Saturday, 15 August 2020

WI Roundup

WI Roundup

BENSON

OUR president Brenda Hallett welcomed members to the first meeting of the new year on January 15.

Subscription renewals were taken and two new members were welcomed.

Members discussed and made their choices on the five resolutions advocated by the National Federation.

These will be passed through to the federation for a final vote at the annual meeting at the Royal Albert Hall in June.

Our meeting did not include a speaker but took the form of a social get-together and general catch- up with nibbles and a glass of bucks fizz to welcome in the new year.

One of our members entertained us with a very interesting quiz based on missing words in proverbs.

Forthcoming events were discussed, including the Oxfordshire Federation’s next meeting at Benson Parish hall on February 26.

This will feature talks entitled “The historic knitter” and “Pendell’s war”. Full details can be obtained from the WI office at Tackley.

Our own outings organiser offered plans for later this year to see Riverdance, Guys and Dolls and Swan Lake when they are streamed live at the Corn Exchange in Wallingford.

Three of our members attended the funeral of the late Pat Eades (of Harpsden WI) at Bix church.

Pat had been a valued friend to Benson WI and her advice and guidance will be sorely missed.

Our next meeting will take place on Wednesday, February 19 when the speaker will be Gita Konschak talking about Supershoes.

This is a charity that provides unique gifts for those brave children and young people in the UK who are receiving treatment or palliative care for cancer.

The gifts are handpainted customised canvas shoes, hence the charity’s name.

Benson WI welcomes visitors. If you would like to attend a meeting, please email us at bensonwi@
oxfordshirewi.co.uk

CAVERSHAM

AT our January meeting we enjoyed a fascinating talk and demonstration given by one of our members, Karen, on the health benefits of different types of massage.

Some of us took the opportunity to have a mini shoulder, head, foot or hand massage, which was relaxing and restorative.

It was just what we needed to start off the new year after all the Christmas festivities.

Ladies are very welcome to visit our friendly group: your first three visits are free. We meet at Church House in Church Road, Caversham, on the third Thursday of the month at 7.30pm, which helps avoid childcare issues. There is parking nearby and a lift to the first floor meeting room. For more information, visit https://tinyurl.com/hwzj6zy or search for “Caversham WI” online. For enquiries, please call our secretary Romayne Flight on 0118 947 5176.

CHAZEY

OUR new year quiz was a great way to wake us all up after all the over-indulgence.

There’s nothing quite like a series of quickfire questions to blow away the brain fog accumulated over Christmas.

So “which is the most populous city in Asia?” sounded easy. All we had to do was choose between Beijing and New Delhi, surely?

Except no one in St Andrew’s Hall seemed to have thought of Tokyo, which was the right answer.

Could any of us remember how many yards were in a mile or what anosmia means? Or, even worse, which coin was withdrawn from circulation in 1984?

We’d divided ourselves into teams with some optimistic names but were the Bright Sparks tempting fate and were the Blonde Bombshells set to implode?

Our quizmaster Martin Butler, who regularly hosts fundraising quizzes for the Friends of the Royal Berkshire Hospital, put us gently through our paces.

There were rounds about Reading, the natural world, food and drink and trivia. Some of us were worried by how many chocolate bar advertising slogans we knew…

In the end it was the Blonde Bombshells who ran out winners by one point while the Prosecco team fell a bit flat and took the wooden spoon.

The prizes were modest but it was a great way to get together for our first meeting of 2020 and Martin has already been booked to come back next year.

Would you like to join us at Chazey WI as your new year resolution? We meet at St Andrew’s Hall in Caversham Heights every first Friday at 2.30pm and there are always entertaining speakers plus tea and cakes to enjoy in good company.

To find out more, email chazeywi@berkshirewi.co.uk or find us on Facebook.

CLEEVE BY GORING

TWELVE of our members attended the Oxfordshire Federation weekend at Denman College and took part in courses on cookery, history, craft work and singing.

Everyone enjoyed the well-organised residential event with very good tutors and, of course, lovely accommodation and wonderful WI catering.

Seven members and a dog (belonging to a member who is training it to be an assistance dog) attended the Caribbean day at Benson with authentic Jamaican food and entertainment.

