- 18th September - 8:00pm : ‘The Abel Label’ - By Katie Ellis.
- 16th October - 8:00pm : ‘Fire Safety in Your Home’ - By Melanie Quinn.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

HAPPY CHRISTMAS .... with lots of laughter

LADIES OF LAUGHTER - was the name of the morning that 5 members attended in Bearsted on 8th December. -  Laughter releases endorphins (what are they?), inhibitions (wow can't wait) and a lot else besides.   The workshop showed us how it increases internal jogging and helps to boost the immune system whilst reducing stress and tension.  We practiced eye contact, pretend laughing and silly singing. The message is that laughter is good for you - even fake laughter - 
and surprise surprise  'Women smile more than men'
As an outsider this picture tells me -

1   Joyce was trying 'pretend laughing',
2   Mary was doing  'internal and external jogging',
3   The Ho Ho HO's in the middle were the tutors  and are wearing the wrong socks.
4   Janice had released her endorphins - and is looking slimmer as a result.
5   Val is about the start 'silly singing' and
6    Jane's inhibitions were slowly dissolving.

It is just as well it only lasted a few hours or the ramifications could have been catastophic.

Our Christmas Party on the other hand was a much more sedate affair - though as you can see the bottles were on hand to ensure a good time. We had  a delicious meal of shepherds pie and roasted vegetables with a choice of sweets,  and a few husbands volunteered (maybe that's not the correct word) to do the washing up. A lovely evening with guests from other WI's -  our physical exercise was a progression dance ( where some did not progress), and we finished off with a selection of carols to exercise our lungs.

On  January 15th 2013,   the Boxley Handbells will be entertaining and encouraging us to 'have a go',  so come along and join in. The meeting starts at 7.30 with the Bells at 8.15. See you then.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012


No  -  it's only 5th December, and we were visited by a three toed friend today -
A pheasant out for a morning stroll.
There has been so much to get involved in over the last couple of weeks. - Next year is the 95th Birthday of the WI in West Kent and we have been challenged to do lots of  "95's"-
 this one was to make 95 cup cakes - which we then sold at the Hollingbourne Christmas market.

We then had a fun evening of Darts with High Halstow and Bearsted Green WI's
 at The Sugar Loaves Pub  Hollingbourne.
We made Christmas Wreaths. - Sarah in the middle, is a very smiley person usually, but  whenever the Camera appears she is as determined to be serious, and not smile -  Next time we must think of something funny to say at the appropriate time.
We took a trip to Stalephurst nurseries to see their Poinsettias which are fantastic at this time of year. 
A visit to Dobbies in Ashford was also available with a Cream tea to make it really worthwhile.
The District Carol Service at Holy Cross Bearsted drew members from our 9 local WI's and a chance to meet old friends and hear the Christmas story once again.

Tuesday 11th December is our Christmas Party, and we would love to see you there so please ring 01622880433 to make arrangements - Bring with you - one Christmas card, and a 8 inch table decoration for the competition,  your  beverage of choice, and we will provide the food and the fun.

                           Happy Christmas

Just one more thing  -  when ever our advertising notices appear and say 'OPEN TO ALL'  - that is exactly what we mean - male, female, children  and or aliens - see you there.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Tea with Henry VIII

West Kent WI's arranged a colourful afternoon for all its WI's
Eight of us went off to Hildenborough village hall on Monday 5th November to have "Tea with Henry VIII".  Tony Harris was dressed in costume and looked very impressive.  He trained at  'Henry School' Hampton Court Palace, where he worked for 2 years as a guide to visitors, all dressed the part as Henry.  His talk told us of Henry VIII's efforts to produce an heir and he then spoke about each of his 6 wives in turn and in great detail.

After the talk we had a delicious cream tea.  The drive there and back took us through some lovely Kent countryside and the weather was good.  No rain that day!.  It was a lovely afternoon.  A big thank you to the WI ladies who worked so hard to make sandwiches, cakes, scones and cups of tea for the 90 ladies that attended.

(Thanks to Sarah Cheetham for her words and picture)

Monday, 12 November 2012

Fabric Fir Cones.

Last Christmas  at one of our 'crafty' sessions we made cards , this year we tried fabric fir cones.
everyone was successful and many decided to make more to adorn this year's Christmas tree. Sarah was even on her way to pick up a Christmas tree she had found on the internet, so she will at least have one decoration for it.  - By the Way Val did NOT make two, she was displaying one that Joyce had made.

These were the prototypes -  made after checking various internet sites.   Each cone requires around 50 triangles of fabric, numerous pins and some ribbon to hang them.  The silver and red one was made using  one inch ribbon only, and the others using two inch squares of Christmas fabric.  We now have 9 months to think of the craft for Christmas 2013.
We are having a Christmas wreath making session on 2nd December if you want to join us  - see you there.

