Read the reports below to see some of the activities we have been getting up to!
We were aware from a previous talk by Amanda Sutherland of her creative designing and making skills, some of which have a recycling theme; she fashions beautiful pendants and brooches from soft drink cans while her stylish neck pieces, cravats, turbans and money belts incorporate men's ties and fake fur. On this occasion she took us on a fascinating journey through the changing trends in women's fashions from the 1800s right through to 1950s. Amanda illustrated her talk using a rail of original garments and accessories and her encyclopaedic knowledge of fabrics, designs and fashion history were testament to her years in film, opera and theatrical costume design and as a costumier and bridal designer. She highlighted the importance of what women wore under their clothing from pads worn to mask the natural curve of the spine under the ‘straight up and down', Empire line dresses of the 1800s to the tight corsets, panniers, petticoats and padded hip rolls in use by the 1840s as the waist ‘descended' to become emphasised and skirts increased in fullness.
The 1800s inspired Amanda's own wedding dress, which she designed and made herself. This she had displayed on a mannequin - a gorgeous creation in honey coloured silk with a sumptuous ruched skirt over hooped and layered petticoats, a bustle back, a swirled train and halter necked corset bodice. Ever practical, Amanda had fashioned the train so it could be hooked up for dancing at the reception and the halter was detachable also.
The voluminous Victorian skirts gave way in the 1900s to skirts so tight that ladies could barely walk. However the 1920s saw a fashion revolution with waists dropping and beautiful fine fabrics being used over underwear that masked and flattened the body's natural curves. The 1920s all- in- one knitted swimsuit made us chuckle. It must have ‘bagged' horribly when wet- no Lycra then! Luxury fabrics in stunning colours, the use of lace, applique and embroidery were natural casualties of war time and the 1940s and ‘make do and mend' became essential. Amanda had examples of the bright turbans, pillbox hats and veiling that women used to dress up their drab utility clothing. She finished by focusing on Dior's ‘New Look' of the 1950s with its nipped in waists and brightly coloured voluminous skirts worn over bouffant petticoats, all of which were reminiscent of the dresses of the mid - 1800s.
Ever resourceful, our President, Lynne Webb and a founder member of Hartest WI, Jo Pask, stepped in when our summer programme had to be adjusted in July. Both ladies are trained midwives and kept members fascinated and amused as they recounted highlights from their midwifery training and their experiences in hospitals and the community once they had qualified.
They recalled the days when it was essential that a midwife knew the whereabouts of every phone box and always had a purse full of pennies with which to make calls -mobile phones were unheard of. Likewise, getting to and from a birth meant cycling there (as made famous by the cast of ‘Call the midwife'), catching a bus or hitching ride on a farm tractor. It was some considerable time before Lynne was able to drive to and from her clients in her trusty Morris Minor.
Both Jo and Lynne witnessed significant affluence where they worked as well as abject poverty, both in England and abroad. Their experiences had been challenging and exciting but also disturbing. In a hostel in Sydney Australia, Jo had delivered the babies of girls who came in from the bush. The girls then returned to the bush, leaving their babies behind to be adopted.
Lynne talked about a number of animal encounters that made everyone chuckle. Having delivered a baby she went to make a cup of tea in the kitchen and found baby Chinese Water Snakes crawling everywhere; on another occasion a mother's Dalmatian dog had given birth to 8 puppies which were capering around the kitchen and in the terraced houses of Middlesbrough she often found rabbits in the bed, which were being kept to supplement the family diet.
May and June 2017
Our May meeting incorporated elements of serious business and light - hearted social time. This the month when our Annual Meeting is held, the previous year is reviewed and officers and a committee for the next 12 months are decided. The current President, Secretary and Treasurer remain in office and the committee as well, despite pleas for new committee members on a full, trial or P/T basis. The serious bit over, we indulged in slightly alcoholic ‘cocktails', savoury nibbles and divulged ‘confessions' (a la Simon Mayo). There weren't that many forthcoming, but there were some that must remain for WI ears only!
