December Meeting Round Up

Our December Christmas Social was a fantastic night which gave everyone who was in SONY DSC
attendance the chance to chat, try out some crafts and get into the festive mood.

The evening began a little earlier than usual with the arrival of Ware Bell ringers who played a range of traditional Christmas carols and more modern Christmas popular songs.  Members were encouraged to sing along to some of the more familiar tunes, in particular Silent Night which everyone knew the words to.  The bell ringers were amazing with their skill and concentration and it was a lovely way to start the evening.

After a short break for refreshments, which this month, included mulled apple juice, mince pies and stolen as well as crisps and nibbles, members split into groups to try the various activities on offer.

SONY DSCWine tasting was a popular activity where members had to decide which mystery bottle was   the  most expensive, which was medium priced and which was the cheapest.  Two members got this right and collected a prize at the end of the evening.

Other activities included making crackers, felt decorations and biscuit icing.  The cracker making, which was led by Maureen, was lots of fun and made good use of recycled cracker jokes and toys (I hope some of you collected these up over Christmas for next year)

  As it was Christmas, this months raffle was more substantial with a good range of prizes.  This was an exciting event with many members winning a prize.  At the end of the evening prize winners were also announced for best cracker, best biscuit decoration and best bauble.

November Meeting Round Up


A hands on experience was had by members at the November Monthly meeting. Rachel Armstrong came along to show us to how to make a Christmas table arrangement.

We started out the meeting covering our tables with the foliage, flowers, decorations etc while Rachel set us all up with some oasis to put our collections in. Rachel showed us how to start off and then came around giving us suggestions.


I was dubious that I could put together something that looked like it could take pride of place on my dinner table, without it being laughed at, but following the instructions I did produce something that I was quite proud of. Looking around the room, everyone had done a really good job and I hope they all enjoyed it as much as I did. I know our table had a good laugh.

We completed our evening with our usual tea and cake, all donated by Evelyn in celebration of her 60th birthday, and the raffle which included some free range farm eggs, wine and some charity calendars which all seemed to be greatly received.







Kirsten Walker,

Hertfordshire Federation WI Autumn Council Meeting

On the 23rd October, I represented Puckeridge WI at the Hertfordshire Federation WI Autumn Council meeting.    The event was held at Broxbourne Civic Hall in Hoddesdon, and the meeting was filled with delegates from the individual institutes, as well as guests and representatives from nearby federations.

The morning’s business commenced with reports from the various committees and the chairman, Ann Hall. Ann spoke about the need for WIs to embrace new technology.   She also asked for feedback on the new design of the newsletter, and why members attend or don’t attend workshops and events.   Any feedback, requests for events, and even if you want to join a committee should be directed to County House.   Observers are welcome to all committees.

Plans for the centenary in 2015 are underway including a Skype link with the Royal Albert Hall, and a baton relay which will pass through Hertfordshire in May 2015.

>The Arts committee have plans for events next year.   The Current Affairs and Leisure committee mentioned the five resolutions which need to be discussed and reduced to one for debate next year.   The International and Associated Country Women of the World (ACWW) committee are planning a Brazilian fun evening and will be fundraising for villages in India.

Denman College are sending out brochures three times a year.   There are bursaries available for courses from HFWI and Denman.   They need support from members and non-members to keep going.   The Homecraft Committee hold courses, generally at County House.   As there are only a few spaces, early application for workshops is necessary.   They are also planning an exhibition for 2015.   The House and Shop committee require new suppliers, in particular for preserves.   They will be having extended opening hours coming up to Christmas.

The Members Advisory Committee mentioned MOODLE and the need for WI Helpers and Advisers.   The Publications committee needs more photos for the next calendar on the theme of Our Green and Pleasant Land by 31st December.   The Performing Arts committee is planning events for the future.

There will be a 3 Counties Quiz in 2014.   A team of 3 is required and the preliminary round is on Friday 7th March in Cottered.   The final will be in Bedfordshire on 24th June.   There is also a quiz sheet for individuals available for 50p on the theme of Tom, Dick and Harry.

