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Branch Outing to Dursley in the Cotswolds - 2008

Dursley Outing Team Photo
St Sampson, Cricklade, left to right: Cyril Lewington, Jim Diserens. Alex and Tomas Byrne (one behind the other), Kelvin Britton; Markus Buss, Diana McClure, John and June Wells (one behind the other), James Champion, Helen Diserens, Kate Davis, Steve Rossiter, Viv Bloundele, Eunice Wark, Julie Champion, Bobbie May, Ruth Hine
This year, the Reading branch outing was organised by Jim Diserens, and it took place in Gloucestershire on 14 June, on a lovely sunny day (with a few dark cloudy intervals, to help us appreciate the sunshine). The countryside looked gorgeous. Most of us travelled in the minibus, expertly driven by Steve Rossiter. He set off early in the morning, collecting passengers from different parts of Reading , and arrived at the first tower with a minute to spare, for the 9.30 am start. Impeccable timing.

We were given a warm welcome at the five towers we visited. The first three had eight bells, and – as usual on a Reading outing – there was some very good ringing: Spliced Surprise, Belfast, Glasgow, Yorkshire, Double Norwich, Bob Major, Stedman, Grandsire, plain hunt, called changes – something for everyone.

We began at St John the Baptist (16-0-8), in Chipping Sodbury, north of Bristol . The village looked beautiful in the sunshine, and the bells were lovely. There we had a wonderful surprise: Alison Leach and Simon Meeds joined us for a couple of towers – we don’t see them very often, since they moved to Bristol a few years ago. They had to leave before lunch.

Wotton-under-Edge came next. St Mary the Virgin has eight nice bells (18-2-0) – though one or two of them had a few quirks, which gives a tower character.

Then we came to Dursley. This is a Byrne family stronghold, and has wonderful bells and an excellent pub. Six-year-old Tomas Byrne went off to spend some time with his grandparents. The rest of us had lunch at The Old Spot, decorated with fine pictures of Gloucestershire pigs, and – right next to where we sat – the details of a quarter peal of 1280 Old Spot Delight Major rung to celebrate the pub winning the UK Real Ale Pub of the Year Award in 2003. Alex’s parents, Elizabeth and Francis Byrne, both rang in it. The food was very good – including traditional family puds, such as treacle tart, bread-and-butter pudding, and apple pie. Ruth Hine, a fount of unusual information, told us that “apple pie without cheese, is like a kiss without a squeeze”.

We had a very pleasant walk through Dursley to St James the Great, arriving there in time to hear the local band ringing after a wedding. St James has eight beautiful bells (19-2-9) – and we rang from a gallery which had photos of many of their peal bands hung on the wall. A very young Alex Byrne featured in several of them – he rang his first peal when he was 9.

We had a slow drive to Stroud, crawling up Crawley Hill behind a tractor pulling a trailer laden with cut grass for silage. In Stroud, we met a traffic jam, and arrived at St Laurence (10 bells - 20-1-20) rather late. There we rang Grandsire Caters, plain hunt, called changes, and Cambridge Royal spliced with Plain and Little Bob. Tomas Byrne showed us a short cut to a very nice tea shop, which has a back door on to the churchyard.

St Sampson, Cricklade The last tower was St Sampson, Cricklade (6 bells, 12-2-27), a lovely church, bathed in evening sunshine. The bells are hung anti-clockwise over the choir stalls, and have a very long draught, which was a little bit daunting for some of us. The tenor rope dropped straight on to a choir stall. We rang Cambridge , Stedman and called changes.

Thank you very much, Jim, for organising such an enjoyable day – with a little help from former Gloucestershire residents, your son Brian and Alex Byrne. And many thanks to Steve, for doing all the driving and giving the rest of us such an easy time. And to John Wells, for ringing up so many of the tenor bells.

This article was prepared and provided by Diana McClure including the photographs and our thanks must go to her from producing such a spendid account of the day


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