Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Benson WI

OUR president Yvonne welcomed members and visitors to our October meeting.

She discussed business, including forthcoming Christmas events, Kew Gardens at Christmas, Christmas Songs and Winchester Cathedral and Christmas market.

Then Yvonne introduced our speaker for the evening, Vikki Baker, who had come to tell us how her dream of owning her own shop had come true.

She trained as a chef in the Navy but confessed that she was never really passionate about cooking.

Her true calling came along quite unexpectedly when her four-month-old son developed eczema.

Reluctant to use the steroid cream that had been prescribed for him by the GP, Vikki was determined to find a more natural alternative to alleviate his symptoms.

This was the beginning of her journey and from preparing her 100 per cent natural and organic products at her kitchen table, she progressed to working in a garden shed, then a local workshop and finally opened her shop, Ugly Apples, in Benson.

Vikki was thanked for her extremely interesting talk and we all wished her great success with her new venture.

Benson WI meets at the village hall on the third Wednesday of the month at 7.30pm.

Our next meeting is on November 16 when the subject of the talk will be “Blood bikers”.

Please come along and join us. For more information, please call Lin on (01491) 836800.

COCKPOLE GREEN

ON Wednesday, October 19, president Adrienne Rance welcomed members, guests and our speaker Marion Dante, whose talk was entitled “Dropping the habit”.

Marion started her talk by assuring us that dropping the habit did not refer to drugs or alcohol but to her life as a nun from the age of 14 to 47.

Her story was, at times, quite poignant and insightful as she talked about life in Ireland, which is strongly Roman Catholic.

Born in Limerick, Marion knew she would be a nun, perhaps as a gift for God, since she was conceived out of wedlock in 1944 to a mother who was often crying. Nowadays that would be regarded as post-natal depression.

Her father was a builder and she had two brothers and two sisters.

Because of the economic depression in Ireland, the Dante family moved to Shepherds Bush in 1955.

Initially life in London was difficult as they were Irish and staunch Catholics, which made them targets of abuse in the English community.

Marion said with a smile: “There was neither a shepherd nor a bush in sight.”

While looking for a new home they read signs saying: ‘No dogs, no blacks, no Irish.”

In 1959, at the age of 14, she left home and entered the convent to start her training to become a Salesian Sister in Chertsey, Surrey.

A memorable event for her was a “vocation day” spent at Friar Park in Henley, which was donated to the nuns of the Salesians of Don Bosco.

What an attraction Friar Park (later to become the home of Beatle George Harrison) was with its turrets, towers and beautiful grounds.

Marion spent four years there as an aspirant. One of her first assignments was to look after chickens. Was that because all Irish folk have chickens?

She could also recall going to elocution lessons to get rid of her Irish accent!

At age 18, Marion began her noviciate training at Friar Park. The noviciate lasted two years until in 1965 she took her vows of chastity, poverty and obedience.

Life at Friar Park was very rigorous and austere with many deprivations. Even jelly babies had to be melted down before being eaten as they had no clothes on. This was her life for 33 years.

Even so, she felt fortunate as she was also trained as a teacher and graduated from London University. She taught in primary schools throughout England and Scotland.

As a result of the Ecumenical Council, the many changes within the church caused Marion to reconsider her vocation.

Eventually she applied to the Pope for a dispensation and left the convent in 1991 to face the long and terrifying road to freedom in the world outside.

When she was diagnosed with breast cancer, she retired from teaching.

Fortunately, Marion found writing cathartic. She joined Camberley Writing Group and wrote her autobiography, Dropping The Habit, which was published in 2007.

Writing this helped her to adjust to her new life so much so that she is now planning to publish two novels.

Apart from raising donations from the public to fund the Foundation in St Luke’s Cancer Centre at the Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford, this amazing lady undertook the challenge of walking the Machu Picchu trail in 2004.

More recently, she completed a 100-mile trek to Santiago de Compostela — three times!

In May Marion was invited to attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace as she was selected as one of Surrey Life’s community heroes for 2016.

Several copies of her book were snatched up by our members.

A delicious tea was prepared and served by Sue Edgell and Liz Cope.

