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News from Recent Meetings

21st August 2018 – Pantomime Dames with Horry and Susan Parsons

We had 21 members at our August meeting and there was a small amount of routine business dealt with before the main event started. Horry and Susan have been members of their local dramatic society
for almost 50 years and have been involved with about 40 pantomimes in that time. They entertained us for the evening with some tricks of their craft and enlightenment to the history behind the 'Dame’.
It is believed that Panto roots started with the Harlequinades in the early 18th century. No words were spoken by the Harlequin instead the coloured diamonds on their costumes were used to portray
moods and intentions such as pointing to the yellow diamond to show jealousy. The first talking Panto was Robinson Crusoe followed by Aladdin, Babes in the Wood and Cinderella but they came into
their own, like many British Christmas traditions, during the Victorian era. There are numerous traditions that are followed when putting on a panto such as the villain usually being the first member
of the cast to enter the stage, always from the left with the goodie entering from the right holding a wand in their left hand and moving it to their right hand before speaking. There are also superstitions
that people adhere to such as no clapping or whistling backstage and never saying the last line of a production during rehearsals. The biggest challenge for any actor is learning lines followed closely by
the use of props. It is surprising how troublesome these inanimate objects seem to be. Horry proceeded to demonstrate the various props they had brought along, pouring cups of tea from a ‘T Bag’ to
emptying a glass of milk and having it refilled by a drawing of a cow. Audience participation was required to demonstrate a flower petal trick and Angela was happy to oblige before the conclusion of the talk.

During the break, with delicious refreshments arranged by Josie and Sandy, some members seemed reluctant to move too far from the food table obviously hoping to sneak in another snack whilst they were
available and Elizabeth ran the bring and buy sale of goods members had brought in, the home grown produce was particularly popular especially the rarely seen pattypan squash.

Marion gave a report of her attendance at the AGM in Cardiff and although it had been a long day, having done the return trip the same day, it sounded like she found it very interesting and enjoyed
the speakers.The evening concluded with Janet going through the upcoming CFWI trips and events, the drawing of the raffle and the giving of the birthday plants to 2 members. We were reminded of the
Bangers and Mash event in September and another Ten Pin bowling trip after the success of the May trip.


17th July 2018 – Summer Party at Phyllis’

We had 20 members and 2 guests gather in Phyllis’ garden for a social summer meeting following her generous offer to host. The evening was not as hot
and sunny as some recently but it was pleasant change to have a drop in temperature.

Tables and chairs had been spread around the garden so people could gather in small groups. No one would be going hungry this evening when everyone’s
donations for the bring and share were displayed temptingly in the kitchen. There was chatter and gossip over drinks to start. A very pleasant time was
had by all with members circulating and mixing with different groups throughout the evening.

As darkness drew in we gathered in the kitchen to conduct ‘normal’ business. Angela conducted this in her usual friendly manner. There was no regular
raffle this month but Eileen was selling national tickets, we’ll have to wait a while to see if any of us were lucky with that! There was only one birthday
to celebrate this month, Linda’s, who happily received her plant. Janet did her best at trying to get through all the latest CFWI events but everyone was
so relaxed by now she was having a hard time controlling us all.

The evening ended when taxi’s arrived to take those living further afield home, the rest staying to make sure things were cleared up. It was a generous
offer to host but if we are to have any hope of a future offer no one wanted Phyllis to be doing all the clearing up too.

19th June 2018 – Crinolines, Corsets and Camisoles with Fran Saltmarsh

We had 21 members gathered for the June meeting which started with some celebratory bubbles for Sheila’s birthday. It was a lovely hot summers evening during which it was hard at times
to imagine the undergarments women have worn through the years for fashion, at times in what must have been very uncomfortable circumstances. Before starting her talk on the history of underwear
through the ages Fran gave us a history of her relationship with the WI. She has been a member of the WI since 1975 being very actively involved at Group, Regional and National Level.
You could say she has dedicated a lot of her life to the WI but the way she spoke about this you could tell she feels she has also got a lot out of it.

