Thursday, 19 May 2022

WI Roundup

WI Roundup


WE do not normally have a meeting in August but some of our members met up with those from our local group of WIs for a summer picnic in the castle gardens in Wallingford.

The sun shone and we all enjoyed a nice glass of Prosecco with the picnics we had brought and some lovely strawberries and cream.

It was so good to be able to get out and about and this gave us a chance for an informal catch-up on how things have been with our near neighbours.

While trying to be careful, members are eager to return to meeting up regularly and will be pleased to get back into our usual venue as soon as the refurbishment of our parish hall has been completed.

Our next scheduled meeting on September 22 will be another afternoon garden get-together courtesy of one of our members.

To date, no formal programme has been finalised so tea and cake will be the order of the day along with a nice bit of socialising.

If you would like to find out more about Benson WI, please call our secretary on (01491) 837885 or email bensonwi@oxfordshirewi.

Sue Brown


ON Wednesday, August 18 joint presidents Judi Rowlands and Helen Perry welcomed members to our “summer outing”.

It has been the tradition of Cockpole Green WI to have the outing in August. Last year it didn’t happen due to covid-19.

This year the committee decided to support our local pub, the Horns in Crazies Hill, by going there for lunch. Hopefully, next year we will go on an outing in August again.

The lunch was well attended and we had use of the covered area outside. There was a jolly atmosphere and lots of gossip.

We arranged to have a choice of various salad bowls, so were able to cater for all nutritional needs.

We were so very lucky with the weather; it was a comfortable temperature so no sunburn and, best of all, no rain.

The lunch was organised by Helen and Judi together with Sheila Williams, our treasurer.

Unfortunately, Mary Lowe was unable to attend but we wished her a happy 90th birthday anyway.

Sue Griffiths arranged for a small bouquet of flowers to be taken to her after the lunch.

We were so pleased with the service we received at the Horns that we booked our Christmas lunch there.

Fingers crossed we will have a real meeting on September 22 (2.30pm at Crazies Hill village hall).

This is later than usual because the Berkshire Federation conference takes place on the previous Wednesday.

Since it will be Great Big Green Week we are going to recycle by way of a bring and buy sale. Needless to say, there will be the usual delicious tea served by Hilary and Jean.

Very much looking forward to seeing you all again.

Selina Avent


THE tradition of WI members

to take a break from monthly meetings to go on an annual outing goes back to the early days of our organisation.

Before the era of family cars, members would decide where they wanted to go and hire a “chara”, now known as a coach.

A recurring favourite was a boat trip on the Thames.

On August 11, 1932 the then Greys WI secretary wrote “Greys had their annual outing with 18 members and two visitors.

“We met at Hobbs’ boathouse for a trip to Mapledurham in the launch Enchantress and really enchanting the trip proved to be…”

In 2021, after 18 months of lockdown, current members decided that their outing would also be a trip on the river.

We found the Rivertime Boat Trust, a non-profit organisation that takes less able people of all ages for trips on the Thames.

As some of our members are not as nimble on their pins as when they were younger (me included), this sounded ideal.

Lucy Herbert, the head skipper, manages it all, helped by a team of 40 volunteers. So, with Lucy at the helm of Rivertime and with the help of a volunteer called Richard, off we went for a two-hour cruise, through Marsh Lock as far as the St George and Dragon at Wargrave, then back under Henley Bridge and along the regatta course as far as the Henley Business School before returning to the River & Rowing Museum jetty.

The weather was sunny and as Rivertime glided along, we all relaxed and enjoyed the peaceful atmosphere — well, as peaceful as is possible with a group of WI ladies enjoying themselves!

Lucy got us in and out of the lock, Richard produced tea, coffee and biscuits and the sun shone.

As we disembarked, we all agreed that our time on the river had been fantastic.

Many thanks to Lucy and Richard.

Merryl Roberts


PRESIDENT Suzanna Rose welcomed members to the first face-to-face meeting since the spring of 2020.

How wonderful it was to spend the afternoon in a member’s delightful garden among the ripening peaches, apples and plums as well as all the various flowers.

The sunny, warm weather made the occasion even more enjoyable. There were games to keep us occupied. The ever-popular “feely bags” challenged our brains, as did the anagram game where eight letters had been displayed among the greenery for us to decipher the complete word.

