Staycation – Ridwares style ……

 With us not being able to meet in person till September, members received a ‘Staycation’ box in August full of goodies to help them enjoy the summer (& hoped for sunshine) at home….

  •  a ‘Wish You Were Here’ postcard to send to a friend …
  • a cocktail-in-a-can, to while away the time lounging in the sun, complete with umbrellas for the glass …
  • puzzles.. well, you’ve got to have something to do if it rains…
  • a suggested ‘Recommended Holiday Reading in the Sun’ … the Sunday Supplements have nothing on us in this regard! …
  • a mini hand-held fan for when it’s TOO hot ….
  • a plastic rainhat (for when it’s not!) ….
  • & some rock & pink shrimps to eat…  Why not?

So the only thing missing now, was the ‘beauty makeover’… & that came courtesy of our Zoom meeting with renowned make-up artist ‘to the stars’, Naomi McKeever, giving us a lesson on how to apply the latest make-up trends with loads of product advice, tips & techniques.  We certainly learnt a lot, & many a make-up bag is now being emptied & its contents renewed.   You’re never too old to learn something new.

So now, rejuvenated, we’re all set for meeting back ‘in person’ in September:

Getting back to normal…?


Well, some plans do come to fruition this summer – the weather kept dry for once!    Our ‘famous’ Trade Table returned to outside the Village Hall in Hill Ridware in early August with a ‘bumper’ harvest of goodies for sale – jams, pickles & marmaalde, knitted & crocheted toys, cakes & biscuits, a variety of knitted jackets & hats, books, handmade cardsnfor all occasions – & a raffle.  The Hygiene Box was there for donations – all were gratefully received.

It was lovely to see villagers sitting with their tea & coffee, & having a good old chinwag.  That’s the benefit of it keeping dry! – & time to enjoy the new-look planting at the Vilalge Hall itself.

Thank you to everyone who supported us – it was so good to see you in person!

We also actually met our 2 new members in person as well – previously we’d just seen them via a Zoom screen.  Welcome ladies!

As for ‘getting back to normal’?  Well, our monthly ‘Take a Break Cafe’ will be open again on Tuesday 7th September from 1030 – 12 noon.  Looking forward to seeing you there.

‘Thank You’ NHS – & all Key Workers….

July 4th 2021 – national ‘Thank You Day’ to all our NHS & Key Workers, who have kept going, & kept all of us ‘going’, throughout the pandemic.  They certainly deserve a whole load of ‘thanks’!  The Ridwares WI had planned a picnic outside the village hall for the Sunday afternoon, in order to meet together in person & say ‘Thank You’ – but the weather had a totally different idea.  It rained… & rained… & rained …. & continued to pour throughout the day.  Result?  A cancelled picnic… & a beautiful cake made by Amy of O’Brien Bakes.

So what to do with it all?  Well, picnics were shared with neighbours anyway, & eaten over the next few days.  But what about the beautiful cake?  Step in Sister Debra, who lives in the village, ‘to the rescue’.   We were so pleased to donate the cake to her & her colleagues at Solihull Hospital – who really enjoyed sharing & eating it, & appreciated its meaning of ‘thankfulness’.

‘Thank You NHS!

Tales of the Lockdown – Episode 20 ….

4 of our ladies (Chris S, Kate B, Karen P & Gaye) were very fortunate to have the opportunity of a Painting Workshop with renowned local artist, Sunny Eades at The Old Hall, Mavesyn Ridware.  The weather cooled, which was better for painting outside, and thankfully, the threatened rain did not happen.  None of the ‘gang of 4’ had picked up a paintbrush since their school days  – unless ‘helping’ grand-children counts for some of them? – so there was some trepidation as to the kit needed & the essential question of ‘how exactly do you ‘paint’?’  No worries were needed, however, as Sunny quickly put everyone at their ease, & offered advice & helpful hints no matter which medium was being used – watercolours or acrylics.

Lots of silent concentration on ‘the wall’ was evident – we’ve never been so quiet!   Each lady took a different perspective, & used watercolours (paints or pens) or acrylics to express what they ‘saw’.  The results were very pleasing & so very different!

Everyone was proud of what they had achieved – & it was so good to work in such a supportive & enjoyable environment.  The lovely garden was obviously inspirational!

Sunny’s efforts were of a different calibre, as was only to be expected. Our brushstroke technique definitely needs far more practice if we are to get the definition that Sunny manages.

Future Turner Prize winners? Perhaps not.  There is an awful lot to learn – but it’s so much fun as well.  The village Art Classs beckons for at least one of the ‘gang of 4’.  Thank you to Sunny for her hospitality, time, patience & expertise.

