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When WISH went to the Royal Garden Party

Last month, ladies from every WI in the country descended on Buckingham Palace to attend a special Royal Garden Party, hosted by Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall to mark the Centenary of the WI. One of our members, Teresa was lucky enough to have one of the golden tickets and has kindly told us all about her day:

Royal Garden Party Invitation

Attending the WI Royal Garden Party was a wonderful, once in a lifetime experience which I will never forget. I met some amazing ladies from all around the country – some who, like me, had only been WI members for a couple of years, while others had been involved for over forty years. Most of our conversations took place in the queue to get into the Palace which, although it took over an hour, was a very good humoured affair, if a little windy at times!

Outside Buckingham PalaceThe queue

Photos were not allowed inside the palace so all of mine were taken while queuing. Everyone had to show ID, which explains the long wait, but we were all too excited to notice the time.

Handing over the ticketLooking glam

Once through the Palace rooms, we found ourselves looking down onto the lawns from a beautiful terrace. It was just a sea of colourful hats and fascinators, with the striking outfits of the Yeomen of the Guard dotted around. We managed to see each member of the Royal party as they made their way down to the Royal Tea Tent: Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, Princess Alexandra and the Duchess of Gloucester. They spent time chatting to people and each of them seemed warm and friendly. The biggest cheer of all, though, was saved for the Calendar Girls as they also made their way to the Royal Tent.

We're going in!

The rest of us were content with the Main Tea Tent, which did not disappoint: a fabulous array of tiny cakes and pastries, plus finger sandwiches of course – delicious! Time flew by and it was soon time for the Royal party to process across the lawns as they departed – we managed to get a front row spec (at last) and were able to get a great view as they passed. Someone near me began to sing ‘Jerusalem’ at that very moment, and soon everyone joined in – I found it extremely emotional and felt an incredible bond towards the other ladies (all 8,000 of them!)

I loved every minute of my time at the Garden Party and am extremely grateful for the opportunity to be part of such a wonderful event in the history of the WI – I just wish we could have all been there!

Teresa Turton

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WISH Centenary Exhibition

WI Invitation Sat

We are really pleased to announce that our Centenary Exhibition opens tomorrow (23rd May) until 17th July 2015 at The World of Glass, Chalon Way, St Helens.

We have plenty to look at – Come and find out about the history of the Women’s Institute and of course, what the ladies of W.I.S.H. have been up to since we formed just over 3 years ago.

The exhibition is free to visit (Don’t forget to sign the visitor’s book to let us know you have been and what you thought of the exhibition).

The World of Glass is open 6 days per week (Closed Sundays) from 10AM to 5PM.

For more information, please email wisthelens@gmail.com

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Book Club – January 2015

Our Book Club met at our new date, time and venue of the 3rd Sunday of the month at Starbucks, Windle Island.

Even with only a short amount of time to prepare, most of us had managed to read both of our books.

We started off with our longest book, The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton:

<em>The Miniaturist Jessie Burton Book Club review</em>

What is the book about?
The book follows the story of Nella Oortman, a newly wed bride, who arrives in Amsterdam in 1686, ready to start her life with businessman, Johannes Brandt. On her arrival, life is not as it seems inside her new splendid home, and her husband is definitely not who she imagined him to be.

What did WISH members think of the book?

Jan – “I enjoyed it but didn’t feel it was as good as the hype”

Helen – “I would highly recommend this book. Got stuck into the story & loved it. Would have liked to see more action from The Miniaturist”

Sue – “Loved it! Started slowly but by the second half couldn’t put it down. Really empathised with the female characters & wanted to know their fate”

Janette – “It started slowly & then got quicker. Didn’t want to put it down as it got nearer to the end.”

Val – “I didn’t love it but thought it was well written. Left questions unanswered at the end.”

Gillian – “Liked the description & style of writing. Thought it started slowly but built up momentum”.

Allison – “Enjoyed the characters. Beginning was steeped in details about Amsterdam, a lot of which I didn’t understand”.

What did we like?
The descriptions of Amsterdam – Some good, precise descriptions – Good Story Telling – Interesting take on racism & slavery & our changing attitudes – The feeling of suspense – Learning about trade in Amsterdam – Intrigue surrounding the Miniaturist

What did we dislike?
The ending (Too many unanswered questions) – Not enough information about The Miniaturist & the reason why she made the figures – Johanne’s behaviour! – Needed to know about The Miniaturist – It didn’t have the drama that the story line suggested. A bit bland – The ending was abrupt.

the good girl mary kubica book club review

Our average score = 4 out of 5

Our second book was completely different, yet still had the feeling of suspense – The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

What is the book about?
Mia meets Colin Thatcher in a bar after being stood up. Deciding to go home with him turns out to be an incredibly bad decision as she becomes involved in a kidnapping plot that doesn’t go to plan. Her mother is doing everything possible to find Mia whilst all the time, Mia is being held captive in a secluded rural cabin.

