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 www.dressagirlaroundtheworld.com

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.

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!

Standon May Day


Puckeridge WI enjoyed a very sunny May Day in Standon at our WI stall. Raising funds was not the main aim but creating awareness and perhaps getting a few new members was what we wanted to achieve. Knowing that there would be a lot of competition to sell cake, we decided to give away our cake “bites” for free, offering visitors “a taste of the local WI”. We hope this didn’t upset local stall holders – it certainly didn’t upset our visitors who all commented on how yummy the cakes were (although some couldn’t believe they were getting something for nothing and were reluctant to taste!)

Our stall offered three games – guess the weight of the cake, guess the number of buttons in the jar and find Jess the Cat. All the games proved popular, although it was probably the huge chocolate cake that was most tempting.

Our volunteers were brilliant and it was a great chance to talk to local people. Some of our visitors were also from further afield and talked about their own local WIs or their memories of relatives who were WI members. There was a lovely atmosphere and it was a great way to introduce ourselves to the village.   Our stall looked very pretty, thanks to our new banner and a collection of plates, tea cups and cake stands. We were lucky to be positioned next to Louise Crafty Guider who also happens to be our VP.

Thanks to everyone who baked, weighed cakes, counted buttons (over 3000!), hid Jess the Cat and served on the stall. The day was a great success and we look forward to welcoming our new members soon

may daymay day stall

April Meeting Round Up


The Puckeridge WI meeting on the 9th of April was the first meeting of the year with warmer weather and lighter evenings. The group met in high spirits looking forward to a talk from Julie Gregson, Head of Heritage Services at Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies (HALS). The talk was called Treasures from the Archives and we really did see some very special items on the powerpoint slides.

Julie started by telling us something about the archive services which contains 30,000 books and 40,000 images. They are a specialist centre for researching local history, family history and other projects. Their collection, which is housed in 11 strong rooms containing five miles of shelving, attracts visitors from around the country.
Many of the oldest items in the collection are Royal Charters, detailing the land in Hertfordshire and which of the wealthy families at the time it would be given to. St Albans features regularly in these items and the group saw an example from 1553 which gave St Albans the right to vote for their own Mayor. The illustrations at the time, which decorated the charters, were clearly recognisable – we saw Henry VIII, Elizabeth I and Edward VI. We also saw examples of royal signatures – Henry VIII was unreadable!!
The archives also holds a selection of maps, which are often considered works of art today but held a more practical purpose during the period, allowing land owners to keep track of the production across their lands. A household account book from Christmas 1637 was also particularly interesting in that it gave an insight into the running of the household at the time. For example, the family consumed 86 stone of beef, 246 eggs and 55lb of butter over the festive season.

Many more treasures were shared with the group (including Constabulary records which detailed crimes such as ‘stealing a pear’) but even more interesting were the stories that went with the items viewed, such as the story of Edward Grimston (1559), who escaped prison in France, dangerously travelled back to the UK only to be placed in The Tower for treason. However, perhaps the best part of the evening, which really got everyone talking, was the range of postcards which showed Puckeridge, Standon and surrounding areas. The images were mostly from the early 1900’s and the group were encouraged to share their memories and work out exactly what was being shown in the pictures. A follow up visit to the Archives to find out more about local history could be arranged if enough people are interested.
Following our speaker, Maureen led a quiz which consisted of 10 pictures from around the village. Each group had to name where the item pictured could be found. Only one group got 10/10 but most groups scored at least a respectable 7/10. It made us think about how much history there is in the village and how we all need to look around more to notice the interesting little details we sometimes miss in our hectic lives. The business section of the meeting was dealt with as swiftly as possible and many of the notices can be found in the last edition of the newsletter.

photo(3)  photo(2)

March Meeting Round Up

cardsTuesday 12th March was another cold evening in which ladies from Puckeridge WI gathered together for our regular meeting.  Instead of a visiting speaker, Louise Jenkins, our Vice President, led the session which was a practical one:  Card Making.

The main objective was for everyone to make at least one card that could then be used to give out to members during their birthday month.  Louise introduced some of the techniques that could be used which ranged from stamping, paper cutting, embossing, layering, stickers and die cutting.   Although it might have been difficult to feel inspired when the weather was so miserable outside, the range of ideas, colours and materials on offer was so vast, everyone found something that suited them and lots of cards were produced.

The session also gave members the chance to get to know each other a little better and there was plenty to chat about during the evening.  Members also had the opportunity to have their own badges made from the circles that had been given out the previous month.  Several of the group wore their own creation throughout the evening.

After a short break for tea and cakes, the crafting continued whilst Louise led the group through the business aspects of the meeting which involved collecting names for the proposed sub groups (walking, knitting and reading) and gauging interest for a trip to the Living Crafts show at Hatfield House in May  .  It was also decided that we would start collecting raffle prizes in April to allow some fundraising at later meetings.

Overall, it was a good night with lots of opportunities to get to know each other and next month, we will be able to find out more about the local area too, with a visiting speaker from the Herts Archives.
cards2card making



February Meeting Round Up

The meeting on Tuesday 12th February was a busy one!  Not only did we have a guest speaker but we also had lots of business to go through, cake to eat and to top it off, a pancake tossing challenge!


