Saturday, 20 October 2018

Around the WI

Around the WI

BENSON

THIRTEEN members and one guest were welcomed to the July meeting.

Our speaker for the evening was Maggie Winters, secretary of the Benson Patients Panel.

In May Benson WI members had assisted the panel by running the café at their very successful Matters of Life and Death event.

Maggie began with the history of the surgery services in Benson and the background to the establishment of the panel in 1997.

The Benson panel was the first in Oxfordshire and was instigated by our then GP. Now these are compulsory for all areas.

Maggie described how the panel provides a link to represent the patient’s voice, promotes health and self-care and assists in developing practice policy.

She referred to our own WI campaigns of recent years which had helped to promote health issues.

Maggie discussed what the future might hold for the current practice. This included online registering for appointments, more efficient repeat prescription processes and access to records.

Concern was expressed by members as to whether the surgery would be able to cope with the influx of new housing in our area.

We agreed that having a neighbourhood plan in place was most important to try to limit overdevelopment. Thankfully, Benson’s plan was accepted by a huge majority at a referendum on June 28.

Two of our members attended the Everest Day at Denman College and met the TV chef Phil Vickery who gave a demonstration of gluten-free recipes.

Our leaf for the Oxfordshire Federation’s centenary banner, completed beautifully by one of our members, was displayed at our meeting.

Our programme organiser showed us what was in store for us until July next year and our small outings member offered us some lovely local trips to look forward to.

Benson WI will take a break in August but normal service will be resumed on September 19 when there will be a talk about the Wallingford Tea and Coffee Company. Visitors are always very welcome.

CAVERSHAM

FOR our July meeting, we welcomed Susan Pitts who told us all about the myths and mysteries of pain.

It was a good chance to think about how our bodies and brains communicate pain to us and how we react to these “messages”.

Susan pointed out that the pain we feel, while being a very important safety tool, is not always accurate. There are certainly times I can recall when I haven’t felt an injury because I hadn’t yet actually realised it was there and the opposite too, when something felt awful yet was only a small thing.

Next month we will be taking our usual summer break, reconvening in September for a harvest celebration.

As I write, the sunshine is set to continue with scattered thunderstorms so I hope we do indeed all get a reasonable harvest this year — the gardens, allotments and fields.

Ladies are very welcome to visit our friendly group. We hold meetings at Church House, Prospect Street, Caversham, 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.

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

CHAZEY

A WELCOME to the July meeting was given to members and five guests by the president.

She also introduced our speaker Rev Dr Nicholas Henderson who gave a talk on the first two wives of Henry VIII, aided by a PowerPoint presentation.

This was a fascinating insight into Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn.

In her thanks, Carol wondered why her history lessons had not been as interesting.

Refreshments followed and then there was the business of the afternoon.

A report was given about the successful outing to Waterperry Gardens with wall-to-wall sunshine, good food and, of course, plants.

Feedback on the National Federation’s annual conference was given by our president.

Once again the venue for our WI has come under discussion due to events beyond our control. A vote was taken and the majority voted to move to St Andrew’s Church hall in Albert Road on the first Friday of the month at 2.30pm.

Adelaide and Emily, two dolls made to mark the centenary of Berkshire WI, will be spending the week beginning August 28 with us as part of a visit to every WI in the county.

They are named after Adelaide Hoodless, founder of the WI in Canada, and Emily Morrell, our very first Berkshire WI Federation chairman, and were made by Pam Stubbs, a member of Arborfield and Newland WI.

They will arrive from Purley WI and we will pass them on to Rosehill WI.

Our coffee morning at Toad Hall garden centre in Henley was very pleasant. What a delightful way to spend a couple of hours.

A lunch was to take place at the Greyhound.

In September a visit will be made to the silk mill and the Bombay Sapphire gin distillery with 11 members signed up.

Our trip to the New Theatre, Oxford, in April to see Calendar Girls has 12 signatures.

In August a small group will visit Lady Sew and Sew in Henley.