The next meeting will take place at Crazies Hill village hall on Wednesday, November 16 at 2.30pm when the speaker, a Mr Mole, will give an intriguingly entitled talk called “The Mole Man”.

Interested? Then please call Selina Avent on 0118 940 3426.

GREYS

OUR president Val Mundy welcomed us all to a harvest meeting full of interesting information about our future activities, a celebration of our home town, Henley, and a delicious tea.

All WIs belong to a larger group and it is always stimulating to meet other members, discuss mutual problems and pick up new ideas.

Following a recent re-organisation, Greys now belongs to the Beechwood Group, named after the many beech woods in our area from which so many beautiful chairs used to be made.

Six WIs will be represented: Greys, Sonning Common, Stoke Row, Shiplake, Harpenden and Peppard.

There will be two meetings each year, an evening meeting in the summer and an afternoon one during the winter.

The first meeting of our new group was to take place in Peppard on October 26.

It can seem a long time between our own monthly meetings and Val announced the continuation of a now well-established custom and the launch of a new one.

We will continue to meet for our informal and enjoyable monthly lunches, sampling many hostelries in our area. Purely for research, of course.

Our next research project will be at the Catherine Wheel in Henley at midday on November 11.

A new informal coffee morning will take place every month, halfway between our main meetings.

This will be called “Knit and natter” and will take place in Val’s home.

Expert knitters and crocheters will pass on their skills and those of us who are less gifted (sadly, including yours truly) will enjoy the natter.

Jim Donahue is an award-winning photographer and an American who has lived in Whitchurch for almost 10 years.

He had come to talk to us about his recent book, Portrait of Henley-on-Thames, which he described as an American’s attempt to distil the essence of Henley — why had this small English town won so many awards as the best/most friendly place to live?

Jim’s talk was lavishly illustrated with wonderful photos, drawing many “oohs” and “aahs” from his audience.

He talked of the wealth of our history, ranging from the fine houses on the banks of the Thames to Grace Kelly, who visited the royal regatta and has a plaque dedicated to her in the Angel on the Bridge, which says: “Grace Kelly stood here”.

It was when Jim described the community spirit of Henley, that his affection for our town became obvious.

The mace bearer at the town council, the Living Advent Calendar, pub quizzes, welly wanging at the summer fete at Greys Court, the royal regatta and the Christmas pantomime at the Kenton Theatre have all been lovingly recorded.

As a keen cyclist, Jim has also fallen for our beautiful countryside and all this he illustrated with his amazing photographs.

This was a lovely talk enjoyed by all. In fact, so many people wanted to speak to him that we had to feed him his harvest tea at his table!

Our next meeting, with a talk on “Corsets, crinolines and mangles — the life of women in Victorian times”, will take place at Greys village hall on November 16, beginning at 2.30pm. Do come and join us.

HAMBLEDEN

OUR speaker in October was Tom Way, an award-winning fine art wildlife photographer.

He gave a fascinating presentation detailing an amazing array of skilfully executed wildlife shots.

Tom gave us an insight into what is involved in photographing his subjects — kingfishers, owls, foxes, water vole, deer and many others.

His amusing comments about the circumstances of each photograph explained the importance of light, background, attention to detail and, occasionally, luck. Tom also works with big game in Africa and his work is principally sold as large, framed prints.

It was a delight to have with us such a talented, dedicated and personable young man and to share in his enthusiasm for what he terms the “wildlife on our doorstep”.

Teas were kindly provided by Joyce Hynd, Jenny Sanderson and Gerry Capps. Thanks, too, to Sue Walden who stepped in to help with clearing away.

Our next meeting on Thursday, November 10, (7.30pm) is the annual general meeting but we will also be welcoming a Denman College ambassador who will explain what the WI’s college has to offer.

If you are interested in joining us, please call either Helen on 07889 539605 or Jo on 07803 505665.

HARPSDEN

PRESIDENT Pat Eades welcomed everyone back to Harpsden village hall after having two meetings in different settings, the secretary’s garden in August and Henley Golf Club in September.

Birthday greetings for October were given to Jean Smith, Eileen Needleman, Sue Taylor and Joan Hewett.

A raffle was held using the £5 gifted from the Oxfordshire federation to buy a beautiful lily plant and this was won by Rachel Evans.

