I’ve spent an enjoyable weekend away in the Nottingham/Derby part of the world. Sadly no sign of Robin Hood, just a couple of branches of Greggs and a Poundland. But that wasn’t the reason for the visit.
It’s the annual bell ringing trip which is organised by a fellow Stopfordian ringer where we spend a leisurely two days visiting about 5 towers and try to ring some decent changes. Last year we visited Chesterfield; this year is a little bit further down the M1 for us.
Our first stop, at Radford was to ring a quarter peal of Yorkshire Surprise Royal. A nice tower only let down by the fact the person supposedly letting us in had forgotten to turn up. After a bit of chasing around and having discovered that nobody else seemed to be aware of our visit, we were let in and got underway. Thankfully the trip was at a gentle pace and only an excessively long lunch was to be impinged. Or at least that’s what we thought.
Having successfully rung the method we headed off to Beeston. We were forewarned to avoid coming in from the East (where we already were) and to avoid the tram works at all costs. It would seem that the Sat Nav didn’t seem to want to be subjected to these restrictions and we got stuck in a Tom Tom loop around three streets in the middle of the tram works, only broken when we disobeyed the machine and did it ourselves.
Other than the tramworks, there wasn’t a lot to distinguish Beeston, with all the same shops as every other identikit UK high street. We did however stumble across what appeared to be a nice bespoke sandwich shop. And it was bespoke too – serving only pulled pork or beef cobs. Sure, they had a huge menu, but actually only had the two meats in stock. Fortunately pulled pork sounded good to me, and too much choice is over-rated anyway.
With minutes to spare before we started ringing, our final ringer finally emerged from the tram-works and we were ready to go with quarter peal number two - Cambridge Surprise Royal. And again, great bells and some pretty good ringing throughout. Day 1 of the trip was working out rather well, at least from a ringing point of view.
We left the tower, and with a couple of hours before the final tower of the day went to find our accommodation.
Unfortunately and presumably due to user error, the Tom Tom took us to the wrong Premier Inn, but we were quickly put right and arrived at our destination which seemed to be surrounded by Hospitals on all sides. Hopefully not an omen of things to come! It’s clearly one of the newer ones, or at least had a recent lick of paint and a quick shower and cuppa later and I was ready to go out to Derby Cathedral to wage war on Stedman Caters.
Now I’m fine with most ringing methods but for some reason have always had a mental block with Stedman. I can never seem to get it right, and thankfully I was given the heaviest bell to ring, which simply tolls behind the rest of them in this method. And I can do that reasonably competently too :-) Last year’s attempt at the same method (in Chesterfield) was a demonstration of how not to ring Stedman. At least the 2014 rendition was far better, and whilst I could never admit to it being an enjoyable experience, it was quite pleasant to listen too. And we were even given a billing on the church noticeboard should anyone care to know what we were up to.
We then found ourselves locked in the church and had to break out. Not that this was particularly difficult as the deadlocks were on the inside. However it did mean we couldn’t secure the building afterwards without the relevant keys which resulted in a number of frantic phone calls and nearly getting back late for dinner. And we couldn’t have that! Still, all was resolved in the end and we were seated at dinner with seconds to spare. I don’t think the world would have stopped turning otherwise, although there was a risk I might have eaten a postbox or park bench in the interim……
Sunday morning started with a run from the hotel to the Cathedral and back, a distance of just over 10k and a nice way to start the day. Followed by a long shower and a huge breakfast.
Sunday morning in fact was totally unplanned. This was a good thing as most of the band needed to learn the method for the first quarter peal of the day at Duffield.
Needless to say, the effort was in vain with getting about 15 minutes into it before it completely imploded. Such is the way of these things and there’s no guarantee about any method getting to the end intact. So instead we finished our time there with a bit more Stedman Caters, this time with me ringing the method. Surprisingly this didn’t implode in any violent fashion which is unusual when I’m involved in this method!
Our final tower of the weekend is the huge church of Youlgreave, which is a small village on a hill in the middle of nowhere.
Despite ringing a straightforward method – Grandsire Caters, the whole Youlgreave story was anything but easy.
Our first road-block occurred somewhere out in the hills near Winster. Road closed – none shalt pass. This didn’t perturb the sat nav who insisted we kept going through the sign regardless of poking it to say the road was blocked. In the end we worked our way back to the A6 and continued on the most major route. Which was fine until we turned off and headed into the wilderness towards the village, whereupon the next ‘Road closed – none shalt pass’ appeared. Which was a blighter as there wasn’t much in the way of options!
Cue a 15 mile diversion , during which the diversion signs totally stopped whilst the sat nav was insisting that the road being closed wasn’t an issue and that we really ought to ignore the big warning sign! Many miles later, on roads which mostly had grass growing up the middle, we arrived in Youlgreave. We were all late but thankfully our tower keeper had faith in our arrival, safe in the knowledge that the Gas Board was digging the hell out of their road system for much of the rest of the year!
When finally we were assembled, a decent quarter peal of Grandsire Caters rang out from their tower, and marked a good end to an enjoyable weekend.
Well, ignoring the big detour on the way home when we went the wrong way along the A515 (sat nav switched off at this point and probably being quite smug about our failed directions)!!!