Fran took us through a very enlightening and amusing talk on the ‘Contortions of Couture’ from Roman times to the modern(ish) day. She started with a picture of a Roman mosaic that could almost
have been depicting modern times with their bikini outfits whilst doing a workout with dumb-bells and discus. Generally over the centuries (as with lots of species in nature) men’s clothes were more
elaborate with women’s being more reserved. Women wore underclothes either to assist in shaping the body or to protect expensive clothing from bodily fluids.

Around the 1400’s clothing had simple lines with the bust trying to be hidden and flattened to emphasise these lines. By tudor times fabrics were more elaborate brocades with shift undergarments
and the introduction of corsets fitted at the blacksmiths to create an uplifted flattering bust.

By Elizabethan times whale bones stays were used for shaping or reed/straw by the poorer population. Once strapped into a stiff corset like this is was pretty impossible to be able to even bend
down, movement was very restricted.

Georgian times saw more elaborate fashions with people travelling Europe on Grand tours and reflecting the new visions of architecture and art in the clothes they were wearing. Waistlines were
lost to the empire line dresses with undergarments pushing the bust up once more and at last the introduction of pantaloons. Men also started wearing padding and lacing to ‘enhance’ their
appearance, I wonder how many couples were surprised when they saw the actual shape rather than the disguised shape of their partners. During Victorian times the waistline creeps down to the
natural position and with the advent of women earning their own money fashion was more accessible than ever to more people. Crinolines were introduced to remove the need for wearing many layers
of petticoats to hold out fashionable dresses. These grew to an excessive size becoming impractical and were replaced with Bustles that just emphasised the back shape. Edwardian times saw the
corset move back below the bust forcing it up and the bottom out using the Gibson Girl S. Finally during WWI enclosed knickers were introduced as women began to take up the new dancing being
introduced from overseas such as the Tango. Things changed greatly in the 1930’s with zip fastenings and elastic to help create flat middles. Rationing in WWII helped introduce smaller garments
as fabric was hard to source. With the advent of short skirts in the 1960’s stockings became far less practical and so tights became the norm.

Fran gave a demonstration at the end of the number of layers women would have worn in the late 1800’s, vey different from the light layers we can get away with today!

We broke for tasty refreshments provided by Elizabeth and Jane. There was a bring and buy stall to assist with fundraising with some great items being snapped, up the most popular being produce
people had been growing. The meeting was concluded with the usual business with 6 birthday flowers given out this month, Janet going through the latest CFWI events and trips and finally the
raffle with all winners seeming pleased with their spoils! We left the hall with a lovely sunset to send us all on our way home

15th May 2018 – Resolutions Meeting

This meeting was to discuss and vote on the NFWI 2018 proposed resolution of Mental health matters. We welcomed 21 members to the meeting who were greeted with a refreshing drink on this
lovely summer evening. Angela read the background of the proposed resolution and some starting arguments for and against it to get the ball rolling. This was followed by a lively discussion
with many members recounting events that have affected their lives and the lives of their loved ones, this included how things have changed and could still change for the better or worse in
some of those cases. Our speaker Robin Dibblee added a very unexpected personal insight from the carers perspective having worked in this area for several years that was very informative and
enlightening. Once everyone had said what they wanted to the vote was cast and our delegate can now take our views to the Annual Meeting in June.

We broke for further refreshments of cheese and wine which gave everyone the opportunity to catch up with people and continue with points raised earlier in the evening in smaller groups.
Robin then spoke briefly to the members about a local security initiative that has been set-up to monitor burglaries in the village and ways they are planning to keep locals informed about
undesirable activity. He had some interesting statistics that they have collated regarding when these crimes take place and what the level of burglaries are compared with the nearby area.
It was very informative and because members are also from some surrounding villages led to some discussions on how the villages might be able to pass information to each other to keep
everyone informed, and hopefully be more vigilant to reduce the number of these crimes.

