Edinburgh Outing 2011 – adventures in a foreign land
Listening to the Minster Royal Wedding peal from a sunny pub garden seemed the perfect start to a weekend of ringing, eating and socialising with the band in Edinburgh over the bank holiday weekend. And despite the apparent early onset of Alzheimer’s in the group, we weren’t to be disappointed by the venture up north…..
Arriving in Edinburgh bright and early on Saturday morning, the keen amongst us bounded off the train to meet our tour guide for the weekend, Mr J Sanderson. As we headed off for the first tower, David Potter realised he’d left his bag on the train and faced with a choice of running back for it or buying a new set of clothes, he headed off in the direction of Marks and Spencer’s. Fortunately the young Charlotte Mitchell saved the day rescuing the ‘unidentified item’ from the train before the terrorism squad descended. A quick stop for coffee (where Helen grumbled about the DIY tea) and finally we made it to St Andrew’s and St George’s enjoying fine ringing on the oldest ring in Scotland.
After lunch (and a dash back by Johny to the café for his wallet and Rachel to the church for her fleece) an empty afternoon stretched before us. James exclaimed how he’d never seen the weather so good in Edinburgh so many of us took the most of the opportunity to climb Calton Hill for wonderful views. Back to Princes Street Gardens for coffee, an ice cream and a quick nap by our Ringing Master and we all felt suitably refreshed to tackle Edinburgh Cathedral. We enjoyed the challenge of this vast 12 and after David instructed us “Now I don’t care if you can hear your bell or not, but I still can”, we managed to get some good ringing on them. Off to St Cuthbert’s now and although tired and hungry we appreciated this lovely 10.
Many will expect that the evening’s best stories originate from the younger members of the band, but that was before we welcomed Bob and Gail Cater to the group. After Sunday morning ringing at St Cuthbert’s we went back to the park for coffee and were treated to a salacious story of rundown kebab shops, 2 deep fried Mars Bars, samples of whiskey and lost B&B keys (Mrs Cater) resulting in a slightly slurred serenade by Mr Cater to Holly. Whilst the Caters spent Sunday recovering, the rest of us took to climbing Arthur’s Seat – a definite highlight of the weekend with clear blue skies and magnificent far reaching views. We almost didn’t make it back in time for the bus to Haddington, especially when at the last minute James realised we were at the wrong one – David did have to run in the end!
We enjoyed Haddington’s easy going 11cwt 8 with everyone enjoying a good ring. After a pub meal in the town and a standoff between Peter and Charlotte over some scampi and chips, we embarked on an eventful hour bus ride back to the city (warning: those with a delicate disposition look away now). Now as a woman I have often been on the receiving end of grumblings from the opposite sex about our ability to suddenly need the toilet just as we’re about to leave. But it might be something men should take more care of, particularly if your name is Johny Stokoe. Halfway home Johny’s dancing feet could hold the inevitable back no longer and a fortuitous change of driver allowed him to vault over a nearby fence and relieve himself. Unfortunately the lack of adequate shelter nearby meant the old ladies at the back of the bus had a rather clearer view than they would have liked! It seems this might be more common in Scotland than we thought though because the driver was well prepared and provided Johny with hand-sanitizer as he stepped back on the bus to rapturous applause!
Monday dawned bright and sunny (again!) and we headed off on a coach to grab 3 more towers. I don’t think the Dunblane locals were expecting 30 thirsty bellringers for coffee at 10am on bank holiday Monday but they were very accommodating. Everyone enjoyed the peal here, possibly our favourite of the weekend with David P exclaiming they were “Majestic!”. Off to Stirling now and a stop for coffee with a bite for lunch before a quick ring on the 6. The afternoon was rounded off nicely with a ring at the light 8 at Alloa, run like a military operation by Johny until Bob asked, “who fancies a coffee?” throwing the best laid plans into disarray.
Upon returning to Edinburgh we had a chance to grab a quick dinner before catching the evening train home. The weekend was a thorough success with good ringing, wonderful weather and a healthy dollop of socialising. Huge thanks must go to James for organising the weekend, to the Scottish ringers for the use of their bells and to Christine for marshalling the troops from the York end. If this collaboration is anything to go by, then I look forward to visiting Ruth Sanderson in Birmingham next year….
By H Green