A member's blog
I have been a WI member for over 40 years in various English counties. More than half this time I have spent in Buckinghamshire. I am interested in all crafts, reading and writing and in travel.
Happy Christmas and a healthy prosperous New Year to all the Blog readers!
It was a rather select group of members who met this evening to discuss Humanitarian Aid. It wasn’t the choice of topic that kept people away, more the condition of the local roads and pavements after the weekend’s snowfall. Several of us had done some diligent research and reading in advance of the meeting. Unfortunately, we learned from each other just how unsatisfactory and corrupt a lot of the aid organisations are. It came as a surprise that so little that is raised for victims of natural disasters ever reaches where it is needed. Administration seems to swallow up a lot of it and then what is sent abroad is often going into the pockets of corrupt officials or worse still being used to provide arms for militia, either official or breakaway forces. We decided that the work of the ACWW was a better solution where not money but tools, equipment and education is sent abroad to teach the locals how to help themselves. We then moved on to the work of the WI with the homeless and abused in Women’s Refuges.
The December monthly WI is a festive affair with plates of food and wine and a musical entertainment. Of course, there is always a business side to cover as well. The new committee was introduced and the programme for 2018 revealed. Members were encouraged to think about the proposed resolutions to go to NFWI for the Annual General Meeting in June and to bring their voting forms with them to the next meeting when some time would be given to considering them together. Di Kemp showed off her certificate from the National Croquet Association for services to the game over the years.
“The Flying Man” by Roopa Farooki had been allocated to the WI Book Group when the organiser and the County Library had between them left a blank between choices of book. We were lucky really as most of us enjoyed reading the novel, although we couldn’t warm to the hero---probably anti-hero best describes him. He travelled across the world in his long life, changing his identity at the drop of a hat, leaving emotional baggage behind and always hoping that his luck would rescue him from the consequences of his actions. There was humour there and the background cities and countries were well described and their history was accurately fitted into the plot. I think we can say it was a happy accidental find and who knows, we may read another by the same author. To discover new writers is really what book groups are all about.
It was another busy monthly meeting tonight with an attendance of over 60 members and 7 guests whom we always hope and almost expect will return to join. The speaker gave an interesting presentation entitled “Journey to Station X” which was all about the formation of the team working at Bletchley Park during World War II. It was amazing that the secrets were kept for decades when so many people were stationed there, living in the local villages and travelling on the trains or cycling to and from work. It would never be possible nowadays when everyone has to take selfies and be in constant contact with friends and family.
The trip to Milton Keynes theatre had been very popular. Arrangements were made to attend several County events and we are pleased to have two teams entering the inter-WI quiz this year which is being held in Winslow. It was agreed to celebrate our 95th anniversary in 2017 with a murder mystery evening. These things have to be booked well in advance because they are so popular. Several of our members have volunteered to help with the formation meeting for a new WI in the town. We wish them every success with that.
The Green Gym members had ended their walk in Aylesbury by visiting the WI centenary display in the County Museum. There were craft workshops going on there too so it had been very interesting.
It was a bit of a surprise to recognise some familiar faces on the cover of the latest issue of ACWW’s “The Countrywoman” magazine. The photos had been taken at the Vintage Tea held in Amersham in November which some of our members attended. Inside there was a write up on the progress of the projects undertaken by WIs across the world for women and children in undeveloped countries. The money we raise by the “women walk the world” scheme and our collections of “ coins for friendship” all go towards these projects. The international AGM is being held in the UK this year in Warwickshire so there will be good coverage in the media.