Suzanne Rose updated members on the food waste resolution and the carers welcome initiative.

She has also prepared a resolution for the 2017 national annual meeting regarding the shortage of nurses in the NHS and is hoping this will be one of the resolutions selected. In News & Views there was an article on Barbara Gray, a past WI adviser, who served for more than 45 years at county level.

She had been to Windsor Castle to receive an MBE for her outstanding work in the community.

There is a day visit to Denman College on March 6. The cost is £30, which includes a chance to see the gardens, take a peep inside a couple of bedrooms, have a delicious lunch, take a tour of the college and finish with a cream tea. Superb value!

Christmas Songs this year is being held in the afternoon rather than the evening, so on December 2 why not combine it with some Christmas shopping in Oxford in the morning, have lunch and then enjoy a mince pie and drink in the town hall before the concert?

Also available from the county federation is a visit to Winchester Cathedral’s Christmas market on November 29. The cost is £20.

For those members with nimble fingers there is a chance to “create an heirloom”.

This is the gold medal competition for 2017. Entry forms should be in by December 2 and the heirloom completed by February 24.

The lunch club and reading group continue to be well
supported.

Patricia Williams gave notice of an outing entitled “A Cotswold Christmas” on December 8, leaving Henley at 8.50am. Details will be available at the November meeting if there are still vacancies.

Several members attended the music taster at Benson in October and enjoyed the chance to “guess the composers” after Barry Collett had played selected pieces.

Those attending thought it was not as enjoyable as his past “tasters” which featured a single composer.

It is hoped that in future members will vote for the monthly competition winner with a silver coin instead of copper.

The excellent speaker for the afternoon was Annie Assheton with her “Experiences on MasterChef” in 2011.

She was selected from 20,000 applicants and taking part had an enormous impact on her.

She was at a crossroads in her life, having been at home for the first few years of her children’s lives, and felt ready for an adventure.

After a telephone interview, 60 of the applicants had to take part in tests.

For her final test, Annie cooked a fillet of sea bream with crushed potatoes and crabmeat, roast tomatoes and a pea and broad bean purée.

The purée didn’t turn out quite as she had wished so she left this off the plate, but its absence was noted by the programme’s presenters, John Torode and Greg Wallace.

She finally made the grade to take part in filming and she received the coveted MasterChef apron.

One of the first meals she and the other contestants had to cook was a vegetarian meal in a circus tent on Peckham Common.

She had chosen to produce three different beetroot dishes, which John and Greg doubted she could produce in the time but she succeeded.

Taking part in this programme lasted two months, so Annie had to employ someone to run her household and look after her family during that time.

She considered that coming sixth out of 20,000 was a pretty good achievement.

She now does cookery demonstrations and caters for parties. She also spent three months working at the renowned L’Ortolan restaurant in Berkshire.

She is hoping to complete a book fairly soon.

Annie answered many questions, stating that MasterChef was not a reality show but a genuine cookery programme.

Pam Hails thanked her for a very interesting talk.

The competition was for a decorated cupcake, which was won by Pam Hails with Anne Thornton, Shirley Weyman and Judith Young sharing second place.

The next meeting will be on November 9 when Tony Hadland will return to speak on “A foray to the Falklands.” The competition is for a picture of a penguin.

There will be a bring and buy stall, so please remember to “bring” and then to “buy.”

The meeting will commence at 2.30pm in Harpsden village hall.

MILL GREEN, WARGRAVE

MILL Green member Sue Drew gave the talk at ourmeeting on October 5.

She gave us a detailed, illustrated and well-researched history of dance dating back as far as the ancient Egyptians, gradually introducing music and dance steps until the time when ballet evolved.

Dances were originally based on astrological signs. Led by priests, they took place at funerals and were used to illustrate the good deeds and virtues of the dead.

This was only available to the hierarchy and not the ordinary people. There are frescos to support this theory.

In Greece it was a very different picture. From the very beginning the Greeks had in their culture poetry, music, singing and dancing. Dancing to the Greeks was an essential part of education, as was athletics, while the other important element was mime.

In Rome at this time there was a new element added to the mixture in the form of pantomime.

It was not in any way similar to our pantomime but a serious art form which was about acting out a play.

