Yearly Archives: 2014

Hot Topics November 2014

Agnes, our President welcomed 80 members (including 1 new one) and 1 guest to the meeting. During our normal WI business, 2 members were successful in the draw for our 2014/15 Bursary for Denman College. We hope they enjoy their time at Denman. Members chose as our Charities of the Year 2015: Linden Lodge’s Acorn Family Centre Appeal and Macmillan Cancer Support (Merton). Members were very generous with donations to the Wimbledon Food Bank, and with Christmas gifts, as well as blankets knitted by members of our Craft Club, to be delivered to our Charity of the Year 2014 Merton & Morden Guild A member who had recently been at Denman (courtesy of a Surrey Federation Bursary) was wearing examples of some of the jewelry she had made and recommended Denman to members. Congratulations to our Craft ladies had raised £535 to donate to the British Legion from the splendid poppies they had created. The Pottery Workshop had been a successful and fun event. We hope to see examples of the creations at our December meeting. Members expressed concern about the future of adult education in Merton and decided to sign a petition expressing their concerns.

Annual Meeting

At our Annual Meeting members ratified our new Wimbledon WI Constitution & Rules: the President and the Secretary subsequently signed these. Chris, our Treasurer presented our WI Financial Statement for the year to end September 2014, which was adopted by members. Ann, our Secretary presented the Committee’s Report for 2013/14, which was adopted by members. Agnes, our President, addressed the meeting for the final time before she stood down from that post and the Committee. She thanked named individuals on the Committee for all the work and planning that goes into providing such a varied programme of events. Agnes also thanked by name members who helped organize our various WI clubs/groups, as well as the organizer of our stall at Wimbledon Village Fair and the member who had found us premises to use for the Fair preparations. We gave Agnes a rose called “Happy Retirement” and Jennifer (who was also standing down) a bunch of flowers and thanked them for their work.

Remembrance Sunday 2014

Commemorating World War I: a first for Wimbledon WI and for me

A big thank you to Wimbledon WI for the new experiences and memories they have given me this year.

At our July meeting, we had a talk about London in World War I, which led me to research a vague memory of something my mother had told me before she died. I found a photograph of her Uncle Fergus (2nd Lieutenant James Ferguson Hickson) who, researches revealed, died on the 1st day of the Battle of Passchendaele on 31 July 1917. This led me to attend two days of courses at London’s City Lit about women in World War I, as well as visits to the National Archives to find out more about Great Uncle Fergus, and onto two visits to the display of ceramic poppies at the Tower of London “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red”.   Amazing and thought provoking to think that each of the 888,246 poppies there represents each British and the Commonwealth person who had died during the 1st World War. And we must not forget the enormous losses suffered by the deaths of people from other countries.

My new experiences did not end there. Several members of our WI had been making some wonderful poppies to raise funds for the British Legion. It was decided that for the first time in our existence, we would create a wreath from some of those poppies to be placed at Wimbledon War Memorial on Remembrance Sunday.

We met before 10am in Belvedere Grove for the parade through Wimbledon High Street and onto the War Memorial. A very moving, and poignant, service was held, followed by the organizations represented laying their wreaths. I had the great honour of being asked to lay Wimbledon WI’s wreath. I am not normally an emotional person but, as I walked up with our WI’s wreath to the War Memorial, I felt shivers running down my spine, as I thought with some considerable poignancy not only of Great Uncle Fergus but also of all the others who had lost their lives in that terrible war. I had not previously attended a parade or service on Remembrance Sunday.

Thank you for encouraging me to learn more about my family’s history involvement in World War I, for encouraging me at the grand old age of 63 to finally pay my formal respects to those who died in both World Wars, and asking me to lay the wreath on behalf of our WI.


