Tuesday, 19 October 2021

WI Roundup

WI Roundup


FOR our September meeting, we welcomed Valentine Kitching, of the Wallingford Tea and Coffee Company, as our speaker for the evening.

He began his talk by advising members of his background.

His father had been a tea planter and Mr Kitching began his career in South Africa.

He had worked in various other parts of the world including Malawi, Kenya and Iran.

He talked about the various types of tea, its production, its marketing and how he receives his consignments.

Tea originated in China and the country is still the largest producer with 500 different types of tea.

Today lots of other smaller countries now produce tea, including Taiwan and Japan.

Mr Kitching left members leaflets and details of what he stocks at his shop in Wallingford and offered books for sale at the end of the meeting.

Also at the meeting there was a very successful bring and buy harvest sale with some lovely homegrown produce to purchase.

This month, we will be visiting the Wallingford Museum and for our meeting on October 17 we will be hearing all about “Children’s experiences of the Second World War in Oxfordshire” from Liz Woolley, of the Oxfordshire Local History Association.

Visitors are always very welcome.

On November 3 members will be in charge of the teapot once again and selling refreshments at Benson parish hall from 10am to 4pm to support “The guns fall silent — a village at peace”, a village event to mark the centenary of the end of First World War.


OUR September meeting was an informal occasion following the summer break.

Over the summer, two members hosted garden parties (which were very lucky with the weather) and we also helped out at the Caversham Court Gardens tea kiosk.

The food theme was carried over and we celebrated the end of the summer season with homemade apple pies and a “harvest” auction of fresh fruit, vegetables and a few special extras, including a beautiful cake and delicate herb bouquets.

We caught up on all the newly organised days out and upcoming WI activities and discussed what we can do for World Kindness Day on Saturday, November 3.

At next month’s meeting we will be hearing about the Thames crossings and will welcome back a couple of ladies who came to visit us for the first time in September.

Ladies are very welcome to visit our friendly group. We meet at Church House in Prospect Street, Caversham, on the third Thursday of the month at 7.30pm, which helps avoid childcare issues. There is nearby parking and a lift to the first floor meeting room. For more information, search for “Caversham WI” or visit https://tinyurl.com/hwzj6zy


ST Andrew’s Church hall was the new venue for the September meeting. It was very successful with some new faces trying us out and some previous members returning.

In place of a speaker there was a photo competition called “How well do you know Reading?”, which members enjoyed.

Our tea hostesses were kept very busy with refreshments.

It was announced that the WI diaries for 2019 had been collected by Julie and were available for collection or will be available at the next meeting.

Social dates during the month included coffee at the Herb Farm in Sonning Common and lunch at the Horse and Groom in Hare Hatch (a possible Christmas lunch venue). The book club, knitting group and art group all met.

There will be a day out at the Milestone Museum in Basingstoke on November 7 and a visit to the National Needlework Archive in Newbury to see the Berkshire Federation’s centenary needlework exhibition.

There will be a visit to the Mill at Sonning to see Guys and Dolls over the Christmas period.

Birthdays this month were Mary Wall and Maryla Sexton.

For more information, email chazeywi@gmail.com or see us on Facebook.


ON Wednesday, September 19, president Adrienne Rance welcomed members.

Unfortunately, our speaker, wildlife photographer Tom Way, was ill.

Local resident Aldon Ferguson stepped in at the last minute with an illustrated talk about the 17 years he spent working in Russia from 1990 to 2007.

It was a fascinating insight into life in the communist Soviet Union, the largest country in the world with 11 time zones.

When one of the “big four” accountancy businesses asked Aldon to acquire an office building for them in Moscow, he went on a crash course on Russia to help him understand the Soviet Union and its idiosyncrasies.

The British Embassy put him in contact with Marissa, an interpreter. Her payment was in American dollars, not rubles, since that was the preferred currency in the Soviet Union then.

Arriving in Moscow, he found that the weather was extreme, varying across the seasons from -30C to 30C. Spring and autumn hardly got a look in.

He found everything very drab as money was mainly spent on the military. There were no mobile phones or cash machines and only one western-style petrol station where fuel was 4p a litre.

There were no supermarkets, just small shops, which did not use tills to record payments but instead used a notebook and abacus. Dollars were used and any change was given in the form of sweets. Only untipped cigarettes were available.

