Bristol Rural Branch
Mayday 2000



After the wettest April on record May 1st dawned dry and sunny as members and friends boarded the coach at Coalpit Heath for our annual outing. Everyone was on time (yes it’s true) and at eight o'clock Tony completed the ‘head count’, gave the word to our now familiar driver Allen, and off we set for our first destination - Pewsey at the head of the valley of the Wiltshire Avon. The journey, initially on the M4 then through beautiful countryside bursting with spring greenery, was uneventful, and we arrived at our first church - St John Baptist, ahead of time. Fortunately our hosts arrived shortly after and soon Martin Blanchard had a ‘band to raise’ organised and the 12cwt six up and running to a respectable touch of Stedman to set the standard for the rest of the day! Whilst the various groups were in the tower the rest found St Johns an interesting church to explore. Of particular interest: the frontal of the High Altar – a ‘patchwork’ interpretation of the Avon Valley skyline, and the glass fronted Nave Altar enclosing an Easter tableau. The North Aisle is sensitively screened from the Nave and it was here that our hosts provided the company with refreshment – drinks and a mouth-watering selection of cakes. Travelling on to Upavon the 14cwt ground floor ring of six at St Mary the Virgin at first seemed daunting, particularly when informed by our host there that we were looking at 60 feet of rope! However ‘Bryn’ Shackleton our ‘Tower Captain’ for the tower reminded us that as learners we were all taught to ring with a tight rope and so long as we remembered that there wouldn’t be a problem – and he was right. Tummies beginning to rumble, our next stop was ‘The Swan’ at Enford for lunch. Tony and Mary had done an excellent job advising the Landlord in advance of our individual selections from their comprehensive menu – and it worked a treat for most were served before finishing their first pint! On-going entertainment was provided by the system there whereby the kitchen announced each persons dish over the PA – mispronunciation of some names proved hilarious. A short walk from the Inn took us to the Church, All Saints, a 13cwt six. These bells were rated ‘good’ by the experienced and less so members of the company, and under the management of Don Haskins this time everyone had opportunity to ‘work down’ their lunch! The last two towers: All Saints, Fittleton (8cwt/6), and All Saints, Durrington (11cwt/6) proved more difficult to manage for Garry Crisp and Alan Pidgeon respectively. With limited space in the ringing chambers it wasn’t possible to ensure that the best mix of skills were present there at any given time. However with a little ‘shuttling’ of bodies up and down the spiral stair everyone was accommodated. In the course of the day a good selection of methods were addressed. As well as the usual learners exercises Doubles included Stedman, Plain Bob, Grandsire, Reverse Canterbury, and St Simons. Minor - Cambridge, St Clemants, Plain Bob, and maybe more when the author wasn’t present. Our thanks to the conductors who with patience guided our sometimes erratic courses! Lyn Angell and Joan Haskins served the tea and cakes provided by Mary in the church after the last ring, after which the then by now slightly weary company settled down for the ride home arriving at Coalpit Heath just after half past seven.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Don Haskins

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