Whether serious or amusing, it was very popular entertainment and theatres and other places to perform these plays were established specially.

All the players would wear masks and this is where masks originated.

This entertainment carried on merrily until the Dark Ages when the churches felt there was too much merriment and licentious behaviour.

All the theatres were razed to the ground and the players dispersed.

They grouped themselves into separate companies of jugglers, acrobats, mime artists, singers and musicians, who travelled around villages and towns, performing in the squares.

They were also asked into houses and courts as people were missing the former colour that had gone out of life.

Then out of the blue there was an announcement of a banquet to celebrate the marriage of Princess Isabella of Aragon to the Duke of Milan.

This event set the tongues wagging and the feet dancing and everyone wanted to join in. For the next 100 years this is what happened until eventually the church asked all the artists to take part in the mystery plays and the players were asked into the churches.

Another very important event took place in 1581 when Marguerite of Lorraine, sister of Catherine de Medici, was betrothed.

As before, great celebrations took place with more magnificent costumes with gold and lavish trimmings.

The men were the dancers and no women took part. Later women did dance at court but this was not seen in public until 1681.

In England at the court of Henry VIII, who was a musician and keen dancer, masques and dancing developed.

In France at this time things were changing too.

In 1661 the young Louis XIV, who was a keen dancer, set up the first royal academy of dance in Paris. Eleven years later he added music to this, so Paris became the cultural capital.

In Russia none of this dancing enthusiasm reached the Imperial Court until 1675 and it was another 60 years before the imperial ballet schools were founded in three different places, Moscow, St Petersburg and Warsaw.

Ballet masters and mime artists came from France and Italy with an Italian director of music for the school.

The students were the serfs who ran the estates and these became the first ballet schools in Russia. They survived the Bolshevik rebellion, although dramatically changed.

In France in the 18th century, Jean-Georges Noverre was a very important link in the story.

He came from a military background but his father, surprisingly, supported him in training. Noverre became very famous but was not enthusiastic about women becoming ballet dancers.

He was also concerned that the costumes for both men and women were cumbersome. He was not allowed to change this, so he left for Germany where he set up an academy and changed the costumes.

Noverre moved around a great deal and met a great many people from the ballet world.

He wrote to these numerous connections and in 1760 the correspondence was made into a book which became a bible for ballet.

In 19th century Paris Marius Petipa became disillusioned with opera ballet, so he went to Russia where he choreographed Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake and The Nutcracker with music by Tchaikovsky.

He was very innovative and used numerous props.

Petipa was with the Russian Ballet for more than 50 years until 1897.

At Queen Victoria’s jubilee celebrations a very patriotic ballet took place called Under One Flag led by Adele Gene, a French woman who later became president of the Royal Academy of Dancing.

Later came Sergei Diaghilev, from St Petersburg, who brought his Ballets Russes with him and later introduced Nijinsky and the dancer Pavlova, among others.

He was brilliant and studied many other things besides ballet and was associated with many famous artists of the time.

In 1919 many things were happening in England and, noting the success of the Russian Ballet, everyone started making their names sound Russian, for example Alicia Markova. Then Ninette de Valois came to Sadlers Wells with Markova and formed the Festival Ballet, later known as the English National Ballet. Margo Fonteyn joined the company and danced with many famous artists with Frederick Ashton as choreographer. Then the Royal Ballet was formed.

Sue illustrated her talk with innumerable props and gave gifts to some lucky members. She then answered some searching questions.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

Meetings are held in the Hannen Room, Mill Green, Wargrave, on the first Wednesday of the month at 7.30pm.

PEPPARD

ROSEMARY EDGETON, accompanied by her poodle, gave us a wonderful insight into the training involved with Dogs for the Deaf at our October meeting.

This charity allows many people, including children, to lead fulfilling lives.

Those present were made to realise the hard work, love and care that everyone involved puts into the training and welfare of the dogs.

After members had discussed our future plans, Anita Crocker and Irene Lindsay provided a delicious tea.

Our next meeting will take place at Peppard war memorial hall on Wednesday, November 9 at 2pm when Erica Cunningham will demonstrate “A wreath for Christmas”. Do come and join us.

