Sunday, 19 September 2021

Women's Institute Roundup

Women's Institute Roundup


THE August meeting was our last one at the Caversham Methodist Church hall.

We were entertained by Jean Turton talking about Chinese brush painting.

Jean was very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about her subject, painting scenes for us and describing the method of holding the brushes.

Valerie, our president, thanked her for a very entertaining talk.

Tea and coffee were taken plus some wonderful cakes made by Margaret Keen.

We had one birthday girl, Ann Jones.

The Caversham Court tea kiosk rota was full, as was the bank holiday one, so thanks to all the volunteers.

Jill Dibben invited members to attend a beginner’s session at Caversham Croquet Club in Albert Road park on Fridays at 11.30am or on a Thursday between 5pm and 7pm. The cost is £2 per session.

A visit was made to Lady Sew and Sew in Henley and a lunch was held at the Packsaddle in Mapledurham after being moved from the New Inn because it is closed on Mondays.

The book club continues to meet at the Caversham Rose one evening a month.

The art group met at Rowena’s house and the knitting group at Jean’s.

Our secretary announced details for the National Federation’s annual meeting in 2019, which is to be held at the Bournemouth International Centre on June 5.

The federation had sent out papers seeking suggestions for resolution proposals.

Our president Valerie Holden would like members to consider submitting a proposal to ban all TV betting adverts before the watershed. The members expressed approval of this.

One of the dolls made to mark the centenary of the Berkshire WI will be visiting Chazey WI.

Julie B has offered to be in charge of its welfare and would welcome any (kind) suggestions on how to entertain her!

Members had brought along paper fans to have on the exhibition table — all very attractive.

The raffle was drawn and the winners included one of our four visitors plus Julie, Valerie W and Carol.

A very enjoyable afternoon was had by all and the meeting closed at 4.30pm.

For more information about Chazey WI email or find us on Facebook.

From now on our meetings will be held at our new venue, St Andrew’s Church Hall in Albert Road, Caversham, on the first Friday of the month at 2.30pm, beginning on September 7.


ON Wednesday, August 15, our president Adrienne Rance welcomed 26 members to Gibstroude Farm to await the arrival of the coach taking us to Chartwell House in Kent, our summer outing destination.

Chartwell is a country house near Westerham, which was purchased by Sir Winston Churchill for £5,000 in September 1922.

It has five reception rooms, 19 bed and dressing rooms and eight bathrooms and is set in 80 acres with three cottages on the estate.

It was Churchill’s much- loved home for more than 40 years. He was an extraordinary man. He was a British politician, army officer, writer and painter in oils who was prime minister from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955.

He wrote the sixth and final volume of his war memoirs at Chartwell.

The Nobel Prize for literature was awarded to him in 1953 for his many works, not forgetting his brilliant oratory in “defending exalted human values (in time of war)”.

He also turned his hand to sculpting and even to building a wall.

The financial difficulty of maintaining such a large estate made Churchill consider selling it in 1946.

Luckily, a consortium of friends raised enough money so that the National Trust could take it over on condition that the Churchills could retain a life tenancy.

This Grade I listed building with fabulous views over the Weald of Kent was opened to the public in 1966 when Lady Churchill surrendered the lease after the death of her husband.

The house was built sometime in the 16th century and was extended over the years.

One guide described it as an example of “Victorian architecture at its least attractive with red brick walls, tile hung gables and poky oriel windows”.

Once inside, the members felt they had gone back in time to the period when the Churchills lived there. Nothing much seemed to have changed.

The trust, with help from the Churchill family, has been able to recreate the lives of Sir Winston and his wife Clementine.

On show were fascinating letters written to Churchill by his wife.

A display of military uniforms was a reminder of the difficult times during the Second World War.

It was at Chartwell that Clementine encouraged Sir Winston to take up painting when he was pushed out of office.

He was guided by various artists but chose his own style and always painted in oils and never signed his pictures.

More than 150 of his paintings are displayed in the house and in his studio.

He painted what he saw, sometimes copying from postcards or photographs.

He also painted portraits, one of which was of Archibald Sinclair, who served with him on the Western Front during the First World War.

In May 1940 Churchill appointed Archibald secretary of state for air in the Liberal-Conservative coalition government.

Members strolled round the estate in warm sunshine, enjoying the magnificent views and the stunning gardens, which are beautifully laid out with many colourful plants, including roses, giant sunflowers and agapanthus, and a vegetable plot to die for.

Sir Winston enjoyed building brick walls on his estate. This he thought was therapeutic with visible progress and an enduring result, so very different to politics.

No one knows how many of the bricks in the lengthy garden wall were laid by him as often Barnes had to take over when the great man was called away to matters of state.

At a point along the wall he included a one-room playhouse for his daughter Mary and called it Marycot — a softer side to an otherwise stern character.

Many thanks to Adrienne for organising such a wonderful outing.