To hail a taxi all you had to do was stick out your hand and anyone would stop!

Aldon found everywhere was dirty as there was no salt for the icy roads so soil was used instead.

There were no western hotels so he often stayed in the Belgrade Hotel (Stalinist skyscraper), which was very basic and here he encountered the usual very rude receptionists.

In communist times everyone was employed and had to work — there was no alternative.

Trams were very cheap and often crowded, as were the metro and the buses. With no deodorant on sale in the shops, there were unpleasant smells.

Cars were basic and built like tractors and there was a waiting list of approximately three years to buy one unless you were a party member.

The state owned all property. The government- allocated flats were cheap but provided without consideration for the size of the family so you might have six people living in a one- or two-bedroom flat — mum, dad, grandparents and children all sharing the same basic facilities.

The heating came from central heating stations and the city decided when it was turned on and off.

As there was no control in the flats and fridges were very rare, perishable food was hung in bags out of the windows to keep it cool.

Aldon opened an estate agency office in Moscow which specialised in commercial property for foreign companies.

All businesses had to be joint ventures and also had to accommodate a representative of the KGB.

However, this often turned to his advantage as the agent was well looked after and could quickly smooth out problems which foreigners could not.

The state funded prestigious buildings such as the Kremlin and the Bolshoi Theatre.

Traffic police were on every road junction and issued on-the-spot fines to drivers to supplement their meagre salaries.

Pizza Hut was the only western-style restaurant in Moscow and it had two entrances, one for hard currency (US dollars) and one for local rubles.

There were always long queues for the local currency entrance as it was so cheap.

Aldon explained that Pizza Hut had been set up in Moscow in a deal whereby a Soviet vodka producer exported vodka to America via PepsiCo (owners of Pizza Hut).

In return Pizza Hut was allowed to operate in Moscow and Pepsi-Cola was allowed to be imported into Russia. It was a long time before Coca-Cola made an appearance.

In 2000 the Russian people’s lives began to be transformed when the country opened up her borders.

McDonald’s was allowed to set up a chain of fast-food restaurants in 2004. It was a massively popular move with the Russians, who were happy to join long queues.

Aldon ended with a flashmob dance video staged close to Moscow University by the students in the February snow of 2012. They danced to the American Irving Berlin’s composition Puttin’ on The Ritz.

This had us all tapping our toes to the music and smiling at the dancing and antics of the students.

Aldon said the video showed that Russian students and the general population are just like westerners. They like to sing, dance and have a good time but had been suppressed by the Soviet regime and are today determined to enjoy western-style freedoms.

After the talk, members enjoyed a delicious tea prepared by Jill Tomlinson and Judi Rowlands.

Nana Davis and Hilary Kinnersley manned the bring and buy table and were kept busy by members snapping up lots of bargains. The next meeting will be held at Crazies Hill village hall on Wednesday, October 17 at 2.30pm. The speaker will be Mr P Lowe with a talk entitled “The challenge of the Channel”.


ON September 19, we were blown into Greys Green village hall by a rain-filled gale for our meeting.

Once inside, members celebrated those remarkable women who, by demanding the right to vote, brought their own gale into late Victorian society more than 100 ago.

President Val Mundy announced the sad death of Vera Stanger, a formidable former treasurer, who we also affectionately remember for her winning skills on our darts team.

In her name, Doreen will send a contribution to the county memorial bursary fund.

Val reminded us all that we will be hosting the Beechwood Group meeting on October 17.

Our speaker was Jane Stubbs, an author and lecturer, whose talk was entitled “Sex, power and politics — how women won the vote”.

She began by asking members if they were feminists.

Two hundred years ago women and men moved in what were perceived as equal but different spheres of influence — for men, parliament, the law, medicine etc and for women, the home and children (and women typically had many children).

Men argued that women didn’t need the vote as their menfolk looked after them.

This comfortable certainty was about to be torpedoed.

Millicent Fawcett (1847-1929) attended her first women’s suffrage meeting at the age of 22 and never looked back.

A moderate campaigner, who fought hard for women’s right to vote, her tactics were argument, lobbying, common sense and public education. She deplored violence and lawbreaking.

Understandably, she distanced herself from the more militant tactics of the suffragettes, whom she considered to be counter- productive.