For our Christmas party. members brought along plates of delicious finger food and contributions for the Wallingford Food Bank.

We were pleased to hear the food bank now has a new permanent home which makes organisation much easier.

Guests from Woodcote and South Stoke WIs joined us and local musician Stu Wheetman entertained us. Our committee gave a short musical interlude which caused much merriment.

We now look forward to another enjoyable year with all our friends. Happy New Year to all.

COCKPOLE GREEN

ON Wednesday, January 15, president Diane Bush welcomed members, two guests and our returning speaker Tom Way, a wildife photographer.

After finishing university, Tom went travelling in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, which instilled in him the desire to keep travelling. He followed his dream by setting up his own business as a wildlife photographer eight years ago.

He recalled visiting us in 2014, when he talked about wildlife in the UK and the hours he spent trying to capture shy creatures like the water vole.

Such was his enthusiasm and passion for photography he did not mind the time waiting, often in the cold as the results were worth it.

He illustrated his talk with amazing photos — a puffin in flight and a kingfisher to name but two.

Tom then shared his love of Africa with us.

His adventure started in Sumatra in 2017 with a 12-hour trek to finally see and photograph grey orangutans. The variety of wildlife in Uganda was exceptional and the gorillas there were well respected.

The Kalahari Desert, home of the Meerkat, is a large sandy savanna in South Africa, incorporating much of Botswana, Namibia and parts of South Africa, a true paradise for someone like Tom.

He shared his love of Kenya, Tanzania, not forgetting Mount Kilimanjaro. Lots of elephants roam in the shade of the mountain. He showed us photos of lions, leopards, cheetahs and zebras.

On one occasion he had the opportunity to photograph a lion up very close — he had been advised to make his stance one of “humility”.

The lion and he exchanged looks then, unexpectedly, the lion started to run towards him so Tom did not hesitate and ran back to the safety of the waiting jeep as fast as he could.

He found the migration of the wildebeest in Tanzania truly fascinating, especially the way they took care of their youngsters when the lions were prowling around looking to make them their next meal. Members were enchanted with all Tom’s photos — the cheetah against the setting sun, which took hours to achieve, the magnificent lions and the leopard so well camouflaged up a tree.

He said he found “time, patience and luck” not enough when it came to filming zebras; their stripes were constantly moving so he ended up taking a lot of photos of their bottoms.

Tom spends most of his time overseas, mainly in Africa, where he leads photographic wildlife safaris, focusing on large animals.

On a more serious note, he talked about conservation and the fact that many animals now are in decline.

Photographers around the world were invited to send in one photograph to be entered into a book, entitled Remembering Lions. The book raised more £500,000 for wildlife conservatioon in just two weeks.

During a scrumptious tea, served by Judi and Helen, members enjoyed looking at a selection of Tom’s wildlife cards.

Our next meeting will be held at Crazies Hill village hall on Wednesday, February 19 at 2.30pm. Our guest speaker will be Rachel Rance, whose talk is entitled “Chocolates”.

GREYS

A SUDDEN and violent hailstone storm kept numbers down at our meeting in Greys village hall on January 15.

Even so, 16 members made it, although our speaker was unable to attend.

Our president Val Mundy spoke about the death of an old and beloved member, Margaret Bowles, who was born in 1923.

A past president, she was also a talented artist and had designed many banners and wall hangings. We will miss her. In her memory, we have sent a bursary to the county memorial fund.

We discussed the resolutions for 2020:

1. A call to increase potential stem cell donor registration.

2. The need for female crash dummies.

3. End modern slavery.

4. Time to talk about death and dying.

5. Protect our precious helium.

Members then voted, using a ballot paper, and the result will be forwarded on to join the votes of all the other branches in the Oxfordshire Federation.

Members also voted to visit Denman College in July for our annual outing.

Two members, Joyce Robins and Josèe Leadley. had worked hard to provide an excellent sales table with the proceeds going to our centenary fund.

We ended with a quiz and a very delicious tea provided by members Jane Boyd and Debbie Pesci.

A relaxed and very enjoyable afternoon.

HAMBLEDEN

SARAH WILLIAMS, our new president, opened the first meeting of 2020.