Our next meeting will be held at Crazies Hill village hall on Wednesday, September 19 at 2.30pm.

We will welcome the return of our guest speaker, award-winning professional photographer Tom Way, whose talk is entitled “My love of Africa”. There will be a bring and buy sale.


THANKFULLY, the heatwave conditions had abated and 30 members were able to sit in Shirley’s garden in comfort in the warm sunshine for the August meeting.

The bring and share tea contributions filled the dining table and provided a delightful spread.

Di Painter’s “feely bags” (as they have become known) kept members guessing as to their contents and Gwen Wilding miraculously guessed all eight of the articles.

The anagram game displayed around the garden got everyone on their feet and many came up with the solution, which was “friendship”.

A raffle was held and the sum of £20 was given to Shirley for her chosen charity, Sue Ryder.

Pat Eades dispensed with the business pretty quickly so that conversations were not halted too long.

Happily, Patricia Catlin was welcomed as a new member.

The next meeting will be at Harpsden village hall on September 12, commencing at 2.30pm, when the subject of the speaker will be “The Nabobs of Berkshire” and the competition will be for “an item with an Indian connection”.

This should be a fascinating subject, so do please come as a visitor (and hopefully a future member) — you will be made very welcome.


THE August meeting was our summer barbecue and, luckily for us, the fine weather held.

Everyone had brought along something to eat so we had a delicious array of dips, salads and breads to go with the bangers and burgers. We even had a homemade punch!

Add to the mix a little bit of music and it was a perfect evening.

Thank you to everyone for helping to make it such a good night.

Our next meeting will be at Sacred Heart Church hall in Walton Avenue, on September 21 at 7.30pm. Please join us. For more information, please email


MEMBERS travelled to the delightful village of Ewelme and enjoyed lunch at the Shepherd’s Hut after which we went to the watercress beds.

We watched an interesting film and then had a walk around the area with one of the volunteers who explained all about the beds and nature reserve. A memorable afternoon.

Our next meeting will take place at Peppard hall on September 12 from 2pm when the speaker Tony King will take us “From Hollywood to Broadway”. Visitors are most welcome.


IN July our treasurer Ann Francis organised a splendid outing to Hughenden Manor in the morning and after lunch a visit to Hearing Dogs for the Deaf.

The training is fascinating and the dogs bring so much to the sufferers.

August arrived and our members and visitors from the other WIs in our Thames Group were treated to an excellent tea party at our president Daphne Austen’s home.

After a heavy shower at lunchtime, the afternoon was perfect.

We were entertained by singer Mandy Shorer with songs from the musicals and many requests. We were encouraged to sing along.

After a wonderful WI tea, provided by committee members, birthday posies were presented to Belinda Fitzwilliams, Rosemary Pratt and Sheila Constantinidi.

Members enjoyed the bottle stall and a very good raffle. Then Daphne and Nick treated us to a delicious non-alcoholic cocktail, so we all went home on a high!

Special thanks to Nick for organising the car parking and loading the dishwasher, all from his wheelchair as he had recently broken his heel.

In fact, thanks were profusely given all round.

We are all invited again to Daphne’s to a craft and natter day in the couple’s gazebo while it is still up.

The next village event was Remenham fayre on Sunday where our WI provided the teas.

Our next meeting will be at Remenham village hall on Monday, September 10 at 2.30pm when the members will entertain each other. There will be a bring and buy table and a best bloom competition. All are welcome.


THE weather had taken a dramatic turn from the scorching heat to a more normal English summer day for the August meeting.

President Rita Mann welcomed members and one guest.

We had four ladies celebrating August birthdays. We wished them all “happy birthday” before cards and small gifts were distributed.

Not many outings or events are organised for July and August as it is holiday time and the county office is closed.

If anyone has an idea for a resolution for the National Federation’s annual meeting, then now is the time to voice it as help is available in its formulation at a workshop in November.

For anyone interested in bowling, the Oxfordshire Federation is holding an outdoor bowls day in September at Abingdon Bowls Club as well as a sports taster day at the White Horse leisure and tennis centre, which is also in Abingdon.

Craft, flower arranging, cookery demonstrations, literary talks and discussions as well as quiz nights, murder mystery evenings and music appreciation days are held all around the county and are just some of the events members can take part in.

A hugely diverse selection of things to do is always on offer in the WI.

For even more variety there are also dozens of courses available at Denman College.

This is the WI’s own residential college set in the Oxfordshire countryside.

Why not try a new skill or topic just for the fun of it?

This month we were very lucky to have Jeff Rozelaar, a published author, as our speaker.

His book is called Bacon and Bagels and is an autobiographical account of growing up in the East End in the Fifties.

Fern Britten described it as a hugely entertaining book.

Jeff came from one of the poorest areas in London, as did Harold Pinter, Lionel Bart and Barbara Windsor but, as he pointed out, so did Jack the Ripper.

