Author Archives: Jo

Chels-Bells – DRC Outing March 2014

Chels-Bells – DRC Outing March 2014.

It felt like a long time since the DRC had been on an outing, so I thought that I would attempt to throw together a day out for me and my fellow ringers. Some of you may know that I used to live in Chelsfield and work in Chislehurst, and to my shame, I had never rung at any of the local towers. Not having a car, the idea of trip to South East London and nearer Kent began to appeal.

An intrepid group met at the Wetherspoon’s pub in Lewisham at 9.00am to enjoy quite possibly the cheapest breakfast in existence. In a break with tradition, no drinks were ordered, but I must confess myself very impressed with the no-nonsense approach to swapping items on the breakfast menu.


(Typical example of hash browns)

Having eaten far too many hash-browns (I swapped the beans and an egg), we set off for our first tower, St Mary in Lewisham. To my immense relief, other people had turned up and we ascended the tower with vigour. Hundreds of steps later, we arrived in the chamber and Dom commenced the ringing. The rounds rang out and the latecomers arrived – beware parking in Lewisham!

We left Lewisham in high spirits and jumped into the waiting cars. Trisha kindly took an advanced party to Chislehurst as we were running a bit late; you can imagine our surprise when everyone else turned up at St Nicholas late and she was not there. Whilst we began the ringing, Trish’s lady of the dashboard took her and her lucky passengers on a lovely tour of the south circular, which I think must have been the highlight of the day for several people.

Chislehurst presented a challenge. Being a ground-floor ring, it was quite difficult to hear the bells, which tested our ability to ring using rope sight. Thoughtfully, the ringing area is screened off by a curtain, so whilst some rang, others took the chance to look around the beautiful church. Jonathan quickly learned Grandsire double and then rang a flawless plain course.


(Lunch in the sunshine, Chislehurst)

Lunch beckoned and we ambled en masse to the Bull’s Head. In an incredible stroke of luck, the sun shone and we found a table for 25 in a secluded secret garden just behind the pub. Orders were placed and, again, in a break with tradition, Pimm’s was the order of the day. An impressive volume of jugs arrived, although one question remained. Who was that cool, enigmatic man under the pergola picking at a ploughman’s? So suave, so mysterious so . . . Greg. Our final ringer had joined us!

With some walking in a slightly wonky line, it was onwards to St Mary Cray. It’s not often you get to ring in the middle of an industrial park, but if that sounds appealing, head to St Mary Cray. Nestled next to a dual carriageway and railway arch, the impossibly charming church sits defiantly in its garden. Whilst some rang, others enjoyed the sunshine. Jonathan rang a touch of Grandsire (we’re expecting 8-spliced next week!) and we all marvelled that the bells are hung on plain bearings. They go very well!

The final tower was now within sight, so the entire outing piled into Dom’s Micra (it was very intimate in the back) and rushed to St Martin of Tours. The sun began to set as the final bells sounded, but we acquitted ourselves well at St Martin’s and again very much enjoyed the opportunity to visit such a remarkable church.

The ringing finished, but of course, the outing had really only just begun. A minute’s walk away we pitched up at the Five Bells (a pub) and celebrated a mishap-free day. As it happened, this was not to be the last pub, but since everyone was drinking tomato juice and being sensible, I needn’t bore you with the details of what happened next . . .

The sun set on the day, and I would like to thank everyone who came along. It was a pleasure to welcome James and Alex from Lewisham, and Helen, who came along to our ten-bell practice at Stepney. Particular thanks go to Gill, Chris, Andrew, Trish and Dom for driving us to the towers and to Chris, Luke and Dom for running the ringing. If you’ve never organised an outing before, I can highly recommend it – give it a go and take us somewhere new!


(The ringers outside St Mary Cray, St Mary Cray)


Fun-dy in Lundy (December 2013)

Fun-dy in Lundy (December 2013).