On a very blustery, warm June day, 17 members travelled to Monks Eleigh to watch a display by raptors from the Lavenham Falconry. The birds' handler, Steve, introduced us first to Gadget, a delightful female barn owl, who had been raised from a chick. Her flight was silent and graceful as she sailed from his gauntlet to the three perches positioned around the meadow. Gadget called constantly, responding by returning to his glove when a morsel of raw chicken appeared between her handler's fingers. Barn owls suffer significantly from loss of habitat, poisoning, flying into moving vehicles and power lines and long spells of wet weather. Their silent flight is assured by having no waterproofing on their feathers; once they get wet, they cannot fly and catch prey, so they and their chicks starve.
The second ‘star' of the show was Treacle, a female Harris hawk who was elegant, seemingly haughty but actually very placid and affectionate. Her name was apt with glossy dark brown plumage, chestnut shoulders and wing linings and white tipped tail. Much larger than the owl, and native to SW USA, Harris hawks are unique amongst raptors as they hunt in family groups to catch larger prey than would otherwise be possible. Whilst majestic in her swooping flight, Treacle was quite happy on the ground too, walking by our feet and then sitting patiently on Steve's gauntlet as members gently stroked her soft feathers.
Which activity requires you to spend 11 months away from your family, much of that time cold, soaked to the skin, sleep - deprived, exhausted, unable to shower or wash your hair for stretches of 5 weeks or more and costs you £50,000? Bridget Keevil gave us the answer in her amusingly illustrated and self - deprecating talk, The Fat Bird and The Boat. She introduced herself as a tubby, middle aged, unfit travel agent who had seen a poster asking “Are you ready for the race of your life?” and had replied an emphatic “Yes, piece of cake!” without even knowing what sort of race it was.
Starting at St Catherine's Dock in London, this was a race around the world for people who had never sailed. Each tiny 70ft boat was crewed by 20 novices with just 4 weeks basic training and one experienced skipper. All the bunks on board were ‘hot bunks', i.e. there were only 10 and they had to be shared, each crew member being locked into a constant 4 hours on watch and 4 hours off regime, with no rest days.
Bridget encountered phenomena that terrified her such as tornado - like water spouts which pitched the boat up and dashed it down elsewhere and walls of water created by tremendous storms. Equally there were experiences that amazed, like the school of whales that breached constantly around the boat as it sailed into Cape Town.
Tenacious, plucky, resourceful and surprisingly competent (especially in keeping the crew fed!), Bridget left us in awe of what she had endured (including a badly cut cheek and a broken arm), been challenged by and achieved.
January / February 2017
2017 has started off really well with two most enjoyable meetings. We made sure that the cold weather, bills and post - Christmas lull of January were well and truly forgotten as we settled down to watch the Alan Bennett ‘classic' film, The Lady in the Van, accompanied by plates of hot sausage rolls, assorted savoury nibbles and glasses of Buck's Fizz. Perhaps the seating wasn't as stylish as the Abbeygate Cinema, but that establishment doesn't offer unlimited savouries and drinks at a screening or a seat guaranteed to be next to a good friend from the WI.
February's meeting was very different but equally entertaining. Jacqui Curtis, a holistic therapist and herself a WI member, focused on the use of essential oils and massage. With humour and wit Jacqui talked through the uses of a range of therapeutic oils - neroli, jasmine, rosemary, lavender, ginger, chamomile, tea tree, rose and eucalyptus, while samples, as oils or creams, were circulated to smell and rub on the skin. She demonstrated how to massage the hands of a recipient with their preferred oil and how to relieve tension and stiffness in the neck and shoulders using forearm massage. The session then became truly interactive as members practised on one another's hands and shoulders and tried out Jacqui's ‘toys' for massaging the scalp and back. The hall was filled with enthusiastic chatter, laughter and a delightful cocktail of natural aromas.
With the party season beginning, WI members were not going to be without their share of festive fun. The December meeting was titled ‘Fun, Fizz and Fish 'n Chips' and the fun element was provided by Hilary Foreman and her team, Sue Lewis, Mo Rocknean and Val Seal. They arranged members in teams and each team worked together on a carousel of timed party games which tested everyone's patience, skill and ingenuity. It was great fun trying to beat the clock transferring dried peas from one bowl to another using drinking straws, making mini crosswords using just 12 Scrabble tiles and trying to create the longest length possible of multi-coloured paper chains.