She warmly welcomed the 24 members who had braved the rather wet evening before moving on to the evening’s business.

The 2020 programme was distributed and it was announced that going forward Jo Tilbury will be leading the art group.

Jan Connolly referenced the January/February Buckinghamshire News highlighting the centenary 2020 annual council meeting, to be held at the Waterside Theatre in Aylesbury on May 12. The guest speakers will be Dame Esther Rantzen and Jay Blades.

A potential visit to the Buckinghamshire Federation’s garden party at Waddesdon Manor on July 7 was proposed. Depending on sufficient interest by members, a coach could be considered. Jan will obtain a price to enable further discussion at the next meeting.

Reference was made to the positive feedback received regarding the Christmas party, held at the Stag & Huntsman pub in Hambleden in December and Nikki Mainds kindly thanked the committee for facilitating it.

Members all voted on this year’s National Federation resolutions. The results will be announced at February’s meeting.

A big thank-you for the delicious tea we enjoyed at the end of the evening, kindly provided by Jill Busby, Wendy Vye and Audrey Ambrose.

We were delighted to welcome our speaker for the evening, Simon Williams, who gave a highly entertaining, upbeat and interactive delivery of “Is it fun to be fooled?”

Humorous anecdotes supported the résumé of his lifelong interest and involvement in magic. A great start to our 2020 programme.

Our next meeting will be held in Hambleden village hall on Thursday, February 13 at 7.30pm. The speaker will be Warren Ford who will talk about “Tea, Britain’s favourite drink”.

We welcome new members to Hambleden WI. For more information and to see our 2020 programme, please visit our website, www.hambleden-wi.org

If you would like to consider joining, please feel free to come along as a visitor to any of our meetings. A warm welcome awaits you, together with a cup of tea.

HARPSDEN

THE January meeting began with the speaker, Tony Weston, talking about ”The life and times of the Royal Albert Hall”.

He prefaced his talk with information about the Great Exhibition of 1862, the opening of which was not attended by Queen Victoria as Prince Albert had died in 1861.

However, Prince Albert had been instrumental in planning the Royal Albert Hall and particularly liked amphitheatres and elliptical buildings.

Henry Cole was the chief architect and began selling seats at £100 each for a then non-existent building.

The name of the seat thus purchased went under the title of “Corporation of the Hall of Arts and Sciences”.

Today, owners of seats pay £500 a year for the exclusive use of a seat, except when commercial concerts and events are held.

The hall was officially opened on March 29, 1871 and the cost of building it in today’s money would have been £200 million.

The dome of the building is not actually “fixed” but it would take a very, very strong wind to blow it off.

There was a six-second echo originally, which remained for 100 years until in 1949 fluted panels were installed to counteract the effect.

But it was not until 1969 that the famous ”mushrooms” were installed which finally dealt with the echo.

The Henry Willis organ has 9,999 pipes and is similar to the organ in Reading town hall.

There is a space in the roof for the red poppies which descend at Armistice events. The frieze running along the outside of the building shows people bearing gifts.

In 1909 a marathon was run in the hall, which necessitated completing 524 laps and the winner apparently took two hours and 37 minutes.

Many sporting events, such as boxing, wrestling, table tennis and lawn tennis, are held in the building.

Amongs the many musical events the promenade concerts must be the most famous.

The auditorium can hold 900 promenaders and the total capacity is 5,900.

A refurbishment took place from 1996 to 2004 which was paid for by the National Lottery Fund.

The Royal Albert Hall has now been in use for 150 years.

Mr Weston illuminated his talk with excellent slides and Mary Burton thanked him for such an interesting and informative talk. The business then followed and, with several committee members being absent, it was “all hands on deck”.

Sarah Puddick kindly dealt with the Register, thus learning the surnames of many members.

President Shirley Weyman drew members’ attention to the Oxfordshire Federation’s annual meeting at Oxford Town Hall on March 25. The cost is £15 for observers.

In News & Views there was an obituary for Pat Eades. Pat had been secretary and president of Harpsden WI and is much missed.

On April 28 at Benson Parish Hall there will be a talk entitled “When the dogs don’t bark”, given by Professor Angela Gallop CBE.

