Friday, 17 August 2018

Around the WI

Around the WI

BENSON

OCTOBER was a fairly busy month as some of our members attended a very enjoyable local group meeting hosted by Wallingford WI at Cholsey Pavilion.

The Oxfordshire Federation held one of its regular “Music Taster” events in our parish hall and we catered for lunch for 30 Bullingdon Disabled Club members for the occasion of their annual meeting.

Sandra, our president, welcomed 18 members, including two new ones, and the Oxfordshire Federation’s training advisor to our regular evening meeting on October 18.

The latest edition of News & Views was discussed and members were advised of the proposed outings and events therein.

A number of small group visits is also being organised by one of our members, adding to our programme for 2018. These include a Christmas afternoon tea, a trip to the ballet and another to the Oxford Playhouse.

The new My WI website was discussed and there was a bring and buy book sale.

Sandra welcomed our speaker, Kevin Little, of the Smelly Alley Fish Company fame, who told us about “Fishy tales and eccentric customers”.

Whilst setting up, one of our members discussed her involvement in hedgehog conservation and Kevin talked about his involvement in wildlife rescue.

His talk included humorous anecdotes about his father’s dealings with the large McFisheries company in the Thirties and his own dealings with health and safety inspectors as well as the origins of phrases such as “holy mackerel” and “red herring”.

Following the talk, refreshments were served and we wished two of our members a very happy 80th birthday each with a special celebration cake.

The next meeting will be held in Benson parish hall on November 15, when our speaker will be Biff Raven-Hill, the author of The Wartime Housewife.

Hopefully, she will relay some old-fashioned skills and values that can be applied to modern life.

Looking further forward to December, our Christmas meeting will be a bring and share supper and we will listen to “Tales of the opera” with Patricia Purcell.

CAVERSHAM

AT October’s meeting, we welcomed representatives of the Thames Valley air ambulance and heard how they deliver such a marvellous service with no support from the National Lottery, NHS or the Government.

We also learnt that the air ambulance is one of only two such helicopters that are able to operate 24/7 for 365 days a year.

Hats off to all the good ladies and gentlemen who volunteer their time to make it all possible.

Next month, we will welcome a local speaker on the subject of garden wildlife after which I hope to be able to name a few more of the creepy crawlies I find while gardening.

As the weather turns properly into deep autumn, our craft group is coming back together after a brief “summer” break.

After taking inspiration from a National Federation article on book clubs, we are also launching a reading club, which will focus on jointly reading more broadly than just a traditional novel and talking about what we’ve learnt.

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 childcare issues. There is usually easy parking and a lift to the first floor meeting room at Church House in Prospect Street (building works may be temporarily affecting the parking).

For more information, visit at https://tinyurl.com/hwzj6zy or search for Caversham WI.

COCKPOLE GREEN

ON Wednesday, October 18, president Adrienne welcomed members, new member Linda Weal, guest Gini Hayden-Cadd and speaker Catherine Sampson, whose talk was entitled “Georgian cookery”.

Catherine’s passion is social history, focusing on cookery during the Georgian period from 1714 to 1830 (George I, II and III).

This was a time of great social change, which included a large-scale move from medieval strip farming to uniformly rectangular fields and, of course, increasing industrialisation, particularly in the Midlands and the North.

Georgian society was portrayed in the novels of Jane Austen, which tell us a lot about the etiquette of that period.

Catherine illustrated her talk with some very interesting slides, including one depicting a typical, aristocratic dining room table from the mid to late Georgian period, laid with beautiful silver and glassware and a very long tablecloth.

The latter was a throwback to the early Georgian period when the tablecloth was used in the absence of napkins.

Due to the high cost of glass in the early 1700s, wine glasses were kept on the sideboard rather than on the dining table during dinner.

Eventually, as industrialisation increased, the price of glass plummeted and new designs such as the beautiful twisted stem wine glass appeared and glasses finally moved on to the table.

Members were amused by the “delicate” way of using bathroom facilities: ladies discreetly left the room with a commode, while gentlemen merely lifted the lid.

Some commodes were built into the sideboard, allowing diners to continue their conversation while they went!

The exquisite Georgian cutlery, with delicate scroll designs, was very expensive and in the early 1700s guests were often requested to bring their own.

It became more affordable and widely available when the Sheffield cutlers began to mass produce silver plate.

A new fork was introduced featuring four prongs rather than three, which led to people using their fork rather than their knife to transfer the food from their plate to their mouth.

