My First Bellringing Outing

It was the 10th of May and the day had finally arrived for the bell ringing outing to the Isle of Wight.  The sun was shining and it looked like it was going to be a fantastic day.  Leaving our house in the early hours of the morning - namely 7am -  we met Raymond and Maureen and then drove to Portsmouth where the ferry was waiting along with 20 or so keen bell ringers! Having arrived early we caught the 9.00 ferry, and after a smooth crossing we arrived at Fishbourne.

The first tower was at St George’s in Arreton, a church which is said to be the oldest on the island and was mentioned in the will of Alfred the Great.

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We had time to look around the nearby craft village which involved eating fudge and putting our tower captain in the stocks! 

A band rang up the bells, and we all had a chance at ringing call changes and plain hunt.  We beginners were hugely impressed by the well struck renditions of Cambridge Surprise and Grandsire. 

We then drove off to Shanklin to the Church of St Saviour-on-the-Cliff.  This tower had eight bells – hung on two different levels, and with the very long draft, made the ringing interesting.  They were also the heaviest bells of the day.  Luckily the wind was under 8 knots so we were able to ring; If the wind had been stronger, we would have to have abandoned this churchLunch was in one of Gordon and Marjorie’s favourite pubs – in Bonchurch.  Other bell ringers enjoyed a picnic and healthy walk around the Botanic Gardens – but we whiled away a pleasant hour on the sunny terrace of a pub, eating Italian goodies.

Whitwell was our next venue, again this tower had a ground floor ring with very audible bells! Everyone had a chance to ring and look around the Church.

Our final tower was the Church of All Saints at Godshill. These were probably the nicest bells of the day and we all enjoyed ringing them.  We rang call changes and the experts rang Stedman Doubles and other complicated methods.

The village of Godshill was a very pretty with waterfalls and thatched cottages including a thatched kangaroo!  The journey back to the ferry was an eventful one, Unfortunately the roads aren’t painted yellow with green spots neither are they pink as on our trusty ordnance survey map!....… Leaving Godshill at 4.30 the journey should have taken 15 to 20 minutes.  However, we almost circumnavigated the island, we arrived with quite literally 2 minutes to spare.  We knew our Tower Captain, Raymond,  had finally lost it when he slammed on the brakes in the middle of a roundabout and screamed “Give me the map!!!”.

The ferry departed with everyone on board (just) – but there were more navigation problems when we arrived in Portsmouth.   Was it M27 East or West?  We eventually arrived at East Ilsley at The Crown and Horns Inn, where everyone had a delicious meal including the spicy soup! The one way sign outside the pub threw us into further confusion, and we finally arrived home just before midnight.

We had a great day out - thank you Kay for organising everything, and to the leaders at each of the towers.  I really enjoyed it and can’t wait for the next outing!

Jennifer Willis (Little Milton)