Friday, 12 July 2019

Humour Wins the Day!

We had another great meeting on Wednesday, 10 July 2019. Mr. Andrew Ashton delighted us with a talk on the humour of the late artist, Beryl Cook.

We learned a lot about her life as well as about her art. Born in 1926 in Surrey, Beryl had no formal art training and didn't even take up painting until her thirties. She first tried water colours but soon changed to acrylics and oils, which allowed her to paint the magnificent textures and detail we see in her work.

Beryl's subjects were the ordinary, every day people she seemed to love and who she found warm and humorous: girls out on a hen night, sailors and prostitutes, "naturist" people having tea in the garden, and more. Although she was shy herself, her characters were often flamboyant. In fact, when she was awarded an OBE, she did not attend because of her shyness!

He showed us slides, side-by-side of her paintings, of other well-known works of art that inspired her. He felt that she was undervalued by the art world, pointing out the detail in her paintings that made them special and instantly recognizable.

We had a competition table that members contributed of works similar to Beryl Cook's, which he kindly judged for us, too.

Mr. Ashton had the whole WI hall laughing. Everyone agreed it was one of the best afternoons we've had! And what could be better for the soul than a good laugh with friends? 

Monday, 17 June 2019

On the Move Again

Our WI had a lovely day out on 13 June. We went first to Godinton House and Gardens near Ashford, Kent. The house was built in 1879 by Colonel John Leslie Toke on the ruins of Roman and medieval foundations. It remained in the Toke family for two hundred years and today is a magnificent blend of centuries of evolving art and architecture.

We began with a lovely lunch and then our members were free to wander through the lush gardens.

Next we had a tour of Chapel Down Winery, near Tenterden. Our tour guide, Russell, explained all the intricacies of grape growing and wine making as we looked out onto the fields of grapes. We all got to wear the "stylish" hi-viz vests!

We learned, for example, that Chapel Down sources their fruit from a wide geographic area, in addition to the vineyards we saw. This ensures against the risk of crop failure while still maintaining consistency in quality.

From the vineyards, we progressed to the huge vats where the grapes are processed into wine. We also  had a nice "tasting" of the award winning Chapel Down wines, which made the end of the day that much more enjoyable!

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

We're BACK ONLINE! Our issues have been resolved, so please check this blog regularly for updates, and please feel free to leave comments. Thanks to all who have asked for this to be continued.

Our December 2018 meeting was a great success. Some of us really got into the spirit with Christmas jumpers and headgear.

And of course the usual Christmas food, too!

We were then treated to the most wonderful talk on Christmas traditions by the lovely Siobhan Clarke. She covered Christmas traditions from the 12th century with slides and lots of information on how the royal families have celebrated through the ages.

We learned that in 1681 it was against the law to say "Merry Christmas", thanks to the Puritans! And although Prince Albert was responsible for introducing the Christmas tree in the royal household of Queen Victoria, owing to his German roots, Queen Charlotte actually had one as early as 1792. The trees were often hung from the ceiling. 

Until the 1920s presents were exchanged only as small tokens (my how THAT has changed!) and often simply fruit. Ms. Clarke explained that German tradition is to open presents on Christmas Eve, a practice still followed by the royal family. She also said the Christmas card was started in 1843 by Sir Henry Cole, followed by the invention of the Christmas cracker in 1847 by Thomas Smith, a London sweets maker. The talk was lively and very interesting!  

We had such a good time and are now looking forward to our next meeting (always the second Wednesday of each month at All Saints Church Hall at 2pm) and our annual New Year's lunch. This year the lunch will be held on 23rd January at the Marine Hotel. (Reminder: pre-paid only)

Friday, 8 June 2018


This blog is now CLOSED, due to the new data protection law which requires written permission from every person in every photograph. It is just too time consuming and cumbersome to continue with such a burden on our photographers and membership. I won't rant about how silly this is, and I do apologise for the loss of something many enjoyed.

It is my understanding that the existing posts can stand, but if you are  pictured and prefer to not be shown, please let me know immediately and I will delete the photograph. Send an email to and include the date of the post and a description of the photograph you want deleted.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Visit to Bilsington for afternoon tea

Our members visited St. Augustine's Priory at Bilsington for a tour of the grounds, followed by tea.
After arrival we were shown into the priory building where an interesting talk was given about the history of the site.

The priory has been in existence for 800 years but it is thought that the site has been occupied for even longer. Archeological finds have included Roman water offering charms, a possible Viking necklace and it is rumoured that a chest of gold went missing here when the soldiers wages during the 100 years war was stored on the site.


We didn't find any treasure but made our way across the gardens and past the fish pond to the farmhouse conservatory for a really fabulous afternoon tea. 

One person said it was the best afternoon tea she had ever had!  During tea the current owner of the priory chatted to members about the estate.

A very enjoyable time was had by all!

Panto in April

Our WI had planned a Panto for December, but too many of the cast were ill (as were half the UK population!) so we had a little play but the real panto was  re-written and performed in April. It was definitely worth the wait as it was one of the best panto plays I've seen! The theme was Snow White but updated to include Easter, as the photos below will show.

We had the traditional Evil Queen who was jealous of poor maiden, Snow White.

We even had all the seven little men (well, almost seven). 

Honestly  it was hilarious, well written and well played. And most of all well-received by the audience, who clearly loved it! Our drama group always delivers an outstanding performance that makes the afternoon fun! And of course the glasses of prosecco help too!

Hey, we DO know how to have fun!

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

How the time flies....

Wow, it's been a very long time between posts, although I have to admit that no one seems to care much. No one has commented on the lag to me, at least.

It's not as if our group hasn't been busy, because we have... we've done skits, had lunches out, elected a new President (now Pam Lilley) and committee in November, listened to some very good speakers, and lots more. Here's just a couple of photos from a Christmas play.

Due to illness, we had to cancel a regularly scheduled panto but it will be presented at our April meeting. 

As an update for current events: 
  • our programme committee met this week and we are in the process of confirming some great programmes for next year (2019). We have to plan so far ahead to get the good speakers.
  • our Shutterbugs (photography interest group) have met regularly and will next journey for a lunch at a country pub. The last meeting we saw some videos on camera techniques that were very helpful.
  • our book clubs have been meeting regularly.
  • our Kent AGM is planned for later this month and several of our South Street WI members will attend.
  • our garden interest group is gearing up for visits to some lovely local gardens in the Spring and Summer.
  • we've added a second craft group, which has proven very popular.

There are always lots more going on for our members, so I hope to keep this blog updated more frequently. Please remember that we meet on the second Wednesday of each month at the All Saints Church Hall, 2pm. If you're not already a member, why not come along and meet our group? We're a  friendly bunch and new members and visitors are always welcome.