He was a hilarious speaker who was very self-deprecating.

After a very successful interview on Radio Five Live he was told he had the perfect face for radio!

His childhood playgrounds included London bomb sites as well as Tower Bridge and the Tower of London itself. Such a rich heritage for a budding writer.

Jeff become a teacher as well as a writer and amateur actor.

He was a fascinating speaker.

The afternoon was rounded off with an enjoyable tea, which is supplied by members each month on a rota basis.

This is our social time, something to be enjoyed as we munch on delicious sandwiches and a selection of favourite cakes and we all look forward to it each month.

South Stoke WI meets in the village hall on the second Tuesday of the month at 2.15pm. If you like the sound of us, why not come as a visitor and see for yourself and join us for tea?


WITH no official indoor meeting scheduled for August, we spent the month out and about around the local area.

Our walk leader Tilley organised a special day centred around the historic and picturesque village of Ewelme.

Twenty members enjoyed a varied day of walks in the fields, then a visit to the church where Chaucer is commemorated with a splendid tomb and Jerome K Jerome’s grave is in the churchyard.

Then it was on to the almshouses which are so pretty and have a wonderful view of the village below.

The historic school completed this part of the morning, all the buildings being joined together by short pathways.

Following a published Ewelme trail booklet, we then stopped at some of the sites in the high street before taking lunch nearby (some husbands joined in at this point).

We were collected from there by two volunteers who walked us round the fascinating watercress beds.

Sadly, this is no longer a commercial operation but the beds are still managed in the clear spring water and natural wildlife is encouraged among the buddleias, fruit trees and wildflowers.

After a welcome tea, film and a rest on the patio, we completed another walk among the beds before departing.

Our craft group met in Woodcote to continue with their own projects, a small contingent played cards in a garden in Checkendon, complete with homemade ice cream, the book group met as usual in the local in Stoke Row and some members went on Oxfordshire Federation visits, including a day at Denman College.

We have completed our embroidered leaf, which has gone to the office at Tackley to be made into a wall hanging with 140 others from all the WIs in Oxfordshire.

This is a small part of the celebrations that will be happening in 2019, the centenary year of the Oxfordshire Federation.

We will back in the village hall for our September meeting, which will feature a travelogue by a former BBC employee.

New members are always welcome to join us (you can try us out for free) as this coming year promises to be particularly eventful. We meet on the third Tuesday of month, starting at 7.30pm. See you there!


OUR outing to Crowmarsh Battle Barn Farm was a delightful trip.

It was a gorgeous evening with butterflies everywhere.

The farmer told us all about how our food and garden waste was processed on the South Oxfordshire site outside Wallingford.

His son drove us on board a tractor and very comfortable trailer around the farm, ending up in a shed where a huge combine harvester was stored.

Our speaker in August was Julia Miles, wife of a British diplomat. Prior to her marriage, she graduated from the London School of Economics and for some time worked at the Daily Mirror.

After meeting and marrying her husband, who worked as a diplomat, they were posted to Cyprus, Saudi Arabia, Greece, Libya and Northern Ireland.

When he retired in 1996, Julia retrained at Oxford Polytechnic to be a probation officer and then worked as one for eight years.

Our next meeting on September 12 is a social and on October 10 we will be singing with Susie Ingram.

On November 14 Robin Stafford Allen will give us a talk on nuclear fusion research at Culham, near Abingdon, and on December 12 we will have our Christmas celebration.

We meet in Watlington town hall at 7.30pm and would be delighted to welcome you to our meetings.

For more information, please call Kath Gomm on (01491) 612939.


IN August we had an extra meeting.

We usually assume that most people will be away but were pleased to have a good attendance — almost up to our usual number — when we had the pleasure of listening to interesting talks given by our members.

The subjects included catering, motor cars and racing and being a patent administrator.

We are looking forward to another members’ evening in a few months when we know we will have some more fascinating subjects coming up.

In early September we will lunch at the Reading lido.

At our usual business meeting later in the month we will have historian Bill King talking about “Women in the Second World War” and members will bring along their personal memorabilia from that time.

Looking ahead to October, we will have a sugarcraft workshop, making sugar roses as cake decorations.

The speaker at our business meeting will be Neil Stewart on the subject of “Bhutan — land of the Thunder Dragon” .

At this meeting we will have a second-hand bookstall with proceeds going to our own Denman College.

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 (doors open 10am). We also have a weekly social or craft morning, usually on the first Tuesday.

Do come along and see what we do. For more information, please call 0118 984 1696.


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

We were pleased to say Wendy Muchamore has joined us.

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

Celebrating their birthdays 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 River Thames from Oxford to Windsor, telling us of the history and the occupations of the residents of villages and towns nearby.

This 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 is 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 at 2.30pm when Barbara Hately will tell us about “The Changi quilts”.

Come and join us — everyone is welcome.

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