Cooking over an open fire in the kitchen continued throughout the Georgian period.

Catherine showed us several menus, including one from the household of Sir Walter Calverley Blackett, of Northumberland, dated 1772, which listed 24 courses.

The table was laid in advance with all the dishes in each course, meaning that diners often ate food which was lukewarm or even cold.

A popular and expensive dish favoured by the upper classes, and therefore also by the newly emerging middle classes, was turtle soup, which was especially popular from the mid-1700s.

A cheaper version called mock turtle soup, using brains and the hooves and tail of cattle, became popular with those who could not afford the real thing.

By 1750, French chefs had begun to move to England to practise their culinary skills and numbers increased significantly when the French Revolution swept away many of their former aristocratic employers.

There was, however, much rivalry between the French and English chefs, which still continues.

Inventions such as the pie dish by manufacturers like Wedgwood also quietly revolutionised cooking.

These steps forward in food technology were supported by the growing number of cookery books, designed to cater for the newly emerged middle class market.

The most well-known was The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy by Hannah Glasse in 1747, which was revered as a “bible” for 100 years. It was reprinted more than 21 times and remains in print today.

It contained not just food recipes but also medicinal cures, including one to prevent catching the plague!

Glasse was not an astute businesswoman, however, and was forced to sell the copyright to her book in 1754 to get out of Fleet debtors’ jail.

Her name did not appear on the cover, which simply read “By a lady”!

Glasse received no credit for it during her lifetime.

Members learnt that to make a cake, cookery writers would advise how many hours were needed to beat the eggs, generally around two, as no raising agent had yet been invented. Catherine had made a plain cake following a Georgian recipe by Margaretta Ackworth, including caraway seeds and brandy, which members enjoyed.

This was a very interesting talk, spoken with much passion, which everyone enjoyed.

The next meeting will take place at Crazies Hill village hall on Wednesday, November 15 at 2.30pm, when we will welcome the return of Francis Benton, who will demonstrate the art of pearl-knotting.

⚫ We would love to see you again at Cockpole Green WI’s bridge drive, which will take place at Crazies Hill village hall on Friday, March 16 at 2pm. Please put this date in your diary.

GREYS

WHAT a spread we had for our Harvest tea!

Val, our president, welcomed us and our secretary Janet read out the apologies. No wonder there were so few of us! Those who weren’t on holiday (one was as far away as Australia) were unwell. Hopefully they’ll soon be fit and well again.

And where was our speaker? We obviously wouldn’t be practising our quilting skills.

Ever resourceful, Val produced a quiz with a list of diverse items beginning with the first letter of the members’ last name. Soon the hall was full of laughter. Alma proved the overall winner with answers such as Hallelujah Chorus.

Several of us had enjoyed the Beechwood Group meeting and were full of admiration for our hosts, Shiplake WI, for arranging the event in Harpsden (Shiplake memorial hall being unavailable that day).

The speaker, Ian Scott-Hunter, a royal footman, kept us entertained for the afternoon. With a PowerPoint presentation, he took us through his fascinating career with the royal family, including amusing anecdotes along the way.

Merryl and Jennifer had also been entertained at the Music Taster in Benson, when Barry Collett, another excellent presenter, took us though the life of Smetana, the “Father of Czech music”.

Barry’s talk was liberally interspersed with examples of the composer’s diverse music, from piano to orchestral and, of course, an excerpt from the best known of his nine operas, The Bartered Bride.

Our Harvest tea was relaxed and enjoyable, an opportunity to get to know each other better.

Doreen won the competition for a small homemade item with a delightful paperweight displaying a delicate lace motif.

Everyone set to and cleared up at the end of a really enjoyable afternoon.

We will be knitting and/or nattering at Val’s on November 6. For our next meeting on November 15 (2.30pm), we’ll be welcoming Norman Horsham back for an afternoon of his wonderful photographs celebrating autumn. Bring your autumn photo for the competition.

HAMBLEDEN

WE have had another busy month. At our October meeting 35 members and two visitors were welcomed.

Unfortunately, our guest speaker D Brenda Harold was unable to attend and talk on the topic of “New genetics — dream or nightmare?”

However, we were able to find a replacement in Nick Brazil, who spoke about his travels in Namibia.

Margaret Spratley gave the vote of thanks.

Teas were provided by Jane Mann, Pamela Cox and Pat Sharp. Helen Balkwell assisted.