What did we think of the book?

Louise – “An easy read. Fast paced, hooked you in quickly. Liked the twist at the end”

Helen – “A speedy read. Wanted to keep going to see what happened. Good twist at the end”

Jan – “Really enjoyed it. Was shocked at the ending & how all the different strands were brought together”

Val – “A quick read, easy to follow. Strong with enough twists to keep interested”

Gillian – “Enjoyed it. Fast paced. Thought the characters were sympathetic & I got very involved in the story”

Sue – “Good, quick read. Exciting & disturbing in parts. Reads like its designed to be a film”

What did we enjoy?
The short chapters – The characters & the developing relationship between kidnapped & kidnapper – Characters well defined, didn’t guess the end – The developing relationship between Mia & Owen/Colin – Descriptions of life in the cabin – How the relationship between Mia & Colin developed.

What did we dislike?
Bit too easy the cat was so easy to find – Mia’s lack of memory irritated me – Some inconsistencies e.g. the gun scene at the end – Seems to take a lot from Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl even to the book design

Our average score = 4 out of 5

Our next Book Club meeting is on Sunday 15th March – We will be discussing:
The Farm – Tom Rob Smith
Beautiful Day – Kate Anthony

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A Handmade Christmas Tree by WISH 2014

handmade christmas tree decorations

Last Monday saw the culmination of months of hard work by the WISH ladies. We have been working on over 150 Christmas Tree decorations for the Christmas Tree at Central Library in St Helens.

All sorts of decorations were created, including wire work, sewed felt, beading and lots more. We sadly didn’t have an angel for the top of the tree so if anyone fancies making one, there is a vacancy to be filled.

decorations up close

We gathered at Central Library for the big reveal – The tree took a lot quicker to fill than the decorations took to make!

At 10.30am we were joined by the brilliant choir from Parish Church Primary (they are getting quite a name for themselves lately after an appearance at the St Helens Christmas lights switch on!). Our ladies joined in with a beautiful carol concert followed by Hot Drinks and Mince Pies in the library getting us right in the Christmas Spirit.

parish church choir

We have loved being involved in this project and our work can be seen on display for the rest of December in the main area of Central Library.

If you would like WISH to get involved with any local projects that you have in mind, please feel free to contact us.

wish decorating

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WISH learn to cook at St Helens College

Cookery lessons with the WI

Terry Lavin, Head of Catering at St Helens College, treated 15 WISH members to a chicken dinner master class on St Patrick’s Day.

Terry started the evening with a fascinating look back at his career. From the very bottom of the pile (with a squashed down hat) to Head Chef in Yorkshire Hotels, with time spent at The Savoy and The River Cafe. He has certainly met and cooked for his fair share of celebrities – If you ask him nicely he’ll even tell you which famous diva always ordered a very glamorous sausage ‘n’ mash! And now he can add the ladies of WISH to his repertoire!

Our theme for the evening was ‘Money Saving Meals’ so Terry showed us how to use every scrap of meat from a chicken, and how to get every bit of flavour from the bones, all ensuring maximum value for money.

paprika chicken

We were shown how to dissect a chicken into legs, breast and wings, without losing a finger in the process, and how to make a delicious stock from the carcass. Terry then went on to cook the chicken in three delicious, inexpensive ways using basic store cupboard ingredients. We were treated to ‘Nandos’ style chicken marinated in paprika, chilli and garlic, chicken breast served with mushroom rice, and a white wine sauce, and chicken leg with sage and onion stuffing, topped with parmesan cheese and served with a salad dressed with home-made vinaigrette.

Nothing was left to waste – even the skin from the tomato was used to make a pretty rose – I wonder how many tomato roses have appeared on plates around St Helens this week?

chicken leeks pilaf

The smells wafting around the kitchen during the cooking were mouth watering, so when it came to tasting the dishes, once the cooking was done, no one held back and the plates were cleared in minutes! All three dishes were delicious with lots of us promising to try them out for ourselves at home.

A lovely evening was had by all who came along and we look forward to returning to St Helens College for more cooking soon.

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