Sunday, 17 December 2017

Around the WI

Around the WI

BENSON

THE July meeting took the form of a “Bring and share afternoon tea”, which was hosted by our programme organiser Brenda Hallett with our president Sandra Winterbone.

Brenda welcomed 16 members to her home in Benson.

There was the usual business to deal with and then members enjoyed a range of mouth-watering cakes and sandwiches provided by those in attendance.

Members agreed they had a really enjoyable afternoon.

We will take a break in August but will return with an open meeting in Benson parish hall on Wednesday, September 20 at 7.30pm.

The speaker for this meeting will be Stewart Linford with a talk called “The remarkable story of the Windsor chair”.

Stewart has been in furniture making circles for a number of years and currently divides his time between teaching future generations and providing a unique design consultancy. His talk should be very interesting and informative.

This meeting is open to anyone — entry will be £3 for non-members, which will include refreshments.

Benson WI normally meets every third Wednesday evening in the parish hall. Details of the programme can be obtained from Brenda Hallett on (01491) 838584 or publicity officer Sue Brown (01491) 837885.

CAVERSHAM

AT the July meeting, we welcomed Kevin Little, of the Smelly Alley Fish Company in Union Street, Reading.

He entertained us with his experiences as a fishmonger, telling us how “Smelly Alley” got its name and the history of his shop and other traders.

He also judged our competition for “your favourite fish recipe”.

Next month, we will be taking our usual break but will be at the Caversham Court Gardens kiosk with fresh cake and refreshments from Thursday, August 31 to Sunday, September 3.

If you haven’t been, it is a beautiful setting for a relaxing cuppa. If you have the time, we look forward to seeing you there.

Ladies are very welcome to visit our friendly group. We hold meetings on the third Thursday of the month at 7.30pm, which helps avoid child-care issues.

There is usually easy parking and a lift to the first floor meeting room at Church House, Prospect Street, Caversham (some building works may temporarily affect this).

More information can be found online at https://tinyurl.
com/hwzj6zy or search for “Caversham WI programme”. For enquiries, please call our secretary Romayne Flight on 0118 947 5176.

CHAZEY

THE speaker at our June meeting was author Fiona Barker and we listened to a very enthusiastic lady talking about children’s picture books.

On every table was a selection of picture books, some of which she discussed with us.

She has had one book published with a second one about to follow.

Some members had brought along a favourite book from their own childhoods which members found interesting.

After the talk, the business was dealt with and dates given for the coffee outing and lunch. At the end of June, 13 members visited Farley Hill Gardens, which was very enjoyable.

The speaker at our July meeting was Richard Warren, a justice of the peace, talking about “Women in prison”.

This was a very thought-provoking talk with some surprising statistics.

Valerie Holden gave the vote of thanks.

Mr Warren judged the home-made biscuits competition which was won by Valerie Wing.

There were three raffle prizes this month, giving members more chance to win.

Dates were given for the coffee/lunch outings.

There would be no meeting in August but an informal outing on the river from Caversham to Henley, arriving in time for lunch or a picnic.

The book club continues to meet monthly at the Caversham Rose.

We welcome ladies who would like to join us. We meet on the first Tuesday of the month in the hall of Caversham Heights Methodist Church on the corner of Highmoor Road and Woodcote Road at 7.30pm. For more information, send an email to chazeywi@gmail.com

COCKPOLE GREEN

ON Wednesday, July 19, president Adrienne Rance welcomed 30 members and our guest speaker Tony King.

WI business included reading highlights from the excellent report by Valda Hadden, from Littlewick Green WI, about the National Federation’s annual meeting in Liverpool in June.

There was a lot of debate about the resolutions, one about alleviating loneliness and the other about stopping microplastic getting into the sea.

The first issue caused many members to disagree with the wording of the resolution, which implied the Government was responsible, when they felt it was a social and family issue.

The second debate about “plastic soup” followed an excellent and enlightening talk by a young oceanographer, who said that each year eight million tons of plastic is ingested by fish and so ends up on our plates.