A special thank-you was conveyed to members from Marlow Blind Club for the afternoon tea provided by the WI in the village hall on September 27.

Everyone thoroughly enjoyed a couple of hours of home-made bakes and chat. Many thanks to all those who provided such delicious treats.

The Slade Group meeting was held at Stokenchurch on October 13 and five members from Hambleden WI attended. The Stokenchurch Strummers entertained the group.

Members enjoyed a delicious afternoon tea at Phyllis Court Club in Henley on October 18.

Solicitor Kareen Stuart held an extremely useful and informative workshop on writing wills in the village hall on October 19 which 12 members attended.

Jo Martin outlined the plan for our annual meeting in November and said that a representative of Denman College had been invited. A bring and buy of accessories is planned after the business.

A workshop on making Christmas decorations will take place in the village hall on Thursday, November 16 from 10am to noon.

On Wednesday, December 6 we have the opportunity to attend the Royal Albert Hall for a Christmas concert.

Our Christmas Party will be held at St Katherine’s, Parmoor, on Thursday, December 14 at 7.30pm.

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

HARPSDEN

THERE were 35 members present for Pat Eades to welcome to the October meeting.

Four of whom were celebrating their birthdays during the month — Joan Hewett, Eileen Needleman, Jean Smith and Sue Taylor.

A brisk trade was witnessed at the sales table, which raised £22 for WI funds.

Remenham WI had issued a invitation to attend their Christmas fair and tea on November 13 at 2.30pm.

There was good news from the Oxfordshire Federation in that next year’s annual meeting on March 28 will sever its ties with Oxford town hall and move to the Newman Rooms in the city.

Sadly, there will be room for only 500 members but at least they will all be able to hear the proceedings, which was not always the case at the town hall.

The Federation has also organised a weekend at Denman College (June 22 to 24) with a selection of courses from which to choose.

There is also a holiday available to the Isle of Wight from September 24 to 27 at a cost of £432.

Unwanted foreign coins and notes can be donated to the Associated Country Women of the World for their latest initiative to provided a shea nut butter extraction machine in Uganda.

Details were included in News & Views of the gold medal competition in 2018 for making a tote bag. The full schedule and entry form are available from the secretary.

The autumn meeting of the Beechwood Group had been very well attended with 80 members present to hear an interesting story by Ian Scott on his life as a “Royal footman to the Queen”.

The next group meeting is in April when the hosts will be Stoke Row WI.

Harpsden has two outings before Christmas — to White Waltham airfield on November 17 to see the vintage planes and have lunch and to Stonor Park on December 5 to see the beautiful Christmas decorations.

The book club and Sunday lunch club continue to meet regularly.

Melanie King’s subject was “Tea, coffee and chocolate”.

She told us that tea comes from the leaves of the camellia bush and was first drunk in the 1600s in Europe, coming to London in 1658.

It was thought that it dried the brain but, on the other hand, it was supposed to “make the body lusty”.

The leaves actually contain fluoride, so are good for one’s teeth, and the tannin is good for you too.

There are 125 species of coffee plant, being grown mostly in Africa, South-East Asia and Australia. The arabica bean originates from the Yemen. The plants are best grown 950m above sea level.

In 1650 the Angel Inn in Oxford served the first coffee drink.

Ladies were not allowed in coffee houses.

It was thought that coffee made you lively, cured constipation and the caffeine helped prevent liver diseases, prostate cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.

Chocolate comes from the cacao tree and was cultivated in 400BC. It was discovered by the Spanish.

It takes four years to produce the bean.

In 1624 it was said that chocolate was “a violent inflamer of the passions”.

In fact, it does make you feel better, blocks depression in the brain and boosts good cholesterol and brain function. Who can argue with that?

In 1740 it took six months to elect a Pope and during that time the monks apparently consumed 30lb of chocolate.

In 1717 the first Lyons tea shop opened, providing somewhere for women to meet at last.

Melanie’s advice was to continue eating every day a piece of chocolate that contains at least 75 per cent dark chocolate.

Di Painter gave a hearty vote of thanks and everyone then enjoyed their tea and cakes.

The competition was for an “interesting cup or mug”, which was won by Ruth Norman, with Ann Kelly second and Lindsay Watts third.

The next meeting of Harpsden WI will be on November 8, when members will be partaking of lunch at Henley Golf Club (noon for 12.30pm).

