After many discussions among the students, it was decided that the erstwhile ‘Roger Bailey Day, rather than being solely a day of peal and quarter attempts, should instead take the form of an outing. This year saw the UL take a trip to Oxford, organised by our very own VP Jenny Willis. It was a busy day, with four towers on the list (A visit to St Aldates was reportedly vetoed by nearby Pembroke College, though with some compensation, as we shall see), as well as one QP slot. It was reasonably well attended, with a merry band spread over all ages, though mostly young.
Convening at the first tower, St Mary Magdalen, or Mary Mag’s to the locals, we found ourselves in a somewhat comical situation, as the key-holder attempted to unlock a succession of doors to the tower with little success (‘It’s usually open when I come along!’ was heard), only for a visitor to open them in seconds. Once inside, we found some quite trickily flighty bells, which some of the band struggled with more than others. By contrast, the following tower, St Thomas the Martyr (‘Thos’), was all-round the best ring of the day (spoiler). When we arrived we were informed that the Romanian Orthodox Congregation had been conducting a baptism and should therefore keep quiet, but upon entry we found the church nearly empty, much to our relief. These bells were much nicer, much better weighted as a ten and going and sounding nicely.
Lunch was at the White Rabbit, a charming city-centre pub with decent ale and a fantastic line in pizza, as well as most importantly heated outdoor seating (for some at least)! The author unfortunately failed to win a free pizza, unable to work out why the ‘Linguistica’ was so named. Over lunch a band was put together to fill a QP slot (compensation for the Aldates disappointment), and so we trooped back to Thos to ring a (perhaps somewhat frenetic) QP of Yorkshire Major. Those left behind were treated to either handbells or an impromptu tour of the city led by the organiser (fascinating I am sure).
Meeting back up at Carfax (the ‘Centre of Oxford’), and making sure to keep out any tourists, we crowded in, some even having to sit on the iron spiral stairs up to the belfry. We were joined here by a few extra OUS members, for at least one of whom it was their first time on the bells. These were probably the worst of the day: loud, heavy and (horror of horrors!) on plain bearings. However, despite this the assembled ringers still managed to ring surprise minor on the bells, finishing with a select six ringing Norwich as the rest of the band was sent hurrying to the final tower, St Giles. Here we had some competition, as an organ lesson was taking place at the same time, though this really was only noticeable when we stopped ringing. The stairs (or rather, old wooden step ladders) were a little tricky to negotiate, though more so on the way down. These bells at least went better than those at Carfax, but sound-wise they were a little odd-sounding. Here, among the day’s usual fare of Grandsire and Stedman, a plain course of Double Oxford Bob Triples was rung, appropriately enough, after which the Oxonians who had joined us during the day left to go ring at Christ Church, leaving the visitors to ring through to the end of the slot.
After finishing at Giles, those that remained decamped to the Lamb & Flag (after finding the Eagle & Child to be closed) for a final pint and group photo before beginning to disperse, with some heading for food and others the train station.
Many thanks to Jenny Willis for organising, the OUS and OS for allowing us the use of their bells, and to Mariko Whyte, Isaac Johnson, Bethan Hensman and Esther Gao respectively for running the ringing during the day, and also to Isaac Johnson for ably conducting the QP.