A familiar and delicious aroma heralded the arrival of a fish and chip supper and members sat down to huge portions of crisply battered fish, piles of chips and bread and butter. Everyone enjoyed glasses of Buck's Fizz and put their knives and forks down temporarily to pull crackers, read the corny jokes and put on their paper hats. A hot cup of tea or coffee and homemade mince pies completed the meal.
Members were full of praise for this very different Christmas meeting and relished playing party games as well as having the opportunity to catch up with friends over a delicious meal and a glass or two of something fizzy.
Why not come along and sample a WI meeting? There is no obligation to join, simply enjoy some social time with our friendly members. Want to find out more? Please contact the Secretary, Liz Depper, 01284 830797.
We were most grateful to a well - known local resident, Mary Gough, for stepping in at the last minute to speak at our September meeting. Mary had never addressed a WI before, but drew skilfully on her long experience in the hotel business to reminisce and make us laugh. She brought along various pictures to help illustrate her stories and her beautiful MBE medal that she was awarded in 1990 for services to the hotel industry.
Together with her late husband Dick, Mary faced a ‘baptism of fire' when they took over the Bull at Long Melford in 1959. They were working for Trust House Ltd (later Trust House Forte) and found themselves in a run-down hotel that she described as “on its knees”, without main drainage and with one toilet for staff and guests alike. Undaunted they managed to turn an unloved building with no amenities into a well - appointed hotel with a reputation for fine wines and good food.
Mary made clear that in the 60s there was little or no training available for anyone wanting to make a career in the hotel industry. She said that staff were recruited mainly on the basis of their ability to smile. Her principle was “Send us young people who can smile - we'll teach them the rest.” Successful and in demand, Dick and Mary were promoted to a hotel in Surrey but they only stayed a year as they had plans to be their own bosses. With some financial help from a businessman and a lot of hard work, they purchased the gloomy and spider - infested White Hart at Great Yeldham which, unsurprisingly, began to thrive under the Gough's management.
In 1973 the Angel in Bury St Edmunds was purchased and Mary amazed us all by saying that of the 51 bedrooms only two were ensuite and all the linen and blankets had utility marks on them; a very far cry from the elegant and sumptuous 80 bedroom hotel that graces the town today.
HARTEST AND DISTRICT WI VISIT TO THE SUFFOLK PUNCH TRUST, JULY 2016
Yet again we were blessed with fine weather for a summer trip out and nine ladies enjoyed a very pleasurable day at the Suffolk Punch Trust. The centre manager, ushered us into the film theatre and gave us a short introduction to the Trust. She spoke about how it had come into being in the nick of time as the Suffolk Punch horse had been in danger of dying out completely. Currently, despite all the Trust's hard work, the Punch remains more endangered than the World Wildlife Fund's famous ‘poster boy', the Giant Panda. After a coffee in the cafe, we went on a circular tour of the Trust grounds on a tractor and trailer. One of the young volunteers gave a commentary throughout the ride and he was both informative and humorous. We saw the handsome stallion Achilles showing off his magnificent physique and the various mares, geldings and colts who were out grazing. Our guide could name them all with ease, but the rich Punch chestnut colour seemed so much a feature of every horse that we found it almost impossible to tell them apart. Later, we wandered around the stables and were rewarded with the gentle nosing and obvious enjoyment of human touch by the horses. For such massive and imposing creatures, their placid and tolerant nature is arguably their most remarkable feature. Colony Cuthbert, a foal who is 4 months old, was particularly affectionate. Also in the stables we discovered May and Toffee, two tiny Shetland mares with remarkably similar colouring to that of the Suffolk Punches. Alongside the Shetlands were two pens, one of which housed a dainty quail and half a dozen chicks, miniatures of their mother. The other was occupied by a fluffy white Ixworth chicken and her chicks. These chickens were first bred in the village of Ixworth and by 1970 the breed had almost died out. They remain rare to this day. Everyone made a tour of the Heritage Garden which is stocked with a wide range of plants, shrubs and trees that originate in Suffolk. Initially the ground was ploughed, fittingly, by two of the Trust's Punches and sown with grass seed using an antique hand drill. An orchard of old Suffolk varieties of fruit trees occupies the rear of the garden, whilst grass paths and flower beds have been laid out for visitors to wander along and admire
Hartest and District WI visit to Lodge Farm, Westhorpe
We were looking forward to a visit to Lodge Farm after a fascinating talk in 2015 about its uniqueness in terms of philosophy and operation. The farm is the base for farming cousins Brian and Patrick Barker, whose efforts in marrying hard - headed business principles with sustainability and preserving many threatened farmland plants and animals have been hugely successful.
