Friday, 07 August 2020

WI Roundup

WI Roundup

BENSON

OUR president welcomed members and guests to our November meeting and Jerusalem was sung with the help of a couple of visiting members from the RAF Benson Military Wives Choir.

Our speaker for the evening was local florist Ivone Delgardo from the Chiltern Produce shop in Benson high street.

She talked about her business and give us a demonstration of her skill.

Ivone and her husband have been in Benson for a couple of years and have built up a very good rapport with the residents by their willingness to offer advice and assistance when needed.

Originally from South Africa, she began her training there aged 16 and was keen to pass on her expertise.

Ivone very kindly donated her Christmas table and basket arrangements to our raffle and presented each of us with a gift of a hyacinth.

Last month was again a busy one. On November 3, members supported a village event to commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War by serving refreshments and having an information table showing some of the history of our WI.

The table attracted a great deal of interest, especially the copies of the minutes of our first meetings in 1926.

Our president was dressed in period costume for the occasion.

On November 11 she laid our poppy wreath at the village Remembrance Day service.

Members also enjoyed outings to the local group meeting in Warborough and to Showtime at the Corn Exchange in Wallingford.

For our December 19 meeting we will welcome Louise Harrington for a “Musical Interlude” and we will be collecting items for the Oxfordshire Federation’s Christmas “Food Poverty” campaign. Visitors are always welcome.

CAVERSHAM

OUR late autumn meetings have rushed by and we are now making preparations for the last meeting of the year in December.

Our duties at the Caversham Court tea kiosk have finished after a long and sunny season of making cakes and serving teas in what must be the best park in Reading.

The November meeting began with a report from a WI member about her trip to Russia to train with cosmonauts and experience weightless flight.

Plans were made for seasonal activities in December, including a Christmas meal out, our birthday and Christmas supper with dancing and a trip to see Guys and Dolls in January.

Ladies are very welcome to visit our friendly group. We meet at Church House, Church Road, Caversham, on the third Thursday of the month at 7.30pm, which helps avoid childcare issues. There is parking nearby and a lift to the first floor meeting room.

For more information, visit https://tinyurl.com/
hwzj6zy or search for “Caversham WI”. For enquiries, call our secretary on 0118 947 5176.

CHAZEY

TWENTY-THREE members and three guests were welcomed by the vice-president to the November meeting.

Our president was present but had recently broken her leg and asked the vice-president to take the meeting.

Our speaker for the evening was Mike Payne who gave us a talk on Pinewood Studios which the members enjoyed very much.

Tea and cake followed plus a lot of enjoyable chat.

Dates were given out for coffee, lunch and meetings of the book, art and knitting clubs.

The treasurer gave a short report and then announced she was retiring and we had a new treasurer, Carol Briscoe. The members showed their appreciation in the usual way.

Birthday celebratants this month were Jean Turner and Jean Fry.

Volunteers are needed for the quiz team to compete in the interquiz on January 29.

The outing to Milestone Museum was very successful — such an interesting place.

The Christmas meeting needs volunteers for festive table decorations and members to bring savouries, cakes and mince pies for everyone to enjoy.

The meeting will be held at St Andrew’s Church hall, Albert Road, Caversham Heights, on December 7 at 2.30pm and guests will be very welcome.

For more information, email chazeywi@gmail.com

COCKPOLE GREEN

ON Wednesday, November 14 president Adrienne Rance welcomed members and the return of guest speaker Aldon Ferguson, whose talk was entitled “Danesfield House and Phyllis Court at war”.

Members knew of Danesfield House, which was built in 1901, but were unaware that it was requisitioned by the Government in 1941 to assist with the war effort.

It became known as RAF Medmenham. The unit specialised in photographic imagery intelligence. It had many names and was latterly named the Aerial Central Intelligence Unit.

Initially the unit was based in Wembley but when regular bombing disrupted operations it transferred to Medmenham for safety and for larger premises to accommodate the growing staff numbers.

A huge hutted camp was built to accommodate more than 1,000 personnel involved in interpreting aerial photos taken across the whole of Nazi-occupied Europe.

Aldon confessed that women were better than men at the work since they were more patient.

