Pershore 2011    More photos

Bodicote and Holmer New Year Ringing Outing 2011

What better way to stave off the excesses of the holiday period than to meet up with friends from another tower for a bit of a work-out.  Interspersed with lunch, of course!

Selecting an area approximately half-way between the two towers, the ringers from Bodicote (Oxfordshire) and Holmer (Hereford) arrived at Pershore on the very wet morning of 8 January to ring at St Andrew’s parish centre.  This tower is just over the road from the beautiful, but scary Pershore Abbey – anyone who has rung there will know what I mean.  By way of contrast, the ringing chamber at St Andrew’s is easily accessed, well-lit and heated, and the lightish eight go very well.  It was an excellent start, especially for the younger and less experienced ringers amongst us.

On to the pretty village of Birlingham where we entered the churchyard through the former Norman chancel arch and noted fearsome dragons encircling the ancient font.  We tackled the six bells at St James the Great, which were not always easy to strike, with a fair degree of success and with thoughts of our approaching lunch at the local pub.  The Swan is one of those out-of-the-way places which, once discovered, will warrant many more visits. This was our third annual outing, and it would be difficult to improve on this venue for lunch given the hospitable welcome, good ales and superb food.

Having reluctantly removed ourselves from The Swan, we discovered that the sun had come out and the full glory of the countryside in the shadow of Bredon Hill was visible as we made our way to St Mary’s, Elmley Castle. Here we discovered perhaps the most atmospheric ringing chamber of the trip and spotted some interesting carved images of animals in the porch. It was spacious with wonderful, large windows overlooking the nave to one side and showing sky and trees to the other.  We also found the tuning of the heavy six bells rather unusual, the general consensus being that the second was possibly a semi-tone out. However, this did not deter us from attempting the most ambitious piece of ringing of the trip, which was to splice Cambridge and Grandsire.  This probably would have succeeded if the wandering tenor had been more effectively spotted.

Our last tower was at St John the Baptist, Fladbury. Yet another lovely village with half-timbered buildings, an interesting history and an obviously supportive population; the bells have been augmented from six to eight in fairly recent times.  Although not an especially heavy ring, the back bells did require a steady pull, but we did manage several triples methods here.  To the relief of those who had found the previous tower a little Spartan, this ringing chamber had a good set of heaters and even matching cushions!

It is good to note that more churches are creating areas for use as kitchens and toilets; on a trip elsewhere we even had coffee and biscuits served up to us by the local ringers.  However, it does mean that the last person out needs to check that no-one is still making use of the facilities!  We almost abandoned one ringer and I can confirm, from personal experience, that it is quite frightening to discover someone locking up just as you emerge with none of your party in sight. Happily, when car-sharing it’s immediately obvious that someone is missing.

Our thanks must go to Martin and David , for organising and running an extremely enjoyable day, and also to the local ringers for their hospitality.

Left to right; Alan, Martin S, Pam, Paul, Alison, Martin, Karen H, Ruth, Karen P, Kevin H, Jen, Wendy, Helen, Chloe, Tom, Ken(behind), Kevin J(behind Ken!), Keith, Chris, Dave, Phil, Alison V, Toby, Isobel, Veronica.