#Chester: Cathedral Bells Make a Dong Ding!

This is a story about bells, although our 'Make a Dong Ding for Chester and Charity' started off at Beatons Chester with Town Crier, David Mitchell, popping in for some post-crying Dong Ding tea to lubricate his vocal cords... 
Beatons House Poet Liz, Chester's Town Crier
and Beatons' Founder Patrick Duffy - eagerly anticipating the event!
And it's really about our jolly good neighbours not us!

It was David Adams, Press Officer of the Chester Diocesan Guild of Church Bell Ringers (to give them their proper name) who made the event come to life in a way that could literally be heard for miles around...

And here's the video so you can even hear a little bit if you didn't manage to get to Chester on the day!

Dong Ding Tea Brewing...
How was the idea born? When preparing the event, I contacted David and mused somewhat cheekily that it would be great to have the Cathedral Bells ringing as we had a bell theme. Somehow in the conversation with David an idea grew - had there ever been a sequence of bells (called a 'method') in praise of tea?  David went away and - with a bit of help from some tea from Jenier Teas (who kindly donated all the Dong Ding tea for the event) promptly started creating one! I did some research and came up with a blank. David dug a little deeper and found a method about 'Percy's Tea Strainer' but nothing specifically about tea!
From left: Stefan Zientek, Carrie Hyde, Andy Jobson, David Jones
Brian Heys, Patrick Deakin, Duncan Hyde, Andrew Rawlinson

Hooray! Ding Dong! Dong Ding! Suddenly we had a world first on our hands (albeit that it needs a fair bit of complicated ratifying to register I have since learned) and a collaboration between two neighbours with enough enthusiasm to keep the project afloat in the frenetic lead up.

By the time of our Launch Soiree the night before all was in place - 'all' meaning eight bell ringers ready to ring 'Dong Ding Delight Major', (pictured) not at all a simple undertaking, after partaking of Dong Ding tea!

What on earth is a 'method'? I'd call it the code or ringing recipe!  And I now know that 'methods' range from being simple in structure - 'Plain Bob', through to being 'Treble Bob', to 'Surprise' and 'Delight' which are more complex. To be precise - and bell ringing is a very precise business - a 'Delight' is more difficult to ring but easier in structure than a 'Surprise' which is easier to ring but more difficult in structure.  Got it? Fortunately we don't need to! Just look at the scan of 'Dong Ding Delight Major' to get an idea...

Now, I want to make a special mention of an amazingly talented - and extremely helpful - family.

Four out of seven of the Deakin family ring - from eleven year old Isaac (who offered to collect with one of our collecting buckets - thank you Isaac) to lovely mum, Linda. Niamh and Patrick (in their teens I think) show how bell ringing is an activity for all ages. Bellringing - what a way to hone your co-ordination, mental agility and exercise with friends!  

When the Dong Ding Delight Major method began to ring I got tingles going up and down my body - something that hasn't happened to me since I watched Alexi Gruss's Circus in Paris a few years' back! [Which leads me beautifully into a public thank you for my 'Mr Darcy' aka Chris Barltrop @circuspr who took both the photos and the video, a very generous contributor to the day.]

Next opportunity when we join our neighbours? Pencil in Sunday 14th June for LiberTeas I Commemorating the 800th Anniversary of the Magna Carta. 

Carrot cake, Dong Ding tea... could be the start of a tradition at Beatons Chester!

P.S. The second our YouTube video of the event goes up, we'll let you know here - and of course on twitter @BeatonsCheshire

Beatons Chester Moments to Treasure and were you there?

Roger Atkinson OBE - the charming octogenarian who marched to Beatons Chester a fortnight before it opened (a serendipitous mistake on my part which found us an aspiring Cheshire author and friend) - rang a school handbell to open our 'Make a Dong Ding for Chester and Charity' event on Saturday. 

Roger's faculties are in better order than mine - as you'll read below! On returning to my writer's retreat in Herefordshire I discover this story is slightly bare of pictures and names...

But the event wasn't about names or pictures, it was about taste, smell and sound.  The taste of carrot cake, the smell of grassy spring Dong Ding oolong tea and the sound of bells reverberating round Beatons Chester in the most delightful way, as if it was itself invisible Dong Ding tea!

Because we did make a Dong Ding... or rather the Cathedral bells did - they made history, and that's the story for the next blog post to go up, which will be dedicated entirely for them. But here's the video we've just uploaded to YouTube about what happened while the bells were ringing.

Our Open House launch events are always about us being part of the community and - thanks to some incredibly generous visitors (mainly Cestrians but a few tourists too) - we managed to raise £123.93 in the space of two hours which will be split between RASA (Rape And Sexual Abuse) Centre and The Cheshire Community Foundation.