Friday, 19 October 2012

From Malaya to Spain, for a tasty treat.

Our October Malaysian chef  Sok-Tin Wild had to go into hospital unexpectedly,  so at 4 days notice
Steven Parks stepped in the breach and demonstrated Spanish cooking for us.

 We were not disappointed.  Steven,  a lover of food, a cook and raconteur  gave us an engaging and tasty evening.  He told us stories of his time on TV's  ' Come Dine with Me' and prepared a wonderful meal cooked from start to finish on his Camping Gaz stoves.
 First the Paella -   the contents were - Meat - Chicken, chorizo sausage, prawns, mussels and squid  plus Vegetables - onions, garlic, red pepper and green beans and of course rice.   Then fish stock, water, salt and saffron were added and bubbled away until it was ready to eat.
At the same time he showed us how to make a real Spanish Tortilla.  Chopped Potatoes  and a few onions simmered in oil for 15 minutes  and then when drained, lots of eggs from his three chickens were added. ( One who does not lay, one who had a cyst on her chest - which in fact left one chicken to do all the hard work.)  Delicious food, and enough for 31 of us to share.

It was a very good evening with  7 guests  who all seemed to enjoy themselves, and we wonder whether the TV  producers will  introduce a new follow up programme to 'Come Dine with Me' called   'Come dine with me Outdoors', or ' Come camp with me'  to promote cooking outdoors.
If ever a speaker has to cancel ,we shall  keep Steven's number handy for more culinary treats.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Leeds Castle......... from a distance.

Continuing our friendship with the Members of High Halstow WI, Sadie Curtis  of Leeds WI led a walk around Leeds Castle Grounds.  Starting from Leeds Car Park, through Broomfield where we stopped at the Church.


 The verger Derek Hadlow kindly unlocked the Church for us to have a look around this historic building.   From there we walked  to the bottom of the hill, through woodland and into Leeds  Castle Grounds where we continued on the public footpaths.    Sadie had arranged for a friend of hers, a Leeds Castle guide to tell  us some of the history of   "the loveliest castle in the world".  Our walk took us to the far side of the great lake,  and back up past the cricket ground to Leeds Churchyard.  Finally along the road to The George Public House where a ploughman's lunch awaited us.

It was an amazing day to be out  in the open, with blue sky - though mud underfoot after the previous day's rain.  Fred Lucette amazed  us all by completing the whole walk and Peter Kelly was on hand to take photographs.  There were 11 walkers from Hollingbourne, 10 from High Halstow and 2 from Leeds - we enjoyed the weather, the scenery and the company.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Out to Lunch

A new place to try for lunch - The Apprentice Restaurant
at Mid Kent College Maidstone Campus.
Oakwood Park, Tonbridge Road, ME16 8AQ

12 of us were there by reservation, but you can just turn up between 12 and 1 on a weekday.
The apprentices  are at the early stages of their course to become proficient  restaurant cooks, waiters, wine waiters and receptionists, and did their best to make us feel welcome.
A three course meal with an interesting and modern menu to choose from.   Having tasted soup, tempura fish or quiche;  Chicken Ballentine, Trout or Gammon we are now at the final stage with
Eton mess and Treacle tart in front of us.   A good meal for £6.00  and smaller tables of 2 or 4 were also on offer.

Wine, soft drinks and tea or coffee are on the menu  and you can book and find out 'today's menu' from 01622 625873 or

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Art and Craft Annual Day Ditton, Sept 2012

Six  of us (among around 400) had a wonderful day with first class speakers

 First Lee Ault brought with her a trunk full of genuine clothes from 1920's 1930's - Her full collection had been gathered within her family from the 1700's.  She drew out underwear, night wear, day wear, evening wear -  each a work of art,  and explained when and how it was used.  The Photo above shows a swimming costume for that era.  - all in one and the height of fashion in 1930.   Lee is a Costume historian a well as general secretary of the International Dickens Fellowship and lives in Kent.

 Then Stoney Parsons spoke about her life as an Architectural Glass Artist.  She showed us that Glass is an exciting and contemporary art form.  She showed examples of her work  in glass which exploits its colour and light. Probably the nearest example is in the Pilgrims Hospice in Ashford.   Here we see a kingfisher.  She  holds dayschools in stained glass, and  free painting and some of us hope to go to her studio to join in.   We will all think differently about stained glass in future.

In the afternoon Curtis Tappenden 'entertained' us-  he is an illustrator and designer and has worked for the Daily Mail for 20 years both as an illustrator and a writer, he is an author, a roller skater (not demonstrated) and poet.  From the start it was a performance that jumped out at us, he acted his poems, with arms,  legs  and body as well as his mouth -  he showed us the many kinds of art he had produced  and the people he had drawn inspiration from.  He must have been exhausted when he had finished

Three inspiring speakers all on one programme  - we were so lucky to have been there.