Angela is a forensic pathologist and has been in practice for 40 years. Her first case involved the Yorkshire Ripper. The talk runs from 10am to 12.30pm and tickets cost £13.

Shirley announced that Harpsden member Susan Beswick had been taking part in the county challenge to walk, swim or run 100 miles this year.

Not only has Susan walked 100 miles but she has achieved an amazing 1,256 miles to date.

The competition was for a concert or theatre programme and was won by Jasmine Weaver, with Judith Young and Pam Hails in joint second place.

The next meeting will be held on February 12 when Keith Appleby will speak on “Women artists”. He is a former teacher of both art and photography.

The competition is called “All my own work” which should bring forth some exciting exhibits.

We meet in Harpsden village hall at 2.30pm and a warm welcome awaits any visitors who would like to come.

MILL GREEN (WARGRAVE)

A SUCCESSFUL Christmas party was held on December 4 in the Sansom Room, with dinner and the exchange of presents.

There was no meeting in January as our meeting day fell on New Year’s Day.

Our programme for the coming year is as follows.

February — the annual meeting.

March — A speaker from the Watts Gallery, near Guildford, on “Artists’ village”.

April — Alisa Claybourn with a talk on “Enchanted woodlands”.

May — An outing to the Watts Gallery, Artists’ Village.

June — Martin Lorenz talks about his childhood in Nazi Austria.

July — Nicholas Henderson with the last of his three talks on the wives of Henry VIII, “Folly and a finale, Catherine Howard and Catherine Parr”.

August — Garden meeting, venue to be decided.

September — “The hisstory of Reading Abbey” by Sue Milton.

October — The Celtic Duo, Colin and Paul, an evening of music and song.

November — Aldon Ferguson on “Lady pilots of the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA)”.

December — Christmas dinner.

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

PEPPARD

ALL members had an interesting journey down memory lane when we looked at the archives from the past up to the present day.

After an enjoyable tea provided by Buddy Group II, we discussed our plans for the future.

Our next meeting will take place at the War Memorial Hall in Peppard on Wednesday, February 12 at 2pm when John Caldecott will talk to us about the Foundling Hospital. Visitors are most welcome.

REMENHAM

OUR president Daphne Austen welcomed all to our January meeting and wished everyone a “Happy New Year”.

The meeting was well attended and two new members, Pam Eagles and Pat Howard, were warmly welcomed.

Apologies were received from Blanche Williams and Shirley Behan, who is doing very well after her stroke and hopes to be back for meetings soon. She sent all members her best wishes.

Our Christmas lunch at the Little Angel was a great success. It was well attended with lots of fun and chat and an excellent meal.

Our next gathering on February 10 will be the annual meeting, starting at 1pm with a light lunch. There will be a craft competition of crafts made during the past year.

The Berkshire quiz night will be held at Knowl Hill village hall on on March 31 at 7pm for 7.30pm. The cost is £12.50 to include a fish and chip supper. Please bring drinks and glasses. Members were asked to make up teams of four.

The Berkshire Federation’s annual council meeting will be on April 8.

The Thames Group meeting will be held at Knowl Hill on May 14 at 2pm.

Remenham WI will be holding a plant stall, so members are asked to start growing!

Judy Palmer reported on “The Green Challenge”. Members had entered various things they are doing for this. Judy had collated members’ entries and entered the challenge competition.

Daphne reported that a letter had been received about the horrifying bush fires in Australia.

A letter of our deepest sympathy had been sent back and members were asked to make individual donations.

After the business it was time to debate the five resolutions put forward for the National Federation’s annual meeting to be held at the Royal Albert Hall on June 4. Members then voted for the one they wanted to see go forward.

Five members took us through the resolutions, one for each. Each had about 10 minutes to explain the history and the implications of each subject.

These led to many questions and further discussion from the floor. The resolutions were as follows:

1. Call to increase potential stem cell donor registration. Judy Palmer took us through this. Stem cells are used to treat many diseases, such as lymphoma,, leukaemia and sickle cell anaemia.

The stem cells are produced in the bone marrow. We are asked to persuade the people we know between the ages of 30 and 60 to contact the Antony Nolan trust and the NHS Registry as it is so difficult to find a match.

It is not a painful procedure, just like giving blood but takes a little longer.