In 1890, she became the leader of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Society, a wide network, known as the suffragists.

The society was very successful, despite Queen Victoria calling it “a folly”, and in 1913 there were 50,000 members.

Millicent resigned her leadership in 1919, whensome women were first granted the right to vote.

In marked contrast, Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughter Christabel, who founded the Women’s Social and Political Union in 1903, were turning to increasingly militant tactics, including arson, breaking windows, setting light to post boxes and chaining themselves to railings.

These were the suffragettes, who courted publicity, although in 1913 the union had only 2,000 members.

Then as now, however, publicity speaks loudly and the Government, prodded by the King, struck back.

When these women were arrested, they promptly went on hunger strike and were force fed, a barbaric practice.

The violence escalated, leading to Emily Wilding’s death as she threw herself under the King’s horse in the Derby of 1913.

During the First World War a truce was called by both organisations.

The Pankhursts turned their militancy against “aliens” who lived in the UK, demanding “intern them all”.

They also started the White Feather movement in which men not in military uniform were humiliated by being given a white feather.

In contrast, Millicent said: “I’ll bury the hatchet but I’ll mark the place if I need to dig it up!”

In 1919, Parliament passed the Representation of the People Act, which gave women over 30 who were householders or the wives of householders, or occupiers of property with an annual rent of over £5, or university graduates the right to vote. In 1928 all women over the age of 21 were given the right to vote.

Hubert Parry wrote a music score to William Blake’s poem Jerusalem in 1916. This was sung at a suffrage concert in 1918 and Parry gifted it to Millicent Fawcett, who in turn gave it to the WI. We have strong links to the suffragists.

At the end of a fascinating talk, Jane once again asked: “Are we feminists?”

Our competition was for a home-made suffragette badge. Jennifer Smith and Janet Leaver shared the prize.

We will meet again at the village hall on Wednesday, October 17 at 2.30pm. Mike Willoughby, a renowned local historian, will be talking to us about “Bringing them home”.

Mike is determined that soldiers from Henley and surrounded villages who fought in the Great War will never been forgotten and is currently researching what happened to those golden boys who rowed in the regatta before that terrible conflict. Poignant stuff.

Come and join us — just drop in. We are a small and friendly WI who meet in the afternoon.


SUDDENLY it is September. We met again after our August summer break but, as our planned speaker was unavailable, the committee hurriedly put ingredients together in order to do a blind tasting for members.

All were invited to taste three varieties of muesli, crisps, cream cheese, digestive biscuits and chocolate mini rolls and then to rate each product by preference.

The results were a little surprising in that members often chose a supermarket’s own brand against branded items.

Our final choice was between two cream liqueurs and a well-known supermarket brand won over Bailey’s!

Our president Jo Martin informed us of the brands used and the product price differences.

We agreed that it had been an interesting and sociable evening.

Maureen Cleary, a long-standing and very active member of Hambleden WI, was celebrating a big birthday and kindly provided delicious sandwiches to go with the tea and cakes made by Wendy Vye and Gill Busby.

This month we will be hosting a tea for the Marlow Visually Impaired Club and members were asked to help on the day and bring food.

Next month a visit to Cutlers’ Hall in the City of London has been arranged and there are still five places available.

Also in October, Louise Andrews will be holding another of her poetry reading afternoons at Parmoor.

We welcome new member. For more information and to see our programme for 2018, please visit www.hambleden-wi.org or like us on Facebook @hambledenwi


THE September meeting was well attended with 31 members present.

A warm welcome was given to a visitor, who we hope will be joining next month.

The necessary forms for members to sign regarding GDPR were handed out and duly completed.

President Pat Eades gave notice of a digital training afternoon on October 15 for anyone wishing to improve their skills.

Pat also explained the county’s 400+ Club. For a payment of £10 per year, entry is made into a lottery and the monthly prizes range from £50 to £20.

Profits from this go towards improving facilities at Denman College, such as updating the furnishings in the bedrooms and the office equipment.

To commemorate the centenary of the Oxfordshie Federation two mugs have been commissioned and are on sale at £12 each. There are two designs, photos of which can be found in News & Views.

Also for the centenary year, members are challenged to walk, cycle, swim, dance, play golf or bowls for 100 miles — not all in one go but during the entire year. On November 27 the foreign affairs committee is featuring “From adversity to prosperity”.