On display were the various bags that members had made for the 
Silver Salver Competition in the last year.  

Margaret Weaver of Hollingbourne entered one (below)  and was pleased to receive 19 marks out of 20 - not good enough however to win a prize, but was quite pleased with the remarks made by the judge.

The overall winner was this fabulous creation  (below) (try clicking once, on the picture to get it larger)
the standard of which was way above anything else on display. 

A very good day

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Silver Clay Jewellery making

(Denman College has  been featured in previous blogs -October 2010 and November 2011 )

The WI's residential college in Marcham near Oxford offer courses to Members and non-members alike with a huge range of courses.

In September West Kent WI's booked the whole college for the weekend and took two coach loads of members to take part in several courses -   we had two days  for courses which were many and varied.

As usual we had  a great time, learned new skills, met new friends and old and enjoyed full board and lodging in the ensuite rooms of a lovely country house and garden. 

Summer Herbal Kitchen - This Course attracted our County Chairman Sheila Miles
who went home with a cool box full of self made goodies from the purpose built Cookery School

 Summer Flowers in Watercolour for Beginners

Two courses for those wanting to get out and about
 Treasurers of the Ashmolean,  The Oldest Museum in Britain in Oxford 
Gardens of Oxford - Historic and Modern College Gardens

Wardrobe wizard - how to multiply your wardrobe into more outfits and gain more confidence. 

The Bravest among us chose Learn to Play the Harp  -
 in less than 2 days - and they demonstrated their new found skills to us all with great aplomb.

Margaret from Hollingbourne chose SILVER CLAY WORKSHOP
Silver clay was a new medium to us and  we discovered that it was made in Japan  from recycled silver from used electrical equipment.  It can be moulded or rolled (like Pastry) , shaped and fired to become a beautiful and unique silver  piece.   The examples above were made by the tutor, and believe it or not some were very simple once you know how! 

 These are cutters and stamps which can be used to cut out the clay

We were each given basic tools to use which would be found in the home, including some playing cards. We began by trying out the skills with Play dough, and our prototypes helped us to know what was or was not possible. The clay is rolled out between two sets of 5 playing cards - this gives just the right thickness for charms and earrings.

Drop earrings - two small rectangles were cut out, then 4 small hearts - the hearts were stuck on the rectangles with liquid silver - two holes made in the top with a drinking straw.  They were then fired  - which can even be done on a gas stove.  The one on the left is the colour immediately after firing. The one on the right has been burnished  (rubbed with a wire brush and a metal teaspoon.)

 Those who made charms used sugarcraft cutters to achieve their shapes

This was the final result in the short time we had.
1.   The earrings with hooks.  2.   A Pendant.    3.   A broach  - a leaf which we painted with liquid silver 7 times before it was fired(during which the leaf evaporates)  4.    A pair of moulded rose earings  

               All of our items were unique and we can see the scope for future individual gifts - we just need to save up to buy the Silver Clay.  It is one craft where anyone could achieve an item they would be proud of, and it is possible West Kent Federation will arrange a dayschool locally for us.
Our Tutor was Melanie Blaikie and you will be able to find her on the internet.  ----

If you don't know what to have for a Christmas or Birthday Present, why not ask for a voucher for a course at Denman,

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Safari Market 2012 - the sun shines on the righteous

What a fantastic day we all had- with the best weather ever. Although 40+ stalls were advertised, this became 55 on the map with a couple extra on the day.  Many visitors had been before - some even on their fourth visit with many compliments on our organisation of the event. 

Firstly the HARVEST STALL was set out with fresh vegetables and fruit, 
corn dollies and lavender wands, pickles and plants -
Fred and Hilary Lucette with a hand from Val Williams, set up the stands for the Children's painting competition - though sadly the number of entries was disappointing to say the least.
Winner - Class 2 - Bethan.

 Bearsted and Thurnham again ran their beautiful Craft stall
 Ellie Walker was donating all her profits to Charity  
and there were cuddly toys of all kinds and sizes.
 At the Harvest Stall, our Corn Dollies mentioned in a previous blog, 
were on sale and  it looks as if Jean Kelly on the left has sold two at least!
Unfortunately the camera woman had her own stall this year so was not able to get photos of the rest of the village, which was apparently humming!  