The evening was perfect - warm and dry after so much rain on previous days. We were a little early in arriving but it gave us a chance to take in the views of the surrounding countryside. We also had an opportunity to meet Claire Barker, Brian's mum, as she came across a meadow to greet us along with the three dogs she had been walking.
We were taken round the farm along with 27 ladies from Mendlesham WI, to see exactly how the Barker Boys ‘practice what they preach'. We all climbed onto a trailer fitted with bench seats and hitched to a tractor then Brian took up position in the tractor cab to ‘drive'. Patrick and Claire rode at the rear of the trailer, Patrick explaining that ‘drive' was something of a misnomer, as all their vehicles are guided by GPS and only a joystick is required to steer.
At strategic points during the tour the trailer stopped so that Patrick and Brian could take turns in telling us about the farm's history. They also explained how their aim to run a commercial modern farm producing high yielding, high standard crops while maximising wildlife diversity, works in practice. Both cousins are ardent conservationists, though for Patrick this role comes first and foremost. His knowledge of the farm's wildlife from insects and flowers to birds and mammals is encyclopaedic and he drew on it continuously as we journeyed round.
We stopped by one of the 30 ponds on the farm, all of which have had to be brought back to life by dredging and the clearing of choking weed. These ponds have become safe havens for Great Crested Newts, various frogs and toads, dragonflies, kingfishers and a host of other pond dwellers. The birdsong around us was a delightful and when asked to name which birds were singing, Patrick didn't hesitate before identifying a blackbird, thrush, stock dove and robin, whilst almost on cue, a buzzard came into view, circling overhead.
As the trailer continued the tour we passed expanses of wild flowers, the result of sowing wild bird seed mix. These provide many species of birds with a valuable food source by bridging the ‘hungry gap' but also giving the first year fledglings the opportunity to develop and grow as they are so important for providing the breeding population for the following year. Patrick described how full of birds these areas of seed mix are through the winter and flocks of up to 300 birds can be counted with yellowhammers, linnets, greenfinches and chaffinches the most common species. Boxes for owls and harriers were visible high above us on tree trunks and Patrick explained that the more ‘open' boxes suited the harriers whilst the more traditional closed ones were favoured by the owls.
Before we turned to come back to the farmhouse, the trailer halted by a three arched Tudor bridge over the moat of Westhorpe Hall. The Hall now houses a care home which owned and run by the Barker family. Brian related the romantic yet sad story of the hall, which once was a massive, imposing Tudor manor house, the home of Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk and Mary Tudor, Queen of France, daughter of Henry VII. Here they raised their children, Henry Brandon (who died aged 6), Frances, mother of Lady Jane Grey, Eleanor and Henry, 1st Earl of Lincoln. Sadly, Mary died aged 35. Her funeral was lavish and the people of Suffolk mourned the passing of a great lady who they loved and respected. The manor house was demolished in the late 1760s and a brick building replaced it in the 18th century. The bridge is all that remains of the manor's Tudor splendour.
On our return the Mendlesham ladies had a business meeting to attend, so without their company we enjoyed the tea, coffee and plates of homemade cakes and biscuits that Claire Barker had prepared. We chatted with Patrick, Brian and Claire and were able to look at all the awards and certificates recognising all the success that their work has won. It was a truly memorable and thoroughly enjoyable evening.
May 2016 - To be honest, the WI Annual Meeting is hardly the most entertaining event of the calendar, especially when it has to incorporate the business of an ‘ordinary' annual meeting as well. However, it is a ‘must' for all WIs as, amongst other items of business, members vote for a president and secretary to serve for the following 12 months. Nevertheless 20 out of our 24 members attended the May meeting, which was a really pleasing turn out. Three of the absentees were on holiday and one wasn't feeling 100% which was a bit of a blow as we had something a little bit special planned for her.
Our lovely member Pat Tebbit is 90 at the end of May; a wonderful milestone to reach for anyone but especially memorable as she celebrates in company with our Queen of course.
