Shipdham, Ashill & Holme Hale, January 2017

January may seem an unusual time of year to have a band outing but the purpose was to put on something to liven up what is normally a quiet month. Since the days are short and cold and the possibility of poor weather is always there we decided to stay local and to make it a half-day. There is a good choice of ringing towers within easy reach of Scarning and many that few of the band had previously visited. Saturday afternoon was chosen as it also meant that two people, who normally work on Saturday mornings, were able to take part without making special arrangements.

So at 2.30 pm thirteen of us, some from Scarning and some from Dereham, met at Shipdham and had a ring on what is, by anyone’s standards, a delightful six (tenor 10 cwt.). This was in many ways an ideal ring of bells for the Scarning band to try, as they go much better than ours and whilst lighter, are not so light as to be a shock to those who are unused to light bells. With some helpful advice from Peter Woodcock we soon got going and rang some decent rounds and call changes and a couple of plain courses of Plain Bob Doubles. The youngest member of the group, Jayden, got on very well with the treble and I know he is already looking forward to visiting again if his dad will take him to a practice evening. Sarah, who has just started ringing Plain Bob Doubles, coped with some plain courses without apparent difficulty, which pleased both her and everyone else as otherwise we wouldn’t have had enough method ringers to attempt it.

The next stop was Ashill, well known to some of us but none the worse for that as they are as good a ring of eight as you will find in our immediate locality. All of us are very familiar with the Dereham bells, which go well and sound beautiful but Ashill, being so much lighter (tenor 9 cwt), was a pleasant surprise for those who hadn’t rung there before. The ringing was again of a good standard and three different people had a go at conducting call changes on eight.

The third and final tower of the afternoon was Holme Hale, which none of us had been to before. These are a mellow-sounding six (tenor 14cwt) and we managed to produce some good call changes. However, they were certainly the most challenging bells of the day, needing care ringing up as one or two seemed inclined to go up ‘wrong’, and they also defeated our attempt at plain hunt. The bigger bells also showed a tendency to drop very quickly unless rung with a firm hand, but we settled in and produced some decent ringing to end the day.

From Holme Hale we returned to Ashill, where we had booked a table for an early supper at McTaggarts. Here we had a warm welcome and good food and drink to round off a successful outing.

A number of people commented that regardless of the time of year, three towers is a good number for an outing since with all-day trips further afield and with more towers the whole thing can be rather exhausting. We may well try the same format again before very long, and there is ample scope without straying very far from home..

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