Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Saturday 22nd November - We turned 2, and celebrated with glue, glitter, cake and fireworks!

Hello! This time we have a guest post from Sarah - thank you for your unique take on last Saturday's proceedings Ms Glynn! Over to you...

Today was our second birthday and we have officially entered our Terrible Two's. We can walk fairly steadily, say 'No' and 'Go away' and don't need our bottles at bedtime any more (well, not THAT sort of bottle anyhow).

So to celebrate this momentous event, was there a champagne breakfast in bed, something shiny from Tiffany to unwrap and a surprise party? Well no, but there was mulled wine, Jayne's totally inspired Darling Roses cupcakes, and a chocolate gateau that must have taken the Spar forecourt shop staff an age to make and decorate. And just when you thought it couldn't get any better, there were fireworks. Because a birthday wouldn't be a birthday without a bit of shock and awe.

We didn't let birthday excitement get in the way of having a meeting, even though we could have probably been excused, what with it being such a special day. We managed to fit in a discussion about how best to celebrate the WI's Centenary. Do we go down the 'days of yore' route and loiter outside the Moortown M&S in Edwardian frocks, yowling 'Jerusalem' and rattling jam jars, or do we embrace the Zeitgeist, dress in Zara and put on a display of pilates and knife skills? Or do we do both? Or neither? Well, the conclusion was, we aren't sure either yet, but when the time comes, we'll do something totally excellent.

After lunch we started this month's workshop. At this point I'd like to ask you to decide what you would do with the following. Approx: 30 glue sticks, 200 sheets of patterned paper, a box of scissors, pencils, stencils, stiff card and loads of glitter?
a) Sort everything into size and colour order.
b) Using a combination of Jayne's help, creativity and ninja like cutting skills, make a state of the art paper Christmas decoration.
c) Scream and run out the room.
If you've had a really stressful week you probably chose a) and/or c). If you were full of sandwiches, buns and unresolved issues around never getting to be a Blue Peter presenter, you probably chose b).

The result was a batch of wreaths, baubles, cards, stars, snowflakes, advent calender bunting and some 'work-in-progress' stags heads that all looked pretty amazing. And in the case of the stags heads - will look pretty amazing.

For those who just couldn't bear the thought of the party coming to an end, there was a birthday meal at Pizza Express in the evening. Was there a huge ice-cream with a sparkler in? Was there more cake? Were there drunken shenanigans? We'll let you know.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Jam and Mehndi in September + Our 2nd Annual Meeting in October

On September 27th, we gathered together again for that most traditional of WI activities - jam making (come on, I'm sure you've heard it's pretty much compulsory). However, before we could light the camping stoves, we had the usual business of our meeting to run through, and also a lovely guest speaker to welcome -  Sadeia Afzal. Sadeia has practised the beautiful art of mehndi for many years, and joined us to give an introduction to the art and a demonstration. We all loved Sadeia's gorgeous, intricate work, and there was no shortage of volunteers wanting to be guinea pigs! A huge thank you goes to Sadeia for sharing her passion for mehndi with us (and for painstakingly painting Sarah in the corner!) - here are some pictures which hopefully give a taste.

"Have you got time to do my whole arm?"
Emily's 'Kidz Korner'
Then the heady, pungent whiff of mehndi cones was replaced by a powerful blast of berries and sugar in our jam making masterclass (ahem). I tell you, all the lethal-looking gas cylinders and maslin pans that have seen better days might make this look like less than a professional operation, but we sure do know how to make delicious jam, yes sirree. The results were yummy, and we had the added bonus of a very sweet-smelling hall, which was preferable to the Great Onion Stink of '13 that we created at the same time last year when making pickles and chutneys. Here are some more pictures - as always, the workshops where we cook together make for double the communal fun.

Kate led the apple cidery breakaway unit - looks like it was going pretty well!