Indeed, one woman, Constance Babbington-Smith, was first to identify a V1 flying bomb and its launch ramp.

Multiple shots taken along the track of the plane viewed through stereoscopes (to bring them out in 3D) were used to monitor everything the Nazis did and also to make maps and models in 3D. At the peak, the staff worked 24 hours a day in three shifts. More than 36 million prints were produced during the Second World War.

Americans were involved from the beginning before they joined in the war effort.

There were four RAF squadrons and four USAAF squadrons of reconnaissance planes. They flew modified Spitfires and Mosquitos at 30,000ft over occupied Europe and their motto was “Alone, unarmed and unafraid”.

Dirk Bogarde was employed by the US army in the reconnaissance section as a visual inspector.

This vital work owes an enormous debt to the maverick freelance aerial photographer Sydney Cotton OBE (1894-1969).

He was passionate about flying and photography. He was a friend of George Eastman, founder of Kodak, who developed one of the first colour films named Dufaycolor which Sidney sold all over Europe.

In doing this, he flew his own Lockheed plane and took lots of photos while flying over Germany.

The results were not good until he modified his cockpit to install a camera mount under the aircraft. This vastly improved the quality of photos.

Shortly before the war he was recruited by MI6 to take clandestine photos of the German military build-up. With three cameras on board, he was able to provide valuable information about German naval and army activity.

His seemingly harmless flight plans were allowed by the German government and, being nonconformist, he flew any route he wished.

He provided proof that photo reconnaissance aircraft had to fly high and fast. He modified two Spitfires for this purpose and his secret reconnaissance flights were absorbed into the RAF shortly after the outbreak of war.

Finer and finer grain film was used to produce high resolution results for the interpreters at Medmenham who were given a grandstand view of what was happening on the ground across occupied Europe.

In 1941 Phyllis Court was requisitioned for the duration to provide a WAAF officer’s mess for the Central Interpretation Unit, as RAF Medmenham was called.

Later, Phyllis Court was used to construct large, detailed models of strategic sites from aerial photographs, thus assisting pilots in planning and locating targets with greater accuracy for bombing.

Raids helped by these models included the Mohne and Eder dams in the Rhur Valley, near Dortmund, commonly referred to as “The Dambuster Raids”.

Hughenden House, near High Wycombe, was also involved in the war effort as a sub-site to Medmenham by undertaking a secret map-making operation. Skilled cartographers produced highly accurate maps from aerial photographs delivered by the RAF’s reconnaissance sorties.

Aldon’s talk was illustrated wothn many photos, a reminder of those dreadful years when so many lives were lost and homes destroyed. A high price was paid for the peace which we now enjoy.

Aldon was warmly thanked by the members for his really informative talk.

He joined us for the usual delicious WI tea, prepared and served by Pam McGow and Carole Ellis

The next meeting is our Christmas party, which will be held at Crazies Hill village hall on Wednesday, December 12 at 12.30pm.

We are delighted to confirm that the children from Crazies Hill Primary School will be entertaining us with their singing and playing of musical instruments.

GREYS

OUR November meeting was, as usual, an opportunity to catch up with each other’s news and enjoy each other’s company but also we were promised one of Doreen’s crochet demonstrations.

Firstly, however, president Val welcomed us and reminded us of Mike Willoughby’s visit in October to tell us about First World War soldiers from Henley and the surrounding villages. He offered to trace one of her ancestors.

Mike called Val the same evening. George was found and said he would request his name be added to the Checkenden War Memorial near his birthplace. Thank you, Mike.

Our birthday girl this month was Alma. Val will deliver her card and gift with our best wishes for a speedy recovery.

The committee suggested we welcome the new year with a lunch party; details to follow.

Merryl is working on our 2019 programme and welcomes ideas from members.

Jennifer drew attention to the choice of National Federation resolutions for next year set out in the current WI Life magazine with a reminder that secretary Janet will need everyone’s choice early in the new year.

We were then treated to a delightful display of Doreen’s work; a table overflowing with gifts for her family, colourful Christmas stockings, toys and baby clothes including a beautiful shawl for the new arrival. Such a talented lady.

We armed ourselves with crochet hooks and wool and tried, with varying degrees of success and much laughter, to emulate her skills.