There are two speakers, Vera de Menezes telling of her flight from Uganda and Jane Belcher with her story in flowers.

In May 2019 a holiday is offered — £605 for a five-day trip to see the gardens of Normandy. All details in News & Views.

Also for the centenary year the home and garden craft committee requests you make a brooch. Full details can be obtained from the office in Tackley.

The Beechwood Group meeting will be held on October 19, hosted by Greys WI (2.30pm start).

Di Painter, of Harpsden WI, had been the recipient of a bursary to Denman College and she gave a short talk on her day there when she enjoyed making stained glass ornaments and doing copper foiling.

She came home with three delightful items she had made and she thanked the WI for her bursary.

The speaker for the afternoon was Clive Williams whose subject was “The Nabobs of Berkshire”.

Clive’s story began in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries with stories of the spice trade years.

Serious money was made by traders from Britain and many of the larger estates in Berkshire were founded on this wealth.

Clive mentioned the family of William Watts, who built Southfield Park in Bracknell. Also Warfield Park, owned by Col Walsh, which was burnt down and is now a housing estate.

Winkfield Place, Fernhill Park, Coworth Park in Sandhurst, Buckhurst Park in Ascot, Purley and Basildon were all owned by the Nabobs of Berkshire.

Perhaps the nearest to Henley is Caversham Park, which is currently owned by the BBC but is on the market so who knows who will eventually own it.

In total there were 31 properties in Berkshire owned by the Nabobs.

The competition was for an item with Indian connections and was won by Alice Drennan. Shirley Weyman was second and Joan Hoyes third.

The next meeting will be on October 10 when Stewart Linford will speak on “The history of the Windsor chair”. The competition is for a small wooden item.

The November meeting will take the form of a lunch at Henley Golf Club.

Harpsden WI meets every second Wednesday of the month at Harpsden village hall, commencing at 2.30pm.

You are very welcome to attend one of our meetings as our guest. For more information, Please call Suzanna Rose on (01491) 571982 or 07771 867824 or email suzannacrose@


AT our September meeting Katie, our president, welcomed all members and spoke about the WI centenary year as well as various items of news.

It was suggested we hold a Christmas card design competition for our October meeting.

Our guest speaker was Michelle Staniforth who is a speech and language therapist and came to talk to us about Makaton signing, which she tutors. Makaton is a language designed to provide a means of communication to people with learning disabilities such as autism or Down syndrome rather than British Sign Language, which was created specifically for the deaf.

Makaton is a simplified version where just a word rather than a sentence is signed and also spoken as most users are able to hear.

This helps in that it eases the pressure on them to have to speak and allows them to progress at their own pace.

It was really very interesting and we learnt how to sign all the most important words such as tea, coffee, biscuit, cake and, of course, wine.

Our next meeting will be at Sacred Heart Church hall in Walton Avenue, Henley, on October 19 at 7.30pm. Please come along and join us. For more information, please send an email to hotwi2017@hotmail.com


MEMBERS were pleased to welcome the Rev Dr Nicholas Henderson, a retired vicar, to our September meeting and to give a talk called “Fortitude and fancy”. This is the first of three talks about the intriguing lives of Henry VIII’s six wives.

Nicholas gave us a lively and insightful look at Catherine of Aragon and Ann Boleyn, his first two wives.

Catherine was first married to Henry’s elder brother Arthur who was heir to the throne but died in 1502 only five months after their marriage. This making Catherine a widow at the age of 16 and left Henry the young heir apparent.

Henry had always liked Catherine, although she was six years his senior.

Henry became king in 1509 on the death of his father Henry VII and shortly afterwards married Catherine.

She had several pregnancies but only Mary survived (later to become Queen Mary).

Sadly, Catherine never produced a male heir and, as she aged after several unsuccessful pregnancies, Henry’s attentions turned to Ann Boleyn, one of Catherine’s ladies-in-waiting.

Henry wanted his marriage to Catherine annulled on the grounds that it had not been legal for him to marry his brother’s widow.

This highly questionable process involved breaking away from the papacy and changed the course of British history forever. The marriage to Catherine was annulled.

Henry married Ann but, sadly for her, she was not to be queen for long and her end was both sudden and dramatic.