The following meeting will be back in Harpsden village hall on December 13, commencing at 2.30pm. Visitors from the Beechwood Group WIs will be welcomed to the Christmas-themed afternoon, with added entertainment and carol singing.

HENLEY

AFTER having such a wonderful write-up in the Henley Standard a month ago, we had a lot of interested potential new members at our October meeting (we even had to nip to Waitrose for some more wine!), which was fantastic.

Katie, our president, was unfortunately running a little late so committee member Susannah welcomed everyone and asked about goodies for our next meeting, which is the Christmas social, and also made a request for any donations for the WI late-night shopping stall in December.

Our speaker was the delightful Annette March, who is the proprietor of the White Garden florist in Hart Street, Henley.

She gave us a demonstration of how to make a bouquet of flowers, a table decoration and a rustic flower decoration, all of which were very interesting to watch and learn about and looked gorgeous.

Annette is clearly an expert with extensive knowledge and she shared with us several fascinating tips and facts, such as a copper coin keeps tulips straight, flower food is basically sugar so you could use lemonade instead and if you use an oasis pop it in a bowl of water and when it has sunk to the bottom it is fully hydrated and ready to use.

Annette’s very first event was at Windsor Castle at the tender age of 13 and she went on to work at the Chelsea Flower Show and also with Christian Dior before finally setting up shop in Henley in 2013.

Her favourite flower of the moment is an Ecuadorian rose which was truly beautiful.

Our next meeting will be at King’s Arms Barn on November 17 at 7.30pm and we will be having a Christmas social to celebrate a year of the new Henley WI. Please come along and join us. For more information, please email hotwi2017@hotmail.com

This will be our last meeting of the year and in January 2018 we will be moving to our new venue, Sacred Heart Church hall in Vicarage Road.

MILL GREEN, WARGRAVE

THE meeting on October 5 began with a warm welcome by our president Frankie Macmillan and the usual WI business.

Then our speaker Barbara Ratings spoke about being “A vicar’s wife from Germany”.

Her talk was a thoughtful, amusing and well-illustrated appraisal of the role of a vicar’s wife, starting with a definition as in the early church there were only priests and housekeepers.

In October 1517, a monk called Martin Luther decided he did not agree with the Roman Catholic teaching and left for Rome on a pilgrimage.

He saw St Peter’s being built using the monies from indulgences, which were for the priests to say mass for people who had died so that their passage through purgatory would be short — the more money you had, the more masses would be read.

He thought this was outrageous, both spiritually and theologically. He believed we are saved by the grace of God, not by our deeds.

This thinking rocked the church. He was required to attend a formal assembly where he had to satisfy his theological argument.

Luther stood firm and was consequently banned.

On his way home, he was captured by the King of Saxony for his own safety.

Luther started a movement of protestation in Germany. It was questioning the power of Rome and the interpretation of the Gospel at this time, hence its name the Protestant, or Lutheran church.

Unbeknown to him, Martin Luther started the Reformation when he married a nun, Katrina von Bora, a very clever woman who created a family life filled with music and children. She also managed the finances and was very active in the parish, thus the first vicar’s wife.

Barbara was not born in a vicarage, although they have played a very important part in her life.

She was born in Besigheim, a town in southern Germany, where her father, a naval officer, had moved his wife and two daughters when the bombing of naval ports began during the war.

Their home in Besigheim, in the American zone, was requisitioned four times as quarters for US officers.

The family were taken in by a remarkable vicar’s wife, Frau Gerber, who also assisted Germans fleeing Russian advances to the West.

Barbara’s father was a prisoner in a British internment camp.

The first meeting for Barbara and John took place at Cuddesdon Theological College in the summer of 1963.

Barbara had come to England to act as au pair for the Runcie children.

They met over an invitation to afternoon tea in college. As secretary to the common room, John offered to show Barbara the library — much to the amusement of the other students.

Barbara had not the learnt the meaning of the phrases “may I show you my etchings” or “will you be mother” or “he’s pulling your leg”, all of which were used in the weeks ahead. A swift learning curve was needed. Courting was not easy, living in the grounds of a semi-monastic college with very limited time off and a 10pm curfew.

Barbara returned home at the end of the summer to take her A-levels and thence on to university.

The courtship continued with meetings twice a year.

During these years, John served as curate in Langley and Middleton, where Barbara had to get used to all the new services and various church vestments.

Having weathered all these difficulties, their marriage took place in 1968.