A delicious tea was served by Millicent and Joy, while members put on their thinking caps to work out answers to Val’s quiz.

Suzanne and Doreen were joint winners of the handmade article competition.

And now an extract from our memory book of nearly 40 years ago — does it ring any bells?

The WI Beatitudes

Blessed are the strong in the arm for they shall put the chairs back

Blessed are they whose heads are bursting with ideas for they shall be put on the programme planning committee

Blessed are the hewers of wood and drawers of water for they shall organise the refreshments

Blessed are they that listen intently. Yes, even with their eyes on the president’s face for they shall be conned into volunteering

Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after knowledge for they shall attend courses at Denman College

Blessed are they who sit quietly, with their eyes directed modestly downward, for they are the majority of WI members.

Our Christmas party will be held in Greys village hall on Wednesday, December 12 at 2.30pm with musical entertainment for us to enjoy. Please bring a plate of food to the festivities.

HAMBLEDEN

WE welcomed 32 members and two visitors to our November meeting, which was also our annual meeting.

Reports were given by our treasurer, secretary and president. To review our year is always a lovely reminder of the fascinating speakers that we have invited to our meetings.

Our full programme of outings and trips included a visit to Blenheim Palace flower show, a tour of Chiltern Valley Wines and a visit to Cutlers Hall in the City of London.

Our programme of workshops included wreath making and wet felting and our ongoing work on our centenary tablecloth.

Our president Jo Martin was voted in and we thanked Niki Mainds for all her incredibly hard work as she retires from the committee. We welcomed two new members on to our committee.

Our Wilson Cup competition this year was won by Louise Andrews who produced a beautiful flower arrangement in a tea cup.

We are looking forward to the next year, which will include our centenary celebrations.

Delicious refreshments were provided by Jeannette Laming, Ann Lazur and Helen Balkwell.

Our next meeting will be our Christmas party on Thursday , December 13.

Hambleden WI has more than 60 members. In addition to our monthly meetings, members are also involved in our drama group, book club, art group and Hambleden Hikers. Groups generally get together once a month.

We welcome new members. For more information or to see our programme for 2019, please visit our website, www.hambleden-wi.org

HARPSDEN

THE November meeting was held at Henley Golf Club and a two-course lunch was enjoyed by 32 members.

Pat Eades cut business to the barest minimum so as not to disturb the chatter among the diners.

The next meeting will be held at Harpsden village hall on December 12 when the entertainment will be “homegrown”. The competition is for a Christmas tree decoration.

Members are reminded to bring a contribution to the Henley Food Bank and to bring a gift for Santa’s basket. The festivities willl start at 2.30pm as usual.

HoT (HENLEY-ON-THAMES)

UNFORTUNATELY, due to a double booking at our hall, we had to action a contingency plan and reconvene at the Catherine Wheel for our November meeting.

This meant we weren’t able to do our Christmas crafts but we all decided that going to the pub was always a good plan B option.

Our secretary Alison welcomed everybody and covered the minutes and any business.

HoT WI marshals helped out at the Remembrance Sunday service in Henley. There was a good turnout by the Henley community for the lovely service and a marvellous fly-past.

Then we all sat back with a glass of wine and enjoyed a lovely evening chatting — a nice calm before the festive storm.

As we don’t have a meeting in December, we wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and look forward to welcoming you back in 2019.

Jenny Mallin will be our guest speaker at the January meeting, talking about her book of Anglo-Indian recipes handed down through five generations.

The meeting will be held at the Sacred Heart Church hall in Walton Avenue, off Vicarage Road, on Friday, January 18 at 7.30pm. Please come along and joins us. For more information, email hotwi@oxfordshirewi.co.uk

MILL GREEN, WARGRAVE

OUR speaker at the meeting on November 7 was Graham Horn with a talk entitled “To the roof of Africa, climbing Kilamanjaro”.

After a warm welcome by our president, Graham explained that Mount Kilamanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa at 19,386ft, five times as high as Ben Nevis.

But “climbing” it is a misnomer as it is in fact the longest walkable mountain in the world.

Graham did the climb in 2002 so all his photographs were in slide form.

