For England & St George!

If its April, then it must be ‘St George’s day!’  Last year, we celebrated St George’s Day via Zoom – how wonderful to be able to do so in person this year! The village hall was bedecked in red & white – thanks again to Alan W, Bob T & Chris E for setting this up for us.

It was amazing to see the village hall full with people & so much joy, friendship & laughter.  The tea, as ever, was excellent – as was the service.  The cake stall & raffle were big draws – did you win?

A wonderful afternoon was had by all.

Afternoon Tea… & papercrafting …..

…. although not necessarily at the same time!  A small group of ladies met at The Deer Park for Afternoon Tea in April & had an enjoyable time.  It felt quite odd to not be serving teas, but we coped! The savoury items were varied & something different, but the main talking point were the ‘Earl Grey scones’ – they were huge yet very delicate, so we all got very messy eating them.  A cake selection followed, with resulting full stomachs. Doggy bags were taken home!  A huge ‘thank you’ to Kate B for organising this afternoon out.

Debbie, Chris G, Chris L, Yvonne & Mary met up to ‘craft along with Gaye’ in the village hall creating cards using the ‘In the moment’ stamp set.  They stamped, embossed, coloured in, blended & used 2 masking techniques to create amazing cards. Well done ladies!

Next requests?  Papercrafting wreaths for the Jubilee … & then ‘Christmas cards’!

How do you show solidarity with all those in Ukraine who are suffering as a result of the invasion of their country by Russia?  Our President, Karen Wakefield, changed our display at the WI garden outside the Village Hall.  The ‘Hope Springs Eternal’message, still relevant today.

For the love of St David ……

There was a definite buzz in the village hall on Thursday 3rd March; 2 years before, the Welsh Tea was the last afternoon tea that The Ridwares WI held before Lockdown 1 was declared.  So many things have happened since then – so many loved ones lost, but also gained.  It was quite poignant … and the question was, ‘Were the ladies up to the task?’

Also …. ‘Had we forgotten what to do?’  ‘Just how many cheese scones & Bara Brith do we need to bake?’  ‘Would people come’?

We needn’t have worried .. the ladies rose to the task, as always… although Chris G’s dog did eat all her scone mixture & Welsh Cakes whilst she went to answer the door!

The hall was decorated with Welsh flags & vases of daffodils; thanks to Alan W, Bob T & Chris E for doing this.

How wonderful to see the hall full of chatter & people, enjoying eachothers company & eating Bara Brith, cheese scones & Welsh cakes, all downed with much tea & coffee.  The raffle was amazing as were the cakes & handmade goods for sale.  A lovely afternoon was had by all.

On your marks… get set … toss!!!

Shrove Tuesday again coincided with the March Take a Break Cafe….so that meant that ‘pancake races’ were the order of the day!

Great fun was had by all – whether you raced & tossed pancakes, or not.  The Final was won by Susan Aitkin, shortly followed by Charlotte Lycett & Olivia Wilkins.  Charlie Moore was the youngest competitor, & it would be telling to say who the eldest was!

Certificates, & Easter eggs, were awarded to the winner & finalists.

Bee Happy …..

February was ‘Show the Love’ month for us in The Ridwares WI – hence the green hearts display by the WI garden area outside the Village Hall.  WI’s throughout the country focused their attention on environmental issues during the month, & we are no exception.

Green hearts were worn by many ladies to our February meeting where Gavin Cordon came to talk to us about ‘For the Love of Bees’.

Did you know that it’s the female worker bees who do all the work?  Neither did we in The Ridwares WI, but, according to Gavin, it’s true.  Drone bees, however, are all male and their sole responsibility is to fly out of the hive to mate with the queen. Their role ends when they are are no longer fertile.  Fascinating …. & the honey tasting wasn’t bad either!  Needless to say, Gavin’s local honey was the best tasting.  Another very enjoyable, & informative evening.

Our monthly competition encouraged us all to produce something from recycled materials – quite a range of ideas!  Bees were also the focus for more crafting endeavours when some of our ladies got together to craft door & window hangers with Gaye – ‘SOS for Bees’ is one of our WI resolutions that we continually come back to & keep in mind.  So do look out for these crafty bits & pieces around the village!  What would be your ‘green heart climate pledge’?

February is also Quiz Time! ….. with the annual SFWI County Quiz at the Showground.  The competition is fierce – some teams have been through a selection process prior to the evening itself, whilst others have practiced a lot!  The Ridwares WI team – aka Jeanette, Angela, Tina, & Gaye – well, we take it seriously, but are also there to have a good time.  The colour theme was ‘NHS blue’, so our picnic table decor was colour co-ordinated accordingly & Gaye had made some nurses hats for us to wear.  Angela, being the only ex-nurse on the team wasn’t too sure about their authenticity, but gave an ‘A’ for effort!

And as for the results? We didn’t win…. but came in the top 10!

Deck the Halls ….