Ann did not produce a male heir, so it wasn’t long before the King’s attentions turned to another lady-in-waiting, Jane Seymour.

Ann was destined for execution as Henry created trumped-up charges and accused her of adultery and incest.

After barely three years as queen, she was beheaded but left a lasting legacy in her daughter Elizabeth who became Elizabeth I.

Dr Henderson is booked to return to Mill Green WI next year for the second part of this Tudor trilogy.

The meeting in November will feature a talk by Graham Horn called “To the roof of Africa” about climbing Kilamanjaro. Meetings are held in the Hannen Room, Mill Green, on the first Wednesday of each month from 7.30pm.


TONY KING transported us across America from Hollywood to Broadway with his slides and interesting and informative talk at the September meeting.

Kathie Anderson and Shirley Hartley-Booth provided a delicious tea and Shirley also brought a lovely basket of flowers.

Next month Margaret Moore will talk about beekeeping. Visitors are most welcome. The meeting will take place at Peppard war memorial hall on October 10 at 2pm.


AT the September meeting, our president Daphne Austen was in the chair.

She reported on the summer tea party, a delightful afternoon in her garden.

The Remenham village fayre had been a great success. Our WI served tea and cake and gave a proportion of the takings to the fayre.

We also had a happy day making cards in our president’s garden. Daphne then told us about dates for the diary.

On November 12, Remenham WI will be putting on a Christmas miscellany. Mike Brooker will be directing this.

On November 22, there will be a coach trip to Waddesdon Manor to see the National Trust’s “Christmas Wonderland”.

The WI scrapbook was on display. This was started in the Sixties and kept up by Judy Fraser but as she has now retired a new collator is sought.

Possible venues for our Christmas lunch are being investigated.

Enid Light gave us a very interesting appraisal of Dame Millicent Fawcett’s life. She was born in 1847 from a large, well-off family in Aldeburgh, Suffolk. All the children were educated at boarding school. One of her sisters qualified as the first woman doctor.

Dame Millicent married Henry Fawcett in 1867. He was 14 years older than her and had been blinded in a shooting accident.

They had one daughter, Philippa, who was a brilliant mathematician, and the couple started Newnham College for women.

Dame Millicent became involved with the suffragist movement in 1914 when she organised a march of some 6,000 women to Parliament.

She then became a member of the movement in 1918.

Emmeline Pankhurst and her members were much better known to the public as they were very violent. This was not Dame Millicent’s style.

Enid told us a couple of interesting asides. On one occasion her handbag was snatched and her husband had to go to court as women could not own anything in their own name in those days, even though she had made the money inside the bag with her writing and books.

She was also a friend of Hubert Parry, who wrote the hymn Jerusalem.

He was going to mothball it but she persuaded him to publish it and it was first sung at a suffragette meeting and now, as we all know, it is well known and often sung.

In 1914 Dame Millicent was given a special brooch as a thank-you for organising the march to Parliament. This was beautiful and in the suffragette colours of green, white and violet.

A suffragette badge came up on the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow recently and was valued at around £57,000 but, of course, it is priceless.

Gillian Waring was commissioned to make the statue of Dame Millicent that is the only one of a woman among 11 men in Parliament Square.

At the unveiling Theresa May said if it hadn’t been for Dame Millicent “I would not be here as Prime Minister now”.

Millicent was made a dame in 1925. After her husband died, she sold their two houses, one in London and one in Cambridge, and lived with her sister Agnes on Gower Street until she died in 1929.

Enid was warmly thanked for her talk.

Next Judy Palmer read us a piece she had written for a competition, entitled “The time of my life”.

In 1960 Judy and Roy married and decided to go on an adventure and make a fortune.

Long before the times of gap years and foreign holidays, they set off for a job with the colonial service newly married and poor.

They spent three weeks on board a ship to Mombasa and then a train to Kikuyu village, which was well known for riots and murders.

Mercifully, all that was over and it was peaceful. Jomo Kenyatta, the anti-colonial activist and politician, was in prison (Judy said she did see him when he was released).

Judy and Roy set up home in a colonial-style bungalow with two very loyal staff, a houseboy who cooked and a gardener.

