Wilfrid, Alford (6 bells, 12-1-24). This was Ben’s home tower. We all had to ask who Valerie was in the otherwise complete Meyer Peal on the board on the wall. Unfortunately we were unable to gain any embarrassing stories. I feel like most of the time here was spent on the roof admiring the view and Ben C. has his next album cover sorted.
Our next tower was St Helena’s, Willoughby (6 bells, 12cwt). The most notable person to come from Willoughby is John Smith, known best for his connection with Pocahontas. The ringing didn’t last
ever so long here, having rung up we discovered that the rest of the group had gone in the mini bus for a toilet stop. We had a nice touch and then had finished ringing down when they returned from their pit stop. So that concluded the ringing for the day and I can tell you that we didn’t ring any of today’s specific methods!
Our afternoon was to be very well spent on a Brewery Tour. There seemed to be a Satnav versus Ben M. navigation battle on route to the brewery. Chris I think enjoyed interpreting directions in his own way and the mini bus bounced along the county side lanes to Batemans Brewery.
We arrived a little early so mused ourselves on the giant games outside until the revelation that we could visit the bar prior to our tour! Batemans brewery shop gave us a new ULSCR mascot! Introducing Little Bob Maximus, who was to join us on our tour for his first trip with the ULSCR! We hoped that he would not reach the same fate as his poor predecessor…
Batemans has been brewing beer from their brewery in Wainfleet since 1874. They believe that with this amount of knowledge they are rather good at it now, and I think it is fair to say that none of us disagreed with them on this. We had a very informative tour looking first at all the old machinery and then the new kit, as it seems health and safety laws have changed slightly in the last 140 years! The brewery was in full swing and we peered into the tanks, feeling the warmth and noticing the smell of the fermentation. We were advised that if we were ever in doubt of the quality of a water supply then beer was of course a better and indeed safer option. We also discovered that employees at Batemans Brewery are entitled to 2 and a half pints free beer per day.
Halfway through the week and, we found Wood! Well, almost… There was his name up on the wall in the Brewery for having attended an anniversary event. Obviously there can only be one Tom Wood. No one else could pull off the outrageous bold statements of colour.
Finally following our tour we of course had to have a proper tasting session.
We had a much needed pee stop on the way back to the halls following our Brewery afternoon and as it was a pub an opportunity for another quick pint was not missed. There was many a sleepy head in the minibus. Back at the halls Jacqui cooked a lovely meal for everyone followed up with cinnamon biscuits. I feel the icing designs may have been a little more mature had Jacqui stayed in charge of these. Students will misbehave even those who have supposedly grown up a little!
Thursday 3rd September
Today we had been confidently informed by Ben that we were going to Hull… but, the thing is you actually don’t have to cross the Humber Bridge to get to Hazelmere! With some very impressive late minute organising we had a day around Nottingham instead.
The main event of today was the demise of the minibus. At first we put the dubious smell down to a passing lorry, but the smell of burning rubber too soon became normal around us. Luckily we spotted a pub to pull over at, and most of us had started to plan a breakdown breakfast. Unfortunately the pub was closed however, it did have a playground. While the mini bus sat with the bonnet up cooling off we entertained ourselves on the climbing frame and Little Bob Maximus had a
bit of an action photo shoot. Dixie had a theory that the breakdown of the mini bus was due to the absence of the chauffeur hat. Robert, as todays designated driver, had not been wearing it!
Chris decided that as long as we didn’t have to change gear or accelerate we would be okay, so we ploughed bravely on towards Nottingham at a rather slower pace than Wednesday afternoon. Our first tower of the day was St John the Baptist, Beeston (10 bells, 17-1-14). We pulled off and the simulator starting mooing…! Ben’s brother had it set to ‘Cow’.
With the mini bus having a small rest to hopefully get us home again we caught the tram to St Peter’s (12 bells, 22-2-5). Even with 2 extra guests ringing with us we only made 11 here so unfortunately we were unable to ring on all 12. This was due to the loss of Jacqui and Chris as minibus doctor and nurse. Still we had some good ringing on 8 and 10 accompanied by the saxophonist playing jazz directly below the open tower window.
Following lunch we had a bus dash (an alternative to the weeks earlier train dash!) and we headed onto- our last tower of the day St Paul’s, Daybrook (8 bells, 9-2-3). This was to be our last tower of tour! We rounded off the ringing on this summer tour with a pleasant hour on these recently rehung bells.
The mini bus seemed improved for a rest and it successfully got us all back to the halls. We headed back up Lincoln’s only hill for dinner, and we stuffed ourselves completely overfull with all-you-can-eat Chinese, followed up with all-you-can-eat dessert!
Tonight was the cathedral practice and although none of us made it to the ringing, a group of us went to look at the cathedral lit up pretty in the dark. It was then back to the halls to consume any remaining alcohol. For those still awake they wished a rather sleepy Ryan a very Happy Birthday shortly after midnight. I think he was rather more disgruntled than pleased at being woken up.
Friday 4th September
Our adventure in Lincolnshire was to come to an end today. We had had a great week with many towers, much fun and laughter, numerous funny stories to recall and many many pints.
On trying to leave the halls in the morning Ben had misplaced his shoe… It was finally discovered however, I feel everyone’s efforts to find his shoe were slightly in vain as it was all but split in 2 and (after acquiring some new ones) only a couple of hours later they went in a bin up The Strait.
Nix left for the station and Jackie and Chris for Scotland. UL members were now outnumbered by non UL members! The group of us met Luke and Dixie in spoons where we then left them consuming lots of refillable coffee. Ben, Ben, Robert, Tim and I headed up the only hill in Lincoln for a trip to the castle. Robert was also on a mission to collect the last of the letters on the bishops that were spread around London.
The end of the week had arrived and so we came to leave Yellow belly country. Loaded well up with all of Ben’s stuff (no-one was really sure why he was moving house from London to London via Lincoln) we caught the train back to London.
A big THANK YOU to Ben and Chris for organising. As well as a thank you to all those who ran ringing, to all those who cooked and all those who provided a chauffeur service. Here is looking forward to tour next year!
By Laura Caine