Judy told us about her grandson who was treated successfully for Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

2. Female crash test dummies. Jen Terry explained that women are more likely to suffer injuries, particularly whiplash and chest impacts, owing to their different physique to men.

Volvo is constantly carrying out tests and upgrading its dummies, at a cost of $500,000 per dummy.

There are pregnancy seat belts now. So much work is being done.

3. End modern slavery. Rosemary Pratt said how shocking it is that in the 21st century slavery is still going on, even though Wilberforce abolished it in 1833.

There are so many instances of this, including young girls and boys recruited to peddle drugs.

Wealthy families recruit from abroad for housemaids, nannies etc., who work 24/7 and, although housed, are not paid or allowed out.

Fruit and vegetable pickers are often housed in encampments or even garden sheds and paid well below a living wage. Thai girls are recruited to work in nail bars and as sex slaves.

We were all asked to keep an eye out for anything untoward, and to report it.

4. Time to talk about death and dying. Irene Parker explained that our society is particularly bad at discussing this.

She begged that families should be much more open about talking about arrangements for end-of-life care and funeral wishes, so that when the time comes families would be prepared and know how to proceed.

5. Protect our precious helium. Audrey gave us excellent information about helium, it is a colourless, tasteless and non-toxic gas, which cannot be reproduced and by 2070 there will be no more left in the world.

Very little can be found now. Some natural gas mines produce a little on the side but it costs £100,000 to buy machinery to store it.

Helium is used in MRI scanners, mobile phones, high-speed TV, airbags, bar code machines and weather balloons and, as we all know, party balloons. We can at least try and prevent the sale of the latter.

When helium runs out it will change the world as we know it.

The majority of members voted for 5 and the result will go forward for debate.

Members very much appreciated all the discussions, which provoked a lot of chat.

Afterwards, we took part in Daphne’s light-hearted quiz on body parts while the kettle boiled.

The raffle was won by Diane Sutherland.

The meeting ended with a delicious afternoon tea provided by Jen Terry and Pat Sly.

Our annual meeting is due to take place on February 10.

Meanwhile, committee members are working on the new programme which will offer meetings to interest all.

Meetings are held in Remenham parish hall on the second Monday of each month. If you would like to come along, please call Daphne Austen on 07919 358979.

SHIPLAKE

PRESIDENT Joan Jolley welcomed 57 members and two visitors to our first meeting of the new decade. Nearly a full house.

She then went through the business.

The Christmas party raffle had raised £82 for the Associated Country Women of the World’s Oxfordshire project to fund water and sanitation works all over the world.

As requested by the Oxfordshire Federation at the beginning of last year we have walked our “100 miles for 100 years”.

We have had some interesting Friday morning walks around the village. There are not many building projects we have not “popped in” or given our opinions on.

Our annual meeting will be in March. The current committee members are willing to stand again but new volunteers are always very welcome.

Sue Lines gave us her ideas for fascinating future outings — the ITV studios, the Fairmile Vineyard, Polesden Lacey (a National Trust house in Surrey) and the Old Bailey to name just four.

Our speaker this month was Fiona Barker on “The wonderful world of picture books”.

Fiona, an audiologist by profession, is a children’s author and passionate devotee of picture books.

She gave three reasons why picture books are so important:

1. They are an affordable way to own art and the spoken word, especially for younger children as they should be shared and read out loud.

2. They are a very important market for publishers. One in six books sold today is a picture book. They produce massive income streams, especially if the rights are sold abroad.

3. A picture book plants the seed for a lifetime’s love of books.

As in all things, picture book illustrations go in and out of fashion.

Today it is cool for big blocks of flat colour and low-word books, which unfortunately rules out one of my childhood favourites, Rupert Bear. He is so not cool. Picture books are not solely for young children, there is now the “wordless” genre for older kids and strong markets for grown-up picture books and fact-based books.

Fiona’s enthusiasm was infectious and the picture books she had brought for us to read were great examples of exactly what she meant.

A lovely tea was hosted by Hilary Mackie and Viv Ellis. The competition for “An illustration from a book” was won by Rosemary Jones with a picture from A A Milne’s Now we are Six.