It was so exciting with animals all over the place. They went to the Ngorongoro crater (long before tourists in zebra-striped jeeps) and saw herds of animals. They also flew to Zanzibar in a Dakota.

It was a wonderful experience — all such a contrast to Dame Millicent’s life 50 years earlier — but, alas, there was no fortune.

Members gave Judy a sincere vote of thanks.

The afternoon was completed by card-making with all the ingredients being supplied by Daphne. The cards will be for sale at £1.50 each and we hope to sell 100. All this to celebrate 100 years of the WI.

Members have nearly knitted 100 bonnets for premature babies at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading and we are collecting for 100 welcome bags for accident and emergency patients at the request of the hospital.

As it was a special birthday for Blanche Williams, we had a special tea with a cake with candles.

Belinda Fitzwilliams won the competition for “the best bloom from your garden”.

An excellent afternoon was enjoyed by all 14 members present.

Our next meeting will be at Remenham village hall on October 8 at 2.30pm when we will have a talk called “Being a royal footman”. All are welcome.


AT our meeting on Wednesday, September 19, president Joan Jolley welcomed everybody back after the summer break.

She reminded members of the wonderful afternoon it had been at the summer party in July, with super food and interesting quizzes.

Joan gave details of the National Federation’s 2019 annual meeting in Bournemouth and advance notice of the Oxfordshire Federation’s centenary

There will be a group meeting on October 19 and those wishing to go were asked to give their names.

Details were announced of a trip to Waddesdon Manor in November organised by Remenham WI and an open day at Denman

Two teams are to be entered for the quiz night in Didcot at the end of October.

There will be a collection of foreign coins for the Associated Country Women of the World next month.

The date of the Shiplake Christmas lunch was given as Monday, December 3.

Sue Lines told the meeting about the forthcoming trips to see the King and I and to Kew Gardens.

Names were taken for the visit to the Museum of Rural Life in Reading with lunch at the Lido afterwards.

The date of the next walk was announced.

The speaker for the afternoon was Clive Hemsley, who is a dog portrait artist.

He told us how he had started and had some lovely examples on display.

He said that he knew how important people’s dogs were to them and they loved to have a portrait to remember them by.

It used to take him three days to do one painting but now he can do two in a day.

He told us some tales from his childhood, his work experiences and how he came to start painting.

He then explained why he had put the lights on Henley Bridge and how he had been asked by Marlow to consider doing something similar there.

He said he would like to see more art and sculpture in and around Henley.

Wendy Channel was the lucky winner of a prize to have a portrait painted by the artist.

Lynn Boros thanked Clive for his excellent talk.

Some further announcements included a charity bridge afternoon, the Shaddo murder mystery evening and the NAFAS festival of flowers at Dorchester Abbey. Afterwards members enjoyed an excellent tea.

The winner of the flower of the month was Ursula Davies with a large pink rose and the winner of the competition was Norah Noble.

Our next meeting will be held on October 17 when the speaker will be Tracey Blaney talking about millinery. More details about Shiplake WI can be found on the villages’ website. Visitors are always welcome.


OUR first meeting since the summer break had been eagerly looked forward to and Jenny Ward, our president, welcomed 41 members, eight visitors and our speaker, Dr Trudi Edginton.

The usual business matters followed. We had been very busy during the summer months as the craft, darts and Scrabble groups continued to meet.

Jenny Hermon reported on our entry for the Capel Young Challenge themed competition at this year’s Henley Show.

Entrants had to choose one of the 12 Days of Christmas and after much deliberation seven swans a- swimming was selected.

The exhibit had to include a Christmas wreath, a Christmas cracker, a Christmas card, bunting, a Christmas stocking, six handmade tree decorations, six decorated cakes and a handwritten verse in a decorated frame.

The very talented ladies in our craft group were kept very busy making their chosen contributions. They produced a fabulous entry and were rewarded for all their hard work by winning a first and also best in show.

The winning team was Marion Bayliss, Sue Hedges, Jenny Hermon, Beverley Porteous, Rose Prynn and Barbara Sadler.

The Capel Young Challenge Cup was displayed on our top table for the evening and a resounding applause was given by the members.

Jane Handley gave the report on our annual summer outing, which was organised by Alison Bishop who had once again put together a super day out.

On a lovely sunny day, the coach took us from Sonning Common to Frogmore House in Windsor Great Park.

