New Year’s Eve is the perfect time to look back at the year and all we have achieved and enjoyed and learned…
Our first meeting of the year was a celebration of ‘Brains and Beauty’ with interior designer Kath Roberts as she helped us see the link between creativity and technology. We were thin on the ground for book club (very thin on the ground; in fact nobody could make it!) and Sally helped us start 2015 serenely with a stress beating Indian Head Massage crafty/skills night. The Bath WI garden looked gorgeous in its frosty, sparkle.
For our February meeting Frances Liardet of SANDS, a national charity working with anyone who has been affected by stillbirth or neonatal death, gave a moving and thought provoking talk. We also voted on the 2014 National WI resolutions and voted for “Failing to care (role of nursing and personal care in long term care)” to be taken forward to Avon Federation of WIs. Book club raved about Anna Freeman’s “The Fair Fight’ – Georgian life in Bristol for women involved in the bare knuckle fight circuit: Jane Austen with the gloves off! Our very own Joanna Heptinstall ran a lampshade making crafty night out and our President Jess had a glamorous Anna Karenina moment in the Bath WI garden with the Centenary Rose.
Zach McAllister, Doctor of Chiropractic working at the Apthorp Centre in Weston Bath, talked to us about posture, lifting and not sitting with your legs crossed. A first for the book club in March was to read Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl” and watch the DVD at the book club meeting to compare and contrast book and film (all washed down with Elaine’s special cocktails!). There was no crafty night out in March but our gardeners were out digging the Bath WI garden and the Bath WI darts team “The Bath Buns” had its first match. Timsbury WI beat us but it was a fun evening. After lots of hard work by Jess, the Bath WI Community Spinney found a home by Widcombe Lock with the help of the Woodland Trust and the Canal and River Trust…and the only thing left was for Jess and Victoria to plant 100 fruiting saplings!
At our April meeting we wore Women’s Social and Political Union colours of green, white and purple and were fascinated and inspired by June Hannam’s talk about the suffragette movement in Bath and the surrounding area. We also did the Bath Food Bank proud with our donations of food. We drew Vi’s name out of the hat as winner of the place at the WI Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace and our in-house milliner Nicolette kindly offered to make a bespoke hat for Vi. The book club discussed Jessie Burton’s “The Miniaturist” and we made a start on our yarnbombing for our garden party with a crafty night in at Sue’s house. Our Twitter followers passed the 1000 mark and members completed the NFWI’s survey about the next 100 years. The Bath WI garden team continued their hard work planting our garden for the WI in Britain’s centenary year.
At our May meeting Jude and Alex from Writing Events led us through a series of creative writing prompts and exercises and got us writing stories about the button we were each given. Kitty declared war on the creatures unknown attacking our runner beans in the Bath WI garden…and won! Our book club met to talk about “We are all Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler”; a psychologist father’s animal-human behaviour experiment on his children which has unexpected and heartbreaking repercussions.
For our June meeting we left our usual meeting place of St Mary’s Bathwick for the Bath Croquet Club where we were shown how to play and taught tactics – a wonderful evening! The book club discussed “Jambusters” by Julie Summers – the book that inspired the tv series “Home Fires”…accompanied by homemade scones and jam, of course. Gail hosted a yarn-bombing afternoon, sitting outside in the sunshine with a tea table laden with cakes and bakes. It was also the Avon Federation of WIs Thanksgiving service at Bath Abbey to celebrate 100 years of the WI in Britain and 40 years of Avon Fed. The Bath WI proudly carried our banner at the end of the chronological procession of WI banners, as the Federation’s youngest WI represented on the day. At the end of the service the abbey doors were thrown open and hundreds of WI ladies sang Jerusalem loudly and proudly to the City of Bath.
Once again our July meeting was our annual garden party in the Bath Botanic Gardens beside the Bath WI garden. It was the hottest day of the year as we set up our yarnbombing and we had an amazing turn out of members and invited guests, including Will Sandry, Mayor of Bath. WI Life Magazine sent a journalist and photographer and our members looked amazing in their favourite costumes from the past 100 years. It was also the week the Bath WI hosted the Women of the WI Twitter account. July was also the month the Bath WI garden was judged as part of the Bath in Bloom/Britain in Bloom competition. We were delighted to get special mention as Bath received its gold medal! Even the centenary rose was in full bloom. Our book club discussed “The Guest Cat” by Tashii Hirade.
With so many off on their Summer holidays we didn’t have a meeting in August, but work carried on behind the scenes and in the garden, with Kitty’s team digging up 42 pounds of Nadine potatoes from our edible garden! (not to mention enjoying a picnic on the lawn). Kitty also scrubbed up beautifully at the Mayor’s reception for Bath in Bloom. Our book club read “A Spool of Blue Thread” by Anne Tyler.
September was an awesome month for the Bath WI – not only did our MP Ben Howlett charm us at our September meeting but we had a double page spread in the WI Life Magazine and we were contacted by BBC Gardeners’ World who came – with Rachel de Thame (who could not have been lovelier!) – to film Kitty, Elaine and Jean in the Bath WI garden and Kitty in her kitchen teaching Rachel and the Nation to pickle runner beans! We also topped up the Bath WI coffers with a fund-raising cake stall on a Saturday in the centre of Bath’s Southgate shopping area. Our book club had mixed views about “The Pigeon” by Patrick Suskind and the crafty group took their own projects to Sally’s house for a crafty night in.
October was our AGM month and Jess took us through the highlights of the year and necessary admin after which we carved pumpkin lanterns! Kitty also brought a load of daffodil bulbs for our members from the Mayor. Our book club was buzzing about “The Bees” by Laline Paul and outgrew members’ living rooms and moved to the Blathwayt Arms for its meetings. Sue showed members how to turn teacups in to enchanting pincushions at our crafty night out (complete with Sally’s homemade marshmallows and fudge!).
In November we threw inhibitions to the wind and had a fantastic time belly dancing with Wafaa Powell – even those who really weren’t sure they would enjoy it had a whale of a time. Our book club discussed “What Was Never Said” by Emma Craig and the issues of female genital mutilation it raises and instead of a crafty night out 25 of us went to Demuths Cookery School for a demonstration of how to make delicious canapés along with plenty to taste and lots of bubbly. The garden gurus had a clearathon in the Bath WI garden and Kitty hosted a social get together.
At our December meeting we had a fun quiz, carol singing around our up cycled cardboard Christmas tree and lots of delicious food and drink brought in by our members. We were all too busy being festive for book club or crafty night out, but we did set up our cardboard Christmas tree at the United Reformed Church in Laura Place and once again Kitty hosted a very festive Christmas committee meeting.
Thank you to all our members for their energy, good humour and friendship and to our committee for its hard work – particularly our President Jess for bringing her can do enthusiasm and Karen for so much hard work organising us all – and also to all our speakers and supporters and the lovely people at St Mary’s Bathwick. Here’s to a fantastic 2015 and an even better 2016!