Welcome to The Alexandra WI!

Welcome to The Alexandra WI, the Women’s Institute for Muswell Hill and Crouch End, North London. We started out in 2010 and we have members from their 30s to their 70s – we’re a diverse group and all women are very welcome!

We meet 8-10pm on the first Tuesday of the month at CUFOS, end of The Avenue, London N10 2QE. It’s the old Alexandra Palace railway station building, just behind Ally Pally.

Our next meeting is on Tuesday 5 November at 8pm at our usual venue, CUFOS in Muswell Hill.
At this meeting we will welcome Michael Laikin for a mini Antiques Roadshow. Michael, who has appeared on the iconic BBC series, will be talking antiques and giving us the chance to receive an informal valuation of a keepsake, so please bring along a small special item if you wish (but not books or paintings).

How do I become a member?

Yes, you can just turn up!

You can attend a meeting as a guest (£5 donation) or become a member on the spot (payment by cash, card, cheque or bank transfer).

In November – we are welcoming guests for free, so please come along and ‘try before you buy!’.

Please have a browse of our site… but if you have any questions, please do email us.

Read more about membership here.

190806_StartingGate_group

Some of our members enjoying our informal pub get-together in August 2019.

IMG_20190507_221236.jpg

Our 2019 decorated t-shirt competition, celebrating the theme of ‘My WI’

 

October 2019 – Christmas Crafting

October is once again Christmas crafting time at The Alexandra WI, and we made a start on creating items for our annual stall at Muswell Hill in December. This year we had a go at yarn wreaths, mini plat pots with pine cones, and tree decorations. Thank you to member Tamara Watts who ran this session for us: we very much appreciate all the work you put into preparation to make this a fun evening.

Our members – plus guests and two brand new members (welcome!) – always love the chance to busy themselves with crafts while having a good old chat… This should be evident in the photos!

 

September 2019 – Members’ Meeting

We happily continued our wonderful September meeting tradition of hearing from our very own members about their lives. We’ve continued to have such positive feedback about it. Let’s be honest: everyone’s a little curious about everyone else, and we know it helps build our community. We can wholeheartedly recommend it to other WIs!

This year we heard from two members about their working lives. Jayne Fowler told us of her early studies in Canada, and her work in pathology in London, while Rosemary Pettman shared her experiences of working in prison education.

Thank you so much to Jayne and Rosemary for sharing their stories with us.

July 2019 – Visit to Reculver Beacon WI

WhatsApp Image 2019-07-08 at 10.36.08(5).jpeg

The Alexandra WI member Jacque with Herne Bay local hero aviatrix Amy Johnson.

In early July, six members of The Alexandra WI travelled by train to Herne Bay in Kent to spend the day with our twin WI Reculver Beacon. We were met at the station by Claire, the Secretary, who drove us to her house for a delicious buffet lunch, where we spent some time sitting in the garden and catching up with the lovely ladies of Reculver Beacon WI. We were then transported to the seafront where we had a walking tour of many of the historic attractions of Herne Bay. To accompany the tour, RB WI provided us with an illustrated booklet describing all the attractions on the tour in some detail. These included the Pier, the Bandstand, the Clocktower and the bronze statue of the famous aviator Amy Johnson and many more.

Herne Bay has a very interesting history, especially as a coastal town constantly under threat during the wars. We also saw a large circular flower display organised by the Herne Bay WI to commemorate the WI Centenary. It was a wonderful day out and thoroughly enjoyed by everyone… in fact, three of our group stayed on for a meal in the evening.

Thank you so much to our friends at Reculver Beacon WI for such a warm welcome and a lovely day.

WhatsApp Image 2019-07-06 at 19.55.03(4).jpeg

All the fun of the pier, Herne Bay

July 2019 – Summer Gardening

Our July meeting guest speaker was Denis Lynch, horticulturist, of our local Sunshine Garden Centre. Denis gave an interesting talk and slide show. He brought many flowering hardy perennials for us to see and told us about the best situation in the garden for planting and a couple examples of alternative plants to the box which can be devastatingly infected with the box blight (Cylindrocladium buxicola) such as Elaeagnus x submacrophylla ‘Compacta’. His slides showed the many pests and diseases and friendly ones which affect our garden plants and how to recognise which is which. Following this he concentrated on the importance of biosecurity and urged us all not to bring any plants home from abroad. A short Q&A session finished off his talk… We all learned something and looked at plants and pests slightly differently.

