Tea with the Girls

We had a great time on Thursday at Tea with the Girls. This was planned and organised by Andrea, so she has to take all the credit, she did a great job!

We decorated the hall with pretty bunting, vintage embroidered tablecloths and napkins, flowers, it looked lovely. We had a huge selection of homemade cakes provided by our wonderful members and we served tea and cakes in china cups and saucers, teapots and milk jugs, all very vintage!

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The village hall was pretty full with friends and family, ladies from nearby (or not so nearby!) WI’s, as well as ladies from the surrounding area. We also had two very special guests, Angela and Chris, two of the original Calendar Girls, who came to support Tea with the Girls which was raising  money for Bloodwise. It was wonderful to sit and chat with them…

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…and of course there were plenty of photo opportunities.


For a bit of fun we had also hired a handmade appliqued photobooth from Old Town Belles WI in Swindon, ‘We’re going to need considerably bigger buns’ caused much hilarity and of course we had to get a photo with Angela and Chris!

There was a wonderful atmosphere in the village hall, everyone laughing and chatting, enjoying each others company…and even better, in amongst all that enjoyment £630 was raised for Bloodwise.

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Well done girls 🙂



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Rigby & Peller

slider_sec_6I must, I must improve my bust…but as we discovered at our meeting, a well fitted bra is much more effective (and easier!!) than exercise at improving ones bosom!

Our speaker in July had to pull out at the last minute but Val, our doughty speaker finder, managed to persuade Donna and her colleague from Rigby and Peller in Harrogate to come along. Founded in 1939 by Gita Peller and Bertha Rigby the underwear brand has long been synonymous with luxury and holds a Royal Warrant, providing bespoke underwear to the Queen and other members of the Royal Family. It was a fascinating evening and we heard how important it is to buy underwear which fits properly as in their experience most women are wearing the wrong size. They brought along a wonderful range of delectable underwear which we all fairly drooled over.



In August our speaker will be one of our own members, Andrea Ainley, who is a volunteer and fundraiser for the Open Arms Infant Home in Malawi. It provides love, shelter, food and medical care for Malawi’s abandoned and orphaned babies and Andrea’s been to Malawi many times to help at the home.

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Wentworth Woodhouse


Last week nearly thirty of us had a fantastic day out at Wentworth Woodhouse, near Rotherham. We had an amazing guide, full of character, who really brought the place alive, his knowledge of the history of Wentworth Woodhouse was vast.

Wentworth Woodhouse is actually two separate houses, the oldest house is from the 17th century, when the Earl of Stafford wanted something bigger he just built a whole new house in front in the 1700’s, it was later extended either side with new wings, and another Earl decided he didn’t have enough room so he added an extra floor on top of the whole house!! It now has the longest facade in Europe at 625′ which is about 11′ longer than when it was first built due to mining subsidence!


The interior is fascinating, it is seriously huge, I can see why they have a back marker on guided tours as you could quite easily get lost! The staircase up to the marble floor is beautiful, one of those that is a pleasure to walk up!


The marble hall is classic palladial proportions, 40′ by 40′ by 40′, a perfect cube.

The house is currently open for private tours but is also used a lot for filming by BBC, Bollywood etc.


The house needs a huge amount of work to restore it and it is a seriously big space to find a function for too, it’s fascinating to look around now and it would be great to return as the restoration progresses.

DSC_0025After the house tour we had a tour of the gardens and parkland. We walked via the ‘punchbowl’ which used to be lit by gas as a beacon!


It was great to have the tour outside afterwards as it helped to make sense of the different eras of the house, looking from the outside.


After our tour we took a short coach trip, round the corner, to Wentworth Garden Centre, which is much more than just a ‘garden centre’, but the plants were gorgeous too!! I resisted with difficulty but I want to go back!

We had a lovely lunch and then mooched round  the courtyard shops before exploring the old gardens, they were beautiful, with an original bear pit, a maze planted in 2000…


an original duck house…


and an Italianate sunken garden.


Altogether we had a great day out, looking forward to our next trip 🙂



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John O’Gaunts Castle

Last week our walking group walked from the Sun Inn to John O’Gaunts Castle, we were planning to walk from Fewston reservoir, but closed roads due to resurfacing scuppered those plans! We managed to meet up and decided to start the walk a little bit further on at the Sun Inn.


John O’Gaunts is a ruined Royal hunting lodge at Haverah Park towards Harrogate. It is next to the Beaver Dyke reservoir, it was a lovely walk across fields and down old lanes to the reservoir.


We walked all the way round the reservoir, crossing the old dam, before stopping for lunch next to a ruined farmhouse. We were delighted to see a deer just nearby, but we weren’t quite so keen on the cows!


After our walk we sat outside the Sun Inn with a drink, chatting and enjoying the beautiful mackerel sky.


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We are thinking of having a banner made to hang outside the village hall for a few days before each meeting. Andrea has kindly agreed to put it out on say the Monday and we will take it down at the meeting. The idea is to attract new members both from the village and from those collecting children from school. We still have to check where we would be allowed to hang it, but in the meantime…

I’ve been playing on the Vistaprint website and I’d like feedback on a possible design. The background is a premade Vistaprint one. There are hundreds of designs to choose from. The alternative is to download the WI symbol from the website and try and design our own. I’ve kept wording to a minimum and the website gives a useful point of contact without adding someone’s telephone number.

Any comments, suggestions or ideas on wording or design gratefully received!


Here’s a few other options to give you an idea of what’s available;


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Swinton Park

img_5578-760x260On Tuesday more than a dozen of us took the scenic route over to Swinton Park for lunch. The weather was pretty miserable but it was still a lovely drive through Pateley Bridge, Summerbridge and Grewelthorpe.