Pat has been associated with the WI throughout her life and can recall members and activities both in the village and at Federation level going back long before the current group's reformation in 1999. Pat is demon quizzer, with a memory for facts, particularly obscure ones, that is absolutely amazing. Members will do almost anything to ensure ‘Mrs P' is on their quiz team. Her cookery skills are legendary; once you have tasted her light- as - a- feather pastry, crispy biscuits and deep sponge cakes oozing homemade jam, everything else is just second best.
She is our quiet and unassuming ‘elder stateswoman' who is respected and much loved by all. Her feeling a bit under the weather and unable to get to the meeting meant we had to use Plan B to celebrate her upcoming birthday.
During the meeting, two members took a birthday cake made by our secretary to Pat, who blew out the 9 candles (one for each decade) and the moment was captured in photos. After cutting the cake, and wishing Pat a most happy birthday, members all had a slice, making sure that plenty was left for Pat and her husband to enjoy at their leisure.
February 2016 “It's not the most exciting topic but I hope that I can help save you some money by the time my presentation's finished.” These were the candid yet intriguing words with which Michelina from the Suffolk West Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) began her presentation to members. We have become very savvy about our grocery shopping but the same cannot be said for most people's choice of energy deal. Michelina pointed out that switching our energy provider could save as much as £ 500 - £800 a year and most householders will save, on average £200 - £300. Coupled with the facts that it now costs twice as much to heat our homes than it did 7 years ago and 40,000 people died of hypothermia in the 2014/5 winter, we were eager to have any advice that would help us secure the best energy deal possible.
Key questions to ask prior to switching included “Am I paying by the cheapest method?” and “Shall I stick with my current provider because their customer service is good/their helpline is free to phone/I've never had a problem with them …etc.?” Our speaker suggested that we might contact our current provider and say that, having been to a talk by the CAB, we were considering switching - have they a better tariff to offer than the one we're on currently?”
Many are anxious about the switching process - Will it take a long time? What if it goes wrong? Is it complicated and if so, can I manage? The aim is for the process to take no longer than 17 days, 14 of which are the statutory ‘cooling off' period during which the customer can change their mind if they wish to and 3 days for the switch itself to be actioned. By law, if a switch runs into problems and these aren't resolved satisfactorily in 8 weeks, then the issues can be forwarded to Ofgem, the government regulator for gas and electricity. Switching need not be complicated as there are many price comparison websites that will do it for you and you don't have to be online to do so either as they all have phone numbers, many of which are free to call. Michelina advised that we used websites displaying the Ofgem Confidence Code logo and, when searching, made sure that we ticked the box requesting that all the market was trawled for deals.
Members had a sheaf of useful leaflets to take away and refer to and the speaker answered everyone's questions with insight and clarity. Initially, a not very exciting topic, but it became pertinent and stimulating as the presentation progressed. Chances are there will be a good many energy company switches being carried out in the area in the weeks to come!
January 2016 - For our first meeting for the New year The Committee provided bucks fizz and nibbles to help us welcome in 2016. We then watched a film of Lucy Worsley's talk at the WI AGM at the Albert Hall during 2015. She has researched the origins of the WI and reminded us of the many `sometimes` controversial campaigns we have been part of over the last 100 years. She has rekindled our zest for protest, so watch out for flag waving WI members on the streets of Hartest!
December 2015 Had you been unwary enough to peer through the window during the evening of December 10th an extraordinary sight would have met your eyes. A tall, bearded and moustachioed clergyman, (definitely not Reverend Prigg!) could be seen, seemingly gliding around and across the room a lady in a flowing gown, with jangling bangles was making flamboyant gestures. A footballer in blue and white ‘strip' with a lady in glitzy attire hanging on his arm, was laughing loudly with a glass of Buck's Fizz in his hand. Two decidedly shady - looking gentlemen in ‘sharp' suits and extravagant ties were deep in conversation. A Tina -Turner look- alike, complete with cruise tan, wild wig and white trouser suit, was practising theatrical poses. What on earth was going on? In reality, all was well, and, instead of a Christmas party, Hartest WI ladies were having a Murder Mystery evening. For one night only, Hartest Institute had become the fictional Essex village of Hobsbawn where a terrible murder had been committed. A theatrical agent, Papa Ratsy, had met a ghastly end with the heel of a red stiletto protruding from his temple. The cast of this Mystery really got into portraying their individual characters, each one dressing and making up to ensure they were as authentic as possible. Overstated jewellery and clothes and lashings of make - up were in abundance, apart from the sober attire of the Reverend I. Prayer, with his cardboard dog collar and facial hair, courtesy of a felt tip pen (surprisingly convincing!) The audience, whose job it was to determine the killer's identity, got into the spirit of the event too. Everything they possessed that sparkled, glittered or simply looked OTT had come out of the wardrobe, drawer or jewellery box in order to dress up as ostentatiously as possible. Members had brought along a range of sweet and savoury items so that a superb buffet could be eaten between acting the scenes of the Mystery. As the quiches, sausage rolls, falafels, cheese straws, samosas, cheesecake, madeleines, cherry tart, mince pies and carrot cake disappeared, so the plot thickened. Whether by deduction, guess work or good luck, four members managed to name the culprit and were rewarded with a mini chocolate Father Christmas each. But beware! The guilty party was not taken into custody so take care to lock your door at night if you live in Hartest. click here for pictures of all our activities.