The flower of the month competition was won by Margaret Bullock with a lovely pink hellebore.

SONNING COMMON

THE new year got off to a good start with 55 members and visitors attending the January meeting.

It was pleasing that three new members had signed up to join us.

Alison Bishop started with the business of the month.

Members remembered Pat Eades, our popular WI advisor, who sadly passed away in December. Three Sonning Common WI members had attended Pat’s funeral.

Welfare officer Jane Handley had sent a get well card to a member in hospital.

Members were reminded to pay their annual subs to the treasurer.

The WI’s democratic model means every member has a say over the National Federation’s campaigns.

Members cast their votes for the resolution they would most like to go forward for further discussion and voting at the annual meeting in June.

Names were taken for the quiz team for the next village quiz to be held at the the primary school in Grove Road on March 13.

Birthday wishes were given to the members celebrating in January.

Sue Hedges reminded members of the Green Heart Show the Love event which will take place at Sonning Common village hall on February 8 from 2pm to 4pm.

Green felt brooches made by members of the craft group were given to members with a request to wear them during February to show their love for the things we stand to lose because of climate change.

Carole Williams thanked Jane and Carol for arranging the Christmas lunch and the new year dinner which members had very much enjoyed.

Alison then introduced our speaker for the evening, florist Erica Cunningham, from Brambles in Sonning Common.

Erica is no stranger to most members as she had previously been a Sonning Common WI committee member and president for five years.

She talked us through her journey with flowers, starting with growing foxgloves in her mother’s garden to getting married, bringing up five daughters and growing her own flowers.

Starting with church flower arranging, Erica moved on to a college floristry course and, finally, set up Brambles.

Whenever possible, she uses eco-friendly wrapping and brown floral foam which is kinder to the environment than green foam.

Erica’s life as a florist is never dull and we enjoyed a humorous and entertaining evening.

She made six wonderful and different arrangements which she kindly donated to the raffle.

The competition was won by Jo Denslow and the flower of the month by Dianne Soden.

On Wednesday (February 5) we were to host the Sonning Common coffee morning at the village hall and cheques were to be presented to seven local causes from the money raised at the 2019 coffee mornings.

The next members’ meeting will be in the village hall on February 20. The speaker for the evening will be Jean Hill whose talk will be entitled “The Rhyme of our lives”.

A collection will be made for Nomad food bank in Henley.

Visitors are welcome. For enquiries, call Carol on 0118 972 3738.

SOUTH STOKE

WE held our first meeting of the new year on January 14 with gale force winds attempting to take the roof off the village hall.

Fortunately, inside there was a friendly atmosphere and an interesting speaker, Barbara Hately, who gave an informative talk about “Idle women, the land girls of the waterways”.

Most people are familiar with the Land Girls but less well known are their canal-based equivalent, known undeservedly as the “Idle Women”. These trainees kept the waterways operating during the Second World War.

The nickname was derived from the initials “IW” displayed on their badges. Idle they most certainly were not.

The boat crews, three women each, handled the diesel-powered narrowboats, each one towing another narrowboat.

The work was hard as each pair of boats carried heavy loads of up to 50 tonnes, mainly steel, from London to Birmingham, returning with coal from Warwickshire.

As usual, we enjoyed a delicious tea, this month provided by Jan, Dorothy and Jenny.

We celebrated four birthdays this month and held a bring and buy stall for WI funds.

Our next meeting will be in the village hall on Tuesday, February 11.

STOKE ROW

OUR January meeting started with new year wishes and a welcome from our president Sandra as we all settled down after greeting each other.

It seemed a long time since our December gatherings.

We had a fascinating talk on the codebreakers of Bletchley by a local man, Michael Smith.

We learned that there were up to 5,000 workers secretly trying to decode and translate the German messages going back and forth during the war and the majority of these were women.

A few he could name as local ladies and many he had interviewed personally.

They all had kept their secrets diligently with no one knowing what they were doing, with some of them keeping these secrets right up until quite recently.

Our extra groups have started up again with craft, book and swimming already enjoyed by the usual participants.

The diners group is planning to celebrate pancake day with a bring and cook evening.

Our new year outing was to see Crazy for You in Oxford in the company of members from Woodcote and Wallingford.

