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!

Generally 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.  Please note that some meetings will be held by Zoom at the committee’s discretion.

Next meeting is July 5th at the Hornsey Bowls Club – 7pm start
(The Green Rectory Gardens, Hornsey, London, N8 7PJ)

An introduction to lawn bowling will be provided by the Hornsey Bowls Club. Please bring an extra pair of flat shoes to wear on the bowling green.

Charity Knitting Group

Do join the Charity knitting group on Tuesdays at 2pm upstairs in the Hornsey Library. The group recently celebrated their fifth anniversary on 21st June, which was also reported by the Ham and High. Recent donations include Overstone. 

Please scroll down and read about our past meetings and do check the calendar / programme for future events

How do I become a member?

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

Read more about membership here. Subscription rates for 2022 are here.

2022 Programme
January 4 – WI Resolutions – Discussion
February 1 – First Aid
March 1 – Where’s the makeup lady?
April 5 – Gardeners’ question time
May 3 – AGM
June 7 – Weaving
July 5 – Lawn Bowling
August – Tea and cake – TBA
September 6 – Local author
October 4 – Let’s hear from our members
November 1 – Christmas Crafting
December 6 – Christmas festive fun 

May 2022 – AGM

We held our AGM with our WI Advisor Yvette Rathbone officiating from the Middlesex Federation along with Fiona Doyle a WI Trainee Advisor. Thanks to the committee for their work over the year and continuing to stand for another year. After the official business members were treated to a glass of prosecco and a slice of cake made by June. Members also told their stories of an experience with royalty. Congratulations to Ching for winning the make a lanyard competition. Thanks to everyone who took part, it was a fabulous evening!

April 2022 – Muswell Hill and District Horticultural Society (MHDHS)

Jenny Kruss was in attendance to discuss MHDHS. The society was founded in 1912 and continues to flourish with the only requirement being to love gardens or gardening. They hold three annual shows during the year, social events and day trips. There are also affiliated groups in Highgate and Finchley along with National Garden Scheme (NGS) which opens gardens for charity in London and across the country. Jenny also answered our gardening questions.

March 2022 – Where’s the Make Up Lady?

Make-up artists are often asked to solve unexpected problems when they are working. We joined Rosemarie Swinfield on a light-hearted journey through her long career working in photography, film, commercials and theatre. We heard her stories of working with top models and actors with all the challenging and often hilarious things that can happen. Rosemarie has made up many famous people but also babies, tables, plants, dummy figures and even ten fingers dressed up as people. A make-up artist’s role is often so much more than slapping on make-up so join Rosemarie and learn what the job really involves.’

Rosemarie Swinfield

Gill announced our lanyard the competition for the AGM in May.

Ching provided an update from the charity knitting group which continues to focus on making items for people with dementia. Recent donations have been made to the Homerton and Barnet Hospitals.

Recent donations

February 2022 – First Aid

As requested by members the committee organised first aid training which was held in person at CUFOS. This was basic training to help us to know what to do if we are ’first at the scene’ for an accident inside or outside the home. Ben covered a range of first aid treatments.

January 2022 – Resolutions

It was decided to hold our first meeting of 2022 by Zoom. By tradition we discuss the WI resolutions every January, albeit in a pub. This meeting started with a briefing from Heulwen on the current resolution regarding cervical cancer. This was very informative and Heulwen was keen to follow up on this further. The resolutions discussed were very interesting and the different resolutions proposed covered a range of interests. Members spoke on one or more of the proposals. Diane, as a solicitor, made a number of constructive contributions based on experiences of the law. Sally made a made the point that it was important to consider how a campaign on a particular topic might work in practice. The majority vote was for ‘Appropriate sentencing of non-violent women offenders.

December 2021 – Christmas Meeting

We had a lovely Christmas party which included a quiz (who thinks of these questions!), bingo and a raffle with great prizes from the Everyman Muswell Hill, North&Ten and WMartyn Tea & Coffee Specialist. Members enjoyed mulled wine and homemade mince tarts. A great evening and start to the festive season.

