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:

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 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)!

Tales of the Lockdown – Episode 13

February is ‘Show the Love’ for us in The Ridwares WI – focusing on ‘Green issues’ such as climate change & the challenge that this presents to us in our lives.  We are encouraged to focus on what we value on ‘Planet Earth’ – something that many of us have appreciated even more during this pandemic when we have been ‘stuck’ inside.  Those of us who are lucky to have gardens have enjoyed the first signs of Spring & watched the wildlife more carefully.  Out on daily walks? – then you realise what a lovely part of the world we live in!

There are also opportunities ….. for thinking about things differently & for making changes in our daily lives (even if they are small).  The ‘green heart’ is the symbol of the ‘Show the Love’ campaign & we are proud to wear, & display, them.

To that end, we welcomed Anthony Froggatt to our February Zoom meeting who is the 4th generation of his family to farm in the village at Wade Lane Farm.  The farm has diversified in recent years – notably the ‘Just Oil’ range of flavoured rapeseed oils & ‘Just Crisps’.  These are the only 100% British crisps in the UK – the potatoes that are chipped are grown here, as is the the rapeseed oil used to ‘cook’ them & the production of the crisps themselves. All this takes place, not just in the UK, but in the Ridwares.  No other crisps have this pedigree!  We watched some videos about the crisp production, & plan to have a visit to the ‘crisp’ factory later on in the year. Anthony answered a wide range of questions from the ladies present: ranging from the impact of climate change, crop rotation, national & international sales, potato varieties used,  & local employment to the impact of Covid 19 & Brexit on the business.  Many ladies offered their services as ‘crisp taste testers’!    Well, the crisps are award winners in the ‘Great Taste Awards’…..

An excellent informative evening.

February began not just with green hearts, but also with the colour ‘red’ – well, it was ‘Chinese New Year’!  We marked the start of the ‘Year of the Ox’ with another afternoon get-together over Zoom, full of chat & laughter.  Lanterns were decorated for our homes & Karen Parsons talked about the trditions, colours & symbols associated with this ‘new year’ of the ox.  A big thank you also to Mandy from The Cantonese Restaurant at The Chadwick Arms for providing us all with a fortune cookie – much laughter & comment followed as we ragailed eachother with our ‘fortune prospects’.  Should be an intersting year for us all!

Why ‘red’?  In Chinese culture, red is the symbol of happiness, wealth & prosperity – it can ward off evil spirits & bring good luck.  Some things we all need at the moment!

Guo Nian Hao (Happy New Year) !


Tales of the Lockdown … Episode 12

New Year …. new Zoom get-togethers for us in The Ridwares WI!     We got creative in another ‘craft along with Gaye’ session & made a post-it note & calendar holder… and felt very proud of ourselves in the process.  There’s always laughter involved when we ‘meet up’ – catching up on news, both family & local (as well as County & National WI updates) , & waving to each other is still an ‘event’.  Well, it is the only time we get to ‘see’ one another, isn’t it?   Fun & friendship is still what we’re all about in The Ridwares WI, Covid or no Covid….

Cupboards & wardrobes were raided for anything ‘tartan’ for our get-together to celebrate ‘Burns Night in the afternoon.  Whiskey & shortbread were also in evidence.  Anna reminisced about growing up on the West Coast  & how different things were when she & her family moved ‘south’.  We may  speak a common language, but the same words can have totally different meanings. Fond memories of Scottish holidays were also shared by many ladies. What a lovely way to spend the afternoon.

Tales of the Lockdown ….. Episode 11

November saw us embracing Zoom… With all the changing regulations & advice, as Covid-19 continued to spread, there was no other way for us to meet up.  So we experimented with a Committee meeting… then a ‘Coffee & Chat’ session… & then finally, a scheduled Zoom meeting for us all.  What a giggle!  It took us 45 minutes to all log in, wave & natter – well, we are a friendly lot & hadn’t seen a lot of our fellow ‘Ridware WI Ladies’ for months.  There was a lot to catch up on.  The focus for our get together was a ‘Craft along with Gaye’ session.  Kits had been distributed & we all learnt the ‘Scrappy Strip’ technique, resulting in a handmade Christmas card.  The results were very impressive.