About to stick her name up on our 'Bell Tower Artwork'
Lovely Mummy and two beaming daughters..
We'll be putting a video of the event up on our YouTube channel over the next day or two, but here are a couple of pictures which did manage to appear on my camera. I was so busy helping people ring a bell for someone special and then write their name on a piece of paper that became our 'Bell Tower Artwork' that the camera appeared to go off in a sulk and didn't register about half the pictures I took. So, I'm sorry Honorary Alderman Simon Cussons, wife Gill and daughter Lindsey - you were the first to arrive and contribute and I only have your names to ring out here!

Who is she?
Mystery lady who enjoyed
her Dong Ding!
Then, with the cruel irony that technology seems to enjoy serving me, the pictures that have been taken are missing the slip of paper on which I carefully wrote the names... If you recognise yourself please let us know and we'll credit your lovely smiles.

Still, it happened, I've always said I'm an offline lady and fortunately Beatons ethos is always 'live first, online second'...

... and you can enjoy the taste of carrot cake and smell and taste of Dong Ding oolong tea every day of the week.

Psst... and a little bird told me that if it's not tooooo busy and you missed ringing a bell for charity on Saturday, Beatons' Chester owner, Steve Roberts might just let you have a little ring of the bell we gave him to celebrate opening our first franchise...

Share some sparkle with our Launch Soiree Story

Poet Gill McEvoy, Author Allie Holland with Patrick Duffy
MD and Founder of Beatons Tearooms Ltd
Pictures tell the story best... it was sparkle, jazz and the most lovely way of getting to know those who make things happen in Chester - especially those in the arts, media and from Chester University.

But how about you? Well, at least you can enjoy the first airing of Beatons Chester Poem, which Chris Barltrop (aka 'Mr Darcy' in the Tea world) and I - as House Poet - recited, thanks to the technology of the video.

It was an evening of thank yous, too - but can we also add a few extras here? Thanks to everyone who attended, everyone who contributed to making the event happen - especially Jazz Alchemy Duo, Wild Floral Design Chester and of course the very hard working (and new) team just installed at Beatons Chester.

We were also delighted to see so many Cheshire authors and poets present, including Gill McEvoy, Allie Holland, Simon McBride, Jake Campbell, Roger Price and Roger Atkinson OBE whose book will grace our shelves as soon as the publishers let him have it!

From left: Nick Brown, Marketing Cheshire, wife Keriy Taylor-Brown
and Colin Potts, Lecturer in Tourism, Chester Business School
Steve Roberts, Beatons Chester with fiancee Elaine centre
surrounded by very proud family and friends including mum,foreground!
Presentations were made to David Adams from Chester Cathedral Bell Ringers for coming on board so enthusiastically for our charity Open House event - and even going so far as creating a piece of 'bell music' (a method) in honour of tea. He couldn't have done it without permission from Christopher Roberts, Master of the Cathedral Bells so we also gave him a little thank you present too.

But of course, the most important presentation was to Steve, taking ownership and celebrating the opening of his new business, Beatons Chester. We decided to give this understated and quiet man who has dared to make a long held dream to run a tearooms a reality - something to remind him that he is 'Master of Beatons Chester'... and an inscribed brass bell now takes pride of place on top of the shelves behind the counter!

We hope you'll see plenty more pictures in the Press and we'll be uploading some more videos of the launch activities on our YouTube Channel over the next few days.

Beatons Chester is Open First Pictures!

Ann and Vera - our first two customers! 
Here are a few pictures but we'd much rather see you for real! Just pop in and have a good look round.

Steve and his team are delighted to welcome you. The Villeroy and Boch china is sparkling, the cakes home made, the tea loose-leaf and service comes to your table.

After the Launch Soiree
From left - Kayleigh,  cook and Hannah and Megan, Front of  House

Beatons House Poet learning the
Beatons Chester Poem!

Coffee's waiting, and Italian style
rich hot chocolate... 

Dong Ding! A world first to which you're invited...

The poster only tells you part of the story (and the picture!) Something extraordinary has happened...
Our neighbours The Chester Cathedral Bellringers have been sipping some of our Dong Ding tea, compliments of Jenier Teas, and they got inspired.

So inspired that they've created a 'method' (a sequence of bells being rung) in its honour!

It's the first ever 'method' about tea itself.

Come and hear 'The Dong Ding Surprise Method' being rung for the first time at 10.30, Saturday 18th April and you'll be witnessing a little bit of bellringing and tea history... and please come and ring one of our slightly smaller bells for a donation to two local charities and enjoy a sample of our signature carrot cake and dong ding tea for free as a thank you!

See you at Bell Tower House, 10 to 12 this Saturday, 18th April.