The speakers were Peter Lien, Head of the Denman Cookery School who discussed whether modern mothers are better than their mothers at cooking, and John Craven who discussed his career from the obituaries column in a local paper to Countryfile via Newsround and Multi Coloured Swap Shop.   Memories of those 70s and 80s fashions!

Louise Jenkins,
Vice-President, Puckeridge WI

October Meeting Round Up

At our monthly meeting for October
we were treated to a very beatrix potter talk to Puckeridge WIinteresting talk by Pam Wright  on the life and history of Beatrix Potter.  Many of us have very fond memories of the Beatrix Potter stories, my own memories include being snuggled up with my Mum reading Peter Rabbit.


Pam talked about Beatrix as a child and the life she had with her parents, how she spent childhood holidays in the Lake District and how she came to live the remainder of her life there. It was a very enjoyable talk, and included many lovely photographs.  Pam was obviously very knowledgeable and enthusiastic on the subject.


After some tea and cake, and the drawing of the raffle which included some lovely home made jam and home grown apples which were well received, we discussed the business.Leigh was voted in as a new committee member and quickly got onto organising people to donate their time, baking and products to ensure the fundraising opportunity of the

Our first meeting back after the Summer break was a little quieter than usual with a few members missing. The meeting was led by Vice President, Louise Jenkins who began the meeting with a round up of business and topics discussed at the most recent committee meeting. It was a chance to reflect upon Puckeridge WI so far and what we would like to happen in the future.

Members were asked to fill in a form stating their preference for the raffle (how many prizes and the cost) and to select their top three topics for meetings in 2014—it has been surprising how varied these choices have been!

There was also some discussion of the Autumn/Winter meal out which will take place in November. We hope The Anchor will provide good food at a reasonable cost.
After tea and cake, which looked particularly delicious this week, the meeting continued with a quiz night prepared by Kirsten Walker. There were 10 rounds planned but we didn’t manage to get through them all, so these questions will be saved for a future date. Popular rounds included ‘The Royals’, ‘crafts’ and the picture round where members had to guess the celebrity just by looking at their eyes.

The questions were, at times, light hearted and there was lots of laughs. Congratulations to the winners who were called Buns and Roses.

quiz picture round









Can you guess who these celebrities are?


1. Jeremy Clarkson, 2. Catherine Tate, 3. Cheryl Cole, 4. Dawn French, 5. Elton John, 6. Barbara Windsor

August Family Trip to Hatfield Forest

Although there was no main meeting in August, members were invited to attend a family fun picnic at Hatfield Forest on the 11th.wi 2

It was a sunny afternoon when the group met. Unfortunately, only three families attended, so numbers were a little small, however, everyone who was in attendance had a lovely time.

Children took part in a scavenger hunt around the lake finding various objects including a pine cone, some- thing round and something man made. All the children received a small prize for their efforts. Thank you to Kirsten for organising this.

Whilst the men supervised the scavenger hunt, the ladies took the chance to catch up over a glass of fizz (also provided by Kirsten). It was a lovely chance to relax and soak up some sunshine whilst the children were kept busy.

Cake obviously featured as part of the picnic and later, before leaving, there was a chance to sample ice creams from the shop whilst the children enjoyed climbing trees.

It was a very enjoyable afternoon but a shame that so many members and their families missed out on this opportunity to socialise. Please do try and support future events if you can. If you have any problems with transport, talk to a committee member and we will do our best to help out.


wi 1

July Meeting Round Up

Busy sewing Pillowcase Dresses

Busy sewing Pillowcase Dresses

On a warm summers evening, thirty six ladies attend our meeting in July, the most popular meeting to date. It was certainly snug in the room once the sewing machines were getting busy and people were sewing buttons and cutting fabric. After a brief welcome and introduction from Victoria, our President, members and guests soon got to work with their pillowcase dresses for Dress A Girl Around the World.


Some members had prepared pillowcase dresses in advance ready for others to embellish with buttons, ribbons and beads which was a great help and even those who said they could not sew were soon with a needle and thread in their hand. There was a cutting table set up for those who wanted to start a dress from the beginning and a few chose to do this, working with each other on deciphering the pattern, measuring, cutting and then ironing to make sure everything was lying flat. The sewing machines were busy all evening with Victoria, Louise and Maureen working up a speed to sew hems and arm holes.