June 2019 – Spring Lane Care Home Summer Open Day

In late June, President Maggie Weatherby and member – and twiddlemuff queen (and charity knitting facilitator), Ching Smith, were invited to Spring Lane Care Home, Muswell Hill to their Summer Open Day to thank families of loved ones, past and present, volunteers, and all

those who have contributed to make the home a vibrant and happy place to live. We were privileged to be invited, following our initial contact in 2018 when we donated three Twiddlemuffs to the unit for those with severe dementia.

It was a lovely summer day for BBQ, drinks and entertainment. We set up our table, with a prime position overlooking the food area and stage. Maggie brought items to promote our WI, along with twiddlemuffs and shawls to promote our Charity Knitting Group.

We chatted to many visitors and residents, including a couple of prospective new members for our WI, and we thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon: lovely setting, nice sunny day, the residents contented and staff interested!

Before we left, Caroline Elliott, Activities Co-ordinator, suggested that we to do a Master Class with the residents, which we are looking forward to!

 

June 2019 – A surprise meeting!

The June meeting turned out to be rather an unexpected event as we had to change it from the advertised one. Tracey Mackness from the Giggly Pig company, who was to be our guest speaker, was unable to come as she was unwell.  So disappointing for us, as she is a very good and inspirational speaker.  We wish her a speedy recovery and we will try to organise another date for her to return.

As we only knew about her inability to come shortly before the meeting was due to start, we had some quick thinking to do!  I am very pleased to say that after consulting our Plan B, Nina produced a discussion document consisting of a series of questions set to encourage discussion both on a humorous and serious level.  The questions included:  When were you happiest?  What is your guilty secret? What was the worst thing anyone said to you? What’s on your bucket list?  What was your best kiss?

Everyone was happy to give this a go,so after the usual business section we decided to split into  groups… and got chatting. There were 10 questions to answer by each person in the group, so everyone was engrossed in discussion for  about 30 minutes.  Everyone shared their own particular experience in answering the questions and this created a light hearted and relaxed atmosphere.

When all the groups had finished we had a feedback session, with responses shared ranging from the outright comical to the very poignant.

Just before we had tea, Jacque led us in a rendition of Happy Birthday for June: thank you Jacque.  June had made the most delicious strawberry and elderflower cake (National Trust recipe!), shortbread biscuits and chocolate brownies to mark her birthday.  Thank you June – they were delicious.  The strawberry and elderflower cake will be the first recipe in our WI recipe folder and I hope to collect many more recipes for the folder over the next year.

And another thing… In order to help the committee develop a varied future programme for the future we handed out a questionnaire at the end of the meeting.  This gives everyone an opportunity to have their say about The Alexandra WI (their WI!) and to make suggestions on how and what they would like to see in the future.

May 2019 – Annual Meeting

Our annual Meeting was held on 7 May 2019, with our Middlesex Federation WI Advisor, Yvette Rathbone. We balanced the business end of the meeting with a (somewhat challenging!) quiz and our decorated t-shirt competition.

Secretary Nina Jewell presented the Annual Report, recounting another busy year, from rag wreath making, singing and creative writing to more wine-tasting, scarf juggling and tai chi.

Yvette then officiated for our elections at which Maggie Weatherby was elected President, taking the reins from Emma Watson who stepped aside after four terms, and the new committee was elected. We farewelled from the committee Rachel Craig and Joan Prasad, formally welcomed back Norma Barnes, and re happy to announce the Gill Whitney has also joined the committee.