Although not officially sanctioned by the DRC, there were enough of us on the trip to make it feel a bit like an extended tower outing. Having driven to Bristol the evening before to enjoy the hospitality of Mr David Giles, we set out at an ungodly hour of the morning to meet the helicopter at Hartland Point. The journey was enhanced by an old packet of Murray Mints which I found in my coat pocket, but also by the increasingly beautiful countryside. As we neared the destination, we passed such places as Westward Ho! and Woolfhardisworthy (pronounced Woolsery), before a final stop at Bideford Morrison’s to use the cash machine. Speaking with others, it seems as if this is traditional part of the trip! Perhaps less traditionally, I came away loaded with Refresher Bars, which at 9p each, were a bit of a bargain.

Hartland International Airport

(Hartland International Airport)

Hartland Point beckoned, and we soon met up with our fellow travellers. We checked in our bags and ourselves (including the terrifying part where you have to declare your own body weight) and enjoyed a final mainland-bacon sandwich. Some very keen people attempted a handbell quarter.

Landing on Lundy, we were ushered to the pub where the merry-making was already in full-flow. As anyone who has been to Lundy before will know, the first visit to the pub marks the electrifying moment where you order something on the Lundy tab, and as we all know, future-money spent is not really money spent.

Friday evening approached and with it, some open ringing at St Helena. Members of the DRC who find Stepney cold would be advised to bring a sweater. This ringer was more than a little excited to have a go, in advance of the next day’s impending peal attempt.


(St Helena, Lundy)

Saturday morning arrived, and amongst the quasi-corpses lying around Milcombe House, several stirred and began preparing for the first of the week’s ringing attempts. We ascended the tower, took our places and having check that the ropes were the right lengths, Grandsire Triples commenced. Expertly called by Ed Hughes d’Aeth, the first hour went by without too much trouble, once the tall, blond ringer on the third bell stopped trying to double-dodge every time in 6/7.

Another hour went by, and apart from a cold nose, there had not been too many mishaps. Over half way through, there was a tacit belief that it might actually be achieved. The ringing quickened. The concentration deepened. The end hastened. All of a sudden, about to go into 4/5 up, the final single was called and floating into long thirds, that was all.

Relief washed over the band, but perhaps mostly me. This was rapidly followed by awareness that my arms and legs felt leaden and that the only cure was surely to be found in the Marisco Tavern. Triumphant, we descended the tower and head for the bar. The rest of the day was a bit of a blur. . .


(Peal band: David Giles, Rhiannon Meredith, Joe Tilley, Jonathan Slack, Chris Giddins, Andrew Wilby, Ed Hughes d’Aeth (C), Ed Bucknall having a well-earned drink)

That was the last ever peal rung in the extra-parochial church of St Helena of Lundy, for the next day, Lundy became its own Parish. The RAF was very obliging in flying a vicar all the way over from the mainland, and, with perhaps the largest ever congregation, St Helena celebrated its first intra-parochial even-song.

The jubilations continued into the evening with a fabulous Christmas dinner for 35 (including the vicar). Perhaps this could only happen in England; perhaps it was madness. Potatoes were mashed, cranberries were cooked. Spread across four ovens, a crack-team of basters ran across the island ensuring that the two geese and two turkeys stayed moist on the inside and crispy on the outside. At the appointed hour, the birds appeared on the Milcombe kitchen table and dinner was served. The roast was followed by some mouthwatering home-made Christmas puddings (smuggled across in several suitcases). The rest of the evening was a bit of a blur. . .

Sadness ensued the next day as we realised that we were only there for the weekend, and with a heavy heart, we began saying goodbye to the week-long visitors. Looking at the mountain of dishes in the sink, it was a bit of a relief that we had a helicopter to catch!

And so, the long trip home. Disappointment at not seeing a single puffin was soothed when we took a train along something called the Tarka line, which was an unexpected treat!

A stellar weekend, and testament to world of ringing. I was thrilled to achieve my first peal, and was also glad to hear that it was a first for David Giles too. Many thanks must go to Luke Camden and Rhiannon Meredith for the organisation. Ringing is a communal hobby, and it would not have been possible without the fellow seven peal-ringers, but also without the time, effort and dedication of everyone who contributes to teaching ringing and to running practices, which allows newer ringers like me to take part in this rewarding, if bizarre, activity. Thank you to everyone who has helped and continues to help me on my way!


(Happy times in Milcombe)