The results of the vote were as follows:

Alleviating loneliness — For: 4,034; Against: 1,919.
(Majority: 69 per cent)

Plastic soup — For: 6,132; Against: 157. (Majority: 99 per cent)

Members then enjoyed listening to Susie Dent, from Countdown’s “Dictionary Corner”, who spoke with passion, enthusiasm and humour about her love of words.

As a child, she always took a dictionary with her on car journeys to learn new words and how to spell them. The meeting ended on a high note with the 7,000 members present being treated to a perfomance by rock band the Retros, who sang songs from the Hollies, the Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers and a few more.

What an amazing ending to such an interesting meeting, so different from singing Land of our Fathers.

Mr King then gave a wonderful illustrated talk called “Hollywood to Broadway” about his 25-day train journey across America with some history and music along the way.

He travelled along the route of the world’s first transcontinental railway, which opened in 1869. The first locomotive to cross America was the Stourbridge Lion, which was built in the Worcestershire town and shipped across the Atlantic.

The tracks were built from both the east and the west coasts, joining at Omaha after crossing rivers, canyons, mountains and desert, watched by the Native Americans as work moved across country.

In time, the construction camps where those building the railways lived were developed to become towns and cities.

Tony’s journey went fron Los Angeles to New York, calling at San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Denver and Chicago on the way.

The history of Hollywood goes back to the small village known mainly for growing oranges but, because of the climate, became the place where the early film pioneers set up.

The “Hollywoodland” sign was put up to sell bungalows but the “land” part burnt down, leaving the now famous sign.

We were reminded of the exploits of Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy in those early silent pictures.

San Francisco has the world’s last cable car operation. We also saw Fisherman’s Wharf in the the city, Alcatraz and Salt Lake City, which is famous for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

From here some of the worst floods to hit America had washed away the tracks so there was a diversion to Cheyenne.

Then it was on to Denver, home of William “Buffalo Bill” Cody and his final resting place. His exploits with Annie Oakley inspired the musical Annie Get Your Gun.

In New York, we were shown quieter places like Central Park, the Frick Collection and the High Line.

A cruise down the Hudson led to Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island where, since 1892, millions of Jews have entered America.

Many settled in the East Side ghettos and it was from here that those who made their name in musical theatre can trace their roots.

Finally to Broadway, the home of some of the great musicals and the end of the journey.

Members particularly enjoyed the songs accompanying the film, which included Judi Garland singing The Trolley Song and Doris Day singing Deadwood City, while Frank Sinatra’s version of New York, New York certainly had us tapping our feet!

After the talk, everyone enjoyed a lovely tea prepared by Fiona Birdseye and Ruth-Mary Vaughan.

On August 16 members will meet at 9am at Gibstroude Farm, where a coach will be waiting to take us on our summer outing to Hever Castle in Kent.

GREYS

PRESIDENT Val Mundy welcomed members to our meeting at Greys village hall on July 18.

The thunderstorms of the previous night had moved on but it was a sultry and heavily overcast day. Despite the gloom, the hall was bright with buckets of flowers and greenery. At the National Federation’s annual meeting at Liverpool in June, our delegates had overwhelmingly passed the resolution calling for action against the rising tide of microplastic waste in our oceans.

These tiny fibres are ingested by all marine creatures and recent research shows that even langoustine in the Firth of Clyde have balls of tangled fibres filling one third of their stomachs.

One of the main sources of this pollution is clothing made from synthetic materials, which, when washed, release thousands of tiny microplastic fibres into the water supply.

The resolution called for more research into this problem and stressed that each individual could take action.

Doreen demonstrated a “Guppy friendly” washing bag, which can trap these tiny fibres.

Joyce Robins, a Greys member who has City and Guild qualifications in creative flower arranging, had taken on the daunting task of teaching us how to create a beautiful floral centrepiece.

This was a very hands-on workshop, with some members demonstrating more skill than others and there was much laughter.

With their enthusiasm, everyone did create a lovely arrangement.

Joyce then judged the results and awarded first prize to Doreen Howells, second to Val Mundy and third to Janet Leaver. However, the real prize was the enormous pleasure we had doing it. Thank you, Joyce.

Our next meeting will be in Greys village hall on September 20 at 2.30pm when Inspector Mark Harling, of Thames Valley Police, will give a talk called “Protecting ourselves from phone and internet fraud”.