So, there you have it for September. In October, it was time for our 2nd Annual Meeting, and due to the long list of business we had to review for the year, we didn't really have time for our usual hands-on workshop, and instead made way for a double bill of speakers at the end of our meeting.

We were joined by Pauline Neale who gave us the lowdown on the admirable work of Oxfam around the world, and Maggie Poppa, who gave an absolutely fascinating talk about her life and career, and in particular how she embarked on a brand new career in broadcast and print journalism, at an age when most people are settling into retirement. Maggie's tales were very inspiring. I personally love to hear stories about people's 'second acts' - the idea that it's never too late to do something totally new, or fulfill a long-held ambition, is a great thing to hear (and more importantly from someone who has really lived that philosophy).

As there was no workshop, there are no pics to show you of us doing anything really... ?! (Er, I don't think that came out quite right.) But anyway, instead I will show some lovely images of our lovely smiling ladies, just enjoying the day.

Maggie Poppa, our guest speaker, on the left
Thank you to Pauline and Maggie for joining us

That's all for now. On November 23rd, we'll be in the hall making lovely things with paper - books, festive decorations and the like. It is also officially our 2nd birthday! We'll be having a select gathering at Pizza Express to celebrate, counting the days...

Thursday, 13 November 2014

30th August - Wine, cheese, birds and Molly...

Debbie with the purveyors of wine and cheese (angels)
Hello people. Well, here we are - six weeks to go until Christmas, and it's been a little while since the last update in the Summer! We've had three meetings since then, at the end of August, September and October (we had July off). I apologise in advance for the fact that this might get a bit unwieldy. It is three meetings we're talking about after all... So, deep breath, I will try to get us all through this in one piece.

After our Summer break, we were ready to jump back into things at the August meeting - not to mention the fact that the promise of plentiful wine and cheese is a very big pull! Once our meeting agenda had been done and dusted and we'd attacked the lunch table, our first two speakers could begin.

First we were joined by the indomitable Molly Hughes, a veteran WI member who spent many years on the West Yorkshire Federation Board of Trustees and also served as the representative for the Associated Country Women of the World - a role which took Molly all around the world and gave her a wealth of knowledge on women's issues. We first came into contact with Molly at the Resolutions Conference in April, when she was drafted in at the last minute to speak about the campaign against female genital mutilation - after a no-show by the booked speaker! Molly gave us the background on the issue that we needed, and clearly cared very much and really impressed us with her knowledge and passion. Which is why we asked her to come and speak to our group on the very same subject. It is a very difficult and distressing issue to hear about, but we did want to know more as a group and were disappointed when this campaign didn't get through the NFWI resolution process. Molly did a really wonderful job (thank you Molly), and we hope to bump into her on the 'WI circuit' again before too long.

Molly holds court
Our second speaker was Linda Jenkinson, bird watcher par excellence. I tell you, what that woman doesn't know about birds isn't worth knowing (I should say I've picked up that comment from Sarah Glynn, who automatically states this whenever Linda's name is mentioned. Sarah is one of Linda's students so she should know!) Linda gave us a fantastic introduction to the addictive pastime of bird watching, complete with many cute pictures of little feathered friends - lots of oohs and aahs all round. Thank you Linda!

Get birding with Linda
And finally, the wine and cheese appeared - hurrah! Val Berry and her team from Hayley & Clifford Delicatessen on Street Lane joined us once again this year. Val gave us the history and tasting notes on six carefully selected cheeses, specially chosen to complement our wines. And that's where Helen from Majestic Wines came in, with lots of lovely bouteilles du vin. We did actually manage to keep things classy this year though, no fear. The artful presentation of the wine and food by Helen and Val slowed down our consumption, and actually allowed us to appreciate the produce - unlike our self-service approach last year where we did all pile into the wine table really, as fun as that was! It was all delicious, and we all had fun discovering new tastes. A big thank you to the Hayley & Clifford team and Helen from Majestic Wines.

The anticipation builds...
Yes, it's working

Next time... Jam and Jerusalem mehndi.