Swinton Park was built in the 1700’s by the Danby family but in 1882 it was bought by Samuel Cunliffe-Lister (Owner of Lister Mills in Bradford) and the estate has been with this family since. The actual house was sold in 1980 but the family managed to buy it back in 1998 and started work on turning it into a stunning hotel.19424442_1949758821720027_5087283769960401980_nWe relaxed with a coffee in the lounge when we first arrived, it was lovely to have time to just sit and chat in such elegant surroundings.

Samuels-RestaurantOur lunch was held in Samuel’s Restaurant, a beautiful room with high, decorative ceilings. We had chosen our meal beforehand, I had fresh salmon followed by a lemon tart, it was delicious and went very well with the bottle of dry white wine we shared .20170627_14440420170627_12444120170627_12443520170627_124428After our lunch Mark Cunliffe-Lister, Earl of Swinton, gave an interesting talk on the history of the castle and their plans for the future. As usual there was a raffle, as a WI event would not be complete without a raffle. Whilst we didn’t win the top prize of a day at their new spa, Andrea won a gorgeous plant arrangement.


Another great Federation day out!





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Jam Jars & Tent Pegs

Last year I had a fantastic time at a WI camping weekend called Tea and Tents. It was awesome, 560 ladies from all over the country,lots of crafting and lots of fun, it was a bit like Girl Guide camp with alcohol! It was the 3rd Tea & Tents and it’s almost been a victim of it’s own success, last years tickets sold out in 13 minutes!! More importantly it became pretty stressful for the volunteers who organised it. They decided to take a year off, and from this several other smaller camps have sprung up this year. My friend Donna (from Cookridge Crumpets) and I decided to go to Jam Jars & Tent Pegs…

…it was amazing! It was held in Lytham St Annes though I have to admit I didn’t see anything of Lytham! Our home for the weekend was the Scout campsite. It has great facilities with a big hall and kitchen, activity barn and hot showers (very important!!) Even better, Donna bought a caravan a month before, she very bravely towed it to camp so we could sleep in comfort! There were just over 100 ladies there which was a nice number, you had a chance of getting to know people! Some had come over 200 miles from near the south coast!

20170623_173030On Friday I had booked a workshop on willow basket-making, it started at 1pm and I naively thought we’d be finished by about 4pm, so I was quite surprised when Cassandra, our tutor, said it was booked until 7pm! Luckily we cracked on and most finished around 5 or 6pm.

Cassandra is a great tutor, very patient, she lives in an eco village in Wales where she grows her own organic willow, which she then weaves into beautiful baskets and sculptures, as well as running workshops.She had an amazing range of willows, lots of different colours to add a bit of variety to our baskets. I didn’t realise there were so many shades of willow!


She taught us how to hold the basket handle between our knees whilst we worked on the base and how to (hopefully!) weave it without getting kinks! It was amazing how different all the baskets came out. I was really pleased with mine, it’s my first attempt and it’s a useable basket! I’m thinking of using it to collect eggs from my chickens as it’s just the right size.

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Cassandra has written a post on her blog, Green Living Muse, about the weekend, it’s a lovely description of how she saw it as a non-WI member.


DSC_0003On Saturday morning I joined a decoupage workshop, the glue and tissue paper version, we could make a bottle and a goblet, I didn’t fancy the goblet so I decoupaged a paper fan which we’d been given in our welcome pack, I used a paper napkin with birds on, I stuck them all down and then applied a light coat of clear varnish. It looks really pretty, almost chinese style. I managed to fold it up again once it was fully dry without the varnish cracking. I’m not sure when I’ll use it but it looks pretty! The idea with the bottle is that you pop a short length of Christmas lights inside.


Sunday morning found me teaching silk painting. It’s the second time I’ve run a silk painting workshop and it seemed to go really well. There isn’t time for students to use gutta so I buy gutta printed card insets so everyone can concentrate on the painting instead, mixing and blending the colours and using salt on the wet paint. They did some beautiful cards and a few said they were going to try it at home.


So what did I do the rest of the time (apart from the beach party on the Friday night and the talent show on the Saturday night!) I decided against the clay pigeon shooting, or the wakeboarding, zumba or yoga…

We made a quilt! It was the amazing idea of a lady called Kay, she planned and organised it superbly! Her idea was that we would have a quilt retreat, anyone could pop in and make just one, or several blocks. These would then be stitched together and the quilt raffled. Kay is going to sandwich and quilt the top at home and post it to the lucky winner.

Kay had cut the fabrics before hand, a gorgeous batik square and strips to go around it in lots of different colours. About four or five of us took sewing machines. It was wonderful as ladies who had never quilted before popped in to sew a block, a few were immediately hooked and stayed longer, many just popped by to see how we were doing.By Saturday afternoon 80 blocks were made, we spent ages trying to arrange them so the colours and the density were evenly spread…and even longer trimming them all to the same size! Finally  we started to sew it together.


Kay had an ingenious way of stitching them together, it’s hard to describe but basically we stitched pairs together in a strip of 10, leaving the connecting thread in between. We could then stitch the next row on, again without breaking the threads, and so on until all 80 blocks were stitched together downwards, but also connected across. It was then fairly easy to stitch the strips together, knowing it was all laid out correctly.

By mid-morning on Sunday, the quilt was complete. Doesn’t it look amazing! It was a wonderful project to be apart of.


We had a fantastic weekend, made new friends, caught up with old ones and we’re already looking forward to Jam Jars and Tent Pegs 2019!


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