Visitors are welcome — just drop in or for more information, call (01491) 575836.

HAMBLEDEN

OUR July meeting celebrated summer as our president Jo Martin very kindly opened her garden for the event.

We all met for a glass of Prosecco followed by afternoon tea, cakes and music.

Our committee had worked hard to decorate a marquee and gazebos with bunting and ribbons, beautifully folded serviettes and delightful summer flowers.

Members stepped up to the mark as usual. Fantastic savouries, cakes and scones filled the buffet table to provide an afternoon tea to be proud of.

We were superbly entertained by the Groove Company. Hambleden WI will be providing the afternoon teas at Hambleden church on Sunday, August 27. It’s an opportunity for you to sample some of our baking.

We will now break for the summer. We will meet again on Thursday, September 14 when Stewart Linford will give us a talk entitled “The Windsor” — the inside story of our national chair.

We welcome new members. For more information about Hambleden WI and to see our programme for 2017, please visit www.hambleden-wi.org

HARPSDEN

THE July meeting was held on a lovely summer’s day.

Pat Eades welcomed members and gave birthday greetings to Doris Tallon and Anne Thornton.

She also said that email addresses would be useful for communication and asked members to provide theirs if they so wished.

Forthcoming events mentioned in News & Views included “Mayhem and Murder Fact and Fiction” at Didcot Civic Hall on November 9.

In the morning, two forensic scientists, a toxicologist and a biologist, will describe how they use a variety of techniques for DNA fingerprinting and other tests to help solve crimes. After lunch author Val McDermid will speak about her work.

A morning workshop on November 16 will offer help with public speaking. “Talking for the terrified” will be held at the Oxfordshire Federation offices in Tackley.

The Music Taster will be held at Benson parish hall on Tuesday, October 17, when Smetana, the Czech composer of The Bartered Bride, will be the subject.

There is an audio newsletter available for visually impaired members and this can be obtained from the offices in Tackley.

Suzanna Rose is arranging a tour of White Waltham Airfield on November 17 to see the historic planes based there.

Patricia Williams has suggested a visit to the Waitrose summer festival at the Leckford Estate in Hampshire on August 20, travelling by private cars.

Virginia Lawrence was the speaker for the afternoon. She is the Denman College ambassador for Oxfordshire.

She said that in 1943 members were making jam for the troops. In 1945 the organisers decided to start a residential place for education.

Lady Brunner proposed this at a meeting in the Albert Hall and it would be a central college to get women interested in worthwhile lives.

The college would have a nursery to leave children while mothers were on courses. Lady Brunner helped to find a suitable place and Marcham Park was for sale for £16,000. Each WI had to donate £10 over three years to help fund the purchase.

In 1948 the building was named after Lady Denman who had been on the committee for many years.

New buildings were added, originally dormitories and then single rooms in cottages. The Ferris Room, two shops and a cookery area for courses were added later.

The college has 17 acres of gardens and grounds, a lake, fountains, herb garden and various donated items.

It is easily accessed from the A34 and a free taxi service from Oxford is provided.

Bursaries are given by WIs, enabling courses to be taken. This year the bursaries at Harpsden WI were won by Ann Downing and Hildie Barrowcliffe.

The competition was for an historical item. There were some very interesting entries, ranging from family history to the coronation, to Henley history. The joint winners were Patricia Williams, Pam Hails and Anne Kelly.

The Beechwood Group will be meeting at Harpsden Hall on Wednesday, October 4, when the speaker will be talking about being a royal footman.

On Wednesday, August 8, we will gather in Shirley Weyman’s garden, starting at 2.30pm, so it is hoped the weather will be kind. It is a bring and share tea and it would also be useful to bring a chair too.

The next meeting will be held in Harpsden hall on September 13 at 2.30pm, when Julia Miles will speak about being “An ambassador’s wife”. The competition will be for a souvenir from overseas. Visitors are always welcome.

HOT (HENLEY-ON-THAMES)

OUR July meeting was a slightly quieter affair as many people were away on holiday but we were still delighted to welcome a couple of new members.

Katie, our president, went through any business where, believe it or not, the word “Christmas” was uttered.