REMENHAM

OUR October meeting was taken by Daphne Austen, our vice-president, and started with the usual news and details of future plans, arrangements for our November sale and the Christmas lunch.

As it was an open meeting, there were some husbands, partners and friends present.

Members were reminded to get knitting to make twiddlemuffs for the Royal Berkshire Hospital to help dementia patients.

Daphne introduced Roger Shaw, who gave us an enlightening talk and slide show, including some original photographs, about the Oregon Trail.

Roger said he had lived in Oregon for seven years and had travelled two-thirds of the route — by car, he hastened to add!

In 1835 president Thomas Jefferson encouraged and financially helped people to go west.

Lewis and Clarke had mapped the trail, a distance of 3,000 miles.

They had to start in the spring as the Rockies had to be reached by September to be able to make the crossing of 8,000ft before the snow.

It was mostly farmers who made the journey as the land was, and still is, wonderfully fertile. The tracks were well marked by buffalo.

Everything they needed had to be transported in wagons and most people walked in bare feet.

The best wagons were made by Studebaker as they floated across the many rivers.

There were trading posts along the route which were run by the army and the Indian tribes supplied them with buffalo meat. In spite of this, many died, mainly from cholera caused by dirty water and poor sanitation. Many people completed the trek but it all came to an end in 1869 with the arrival of the Union Pacific Railway.

Roger was warmly thanked by Rosemary Pratt.

The meeting closed with a superb tea served by June Shelton, Pat Sly and Enid Light, which was much appreciated by all.

SHIPLAKE

OUR president Joan Jolley opened the meeting with her usual warm welcome, although she had received a number of apologies from ladies taking advantage of late holidays.

The business part of the meeting followed the singing of Jerusalem.

Pam Hudgell, who had taken up the challenge of completing a new survey by the national federation on food waste, outlined the gist of the questions and concluded that the nation did waste food.

Whether it be the “fault” of supermarkets or of ourselves was worth pondering and she said that it would be interesting to see if other members agreed with her analysis.

To do this was easy as you only had to download the survey from the federation’s website and put in your answers.

Outings secretary Sue Lines gave us details of the planned visits to the Queen’s dresses exhibition on November 23 and the trip to see Red Shoes in London.

News & Views had loads to interest members and we were very pleased to see the inclusion of our summer party photograph.

Remembrance Sunday is on November 13 and Joan will be laying our WI wreath at Shiplake war memorial at noon. Our Christmas lunch will be at the Crown in Playhatch on December 5.

The speaker was Phil Cook. Although his talk, entitled “Get knotted” could have been interpreted in several ways, it was a light-hearted look at cord-knotting.

Phil is a member of the International Guild of Knot Tyers and has been tying knots for more than 25 years, a necessary skill learned from his days as a scuba diving instructor.

Although he concedes that knot tying has not got the “wow” factor, it has been used for recording information and fastening and tying objects together for thousands of years and is still a skill we all use every day.

Nowadays Phil concentrates on decorative knotting and he had brought along a whole range of attractive items made from knots. He very kindly donated his speaker’s fee to the Alzheimer’s Association.

A lovely tea followed. The hostesses were Julia Tollitt and Hilary Penrose.

The flower of the month competition was won by Lynn Boros and the winner of the monthly competition for a pin cushion was Sue Williams.

Meetings are held at Shiplake Memorial Hall every third Wednesday of the month (except August) at 2.30pm. New members and visitors are always welcome.

For more information, please call the secretary on (01491) 410256.

SONNING COMMON

THERE was a slight chill in the air and darkness to the evening, which reminded all our members that autumn had arrived. How quickly the months fly by.

Our president Jenny Ward gave a warm welcome to members and visitors and to our speaker for the evening, Neil Richardson.

The usual business was covered and minutes of the last meeting signed.

There were a few members unable to come to the meeting due to either holidays, sickness or other reasons, so names were taken and messages of “get well soon” sent to those who were unwell.

Our treasurer gave her report on our finances and informed members that calendars and diaries for 2017 were now available for collection.

Jenny drew members’ attention to our bulletin with details of trips and Christmas parties and closing dates for payment.

Copies of the national federation’s food waste survey were available as well as details of how to access it online. Jenny encouraged members to complete this very worthwhile survey.