There followed a time of great consideration for Barbara: what sort of vicar’s wife would she become?

Caroline Chartres, wife of Rt Rev Richard Chartres, Bishop of London, said: “The vast majority of clergy wives, while nowadays expecting to be employed in their own right, are also expected to pull their weight in the parish. Working professionally is often important, not only for financial reasons, but also because it helps to establish an identity of one’s own.” This had a profound effect on Barbara’s thinking.

After the first year of marriage, when John served as curate in Easthampstead, Bracknell, both John and Barbara were given separate grants to attend the Geneva College for Ecumenical Studies, where they met many interesting people and studied alongside one another.

Here they also had a rather belated period of courtship!

In 1971 they came to Wargrave and Barbara had new experiences and was introduced to houses with butlers and many quaint English customs — what was gin and tonic and what did the ladies withdrawing from the dinner table mean?

She also had to get used to having a welcome open house for meetings and private consultations, to take Sunday school, to attend services, including Remembrance (Germany does not commemorate the act of remembrance) and to cope generally with all the problems running a parish entails.

Her two daughters, Suzanna and Christina, made their appearance.

Barbara taught at Heathfield, Ascot, then Garth Hill, Bracknell, and finally at the Piggott School in Wargrave, where she remained for 27 years.

Initially, she expanded German as a second language and assisted in establishing the language department as a place of excellence, organising many exchange visits.

Eventually, she won an award from the German government for the promotion of German-British relations.

Unable to find a suitable translation for Bundesverdienskreuz am Bande, John called it Barbara’s “Iron Cross”.

Barbara stressed how happy she had been in Wargrave and hoped to remain here in her retirement.

Pat Jones gave an eloquent vote of thanks.

At out November meeting, Brian Clews will speak about British mammals. Please do come and visit us if you are interested.

PEPPARD

OUR committee provided soup, bread, apple pie and cream with juice for our Harvest lunch, which we all enjoyed.

Irene Lindsay had brought delightful little flower arrangements for each table.

We then settled down to a quiz, which was fun and got the little grey cells working.

After a cup of tea, a few members spoke briefly about how they came to join Peppard WI.

The next meeting will be at Peppard war memorial hall on November 8 at 2pm, when Dave Maycock will talk to us about brass rubbing and memorial brasses.

If you would like to come along, you will be made most welcome.

REMENHAM

OUR October meeting started with our president Daphne Austen taking us through the business.

She reminded members of our Christmas market to be held in Remenham village hall on November 13 at 2.30pm. There will be stalls, wine tasting and a Christmassy tea. All are welcome.

The Christmas lunch will be held at the Flower Pot in Aston on December 11 (12.30pm for 1pm).

Daphne then took us through the history of découpage, a centuries-old art form that entails pasting cut-outs to an object and then varnishing it.

The craft’s origins were in Siberia where Nomadic tribes used it to decorate tombs.

In the 12th century it moved to China, where they decorated their lanterns with cut-outs, and eventually spread to Europe in the 17th century.

In Venice, the découpage themes were mainly religious while the French decorated their furniture.

In 1771, artist Mary Delaney became famous in the court of George III and Queen Charlotte when she created more than 1,700 botanical paper mosaics.

These were exquisite and there are still examples of her work in the British Museum.

The ladies then got well and truly stuck in as Daphne issued us with glue, brushes, special attractive paper and lovely little treasure chests to decorate, using the decopatch method, which is the modern take on this old art form.

All these materials were kindly donated by Hobbycraft in Reading.

We had great fun tearing up the paper and gluing — getting very sticky in the process — with lots of chat and laughter.

Everyone welcomed a lovely cup of tea and delicious sandwiches and cake, all provided by Carol Wissett, Jen Terry and June Shelton.

Sheila Constantinidi won not only the raffle but also the art competition (not that there were many entries). Pat Sly was presented with a birthday posy.

If you would like more information about Remenham WI, please call Daphne Austen on 07919 358979.

SHIPLAKE

THE meeting on Wednesday, October 18 was a celebration of the 90th birthday of Shiplake Women’s Institute.

The memorial hall was decorated with bunting, balloons and photographs of our birthday boat trip and each member was given a small, hand-made gift.

President Joan Jolley reported on the Beechwood Group meeting and asked ladies to sign up for the Christmas lunch.

Sue Lines announced details of the visits to My Fair Lady in December and Cinderella and An American in Paris in January. She also reported that the visit to the Mill at Sonning Theatre with a backstage tour had been excellent.