With no ‘Tinsel & Trimmings’ community event able to take place this year,  that did not mean that we were ‘forgetting’ Christmas.  Christmas was not going to be ‘cancelled’ in Hill Ridware!  Karen organised the donation of the Christmas tree for outside the village hall as usual.   The garden area was festooned with a wonderful garland & Alan W, Bob & Alan G helped decorate the tree.  Santas also formed part of the decor – part of a community initiative to display Santas in gardens, windows etc around the village for children to count as they went on their ‘daily walk’.

  Our December Zoom meeting centred around Karen showing us how to decorate a wreath for our front doors, as well as creating a table centrepiece & a grave memorial.  Phew!  So inspiring – pens whizzed across notebooks with relish.  Again, a lot of laughs ensured.

The year ended with another Zoom ‘coffee & chat’ session.  2020 has been an unusual year – the first time in our lives that we have shared in the impact of a global pandemic which has upended all our lives.  ‘Hope’ seems to be the theme for 2021 – still in ‘lockdown’, but with the promise of so much more.  Happy New Year!

Tales of the Lockdown … Episode 9

The Ridwares WI was out ‘sharing the love’ again with another ‘Hug in a Bag’.  Karen commented: “I had a lovely week catching up with so many of you as I delivered your second hug in a bag. I do hope you enjoyed the contents, a bit of fun and frivolity is what we all need at the moment ….”  Particular thanks to Ann Batchelor for making all the beautiful bags – definitely a ‘keep sake’ in themselves!

So there is a quiz and some colouring to do … some bubbles to blow  & remind us to ‘keep safe’ …. whilst having a cup of coffee & eating some biscuits….  So that’s our ladies ‘sorted’ for a while!

Of course, we’ve been itching to get out in our local community & ‘share the love’ further with other villagers.  So on Saturday 12th September we brought our ‘famous’ Trade Table outside  – literally out at the side of the Village Hall!

Homemade jams, pickles & marmalade were for sale – as were homemade cakes, knitted crafts & handmade cards.  Flowers, plants & produce were also available. Thank you to everyone who contributed items for sale – & came to help out on the day.

Particular thanks though to all those villagers who came & supported us.  The monies raised will go towards the provision of Autumn/Winter bedding plants to help keep the ‘BKV’ vibe going throughout the village.


Tales of the Lockdown ….. Episode 7

Life in ‘Lockdown’ continues to be ‘different’ for us in The Ridwares WI.  We still can’t meet up as a group, but are finding ways of keeping in touch as well as helping our community.

Happy Birthday to Liz Humble, Anna McCallum, Meryl Mattey, Chris Lowries, Mary Meddings, Jean Hodgskiss, Wendy Thomas and Yvonne Banks! Congratulations to Clare and Martin Brown who celebrated their Ruby Wedding anniversary on Sunday and also to Anthea and Ivan Smith on the birth of their new great granddaughter – Ada.

The BKV planters are all growing nicely – as is our WI heart shaped flower bed.  Thanks to Deb Wilson & Yvonne Higgins for their weeding – much appreciated!

Jude and Angela have been busy knitting new born baby hats which have now been passed on to Good Hope, New Cross and Leicester hospitals.  The maternity units are very appreciative.  Karen has also received, and passed on, a bag of gorgeous cardigans, hats and little socks for premature babies, donated by a lady who runs the craft club in the village.  Thank you to all of you!

Remember the Hygiene Box initiative that we started before Lockdown?  Well, we couldn’t let what we had already collected go to waste, so Karen made a request on Facebook for any further donations – and was inundated!  Ann Batchelor made 60 beautiful toiletry bags for us, which have been duly filled and taken to the Hygiene Bank where they will be distributed to those in need.  Thank you Anne, and to everyone who donated toiletries.  This story was picked up by the Staffordshirre Federation and they have given us a mention in the latest SFWI newsletter – The Ridwares WI has been referred to as “Community Champions”.  Well done ladies!!

As for keeping in touch with eachother, well, we all received a ‘Hug in a Bag’ – in lieu of a real hug & meeting up in person.  Particular thanks to Karen & Alan for delivering the vast majority of these to all the members – the Sat Nav certainly had it’s work cut out navigating the roads & by-ways of rural Staffordshire!  Karen commented that it made her appreciate just how far some of our ladies travel to get to our meetings & events, and how lovely it was to actually have a (socially distanced) catch-up with so many members in person.  These ‘Hugs’ were very well received & much appreciated by all.

As to meeting up in person, things are still uncertain…. but we will keep you informed.  Until then,

Stay Safe – Be Kind – Kia Kaha  (Stay Strong)