Kilamanjaro and its sister mountain Mowenzi are extinct volcanoes. Whereas Kilamanjaro stayed circular after the last eruption, Mowenszi collapsed on one side so the two mountains have completely different shapes.

From Moshi to Mombasa in Kenya, Graham joined 15 other adventurers in the foothills of the mountain which is wholly in Tanzania.

There were some very specific instructions for all the climbers as to how much fluid to drink each day and how to deal with altitude sickness.

They passed through several different climates on the climb, from African plain to tropical, Mediterranean, Northern European and, finally, Arctic with ice fields and snow at the summit.

The habitats and flora and fauna change on the climb, as does the biodiversity.

There were many porters employed for the expedition — tent porters, kitchen porters, cooks and guides who all had their very specific roles and a definite hierarchy.

For Graham’s group they employed 25 porters, making quite a large party.

The porters travelled ahead and set up camp and cooked meals and after the climbers set off the next morning they dismantled everything and usually passed the climbers in the late morning and climbed to the next site to start the process again.

It took four-and-a-half days to climb the mountain and one-and-a-half to come down.

On the third day the party were confronted with the Barranco wall which is very steep climb over which is a valley.

From this valley they made the last assault on the climb nearing 16,000ft. This is the point at which nothing grows.

The last climb was made very slowly, starting at midnight in order to see the sunrise.

The cloud cover builds up very quickly after dawn so in order to view the crater and see spectacular views it is advisable to reach the summit early.

The group reached the summit to great elation and celebration.

The descent was made not to the previous camp but the one further down, so the summit day was a very long one.

After a wonderful experience and the descent, there was a very welcome beer offered and a very emotional farewell to fellow climbers, guides and porters.

Our president Frankie Macmillan represented Mill Green WI at the Remembrance Day service on November 11 and laid a poppy cross at the Lutyens Memorial.

On November 12 some members met to assemble friendship posies to be distributed to those in the community who are ill or housebound.

The next meeting will be our Christmas dinner in the Sansom Room on Wednesday, December 5 at 7.30pm. On January 2 the meeting will be a members’ evening as normal in the Hannen Room.

PEPPARD

THE sunshine streamed in through the windows of the hall for our November meeting when Stephanie Douglas gave us an interesting and informative talk on “The importance of textiles and tapestry”.

An enjoyable tea was provided by Group Four Buddy Group and Ann Holt brought a colourful posy of flowers.

Next month the children from Peppard Primary School will come and sing Christmas carols, which will be followed by seasonal and some surprise entertainment that will involve everyone. We are looking forward to the occasion.

REMENHAM

MEMBERS launched into their seasonal festivities in November with a “Christmas Miscellany”.

The audience also included WI members from other local branches as well as friends and family.

Mike Brook entertained everyone with an eclectic selection of Christmas poems and readings from Shakespeare to Christopher Robin and from many years ago to the present day.

Several members of the audience took part in impromptu pantomime scenes, which was great fun.

During the interval, visitors were treated to a delicious Christmas-themed tea.

The first part of the challenge for the centenary of the Berkshire Federation has been completed and members have been busy knitting.

Well over 100 hats have been completed for the premature babies in the Royal Berkshire Hospital’s maternity unit.

A group of Remenham members will be delivering all these to the hospital.

The outing to Waddesdon Manor was most enjoyable. The trip began under blue skies but by the time of arrival the day had turned misty and very cold.

The lights in the trees and from the Christmas market cabins added to the ethereal Christmas atmosphere.

Free samples of gin, cheese and fudge all went down well as the contents of the cabins were explored and Christmas presents bought.

The tour of the house was a highlight, with beautiful decorations in every room, not to mention the amazing Christmas trees.

The visit ended with the illumination of the outside of the house, accompanied by glorious music. An excellent day!

We still have a talk about the history of Christmas carols by Dr Barbara Hately and our Christmas lunch to look forward to.

If you are interested in joining, please call Daphne Austen on 07919 358979.

ROSEHILL

PRESIDENT Arlene Riley welcomed members and two visitors to our November meeting on a fairly warm but windy afternoon.

She went on to say that the record of the October meeting was available for all to see.

Arlene asked for volunteers for the Green Challenge. More details of this will be given at our January meeting.

