SUGCR and Friends Mid-Atlantic States Tour 2012Ross Finbow's (un)Birthday Tour
On 1 August, 13 SUGCR alumni and friends* arrived in Pittsburgh to start Ross Finbow's 60th un-birthday celebrations.
Ross had deposited Harriet and John at his house and then returned to the airport to collect several others. To transport H&J to the Church Brew House, (a former church converted into a micro-brewery serving a variety of good beers), where everyone was gathering, Jerry and Janet travelled to the house to collect them and to have a quick look around. Having inspected the interior Janet declared that it was just like everywhere else that Ross had lived.
Those traveling from the UK on the day had had long journeys and a few had spent some time waiting for their luggage to be freed from their aeroplane! This resulted in 5 of them and Ross not getting to the Brew House until after food had stopped being served and they had to feast on the leftovers of those who had got there earlier. By the time they went to bed, they'd been up over 24 hours.
Nevertheless, we rose next morning in reasonable time and managed to do some sightseeing in Pittsburgh. The first ringing was a quarter of Yorkshire Major at Southminster Presbyterian Church, Ross's local tower. Those not in the quarter later joined the quarter-pealers for the practice there and followed this by more decent beer. It was noted that we were seeing Ross fully awake for the first time in years as he was not jet lagged like normal.
Friday saw us travelling to Washington, via Fallingwater, an iconic house designed by American architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. We had an interesting tour of the house but the weather was extremely hot and humid. In the evening we discovered that Ross is missing the SUGCR wit! He seemed quite surprised when he asked 'Can I make a suggestion?' to receive the answer 'I'm sure you can Ross.'
On Saturday, we were joined by two more SUGCR alumni, Simon and Jenny Christian. General ringing at the Old Post Office Tower in Washington was followed by a quarter of Yorkshire Royal. Some brave souls even ventured through the bell chamber with the bells ringing, very loud. After lunch, we travelled to Frederick, Maryland, for more general ringing and a quarter of Cambridge Major. By this time, we were feeling very smelly and sweaty but followed this by ringing at Washington Cathedral. An interesting time was had by some of the band helping to remove the clapper stays from the raised back bells!
After 'freshening up', we all met up for Ross's un-birthday meal, with the addition of Chris Bostock who had travelled out for the peal attempt at Washington Cathedral. It was very good but the portions were enormous. (We found generally that meal portions served up were pretty large – but the 'pints' of beer were smaller than in the UK!) Simon presented Ross with a card and vouchers from us all (and others who were unable to be there).
Some returned to Frederick to ring for Sunday morning service then back again to Washington, but those in peal attempt at the Cathedral took the morning more gently. During the peal attempt the rest did some sightseeing. Unfortunately, the peal failed after two and a half hours.
Some of us elected to do a bit more sightseeing on Monday morning and then set off for Philadelphia. Others made the trip to Princess Anne, Maryland, where they found a welcome committee, including local press, awaiting them! Apparently, there are only five local ringers and so they were using this as an opportunity for some publicity: ringers coming especially from England to ring here! Our band scored a quarter of Cambridge Minor.
On Tuesday morning, we rang at St Mark's in the centre of Philly and scored a quarter of Plain Bob Major. In the afternoon, another peal was attempted at St Martin's, Chestnut Hill, but again was unfortunately lost after halfway. During the post peal discussion Ross asked Chris B. why he rang right handed when he wrote with his left hand, he concluded that Chris only wrote with his left hand and uses his right for everything else. This for some reason resulted in some hilarity and Ross declared that he had forgotten what it was like to have us around and that we need to visit him more often.
In the evening, we headed for a local (monthly) practice, at New Castle, Delaware. This is a lovely town, very colonial-looking, and very nice light bells. Some of us met up later that evening in Jerry and Elizabeth's very smart suite of rooms for food and drink and a rendition of “What did Delaware, boys?” (Most of our readers are probably too young to remember this. (She wore a brand New Jersey!))
On Wednesday, Ross returned home to Pittsburgh, leaving the rest of us to travel to New York. Before going our separate ways, we met in a diner called “Nifty Fifty's”, which we thought summed up most of us, and had quite a large breakfast with good, strong, coffee.
We arrived in New York that afternoon and rang at Trinity, Wall Street. We scored a reasonably good quarter of Grandsire Caters, and then were joined by some locals to attempt a quarter of Stedman Cinques. All was going well until there was a loud thump – the clapper had fallen out of the tenth. (Ross had warned us that the clapper had broken recently but that they had 'jury-rigged' it and didn't know how long it would last.) Locals stayed for practice but some of us made excuses and headed off down Broadway (yes, that one) for something to eat.
The official tour had ended but some of us stayed on for a day or two to do some sightseeing and then continued our holidays in Canada or New England. Brilliant week! Thanks, Ross. What're we doing for your next birthday?
* Dave & Janet Sumner, Trevor & Jean Fox, Chris Bennett, Jerry & Elizabeth Mather, Harriet Mather, John Prebble, Phil Simmonds, Jeni Francois, Sue Burchell and Ross Finbow
Ross comments: "It is somewhat ironic that Trish was the primary mover in getting me to arrange the event (she's been pushing it for years), but in the end didn't come. I believe she had several family events in close succession - something about two daughters getting married in the same year... ;)"