Jane gave a short history of its dates and its royal occupants since it was built in 1690.

It is still used by the current royal family for visitors, mainly from overseas, and is only open to the public twice a year, August being one of those times.

Queen Victoria and Albert spent much of their time there with their children and there is much evidence of this in the displays of paintings, crafts etc that were created by their artistic family members.

Victoria’s last piece of crochet she was working on before she died is on display and you definitely get the feeling that this was a very happy and relaxed royal residence.

The two guides who showed us round the house were very knowledgeable and friendly and gave those who needed it help getting up and down the stairs and awkward places. Their kindness was much appreciated.

The coach then took the party on to the Savill Garden where lunch was taken.

The gardeners had done an amazing job keeping most of the borders glowing with colour despite the summer drought. Another couple of hours was spent wondering around the gardens and gift shop before we returned home.

Alison was given a round of applause for organising yet another lovely summer day out.

Jenny Hermon thanked Sue Hedges for opening up her lovely garden for afternoon tea.

So many members had put their names down for this that Sue decided to offer two dates and both afternoons were much enjoyed.

Her garden was a riot of colour and her husband’s dahlias and topiary were a splendid sight, a real treat.

Sandwiches, cakes, tea and Pimm’s were served and Sue received a round of applause.

Sue Hedges and Carol Townhill went to Denman College for the day and enjoyed the company of many WI ladies who had come to meet Ian Waite, of Strictly Come Dancing fame, including the National Federation chair Lynne Stubbings.

Ian soon had them on the dance floor and learning the moves of the cha-cha-cha. He was charming and lots of fun.

The day ended with a question and answer session with Ian and a nice glass of Prosecco and a cream tea.

Gill Hayward introduced our speaker, Dr Trudi Edginton, who is a clinical psychologist, mindfulness teacher and lecturer in cognitive psychology for which she has a doctorate.

She also works for the NHS at the Addenbrooke’s and Chelsea and Westminster Hospitals.

Despite these titles, she mainly thinks of herself as a nurse and her patients include those with symptoms of memory problems, anxiety, depression or attention deficiency and other cognitive disorders.

Her talk was entitled “Mindfulness for the older groups”.

Using a PowerPoint presentation, she talked us through all aspects of the research programmes that she is involved in.

She explained that mindfulness in its basic form is training the brain through practice and not dwelling on memories from the past or “what ifs” or imagining future events and worrying about something that has not even happened. It is learning to bring the mind back to focus on the present moment.

This can take many forms, such as really studying a flower, listening to a favourite piece of music, or anything that distracts you from thinking about the past or future imaginary worries.

It cannot be learned overnight and can take many months or years to perfect but research shows that it does work and can be used on its own, or with cognitive behavioural therapy courses.

MRI scans of people’s brains who practise mindfulness show that research is showing real benefits.

Mindfulness is not for everyone and Trudi stressed that you should do your own research before starting a course.

It is not yet regulated so it is really important to find out all you can about the tutor you may be considering.

It was a fascinating subject delivered with professionalism in a friendly and informative manner and gave us much to think about.

Sue Frayling-Cork gave the vote of thanks.

We then had a break for the raffle and refreshments when the competition for an unusual medical item was judged. It was won by Sue Frayling-Cork with an old plastic male urine bottle!

The flower of the month result was won by Jenny Hermon with Pam Gross second and Jenny Ward third.

Jenny closed the meeting and said she looked forward to seeing everyone in October.


SEPTEMBER marks the last of our attempted outdoor social meetings.

A garden tea party is provided and hosted by a member of the committee and is meticulously planned and, hopefully, executed.

Unfortunately we could not get the weather to co-operate this year so on September 11, after a lot of telephone calls about a change of venue, South Stoke village hall was once again called into operation.

Considering the fantastic summer we had had we still couldn’t get it right on the day. Perhaps next year will be better.

Our president Rita Mann welcomed members and one visitor to a great social afternoon.

The South Stoke WI archive scrapbooks were on display for members to see.

In the early days of our institute photographs were not freely available. Not many people had cameras and they were expensive to buy and also to have films developed.

Letters, programmes, correspondence from county and head office were all included and make fascinating reading.

You can see how the way of life and the WI develop in the village through the eyes of past members.

Several of our current members were able to look back at their own history as well.