Hot Topics October 2014

PA200004Agnes, our President, welcomed 84 members (including 3 new ones) and 3 guests to our 6th Birthday meeting.  The main event was a magnificent display of predominantly British cheeses and some delicious tasting organized by Rupert & Mario of the London Cheese Board company.  By participating in an informative fun quiz, we learnt about cheddar aging, that there were well over 700 (some say over a 1,000) different British cheeses, and which country consumes the most cheese/person/year.  In addition, the book sale raised £71 for our WI – thanks to our Book Club members for organising this.  We could apply for a Wimbledon WI Bursary for Denman College (draw at our November meeting).  Charity of the Year 2015 – explanations about the nominations were given by Louise (Acorn Family Centre Appeal – Linden Lodge Charitable Trust), Diana (First Touch supporting babies at St George’s), and Ann (Macmillan Cancer Support Merton) – members voted for their preference.  After the voting figures have been double-checked, the final results of the vote will be announced at our November meeting.


Hot Topics September 2014

Agnes, our President, welcomed 76 members and 8 guests to the meeting at which the main event was Jan Young on Art Appreciation.  We were asked to focus on two questions – What do I see and what do I make of what I see?  Using these two questions as a guide, Jan enthused us with an extremely interesting session that encouraged much audience participation.  We studied some of London’s National Gallery paintings:

Turner’s The Fighting Temeraire, Van Dyck’s Equestrian Portrait of Charles I, Drouais’ Madame de Pompadour at her Tambour Frame, Van Gogh’s Chair, Rubens’ The Judgement of Paris, Cuyp’s River Landscape with Horseman and Peasants, and Van Huysum’s Flowers in a Terracotta Vase
Amongst other things, we looked at and discussed the symbolism in some of the paintings, the messages the artist was intending to convey and how these were embodied in the works.  We were encouraged to visit the National Gallery and look at the paintings using our newfound knowledge.

Wimbledon Village Fair 2014

From the application date in February this event takes five months in the planning. Our stall is our main fund raising event of the year and is important as funds raised go towards the hiring of our hall, paying for speakers, etc.  Other fund raising events (e.g. bring and buy, raffle and plant sales) raise funds towards your chosen charity – this year it is Merton & Morden Guild.

The day of the Village Fair was a beautiful sunny day throughout, to such an extent none of the visitors wished to go home and we were selling our last few preserves until 5.15pm.
The drama of the winds last year was strangely missed but this year we all had more time to chat and enjoy the experience.

The WI produce looked very professional, so many people commented on our stall. We had an excellent position this year as requested.  Our stall was on the path leading to Cannizaro Road which means we had a good chance of being seen as people arrived, and better still customers were reminded to buy on their way out. We were near the Farmers Market which turned out to be to our advantage as our prices were very competitive.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who helped make our WI Stall not only successful but most enjoyable for all of us who took part.

Thank you to the COMMITTEE who helped me so much in co-ordinating our stall and for tolerating all my emails and attachments throughout the process.

A very special thank you to Angela who so generously offered the use of her equipment and arranged the use of Lower Hall Sacred Heart. Edge Hill. These premises enabled us to have a drop off center prior to the packaging that takes place throughout the Friday before the Fair.

Thank you to the Friday team who worked from 10am to 5pm packing and labelling all your lovely produce, and to Dulcie and Gillian who did an excellent job labelling an even larger selection this year of your preserves.  And also to Val and Phil Barnes for providing the transport.

Finally a big thank you to all the wonderful ladies on the Stall Volunteers Rota List for the day, and to all who contributed with cakes, biscuits, and preserves. – I have had some lovely emails from you.

Many more of you provided produce this year for which we are so grateful and if we have reached our target of £1000 profit on our 6th year at the Fair – all credit will go to the ladies of the WIMBLEDON WI.

Thank you everyone and put in your Dairies that the 2015 that Village Fair next year will be on Saturday 29th June.