We were told that the Royal Horticultural Society is opening its four gardens free on November 4, including Wisley, which is not too far for members to travel to and well worth a visit.

Sue Frayling-Cork gave a report on our summer outing to Nuffield Place in August.

Twenty members had enjoyed their visit to the National Trust house and garden, which was previously the home of the late Lord Nuffield, founder of Morris cars.

The house has been left very much as it was after his death.

Members enjoyed a tour of the house and garden and a picnic lunch. Thanks were given to Alison Bishop, who organised this event.

Sue Hedges reported on her latest visit to Denman College. She had attended a sustainable gardening day accompanied by Janet Evans and Sue Frayling-Cork.

They enjoyed talks by Brigit Strawbridge on the different species of pollinating bees, Tom Sharpe, from Sutton Seeds, and gardener Bob Flowerdew.

The result of the national federation’s brasket competition was announced out of 400 entries. Sutton Seeds provided the competition prizes.

Sue reminded us that the closing date for current applications for Denman bursaries is November 25.

We were also reminded that Carol Townhill, our trips table co-ordinator, would have details of trips and our Christmas lunch at Badgemore Park Golf Club on December 6 and places needed to be booked and paid by the November meeting.

There will be an evening Christmas dinner on January 10 at the Shoulder of Mutton to enable those members who cannot come to the lunch to celebrate the season.

Jenny then introduced our speaker Neil Richardson, an energy efficiency advisor from SSE.

He was very knowledgeable about the subject and managed to put it across in a manner understandable to all.

The main topic was the introduction of smart meters and energy trackers.

The Government wants to offer a smart meter to every home but they are not compulsory. Four million have been installed so far and more than 80 per cent of customers say they are very satisfied with them.

The meters are free and are swapped for your old meter. The installation, checking and instruction session takes about two hours.

All energy suppliers have their own programme for the rollout of these meters and we were advised to contact our energy supplier if we had not already been contacted.

Neil said that if you had a smart meter installed and then swapped to another energy supplier, your new supplier would take over responsbility for the maintenance.

He showed us the energy tracker monitor and demonstrated how you could see how much energy you were using for each appliance. Some of these were quite a surprise.

We were recommended not to leave anything on standby that does not have to be. If the appliance has a light on, it is on standby.

Neil then asked if there were any questions and many hands were raised. He dealt with all the questions and if his time had not run out he could have carried on all evening.

Members were very animated by the subject and I think we all came away with facts and figures that we did not know before.

Rosemary Edgington gave the vote of thanks.

Jenny then introduced Sue Nickson, who is the FISH home visitor co-ordinator.

FISH is a charity which has been helping elderly people in Sonning Common and surrounding villages for many years.

Sue recently launched a home visit scheme through FISH and explained that there were many elderly people who have very few, if any, visitors and would really appreciate a friendly visitor occasionally.

Members were asked to consider becoming a home visitor through FISH and Sue gave details of how she can be contacted so that she can give individuals all the necessary information before they make their decision.

We all agreed that this was a very worthwhile additional service from FISH.

Following the raffle, tea and coffee were served.

The competition for a carved pumpkin was won by Sue Hedges with Sue Frayling-Cork second, Marion Bayliss third and Jenny Ward fourth.

The flower of the month was won jointly by Jo Denslow and Jenny Hermon with Anne Chivers third.

Jenny closed the meeting by thanking everyone for coming.

STOKE ROW

OUR first meeting in our temporary home, the church in Stoke Row, proved to be a popular one.

We had an interesting demonstration and talk from Verna who runs the Poppycraft shop in Wallingford.

After she had shown us an unusual way to make a wall plaque, or even cards, by gluing, painting and waxing shapes on to card, some of us had a go ourselves and bought kits to make further cards.

The church was an inspiring setting for our flower of the month competition and a nice socialising space.

The new games afternoon has got off to a good start and this will provide another nice way to spend a winter afternoon, along with the craft and book club meetings. Some of us went to the last meeting of the South Chiltern Group of WIs, where six WIs got together for a pleasant afternoon in Peppard war memorial hall to hear an author talk about how he starts to write his crime novels.

