Saturday 21st May saw 32 ringers, family and friends of the Rochester district descend upon the seaside resort of Brighton for the annual outing.
The coach departed a rather sunny Sittingbourne at 0800hrs and picked up ringers from the central and western parts of the district. Despite a huge downpour on the M23 en route to our first tower we arrived at Shoreham-by-Sea dead on time. The fresh sea air greeted us as we alighted the coach and walked towards the glorious looking church of St Mary de Haura.
Ringing here included rounds & call changes, Grandsire, Plain Bob and a very nice half-course of Yorkshire.
After Shoreham it was ‘back on the coach’ for a ten-minute drive in the direction of Brighton city centre – a drive which took us along the coast road for most of the distance.
We arrived at Aldrington and knew it would be hard for all 29 ringers to get a good go on this ring of 6… but we did it – and everyone managed to get 2 rings each in the 45 minutes we had allocated. The bells were not the easiest to ring due to the long draft but the majority seemed to like them.
The last stop before lunch was Brighton, St Nicholas, with 10 bells rung from ground floor. Ringing here included Grandsire Caters and Yorkshire Royal – and then it was time for lunch. I was most grateful to those who expressed their gratitude and thanks for my organisation of the outing thus far; it seemed odd that after such a perfect morning nobody seemed to know what to do for lunch. I can only describe what seemed a bunch of motionless headless chickens wondering what to do and where to go next. Mind you, it was planned that everyone would go off and do their own thing for the 2-hour lunch break. Maps were provided and everyone eventually dispersed. I ended up in a couple of pubs with a small group, and others went onto the famous Brighton Pier for that traditional sea-side meal known as fish & chips.
Following lunch we all met up at Brighton, St Peter, which to me was the most magnificent looking church and tower of the day. I also enjoyed the bells here – despite them being a joke to the locals. Again, ringing was of a good standard with rounds, call changes, Grandsire & Steadman Caters and Cambridge Royal being rung.
The coach picked us up outside St Peter for the journey to our last tower of the day, Preston, Good Shepherd. When we arrived there was a small debate over whether or not all 30-odd ringers would fit in the ringing chamber, as we were previously told there was not much room. After a quick inspection by the ringing masters the all clear was given for everyone to come up to the ringing chamber. These bells I found quite hard to ring and they sounded rather clumpy inside – although I was reliably informed they sounded fantastic outside. Some Surprise Major was rung here – including the standard 8 spliced.
Finally, we embarked on the coach for our journey home – some slept and some (Emma Cundiff, Rhian Bagshow, Steven Haynes and Stuart Cox) rung some fancy methods on the hand bells, which Tunstall had brought with them for some late-afternoon entertainment.
A huge thank you to all those who supported the outing, which raised £40 for the BRF. I am pleased it was a successful day and, to my knowledge, it was enjoyed by all. The only thing we forgot to do was take a group photo! If you didn’t come this time round we hope to see you next year!