In October 2015 we had a talk from Terry Plummer entitled “How to drive safely and avoid an Accident”! Terry had brought along a number of models of roads with `matchbox cars and lorries` with descriptive scenarios of various accidents. Our members were tasked with discussing and then deciding which of the drivers could have prevented the accidents. This created much laughter and dispute, Terry then talked through basic safety when driving stressing that `Time and Space` were the 2 things most likely to help us avoid being involved in accidents. Altogether a most enjoyable and informative evening.
For our August 2015 meeting we held a W.I.100 year Anniversary BBQ. Although we were threatened with rain, it was not cold and we enjoyed being in the beautiful surroundings of a lovely garden, by the kind invitation of Mary Jane.
Over the past weeks and months the group have been stitching and embroidering a wonderful banner which will be part of the celebration service in St. Edmundsbury Cathedral, this was displayed during the evening, as well as the provision of a delicious meal.
A lovely anniversary cake was cut to the singing of happy birthday and as you can imagine many photos were taken which can be viewed on the Hartest web site
For our July 2015 meeting we had a “works” outing to Kersey Mill, the weather was lovely and after a leisurely browse round the craft shop and boutique we treated ourselves to a slap up cream tea, it was a lovely way to spend a summers afternoon. In August we are holding a WI Anniversary BBQ, hopefully we will have our banner completed by then and will be able to have it on display for the first time. Every member has embroidered their names onto it, so it really feels like a joint collaboration. Pictures of the banner will follow next month!
As part of a monthly meeting in May 2014 the ladies of Hartest and District WI applied their ingenuity and skill to producing a range of delicious items that incorporated unusual ingredients. They then set about tasting and trying to guess what the mystery ingredients were. The ladies' cookery skills far outstripped their abilities to identify the constituents of the items with which they were presented. But it didn't really matter - it was such fun tasting, guessing and then being surprised by what was in the recipe.
The WI ladies invite you to try your hand at some of the cakes and other items, recipes shown on the left of this page. None of them are difficult to cook and all of them are delicious. They would suggest that friends and relations aren't let into the secret of what is inside each food until they have tried it - preconceived ideas may well get in the way of potential enjoyment!
Recipes submitted by:
WI members thought they knew Lavenham quite well, however our walking quiz of the village in August 2013 made us rethink just how much we really did know!
In beautiful sunshine two teams set out to find the answers to a pot pourri of questions including who built what and when, what the figure on the corner of the Guildhall holds in his hand, the number of chimneys on a cottage, what decorations there are on doors and plasterwork and the names of yards and houses. The final question about hanging baskets brought the walkers to their destination, The Swan.
Here a most welcome cup of tea and delicious sandwiches, scones, cakes and pastries awaited, along with a few members who had chosen not to walk, yet were eager to hear which team had won. It was a draw, with both teams slipping up on a couple of questions.
The quiz ladies were rewarded with a copy of the booklet Suffolk Recipes each. Maybe this will mean Suffolk Rusks (with butter and jam of course) or Suffolk Buns or slices of Suffolk Harvest Cake at future meetings. Potential members take note!
Our New Years meeting went off with a bang - or rather wonderful music! We started the evening with a glass of Bucks Fizz, then after the business of the evening we held a “Desert Island Discs” session.For a full report about the evening click here.