The theme of the evening was ‘Work Life Balance’ and Kim Mangelshot from eKuiLibriuM encouraged us to analyse the different areas of our lives and also take up more exercise.  Kim started off by telling us that inactivity kills more people than smoking which was a slogan used during the Olympics.  She encouraged us to use the “5ps” in order to stop putting off the changes we wish to make in our lives and proceed with the goals we set ourselves.  She also told us that 47% of our time during a day is spent in front of an electronic device and by taking just 30 minutes a day exercise we can be fit for life.  A happy heart keeps everything else in balance.

Kim also encouraged us to use a ‘Wheel of Life’ to analyse how happy we are with certain areas of our lives.  By giving areas such as ‘money’ or ‘health’ a number then joining up into a circle, we can work out how ‘smooth’ our wheel is.  It was a good way to visualise what areas we need to work on and what achievements could make you happier.

After enjoying tea and cakes (everything in moderation!), the second part of the evening was led by Puckeridge WI president, Victoria Heath who took us through some of the items discussed at the committee meeting at the end of January including fundraising ideas, the possibility of some specialist groups eg walking group and some of the planned events for the rest of the year.  There were also handouts for the WI bulb scheme and our very first newsletter.  Please see the record of the meeting or the committee meeting minutes for more details.

The highlight of the meeting came at the very end, when two teams of five had a pancake tossing relay.  The winning team were able to score 54 ‘flips’ in 3 minutes.


January Meeting Round Up

Crime Prevention Talk at Puckeridge WIThe January meeting on Tuesday 8th saw over twenty women gathered for our first guest speaker: Colin Clare, Hertfordshire County Crime Prevention Officer, who spoke about Crime Prevention.

Although not necessarily a cheery topic for a dark January evening, Colin’s delivery style was upbeat and there were lots of laughs.  He gave us lots of tips and pointed out some of the obvious risks that we might take – such as leaving the key under the mat – which burglars take advantage of.  It was interesting to note that most burglaries take only 5 minutes and despite our fears about being burgled at night, our homes are most vulnerable during the day.

There are many things we can do to protect our homes and Colin shared with us some of the products available such as the key safe, the spike fence strip (originally used to deter cats) and the fake TV which was very popular with the group.  Colin also spoke about protecting our vulnerable friends and neighbours by making sure they do not open the door to distraction burglars (not even with the chain on) he advised that we speak to unexpected visitors through the door/letter box, or even better, from an upstairs window.  Finally, Colin took questions from the group and touched upon “handbag dipping” and urged us to think about what we carry in our bags and purses, as some things can be irreplaceable.

The group then enjoyed tea and a delicious selection of cakes before moving onto the business of officially setting up Puckeridge WI. June Smith from the Hertfordshire Federation went through decisions that had previously been made, such as our official name,  the committee members and banking details and important information was minuted. After that it was time to hand over our £33 and membership forms.

Everyone who was in attendance that night have the pleasure of being a founding member of Puckeridge WI, something to feel quite proud of!

More ideas!

Following on from the ideas generated at our first meeting, those of us who didn’t get a chance to sort out some ideas have come up with the following!
  • Self defence / Personal safety
  • Crime prevention
  • Zumba
  • Family History research
  • River boat trip (Ware)
  • Cupcake decorating
  • Making your own home cleaning things
  • Pillowcase dresses – Dress a girl around the world
  • Vintage hair and makeup

Not long to go until our second meeting.   Bring on those mince pies!

We are Puckeridge WI and we want…

At our first meeting, we asked everyone what they would like to do in their new WI and this is the list.   I definitely want to join if our new committee can organise this lot!

flower arranging



animal charities


  • community garden
  • tree planting
  • local projects

keep fit

local entrepreneurs


  • support of local high streets/businesses
  • women’s issues

local history

computer skills

social media

cookery, food and drink

  • cooking for one
  • jam making
  • Thai cookery or similar
  • whiskey/whisky tasting
  • healthy eating
  • meals in a hurry
  • meals on a budget
  • baking
  • wine tasting
  • cheese tasting
  • nutrition
  • beer making


first aid




creative writing

car maintenance

DIY and home maintenance

book club


arts and crafts

  • card making
  • wood turning/carving
  • watercolours
  • photography
  • knitting
  • jewellery making
  • machine sewing
  • sewing
  • crochet
  • silversmithing
  • seasonal crafts – Christmas wreaths, Easter flowers etc.

out and about 

visit to Denman College

mystery trips

theatre trip

visit to Capel Manor Gardens

summer evening walks

NT visits

Our first meeting – 6.11.12

What can I say?   Thank you so much to all the lovely ladies who turned up.   We had a really positive and fun meeting with women of all ages.

First of all, June Smith from Hertfordshire Federation told everyone about the WI, how it started, how it works and how anything is possible.

Then everyone chatted and wrote down their ideas for what they want from their WI while the kettles boiled and the lemon drizzle cake was put out.   Fully refreshed, we had a quiz which made sure everyone had been paying attention to June’s history talk!

As we were winding up, everyone seemed really positive about the meeting and coming again.   This made all the effort we’d put into starting the group up worthwhile.

Looking forward to mince pies on December 11th!