20190507_222230.jpg

Incoming President Maggie Weatherby with Emma Watson, who leaves the post after four terms

Finally, Yvette drew the winner of our 2019-20 Denman Bursary; Nina Jewell was the lucky winner. Congratulations Nina! If you would like to know more about the WI’s Denman College, do take a look at its website. We also voted in favour of supporting both the resolutions being put forward at the NFWI Annual Meeting in Bournemouth in June.

In the committee meeting following the Annual Meeting, the following roles were also confirmed:

  • President – Maggie Weatherby
  • Secretary – Nina Jewell
  • Treasurer/Communications Manager – Emma Watson
  • Minute Secretary/Refreshments – Rosemary Pettman
  • Committee Member – Norma Barnes
  • Committee member – Gill Whitney

Although she is not on the Committee, Jayne Fowler will continue to assist by running the MCS.

 

After the formal business was finished it was time to judge the t-shirt competition.  This unenviable role went to our WI adviser Yvette.  It was not an easy job, as we had ten beautifully decorated t-shirts some dyed different colours and others using embroidery and artwork.  After carefully inspecting each one, Yvette came out with a well deserved winner designed by Ching Smith. Ching had made hand crocheted  flowers, biscuits and even a tiny twiddlemuff, all put on a background showing our logo of Alexandra Palace.  Congratulations to Ching and thank you to everyone for their contributions.

We finished the meeting with a fun quiz on tea and coffee organised by Nina. We finished off the meeting with cakes from Tops Cakes and tea organised by Rosemary.

IMG_20190507_221236

April 2019 – Creative Writing

We love getting creative, whether it’s writing, singing, crafts… And for our April meeting, we got our pens out, inviting local creative writing workshop facilitator Nichola Charalambou of Creative Writes to guide us through some ‘free-flow’ writing exercises designed to get us writing.

20190402_215255

Nichola Charalambou with The Alexandra WI President Emma Watson and Secretary/Treasurer Nina Jewell

Nichola’s approach allows writers to focus on simply getting words on the page: the process is more important than the end product.

Our members let their creativity flow, starting with a simple exercise on the prompt “I am…”. Nichola then handed out a selection of weird and wacky old hats, and we were tasked with writing from the perspective of our allocated hats, followed by an imagined conversation between the hats, when they met. A fun challenge!

 

March 2019 – Women Rise and the WI online

For our March meeting we mixed it up a bit. We started proceedings with a brief presentation from Priyanka and Heidi of local group Women Rise, based at Jackson’s Lane theatre in Highgate, and recipients of our charity fundraising efforts in 2018. Priyanka let us know all about the courses the group runs for women, including theatre and circus arts, self-defence, yoga and confidence building. Heidi then led us in scarf juggling… harder than it looks but a lot of fun!

We were then joined by Jules and Yve from Digital Team of the Middlesex Federation of Women’s Institutes. Jules reminded us of the myriad ways we can interact with the WI online, including accessing information for members via MyWI on the NFWI’s website, and finding out more about activities run by the Federation on its website and Facebook sites. Thank you Jules and Yve!

February 2019 – Tai Chi

February is wellbeing month at The Alexandra WI and we were joined by local tai chi enthusiast David Craig, who introduced us to the arts of Tai Chi and Chi Kung and led us in some gentle exercises to get a feel for it. We like to source ‘home-grown’, local speakers and this month we were lucky to have as a guest the husband of one of our committee members. Thank you Rachel for organising this meeting!

 

January 2019 – Pub Meeting & WI Resolutions

Our January meeting was our annual pub meeting, this year back at the Victoria Stakes, but in the peace and quiet of the upstairs dining room, which meant we could hear everything properly this year!

We welcomed in the new year with a glass of wine, and started proceedings with a WI quiz which challenged us to identify the decade of various previous WI campaigns (thank you Nina!). We then debated and voted on the shortlist of WI resolutions for 2018. As always, there was a healthy discussion on the six shortlisted proposals, and the results have now been submitted to the Middlesex Federation.

Thank you to those who attended, welcome to our two new members, and Happy New Year!2019-01_pub_meeting_resolutions-1

December 2018: Merry Christmas!