She also asked everyone to give a thought to ideas for any groups or speakers that members might enjoy next year.

Our speaker was Eleanor Buckley from the charity Launchpad, which is based in Reading and deals with homelessness in the area.

It started in 1979 as a soup kitchen and now supports more than 100 people in properties across Reading.

There are many faces of homelessness, from rough sleepers to families crammed into temporary bed and breakfast accommodation or individuals “sofa surfing” i.e. relying on a friend’s settee. Some people are easy to help, others are very hard to help.

Eleanor gave us a very insightful talk and made us aware that behind every individual there’s a hidden story.

Our next meeting will be at King’s Arms Barn in Henley on August 18 at 7.30pm, when we will be having a pottery and ceramic demonstration.

Please come along and join us. For more information, please email hotwi2017@
hotmail.com

MILL GREEN, WARGRAVE

AT our July meeting Sue Drew spoke enthusiastically about “This thing called ballet”, the second talk in her series on her favourite subject.

After a comprehensive reprise of her first talk, she selected three choreographers of the Royal Ballet, Sir Frederick Ashton, Kenneth MacMillan and Wayne McGregor, and their famous ballets to illustrate the changes over time and style — La File Mal Gardée (Ashton), Gloria — inspired by Vera Britain’s Testament of Youth — (MacMillan) and Woolf Works, based on three Virginia Woolf books, Mrs Dalloway, Orlando and The Waves, (McGregor).

The talk was given extra depth with the addition of suggestions and clues in envelopes to involve the audience.

There was to be a garden party on August 2.

The speaker at the September meeting will be Steve Moll alking about “The incredible world of honey bees”. Please do come and visit us if there is a subject which interests you.

PEPPARD

A NUMBER of members visited the Hearing Dogs for the Deaf centre.

After a talk and demonstration on how the dogs are trained, we were shown round the kennels and then had tea in the café.

We all recommend a visit to the centre as it provides such a worthwhile service to the community.

Our garden party was held in the beautiful garden at Liz Waterfall’s home and everyone enjoyed a lovely, relaxing day with lunch in the sunshine.

We will be having fun and games at Peppard War Memorial Hall on Wednesday, August 9 at 2pm followed by a cream team provided by members.

REMEMHAM

WE don’t generally have a meeting in July, so this was extra special.

As our president Daphne Austen was away, our vice-president Judy Palmer took the meeting.

All the final arrangements for our our July outing and for our tea party in August at Enid Light’s home were gone through.

Sadly, Enid is retiring as secretary after doing the job for the past 17 years. Members were asked to search their hearts for a replacement.

Judy Palmer then welcomed Simon Williams, a retired policeman, to give a talk called “Police witness”.

He started with “Powerful testimony” and gave us two examples, the well known book and film To Kill A Mockingbird and a story about an American woman whose armed racist abuser went to prison — as it turned out, having been wrongly convicted. Some time later, DNA was discovered and it was proved he was innocent. The happy outcome was that the two met up and decided they had both suffered and they became good friends.

Simon said this showed that even though a witness is convinced they are correct, everyone can make a mistake. To illustrate this, he gave us a memory test and I’m afraid we didn’t come out of it too well.

He went on to talk about interviewing and how to make sure that a witness tells all. Everyone was absolutely rapt and there were many questions. Simon was profusely thanked by Judy Palmer for a superb and very informative talk.

The raffle was won by Eirene Parker and a birthday posy was given to Rosemary Pratt after which a marvellous tea was much enjoyed.

ROSEHILL

PRESIDENT Margaret Pyle welcomed all members and visitors to our July meeting on a rather hot and humid afternoon. This was followed by thanking Christine Waters for the table flowers (later the raffle prize).

Margaret went on to say that the record of the June meeting was available for all to see.

For a change, instead of the rest of the meeting, we then listened to our speaker, Barbara Hately, who gave a very interesting talk (with slides) about the making of the three Red Cross quilts by women in Changi Prison in Singapore during the Second World War.

The quilts were made from squares of material with different designs (for example, flowers, patriotic, gardens and crinolines), which were sewn together.

We also heard about the conditions in the prison and how people coped.

After several questions had been answered, Margaret Seal gave the vote of thanks.