Not everyone managed to find all the letters but a guess at what the word could be was very apt for the occasion as it was “Reunited”.

Prizes were handed out before the raffle was drawn.

Tickets were also on sale for the national raffle where the first prize is the handsome sum of £10,000.

The first outing since the covid restrictions were lifted has been arranged for September 28 when we will visit Reading Abbey gardens, accompanied by a guide. The cost is £8 each and the tour will start at 11am.

Our next meeting is our 80th birthday party. We will be returning to Harpsden village hall on Wednesday, September 8 to enjoy Prosecco and a special birthday cake.

We will be welcoming the Mayor of Henley, members of the Beechwood Group and our WI adviser, Janet Kingdon.

The speaker will be Mark Green with a talk entitled “When the bells go down”, telling of his 32 years in the Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service.

The competition will be for “an old recipe”.

Our archives will be on display, including the minutes of the first meeting in September 1941.

We look forward to seeing all our members, especially the four new members who have joined us on Zoom over the past 18 months.

Judith Young


WE had our first meeting back in the Sacred Heart Church hall and played “tiara bingo”.

It was lovely to share a drink and some nibbles at our usual venue and have a fun social evening.

We had some interesting calls and looked up some of the more unusual ones.

In the traditional fashion, the caller calls the number and the players should respond.

Easy with “legs eleven“ and “two little ducks”, snakes alive” (55) and the controversial “two shapely ladies with tiny waists” (88).

Lots of the calls hark back to army slang and it was interesting to hear “was she worth it?”, which related to the price of a marriage licence. Do you know more?

All in all, a successful evening and the opportunity for our new members who have recently joined us to come along and meet us face to face and share stories of our choices of hat.

Nicola Taylor


ON Wednesday, August 4, we gathered together in the serene garden of Jan French who had kindly offered to host our annual garden party.

The weather was perfect and we were able to wander and enjoy the delights of our surroundings before settling down to afternoon tea under a canopy which offered protection from both weather and insects.

Released from covid restrictions at last, we were invited to reflect on the past 18 months and write a short poem, which resulted in much amusement and some interesting thoughts.

We also discussed Great Big Green Week to be held in September when WI members nationally are being encouraged to do more for the environment.

We hope to improve our gardens and surroundings by additional planting and creating havens for wildlife.

Much work and consideration went into the organisation of this lovely event and great credit is due to Jan and those who contributed. It was indeed a glorious afternoon.

Sue Drew


MEMBERS were fortunate enough to share and enjoy a relaxing afternoon in the beautiful garden of our president.

In light of the lovely weather that day, we went ahead and wore our garden party hats and were able to have our customary afternoon tea and catch up with each other’s news.

Our next meeting will be at Peppard war memorial hall on Wednesday, September, 8 from 2pm when Dr Hasler will kindly speak to us about “The golden age of the GP.” Visitors are most welcome.


AT our August meeting, members were delighted to welcome Jane Stubbs.

Following her much acclaimed book Thornfield Hall, Jane gave us a light-hearted and entertaining look at the clothes of 19th century ladies, with particular reference to Mrs Fairfax, the housekeeper of Thornfield Hall.

Overcoming her modesty, Mrs Fairfax (a dummy) was undressed and we learnt the importance of each item of clothing, from corset to apron. Relief was felt by all that we did not live back in those times.

Even the rain pouring down on the gazebos did nothing to spoil the afternoon and a very English and delicious tea was served after the talk and some entertaining games were played.

The proceeds of the games as well as donations received resulted in a cheque for more than £60 being sent to Breast Cancer Now.

There were some beautiful entries in the craft competition, which was won by Anne Francis with her delightful Christmas tree hanger.

A small group met for a craft and chatter morning where knitting and sewing needles could just be heard above the chatter.

The book club was able to meet on a glorious sunny afternoon to discuss their latest book, American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins.

This told the gripping story a Mexican woman who had to leave behind her life and all she knew to escape to America as an undocumented immigrant with her son. Everyone agreed that it was a fascinating read.

Our next meeting will be on September 13. If you would like to come along, please call Daphne on 07919 358979.

Daphne Austen


WELL, here we were at last actually meeting in person for our first get-together since lockdown.