The competition for the most stalls visited was a dead heat for 10 people who had been to every stall and noted the name on their map - with a draw having to be made and the winner being Graham Phillips of Maidstone

The Raffle Prizes went to -
Margaret of Eltham, Christina from Platts Heath, Sandra from Platts Heath, our own Gill Lever and Mary Henderson and still to be presented - the owner of Number 643 which is advertised in the Shop

The helpers shown above manned the Harvest stall, cooked the food, made the tea, erected the gazebos, sold the maps and raffle tickets, put up and took down the signs around the village,  took down and packed away the Gazebos  and were absolutely wacked!

Thank you everyone who had a stall, those who came great distances to buy up the village and everyone who participated in any way including the press and the CPSO's.  We hope to see you again.

Monday, 3 September 2012


No 1.  CORN DOLLIES - remember them around 30 years ago or more?

This summer a fellow WI member from Edgerton,   taught us how to make Corn Dollies - well at least she made them, and we laughed and swore, and swore some more -  but eventually after much un-doing and re-doing, we did achieve our objective.
If you would like to have one, they will be on sale at the Safari Market (50 plus Garden Sales) on 15th September 2012 on the Harvest Stall in the Cardwell Pavillion.   See you there.

Remember the wonderful Duck Race we organised for the Millenium Celebration ( 12 years ago, but  seems like yesterday)  We must have had more than a hundred racing on the River Bourne through the Millenium Green in Hollingbourne that day.

This year we started with a lunch in a member's garden
and then proceeded to the Duck Race

Our ducks had been purchased for the Village Fete Hook a duck competition, but  bearing in mind the Olympic swimming events, we decided on 'OPEN WATER RACING' and gave our ducks the freedom of the River Bourne where it flowed through a member's garden. We chose a duck each and cheered it on.  ( in fact we had three races we enjoyed it so much)
It was Sarah's job to catch the winner.  - amazingly some ducks went backwards, some in circles, and all of them stopped at the little weir to be collected and raced again.   It was a lovely day.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Summer Outing to the Punjab ?

 Not quite the Punjab -  Gravesend in fact!  The Shri Gurn Nanak Darbar Gurwara Temple.

Where the largest Sikh Temple outside India has been built It is a very impressive building, and the people we met there were also impressive, very friendly, welcoming and hospitable.

We had been warned that we must take off our shoes, and don a headscarf and we prepared ourselves, but it seemed that our guide could not be found. 

So we were asked to climb the stairway and wait for our guide upstairs on the first floor. While we waited we were  taken to an enormous  refreshment room to join others in a drink of tea or water 

Once  we were acquainted with our our Guide she could not have been more helpful.
She told us about the history of the religion, the various Guru and the temple itself. It seems that there is little heirarchy within the religion.  We asked lots of questions and she answered them all. Anyone is welcome at any time providing you keep to the few rules re shoes and headscarves and respect for others.  

There were three large rooms each  with a central awning in which the 'bible' is displayed.  Each room has a massive  domed roof and large chandelier.   The floors were carpeted, but each carpet was covered by enormous sheets to keep the carpets clean.

Visitors of any race or creed  (including ourselves) were welcome to greet the Holy Man 
The Swords Dagger and Shields were on display to remind the Sikhs that in 15th Century the religion has been started, and it had been necessary to fight to be allowed to worship a single god rather than the many gods of other Indian religions.   It originates from the Punjab region of India.
The Holy Book is consulted. 

We were taken around three floors, the library, the PA rooms,  and even a room with three double beds in it.  We thought they might be for early risers as the prayers start at 3.30am in the morning, but instead we were told that they were the resting place of the three Holy books when they were not being used. 
This gentleman gave us each a sweet treat - it tasted like sugared maize and it was not to everyones taste.  Before leaving we were taken back into the restaurant and this time chapatties and curry were on the menu,  very spicy. Most of us had just a spoonful, but Jean Kelly's husband enjoyed his so much he had a second helping of a different curry. This was accompanied by a milk pudding - rather like rice pudding, but made with thin noodles.   We were not sure whether this was to dull down the hot curry, or to be eaten separately.   Our Bible may talk about 'feeding the 5000' but at this temple there are around 10,000 people expected in the winter at one of their special events -  so a bit more complicated than arranging a WI Tea.

The outside of the building is made of different kinds and colours of marble imported from India. Indian  stonemasons came here to carve the Marble. The wonderful carved wooden balustrades inside are also of Indian origin.  There are large and small stained glass panels which include the signs and symbols of the religion.

There is a website which  gives a more information and you can contact them via this site.  Take the opportunity to visit - make a day of it.  You could also visit the  Church in central Gravesend where the grave of Pocahontas,  the American Indian Princess is to be found, and take  to the seas(or river) on a Passenger  Ferry across to Tilbury and back.

Our excuse for not eating much was that we had a Carvery Lunch planned at 'Copperfields' on the way home which we all enjoyed.  An excellent day and a chance to see how others live and conduct themselves.