The book, knitting and art groups continue. The tea kiosk at Caversham Court, which Chazey WI supports during the summer, has been given a five-star rating. Our next date is the first week in August.

A request for more emergency wash bags has been received from the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading. These will be collected at our next meeting.

Our last meeting at Caversham Methodist Church hall was to be on the first Wednesday in August and thereafter on the first Friday in the month at St Andrew’s Church hall in Albert Road, Caversham Heights, at 2.30pm.

For more information, email chazeywi@gmail.com

COCKPOLE GREEN

ON Wednesday, July 18, president Adrienne Rance welcomed members and our speaker, Sheila Williams, who is a member of Cockpole Green WI as well as an experienced flower arranger and a judge for the National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies.

Sheila demonstrated five beautiful flower arrangements to the captive audience, showing her brilliant technique and expertise, breadth of knowledge of flowers and her ability to use the flowers to achieve exactly what she wished to represent.

Sheila’s daughter, Hannah, works for Historic Royal Palaces so each arrangement represented one of these beautiful buildings.

As well as completing each arrangement, Sheila kept us thoroughly entertained with information and stories about each building.

The first arrangement represented Hampton Court with a delightful fountain design using blue hydrangeas for water.

This led to a vibrant table arrangement of roses and lilies in orange, yellow and red, all colours the Tudors loved to use.

Henry VI was murdered while at prayer in his chapel at the Tower of London. At Hampton Court on every anniversary, there is a ceremony of lilies and roses followed by a dinner.

We were then taken to Kew Palace where Sheila created a stunning design representing the Chinese pagoda which has recently been rebuilt thanks to sponsorship.

It was first built of wood in the 18th century and is now open to the public again complete with dragons.

Next we were off to Northern Ireland to Hillsborough Castle, which is the residence of the Secretary of State and official residence of the Queen.

This design represented one of the herbaceous borders in the 100 acres surrounding Hillsborough Castle.

Sheila used small bright yellow sunflowers and dark green leather leaf and reindeer moss which contrasted so well.

It was back to London for the final stop at Kensington Place.

Sheila produced an elegant arrangement of white roses (avalanche) to represent Princess Diana.

The palace opened the White Garden in 2017 to complement the exhibition, Diana: Her Fashion Story.

Sheila made the whole process of flower arranging look effortless but we were all aware of how much time, effort and knowledge goes into a demonstration as excellent as this one.

Each arrangement was entered into a raffle so five lucky members continued to enjoy these wonderful flower arrangements at home.

After the demonstration and talk, members were treated to a delicious tea prepared and served by Nana Davies and Linda Wheal.

Meanwhile, congratulations to Sheila, who came second in the Huxley Cup for the second year running.

She was representing Berkshire WI at the competition, which was held at the Three Counties Show in Malvern from June 15 to 17.

This year’s competition theme was “The rural scene”. There were 20 entrants and each one was given identical materials to work with and the same amount of staging time.

Competitors were only allowed to bring working tools such as scissors, secateurs, a knife and tape measure. Sheila used only her trusty pair of scissors.

Many hearty congratulations to her from all of us at Cockpole Green WI.

Our next meeting is the summer outing to Chartwell House on Wednesday, August 15.

GREYS

WE arrived at the John Lewis Heritage Centre in Cookham and were greeted by the manager, Judy Faraday, who took us into the cool interior of the old pottery, now transformed into a small meeting room.

Judy’s hour-long PowerPoint presentation described the fascinating history, development and philosophy of the John Lewis Partnership as it has grown over the past century.

She must have given her talk many times to different groups but this could have been the first time.

Her enthusiasm for her subject kept us spellbound as she interspersed the account with light-hearted anecdotes.

John Spedan Lewis was the architect of the partnership. It was his vision, in the early 1900s, of co-ownership and of how a business could put the happiness of its employees at the heart of everything and profit by it.

He considered himself a scientist rather than a philanthropist, believing that a business was a living thing to be kept alive and made to grow.

His father, John Lewis, would hear none of it but when Spedan took control of Peter Jones, he developed his ideas and extended them to the rest of the business on the death of his father.