November 2021 – Crafting

Unfortunately Lorraine was unable to join us but a last minute call up to bring unfinished craft projects led to pleasant evening. There was work on crafts for the stall at the Hornsey Vale Community Centre, a crochet corner, embroidery, knitting and embellishments for twiddlemuffs. And of course there was tea, cake and socialising!

October 2021 – 10th Anniversary (albeit a year late)

A lovely birthday cake made by June

We had a great evening. Our president opened the birthday anniversary by welcoming everyone. We had Balloon entertainment when four members (in Wonderful Women character) were on board in an over full hot air balloon. Each Passenger stated their case to remain in the balloon. One was evicted to save the other three!

And of course there was Prosecco, food and birthday cake and with a raffle.

Cantamas entertained us with and lead us in singing together.

Our WI birthday quilt with blocks submitted by members and sewn together by Maggie.

Many thanks to the birthday committee, organised by Sally, for such a wonderful evening!

September 2021 – Members’ Meeting

We always find our Members’ meetings to be very interesting and a great success and we weren’t disappointed. It was an engaging and interesting evening.

Sally spoke about the National Trust Young People’s Theatre, which sadly no longer exists.
June spoke about her nursing career and how things have changed over the years.

The evening finished up with a Show ’n Tell of Lockdown projects which included crochet, knitting, quilting, tatting and a lovely poem by Heulwen Morgan Reading called Freedom

Freedom –

Is it of the mind?

Is it of the body?

The mental kind

or physical agility?

Freedom is light, bright

to see positivity,

transforming to inner white light

that grey-black, heavy darkly

foreboding feeling.

A heavenly lift when seeing friends,

of birdsong sweetly filling the air.

Soothing green on the eye, leaves,

grass, foliage interspersed with care

between yellows, pinks, reds and blues

of fragrant flowers.

Freedom only comes after restriction.

“Don’t know what we had till it’s lost!”

Can’t wait to shop,

can’t wait to fly to warmer climes.

What an affliction, or is it obsession?

The habit of past times

remain without exemption.


Let’s live, laugh, enjoy,

do what we’re able,

fill our lives with mutual joy.

And remain stable.

July 2021 – Prosecco and Strawberries

Our July meeting was our first in person meeting for 16 months. We had a wonderful time at our welcome back social. The most emotional point was when members spontaneously broke out in applause, friendship and camaraderie prevailed and found a way.

June 2021 – Wolves Lane Flower Company

Marianne Mogendorff and Camilla Klich spent two years setting up their micro flower farm which is located in north London among fig trees, occasional bramble and in a 40m glasshouse.

Camilla showed us a short film about Wolves Lane Flower Company which was followed by a Q&A session. Excellent knowledge and generous tips on planting, extending plant flowering, tackling pests, etc. was provided by Camilla.

Check out Wolves Lane Horticultural Centre, N22 on 19 September via National Garden Scheme.

May 2021 – AGM

The AGM which was chaired  by Maggie Weatherby as her last meeting as President. Nina gave both the financial and annual reports to us.  We were grateful to have Yvette Rathbone WI Adviser to oversee the voting of the Committee and President which was an interesting exercise on Zoom! After the meeting we delivered an orchid and thank you card to Maggie from the members to show our appreciation of her two years as President.

January 2021 – Resolutions

Our January meeting was our usual Resolution meeting which sadly did not include our usual visit to the pub!

Thank you to everyone joined us on Zoom to discuss the shortlisted resolutions for 2021. We’ve sent forward our votes to Middlesex Federation of WIs, and look forward to finding out which resolution(s) will go forward to the NFWI Annual Meeting this year.

If you are interested in putting forward a current issue you feel strongly about and would like the WI to campaign on this,  you can find out more information on how to turn this into a resolution here: https://www.thewi.org.uk/campaigns/resolutions.

December 2020 – Festive Meeting

We’re used to getting festive in December with mulled wince, mince pies and shortbread… But this year it was a BYO affair with our eighth (would you believe!) Zoom meeting.

We farewelled another year of WI meetings and activities, though I think it is fair to say no-one really wants to replicate 2020 anytime soon.