The speaker was Dr Janice Kinory, who gave an interesting talk on “Oxford then and now” in which she showed us some wonderful images from the Historic Environment Imagery Resource.

Some of the pictures dated back to the 1880s, with those early images held on glass lantern slides. Out of more than 18,000 images in total, more than 800 are of Oxford and Oxfordshire.

Dr Kinory talked about the changes that had occurred at the colleges in Oxford, including the increase in female students, illustrated with pictures of ladies on bicycles.

She showed some wonderful old photos of Oxford streets alongside modern images so that the dramatic changes were more obvious.

There were also pictures of the Martyrs’ Memorial, the Examination School, the Morris cycle works in Long Wall and Hansom cabs on The High — all interesting to see.

The talk ended with fascinating images of Oxford during floods over the years.

After the speaker, the celebrations began with the cutting of the birthday cake and a glass of fizz.

A photo was taken of the past and present presidents along with Mavis Saward, who is one of the oldest members.

Some of the WI scrapbooks on display were of much interest and amusement.

Everyone then enjoyed a special birthday tea. The tea hostesses were Banba Dawson and Viv Ellis. The winner of the flower of the month was Frances Lefebure with a large spray of nicandra and the competition winner was Banba Dawson with a very colourful banknote from Costa Rica.

The speaker at the next meeting on November 15 will be Rosemary Edgington with Teaka, talking about Hearing Dogs for the Deaf. Visitors are always welcome.

More details about Shiplake WI can be found on the villages’ website.

SONNING COMMON

JENNY WARD, our president, welcomed 41 members and eight visitors to our October meeting.

Once again, there were some new faces, confirming the continuing interest shown in our WI.

The usual business included the treasurer’s report.

Anne Croxson confirmed that a sum of money had been sent to the county memorial bursary following the recent sad death of our member Linda Webb.

She gave a short outline of how the bursary and the 400 Club work for the benefit of new members.

Gill Hayward reported that fund-raising was being well supported and thanked members for their contributions.

Sue Hedges and Carol Townhill manned the Sonning Common WI lucky dip wine stall at a recent Macmillan coffee morning at the village hall.

Sue reminded our members that November 13 was World Kindness Day.

Di Soden had made a world kindness tree which was displayed at the meeting and members were invited to read the attached messages and to take away a kind thought.

In support of the Oxfordshire Women’s Refuge, Jenny Hermon and Rosemary Greeley had produced two beautifully wrapped boxes of useful items for women who have to leave their home at very short notice to seek refuge.

Reports were given on the recent “Secret London” trip.

Our darts, craft and Scrabble groups all continue to provide interest and enjoyment for our members.

Details were confirmed for our Christmas lunch and evening dinner in January.

Alison Bishop then introduced our speaker Richard Kingston, whose presentation was called “Antiques and the influence of tea”.

We were told that tea was introduced to this country from China.

Tea was created in Shin Nong by a Buddhist monk called Darma.

It was introduced to Europe by the Dutch and became popular at Garraways Coffee House in London.

In the 1800s tea became very popular and the Government put a tax on it, which encouraged smuggling.

With the creation of the tea caddy, the desire for teapots, teaspoons etc grew.

At first they were made of silver but soon porcelain became popular in Britain.

There was also an Indian influence with their tea imports. The expression “cup of char” comes from India.

In Samuel Pepys’s diary he mentions the “new drink”.

By 1750 tea had become our national drink and for 200 years the leaves were imported from China.

Richard described how the tea bushes grew before the leaves were harvested and transported abroad. He posed a question to members when he showed examples of three tea caddies — what was the middle of the three containers for?

He kept members in suspense until the end when he revealed that it was for sugar.

In the big houses of the day, the caddies were kept locked in the drawing room and the lady of the house would be the only one carrying the key.

Servants were allowed a little and would often dry the leaves after use to be used again or even sold.

Members had brought many tea- and spoon-related items for the competition and Richard chose the winner.

Rosemary Edginton won with a pair of silver sugar nips with Caroline Gough second with her unusual teapot and Ann Chivers third with a selection of spoons.

Rosemary gave the vote of thanks to Richard for an interesting and informative presentation.

The flower of the month competition winner was Jo Denslow with a beautiful dahlia. Jenny closed the formal part of the meeting and invited everyone to have refreshments and enjoy the rest of the evening.

