June Monthly Meeting – Photo walk

Puckeridge WI Photo walk 6Our June meeting caused a bit of a stir in the village when a group of women were spotted roaming around with cameras.   Was Tom Hiddleston expected in Puckeridge?   Were William and Katherine popping down to the Crown and Falcon to avoid the crowds in Cambridge?   No, it was Puckeridge WI out on a photo walk.Puckeridge WI Photo walk 1We started off at the hall and were given a worksheet by Fallon, our expert, giving examples of things to try including close ups, filling the frame and shooting without looking through the viewfinder.Puckeridge WI Photo walk 5Simple every day objects were given the paparazzi treatment and studied in close detail.Puckeridge WI Photo walk 4Even the weather, which earlier had threatened to call the whole event off played ball in the end and helped with the photos, even if there was no chance of getting the lens flare shot ticked off the list.Puckeridge WI Photo walk 3I will never look at a brick wall in the same way again!Puckeridge WI Photo walk 2No matter whether we had a DSLR, a small compact or just a camera phone, we were all able to take part.   Fallon was also helpful answering questions about cameras and pointing out different angles and shots to try.   This was such an enjoyable meeting and one of my favourites so far.   Puckeridge WI Photo walk 7Our next meeting is on 12th July.   For more information, look at our About page and drop us an email to get on our newsletter mailing list.

May Monthly Meeting – Annual Meeting

Our May meeting was our Annual Meeting when we looked back on the last year’s events, elected a new committee and president, reviewed the accounts and debated the shortlisted Resolutions.

Resolution 1: Appropriate care in hospitals for people with dementia. “We call upon HM Government and the NHS to provide facilities to enable carers to stay with people with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia that have been admitted into hospital”.   Following a discussion, members voted unanimously for the resolution and unanimously voted to give Louise discretion at the Annual Meeting in Brighton should any additional arguments arise.

Resolution 2: Avoid food waste, address food poverty.   “The WI calls on all supermarkets to sign up to a voluntary agreement to avoid food waste, thereby passing surplus food onto charities thus helping to address the issue of increasing food poverty in the UK.”  Following a discussion, members voted unanimously against the resolution and unanimously voted to give Louise discretion at the Annual Meeting in Brighton.

Your new committee is Louise, Yvonne, Karen and Emma, so please chat to one of us if you have any questions or suggestions.

Twiddle Muffs

We are asking members who knit or crochet to make up some Twiddle Muffs for us to complete and embellish at our September meeting.   Twiddle Muffs, also known as Sensory Bands, are textured and embellished bands which are given to dementia patients.   Fiddling with them can comfort and calm them and help with their symptoms.

Any donated materials are welcome, and patterns are available online.   One example is Sensory-band-pattern, and we have a local charity willing to accept them, as some hospitals have sufficient supplies for now.

April Monthly Meeting – Life as a Prison Officer

Life as a prison officerOur April speaker was Pauline Martindale, a former prison officer, who has worked in various roles in the prison service, and at different locations including Holloway and Wormwood Scrubs.

She told us a bit of the history of Holloway which opened as a mixed prison in 1853 and was built to resemble Warwick Castle.   In 1903 it became a women’s prison, and there have been 5 executions there including Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged.   She also revealed details of her ‘encounter’ with the ghostly Grey Lady.

She mentioned some of the diverse characters she met in prison: the repeat offenders, the criminal family ‘business’ members, the young mothers, the violent prisoners and the lawbreakers who used their time inside to get education and made the effort to rehabilitate.   Pauline pointed out that rehabilitation is only complete if there is acceptance on the outside once their prison term is over.

There were plenty of questions afterwards, and we all agreed that she was a very informative and entertaining speaker.

Next month will be our Annual Meeting.   We will be debating the two resolutions to be taken to the NFWI Annual Meeting in Brighton in June “Avoid food waste, address food poverty – The WI calls on all supermarkets to sign up to a voluntary agreement to avoid food waste, thereby passing surplus food on to charities thus helping to address the issue of increasing food poverty in the UK” and “Appropriate care in hospitals for people with dementia – We call upon HM Government and the NHS to provide facilities to enable carers to stay with people with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia that have been admitted into hospital.”   We are also holding elections for our committee, and as a reward for all of that, there will be desserts and wine.

New members are always welcome, and your first meeting is free so come and give us a try!

March Monthly Meeting – Gardening for Wildlife

Anne Luder came to our March meeting to talk about Gardening for Wildlife.

source: https://www.rhs.org.uk/

She started her talk highlighting the numbers of native British birds, animals and plants that we have lost or are in danger of losing.   The WI has previously campaigned on the decline of the bee population due to decline in a favourable habitat, disease and climate change, but other factors are threatening other species.   The introduction of an aggressive American crayfish is endangering our smaller British native for example.   Cuckoo populations are in decline due to being hunted as a game bird in West Africa on their migration route.   Pollution, pernicious weeds, agriculture, loss of hedgerows and over-development also affect the habitats traditional British flora and fauna depend on.

Anne highlighted various ways we can make simple adaptations in our own gardens to encourage wildlife.