Fifty four Bucks WI members and friends enjoyed a really interesting visit to the British Museum today to see the exhibition on the Vikings.The coach driver did some excellent fast thinking when we came up behind 10 miles of traffic jam on the planned route in to London: we had to be taken rather a long way round but arrived in time for our viewing slots. The exhibition was beautifully staged in the new Sainsbury Wing and although it was quite crowded we were able to see everything at our own pace.I must admit that I was surprised by the beautiful craftwork and its delicasy of workmanship on show. I had no idea how far the Vikings spread across the world i.e. from the Canadian coasts to Islamic settlements as far distant as the Caspian Sea. One of the footnotes about a highly decorated battle axe said that it was thought to enhance the warrior's reputation when seen on the batlefield but I couldn't imagine the victim having the time to appreciate its beauty as it descended on to his head.We are always told about the blood-thirsty forays of the raiders but not about their lovely gold and silver filigree work.There was a lovely quote from a bard about the gods, Hoder, the god of Thought and Mimir, the god of Memory---"Every day Hoder and Mimir fly across the empty ground; I am anxious about Hoder returning but most of all I worry for Mimir". So obviously the fear of Alzheimers is over 1000years old!
After viewing the Vikings we had time for lunch or to view another room of exhibits. A lovely day so all thanks to the Art and Craft sub-committee for making the arrangements.
The local WI Book Group has been reading a Philippa Gregory novel, "the Lady of the Rivers" which was a popular choice. Some readers criticised the use of the first person narrative and perhaps its length but it is a very gripping story and it gives a real feel of the life of the times. It is a different picture of Richard III too but what dreadful times to live in: one never knew whose side to be on as the court was riven by different factions all trying to manage with a king who was away with the fairies for long periods of time. Philippa Gregory does a lot of research and most of the time seems to be historically accurate. Actually a true account of that period is dramatic enough anyway but she makes the characters interesting and believable.The conflict between religion and witchcraft was fascinating as too the differing opinions on medicine and witchcraft.
We went off on our sponsored walk for ACWW this morning. It was very pleasant walking 3 miles along beside the river Ouse through Stony Stratford. We were joined by some members from a neighbouring WI. I know we were about 3 weeks late for the actual day for Women to Walk the World but we will have raised some funds for the cause and that is the object of the exercise.
Two of us from the local WI attended the Croquet event at Stony Stratford this evening. There were people of different abilities present, about 30 in all and we were able to have instruction or just enjoy a couple of games. The weather looked very threatening but we managed to escape the rain and thunder and even sit about enjoying the delicious refreshments prepared by the non--playing members of one of the town's WIs.A very pleasant way to use a break in the clouds.
What a lovely morning to take part in the Women Walk the World event for the Associated Country Women of the World! It is an inspiring idea that people as far away as Papua New Guinea will set off to walk at 10am their time and, across the world, others will start walking at 10am as the sun catches up with them. A small group of seven and a dog left Hillesden at 10am this morning and enjoyed a walk through the countryside in sunshine and among daffodils. There were quite a few other groups of WI members walking in Bucks at the same time so a tidy sum will be raised from sponsorship to support ACWW. It's the least we can do after May Kidd's inspirational talk at the April Council Meeting in Aylesbury last week.
The NFWI has been doing a lot of work on the 2012 mandate passed at the Annual General Meeting at the Albert Hall . All members have been kept informed through the WI Life:we were asked to fill in a survey and to send up information on local experience of the midwifery services so that a cross-country report could be produced. We were asked to contact our MPs and Health Bodies to express our concerns about the shortage of midwives and the need for more to be trained.All the Bucks MPs received letters in readiness for the lobby planned for 3rd May to coincide with the publication of the report.I was very pleased to be able to join two other members of Winslow WI to meet with the Speaker, John Bercow at his surgery in Buckingham.He was interested in the campaign and supportive and has promised to do what he can to help the WI. After all he is a father of three young children so hasn't forgotten the benefits of the caring role of a fully trained midwife.Hospital targets in some parts of the country put mothers under pressure to hasten birth, resulting in 38% of births being induced and the rate of emegency caesarean section can vary from 20% in some hospitals to 40% in others.An experienced midwife giving one-one attention can avoid a lot of distress to the mother and save the NHS money on costly unnecessary medical intervention.
Given a sensible straightforward mandate with which to work, the WI can make a difference:it has the clout to force the Government to look at a problem.