Our branch president Willy Haynes marked a huge anniversary recently when he celebrated being Tower Captain and Steeple Keeper of Charlton on Otmoor for 50 years. He was interviewed for the Bicester Advertiser, Oxford Mail and on Radio Oxford.
On Saturday 21st February 10 branch members (from Launton, Bicester, Islip and Charlton on Otmoor), 2 new recruits (also from Bicester) and 2 Guild representatives met at Launton for the Branch AGM. Ringing started at 10:30am with call changes. More call changes followed as I went to prepare for the service – thanks to those who continued running the ringing.
We held a half hour service led by the Rev Becky Mathew and then held our meeting in the church. All officers were re-elected and 3 new members (Samuel Cole, Nicholas Thomas and Amanda Harris, all of Bicester) were elected. Reports were presented (most reports were made available prior to the meeting on the branch website).
As well as a number of guild dates, a few dates of note were mentioned:
Fri 13th March – trip to Leigh End mini ring in Wheatley – contact Anthony if you wish to come along
Sat 18th April – branch outing to Bedford area – exact route to be published when all towers booked.
Sat 5th Sept – Branch BBQ and Striking Competition
Full minutes of the meeting will be made available in due course.
Following the meeting an excellent lunch was enjoyed by many of us in the Black Bull, Launton.
Next branch event will be the Branch Practice in Islip on Tues 3rd March – hopefully see lots of you there.
On Sunday 25th January a rare event occurred – we had 9 ringers on a Sunday morning – but rarer still, the rope on the 4th bell snapped whilst our youngest trainee was ringing it to call changes on 8. Samuel ducked out of the way, but it didn’t scare him. This is just one of those things – ropes break eventually – wear and tear. However, to make the event a little rarer the bell stood itself. So.. how do you ring down a bell (to make it safe) if there isn’t a rope attached? Well, luckily for us the 4th bell is very accessible as it is by a walkway around the bells so one sure-footed ringer (yours truly) grabbed the wheel with one hand (keeping myself well out of the path of the bell) and pushed, rocking the bell on the stay before pushing it off and moving well away. Newton did the rest (well Gravity that he discovered); 3 minutes later the bell had rung itself down and we carried on ringing minus the 4th.
24 hours later and a spare rope has been attached to the bell and the broken one has a new long splice and is ready to go back next time I feel like wandering up to the bells. Usually a rope will break where it goes through the garter hole (hole in the bell wheel), but in this instance it snapped where it goes through the pulley block and (coincidentally perhaps) a nail came down with the rope into the ringing room. The nail, remains of recent work to increase the area opened by our sound control we think, must have been left on the floor when we tidied up. Whoops!
Our branch AGM is on the morning of Saturday 21st February in Launton, followed by a pub lunch. The timings for the meeting are as follows:
11.30 am Meeting – see agenda below
12.30pm Lunch at the Black Bull – all welcome – 52 West End, Launton, Bicester, Oxfordshire OX26 5DG
It would be nice to see at least one representative from each of the 14 towers in the branch with members (more than one per tower would be even better :D). It would be nice to see some of our new recruits too.
On Monday 19th Jan 8 branch ringers (one back briefly from his world tour), 1 learner and 2 new recruits came to Bicester for the monthly special practice.
After ringing up all 10 (front 6 then back 4) we started with call changes on the back 8. Next we scraped our way through some plain courses of Plain Bob Minor.
Next we had a touch of Grandsire Doubles before we attempted Winchendon Place where we just about managed plain courses.
Lastly we rang some courses of Plain hunt on 7 (a first for Samuel) before ringing down.
Throughout the evening our new recruits had handling sessions – backstroke first then handstroke and catching the handstroke (which is one of the hardest bits new recruits have to learn as catching the sally in just the right place is not easy)… well done everyone.
Next practice is at Kirtlington on Tues 3rd Feb… Hope to see lots of people there.
On Monday 5th January 8 ringers came to Bicester for the first branch practice of 2015.
Very much a low key start to the year compared to Jan 2014, but a cracking practice nonetheless with the whole of the Caversfield band gaining lots of help from the aid of Fay (great to see you back ringing), Ann and Jeremy. Sam and Nick joined in the ringing up in peal to start with then we rang plain hunt on 5 and then Nick had a go at the treble to Grandsire Doubles with advice on which to follow. Sam showed us how to ring the treble to Plain bob Doubles by listening only (using the methodology app on his Hudl). We then progressed to Plain hunt on 6 with both Amanda and Nick managing well. Amanda then tried covering as we rang plain courses of Grandsire Doubles before ringing down (not so good but Nick and Amanda are still learning).