A great time was had by all: ‘fun & friendship’, the core of The Ridwares WI.

Tales of the Lockdown – Episode 19 …



June 2021 saw something approaching ‘normality’ return to life in the Ridwares for our WI ladies.  Firstly that meant working with the BKV Team, & other villagers, to re-plant the village in a blaze of colour.  That meant numerous planters throughout Hill Ridware itself as well as round the village hall in particular.  Kate Britt has updated the WI heart border and the new VE/VJ planter was co-ordinated with its red & white colour scheme.  The weather kept good for us – for a change –  and everyone’s hard work was rewarded with fruit cake, smiles & comments from others as to a ‘job well done’!  The watering rotas now begin in ernest as we hope for proplonged sunshine.  The plants, let alone us, need it!

The Committee managed to meet ‘in person’ for the first time in months and are working hard to re-do the programme of meetings and events for the rest of this year & for the new WI year of 2022.  Karen Parsons (Secretary) had been keeping a bottle of Prosecco especially for the occasion, which was much appreciated and , together with the strawberries & chocolate cake, certainly kept the little grey cells of those present fluid & whirling.  Thank you for your hospitality Karen.

Jackie Layzell, one of our ladies & a member of  Lichfield Litter Legends, was also active during the St Giles Summer Solstice Walk, along with her fellow ‘litter fairies’, not only completing the walk itself round Lichfield City Centre but also collecting litter en route!  Great fun was had by all – and lots of money raised for local Hospice care.  Well done Jackie!

Congratulations to Gill Bradbury’s daughter, Caroline, on her promotion to a Deputy Headship in a Leeds Primary School, and to Estelle, Tina Gough’s grand-daughter  on her BA Hons degree from Nottingham University.  A new career & life in London awaits her. Congratulations also to Abbie & Ellie on their respective University Degree success.  Good luck to them all in the future.

Tales of the Lockdown – Episode 18 ….

… OR… ‘Dolly Pegs’ & Painted Eggs’ ……

Well, the painted eggs were courtesy of an inspirational demonstration by Sunny Eades, renowned local artist, at the May meeting of The Ridwares WI (via Zoom, naturally).  Sunny provided detailed instructions before her demonstration of how to ‘blow’ eggs – & not to waste the ‘contents’! – & different techniques that could be used to decorate them.  It is always useful to paint them in white first as this gives you a better, smoother surface to work on.  Sunny then demonstrated these techniques & created the most amazing designs, emphasising that you did not have to be a professional artist to produce these incredible results.  Well it certainly inspired us to get ‘blowing’ &  be ‘creative’!

And ‘Dolly Pegs’? … well these are the response to a ‘Presidential Challenge’  by Karen Wakefield, & certainly got the creative juices flowing!  Each member was given 2 Dolly Pegs  & just challenged to ‘decorate’.  Each one is different & a wide range of materials & ideas have been used. Keep on crafting ladies!

Interested in finding out more?  Just contact Karen Wakefield (President)… Looking forward to meeting back in person.

Tales of the Lockdown – Episode 17 …


   Well, the sun shone for St George & for us in The Ridwares WI as we met together, via Zoom, to celebrate.  Some of us invited friends to share the afternoon with us in the back garden – so sunglasses were in evidence! We listened to rousing Shakespeare  speech (Henry V) & were cheering for ‘Harry, England & St George!’ at the end.  A Mummers play retold the story of St George & the Dragon, we watched some morris dancing & crafted a ‘tent fold box’ in another ‘craft along with Gaye’.  Gin, tea, or prosecco was drunk – scones & cake eaten.  The afternoon finished with the goose-bump raising of ‘Jerusalem’ sang at the WI centenary at the Royal Albert Hall.  This brought back many happy memories for our President, Karen Wakefield, who also attended the Royal Garden Party that week.  A lovely afternoon full of fun & friendship.

Our April meeting itself was jam-packed as we had 2 Speakers.  Beth came from ‘The Hygiene Bank’ in Cannock to tell us more about why our support is so needed & invaluable.  Unfortunately, the pandemic has only plunged more people into dire need, facng the heart-breaking choice between buying shower gel (for example) or food for your family.  We agree that ‘everyone has the right to feel & be clean’ so will be busy back collecting toiletries to donate with renewed energy & insight.  Emma then talked about how she creates the most amazing flowers to decorate her cakes & how her business (‘Ridware Cakes’) has operated during the pandemic.  She showed us numerous creations & talked about the latest fashion in cakes (transparent layers apparently) – you really did believe that the flowers were ‘real’, rather than fondant.  Amazing!

Preparations are ahead for our AGM next month – it’ll be ‘with a difference’ for certain!

Tales of the Lockdown – Episode 16 …..