The RHS have a Perfect for Pollinators scheme which highlights good plants to include in your garden.   Leaving sections of the lawn uncut and planting wildflowers create habitats and food for beneficial insects and animals.   Making sure planting is dense and at different levels from ground cover to shrubs, climbers and trees offers protection for a diverse range of animal life, and ensuring your garden contains plants that flower at different times of the year to provide food for a wide range of pollinators.   Leaving plants to set seed rather than tidying up provides food for bird life and cover for bugs.

Putting bird feeders in your garden can also help, as can various types of nest boxes, bee houses, insect hotels and bat boxes, and putting water out, or having a pond or water feature adds to the diversity of your garden.

January Monthly Meeting – Walking the Camino

Puckeridge WI Walking the CaminoOur speaker for January was the inspirational Jacqui Robinson.

Jacqui tragically witnessed the sudden death of her husband.   This was obviously a traumatic experience, and she went through a painful grieving process.   A few years on, a conversation with an old walking friend led to them meet up again to walk the Camino de Santiago, the ancient Christian pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostella from St Jean Pied de Port on the French side of the Pyrenees.   As her husband was a keen walker as well, she thought it would be a fitting way to remember his life.

So far she has completed two stages of the journey, and hopes to finish the final stage soon.   The normal time to walk the nearly 500 mile route is about 5-6 weeks, but the pace depends on the participants.   Jacqui chose to walk the route carrying her own 10kg rucksack and stayed in traditional Spanish Alburgues which can range from hostels in disused monasteries to beds in family homes along the way.

Jacqui’s talk was illustrated by stories and beautiful photos of the landscapes, the people she met and the things she saw.   She described her emotional journey and we wish her all the best for completing her journey in the near future.

Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House

Royal Opera House Nutcracker CurtainsThe WI Centenary is almost at an end, and celebration events for myself as a member of Puckeridge WI have already ranged from listening to a ukelele band in a barn at a Hertfordshire County centenary baton event to a royal garden party at Buckingham Palace.   The year has come to a fabulous end with a visit to the Royal Opera House to see the Royal Ballet’s production of the Nutcracker.

The event was a collaboration between the WI and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation which runs events to promote the Royal Opera House to people who have never experienced it before.   As soon as I received the details, I had to register to make sure I qualified as a first time attendee, and then a few days later I was poised at my computer at 9am as soon as the tickets went on sale.   I was so lucky to get the maximum six tickets, and made plans to take my husband, young daughters, mother and mother in law to the ballet.

A couple of weeks before the event I received an email saying that there would be a craft challenge to make Nutcracker themed accessories.   As committed crafters, my daughters and I got to work.   This sugar plum fairy mask was created by my 6 year old based on a mask blank from.Royal Opera House Nutcracker maskI searched Pinterest for ideas and made these Nutcracker earrings, and also created a snowflake headband the night before.
Royal Opera House Nutcracker EarringsOnce at the event, there were various workshops and talks before the performance including a group ballet class, a brass quintet, dressing up workshops and a backstage display.   We stopped at the costume restoration talk and saw the work involved keeping the archive of costumes maintained from one production to the next over many years.Royal Opera House Nutcracker Black Swan Costume RestorationNext up was the craft room where there were chances to make twirling ballerinas, stop motion animation and clocks.   My girls fancied making clocks, but due to the crowds and complexity of the design to be followed, we ended up making the basics and then bringing them home to finish later.
Royal Opera House Nutcracker CraftsAt 12 o’clock, it was time to take our seats.   Going into the auditorium was a real WOW moment.   My photos don’t convey the scale and grandeur of the place.Royal Opera House Nutcracker Curtains
Royal Opera House NutcrackerThe ballet itself was amazing.   The staging and performances were fabulous, and I really enjoyed looking across at my little girls’ faces at key moments to see the look of wonder on their faces.   Being in a venue with everyone over the age of 40 trying not to sing ‘Everyone’s a Fruit and Nutcase‘ during the Dance des Mirlitons was amusing!

It has been a fabulous centenary, and we are busy planning our programme for 2016.   If you would like to join us, email info@puckeridgewi.org for more details.   We start back in 2016 on 12th January and your first meeting is free.

November Monthly Meeting – Jewellery Making

Puckeridge WI jewellery makingIn November we tried jewellery making.

Armed with a beading needle, some findings, a pack of beads and some expert instruction, the room fell quiet whilst we all concentrated on the beading pattern to make a beautiful bracelet and matching pair of earrings each.

Our next meeting is our pre-booked Christmas meal so we will not be at the hall.   If you would like to join us as a new member, our next full meeting will be on January 12th.   Email info@puckeridgewi.org for more details.

Craft Club

IMG_1131We started our Craft Club a few months ago as a lot of our members are creative with some owning craft businesses.   It was an excuse for like minded members to get together to chat, share ideas and eat cake – just like our main WI meetings!   It is also great to allocate some time every month to some relaxing crafting without life getting in the way.

Various projects are brought each month and we’ve had everything from cross stitch, knitting, sewing, party decorations, and even crocheted boobs!   We also planned a joint pub sign entry for the Hertfordshire Federation WI Centenary craft show.   This involved a mini lesson in patchwork and how to use a rotary cutter.

IMG_1130 (1)Details of dates and times are in our newsletter and Puckeridge WI members are welcome to join in.