Ladies Guild Holiday, May 2019


The Hampshire Tour (The Ladybirds and Pea Shoots Tour)

Our holiday started with beautiful weather as we arrived on Sunday afternoon at The Queen’s Hotel on the seafront in Southsea. We were all looking forward to the challenge of ringing in twenty one different churches over the next six days.

The coach arrived outside the hotel promptly on Monday morning and our driver for the week, John, drove us to the west of the county. The four places selected gave us a range of opportunities from a mini ring of 10 at Awbridge to the 22cwt eight at Romsey Abbey. Despite my mentor’s best efforts I was no more successful this time ringing at Awbridge than I was four years ago!

Tuesday dawned bright, sunny and warm and after a good breakfast we set off for the Petersfield area. The first Church at Holybourne was a very pleasant ground floor ring of 8. An added bonus was a coffee morning taking place in the Church; very welcome refreshment. The rest of the day went smoothly with some lovely ringing at Hawkley, Petersfield and Liss. The decorated ceiling in the ringing chamber at Liss was well worth seeing.

We left on foot on Wednesday to go to the Hovercraft landing stage across the green in front of the hotel. Our ‘flight’ to the Isle of Wight left at 9.30am and we were met in Ryde by Ian and his coach to take us to Rosemary’s Vineyard for a wine tasting session. The wine making process was explained to us and we tasted a white wine, a fruit flavoured wine and some cider. Wine and souvenirs were purchased from the shop and after leisurely coffee; Ian took us to Newport in time to get some lunch and for some maybe a visit to a few charity shops! We then rang in Newport Minster on the lovely 12 (after we had checked for workmen on the roof) and on to our final tower, a ring of ten at Carisbrooke, before catching the Hovercraft back to Southsea.

East Meon was our first tower on Thursday morning and a chance to view the wonderful village tapestry on display in the Church. Then the ladybirds started in earnest - West Meon tower was alive with them! Several ladies attempted to clear them off the floor and window ledges but we must have woken them up and they were flying around the ringing chamber. A problem occurred with one of the bells here so some minor methods were rung. Few ladybirds at the very nice bells at New Alresford but they were present again at Privett, flying at and around us in the warm afternoon sunshine as it flooded into the ringing chamber. Privett church is in the Churches Conservation Trust and there was much history to explore, and then tea and cakes kindly provided by Teresa’s family, our thanks for organizing this.

The weather was much cooler and cloudier on Friday as set we off to ring in three towers near Southampton; Bishopstoke, Bishops Waltham and Curdridge. There were a few spots of rain at lunch time but it became heavier as we returned to Portsmouth. In the evening, after an early meal, sixteen of us went to the King’s Theatre to see the ‘Jersey Boys’. This follows the career of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons and before long we were all singing along to the songs. We enjoyed a very entertaining evening. On our last day the sun returned and it saw us ringing in two very different churches in Portsmouth – St Agatha’s (3cwt) and then up the long climb to St Mary’s Portsea (17cwt). Some ladies opted to spend Saturday afternoon visiting the historic Dockyard or doing some shopping in Portsmouth, but the rest of us went on to Havant for lunch and then ringing in St Faith’s Church and finally to Westbourne where the Church is some twenty yards from the Hampshire border into West Sussex.

Once again, we all had a memorable week. There was plenty of help and advice and the opportunity to meet with friends and make new ones. The smooth running of this holiday was no mean feat and over the last year Pearl and Margaret have put an enormous amount of effort into ensuring its success. We are very grateful to them for their hard work, particularly during the week helping to sort out the problem rooms and meals. Thank you both. I would also like to thank everyone who offered their advice to help me with my ringing, it was much appreciated and I shall endeavour to improve over the coming year. I know other less experienced ringers like me also valued the help offered.

Finally, what about the pea shoots? Well, almost every starter and main course we were served for our evening meal during the week had pea shoots as a garnish. They even appeared on Saturday morning on a platter of cooked meats at breakfast. Were they being grown in the hotel basement.......?