All in all a thoroughly useful practice that really helped the learners..exactly what they needed and exactly what branch practices are for.
Next branch event is the special practice at Bicester on Monday 19th Jan – hopefully see lots of you there then.
The Bicester branch are going large and touring the world.. well.. one of our members is anyway, and ringing where there are bells.
Ian’s most recent trip has led him to Calgary, Canada from where he writes:
I went ringing Xmas eve after work and again yesterday, Christmas morning. The Calgary ringers are really friendly and I was made to feel very welcome. They had had a busy day Christmas eve, with 3 services to ring for but I was only able to make it for the last one at 9.45 pm. There were 7 of us in the end and we rang some touches of plain bob minor and doubles and a touch of grandsire doubles too. I was able to ring inside for plain bobs and rang the tenor behind for grandsire. Call changes are called the other way round here and I managed to get completely lost! Christmas morning saw us ring all 8 of the Calgary bells, with some very nicely struck rounds and call changes – I managed to grab the tenor so as not to mess things up! We also had a couple of good attempts at touches of plain bob doubles and successfully rang plain course of plain bob minor. Hoping to ring again on Sunday weather permitting, ringing only gets cancelled when it drops below -20!
Christ Church in Calgary has a ring of 8 bells (8-2-0 in Bb).
Keep an eye open for the next instalment of Ian’s World Tour..
On Monday 15th December Bicester hosted the branch special practice and social. Sadly only two branch towers were represented (Stratton Audley and Bicester), but we were at least able to ring 8 bells at one point.
We started with plain courses of Grandsire Doubles and followed that with call changes on the back 8. Next we attempted one of the set methods for the evening – Single Oxford Bob Minor. We didn’t get that far through sadly! At this point Steve had to go to work so we rang a touch of Plain Bob Doubles before ringing down. Sausage rolls and mince pies were consumed during the evening, but we did not go to the pub – the Swan Inn is currently still closed.
May I take this opportunity to wish all branch members a happy Christmas and I look forward to ringing with you all in the new year. Next practice is at Bicester on Monday 5th January. We are hoping to distribute a card with all branch events early in the new year.
On Wednesday 3rd December Charlton on Otmoor hosted the last branch practice of 2014. The local band had recently been on an intensive course of Grandsire Doubles so the 10 branch members (2 from Bicester, 3 from Launton, and 5 from Chalrton) worked on that all evening with the inclusion of some plain courses of Plain Bob Doubles. We mostly rang plain courses of Grandsire Doubles, but Ann, Ali and Ian had goes at the bobs in Grandsire succeeding thanks to encouraging words from Willy and other ringers who stood behind. The evening was both encouraging in terms of progress and satisfying for the locals who felt that this really helped consolidate the efforts at the recent course.
We went to the pub afterwards to sample some new (very good) beers and a good chat.
The last branch event of the year is at Bicester on Mon 15th December – the special practice with a Christmas social – it will have to start a few minutes late (there is a carol service in the church finishing at 7:30pm-ish!). Look forward to seeing lots of you there (for the mince pies/sausage rolls as well as the ringing!)
On Saturday 22nd November the Bicester played host to the Guild Committee Meeting. The meeting was preceded with some ringing for those who were attending the meeting (there was some ringing on the 10 (plain hunt on 9) and the highlight for the Bicester tower captain was a touch of Stedman Triples which he had not tried for many years). The meeting was held in St Edburg’s church hall where around 50 guild members attended a (fairly short) meeting to disseminate information from all the sub-committees and to decide on some proposals (such as the Guild subs for 2015 – kept at £8 per person) and the announcement of the results of the 10 bell striking competition held earlier in the day at Long Crendon. This meeting is also an opportunity for branch secretaries to collect the autumn issue of Odd Bob (so be on the look out for Kathryn weighed down with large quantities of paperwork at the next few branch events!). A buffet tea was provided by the Bicester ringers with donated cakes from the Islip ringers – a feast with a surprising number of leftovers – the Banana Bread was a lovely treat at the Bicester practice on Monday night, and I am still eating leftover sandwiches!