A splendid array of refreshments followed with a taxing quiz on authors to mull over. The next group meeting in the spring will be the first official one of the amalgamated Beechwood Group and will be held in Sonning Common.

The future looks bright for this group of local WIs and provides another chance to make or meet new friends.

We entertained our usual visiting ladies from Wargrave with a good hot lunch with all the trimmings, including popular pavlovas, and a quiz, which they always enjoy.

For this, we had to move to the sports pavilion in Gallowstree Common, where we will also hold our Christmas meeting as the church is a little too small.

Next month we will hear from some of our own members who have each chosen an item of theirs to tell us about, so who knows what we may see?

We collected the twiddlemuffs that members have been making to give to care homes for their residents to “twiddle” with.

Christmas Songs in Oxford and Christmas at Kew Gardens are just some of the visits we have booked up for from the federation offers in News & Views magazine.

The magazine cover features a pretty photograph of the wild foxgloves that grow on Kingwood Common, which was taken by one of our own members, Penny Noble.

WATLINGTON

OUR speaker in October was Adam Stevenson, who is the minister of the Methodist Chapel in Watlington. He gave us a brief history of the Methodist movement and how the ministry works. He then explained how his faith had helped him make his decisions in life.

We found his talk to be very inspiring and our members had many questions. Brian Lowe, who spoke to us last year on “stained glass in Oxford”, has very kindly agreed to arrange a tour of Jesus College and New College and the Bodleian Library.

His knowledge and enthusiasm for Oxford and the wonderful stained glass windows in the colleges gave us an absorbing insight and one that was much appreciated.

Our next meeting is on November 9, when our speaker will be Simon Tapping on “I joined the Navy”.

In December our meeting will be a Christmas social. We meet at Watlington town hall at 7.30pm. For more information, please call Kath Gomm on (01491) 612939.

WHITCHURCH HILL

TWENTY-SEVEN membersand two visitors gathered to listen to Frances Benton talk to us about her “Passion for pearls”.

This passion was obviously shared by a number of members who looked at and handled (and some purchased) the marvellous displays of pearls set out on tables.

Frances explained the different types of pearls, from the “natural” ones, which are very rare, through the “cultured” pearls, which are real and still produced by bivalves, to the “faux” or “simulated” types.

She showed us the many different colours and shapes which occur naturally. She suggested we should “shop pearly” for Christmas.

The profits from the pearls which she sells are donated to a charity supporting street children in Durban, South Africa.

Members are being persuaded to donate to our own Denman College via the “Smartie” tubes. These should be filled with 20p coins and returned to our treasurer, who will collect them at our next meeting and send the resulting funds as a donation to Denman.

In the first week of October a number of members attended the Pang Valley WI Group’s annual meeting, which was held in Purley.

Members from four WIs enjoyed a lively afternoon with an entertaining speaker, Eliza McClelland, who spoke on “A woman for all seasons”, a humorous look at women’s letters, poems, stories, acting and with the occasional touch of pathos.

Our next business meeting will be on November 15, when we will hear about the
re-introduction of red kites in the Chilterns.

We will also collect items for a Christmas donation to the Reading Women’s Refuge.

At the beginning of December we will pay our second visit to Waring’s Bakery in Tilehurst when we will have a demonstration of “getting ready for Christmas”. Our meetings take place at Goring Heath parish hall, opposite St John’s Church on the B471, on the third Tuesday of the month, starting at 10am.

We have a wide variety of speakers and activities. Visitors are welcome. For more information, please call 0118 984 1696.

WOODCOTE

ANN LARDEN welcomed members to our harvest lunch on October 19.

We were entertained by the wonderful musicians and singers of year 10 at Langtree School, led by Steve Henderson. They are all very talented.

Birthday buttonholes were presented to Barbara George, Gill Woods, Kathy Brewer, Patricia Jessup and Connie Vickery. These had been created by Hazel Tagg.

This was followed by a lovely lunch. The tables were set with flower decorations and, as always, there was a selection of delicious foods.

The lunch club will meet at the Queen’s Head in Crowmarsh this month.

The walking and table tennis groups are still trying to keep fit! Please come and join us, young or old! We meet on the third Wednesday of the month in Woodcote village hall and hope to see you there.

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