In 1908 the Waite, Rose and Taylor’s food shop became Waitrose and, in 1937, it joined the partnership.

Three years later, the Selfridge Provincial Group wanted to offload the provincial section and John Lewis expanded further.

By 1948 the partnership was so large that a central council was set up to consider holiday entitlement, pensions etc and in 1950 the second trust settlement gave ultimate control to the trustees.

Oxbridge graduate Bernard Miller took over the chairmanship in 1955 and the first Waitrose supermarket opened that year.

In 1962 the John Lewis Partnership acquired the lease of Brownsea Castle in Dorset from the National Trust to add to its portfolio of partner holiday destinations, which include Leckford Abbas (and Waitrose 4,000-acre farm) in Hampshire, Ambleside Park in Cumbria and Lake Bala Hotel in Snowdonia as well as five ocean-going yachts.

John Spedan Lewis’s nephew, Peter, succeeded Bernard Miller and saw the first shopping centre open in 1976.

He was followed by Stuart Hampson, who launched Johnlewis.com in 2001, heralding the digital era.

The current chairman, Charlie Mayfield, took his partner’s compulsory two-day annual stint on the floor at Christmas time in Oxford Street, wearing his name badge “Charlie”.

On returning to his office, he received a letter from a customer complimenting Charlie on his excellent customer service!

Stead McAlpin, the fabric printing work in Carlisle, supplies some of the partnership’s fabrics.

In 2013 the textile archives, some designs dating from the early 1800s, were relocated to the Heritage Centre.

The partnership continues to expand and has a presence in 100 countries. To keep abreast of the times, John Lewis has to offer what Amazon, its main competitor, cannot — personal shopping and service.

Following a few questions and comments, our president Val thanked Judy for such an interesting and informative presentation and we gathered in the archive to explore the 30,000 textile designs.

Judy took us through the various stages of printing development from hand block, copper roller and rotary screen printing to the current digital process.

She brought our attention to various designs, the furnishings at Osborne House, doodled on by Queen Victoria, an 1803 leopard design, the dustsheets for Windsor Castle and the Robin and Lucienne Day designs to name but a few.

Also among the collection is the Herbert Parkinson archive of customised soft furnishings.

Design teams come regularly to the centre to delve into the collections for inspiration for today’s world. There is so much to take in on one visit but it was time to say goodbye to Judy and make our way to the Odney Club for our delicious cream tea.

This was served outside in the club’s beautiful grounds bordering the River Thames.

Val, Merryl and Doreen were thanked for our fun-filled summer outing and we made our way home.

Greys WI will meet next at Greys village hall on September 19 at 2.30pm when Jane Stubbs will visit us again, this time to tell us about “How women won the vote — sex, power and politics”.

There’s plenty of time before the meeting for you to make your Suffragette rosette for our competition. Visitors are welcome.

HAMBLEDEN

ON Thursday, July 12 we held our annual summer party in the village hall.

We were pleased to welcome 38 members together with our guest, Jenny North.

All agreed that the hall looked splendid, with the open French windows allowing a bucolic view of the Hambleden Valley on a wonderful, hot summer’s evening.

After a glass of fizz, we enjoyed a delicious buffet supper and, judging by the noise level, a very sociable catch-up was had by all!

Frances Emmett thanked the committee for their hard work in giving members such a lovely evening.

Two other activities made the most of the wonderful weather. At the end of June 10 members went to the Blenheim Palace Flower Show and came home laden with purchases of plants and clothing.

A few members also got together, with dogs, on a hot morning to walk along the Thames Path from Bourne End to Cookham.

The dogs swam and the walkers appreciated a welcome pub lunch.

Finally, some members met at Suzie Livesey’s house to work on the design of the commemorative tablecloth for our branch’s centenary celebrations in April 2019.

There will be no meeting in August but we will resume at Hambleden village hall on Thursday, September 13 at 7.30pm. Our speaker will be Roy Wood on the subject of “How to enjoy a healthy and wealthy retirement”.

