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Present Buying Tips

Another round of handy tips from this month’s meeting – We asked for your tips for present buying and you gave us some useful ideas for helping save money as well as giving more unusual gifts.


If you ask someone what they would like for a gift and they can’t think of anything they obviously don’t need anything so give the present money to a charity and that can be their present

Buy gifts throughout the year and store in a cupboard

Always have spare gifts stored for friends who may turn up unexpectedly

Homemade cooker gifts are always welcome

Cineworld Vouchers for kids

For those who have everything agree a price and buy each other something from a charity shop – if it’s doesn’t quite ‘hit the mark’ the charity’s benefited and it can be returned too, It’s the thought that counts so they say

Some newspapers (especially weekend ones) often have articles with big photos or adverts – if you’ve a gift of a watch, wrap it with a watch advert. Present for someone who like gardening, a photo of flowers

Christmas wrapping – use small Christmas tree decorations as part of your wrapping, or small pine cones

Use old Christmas cards to make gift tags – pinking shears and a hole punch plus some festive ribbon


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They Know Their Onions

Last Saturday WISH represented the WI alongside Lowton WI at the Newton-le-Willows Gardeners’ Association Annual show.

We had a very well placed spot for our stand. We were in a room with the photography and art exhibits. The art winner was voted for on the day by visitors so everyone had to pass us by to cast their vote. Easy targets. We spoke to lots of lovely people and gave out lots of information.

Take a look at the slideshow, you’ll see lots of produce and beautiful flowers. As well as a prize winning swill roll entry for Norma from Lowton. I particularly liked the children’s section of fruit and vegetable animals, very creative.

The Gardeners’ Association has allotments and talks covering all manner of horticultural topics. If you are interested in finding out more about them the website is www.nlwgardeners.co.uk Membership is £3 per year.

Sue Morris - September 14, 2012 - 7:20 pm

Fabulous photographs!

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They say you never forget…

I’ve heard it said that you never forget how to ride a bike. ‘They’ say it all the time, whoever ‘they’ maybe. ‘They’ however did not see me on that rented mountain bike in Scotland. It’d only been around 12 years since I’d balanced on 2 wheels; I had it on good authority that you never forget; what could go wrong? What indeed? I still have the scars and memories of the small crowd which gathered to point and laugh at my attempts.

So what is it ‘they’ say about knitting? Do you ever forget?

When our esteemed WI secretary invited us all round for an impromptu evening of knitting and nattering I couldn’t refuse. I love a good chat! Knitting seemed a small price to pay for an evening with new found friends.

I remember learning to knit at school. I made a red purse. I was good at various things as a child, saving money from doing small jobs, science and sport. It’s fair to say I was underachieving on the knitting front. In no time at all I’d earned more in the way of large old 10p’s than my poor attempt could cope with. The red purse stretched and sagged developing a pattern of holes so large that 30p could escape if I so much as looked at my red purse; I went back to saving up in a jar.

Fast forward 30 something years and here I am picking up needles again. This time all in the name of… we don’t know what quite yet! The secret knitting wing of the St Helens WI, all knitting squares 20cm by 20cm without yet knowing why, ooooohhh! The suspense.

It soon transpired that like riding a bike it is possible for things to slip one’s mind. Sure enough I couldn’t remember how to cast on or off and the bit you do in the middle felt pretty hazy too.

Our Cara to the rescue for the knit and natter evening, novices welcome- thank goodness!

Nine in total made part if not the whole of the evening. Ability ranged from the unconsciously incompetent to the full on experts. Said experts could have knitted blindfold wearing boxing gloves I’m certain of it! Those with the knowledge and skills happily

shared with those of us who needed a hand. A very supportive and sharing atmosphere.

Knitting a square by starting at the corner was a new experience for me. Progress appears to be quicker using this ‘diagonal’ way and soon I was the proud knitter of a small triangle. Comment was made that this could form part of a rather dashing bikini style outfit, hence this method of knitting a square being named the bikini method.

There was some left handed fun, as one of the novices in the group was attempting to learn to knit right handed. If you haven’t gasped at the difficulty of this please spend the rest of today with your dominant hand tied behind your back and then get back to me on how difficult you found things!

There was much in the way of personal achievement during the evening with some members knitting a line for the very first time, others discovering the excitement of the bikini method. There was help with dropped stitches, advice on remembering which needle you’re using and drinks from our hostess to boot.

The best thing about this knit and natter evening? Getting together with others.

WISH has only been going for around 6 months and yet I feel I’ve known fellow members since the days when I really could ride a bike. Ladies, thank you for your company at knit and natter. To your fabulous sense of humour, your knowledge and expertise, your willingness to have a go, your determination to carry on despite dropped stitches and everything being back to front, to all of that I raise my ridiculously oversized glass of water!

Deb Connor

Thanks to Deb for the lovely write up. We will be holding more knit ‘n’ natter get togethers in the future at the request of the first group. So if you like what you’ve heard and couldn’t make the first one, not to worry.

You can see our squareometer for the secret knitting project at the bottom of the page here: Secret Knitting

Please do let us know if you have any completed squares to add to the tally. We’re off to a flying start, thank you for everyone’s enthusiasm.

Joanna Keenan - October 29, 2012 - 12:31 pm

Hi All, Have been searching for knitters in the St Helens area as an errand of mercy. I make my plea on behalf of Lucky Hens Rescue in Wigan who are a charity re homing ex caged chickens. The latest intake are in the worst condition they have ever experienced. Due to this and the current cold weather they are urgently in need of chicken jumpers. If anybody has some spare time/wool and can assist can they please, please contact myself or lucky hens directly. Time is off the essence as there are 300 very poorly chickens. Thank you so much for listening. Regards Joanna

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Book Club: July 2012 – I Capture the Castle – Dodie Smith

Our third book club meeting saw us discussing the classic I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith.