Veronica Smith.
Wimbledon WI Stall Co – Ordinator

The House of Commons

We all met outside the entrance to the House of Ccommons and went through the security clearance. Siobhan met us in the great Westminster Hall where she told us all about the great occasions that the hall had hosted as well as the famous people who had laid in state there. Then we all went down to the broom cupboard! Of course this was no ordinary broom cupboard but the one in which the suffragette Emily Wilding Davison hid on the night of the 1911 census.
Siobhan was very knowledgeable about the House of Commons and took us through the whole procedure of the Queens role in the opening of parliament and told us one or two stories about how previous monarchs had treated some of  the MPs and speakers of the House.
She took us to the lobby rooms and explained how the system of voting works when the MP’s are required to attend and have to walk through either the Yea or Nay door and be counted and woe betide them if they are not present!
It was a very enjoyable and informative visit and Siobhan was a terrific host.  Some of us finished the tour with a bit to eat in the Jubilee Cafe.

Hot Topics July 2014

Agnes, our President, welcomed 65 members and 9 guests to our meeting when the main event was a talk by David Evans about London in World War I.  He told us about air raids, food supplies, women at work and entertainment, followed by a question and answer session.  In conjunction with that talk, we had a display of some photographs and related material about women and World War I. 
We raised funds for Tweak a Twenty by selling Trench Cake (made by our Secretary Ann to a World War I recipe) as a dedication to the fallen of that War, and in remembrance of her Great Uncle Fergus who died from his wounds on the first day of the Battle of Passchendaele.  Agnes raised funds for Tweak a Twenty by selling Verbena Bonariensis cuttings from her garden.  Thank you all for helping to raise these funds through your purchases on the night, and to Jenny for her excellent selling technique!

Ann read out some highlights from the NFWI Annual Meeting report sent to us by our delegate, Barbara from New Malden WI.  A copy of Barbara’s very full and interesting report was on the Notice Board. 

Delightful Denman

Monday morning, and I am just back from a womb enveloping experience at Denman College, thanks to a WI Bursary won back in November last year.  This “gift” came at just the right time in my life, my dear old Dad, aged 90 had been taken ill where he lived in Spain and died in the middle of December.  I had been out staying with him as he recovered from a pacemaker operation and all had been going well, enough for me to return to England to prepare for Christmas when he would have been flying home to stay with us for a couple of weeks.  Alas, I had not been home long before he suddenly took a turn for the worse and died peacefully after a very long and extremely well lived life.

I decided to do the Flowers in the Home course tutored by Christine Pearce, an exhibitor at the Chelsea Flower Show and holder of a Gold Medal at the RHS Malvern Flower Show.  I fall into the supermarket bunched flowers kind of person category.  A fairly cheap bouquet will often find its way into my trolley during the weekly shop, to be opened (stalks trimmed and flower food added as per instructions on cellophane) and plonked into jug filled to the brim with fresh water – then ignored until flowers fall over, bad smell is overpowering or a new bunch enters house.  After meeting the other 12 participants on course 134.10755 in the Denman Brochure, I know I am not alone in this flower arranging technique.

We arrived on Friday afternoon at around 5.00pm.  I say we, as my husband, Phil came too and had been booked onto “Men in the Kitchen” run by Jill Brand.  Welcomed by the WI host, we were shown up to our room;  the enormous Northumberland bedroom had an ensuite, three working sash windows overlooking the croquet lawn, two comfortable chairs, a wardrobe out of Narnia, desk, chest of drawers, twin beds, power shower, tea making facilities and a selection of books about the region all bathed in late afternoon sun – just heaven.  Tea, a piece of cake and a timetable of our respective classes awaited us on the terrace and our first appointment was a welcome talk from Jane Dixon, head of Denman College at 6pm.  Three course supper was at 6.45 and our first class was at 8.15pm.  Did I mention the bar opened at 6pm too?  We were obviously going to be busy.

As well as our course, Denman last weekend was offering “Telling Stories in Photographs”, “William Morris and the Arts and Crafts Movement” and “Patchwork an Origami Cushion”.  There were also ten Federation ladies on a refresher course struggling with the intricacies of Power Point.  Denman was busy, but the air of sleepy calm in the Georgian House belied this.  There was time for you to be welcomed individually,  your name was learnt, your progress was asked after, praise for your endeavours liberal and your wellbeing was their priority.

