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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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 20s 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.

How do I become a member?

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).

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

Read more about membership here.

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

 

 

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

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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!

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Pride London – 7 July 2018

Had had an absolute *blast* parading with the Women’s Institute at Pride London! The sun was out, happy, proud people were everywhere and there was the WI for the fifth year running. The Alexandra WI was represented alongside N1WI, Stow Roses, NW London, Cambridge Bluebells, Maidstone Chocolate and more!

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It would be amazing to see this as a Federation-led event in 2019 – what do you think, Middlesex?

July 2018 – Wine Tasting (again!)

July 2018 once again saw The Alexandra WI women de-camp to the courtyard of CUFOS to enjoy a relaxed evening of wine tasting on a balmy North London summer’s evening.

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Tamara and Rosanna

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This year our tasting was led by wine educator Colette Taylor, who led us through the tasting of six white wines and a rose. We got things going with a Cordorniu cava, followed by a Riesling from New Zealand’s Marlborough region. We then moved onto a rewarding rosado before comparing two very different new world chardonnays – one from the Barossa Valley in South Australia, and oaked example from Chile. We finished off with a Bordeaux dessert wine.

Again, we found this a fun and educational evening and we thank Colette for sharing her knowledge and enthusiasm with us!

 

Afternoon tea and a walk with Reculver Beacon WI

On a sunny June afternoon we were once again visited by our twin Women’s Institute, Reculver Beacon WI of Herne Bay on the north Kent coast. After meeting at CUFOS, the group headed off for a tour of the eastern part of Alexandra Park, led by Stephen Middleton of Friends of Alexandra Park. Whilst we didn’t explore far from the Palace, we all learnt something new about our cherished local green space. We then retreated to the courtyard of CUFOS for a very pleasant afternoon tea of sandwiches, scones with jam and cream, and cakes, washed down with tea and a fiery fresh punch.

A lovely afternoon was had by all: we can certainly recommend ‘twinning’ with an another WI as a way of sharing ideas, meeting women from another part of the country, and as an excuse for some good old WI baking!

June 2018 – Bughouses!

June’s guest speaker was Alan Briggs of Briggs Bughouses, maker of tiny garden houses with self-sustaining roofs to house for bugs, bees and birds.

Alan is a part time teaching assistant whose specialist area is woodwork, and he was led to the idea of bughouses from his own love of craft, gardening and the environment.  He designs and builds every house himself and, to avoid the houses becoming too hot for the bugs, bees or birds, he designed the self-sustaining tiny gardens for each roof. The plants are selected for their ability to thrive on little to no maintenance. The houses’ careful design extends even to the individual plant trays that form the roof of each house.

The occupiers are initially attracted to the tiny gardens and, on approaching them, they will explore the little homes. Once the bug is happy that the home is empty they will settle in almost immediately.  Spiders are usually the first arrivals but, eventually they make way for the bees/bugs that will later become the main inhabitants. It was fascinating to learn that many bees do not live in hives but will inhabit an individual cell and live happily in the same house with other bugs and beasts  of different species. As the cells are drilled by Alan himself the bugs literally only have to choose their home and start to lay eggs accordingly and set up for family life.

Alan has taken his workshops all over the country and has found children his most interested participants; even the BBC has caught up with him on his travels! His houses come in a variety of sizes and shapes and are sold online and at local fairs and fetes. At present, he works entirely on his own, but his love for what he does made him an interesting speaker and a reminder to us all, of the capacity of the imagination and where this could lead us if we set it to work on an idea.

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