Plain Hunt Practice at Bletchingdon 14th January 2024

Fourteen ringers came to today’s Plain Hunt practice at Bletchingdon, where we were very grateful to have Hugh, Jane, Ruth, Christine, Judith and Barbara as helpers (but also to get a bit of a challenge themselves), and Liping, Michael, Sally, Vikki and Charlie to practice their Plain Hunt and trebling.

After raising the bells we had a bit of a theory session where we walked through plain hunt on two out to six, noting the patterns and similarities between even bell and odd bell hunting, also discussing course bells and after bells.

Michael and Liping rang treble to Churchyard Bob as well as to Plain Hunt Doubles and were getting the rhythm nicely at the end.

We warmed up with some regular plain hunt for Sally on the four, then mixed 2, 3, 4 and 5 up, also with Christine and Barbara inside.

Charlie and Vikki rang treble to short touches of Grandsire Doubles, which also gave Ruth some practice at ringing the three half-hunt.

All our regular ringers got practice at Plain Hunt medley, hunting from two to five, then we pulled off in Queens and went Plain Hunt medley again, giving our helpers a bit of a challenge as well!

To finish Judith and Ruth rang inside to a plain course of Plain Bob Minor and Liping and Michael did one final set of courses of Plain Hunt on the three, before a very reasonable lower on six, with Liping and Vikki inside. We took the obligatory photo of the team.

Another really successful practice, many thanks to all our helpers.

Doubles Daytime Practice rides again

Seventeen ringers came to this morning’s doubles daytime practice at Bletchingdon, including eight students aiming to improve their trebling, tenoring and ringing inside to doubles.

We welcomed new helpers Martin and Sue from Bodicote, Jane from Marston as well as Sally, Ruth, Barbara and Dan to their first daytime doubles practice.

After Martin led up the raise on six, we rattled through some plain courses of Plain Bob Doubles and Grandsire Doubles for Sally, Barbara, Sally, Gerald and Dan helped by standers. Sally got some good practice at trebling to Grandsire and Plain Bob Doubles.

Ala, Judith and Ruth rang touches of Plain Bob Doubles, Judith and Ala in the same band for one touch. Several of our students also trebled to doubles methods, including Barbara and Gerald and most students rang covering tenor.

Finally, the helpers rang a touch of Plain Bob Minor before we lowered on six, led down by Michael.

Many thanks to our students who brought tea, coffee, cakes and biscuits for our helpers.

A really productive practice, very many thanks to our helpers.
Next practice is likely to be the week after Easter and I hope that ringers who haven’t been able to make one or more of the last practices will be able to join us.

First new Doubles Daytime Practice at Bletchingdon 22nd February 2023

Sixteen ringers came to this morning’s Doubles Daytime practice at Bletchingdon, where an abundance of helpers enabled us to provide strong support both within the ringing team and also through extra standers to help our improvers.

It was also great to welcome Faye, who used to attend the monthly daytime Bletchingdon practices in the past and who helped by trebling for several touches.

Our band of ringers was therefore able to practice inside to plain courses of Bob Doubles (Sue, Julie and Dan), plain courses of Grandsire Doubles (Sue and Mandy), touches of Plain Bob Doubles (Judith and Ala), much of which were very nicely struck, as well as brushing up on their tenoring (Julie, Dan, Mandy, Sue and Sue) and trebling.

A big thank you to our helpers: Clare, Alison, Hugh, Judy, Teresa, Faye, Michael P and Michael H who made it all possible. Hopefully the offer of tea, coffee, cake and biscuits helped redress the balance!

After a plain course of Cambridge Surprise Minor for our helpers, we got a full band of students to ring a plain course of Bob Doubles before we finished with the obligatory photo-shoot and lower on six.

A very full and productive practice and I hope we see similar numbers at next month’s event (probably 2nd or 3rd week of March).

The band of ringers and helpers

Focussed Practice 30th November 2022 at Bletchingdon

An amazing thirteen ringers came to this evening’s focussed practice at Bletchingdon, our last of 2022. We welcomed back Ron who brought Philip, one of the recently recruited Kidlington ringers, as well as our stalwart helpers Emma, Laurence, Malcolm and Graham, which gave us enough to form a strong band as well as up to two standers.