The meeting was concluded with the usual business of birthday celebrations, just the one for Angela this month, Janet going through the latest CFWI events and trips which saw some members
signing up for them and finally the raffle with 3 successful winners.

17 April - Plant Up a Pot With Janet

A very enjoyable evening was had by the 26 members who attended on what felt like the first spring evening of the year. How fitting it was that after a lovely sunny day Janet
‘Titchmarsh’ Crouch shared her extensive experience of planting up pots and baskets for the garden. Janet supplied baskets, plants, compost and a secret fertilizer for all to
use although many members also brought their own plants and pots that they were keen to fill. Pots were brimming with diascia, petunia, bacopa, brachycome, geranium and much
more when they were finished, it will be good to see how they look later in the year when the plants are flowering.

It was a great opportunity for members to socialise and natter whilst being hands on with planting, sometimes there is limited time for such chatter at meetings, so it was a
nice interactive change from a speaker.

There were 4 members birthdays celebrated Avril Gruselle, Lyn Vokes, Ann Crawford and Jules McGuire with lovely birthday daffodil posies being made by Dot. Jules’ has a ‘0’
birthday this month and so under a new initiative bubbles were enjoyed by all for that extra special touch whilst planting, you had to be careful not to get compost in your glass though.

Delicious refreshments were served by Avril and Eileen during the evening, they had both obviously been busy in their kitchens with many favourable comments being made around the hall.

Phyllis was not present to give final details for the Ten Pin Bowling trip to Cambridge on 1st May but many members had signed up at the previous meeting. The final chance was offered
to members to enter an envelope into the ‘Denman Dip’ and CFWI events were read out by Janet with interest already shown for some events.

Daphne and Janet had recently been on a Silk Ribbon Embroidery course with a cottage garden theme at Denman and they brought in their beautiful creations to show us, we do have some very talented members!

Two Very Talented Ladies

20 March

Sally Kingman, CFWI Chairman, plus a good number of members were welcomed to our Annual Meeting. The Finance report for 2017 was given and adopted following which Eileen
gave the Committee’s report and Angela gave her President’s address. It was then time to elect the committee with six current members agreeing to stand again and after a
little persuasion and encouragement from Sally another two agreed to join, welcome Wendy and Jules; Angela was unanimously elected as President. Sally then told us about her
time as Chairman of the CFWI saying that her two most enjoyable events so far were the NFWI Centenary Baton Relay and the Garden Party at Buckingham Palace where she was lucky
enough to be in the Royal Tent and was introduced to Princess Alexandra, whom she described as a Gracious Lady. Final arrangements for the visit to the Fitzwilliam Museum on
23 March were made, Phyllis gave details of the Ten Pin Bowling trip on 01 May, CFWI events were read out by Janet, one birthday posy presented and the raffle drawn.

20 February

Question - How do you make a group of WI Ladies Very Happy?

Answer – You invite Ray and Perry from Royston Fire Brigade to give a talk on ‘Fire Safety in the Home’!

Ray and Perry gave a lot of advice on what to do should you discover a fire in your home and apart from dialling 999 and keeping the room clear of smoke shouting Fire
from the window rather than Help normally gets a better response. Many of us have locking windows and they recommend keeping the keys in the window locks to enable
quick opening of them and your mobile phone in your bedroom at night. Some other recommendations were never leaving your Dishwasher, Washing Machine and Tumble Dryer
operating when you are out or in bed asleep, not to overload Electrical Plugs and if using a Deep Fat Fryer only fill 1/3 of it with oil. Perry put on the clothes, including
breathing apparatus, that they wear when fighting fires and on removing them passed around the helmet and jacket so we could gauge how much they weigh, quite heavy.
They will come to your home to install or check Fire Alarms and many ladies put their names and addresses down for this service!
Details of future Heydon and Great Chishill WI Events (see Programme) as well as CFWI events were given, birthday posies presented and the raffle drawn.

Perry In Full Firefighting Gear