Treasurer Judith Sharp said that next year’s subscriptions were due (£42) and she would be issuing envelopes in December to collect these.

She also told us that calendars for 2019 were available for sale.

The birthday buttonholes were then distributed. Happy birthday to all.

Next came the various clubs. The Scrabble group met twice in November while the book club will meet at the beginning of December and Barbara Wood will be on the lookout for a suitable film for the cinema group to see.

Gill Sawyer has kindly offered to take on the assembly of the emergency packs for the accident and emergency department at the Royal Berkshire Hospital. Thank you, Gill.

Brenda Caborn said she was selling bags (£1 each) in aid of Champions to End Loneliness.

Boards were sent round to ask members for festive food contributions for our December meeting.

Next Arlene introduced our speakers, two ladies from the Pangbourne Cheese Shop, one of whom gave a very interesting talk.

During the talk we were able to taste four cheeses, a very creamy brie, a goat’s cheese, a cheddar and a stilton.

Our speaker told us about these cheeses and their provenance. After the tasting we were asked to say which cheese we preferred and the brie was considered the best with the goat’s cheese in fourth.

Thank you, ladies, for a very enjoyable afternoon.

Finally, the usual cup of tea (no biscuits!) before the raffle was drawn.

Arlene closed the meeting and announced our next one would be on December 5 when we would be entertained by Sam Brown’s Ukulele Band — sounds like fun!

We meet on the first Wednesday of the month at St Barnabas’ Church hall, Emmer Green, at 2pm.

SHIPLAKE

PRESIDENT Joan Jolley welcomed members and guests to the meeting on November 21 and spoke about Inspiring Women and Food for Foodbanks.

Two teams from Shiplake had taken part in the quiz night at Didcot at the end of October but, sadly, did not win. (The questions were very difficult!)

There was a reminder about the Christmas lunch on Monday, December 3 and final payments and menu choices were made.

Janet Matthews will be the representative at the National Federation’s annual meeting in Bournemouth next year.

Arrangements and names were announced for the trip to see the Christmas lights at Kew Gardens and the theatre trip to see Guys and Dolls.

Joan thanked all the ladies for their support at the Shiplake war memorial on Remembrance Sunday.

She then said how much she had enjoyed the successful autumn group meeting and said that Penny Noble would be the new group convenor.

Items of interest from News & Views were then discussed, including the visit to the Royal Hospital at Chelsea and the day visit to Denman College.

November is Shipake WI’s birthday month and special entertainment for the members had been planned.

A talented group of six ladies called Tuesday Girls sang pop songs from the Sixties and Seventies, danced and told jokes.

They accompanied themselves with a guitar, a ukulele, a ship’s horn and a tambourine and encouraged the audience to join in the singing. It was all great fun and ended with the members dancing the twist! After the entertainment, members enjoyed an excellent tea.

The winner of the flower of the month competition was Frances Lefebure with a pink rose and the winner of the competition for “A theatre programme” was Brenda Nichol.

The December meeting will be the Christmas party and members were reminded to bring along their contributions for the tea and a gift for Santa’s basket.

More details about Shiplake WI are on the village website. Visitors are always welcome.

SONNING COMMON

NOVEMBER: grey skies and winter on its way. However, our members and visitors turned out in good numbers for the meeting, knowing that they would have a warm welcome together with an informative and entertaining evening.

Jenny Ward, our president, opened the meeting and welcomed everyone.

She talked about the National Federation’s annual meeting in March and said that now was a good time to think about the role of the committee, without which the achievement of having an active WI that offers friendship, education and many forms of interest and enjoyment would not happen.

The committee needs new members. Jenny asked if anyone who would like more information about what it does to speak to her or any member of the committee.

They would also be welcome to attend a committee meeting to see the agenda being discussed, the sharing of ideas and plans for the future being made.

The usual order of our meeting was slightly rearranged and the main business was reported after the speaker.

Alison Bishop welcomed our speaker Alan Brewer whose talk was entitled “Up in the clouds and some fluffy bits”.

Some members were intrigued by the title. Would it be about the weather or birds?

We soon learned that Alan had had a very exciting career. He joined the trade to become a baker and went on to become a master baker.