After raising, we rang some courses of Plain Hunt on Five, which was a first try out for Philip, by which time we were joined by all our helpers.

We gave Julie two touches of doubles to treble to, which she did very nicely, as well as some practice tenoring to plain hunt and churchyard bob. Definitely ready for a quarter peal, I think.

Sally tenored very nicely to a touch of Grandsire and also trebled to a touch of Plain Bob Doubles, helped by Emma. Really coming on there.

Christine trebled to a touch of grandsire, achieving some very good striking, as well as inside to churchyard bob and plenty of tenoring. Great progress!

Gerald trebled nicely to two touches of Grandsire Doubles and also raised and lowered in peal.

Sue rang inside to two touches of Grandsire Doubles, including moving into and out of the hunt. Well done Sue!

Judith also rang inside to a touch of Grandsire Doubles, gaining confidence in the work at the bob as well as at the following lead. Judith also tenored to a number of touches.

We also managed to give Philip opportunity to treble to plain hunt and to churchyard bob, as he worked hard to master the light treble.

Refreshments were available to reward our helpers, to whom we are really grateful for their tremendous support. Finally, the obligatory photo was taken of the group in the nave.

Bicester Branch Platinum Jubilee Weekend Ringing Round up

As expected, there was plenty of ringing going on around the Bicester Branch to help celebrate the Platinum Jubilee weekend between 2nd and 5th June. Below are some highlights.

Teams of five and six turned out to ring out at Caversfield and Bicester on Thursday and Friday morning, to start the Jubilee celebrations. Thanks to Pinder for the photos.

Caversfield team selfie
The Bicester band

Five ringers joined Sue in celebrating the festive weekend on a sunny Thursday afternoon at Bletchingdon. Thanks to Dave for taking the photos.

Outside the porch
The team in action

On Friday, eleven ringers rang at Islip, including a visitor from Inverness. Several went the extra mile wearing special costumes and hats for the occasion. Photo courtesy of Ricky.

All dressed up at Islip

Islip ringers also supported celebratory ringing at nearby towers on Thursday, including at Charlton-on-Otmoor, Weston and Woodeaton.

The team at Weston on-the-Green rang on Thursday evening and before the Sunday morning Jubilee Service. Thanks to Mandy for the photo

The team at Weston

On Saturday the sun came out in the afternoon for the Kirtlington Jubilee Picnic. A team of eight ringers from three local towers started off the proceedings, finishing with Mandy’s excellent sloe gin. One of the team, Caroline was also the chief organizer of the picnic. Thanks to Caroline’s friend and David for the photos.

The team from above

Five ringers started the celebrations at Ludgershall on Friday (photo courtesy of Jan).

The team at Ludgershall

Hilary, Linda and Christine rang the three bells at Chesterton  in celebration on Thursday and Sunday.

Chesterton’s “Three Musketeers”

A team of five turned out on Sunday afternoon to ring the bells at Middleton Stoney, with the no. 2 stay recently repaired, before the afternoon service.

Slightly further afield, one of our ringers called a Quarter Peal of Bob Minor at Woodstock on Friday afternoon and another helped out at Tackley on Saturday.

QP team at Woodstock

Steve Vickars

Surprise Minor Practice at Bletchingdon 1st May

Nine came to this afternoon’s surprise minor practice at Bletchingdon, where after a delayed start we rang up and attempted a couple of plain courses of Cambridge Minor with Michael and Jeremy inside, before tweaking the band and with reinforcements we were able to give both at least one successful plain course inside.

Richard, Celia’s husband, wanted to ring Norwich Surprise minor, and an attempt was made, getting 1 and a half leads in. After Hugh arrived, we were able to go again and got within a few blows of completing a full course.

After more plain courses of Cambridge we attempted a plain course of Primrose, then finished with a Bob course of Cambridge before lowering and finishing in Queens.

A good practice, which was much appreciated. Big Thank yous to Laurence, Emma, Malcolm and Clare.

See you hopefully this Wednesday at Ambrosden.