If you would like to join us, please email our secretary Jan Connelly on janconnelly56@btinternet.com

We welcome new members. For more information and to see our programme for 2018, please visit www.hambleden-wi.org or facebook@hambledenwi

HARPSDEN

IT was a pleasure to welcome three members from Sonning Common WI to the July meeting.

They were keen to hear our speaker Sue Drage talking about “Recycling”, which was nothing to do with putting the correct articles into your wheelie bin!

In fact, Sue had certainly been busy recycling as there were three trestle tables loaded with her products.

She can make use of old CDs, crisp packets, beer and coke cans, ring-pulls, pictures from magazines, paper clips — the list goes on and on.

She even buys ring-pulls on the internet (3,000 for £30) and turns them into objects for sale.

She demonstrated how to cut up plastic bags into lengths suitable for “knitting” and produce attractive handbags. Tubular articles such as the centre of loo rolls and Pringles containers were put to good use.

Perhaps the piece de résistance was the bra which was altered and decorated and became an evening bag.

There certainly was no limit to Sue’s s ingenuity and a few days after her talk she was due to appear on the TV programme Crafty Beggars.

Sue (and her husband) were thanked for her illuminating talk by Di Painter.

Pat Eades took members through the business part of the meeting, first welcoming new member Margaret Andrews. The membership now stands at 42.

Names were taken for the chance to see Calendar Girls at the New Theatre, Oxford, in April — there will be only a few seats allocated to each WI, so a draw will have to be made within each group.

The Oxfordshire Federation has meetings for selecting new speakers and also a resolutions workshop when all aspects of forming a new resolution will be discussed.

The beautiful gardens of Normandy can be visited during a visit from May 19 to 23 next year. This is part of the Federation’s centenary celebrations.

The base will be the Mercure Hotel in Lisieux from where trips will be taken to Honfleur, Giverny and Bayeux. The cost is £605.

The next Beechwood Group meeting will be hosted by Greys WI on October 19 at 2.30pm.

The competition was for “something new from something old” and was won by Pam Hails with Judith Young second and Joan Hoyes third.

The meeting on August 8 will be held in Shirley Weyman’s garden. Although good weather would be desirable, it is to be hoped that the current heatwave will have passed by then.

Members are requested to arrive at 2.30pm and to bring a small plate of food for the “bring and share” tea.

HOT (HENLEY-ON-THAMES)

OUR July meeting started with a new arrival leading to a non-arrival! We were expecting Georgina, of Urban Cadaver Air Scent Dogs, but we received the news that she had very recently given birth and understandably would not be able to join us.

Congratulations, Georgina, from HoT WI.

So at the 11th hour committee member Chris Agar came to the rescue and managed to arrange for Hayley Scott, a former Metropolitan Police crime scene examiner and forensic expert, to come along instead.

Hayley was an excellent speaker and had us all agog as she described some of the crime scenes she had come across in her career.

She also explained how important DNA evidence is — the DNA database was only started in April 1995 but now has eight million profiles.

Hayley told us where best to keep your valuables to prevent them being stolen in a burglary (I would pass on the tip but who knows who is reading the WI round-up in the Henley Standard?!)

It was a great talk and we all found it very interesting — much better than CSI.

Hayley does corporate days and birthday parties as well as talks — have a look at her Facebook page, the Forensic Experience. For our next meeting we will be holding a summer barbecue at Sacred Heart Church hall in Walton Avenue, just off Vicarage Road, Henley, on August 17 at 7.30pm. Please come along and join us.

For more information, please email hotwi2017@hotmail.com

MILL GREEN, WARGRAVE

TRACEY BLANEY, the milliner from Designer Hats in Maidenhead, gave members an evening of amusement and instruction when she brought a selection of her designer hats to the meeting on July 4.

We were invited to try all her samples and she gave advice on the shape, style and colour most suited to each one of us.

Some members also brought along their own hats to model and some wore Tracey’s creations.