In total eleven dresses were completed during the evening – and there are at least another fifteen in progress to be collected at the September meeting once people have a chance to finish them at home.


You can read more about the Dress A Girl Around the World charity, and look at patterns for pillowcase dresses online here




June Meeting Round up


On a bright and summery evening in June, members of Puckeridge WI met for a session on Container Gardening led by Steve Isley from Royston Garden Centre.  The evening started a little late but was worth the wait as Steve introduced us to some of the bedding plants that you might see in the summer.  He showed us beautiful examples of fuchsias, petunias and geraniums that were all available to buy later in the evening.  He also introduced other plants such as lobelia that are particularly useful when creating hanging baskets and troughs.  He emphasised that for containers to do well across the season, you need to water, feed and deadhead.  He showed us a useful product (like a small pair of scissors) that was designed to deadhead flowers quickly and easily without damaging the rest of the plant.

Steve then demonstrated how to create a hanging basket, firstly starting with the compost.  He recommended using a specific compost for containers which tends to retain water better than multi-purpose and  the group agreed that multi-purpose compost has a tendency to dry out.  He then chooses his plants considering colour and height.  For his first basket, he chose a red geranium surrounded by blue lobelia.  It was a simple combination but looked very effective.  He then planted up a trough/windowbox which had cooler, citrus colours, which again looked really effective with its limited colour scheme.  In this one he included snap dragons or what he called bunny rabbits.

It was obvious that Steve was passionate about his job and this came across particularly when he talked about the importance of talking to plants.  He also discussed his preference for using organic feed as studies have proven that plants thrive when fed with organic matter.  He advised that we look out for plant food that contains seaweed, as this is highly beneficial to the plants.  During this time Hannah, who had come to her first meeting, was invited to have a go at creating her own window box.  Using Steve’s tips from earlier, Hannah created a vibrant display of colour and shape.

Thank you to Steve for bringing along such a range of plants and for inspiring us to get gardening this weekend – we shall certainly be visiting his garden centre!

After a break for tea and cake, the meeting continued with a preview of the next meeting where we will be involved with the “Dress a Girl Around the World” project which provides little girls around the globe with a handmade dress.  Members were encouraged to make their own pillowcase dress before the next meeting, so that it can be embellished or finished off during the meeting time.  Patterns are to be e mailed to members or you can visit

May Meeting Round Up

The May meeting for Puckeridge WI was a little different to previous months as we dealt with the business aspects before our discussion for the evening, which was about the WI resolution. We had a report about the stall at the May Fair and further mentions of the various groups that are beginning to form. We welcomed some new members and we also had the important business of voting in a new treasurer. Following this June Smith our HFWI Adviser introduced the resolution for 2013 which is about the decline of the High Street.

Puckeridge High Street in the early 1900s

Puckeridge High Street in the early 1900s

June began by telling us a little about the history of resolutions within the WI and explained that some of the previous resolutions have had a significant impact, focusing on important topics such as domestic violence, the labeling of food and the shortage of midwives. Proposed resolutions are discussed by local members in May, in order to be further discussed at the AGM which takes place in June. Resolutions often provide a good chance to learn about the wider issues surrounding the topic and this proved to be the case as we discussed the decline of the High Street in Puckeridge.

Members felt saddened that the loss of the high street often also means a loss of community but accepted the fact that it is difficult to shop in just one high street because of lack of variety and the difficulty of getting a pram into local shops. It was also felt that changes in society, especially technology, mean that people no longer have the need to visit the high street as shopping and banking can be done online. Despite this, the high street often offers better quality and lovely, individual, specialist shops. Puckeridge WI voted in favour of the resolution and although there was no real conclusion to our discussion, we will wait eagerly to see what happens next.

The evening continued with tea and cake, followed by a quiz prepared by Maureen and Jackie. There were 25 questions based on cooking, gardening, films, history and general knowledge. The winning team scored 23 out of 25. At the end of the evening, we were reminded that next month’s meeting will be about container gardening and there will be some plants available to buy – so do bring along some cash!