It was a great delight to see so many members present and all seemed remarkably normal.

We didn’t have a formal meeting, just really a gathering of members.

Our president Arlene Riley welcomed everyone and gave out a few announcements about various clubs.

Barbara Wood will continue with the book club and also arrange any visits to the cinema when suitable films are available.

Nothing was decided about Scrabble, so this will be discussed at a later date.

Arlene also mentioned the boat trip with a cream tea that took place in July (having been postponed).

It was a lovely afternoon, which was nice and sunny but not too hot.

We sailed from Caversham as far as Mapledurham Lock and back, having tea served on the way.

Everyone enjoyed themselves and hoped it would be the start of things returning to normal.

The rest of the afternoon was spent chatting among ourselves, during which time tea was served with a lovely selection of homemade cakes. Thanks to those who did the baking.

After tea the raffle was called before Arlene brought proceedings to a close, telling us that the next meeting would be on September 1.

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

Jean Hewitt


AUGUST is our holiday month, but outings secretary Sue Lines likes us all to stay in touch by arranging local outings.

For our latest she took us to the Fairmile Vineyard in Henley. Jan and Anthea Mirkowski own and run the three-hectare site, which is south-facing and very steep-sided, so they can produce wines similar to those from the Champagne region of northern France.

The couple grow three grape varieties, pinot noir, pinot meunier and Chardonnay, which makes two sparkling wines.

Jan took us up to the top of the vineyard, which was a steep climb but provided a wonderful view.

He explained how modern GPS systems were used to plant 12,000 rootstocks and how the vines are tended and harvested.

It was interesting to find out more about the cultivation of the vines themselves rather than just the wine production.

On our return to level ground, Anthea gave us a tasting of the rosé and the classic cuvée. They really were very, very nice.

We then had a good picnic, supplied by local caterers Chocolate Strawberry.

Jan and Anthea were very welcoming, knowledgeable and very good hosts. The vineyard is certainly well worth a visit.

Thank you, Sue. We look forward to our visit to Nettlebed Creamery.


OUR summer activities are continuing.

To accommodate all our members, a second garden party was held and once again hosted by member Noreen.

The weather on the day was perfect and members admired Noreen’s magnificent and colourful hanging baskets and her enormous agapanthus.

It was great to see each other and catch up on each other’s news.

Noreen and her helpers served delicious refreshments and we were thoroughly spoilt.

On behalf of all the members who had attended both occasions, president Sue Frayling-Cork thanked our hosts, Noreen and David, and their helpers for arranging such enjoyable parties.

Noreen and David were presented with a cup.

The darts garden group and Tuesday morning walkers continue to meet in the fresh air.

In Marion’s garden other members have enjoyed practising floral art.

The craft group will commence meetings in the village hall on September 9. The group will be busy knitting red poppies to renew the remembrance wreath which will be hung in the hall on Remembrance Day, Sunday, November 14.

On September 16 we will be back at Sonning Common village hall. It will be great to meet up in person and not on Zoom.

The speaker at the meeting will be Jeff Rozelaar, with a talk entitled “Bagels and bacon”, an autobiographical account of growing up in the post-war East End.

For enquiries, call Carol on 0118 972 3891.

Sue Hedges


THE first monthly meeting since March last year took place on Tuesday, August 10 in the village hall.

About 20 members gathered for a fun afternoon.

The delighted committee and members were cautiously optimistic that normal life was at last beginning to return.

Precautions were in place in the hall and tables were spread out around the room.

Our speaker had to cancel at the last minute as he was going into hospital for an operation. Luckily, he has been re-booked for later (he’s an old favourite).

Instead, we had a social afternoon with a Scrabble tournament followed by afternoon tea. Prizes were awarded to the winner on each table, although I do feel that those of us who came last (and I was one of those) deserve some acclaim for trying.

Why does the brain freeze when you need it most? I am putting it down to lockdown fatigue.

Just being able to come together as a group to chat and laugh has been something so many of us have been missing and it is essential that we look after and encourage those who have lost their confidence.

Small steps into our new freedom are what we need now so we can safely get our lives back on track.

The WI has always been a mainstay in village life, offering friendship and companionship to women in this country for more than 100 years.

Our membership needs it now more than ever before.

You are welcome to come to our meetings and, as they say, try before you buy.