We then had our tea and biscuits before the meeting continued with Margaret Pyle telling us about the different groups.

Scrabble continues to run on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month.

The book club met in July at Barbara Wood’s house. Seven members of the cinema group had been to see Hampstead, which they all enjoyed.

No one had come forward to organise a walking group.

On July 12, the newly formed Ladies That Lunch Club had its first gathering at the Griffin in Caversham, which 11 members enjoyed.

Margaret then drew our attention to three items in Berkshire WI News:

“Nepal — a constant backdrop of mountains”, which will take place at Grazeley village hall on Thursday, October 26 at 10.30am.

A papercraft taster day at WI House, Mortimer Common, on Saturday, September 16 from 10am to 3.30pm.

An autumn art day to be held at Mortimer Methodist Church hall on Friday, October 13 from 10.30am to 3.30pm.

The birthday buttonholes were distributed before Margaret told us that Caversham WI is collecting clean bras to be sent to a charity in Kenya for distribution.

She also announced that National Federation raffle tickets would be on sale at the August and September meetings (£1 each).

A group of 26 members attended the Mill at Sonning, to see Don’t Dress for Dinner, which was a huge success with everyone saying how much they enjoyed both the lunch and the performance.

The meeting closed after the raffle had been drawn.

We meet at St Barnabas’s village hall, Emmer Green, on the first Wednesday of the month at 2pm.

SONNING COMMON

JENNY WARD, our president, welcomed everyone to the July meeting, in particular our visitors and our speaker, Inspector Mark Harling.

She welcomed 42 members and nine visitors on a lovely sunny evening and the hall was full of happy faces looking forward to a friendly and informative evening.

Anne Croxson, our treasurer, gave her report and all is well. She had received a payment in respect of claimed Gift Aid, which was much appreciated.

Gill Hayward then reported on the National Federation’s annual meeting in Liverpool in June, which she had attended with Jenny Ward and Sue Hedges.

Gill said shehad looked forward to her first annual meeting and that it did not disappoint.

They joined more than 4,000 excited ladies in the Echo Arena and there was a buzz in the air.

Janice Langley, the chairman, opened the meeting and called for silence before Jerusalem was sung, which was beautiful and joyous.

The Mayor of Liverpool gave a short talk about how the city had become a real landmark and said he was so proud of its achievements in business, tourism and local issues such as housing, employment etc.

He was very proud to be welcoming the WI to Liverpool and pleased to tell us that there was a majority of women on the city council.

There were two speakers and two resolutions.

The first speaker was Jo Fairley, founder of Green & Black’s chocolate, which is marketed through Fair Trade.

She had tasted some chocolate while in Belize when she had a “lightbulb” moment, thinking that she could produce a chocolate.

The company became a huge success, eventually selling out to Cadbury and thence Kraft.

Jo said that every time somebody bought a Fair Trade product, it enabled a child to go to school.

The first resolution to be discussed was on alleviating loneliness.

Maureen Hay, of Stoke Row WI, was acting as our delegate and had discretion to vote on our behalf.

Speakers made sincere and educated points for and against with great passion but, although this was very thought-provoking, the arguments were not clear cut.

It is claimed that loneliness is a silent epidemic. One fifth of people admit in private that they are lonely but will not often say it in public.

Loneliness can affect health and lonely people make more visits to their GPs and accident and emergency. Many men are lonely but they find it hard to talk about.

The resolution was passed with 4,334 votes in favour and 1,919 against.

The next speaker was Susie Dent, the dictionary expert from Countdown.

She gave an entertaining talk about her love of words, the history of words and how language is always changing.

She said she had her “dream job” and she was very lucky.

The second resolution was “Keep microplastic fibres out of our oceans” and again experts for and against presented their views.

Some synthetic fabrics shed more microplastic fibres than others. The problem is enormous and far reaching and research is ongoing.

Prof Blackburn, of Leeds University, could not emphasise enough how much of a step change it would be for sustainability if we bought fewer items of clothing per year, wore them for longer and threw them away less often.

The resolution was passed with a resounding 98.9 per cent of delegates in favour.

Janice Langley gave her last address as chairman after four years and talked about some of the main changes during that time.

