Bells, Bones and Barges – Ringers’ Outing 2015

Last Saturday morning Bob and Ruth appeared in the kitchen before I’d had chance to bark to wake them up.  This is unusual – I take my alarm clock duties very seriously.  It was good to see them putting food into my travelling bag, which contains a folding dish, water bottle, towel, etc so I knew we were all going somewhere together.  The Dogmobile only took us as far as Melbourne church, where the Community Care bus was waiting with Maurice in the driver’s seat.  Soon it was filled with bellringers and I found my place towards the back of the aisle and settled down on the carpet for a tummy massage while we sped down the M1 to the A14.
It was warm and sunny when we got out at Rothwell church where more ringers appeared who had travelled in their own cars.  Most people went straight up the tower to ring the ten bells, but Ruth took me inside to the children’s area at the back with carpets, settees, and a huge teddy bear sitting on one of them.  She then went off to a most surprising place under the church – the Bone Crypt which contains hundreds of skulls and thigh bones which have been there for hundreds of years.  For some reason I wasn’t allowed to go, but she told me all about it.  It smelt a bit dusty anyway.
The next place was Kettering church where there are twelve bells.   All the ringers were needed in the tower, so Pam looked after me outside.  There was a splendid cafe next to the church where most people had lunch.  It was called the Blitz cafe, and was decorated as if it were still in the Second World War.  Old-fashioned music was playing, there were union jacks everywhere and even the windows had tape across them in case a bomb dropped.  Some people sat in the garden and I stayed with them, before visiting a park close by where I got in the way of some boys on skateboards.
Desborough  was the next stop with eight bells, and after that we pulled up in the busy centre of Market Harborough.  Maurice had to let everyone off the bus near the church next to the old Grammar School, and then went off to find somewhere to park.  I tried to climb up the tower steps, but there were too many and I caused problems by turning round and meeting everyone else coming up. The ten bells were VERY LOUD outside –  some of the shoppers were commenting so I pretended not to know anything about bell ringing!
We arrived at the last place, Foxton, quite early and had time to park by the Grand Union canal and go for a walk by the flight of seven locks.  A barge was going up, and every time the lock gates opened, water flowed into a series of ponds next to the canal.  I wanted to jump into one of these but Ruth said  ‘No swimming allowed today.  You can’t make the bus carpet all smelly and wet.’  So I had to make do with just a walk and an ice cream from my friend Dianne Stewart.  I listened to the six bells inside Foxton church – no steps to climb here – and then  guarded the bus whilst everyone went into the local pub for a meal.  I must have dozed off because  the moon was shining brightly when everyone returned.  They had waited a very long time for their dinners to be cooked and I was glad I’d had mine ages ago by the canal.  Maurice handed over the bus keys to Nigel to take us home – we are lucky to have two ringers who can drive the minibus.
It was a grand day out, and everyone who went was very pleased with Maurice and Pam for arranging it.  They even got the weather right too!
Jim Smith
Silver Surfer