Bellringers’s Outing to Rutland

Saturday morning.  My rucksack appeared and was packed up with food, water, dish and spare lead.  Bob found the satnav and fiddled about for ages before we went outside, and there I had a huge surprise.  The Dogmobile had changed!  It looked very much as before, but was now bright blue.   I know MCFC is playing well this season but painting the Dogmobile’s going a bit far to support a team.  However it smelt very strange when I jumped in - sort of clean and healthy, and my rug had no pawmarks - yet! 

Isobel Hall arrived from Findern, climbed into the back seat and we drove to Melbourne to collect Margaret Brackenbury before heading off to ring at the first tower of the day - Uppingham.  It seems my maroon Dogmobile has gone to the great scrapyard in the sky, and no-one had yet transferred anything useful into the new one such as maps, tissues, umbrellas, etc etc.  So we were relying on the sat nav, known as Maisie, to get us there.  Ruth is jealous of Maisie because Bob takes much more notice than when she is navigating.  Bob hadn’t checked the route all the way through, and we seemed to be going a rather strange way around Leicester, to be further confused when one of the roads was closed for repair.  The arguments coming from the front seats were less rowdy than usual - maybe because we had company!

Despite everything we arrived at Uppingham in good time to ring the eight bells.  I had to listen from a nearby car park.  I was also abandoned in the lovely village of  North Luffenham  but everything improved at Edith Weston with a walk around the church yard and for the first time I got to meet most of the ringers.  I saw people from Ticknall and Breedon plus others who, it turned out, ring at Ilkeston.  Head honcho Maurice Starkey shepherded them all in to ring the six bells whilst Terry Harrison and Pam Starkey stayed outside among the daffodils (sensible people!). 

Next stop was the nearby Visitor Centre for lunch in an Italian restaurant.  Poor Isobel was seated next to a huge plant, straight out of the Little Shop of Horrors.  Apparently it wrapped itself around her and ate half her chips!  Bob ordered a Pizza Marinara which fortunately for me had large rubbery calamari rings and pink pieces of tentacles which I really appreciated - I’m glad the plant didn’t get there first. 

By now it was raining steadily - time to go for the walk!  Although there was a sheet of instructions from Maurice in the car, no-one actually read them until things went wrong.  We tried to start from the visitor centre, but when no-one else turned up, we read the itinerary and discovered the ramble started on the other side of Rutland Water in Hambleton!  Bob drove like the clappers (ha-ha) but by the time we arrived, the walkers had left.  It was decided we should follow them.  As Rutland Water spread out before us, the wind whipped the rain across the waves and black clouds glowered overhead.  ‘Is this fun?’ asked Ruth.  ‘No’ said everyone, including me, and we staggered back to the Dogmobile where I made my area more comfortable with muddy pawmarks and the lovely smell of wet dog.

At four o’clock the walkers returned - not too wet.  I wished I’d gone with them!  The last ringing took place on the five bells in the nearby church after which they all adjourned to The Finch’s Arms for refreshment, leaving me to doze which I did all the way home.  Thank you Maurice for a good day out (apart from the weather), and I think I’m going to like the new Dogmobile.