He then worked for the BBC, catering for staff, guests, celebrities and presenters.

He spent four years working with Fanny Craddock, cooking behind the scenes on her cookery show, which many members would remember.

He then applied for a job at British Overseas Airways Corporation to train as cabin crew. He was accepted and went on to serve 40 years, quickly progressing to senior cabin crew and being awarded the very valued four gold stripes on his jacket cuff.

After one flight when he looked after the young Princess Anne, he obviously made an impression on her and she mentioned him to the Queen.

From then on he was often called upon to be available on flights taking members of the royal family to various official engagements, including the Queen.

He also personally looked after many celebrities, including Elton John, Cliff Richard and Tommy Cooper.

Alan told us many hilarious stories and incidents which had us shaking with laughter.

After his retirement from BOAC, he was not happy with not being useful, so he became a first responder and has been involved in having defibrillators installed in his local area.

He also fund-raises for them and donates his fees from his talks.

His clever wit, charm and storytelling were so enjoyable and we could have listened to him for so much longer than the time available so we hope he will visit us again. He promised us he had many more stories to tell.

The vote of thanks was given by Beverley Porteous and Alan received a rapturous round of applause.

Jenny Ward then thanked Sue Hedges for having the idea of organising a wreath of knitted poppies, knitted by some of our members, in memory of Francis “Fred” Slough, from Sonning Common, who lost his life in the Falklands War just hours before the ceasefire.

The wreath was displayed around his brass memorial plaque in the village hall and was unveiled to a capacity audience at our November village coffee morning.

Guests and one of Fred’s old school pals also attended. The wreath was beautifully made and left us all feeling very proud of this young man.

Sue was thanked and applauded by everyone.

She then reported that she had recently been on a silver clay jewellery course at Denman, her annual treat to herself.

She had made three pieces of jewellery, one she was wearing and two were on display.

Sue praised the tuition and accommodation and said the friendship was warm and welcoming as usual and she highly recommended a visit to Denman.

The flower of the month competition was won by Jenny Ward with Jo Denslow the runner-up.

The competition for an item of travel memorabilia was won by June Fisher. Her entry was a pack of anonymous holiday documents and photos from 1934 which were found in her attic.

The runner-up was Jenny Ward with an embroidered picture and third was Carolyn Goffe with a Kiwi ornament from New Zealand.

After refreshments and the raffle and much talk about our excellent speaker, the evening came to a close and Jenny reminded everyone that our December meeting would be our Christmas party.

SOUTH STOKE

TUESDAY, November 13 marked the 100th anniversary of the formation of South Stoke WI.

Fifty members and guests had come to celebrate this momentous achievement.

Lanterns were lit along the lane and the night-time quiet was broken by the pealing of the church bells. The poignancy of the moment was felt by everyone. In 1919 this small rural village had formed just two days after the armistice.

Now, 100 years later, women were coming together to celebrate and the bells were being rung to mark the occasion. It was a lovely gesture which everyone appreciated.

Jane Probitts, chairman of Oxfordshire Federation, and members from Cleeve-by-Goring, South and North Morton and Woodcote WIs joined us for the evening.

President Rita Mann welcomed everyone to an evening of friendship, fun, food and entertainment.

Dinner was cooked and served by the president and committee and, of course, included many delightful desserts.

Maureen Palmer, a WI member for 52 years, cut the celebration cake, which was made jointly by two committee members.

Commemorative mugs were presented to everyone as a souvenir and to mark the occasion.

The entertainment for the evening was provided by Mike Hurst, a singer songwriter.

He had been a member of the Springfields, whom he joined in 1962.

He gave us a potted history of popular music through the ages. Did you know that the oldest folk song was written in OldeEnglish in Reading by monks in 1258? It was called Summer Is A Comin In and was still being taught in schools as recently as the Fifties.

Mike used songs and anecdotes to demonstrate the different eras and members were encouraged to join in and sing with him.

During the Sixties the Springfields were the most successful group in the country and, of course, got top billing.

They once played with The Beatles who were then only a minor up-and-coming group. As they say, the rest is history.

When The Springfields split up Mike became a record producer and managed stars including Cat Stevens and Showaddywaddy.