A splendid evening out, with the coach ride included.

Three of our members had been to a climate change workshop and they passed on some useful information to us about some of the things, however small, we could be doing to help.

Our next meeting will be to celebrate our birthday as it will be 63 years since our formation.

We have invited guest members from other WIs to come and join us for supper after a talk from one of our favourite speakers, Alistair Lack.

He will talk on Inspector Morse in Oxford and we may book a walking tour there afterwards.

We were reminded of some of the Oxfordshire Federation trips coming up, including a few days away, taking in Chatsworth at Christmas.

Our own group meeting is in April. It is being hosted by HoT (Henley), which will be a new venue for most of us, and eight members can go.

We had the usual lovely supper.

The competition for a secret code was won by Stella.

The raffle draw and flower of the month competition finished a pleasant evening.

WATLINGTON

OUR speaker for the January evening was Dee Robinson, a photographer from Watlington.

She gave us an interesting illustrated talk on her life as a photographer.

She belongs to the Royal Photographic Society.

Her interest in photography began at an early age with a Box Brownie. Now she uses a Nikon digital camera.

Her subjects ranged from laundrettes to Watlington allotments via London Bridge, the Shard and the Gherkin, a residential area of Wapping, Gateshead and Venice.

We also saw portraits of street art in Portobello Market and Manhattan.

A lively discussion took place during and after the talk.

It was a fascinating subject, giving a different view on the world.

At our February meeting, we will have Peter Hague talking on “Cliveden, power and politics”.

March will be our annual meeting so there will be no speaker for the evening.

We meet at Watlington town hall at 7.30pm. If you would like to come and meet us, you will be warmly welcomed.

For more information, please call Dawn Matthews on (01491) 612023.

We also have an art group which meets each Wednesday afternoon and a stitch and sew group which meet once a month.

WHITCHURCH HILL

WE have had an excellent start to 2020, kicking off with a delicious home-made afternoon tea.

This gave the 20 or so attendees plenty of time to socialise together. The laughter could probably be heard from some way away. Our thanks to the organisers.

Our monthly business meeting was very well attended and brought us up to date with the latest WI news.

We discussed environmental issues, food banks and future socials.

We decided to plant a tree in 2020 and to continue collecting things like crisp packets and mascara wands for recycling. More will undoubtedly emerge as the year progresses.

The first walk and lunch of the year was publicised and members were quick to sign up.

Three members in particular went away happy. That’s because we had a birthday flowers presentation, raffle prize winner and a winner in the garden flower competition. Not bad for a Tuesday morning.

Our speaker was Simon Jones from Watlington auctioneers Jones & Jacobs talking on “An auctioneer’s lot”.

This proved to be an interesting and amusing talk about the role of the auctioneer and an insight into some of the special items that he has handled and sold.

He described auctioneers as the earliest recyclers, going back to the early 18th century. An interesting thought.

Visitors are always welcome at our meetings, which are held at Goring Heath parish hall (RG8 7NY) from 10am on the third Tuesday of each month (except December).

For more information, call Frances on 0118 984 2162 or just come along and see what we do.

WOODCOTE

PATRICIA welcomed everyone to the January meeting and wished them a “Happy New Year”.

Earlier in the month, we held our homes and gardens annual meeting to plan the trips for the year over a coffee.

Starting the year will be skittles followed by trips to Leonardslee Lake and Gardens and Weymouth. This was followed by lunch at the Red Lion in Woodcote.

Celebrating birthdays this month were Joan Soanes, Carole Shelley-Allen and Jenny Gough.

Chance to chat takes place at the community coffee shop on the first Thursday of the month.

Our speaker this month was Nick Brazil who took us on “A Balkan railway adventure”, transporting us from Pangbourne to Split.

Nick showed us wonderful scenery and sights as well as some of the quirky fountains and museums he had found on his journey.

We had a lovely tea thanks to Hazel Tagg and her merry band of helpers.

The competition for railway memorabilia was won by Carole Shelley-Allen and the bloom of the month was won by Judy Williams.

In March we will hold our annual meeting followed by a Beetle Drive.

We meet at Woodcote village hall on the third Wednesday of the month at 2.30pm. Please come and join us.

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