There was much conviviality nonetheless, with members—and a very welcome guest from our sister WI Reculver Beacon in Herne Bay in Kent—sharing their favourite pampering treats and Christmas recipes.

We’re very much looking forward to 2021 and the time we can meet again in person, yet are so thankful for our members who’ve come online and joined us since March, and send our best wishes to those we’ve missed during this time.

We’re used to getting festive in December with mulled wince, mince pies and shortbread… But this year it was a BYO affair with our eighth (would you believe!) Zoom meeting.

There was much conviviality nonetheless, with members—and a very welcome guest from our sister WI Reculver Beacon in Herne Bay in Kent—sharing their favourite pampering treats and Christmas recipes.

November 2020 – Street Art

The Alexandra WI took to the streets – as best we could online – for a walk through the streets of inner east London with Blue Badge Guide Annamarie Dall’Anese. Annamaria opened our eyes to so much creative work which is such a delight to discover: Annamaria felt that the joy of discovery – wandering without a map or guidebook – was key to the enjoyment of street art.

For the first time, we opened our meeting to the WI Wanderers Facebook Group, and we delighted to welcome over 30 WI members from across the country. Shout out to everyone who came along from as far afield as West Yorkshire, North Yorkshire, Kent, Wiltshire, Essex and Buckinghamshire. We loved having you join us and we have never felt so popular!

Walking tours around London have always been a popular event on our WI calendar, and we were so glad to be able to incorporate this into our meeting schedule for this ‘stay at home’ year.

The photos here were shared by Annamaria Dall’Anese; copyright rests with the artists.

October 2020 – Happy Tenth Birthday to us!

It was so nice to see 24 members at our Tenth Birthday Party at the beginning of the month and I hope you all agree that, especially in the circumstances, we had a really good get together. The hats provided a good opening to the show and illustrated the diversity of our interests and ambitions – from visits to Jamaica to memories of special family occasions – and the 2 items to be taken to the Desert Island were a fascinating insight into what is really important to our members! The quiz was excellent and I am still surprised to discover that Winston Churchill was born in a toilet – there’s hope for all low born men and women then. Also, who knew our local team Arsenal won the FA Cup last year?

It seems that we have to continue with our virtual meetings for some time to come but I hope the Party proved that we can, and do, have some very enjoyable evenings over Zoom and that the Alexandra WI is a group definitely worth keeping together through these difficult and uncharted times until we can meet up again in person in the hopefully not too distant future.

Congratulations to all of you who have made the last ten years so enjoyable and successful.  Here’s to at least the next ten. Cheers!


September 2020 – Members’ Meeting

We continued our established 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!

Fifteen members signed onto Zoom to hear two members speak about their work. Liz Crane spoke about her experience as a nurse and health visitor (including during the Covid-19 pandemic), giving interesting historical background to her work before telling us about modern day health visiting and how the virus had changed some of the work.

Haniya Dar spoke about International Development, and discussed the recent incorporation of International Aid into the Foreign Office. Haniya showed us pictures of her travels abroad and some of the influential people who saw how the money was used. Two inspirational women we are privileged to have in our WI.

Thank you so much to Liz and Haniya for sharing their stories with us.

July 2020 – Travel

200707_TheAexandraWI_Mtg_Zoom_SteveFowler-02For our fourth members’ meeting on Zoom we were delighted to have Steve Fowler as the speaker on the subject of travel.

Steve introduced his talk by telling us he was born a Shropshire lad who emigrated with his family to New Zealand at seven years of age and believes this is where his love of travel started. The family travelled to New Zealand by ship calling at many ports on route, which included passing through the Suez Canal.  The stop in Bombay stands out in his mind as being very colourful, full of contrasts and as a young lad couldn’t understand why his parents gave away their food to those who guided them round the city.

Fifteen years later Steve returned to the UK with a one-way ticket. With the need to find employment he began by working as a tour guide on camping trips in Europe. This has continued over the years and with companies guiding mainly attracts Americans, Australia and New Zealanders who want to visit the main cities in Europe, including London, Amsterdam, Vienna, Rome, Florence, Paris, Salzburg and many more. Steve mentioned that the people usually get on well together.  Steve was asked about his favourite places to visit and they included holidays in India, japan, South Africa, and Portugal to name a few! Members then spoke of their favourite places to travel or holidays with a theme. An inspirational evening giving us a taste to visit those countries we are waiting to see.