Over the next two days, I learnt about conditioning flowers when either picked from the garden or in the ubiquitous Tesco bunch. The importance of foliage, colour combinations for pleasing the eye.  The evil smell is botrytis and can be avoided by removing all foliage that would sit under the water in a vase and by not filling the container right up to the top with water.  Flowers can only “drink” the water from the bottom of the stalk and need only a few inches of water to sit in and this should be topped up daily and replaced completely every couple of days.  The arrangements we made had been demonstrated first of all by Chris, who then circulated and gave individual attention as we tried to copy her fabulous displays.  At the end of the weekend, we all had wonderful formal table displays, hand tied bouquets, simple dinner table designs and a very glamorous door thing-me-jig, suitable for a church, wedding or special occasion to take home.

I haven’t mentioned the laughter, stories and giggles that also went on in class.  The breaks for coffee and shortbread in the morning, and the welcome cup of tea and cake at 4.00pm.  The cooked breakfast, the buffet lunch and three course dinner meant that Jane Dixon’s words of abandoning your diet when you enter the gates of Denman were only too true.

Phil too had a good time, the six other chaps on his course all had different reasons for being there, but all tackled the cooking with gusto and wonderful smells drifted out of the teaching kitchen round the corner from the studio where we were immersed in flowers and greenery.  He made bread, pastry for his baked cheese cake tart, a complete roast dinner, chilli, lamb burgers, stir fry and rock cakes and watched numerous demonstrations on soup, lasagne and cottage pie.  He came home with a tailor made cook book of his achievements as well as Tupperware boxes full of goodies.

The WI can be so very proud of Denman College, my weekend was a joy from start to finish.  I have learnt a new skill, albeit that Chris said to me in the phrase used by Bruce Forsyth on Strictly Come Dancing – that I was her favourite when everyone else got gold and silver gilts.  Phil has a very smart black WI apron and a lot more confidence in the kitchen.  We have laughed, made friends from around the country and been thoroughly spoilt by the Denman staff.  We left all our problems at the gate of the college and do you know what this Monday morning – I’m not inclined to pick them up.


Hot Topics June 2014

16 June 2014
Agnes, our President, welcomed 89 members and 8 gueststo our meeting when the main event was a talk by Pam Goodall.  She told us about her journey around the world on a bicycle, which led her to writing her book “Riding it Out”.  Pam started her journey one spring morning in 2000 from her home in West Sussex, and went on to pedal her way through 22 countries in Europe, Asia and America.  She was approaching her sixtieth birthday and travelled alone.  Pam entertained us with a lighthearted account of her journey, including the extraordinary kindness of strangers (both individuals and families) she met along the way.

Hot Topics May 2014

19 May 2014
photo of Kathryn and cabbages and kingsThe meeting was presented by Vice Presidents Joanna and Fiona who welcomed 77 members, 3 new members and 10 guests. Our speaker was Kathryn Austin who demonstrated some fantastic flower arrangements on the themes of sugar and spice, oranges and lemons, cabbages and kings and apples and pears. Kathryn then drew raffle tickets so that members could take home one of her beautiful arrangements.

  • We asked for ideas for the Surrey federation “Tweak a Twenty” – we had some good suggestions including buying a bottle of champagne and selling raffle tickets and buying ingredients to make flapjack to sell. If you have any more ideas please email us and we will try to make a decision at the next committee meeting.
  • We asked if anyone is interested in Siobhain McDonagh tour of Houses of Parliament – a show of hands was almost unanimous, so watch this space for details! We will have sign up sheets at the next meeting.
  • We also asked if anyone was interested in a Saturday event in August at the hall – again the response was positive.
  • Thank you to everyone who bought and sold at the plant sale we made £125.

We voted on the organ donation resolution, the adoption of the NFWI Report and Accounts, and whether our members agree to give our delegate discretion on how to use our votes – they were all yes votes.