For our December meeting we dusted off a bingo barrel, heated up some mulled wine, popped some shortbread in the oven and had a very enjoyable final gathering for 2018. Committee member Rachel took the helm and proved herself a more than capable bingo caller (thank you, Rachel!). We then split into two teams and tackled charades: this proved a great success! We also held a raffle which was a great success for our fundraising!

Best wishes for the festive season from all of us at The Alexandra WI!

A Very Merry Muswell stall 2018

Once again The Alexandra Women’s Institute held a stall at local festival A Very Merry Muswell on Saturday 1 December 2018. This year our stall was inside the beautiful St James’ Church in Muswell Hill, and yes… we were grateful to be inside on this wintry day! We had a very successful day selling a variety of cakes, biscuits, Christmas crafts and knitted goods including hedgehogs and rag wreaths. Thank you to our members who made and baked items to sell, helped on the day, or simply called into say hello! And thank you to everyone who supported our fundraising by buying something!

Here are some photos of us on the day.

November 2018 – Singing

For our November meeting we had a good old singalong with Yvonne Packer and local community choir Cantamus. For this we thank our WI member and choir member Jacque for bringing us together: thank you Jacque!

After a warm-up by way of a ‘mature’ version of My Favourite Things, we launched into the west African songs Jamawaile and Tue Tue. The Yvonne mixed things up a bit with two sets of songs which sound lovely together, but even better sung together. Who knew that Pack Up Your Troubles, It’s A Long Way to Tipperary and Keep The Home Fires Burning work perfectly together? I’m Gonna Sing Sing Sing, Oh When The Saints and Swing Low, Sweet Chariot also go together beautifully as well!

Even our members who started out a little tentative had a fun time! Thank you to Yvonne and Cantamus for a creative and relaxing meeting.

 

October 2018 – Rag Wreaths

181002_RagWreaths-14

October is Christmas crafting time at The Alexandra WI, as we get cracking on items for our annual stall at Muswell Hill in December. This year we had a go at rag wreaths, which was a lot of fun. The bulk of the work had been one prior to the meeting, as each wreath takes around 160 6″ x 2″ strips of fabric. Thank you to everyone who did a great job with rotary cutters and scissors!

Our members – plus two guests and two brand new members – got started even before the business part of the meeting was underway, and by the end of our session many were onto their second wreath. Take a look at the photos to see the fruits of our labours.

 

September 2018 – Members’ Meeting

We’ve established a nice little tradition at out September meeting, hearing from our very own members about their lives. We’ve had such positive feedback about it! Everyone’s a little curious, and it certainly helps build our community if we know more about one another.

This year we heard from two members about their varied working lives. Annie Waite took us on a journey from Great Ormond Street to Bahrain and the far east and back to North London in nursing roles, while Chris Randall shared her experiences of working in the House of Commons.

Thank you so much to Annie and Chris; we’re now looking for volunteers for our Members’ Meeting in September 2019.

We also shared photos on the theme of ‘What summer means to me’: thank you to our members who brought along photos to share their summer memories!

 

Tea & Tents 2018

July was Tea & Tents time for over 500 WI members from across England and Wales. Tea & Tents is a bi-annual camping weekend in Walesby Forest in Nottinghamshire. Emma, Nina and Jayne packed up Jayne’s car and headed off again for a fabulous weekend of crafts, food, drink and fellowship. It’s a great opportunity to meet fellow WI members and take time out from our busy schedules in peaceful (ish!) surroundings.

Once again we enjoyed a variety of craft activities including Kumihimo bracelets, flower crowns, ‘slow sewing’ and more, as well as cooking demonstrations, a recorder lesson (!), swimming, a massed singalong, yarn bomb, beer tasting, walks, runs, tai chi, a mega-quiz, talent quest, market, bake-off and many talks from WI members on topics ranging from charity work in Kathmandu, life as a zookeeper and experiences of working at Federation level in the WI.

Update 10 August 2018: We’ve since found out this was the last ‘T&T’ in this format but we know that there are other WI camping weekends spring up around the country, inspired by the original T&T. We thank the ‘Squirrels’ who did an amazing job organising everything!

20180720_18244920180721_20203020180722_171831