It was explained there are both milliners and hatters — hatters make both ladies’ and men’s hats and milliners make only ladies’ hats.

Millinery derives its name from Milaney bonnets, made from the finest straw from Milan. The earliest recorded date for hat-making was 1529.

There are four reasons for wearing a hat:

1. As a uniform.

2. Necessity — orthodox religions require ladies to cover the crown of their heads.

3. As protection against the elements, sun and rain.

4. Purely for fashion, vanity or frivolity.

There are several parts to making a hat, a crown to cover the crown of the head and sometimes a brim which fits all the way round the crown, covering the eyes from the sun.

Inside the hat there is always a band which can be made of ribbon, Petersham or leather.

It can be used to make a hat smaller but it is really to protect the hat from perspiration and make-up which can harm fine materials. This can be refreshed.

The saying “mad as a hatter” dates from the 18th century when mercury was used to separate skin from small animals. It helped to shrink the fur felt.

Felt made from beaver is regarded as being of the highest quality.

People working in the industry were exposed daily to minute amounts of the metal and this caused the development of a form of dementia.

Fascinators date back to the 17th century. This term referred to the lace veil worn to protect the eyes, thus progressing through cocktail hats to the comb and band creations that we know today (recreated by Phillip Treacey and Stephen Jones).

The main straws used for making head apparel today are Sinamay from the Philippines, the very fine Panama straw from South America and paper which looks like straw but does not have the same properties.

Literally starting from very little apart from a passion for making hats, Tracey worked to finance various training courses, some completed with widely acclaimed milliners.

She then purchased her hat blocks and began working from home and in hat shops to see what the customer really wanted. She sold to local shops. Now she works exclusively from home, making bespoke items.

Tracey demonstrated the different stages of hat-making, giving detailed instruction about dyeing and creating decorations. It was a very light-hearted event.

We commence our autumn meetings on September 6 when Nicholas Henderson will give a talk on Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, called “Fortitude and Fancy”. Nicholas is a nationally acclaimed guest lecturer for the Fine Arts Society.

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

PEPPARD

OUR president Irene Lindsay welcomed members to the home of Kathie and David Anderson for our July garden meeting and thanked Kathie for inviting us.

In response to the welcome influx of new members we have had in recent months, the meeting began with each member present introducing themselves and saying which year they had joined Peppard WI — if they could remember!

The weather was not quite as warm as it had been in the previous days so we were able to enjoy Kathie and David’s beautiful garden.

As there was to be no speaker this month, Irene took the opportunity to explain something of the structure of the WI and to introduce new members to the ways in which Peppard WI operates.

She spent some time going through News & Views in more detail than normal to make everyone familiar with the many activities which the Oxfordshire Federation provides for us to enjoy.

Members then enjoyed a delicious tea in the sunshine supplied by Buddy Group 1 while those established and new got to know each other better.

Buddy Group 4 had provided the raffle prizes which were drawn before Irene presented Penny Russell with a small gift and a card to congratulate her on a forthcoming important birthday.

Kathie was given a lavender plant to thank her for a lovely afternoon. Lavender was chosen due to its ability to exist with very little water if climate change is here to stay!

The book club was to meet on August 1, discussing The Other Side of the Dale. The next book is to be Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty.

Our August outing is to be lunch at the Shepherd’s Hut at Ewelme followed by a tour of the watercress beds.

If any lady is interested in becoming a member of the WI or indeed has time to join a second WI as a dual member, we will welcome you into one of Peppard’s unique Buddy Groups.

For more information, call Irene on 0118 348 0485.

REMENHAM

WE are being kept as busy as usual with various activities and competitions as well as thoughts for the contents of a time capsule which is to be planted under a tree within the county of Berkshire.

At the meeting in June, the members were highly entertained by Enid Light, who gave a fascinating and amusing talk about her life as an air stewardess in the late Fifties.

In those days, the requirements to be a stewardess were to be 5ft 5in and NOT beautiful, just presentable and unmarried!

They were taught silver service — absolutely no trolleys — first aid, midwifery and rescue survival at sea and in the desert.