These included the development of the My WI website and the success of the Saving Denman Appeal.

An average of 32,000 members now join each year and many WI groups are opening across the UK.

Janice gave an emotional farewell speech and said she would not have missed her opportunity for the world.

Appreciation was shown by a presentation and much applause.

The meeting was closed with a huge round of applause and we were entertained by a local retro band who performed songs from the Sixties that we all knew and loved.

There was dancing in the aisles, clapping of hands and swaying of arms. A fabulous end to a super meeting. Jenny, Sue and Gill also made time to visit some of the museums, the Anglican Cathedral and had a ride on the very big wheel despite the atrocious weather.

Gill and Sue stayed on to enjoy a short city break and visited the Cavern of Beatles fame and also took the ferry on the Mersey.

We all came home with lots of wonderful memories of the meeting, the other WI ladies we had met and the city of Liverpool.

Rosemary Greeley gave a report on her visit with Jenny Ward to a garden party hosted by Julie Summers, author of the book Jam Busters.

They enjoyed her lovely garden on a very hot summer’s day.

The Oxfordshire Federation provided afternoon tea and Rosemary and Jenny also enjoyed a walk to Iffley Lock. The proceeds went to the Denman Appeal.

Sue Hedges reminded everyone of the planned members’ workshop to be held on October 30 and details of the programme were available for members on the information table.

Alison Bishop confirmed that the summer outing to Sulhamstead Police Museum was fully subscribed and details regarding lifts would be forthcoming.

Alison Bishop then introduced our speaker.

Mark Harling is the neighbourhood police inspector for South Oxfordshire and is responsible for the police officers, police community support officers, staff, volunteers and special constables who deliver neighbourhood policing across South Oxfordshire, which encompasses towns and villages in an area of 260 sq miles in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.

This was Mark’s first talk to a local WI and he said he was very impressed by the number of people in attendance.

His police career started some 29 years ago. He grew up and attended school in South Oxfordshire.

He spoke of the immense changes since his early days, saying current policing situations were very different now and events more spontaneous and random.

Computers and the internet had brought enormous change in communication within the police, together with more challenging internet crime and fraud.

He was very keen to assure our members and the public that the police took seriously every incident reported but there were occasions when it was difficult to proceed through lack of evidence.

However, people were now more comfortable reporting sexual crime. He said he was a very strong supporter of Neighbourhood Watch schemes, which provided an excellent service to the public.

Mark was asked about women in the police force and he assured us that women had equal opportunities in every respect. Cressida Dick, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, is a former Thames Valley chief constable.

Mark said he could remember at the beginning of his career that women Pcs had to wear skirts during the day and were only allowed to wear trousers at night. They were issued with smaller truncheons and a handbag! This caused much laughter.

Mark’s presentation was friendly, informative and reassuring that we were in good hands.

Sue Frayling-Cork gave the vote of thanks and Mark was given some cakes to take back to the police station.

Refreshments and the raffle followed. The flower of the month competition was won by Ann Holt with Marian Turner second and Chris Gibson third.

The competition for an old photograph of Sonning Common was won by Gill Hayward with a picture of the original Brinds Butchers. Marian Turner came second with a photo of an Ellis & Heading horse-drawn milk float.

Jenny closed the meeting, wishing everyone a happy summer and saying she looked forward to seeing everyone again in September.

STOKE ROW

WE were back in our refurbished village hall for our July meeting, admiring its bright, clean and spacious facilities.

We began with a minute’s silence in memory of a past member, Margaret Palling, whose funeral had been attended by 10 of us.

Our president, Jeanette, thanked those of us that had helped in any way with our “Glorious Glam Sale”, which was a success, raising a generous amount to help pay for the new chairs in the hall.

The many donations of hats, bags and scarves filled the hall and there was a steady flow of customers.

Two days later we entertained a visiting lunch group and they also bought scarves and made a donation to the chair fund.

Eight members of the diners’ club had a wonderful summer evening by the river at Benson, enjoying the sun as well as the food and chatter.

The craft, book and swimming groups also met in July.

The ever-popular games afternoon group met at Stella’s newly-built house for a teatime tour.

We had previously been taken round Sheena’s house in Wallingford before having afternoon tea, so this could become a regular feature.