It’s Christmas time… which for The Ridwares WI means our annual ‘Tinsel & Trimmings’ event.  Thursday morning , 25th November, saw a number of ladies & our special ‘WI Husbands’, meet in the Village Hall, complete with bags of greenery from various gardens.  Under the expert tutorlage of Karen Wakefield, our President, garlands were strung, wreaths made & the hall was suitably bedecked ready for the festive season.

Friday afternoon saw us back to set up the stalls & raffle table .. & to get the mulled wine on the go ….

The rain held off so ‘Plan A’ could go ahead – with everyone able to go outside & witness the official switching on of the Christmas tree lights by Ashley, from The Chadwick Arms.  The Lea Hall Brass Band played throughout the evening  – I think they enjoyed being back with us ‘in person’, almost as much as we did having them there! Mulled wine was drunk… & drunk … & drunk … with supplies having to be regularly replenished. Mince pies were eaten – thanks to Morrisons for donating them – Jarbola items won, & cakes, crafts & raffle tickets brought.  It was such a thrill to see so many villagers come together for the evening– a superb time was had by all.

… & then it snowed!!!

Zooming away … & ‘tasting Christmas’!

Our  Zoom meetings for members, & visitors, continued throughout the Autumn, & with Speakers as good as these, why ever not????

Sarah Slater returned to us, dressed in full Victorian mourning garb, to talk about the various ghosts that are said to haunt Hampton Court Palace,  A fascinating talk as she went through the evidence of sightings, from feelings of dread (& actual faintings) in a particular corridor, to ‘seeing’ a grey lady on the stairs, & the discovery of bodies buried beneath the walls … It was all there!   Sarah left us to draw our own conclusions about all of this.  It certainly got us thinking!

A number of our members were pleased to take up their gardening tools & help the BKV project in their Autumn Tidy-Up & bulb planting session on Sturday 6th November.  What a difference this project has made to our village!  Everyone was so chuffed to bits at the news that Hill Ridware WON the Richard Winterton Award for Community Spirit which was announced to the volunteers present…. & the celebratory cake was good too!

November 13th was World Kindness Day & again, the WI ladies distributed hearts, posies & painted stones around the village – little acts of kindness that obviously meant a great deal to the recipients judging from the Facebook comments.  Kindness is not a ‘one day a year thing’ as we all know – perhaps that’s one thing that the past 18 months or so have taught us.  ‘If you can’ do anything – be kind’.

November 14th was another heart-warming occasion when so many villagers gathered together at ‘Tommy’ for our community Service of Remembrance.  Wreaths were laid at the feet of Tommy & the WI garden area was awash with red poppies.  Tea, coffee & homemade cake were then enjoyed after the service in the village hall – all donations for the refreshments going to The Royal British Legion.  Thanks to Kate Beechey & St Nicholas Church for organising the service & act of remembrance.

A lovely sense of community spirit all told – what a wonderful place we live in!

  Our November meeting was something totally different for us – a tasting session of all things Christmas!  Christmas flavoured crisps & cheese, mince pies, cream liquer & after-dinner mints were all ‘blind tasted’, 3 varieties of each.   Decisions were made on our preferences & the ‘luxury’ brands didn’t necessarily come out on top!

Best mince pies in our sample? Morrisons & Tesco Finest….  Both Tesco & Divine had the best after-dinner mints, Waitrose had the best tasting cheese & Aldi the favoured cream liqueur & Pigs in Blankets crisps.  Perhaps an Easter taster session will be next?

The ‘food’ theme continued via Zoom when Jane Napper (aka ’The Chocolate Lady’) demonstrated how to make a tiered chocolate tree decoration & chocolate shards.  Yummy!  Expert tuition yet again from Jane … now it’s just up to our ladies to practice, practice, practice – with lots of sampling inbetween!

And We’re Back ……

  Date: Tuesday 7th September 2021 ….

Venue: the Village Hall …

Would we remember what to do?  Would we be rusty?  Would anyone come?

Well, we needn’t have worried!  The cooks, washer uppers, tea/coffeee makers & servers had NOT forgotten what to do after 18 months away, & loyal villagers (& new friends) turned up for a cuppa, bacon bap or tea cake & a good natter.  What a lovely morning everyone.

  Then the next evening, we decamped to The Shoulder of Mutton pub in Hamstall Ridware for our Skittles Night (& competition).  A geat evening was had by all.  The competition was stiff, but good natured & the buffet was fabulous.  Hopefully, it won’t be so long till the next one!

Our September meeting was changed to the 4th Tuesday of the month – but that didn’t throw us at all!  A welcome glas of fizz & cafe-style seating said ‘We’re Back!’ – & in style!  That theme was carried on with our Speaker, Joanne Massey, who informed & entertained us with a wide range of stylish clothes form the 1950’s.  Joanne talked about how she’d always been interested in ‘vintage’ clothing, even as a teenager… & could still get into first ‘vintage outfit’ she’d ever bought….  Envy followed – especailly concerning just how stylish & wellmade all these clothes were.  A lovely evening to complete our first month back ‘in person’.  The only way is forward now!

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.