Music has been used throughout the ages and means something different to everyone, provoking emotions of every kind, and is loved by all in one format or another.

A very entertaining evening passed in a flash and before we knew it this wonderful occasion was coming to an end.

We now look forward to the next 100 years of South Stoke WI. Long may it prosper and flourish.

STOKE ROW

FOR our November evening meeting we had a super speaker in Erica Cunningham, from the Brambles florists shop in Sonning Common.

Very easy to listen to, she told us something of her life while expertly putting together several arrangements, which were imaginative and contemporary and she kindly donated them to our raffle.

A few of us already knew her as we use her shop frequently for the gifts to our members when they are unable to come to a meeting through ill-health, for example.

We were pleased to see the new chairs in the hall, some of which we had funded while the rest were paid for out of hall funds.

A nice blue and silver colour, they are so much easier to handle than our old heavy ones.

Nine of us supported Checkendon village hall for a quiz night, which included a delicious and healthy (on the whole!) supper.

We did much better in this quiz than in the Oxfordshire Federation’s the month before. That was too difficult, fast or remote for the eight members that went. Still we all enjoyed the social side of both events and that is what matters.

On a cold wet day, we took a coachload of members, husbands and friends up to London for the day.

An interesting and revealing guided tour of the Houses of Parliament came first. Some of us sat in the public gallery in both houses listening to debates, while others went to a couple of nearby museums and the rest crossed the river to the London Eye.

A great day was had by all.

Four members of Sonning Common WI joined us for the trip.

The day we had chosen coincided with protests about Brexit, which were evident outside Parliament.

This coincided with the date that suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst had gone there to protest 100 years ago so it was quite a pertinent day to visit.

We have enjoyed walks and teas as usual, with a lunch at the King William breaking up a long walk, followed later by tea at Stella’s house.

At a previous tea we had a go at hoola-hooping. The swimming, craft and book clubs continue to keep our members amused.

We look forward to our Christmas meeting in December when the Sainsbury Singers will entertain us.

Four of us will be going on the Oxfordshire Federation’s Christmas trip to Norfolk around that time so we are hoping that we do not have snow just yet.

WATLINGTON

OUR speaker for the evening was Robin Stafford-Allen from the Nuclear Fusion Research Centre at Culham, Abingdon. Robin, who is an engineer, gave a wide view of the work done at Culham.

His talk covered complex matters and fascinating facts and figures too detailed to note!

The work at Culham is to find an energy for the world when fossil fuels have been used up or are impossible to recover and reactors are inadequate to supply the world’s needs.

Robin’s talk was received with enthusiasm and Rosemary Lewis thanked him on our behalf.

Five members had a very enjoyable trip to London, using the Oxford Tube and the London buses. Our destination was the Victoria and Albert Museum, which had an exhibition entitled “Fashioned from nature”.

This proved to be most informative and shocking as to what has come from the natural world over the centuries to adorn us.

Our next meeting will be our Christmas celebration on January 9 when Nick Brazil will giving a talk on Namibia. In February we will have the Hearing Dogs for Deaf People here.

We meet at Watlington town hall at 7.30pm and would be delighted to welcome you to the WI. For more information, please call Kath Gomm on (01491) 612939.

WOODCOTE

ANN LARDEN welcomed members to the November meeting and was delighted to announce that Vicki Parker and Raye Roberts had joined our WI.

Celebrating birthdays this month were Evelyn Howes and Betty Thomas.

We had a delicious tea thanks to all those who contributed, including Sally Lambert and Patricia Solomons.

We will meet in January at the community coffee shop to plan our homes and gardens trips for 2019. This will be followed by lunch at the Red Lion.

Our speaker Analiza Jones told us about the production of fibres from various plants grown in the Philippines.

She showed us photos of the hard work that goes into making the beautiful bags which she had brought with her and how creative the people are in the improvisation of tool-making.

Among the winners for an unusual bag or purse were Raye Roberts and Carole Shelley-Allen.

The bloom of the month winners were Carole Shelley-Allen and Shirley Bryant.

In January our speaker Ann Smith will talk about “100 years of Reading shops” and the competition will be for an old photograph of Reading.

Come and join us at the village hall for a 2.30pm start.

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