STOKE ROW

WE began our October meeting with a minute’s silence for Angela Spencer-Harper, who had recently passed away.

Angela had been a member of our WI for a long time and was remembered with kindness as a real character.

Our Christmas meeting arrangements were explained, particularly as we have several members who are new this year at our thriving WI, which is gaining new members almost monthly.

Jane Probitts took over chairing the meeting as part of the new arrangement to share responsibilities and this made an interesting change. We will have someone different “in charge” each month for a while.

Outings and extra interest clubs were discussed and dates given out so that members could choose what to join in with over the next month.

The last walk was very local — round Stoke Row — and included a call in at the art and craft exhibition in the chapel for tea and refreshments. Several members were exhibiting their artwork.

Our speaker was Denise, one of our members, who has an interesting job as a forensic toxicologist.

She explained the intricacies of her work, providing evidence for the courts on drugs, poisons and the like.

We then enjoyed a super supper, prepared in the now very well-equipped kitchen, a major improvement to our village hall.

A small Halloween display and stem of the month competition were joined by a large table of jewellery, scarves and bags which we are still selling to raise funds.

The diners’ club treated themselves to a very nice lunch at the Villa Marina restaurant in Henley.

Fifteen members visited the John Lewis Heritage Centre in Cookham. A wet start did not deter us and by the time we emerged from the talk and had a look round some 40,000 samples of fabric designs from the archive collection, the rain had stopped.

We had time for a leisurely lunch nearby and then a walk round the town and riverside. It’s a very nice area that many of us had not visited before. Next month we will have a speaker on “Parliament and power” and we have our groups to keep us busy in the meantime.

WATLINGTON

A LOCAL man, John Sennett, gave an interesting and informative talk at our October meeting.

John had worked as a cameraman for the BBC and talked of his experiences at home and abroad.

He also explained the vast changes in photographic equipment over the years.

After retiring from the BBC, he went freelance for several years.

Thank you, John, for giving us an insight into your life as “A camera man”.

At November’s meeting we will have a demonstration called “‘Here’s one I made earlier” by Jane Pawlyn.

December will be our Christmas celebration and at January’s meeting we will have a talk by Ken and June Brazier on “Cycling the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela”.

We meet in Watlington town hall on the second Wednesday in the month at 7.30pm and would love to meet you. For more information, please call Kath Gomm on (01491) 612939.

WHITCHURCH HILL

TWENTY-FOUR members and one visitor were welcomed by president Frances to our October meeting.

Following the usual business, financial and other matters, members settled down to be well entertained by our speaker, Jeff Rozelaar.

He gave us a lively account of growing up in the post-war East End of London with a mixture of Jewish and Cockney humour, interspersed with perceptive observations on the multicultural attitudes and mores of his childhood and youth in that setting.

Birthday greetings and flowers were given to three members and a special welcome to our newest member.

Correspondence included advance notice of next year’s National Federation annual meeting, which will take place in Cardiff on June 6.

Plans for future local social events include a visit to Greys Court followed by lunch at the beginning of November, while in early December we shall have a demonstration of how to make your own decorations, holly and ivy etc, for the Christmas table.

We are arranging a trip to the Sue Ryder hospice in Nettlebed to take place early next year.

Our future programme includes several demonstrations and workshops for members which will take placer on the first Tuesday of the month and will be separate from our regular business meeting (with a speaker) on the third Tuesday.

Our speaker for November will be Liz Guthrie, whose subject will be “Reflexology — how it works”.

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 take place at Goring Heath parish hall, opposite St John’s Church on the B471, starting at 10.15am. Visitors are welcome. For more information, please call 0118 984 1696.

WOODCOTE

OUR October meeting was a wonderful celebration of the Harvest with delicious foods and a glass of wine.

The tables looked lovely with all the flowers and the chat was non-stop! The meal was followed by a quiz with top marks going to Sally Lambert and Kathy Cruickshank.

The month’s birthday girls receiving a buttonhole were Edna Smith, Gill Woods, Kathy Brewer, Patricia Jessup, Barbara George, Connie Vickery and Sally Lambert.

Lunch club this month will meet at the Four Points at Aldworth.

Our group meeting will take place at South Stoke when several WI groups will get together with a speaker. This will be followed by a ploughman’s lunch and then we will go to table tennis to work the calories off!

At our November meeting we will hear “The tales of a Scotland Yard detective” by Steve Roberts.

Please come and join us.

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