Winter Tour 2012

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On Saturday 14th January the UL set off for Canterbury on the Winter Tour. Those hardy souls who got up really early enjoyed a leisurely journey through the mists and frost of a chilly winter morning, whilst those who got up rather later were treated to a high speed whisk through Kent to our destination. The first tower of the day was St Stephen’s, situated conveniently close to a children’s play area (with a zipwire!!) which the Master and the President made good use of before we had to go and do some ringing.

Becca and I ran the ringing at St Stephen’s, a lovely eight where we rang London Major, Stedman and Grandsire (amongst other things) very well. Having rung for a whole hour we decided it was high time we had some food and alcohol and headed into the centre of Canterbury in search of a pub. On the way Jenny and several other lucky UL members were assaulted by a sheep called Douglas, but soldiered bravely onto the pub nevertheless.

The Cathedral was immediately after lunch, and happily all members arrived in a suitably sober state to do ourselves justice. Andrew Hills ran the ringing, and with a little help from some local ringers we managed two good touches of Grandsire Cinques and a service touch of Grandsire Caters. Most of us took the opportunity of visiting the memorial to Thomas Becket and generally looking around a very beautiful Cathedral before moving on to the most interesting tower of the day…

The ringing room at St Alphage was accessible only via a vertical ladder, but despite this awkward entrance had been turned into a storeroom/attic for the rest of the church. Items found included two lampshades, several large portfolio folders, an old TV box and a dead bird in a collecting bucket. The cumulative effect meant that from most sides of the ringing chamber the treble ringer was as good as invisible (apart from Peter Jasper, whose hair managed to make itself seen over the mountain of stuff in the centre of the circle). The bells an ‘interesting’ 6, described by one ringer as feeling like: “They’re about to fall out of the tower.” Ben Meyer ran the ringing, and we managed St Martins and St Simons spliced, despite several ringers making an early exit.

One coffee fix later and we were just about ready for our last tower of the day, St Dunstan’s. Ryan Noble was in charge, and we rang an exciting variation of doubles and minor methods that left several members abashed at their lack of expertise in this area. Despite the onslaught of tiredness some energetic ringing was managed on a 6 that felt a lot heavier than 13cwt, and it was a good end to a wonderful day out. A sneaky pint was just squeezed in before we hurried back to the station to catch the train to London, and we rounded off the winter tour with a trip to the Wong Kei restaurant in China Town and another pub session afterwards.

Thanks go to Andrew Hills for organising a wonderful outing.

by Rosemary Hill