For our December meeting, on a bitterly cold day we went on a tour of the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds, which was really fascinating. For more information and to see some pictures of the day click here
On Friday 14th November the W I Baton which has been touring the UK in celebration of 100 years of the organisation came to Hartest in a very old military jeep. Six other WI groups joined us with displays of what their members have been doing both recently and how they were run in the past.
Hartest WI members really got into the spirit of the event and cobbled together costumes of 1914, sadly some items came out of our wardrobes which shows how `up to date` our fashions are! Altogether we had 4 Red Cross nurses, 2 maids and a number of very well dressed ladies, it was all great fun and the tea and delicious cakes supplied by our members were lovely. One of our members organised 2 quizzes for the afternoon which taxed everyone's brains but caused a lot of laughter.
The baton has now moved on further east in Suffolk.
At our February meeting, we had a talk from Celia Stevens who fascinated us with her tales of her life as a Racing Driver. From her initial training at Snetterton to her driving in the Le Mans 24 hour Classic Race. She came dressed in her driving `overalls` and spoke with such passion about the cars she has raced that we were enthralled.
We had a most interesting talk by Judith Blatch, about the beginnings of the Company Winch & Blatch in Sudbury and their four stores there. We learnt that there have been shops on the site since the 1300's although they only became Winch and Blatch in the early 1900's. We also heard about the `Great Fire of Sudbury` which completely demolished their original store. Judith also gave us news about forthcoming changes which include a coffee shop and possibly a bridge linking two of their stores together.
After our tea and delicious home made mince pies, Sue Bevan our WI Advisor talked to us about her role within the WI and also answered some questions about the subscriptions for 2014. All in all, a very interesting meeting.
WI members thought they knew Lavenham quite well, however our recent walking quiz of the village made us rethink just how much we really did know! In beautiful sunshine two teams set out to find the answers to a pot pourri of questions including who built what and when, what the figure on the corner of the Guildhall holds in his hand, the number of chimneys on a cottage, what decorations there are on doors and plasterwork and the names of yards and houses. The final question about hanging baskets brought the walkers to their destination, The Swan. Here a most welcome cup of tea and delicious sandwiches, scones, cakes and pastries awaited, along with a few members who had chosen not to walk, yet were eager to hear which team had won. It was a draw, with both teams slipping up on a couple of questions. The quiz ladies were rewarded with a copy of the booklet Suffolk Recipes each. Maybe this will mean Suffolk Rusks (with butter and jam of course) or Suffolk Buns or slices of Suffolk Harvest Cake at future meetings. Potential members take note!
In February we had a most interesting talk and demonstration about the Bowen Technique by Jo Wortley. She told us about the many benefits of this non-invasive treatment for all kinds of ailments as varied as back problems, headaches & asthma, then did a short demonstration on one of our members who found it very pleasant and relaxing, we will wait and see if it has eased her neck problems!
At our September meeting, we had an interesting demonstration of Couture Hats and Fascinators, by Debra Johnson - a talk that was “fascinating”. As a child Debra was always making dolls clothes from scraps of material. Having had a very interesting and varied career through which she maintained her interest in fabric and making things she finally had the opportunity to train in millinery. She now works full time and creates amazing Fascinators which are all hand made. Working from
The Barn at Assington, she passes on her skills through workshops which are available to all.
Here are four of our girls trying on the fascinators !!!
In August, 12 of us spent the day at Beth Chatto's Garden. Luckily we managed to pick a dry and sunny day for our trip! After a mid morning arrival we started with coffee and cake then we went round the gardens which were lovely. How we wished our gardens looked anywhere near as good!
We then went to the café for lunch before our trip around the nursery, our main problem then was fitting all the plants we had purchased as well as the people into the cars for the journey home, but with lots of hilarity and opening of sun roofs we managed it.
However, just to finish off the day, we managed another cuppa and slice of cake!
Even though the gardens and café areas are not huge we managed to `mislay` 3 of our party who were waiting for us in one place while we all finished our cake in another! Anyway, alls well that ends well and eventually we found each other. We have decided to try to have lots more trips out in the future.
8 Members of the W I Group attended the West Suffolk Federation Annual Meeting at the Apex in Bury St Edmunds.
Following usual W.I. business we were entertained by two interesting speakers.