– Rosemary Pettman


Lockdown creativity

Our June 2020 Zoom meeting included story telling by three members who shared their creative writing. We hope you enjoy these pieces as much as we did.

Viral War

Corona meant ‘pop’
when I was growing up!
Orange, lime, tizer, raspberry,
dandelion and burdock, strawberry.
Glass bottles with a penny return,
what a lot of fizzy sugar to burn!
Kids parties now have water,
though they do appear fatter
than us who enjoyed jelly, trifle, jam with pips
instead of cucumber, tomatoes and  dips.

The namesake virus has conquered the world
stopping life as we know it – how absurd
that the round intracellular monster
could blow the world asunder!
Follow recommendations we must,
no close contact or kissing those we trust.
Shaking hands has become so automatic
rather than elbows, feet or staying static
at 2 metres distance between individuals
wearing masks practicing hand washing rituals.

The overflow fizz is before the stillness.
Let’s hope the ‘pop’ is controlled – lots less
than 20,000 before the bubbles settle.
Please put on the kettle!
Toilet rolls, paracetamol out of stock,
soon no walking round the block
as a London lock down predicted.
Pray we’re not afflicted
by the awful viral war in store.
Keep well, stay in, don’t let it get a bore!

– Heulwen Reading

An Easter Story

It was the warmest of springs, it was the coldest of springs – since records began according to the weather forecasters and the seaweed hanging on the back of our toilet door. Whatever the meteorologists of all stripes indicated, at the end of March when temperatures were unseasonably high, I decided to have a barbeque for an April Easter Monday; but – two weeks later temperatures were unseasonably low. When Good Friday arrived the weather was cold and wet. Not to worry – three days to go.

Forty people had accepted the invitation and the house is not large – I’d invited just about everyone I knew thinking at least half would be away or have some other commitment, but no – obviously Easter was just as boring for everyone else as it was for me and not only had all our friends accepted but several had phoned to ask if they could bring their parents or parents-in-law who were staying with them for the holidays. Oh goodie, I was saving my friends from another day of trying not to kill their relatives.

At a pinch and with an efficient shoe-horner we could get 30 people into the downstairs area – as long as they were standing, without moving and didn’t expect to eat anything because where we would cook if it rained I had no idea? The patio was fine but had no covering and barbequed food for 40 would certainly be a challenge in our galley kitchen with its small oven and work tops the size of postage stamps.  Rachael Khoo, I thought, she manages to rustle up gourmet meals in a miniscule kitchen in Paris – but not for 40 people I remembered – more like six – tops.  No role model there then.

On Easter Saturday morning, seeing the leaden skies, I decided to watch the TV chefs to see what suggestions they might have and turned on Saturday Kitchen with the lovely James Martin who was very sensibly preparing a traditional, sit down roast lamb lunch for 6. He was followed by the charmingly beautiful (and I’m certain fragrant) Rachael Khoo. In her tiny kitchen Rachael was dashing off an amazing tray of brilliantly coloured roast vegetables and a savoury cake made with cheese and figs for her three (paying) visitors. These TV chefs provided no tips on how to cook 40 sausages, chicken legs or lamb chops or where to put salads, bread and some kind of pudding. OMG – I was panicking now.

However, later in the day the grey skies turned blue, my spirits rose and I began to draw up the shopping list. Perhaps those patches of blue would expand and the temperature would rise.

Now in my view, optimism is a wonderful thing. Firstly you don’t get stressed, secondly you only live your problems once instead of dying the thousand deaths Shakespeare talks about the coward suffering. However, old Baden Powell also had a very fair point when he thought up the boy scouts motto To fail to prepare, is to prepare to fail. So whilst I was out shopping, now watching the crowds dashing through downpours to their cars and loading up soaking wet parcels I decided I should hedge my bets.

