London bells

My first day in London was planned by beer afficionado JPA around my visit to Whitechapel foundry. First there was ringing at St Botolph’s, Bishopsgate. I was glad the proposed quarter peal didn’t happen. hard going bells in a tower with quite a sway! A party of schoolgirls was over from Washington Cathedral School. They were ringing at St Olave’s, Hart Street, so the parties swapped towers, so to speak, giving us each an extra, unexpected grab.
As part of JPA’s plan there was drinking in a hotel that had been a ballroom, and still looked a very grand one at that – at Liverpool Street Station. [Being in London is a bit like living on the Monopoly board!!!] And in the evening there was a curry in Brick Lane.

As mentioned before, the foundry was fascinating. I didn’t learn heaps that was new but seeing where and how it all happens gave an insight that reading about it couldn’t. I was lucky to have seen David T’s workshop at Northallerton where he makes wheels. That was fascinating too. You should see his collection of clamps!!!

Next day I went to watch/listen to the service ringing at St Paul’s Cathedral I suppose that is the real one too – but no one has said so 😉 The ringing was jaw-droppingly good. I went up to the bells and saw six being raised. I could also look out the ‘porthole’ window space and see great views while being scared out of my wits. Yesterday I saw a construction worker leaning off a beam, hanging out into space, holding on with one hand – obviously without my fear of heights – and also obviously without any safety harness. Crikey!

After coffee with the St Paul’s band I set off, listening to their ringing outside along the way to St Martin in the Fields where I rang some rounds and call changes, butting into their 12 bell spliced surprise practice. E-Aunt had invited me to this … and so I got a piece of a fabulous cream & fresh raspberry sponge she’d made for one of the ringers – very late the night before as she was at Brick Lane for the curry! The birthday ‘boy’ has a brother in Melbourne who used to ring for a while. I’m not sure if it was our ringing or his gaining a wife and family that stopped his ringing career :-/

On Tuesday nights it’s practice at Nutwood, aka Willesden. This was a band I could ring with …. but not without mucking up most of what I tried. I’d like to think it was because I was pretty tired … but that would only be making excuses. It was good to have the company of Rupert Bear and another ringer on my return journey … on three trains as my companions tried to decide what pub to have a drink at before our farewells 🙂 Mind you, three trains isn’t a problem when trains are so frequent and you only have to jump across a platform.

Next day it was back to Bishopsgate for the lunchtime ring. The church looked lovely, decorated for their patronal festival. Only four there to ring – one of whom was Laura, over from Boston. Minimus it was!!

Due to a change of plan at the venue (it was being used for a church service – quelle surprise!!) it wasn’t Southwark Cathedral but St Sepulchre’s where I rang next. Another serious 12 bell tower but they did have a couple of learners so I didn’t feel bad about joining in rounds and call changes there.

And my last ring – so far – was at St Giles in the Fields. I was expected there on my last visit to London but didn’t make it so made good my lapse … most enjoyably. There was a huge crowd, at least four visitors, including me, so again I was quite happy with my ring of rounds and call changes. A very friendly band with those who didn’t have to go back to work adjourning to the pub. They have a Tuesday practice too so, because it’s close to where I’m staying, I might get there next Tuesday, the evening before I’m due to fly home.

Monday I’m planning to go to Kilburn where I’ll catch up with some of the ringers for the last time.

And for now I’ll sign off as the bloke at the next computer, four inches away, talks to himself out very loud and when I asked if he could speak more softly he was offended that I don’t find his thoughts fascinating. Perhaps someone does ….. (Reading out loud too – learning difficulties??)

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