Meetings take place on the second Tuesday of the month in the village hall at 2.15pm. The next one will be September 14. Hope to see you there.

Margaret Boorne


IN August, WI groups traditionally take a summer break and do not hold a meeting but for many years one of our members has organised a fun day out for members and their partners instead.

This is often a visit to a local place of interest, lunch at a pub, a walk and sometimes afternoon tea.

This year we visited English Farm, near Stoke Row, where our hosts, Julia and Sam, showed us around and told to us about their herd of longhorn cattle.

The cattle are organically raised and are fed entirely on grass and hay, staying outside virtually all year round.

We walked across the fields to view the cattle grazing in a dip in one of the meadows.

We noticed that, unusually, the herd consisted of cows with calves of different ages. Julia explained that they do not separate calves from their mothers until they are three years old when their meat is at its optimum for the consumer and they are then sent for slaughter.

A pregnant cow could then have her one- and two- year-old calves with her all living together in family groups, which makes for a much less stressful life for all the cattle.

The farm has a resident butcher so after slaughter the carcasses are returned to the farm where the meat is aged and then prepared for sale.

We had the opportunity to buy direct from the farm and many of us made purchases from the array of meat available, ranging from burgers to roasting joints.

We then enjoyed a picnic lunch in the picturesque surroundings of the farm and caught up with all the news from friends we hadn’t seen in a while.

After lunch we met the blacksmith David and his colleague Matt and were shown round the forge in one of the farm buildings.

David talked to us about the different roles a blacksmith could play and how these have changed over the years.

Demand has increased over recent years and while David has made bespoke pieces for historical buildings and the rich and famous, he is still willing to take on small jobs such as mending door handles and window catches.

We were treated to demonstrations of the different techniques they use, such as flattening the metal to form decorative leaves, bending metal to form the curves in wrought ironwork and twisting, shaping and punching holes, all accompanied by David’s anecdotes.

It was really interesting and entertaining to learn about blacksmithing, a traditional craft that hasn’t changed over hundreds of years.

We hope to be back in Stoke Row village hall for our September meeting when our speaker will be Emma Hamer, from the National Farmers’ Union, with a talk entitled “Let’s connect with our food”.

If you are interested in what we do, call our secretary Pam on (01491) 681723 or email her on

You also are most welcome to visit us.

Denise Stanworth


AFTER a year-and-a-half, we were able to have our first meeting in the Methodist School Room.

We welcomed new and old members to this afternoon meeting.

Our speaker was Shelia Smith, who showed us many examples of all the crafts she has been involved with since 1995. She has done a City & Guilds in embroidery and design and showed us wall hangings, examples of gold stitch, a very special umbrella that she had designed and embroidered, quilting, quilling and machine stitching.

It was a very engrossing and amazing display of talent.

As we served tea or coffee, the noise level in the room rose considerably. Stephanie Craddock had made us some delicious cakes to enjoy. The teas were served to our members with due covid caution.

One of our members, Margaret Mills, was 93 in August, so she was presented with the birthday posy.

If you are interested in joining our WI, please call Dawn Matthews on (01491) 612023.

Dawn Matthews


IN August nearly half the membership gathered together for a walk and pub lunch, a leisurely affair for all concerned.

Two weeks later. we enjoyed our monthly get-together, this time by Whitchurch cricket pavilion.

Despite the mixed weather this year, we acknowledged that we had managed to meet outdoors each month without getting more than light rain on one occasion — not bad going.

As things stand, we are looking to restart our monthly meetings indoors in Goring Heath parish hall from October. We can’t rely on dry and mild weather for ever.

At our last meeting a presentation of birthday flowers was made to two of our members while a third member won the raffle.

The flower of the month prize went to a first time winner and our president Frances was presented with her prize for the best sunflowers. A busy meeting.

Plans continue to develop for our forthcoming contribution to the Great Big Green Week in September.

Members are being asked to wear a preloved item or two to September’s meeting, the older the better.

This will compliment the recycle/upcycle theme for the morning and the distribution of wildflower seeds to each member.

Prior to our gathering on the September 21, volunteers will carry out a litter collection in Whitchurch Hill on September 18.

If anyone fancies joining us, or would like to know more, please call Frances on 0118 984 2162.

Sally Bergmann

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