Freshers’ Tour 2008

It was my first ULSCR trip, and I was clearly unprepared for such an early start on a Saturday!

Rolling out of bed in Camden at 8.10am for an 8.30am meet at Waterloo was not the best start to the day, but nonetheless I made it onto the train (just) as it pulled away from the station and met up with the rest of the UL.

The first tower was Leatherhead, the heaviest bells of the day and a ring of 10. The church was a short walk from the train station, and via a stop for coffee. Jacqui Bale, the trip organiser, kicked things off by running the first tower.

After an hour of ringing we left for the next tower; St Giles at Ashtead. Lifts were available for those who wished to travel by car, but it was a warm day for October and a few people, myself included, opted to walk. Surprisingly we arrived in Ashtead before the cars – we had obviously been power-walking.

This tower had 8 bells and a ringing room which was basically a small balcony overlooking the main church, I was amazed by just how many people we managed to squeeze in. More good ringing was had, run brilliantly by Lizzie Stokoe. At the time it didn’t strike me as odd that a fellow fresher was in charge, and it never occurred to me that this could be a sign of things to come…

By this point I was getting rather peckish, not having had time for breakfast. Lunch was at the “Barley Mow” pub in Epsom, another short, appetite-building walk. The food arrived very shortly after we did, and was delicious. Lots of beer, a miniature bowling game, and a rather too taxing crossword were also enjoyed. It was here that I was approached by Jacqui and asked to run one of the afternoon towers, an offer which I nervously tried to decline – and needless to say my efforts failed! I would now spend the rest of the afternoon worrying about remembering everyone’s names.

After lunch came the third tower of the day, St Martin of Tours at Epsom, which was just over the road from the pub. The challenge here was hoisting myself into the ringing room using an old bell rope and a ladder, after quite a bit of cider with lunch. This was another ring of 10, where we achieved some monumental firing during an attempt to ring plain hunt on 9. This tower was nicely run by Annelise Felton.

The final tower of the day – which was run by me and Hellen (aka “the other Helen” or “Double L”) with help from Jacqui – was Christ Church at Epsom Common. This was a light ring of 8, which although only being an 8cwt tenor, managed to rock the tower quite unnervingly!

Post-ringing merry-making ensued back in central London, firstly at the “Jugged Hare” pub near Victoria, then on to the Indian Diner round the corner for a curry, which I somehow ended up at despite my intentions to go home for an early night (wishful thinking). After a gorgeous curry we (of course) went back to the pub.

A few drinks later I stumbled back home after a very enjoyable day. Many thanks to Jacqui for organising the trip, and also to everyone who gave lifts!

By Helen “Single L” Richardson (died December 2011)