March 17th saw the ladies of The Ridwares WI celebrating St Patricks Day via Zoom. Recipes for soda bread were shared, duly baked & then eaten ‘on the day’.  Irish whiskey, or Cream liquer, depending on your individual preference, was drunk.  We learnt about St Patrick & the myths associated with his life & work, aspects of Irish culture & were amazed at ‘Riverdance’, yet again.  The general agreement was that we would leave this particular art form to the professionals, rather than take it up as a new ‘Lockdown activity’.  We also learnt how to create a ‘nappy fold’ item, complete with shamrock to hold our ‘gold (coins) at the end of the rainbow’ in our latest ‘craft along with Gaye’ activity. Another afternoon filled with laughter & friendship.

Tuesday March 23rd saw us standing in silence & remembrance at 12 noon for the national minute’s silence, called for by the Marie Curie charity, at our WI Garden with its ‘Hope Springs Eternal’ display.  It was a chance to pause & remember those we have lost during the pandemic. Incredible to think that we have spent, essentially, a whole year in Lockdown with our everyday lives so severely changed.   In contrast that evening, along with lighting our doorsteps at 8pm, a number of us  joined with WI ladies across Staffordshire for a floral art demonstration courtesy of Jonathan Moseley, organised by SFWI.  He is a very talented & entertaining speaker & demonstrator & gave us ideas for an Easter table arrangement & how to ‘do’ floral art being more environmentally aware.  A lovely evening.

Our Easter 2021  meeting saw us learning about chocolate, a subject very dear to many a heart, courtesy of Jane Napper, aka ‘The Chocolate Lady’.  The wonders of Zoom meant that Jane could teach us about tempering chocolate & how to make & decorate an Easter egg as well as individual chocolates from Whistable, whilst we were in rural Staffordshire.  Totally yummy!  Very informative & inspiring – an excellent Speaker.  Easter bonnets were created & worn by our ladies during the meeting – very colourful & different!

  Easter also saw the delivery of the latest ‘goody bags’ to all our ladies.  At least the sun shone for a change for most of us on ‘delivery day’!  The goody bags had been crafted by the Committee & contained sunflower seeds to plant, chocolate to eat & other ‘treats’. Designed to bring a smile to the face – which they duly did.

Plans are afoot for the coming months with regular ‘Craft & Chatter sessions’ & monthly meetings – the venue depending on how the Lockdown easing pans out.

Tales of the Lockdown – Episode 15 …

    ‘HOPE SPRINGS ETERNAL’ – what a wonderful inspiration for Spring 2021…. at least that’s what us in The Ridwares WI & the Best Kept Village Comitteee thought!  The response to this poem/theme by places like Malmesbury in Wiltshire, got us thinking.  How could we ‘translate’ this to our village of HIll Ridware?  Well, this is the response so far…..

  The WI ‘garden’ area outside the Village Hall is a riot of colour & positivity.  Thanks to Karen, Alan & Wendy, in particular, for all their hard work in making this happen.  It really does bring a smile to your face.

If you look hard as you wander through the village, you will spot a number of ‘Wreaths of Hope’ in windows & on doors, crafted by ladies of The Ridwares WI during one of their afternoon ‘Craft & Chatter’ sessions – a ‘craft along with Gaye’ activity via Zoom.  Very colourful!

Watch this space for further responses to ‘Hope Springs Eternal’….

What can you do to embrace this theme?

Tales of the Lockdown – Episode 14 …

Dydd Gwyl Dewi Hapus (Happy St David’s Day)!

The 1st March saw a wave of yellow amongst ladies of The Ridwares WI as they met together (via Zoom) to celebrate St David’s Day, courtesy of daffodils worn & in vases & jugs.  We practised our Welsh – although our pronouncinations probably left a lot to be desired – & learnt about St David himself, as well as a number of Welsh customs & traditional celebrations. Did you know that leeks pre-date daffodils as a St David’s Day symbol?  Leeks were grown for luck, happiness & to drive away evil spirits.   It was believed that leeks would help them live for ever, so soliders would rub leeks over themselves as a form of protection during battle.  Over the centuries, green & white became the Royal colours of Wales.  it was the Victorians who began to associate daffodils with St David’s Day – a tradition that is now firmly established!

A number of our ladies had also baked some Bara Brith (Welsh Tea Loaf), which was also enjoyed!  As usual, the afternoon was filled with laughter & chatter, especially when making a Pop-Up card – another ‘craft along with Gaye’ activity.  The results were very impressive – & ‘gluey’ fingers dealt with…. – as daffodils in baskets were evident again.

A wonderful get-together & celebration of St David’s Day – full of fun & friendship (as always)!