We fly home to Madison early on Tuesday morning. So today we began the sad process of saying goodbye to our wonderful new friends here in Hexham. This morning I rang bells with the Hexham Abbey Bell Ringers for the Sunday morning service at the Abbey. It was extra special because I rang alonside John and Jean, the couple who we exchanged homes with during the past months. They returned from our house recently and we are all staying together in their house here in Hexham for our last few days.
After a bit of a rocky start to my ringing, I rang reasonably well in the middle of six bells and managed to change my position in the order of bells (called “call changes”) with the help of my excellent ringing coach, Andy. It was fun, meaningful, and memorable. Here is a video clip of my “performance”:
After ringing, I was honored to be given a certificate making me an Associate Member of the Hexham Abbey Bellringers Guild. When I first learned that John and Jean were bell ringers I hoped to simply witness bell ringing at the Abbey. It has been an unexpected joy to not only watch, but to learn beginning ringing myself, and be welcomed into the ringing community of the Abbey.
Then this afternoon John and Jean hosted a lovely catered luncheon for us and some of the people we have gotten to know here in Hexham. It was a wonderful time for us to say goodbye to friends we have grown close to here. These friendships have made our time much more than simply a tourist experience. We are most definitely going to miss Hexham and the people who have made it home for us in the past three months.