The blurb describes it as:

‘I write this sitting at the kitchen sink’ is the first line of this timeless, witty  and enchanting novel about growing up. Cassandra Mortmain lives with her bohemian and impoverished family in a crumbling castle in the middle of nowhere. Her journal records her life with her beautiful, bored sister, Rose, her fadingly glamorous stepmother, Topaz, her little brother Thomas and her eccentric novelist after who suffers from a financially crippling writer’s block. However, all there lives are turned upside down when the American heirs to the castle arrive and Cassandra finds herself falling in love for the first time.

The reviews were mixed for this book with some members not getting very far into it, whilst others had thoroughly relished it.

This made for some quite lively discussion about the characters and their purpose in the story.

Personally, I found the book quite difficult to get going, with it’s intricate detail and descriptions of the surroundings, but after the fur coat ‘incident’, which I thought was hilarious I really warmed to the book. A gentle and charming coming of age novel, which I think justly deserves it’s title of a classic. Cara – 4/5

Here’s what the other members thought.

A gentle captivating book with intense detail that brought the story of this eccentric family really alive. The humour is true to the narrative of the main character Cassandra, who grows on the journey of the book from a childish teenager to a maturing lady. Try it! Anne – 4.5/5

Well written – enjoyed it all! Mary – 5/5

I felt the first three quarters of the book was just an alternative version of Pride and Prejudice. However, the book picked up and found it’s own voice by the end. Kate – 3/5

I liked the book better once having discussed it at the group. Really hard to get into but glad I made myself read it! very well written, a lovely coming of age story. Deb – 3/5

I couldn’t get into this book. I found it overly descriptive, but with not much happening. I didn’t find the characters very likeable. I didn’t finish the book :0( Morven – 1/5

We discussed a number of potential books for the next meeting, taken from the Richard and Judy Summer reads collection. Hopefully offering a good summer read worthy of some great discussion in September.

We plumped for The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern described as:

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. The black sign, painted in white letters that hangs upon the gates, reads: Opens at Nightfall Closes at Dawn. As the sun disappears beyond the horizon, all over the tents small lights begin to flicker, as though the entirety of the circus is covered in particularly bright fireflies. When the tents are all aglow, sparkling against the night sky, the sign appears. Le Cirque des Reves The Circus of Dreams. Now the circus is open. Now you may enter.

Karen Cunningham - July 22, 2012 - 9:40 pm

Throughly enjoyed this read.

So glad I’ve been reading the books recommended by the book group. Definitely expanding on the type of books I’d normally head for.

Hoping the NW road network allows me to GET TO the next meeting!

K x

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Holiday Tips

Thanks to everyone who gave their holiday tips this month. There are some great tips which are bound to make us more organised on our next trip!


  • Photocopy bank cards – E111 – Passport – holiday insurance docs etc and keep separately from originals – just case!
  • Keep E111 with your passport
  • Save free samples from magazines, cosmetic counters etc to put in your luggage – saves in weight and volume and nothing to bring home – also if flying ‘budget’ airline may mean can go hand luggage only
  • Tell friends and family you’re going away a day earlier than you actually are – gives you more time to get ready as people don’t expect you to be around!!!
  • Take dioralite with you – good for sunstroke, dehydration as well as tummy trouble etc
  • Recommend refillable soft squeeze bottles from Lakeland for decanting shampoos and shower gels etc
  • If reliant on medication – take extra in your hand luggage and extra than you think you’ll need for the holiday – just in case of delays in travelling and in your holiday
  • If taking electrical equipment remember to pack chargers and foreign-country adaptors
  • Cut any useful pages from your guidebook so you don’t carry heavy book around (perhaps ask hotel to photocopy page(s))
  • if self catering take sharp knife and frying pan – frying pans often have flaking teflon coating.
  • Any money left over from your travels? Put it in a marked envelope and keep with passport for future trips
  • Use a combination of ginger and B6 tablets to help keep travel sickness under control
  • baby wipes in the glove box for everything
  • Lidl big greek yogurt tub with lid – great as an emergency sick bucket


  • Pack jewellery in your evening bag, then it’s easy to locate when you unpack
  • fill shoes with belongings (socks and knicker are good for this) – saves space and keeps your shoes in shape
  • when packing leave jacket/shirt sleeves/skirts/trouser legs hanging out – put crease resistant items in last. When finished or case is full (whichever comes first) flip all together or fold one at a time into the case – nothing is folded so shouldn’t get creased. Pack shoes around the outer edges
  • Put any squishable liquid bottles in a ziplock bag to prevent any leakages spoiling your suitcase/clothes
  • Don’t let your husband pack


Hand-Luggage / OnBoard

  • Pack snacks for children incase of flight delays
  • Take deo-wipes, toothbrush and change of underwear in your handluggage in case of delays.
  • If reliant on medication – take extra in your hand luggage and extra than you think you’ll need for the holiday – just in case of delays in travelling and in your holiday
  • Pack change of undies incase cases are lost/delayed



  • Never put full address on luggage (out going) just house no & postcode
  • Ask a neighbour to keep an eye on the house while away
  • Set lights on timers
  • Put valuables and passports etc in hotel safe
  • Take a small wallet when you go out with ID, a credit card and cash – if it does get stolen not everything gets taken


  • Tie a ribbon or something obvious, eg childs foam bath letter tied on with cable-tie, onto your suitcase(s) so you can easily recognise it
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