Many of them had served either as president or committee members, so there was a lot of happy times to reminisce about.

There were so many books they took up two tables and incorporated a huge amount of information on how people in a village community lived through much of the last century.

Sandwiches, scones and a wide variety of cakes were very much appreciated and rounded off a very successful and enjoyable afternoon.

South Stoke WI meets at the village hall on the second Tuesday of the month at 2.15pm and visitors are warmly welomed.


OUR speaker for the September meeting was Alastair Lock, a former BBC journalist.

He worked for the World Service radio programmes and travelled a lot, often in troublespots.

His memories and pictures from those times were of great interest, particularly to those of us who had been listeners at the time.

Our walking group had enjoyed visiting Wallingford and Preston Crowmarsh, discovering back streets and places we had not previously been aware of. They finished at Sheena’s house in Wallingford for a very sociable tea.

The dining group had a splendid meal at Zizzi’s in Henley, which was another sociable occasion.

We have the Beechwood Group meeting hosted by Greys WI coming up but, unfortunately for us, it is in the afternoon so it is not easy for us to attend. We generally prefer to go out in the evenings.

We will be having a trip to the House of Commons to be shown round courtesy of our MP. We will be able to spend some spare time around the area.

Our frequent visitors from Wargrave will arrive in October for lunch, which we enjoy preparing for them.

Our next walk will be in the Kingwood area with tea at Penny’s house.

Our next indoor meeting will include a talk on walking netball, which some us are keen to do.

We will also have our usual social events and time for a lovely supper after the talk.


OUR September meeting was a games evening with members bringing along their favourites.

This proved to be a lovely social occasion with much brow-furrowing as members were shown how to play the games and delighted cries of “I’ve won!”

Afterwards we had nibbles supplied by our members with a glass of wine.

In August we had a very interesting outing to Lower Assendon, where Anne Arlidge gave us a talk about the history of glass and how she goes about making her lovely glass items.

Afterwards we went to Isobel’s house for tea and cake. An excellent afternoon was enjoyed by all.

On October 10 we are having Let’s Sing with music by Susie Ingram.

On November 14 the talk will be called “Nuclear fusion research at Culham” by Robin Stafford Allen.

In December it is our Christmas party. We meet at Watlington town hall at 7.30pm and would be delighted to welcome you for the evening, perhaps to become a member?

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


MEMBERS met on the third Tuesday in September and enjoyed a comprehensive account of “Women in World War Two” by historian Bill King.

Apart from those who joined one of the three services — the Auxiliary Territorial Service (army), Women’s Auxiliary Air Force and Women’s Royal Naval Reserve — women also filled so many jobs previously held by men — and were very successful.

Mr King touched upon the courageous women agents who were parachuted into enemy territory, the girls “manning” anti-aircraft batteries and the barrage balloons and the ATA women flying Spitfires and other aircraft to wherever they were needed all over the country.

Women also filled many civilian jobs, such as driving buses, and formed the Women’s Land Army and many other occupations.

Mr King raised memories among those of us who remember the war years and informed those who are too young to hold such memories.

Our correspondence included items such as an update on the “end plastic soup” issue and a report on the WI’s 100 years of resolutions, some of which have led to radical changes.

A busy October is ahead with a sugarcraft workshop, making sugar roses as cake decorations.

Our business meeting will include a talk from Neil Stewart on “Bhutan — land of the thunder dragon” and a second-hand bookstall with the proceeds going to our own Denman College.

We shall also have the annual meeting of our Pang Valley Group, six WIs which meet twice a year for an exchange of ideas and reports.

Our 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 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 and two visitors to our September meeting on a blustery autumn day.

Our speaker was Barbara Hateley who gave us a fascinating talk, with images, about the Changi Red Cross quilts.

These were made by female internees in Changi Prison in Singapore during the Second World War.

We had a lovely tea and among the helpers were Barbara George and Jenny Gough.

We will be going to Route 1 for our Christmas meal at the end of November.

In January we will go to Oxford to see Sister Act.

The competition was for a small handsewn item and the bloom of the month was won by Carole Shelley-Allen.

Our November speaker will be Analiza Jones who will talk about making handwoven bags.

Come and join us in Woodcote village hall on the third Wednesday of the month at 2.30pm.

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