Enid talked about her routes to Johannesburg and the Far East, the latter being a three-week journey with many stops along the way.

Our summer outing took place in July when members had a very interesting morning at Hughenden Manor.

Over a coffee and enormous shortbread, they had a very informative talk about Disraeli and his ancestors before exploring the beautiful house.

The talk also covered the period of map-making at Hughenden during the Second World War which led to several members visiting the associated exhibition, which was fascinating.

The gardens were a profusion of colour and a delight to wander around before lunch.

After lunch and a short drive, the members visited the Hearing Dogs for the Deaf Centre where they saw how dogs are trained to respond to alarm clocks, bells, doors and smoke alarms.

It was amazing to see how these wonderful dogs have transformed the lives of people who could no longer hear and helped them regain their independence.

A visit to the kennels and the finale of a delicious cream tea brought the outing to an end.

The next event is the summer tea party on August 13 when the members and guests will be entertained by the singing of Mandy Shora.

Remenham WI meets on the second Monday of each month. For more information, please call Daphne on 01628 824376.

SONNING COMMON

IN the first activity of the month, the craft group painted pebbles with Jenny Herman showing us some suggestions.

A wide variety of designs was completed which, when varnished, had a number of decorative and practical uses. The Scrabble and darts groups met and members enjoyed activity, refreshments and chat.

On July 13 members served refreshments at the Memory Matters day organised by the Sonning Common Health Centre patient participation group, which was well-attended.

There were talks and information stands on many aspects of dementia and helpful suggestions for carers and relatives.

At our monthly meeting our speaker was Carol Mackay who is the county emergency planning officer.

She leads a team of five who have a statutory duty to plan for emergencies and to warn and inform the public.

Officers have 32 plans, which include adverse weather conditions, music festivals, infectious diseases, terrorism threats, response to accidents and utility failure.

Plans are made to cover emergencies at nuclear sites, RAF Brize Norton, Oxford Airport, Blenheim Palace and Bicester Shopping Village.

Village halls are identified as emergency accommodation for those made homeless suddenly in the event of an emergency.

There is a large supply of sleeping bags, urns etc., which can be delivered.

WIs are called on in local emergencies because of their local knowledge of village halls and organised communication network. At a personal level, Carol suggested caution using candles and an emergency grab bag including things such as a wind-up torch.

She distributed goodie bags with a lot of useful information, including the Lions message in a (plastic) bottle scheme and urged us to complete details and leave them in the fridge.

Pam Gross reported on her first visit to Denman College.

She was full of praise for the facilities and the wide range of courses on offer.

Pam had won the Sonning Common WI bursary draw and booked a course on silver jewellery.

Val Rooke reported on the Everest Day at Denman College.

As part of Denman’s 70th birthday celebrations, Everest has donated a garden room which is in the college grounds.

Chef Phil Vickery told of his life in cooking, including achieving Michelin star status and becoming a TV chef travelling the world to report from exotic places.

Members attending received a copy of his book on gluten-free recipes.

Emma Kenny, psychologist from ITV’s This Morning, talked about hygge and how the Danes achieve happiness, peace and security.

Jenny Ward reported that car boot sales had raised £800, which would be distributed to charities chosen by our members.

The competition was for scones and was won by Carol Goffe with Di Soden second and Sue Hedges third. Members enjoyed the entries with butter and jam.

The flower of the month winner was Jenny Ward, with Sue Frayling-Cork second and Jenny Herman third.

In August we will be supporting the Bishopswood family fun day by making cakes and look forward to tea in Sue Hedges’s lovely garden and a trip to Frogmore and the Savill Garden.

STOKE ROW

OUR July meeting included a very good talk, with pictures, about royal weddings, very appropriate in the year of the marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

The speaker came right up to date with this latest wedding but also had some very interesting stories going back to the times of arranged weddings, 14-year-old brides, beheadings soon after marriages and several affairs.

Our competition display brought out some memorabilia from royal occasions, which were plentiful and interesting to look through. Obviously we have quite a few fans in our midst.