Carol Bundock, the ex TV Look East presenter amused us with childhood memories of Essex. Along with her sister, she joined Brownies which she enjoyed but struggled with her badges especially Semaphore and Knitting. How frustrated she was but with help from her father she achieved and flew up to Guides which was then the highlight of her childhood and the foundation for her life. She loved camping under canvas and brought back memories of all these activities with most of the audience. Carol married very young and with her husband and children moved to Suffolk at the age of 21. At that time she had no qualifications but joined the U.E.A. as a mature student. Just prior to graduation she met a Norfolk Radio reporter and asked if there were any job prospects. She got an interview and thus started her broadcasting career. She amused us with some embarrassing pronunciation disasters she suffered. She eventually moved to TV and Look East, presenting news at 6am and having to look presentable instead of casual which was the previous approach on radio.
For over 20 years she enjoyed her BBC reporting role interviewing many famous people including Royalty as well as ordinary Look East viewing folk with stories to tell. Her warmth, humour and passion for her work were evident.
For her, the climax of her life and career came after retirement when she was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk for Guiding, a post she loves. Although she continues to fill in for some reporters her other joy in retirement is being a grandma. Her daughter Laura Bundock is also a reporter.
The second speaker, Adam Henson from TVs Countryfile came into the business in a round about fashion. His grandfather had a music hall background but his father was a farmer who after WW2 began raising rare breed sheep, pigs and cattle. Adam initially followed his father and after agricultural college, worked the family farm. He realised that for financial reasons he had to diversify and joined with a neighbouring farm sharing labour and equipment.
An opportunity to audition for Countryfile as working farmer arose and he applied and was accepted. With the help of John Craven and Kate Humble he has become a household name.
Like his father he maintains rare breeds and has diversified into other areas to increase income and provide tourist attractions at the farm. These include a joint venture with a neighbouring farmer to brew beer, supplying local farm shops and feeds to other smallholdings.
Whilst raising a family, farming and appearing on TV he has found the time to write a book which was of course on sale at the Apex.
The whole day was an entertaining and informative experience.
See the pic of one of our members with Adam!! We were all very jealous of her!
I don't think her feet have touched the ground yet!
5 intrepid members of Hartest W I tried out a Zumba Class in Long Melford earlier this week.
These are our before and after pictures, can you tell which is which? - The clue is in the body posture and the red faces! There must have been approximately 60 ladies there ranging in age from teenage to mid 60's. The music was fantastic - very loud latin american beats, and we certainly tested out all our muscles with the dance moves. All in all a great night out, we are just hoping we can still get out of bed tomorrow! If you fancy something different - give it a go - it certainly kept us smiling.
Our New Years meeting went off with a bang - or rather wonderful music! We started the evening with a glass of Bucks Fizz, then after the business of the evening we held a “Desert Island Discs” session. All present brought their favourite piece of music to be played and told us why it was special to them, these ranged from childhood memories to childbirth memories! Then we discussed what luxury items we would take, again these were very varied - from packets of garden seeds to face creams to hunks of cheese! We disallowed requests for young hunky men! As you can imagine there was such a variety of amusing anecdotes, that most of the evening was spent laughing!
For our December meeting, on a bitterly cold day we went on a tour of the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds, which was really faxcinating. It was quite an adventure peeping behind the scenes and seeing how it all works. Also, learning about the history of its Architect, the development over the years from a thriving theatre to a barrel store and back to a theatre again. Our guide, Mike, certainly knew his stuff and helped make the trip informative but fun and interesting at the same time. Our outing was completed bya delicious Christmas Lunch at The Greyhound, Chevington.
On Thursday 17th October 7 ladies from Hartest W I attended a `taster` Fencing Class at Cockfield Village Hall.
Our tutor Steve taught us the basics of the correct stance, moving forward and backwards in a smooth way, lunging and also the parry and repost!
This all sounds quite serious, but there was plenty of laughter as we struggled with the movements.
We did not have to worry about hurting our fencing partners as were were all dressed in `plastrons` -which protect the right hand side of your body from your opponents epee, then padded jackets, thick gloves and also mesh face masks. Not the most glamorous of looks, but very safe.
We can confirm that fencing is physically very tough, even at our level!
It must have been a good workout for all of us.
For more pics of the event click here