Wednesday, 5 November 2014

The Gain and the Pain

Land of ancient churches, lots of them!  Very old churches, with ancient wooden doors. Situated on little islands, in small hamlets and beside main roads. Overlooking seas, hedgerows or Waitrose... Churches with a bell or two, tucked away in a turret or bellcot.

Beaumaris parish church is hidden away up a side street, but I believe it houses the only significant ring of bells on Anglesey. There may also be a ring of three somewhere on the island, but I am not sure of the precise location or how often they are rung.  

According to the Association website, Beaumaris practice on a Wednesday evening.  We took the opportunity to explore Penmon Point, with views past the lighthouse to Puffin island.  Despite the sunshine the wind was bracing.  We didn't walk as far as we intended, as the smallest member of the party was battling a cold and definitely flagging.

We moved on to explore the Dovecote, well and Abbey.  Both the later were sacred places, where pilgrims gathered, and some left behind offerings that were more than words.

The views across to the mainland were stunning.

We moved on to Beaumaris and discovered a lasagne serving Italian Restaurant, which won our custom.  We then wandered along the edge of the water, before turning our attention to the gift and craft shops.

As dusk fell we retreated to the Bulkeley Hotel lounge, where we sat admiring its fading glory over coffee, until the absence of staff indicated that perhaps we had outstayed our welcome.

We wandered up to the church.  Away from the streetlights the darkness felt very dense to our unaccustomed eyes.  Welcoming light shone palely out through some of the leaded windows, giving us hope that there would be ringing.  We cautiously tried doors, picking our way along unfamiliar pathways, until we found an open doorway…With ever increasing confidence we entered in, and soon discovered a member of the local band.  Up well worn stairways we trod, to a ringing chamber of generous proportions. The local band made us especially welcome,  as we chose a night when some of their regulars were not present.  Plain Bob, Plain Hunt and Grandsire were the methods of evening, which allowed us to concentrate on our striking, for these were bells of character and were hesitant to obediently submit to the handling of the interlopers, and delighted in dropping at the slightest opportunity.  These bells would punish any slack ringing!

Looking round the tower, at those ancient walls, I wondered how many ringers had visited this tower and what complexity of ringing had taken place upon those bells.
We signed the visitors book, but I didn't look back to see if there were any names I recognised, for it felt like an intrusion into history that was not mine.

We admired the blue polo shirts of the local band, declaring their allegiance to their tower, and pride in ringing.  I wonder if someday our tower will decide to get some sweatshirts or polo shirts. It could be our secret weapon for a striking competition - we need all the help we can get, as our striking still lacks the precision we desire!

Beaumaris was the first new tower I rang at after restarting ringing.  I took away memories, but left behind my favourite scarf.  I do not know when we parted company.  Maybe it is languishing still within this ancient walls, or was it dropped as I walked back through the darkness of those unfamiliar streets?

Gained -  one tower and helped the local band.
Lost - my favourite scarf
Would I do the same again, despite losing the favoured scarf?
Oh, the delight and cost of being a ringer!