Seven members had a wonderfully scenic walk along the river from Benson to Shillingford.

Four of them continued over the bridge and beyond, meeting the others back at the Waterfront Café for an evening meal and leisurely chat in glorious evening sunshine outside.

Six miles in the heat was possibly a bit long but we survived with a drink stop and took it easy.

The walk was led by Tilley Smith, who has just returned from a successful climb of Ben Nevis.

In August we will have a fun day round the historic village of Ewelme, expertly organised by Tilley to include a walk, lunch, a talk on the watercress beds and tea, which we can drop in and out of according to our wishes.

In September we will be back in the village hall on the third Tuesday at 7.30pm as usual for a travel talk plus all the usual club dates for the craft, book, dining out and swimming groups which we enjoy in between meetings. New members are welcome to pop in to try us out.

SOUTH STOKE

THE president’s lunch party is traditionally held in July.

We always plan to hold it in the president’s garden but this rarely happens due to our unpredictable weather.

True to form, this was the case again this year but not because of rain but due to the excessive heat!

It was considered too risky to try to keep both members and the food cool enough, so we erred on the side of caution and held the party in the village hall.

Bunting and balloons helped to make it a colourful venue and with fans whirring and the doors open we had a very cool hall which was much appreciated by the members.

Unfortunately, our president Rita Mann could not be with us due to illness but everyone sent their love and best wishes and wished her a speedy recovery.

Food seems to feature quite prominently in our reports but what better way to socialise than to share a meal with friends new and old?

The committee organised and made much of the food and it was a perfect combination for a lovely hot summer’s day.

Everyone joined in and the chatter and laughter was wonderful to hear. Our meetings are held at South Stoke village hall on the second Tuesday of the month at 2.15pm. Visitors are made very welcome.

WHITCHURCH HILL

THE speaker at our July meeting was Catherine Crabb, her subject “The life and times of canal people”.

The talk was interesting and sometimes amusing, sometimes sad, touching on the history of canals and the difficulties of living in confined spaces and on the move most of the time, with children unable to attend regular schooling.

Catherine had brought along a number of samples of the art of painting as used on canal ware.

Members have responded to an appeal by the Associated Countrywomen of the World for donations towards its Narowal Project in Pakistan, which will benefit women and children. It is halfway towards the target.

In early August we look forward to our annual social evening when we welcome members, family and friends. This year it will be fish and chips plus our usual variety of excellent puddings made by members.

This will be in the garden of Goring Heath parish hall, weather permitting, or in the hall itself.

We shall have our usual business meeting later in the month, with members’ talks on subjects of their own choosing.

In early September we shall lunch at the Reading Lido while at our usual business meeting we shall have historian Bill King talking about “Women in World War Two”.

Meetings take place at Goring Heath parish hall, opposite St John’s Church on the B471, on the third Tuesday of the month, except December, starting at 10.15am.

We also have a social or craft morning — usually on the first Tuesday.

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

WOODCOTE

ANN LARDEN welcomed members on another very warm summer’s day.

We were pleased that Wendy Muchamore had joined us.

We had a lovely tea thanks to Isobel Lomax, Hazel Tagg and Betty Thomas.

Celebrating their birthdays this month were Iris Lewis, Patricia Solomons and Wendy Muchamore. We hope they had a lovely day. Our speaker was Peter Halman who gave a fascinating talk on the Thames from Oxford to Windsor, telling us of the history and the occupations of the residents of villages and towns nearby.

His talk was accompanied by many photographs. The homes and gardens trip in September will be to the Vyne, so let’s hope the sun shines!

Woodcote WI is running the community coffee shop on October 24 when there will be yummy cakes and a tombola, so come and join us.

The lunch group will be going to the Perch and Pike in South Stoke.

Thank you to Audrey Hawthorne for organising this.

In September we are back in the village hall after our garden meeting when Barbara Hately will tell us about the Changi quilts.

Come and join us for a 2.30pm start — everyone is welcome.

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