Thirty-seven members came to this meeting, which was a fun “keep mobile” evening, with plenty of laughter among the exercise.

In August we will have a day out, incorporating a walk, lunch, talk and tea, all centred round Greys church.

Our delegate at the National Federation’s annual meeting gave her report during refreshments.

She had enjoyed the meeting in Liverpool and the overnight stay, although the journeys and late return were a bit tortuous.

It was good to be back in our hall and Daphne was thanked with a gift for facilitating our temporary home in the church.

WATLINGTON

OUR speaker for July was Louise Stubbs from the wholesale garden centre at Cuxham.

She explained how the garden centre had evolved over the years and that now not only does it supply garden designers and landscape gardeners but also occasionally opens for local gardeners and garden clubs.

It also has a thriving floristry business, using plants and flowers grown specially on site. Louise herself is an accomplished animal artist.

On August 9 our speaker will be Jane Stubbs talking about “Corsets, crinolines and mangles — women’s lives in the 19th century”. This should be a really good indication on how far we have come in shedding our undies!

The September 13 gathering will be a social evening while in October we will have John Sennett talking about “Life after the BBC”.

If you would like to come and meet us, you will be warmly welcomed and given a good cup of tea and slice of home-made cake. For more information, please call Kath on (01491) 612939.

WHITCHURCH HILL

MEMBERS met for a business meeting in July.

President Frances welcomed new member Margaret Stahmer and gave birthday greetings and flower posies to three members.

She also paid tribute to two of our members, Margaret Palling and Pat Turner, who died recently. Following the business matters, members enjoyed a talk and were disabused of some of their previous beliefs — mostly gleaned from Wild West movies — when Roger Shaw spoke about the wagon trains which crossed America from Missouri to Oregon in the 19th century.

Some 500,000 people traversed the country, travelling in wagon trains which could be as many as 300 wagons long (the longest had 1,600).

They travelled 3,000 miles, which took four to six months. They set off in the spring and tried to travel along rivers as there was no rain en route.

They had to carry all their provisions in their wagons with families.

Contrary to common belief, the Indian tribes were usually helpful to the settlers, although one or two attacks were known to have taken place, resulting in loss of life.

The last wagon trains were in 1860 as they were no longer needed because of the arrival of the railway.

At this meeting we also had a book sale, the proceeds from which will be sent to Saving Denman Appeal.

In August we shall be paying a visit to Ewelme, a delightful and historic village, where we will have lunch.

Later in the month we shall welcome members with their families and friends to our evening barbecue in the garden at Goring Heath parish hall. Hopefully, the weather will be fine.

We have a business meeting with a speaker on the third Tuesday of most months and we also plan a social or craft morning, or possibly a walk and pub lunch, usually on the first Tuesday of the month.

Our monthly meetings and take place at Goring Heath parish hall, opposite St John’s Church on the B471, beginning at 10.15am.

Visitors are welcome. For more information, please call 0118 984 1696.

WOODCOTE

ANN LARDEN welcomed members to the meeting on July 19, where Audrey Hawthorne played the piano as we sang Jerusalem.

The birthday girls this month were Iris Lewis, Monika Watters, Patricia Solomons and Rose Metcalf, who all received a buttonhole.

We had a wonderful tea thanks to Jenny Gough, Rose Spencer and Kathy Tarrant.

The lunch club are going to the Highwayman in Exlade Street this month and Peppard WI have invited us to one of their member’s gardens.

A photograph of the homes and gardens trip to see the wolves at Beenham had been published in the WI magazine — fame at last!

The speaker this month was Rosemary Edgington, from Hearing Dogs for the Deaf.

She was joined by Karen and their dogs Teaka and Sunny, who were so well behaved that they were a credit to the women.

Rosemary gave a fascinating insight into how they breed the puppies, choose suitable dogs for training and the train them to alert their owners to different situations.

These dogs transform the lives of their owners, giving them confidence to lead normal lives.

The bloom of the month competition was won by Carole Shelley-Allen and the competition for a photo of your favourite pet was won by Sylvia Atkinson.

We will be back in the village hall in September after our garden meeting in August. Please come and join us.

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