Steve Vickars


Focussed Practice at Bletchingdon 6th March 2022

We had a great focussed practice this afternoon at Bletchingdon this afternoon.

Our eight students were matched by eight helpers helping us to ring treble and inside to doubles methods, and where several firsts were achieved – Sally, Julie Penny and Christine trebled to touches of Grandsire or plain Bob doubles, David rang five to plain courses of plain Bob doubles, while Sue M, Sue C and Judith consolidated inside to a touch and plain courses of Grandsire, and Bob doubles respectively. Well done to all!

A very big thank you to our helpers, who included Jeremy, branch ringing master and Kathryn, secretary, as well as Ron, Jane, Laurence, Emma and Clare. It really made the difference having a solid team for our students, which for most weekly practices is not possible.

Our students provided tea, coffee, biscuits, cake and sausage rolls for our helpers, and resisted giving in to Dilly, our adoptive mascot (see photo).

During the interval, Sue presented Julie with her Oxford Diocesan Guild certificate. Congratulations, Julie!

At the end, we took part in the obligatory team photo.

The team
Sue presenting Julie with her Guild certificate
Can you resist that face?

Kirtlington, Bletchingdon, Weston and Islip Virtual Christmas Social 21 December 2020

It was great to welcome fourteen ringers representing five towers to the 2020 Christmas social tonight, including very welcome returns from two of our dispersed ringers Helen and Ellie.

Notable welcomes also to Kathryn and Barbara Summers with their canine companions Dilly and Rufus who joined us specially for this occasion, also that Sally from Islip was able to participate in the video chat and Ringing Room for the whole session.

After some Carol melodies in Ringing Room we split into four teams representing Bletchingdon, Weston, Islip and Kirtlington for a quiz in four rounds featuring a range of bellringing and seasonal questions, as well as a Christmas music round.

The result was closely contested between Islip (8 points) and Kirtlington (9 points) with Bletchingdon (7 points) a close third and Weston a bit further back.

Finally we returned to ringing room and rang some rounds on 12 followed by carol melodies and a brave attempt at a multi part version of O Come All Ye Faithful. Rufus gave a very touching accompaniment of his own.

A very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone. Our next practice of 2021 will be at 8pm on Monday 4th January. Hope to see you then.

Branch Striking Competition 7th September 2019

This year an impressive seven teams (considering the size of the branch) and over 40 branch members, partners and friends attended the branch striking competition on Saturday 7th, again kindly hosted by Islip and enjoyed the barbecue afterwards at Kathryn’s house. This was a strong contrast with last year’s reduced competition where only two “tower” teams and a small number of “harlequin” teams took part.

First up was a Bicester team, supplemented by Ludgershall, ringing a number of plain courses of Grandsire doubles, scoring 57 faults.

Next was Islip, the local team, again choosing plain courses of Grandsire Doubles and scoring 165 faults.

Third was a scratch team from Kirtlington and Bletchingdon, ringing a set of call changes, scoring 192 faults, improving through the call changes section after a tricky set of rounds.

Fourth up was Weston on the Green, including three ringers who only started ringing for the first time in September 2018, assisted by Jeremy, Kathryn and Steve. Again, a set of call changes was rung and a very creditable 68 faults scored. Well done to Weston!

Fifth was the experienced Ludgershall team, ringing a touch of Plain Bob Doubles, scoring an impressive 38 faults and winning the competition.

Sixth was a harlequin ladies’ team, ringing Grandsire Doubles and scoring 70 faults, while the final team was a harlequin young ringers’ team, comprising Islip’s youngest recruits and Charlie from Kirtlington. This team only rang part of the allotted 5 minutes and achieved a score of 120 faults, after rounding up to the equivalent time.

A big thank you to our judges, Katie Lane, Guild Master, and David Cornwall, who undertook the scoring. Also thank you to former branch member Louise Brown, who acted as time-keeper in the tower. [Photo of Ludgershall]

Team scores in ascending order

Team Score Notes
E  Ludgershall 38
A  Bicester 57
D  Weston on the Green 68
F  Ladies’ team 70
G  Young ringers 120 Faults adjusted to full length of test piece
B  Islip 165
C  Kirtlington/ Bletchingdon 192