Sunday came and the temperature remained down in the low teens; the showers were heavy but definitely more intermittent than on Saturday.  We moved the furniture round as best we could to try and make more space in doors and completely abandoned the barbeque, which I should point out was never my husband’s favoured option (barbeque, he says, is French for burnt on the outside raw on the inside). We filled the fridge with wine, beer and a few soft drinks (you’re getting a picture of my friendship group) and I found my largest cooking pot and started work on the biggest chilli con carne known to mankind – together with a smaller veggie version (chilli con veggie) for those amongst my friendship group who drink like fishes and don’t eat meat.

Easter Monday dawned.  Grey skies. Drizzle. I still had the bread and cheese to buy and the salads to make so the hours between 8am and 1pm absolutely flew by in a whirl of activity so that by the time I opened the door to the first friends I was absolutely astonished to see brilliant sunshine arriving with them.  And yes, of course it stayed with us all day.  We spilled into the garden and enjoyed copious amounts of chilli, alcohol, sunshine and friendship for what was one of the best Easter Mondays ever.

– Sally Littlefair

An Empty Feeling

‘So she was his second wife’,

‘No his third’,

‘Oh, I see’.

The two young men passed me and turned off the path to reach the gate. Grinning I carried on walking. I realised what I had been missing. Ten weeks of working at home, ten weeks of shopping at a distance, ten weeks of drowning in work. Ten weeks of considering the state of the world and the state of my fridge, with both topics leading to a sinking feeling.

I had nearly turned and followed the young men, but I did not need to do so. After all it was obvious…

The multiple groom was a nerd, a wealthy train spotting nerd, abandoned by three gold digging blondes who had married him for his money but not his company. He now sat alone in his Highgate town house, reading books on steam trains and playing with his model railway. His doting and doted on Mother prayed every night for him to meet a woman with her own anorak. His twin sister, who was happily married to a volunteer guard on the train she drove on the Epping to Ongar railway, was at this very moment creating a profile for her brother on Train Matches International. ‘I am looking for a woman, with wit, wisdom, a sandwich box and their own thermos’ she typed ‘Tractor drivers also considered’….

Or perhaps…

The multiple groom had recently abandoned his latest no-longer wealthy widow from Whetstone, leaving her with a bare quarter of her fortune, whilst her on-line Waitrose order was not booked and her prize begonias were not watered. His elderly Mother abandoned in her flat in Hastings no longer expected his call, no longer remembered his smile. Her love which should have been spent on her grandchildren would have withered in her heart if it had not been for her sewing. She was at this very moment carefully phrasing the WhatsApp invite to wife number three to join her weekly Wednesday zoom calls. For every Wednesday whilst she mended the badges and jackets of the Hastings Devils motorcycle gang (average age 68 1/3) she zoomed her son’s ex-wives and abandoned girlfriends and relatives. They chatted about motorbikes, muesli and macramé but not about him. Whilst wife number four was nearly in the bag, he knew not what he left in his wake.

Or maybe…

It was all a series of ghastly mistakes, our helpful groom had not meant to get married to wife number one, he was just the best man but when Toby failed to show he felt he had to step in. With number two he had just been mending the photocopier in the registry office and again the helpful bloke he had agreed to stand where told (and after all he looked more presentable than the real groom who was currently waking up hangover in a hedge near Durham). Whilst for wife number three, well it was a bit of a blur really…he had been looking for the gents in the hotel and then there was door and a load of people dressed up and the young woman in the white frock had been so very very pleased to see him. This marriage had gone surprisingly well, was still going surprisingly well. He was still unsure why the heiress to the circus should want him, why she who spent her working day upside down on the trapeze should want a man so grounded. But it turns out even circuses needed somebody to mend the computers. And now with twins on the way his life was perfect – although he did wonder what way the babies were in the womb.

Or maybe…

Life has been tough under lockdown from listeners in to other people’s conversations, like me… so if you are socially distancing when you see me – could you please raise your voice a bit as you talk about people I will never meet and I whom I never will. I can fill in the gaps of the bits that I missed.

– Gill Whitney