Pick Of The Crop

September meeting

As the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness descended upon us, we had a fascinating September meeting as Sarah Calcutt, Operations Director of English Apples And Pears joined us to talk about farming and marketing the glorious apple and pear produce produced in the  UK. We learnt about the astonishing advances in fruit farming over the past years, how a new variety of apple comes into being, and even got a sneak preview of three new apple varieties that are in progress, one of which might well be finding its way onto our supermarket shelves in 7 or 8 years time.  She was a hugely informative speaker, passionate about her subject and we had some interesting debates about packaging (without current packaging around 40% of produce would end up being wasted through bruising etc although there are major developments around decreasing use of plastic that are ongoing) and the use of specialised equipment to analyse the soil in order to target fertilizer use more economically and ecologically.






Summer social

It was lovely to see a lot of new faces and old friends at our August get together at the Scolt Head.  It was a lot of fun and a great opportunity to catch up with members.


Forthcoming dates for your diaries…

Knitting group – 20th August – this will also take place at the Scolt Head – do come along if you would like to learn to knit or hone existing skills

We have a trip up St Augustine’s Tower on 5th September

Our next stint at the community café in The Crypt is on Friday 7th September, if you would like to help out or fancy cooking something do email in.  The community café offers a low cost hot meal between 12 and 2.30pm. All profits currently go to the Hackney Playbus scheme.  It’s a chance for local people to meet up and enjoy some home cooked food with friends in a lovely atmosphere.

all details of the groups and events are on the relevant pages on the website

We also have some jam making workshops scheduled over the next month – email in if you would like to join us

We will be running a Domestic Delights stall at the De Beauvoir Gardeners Flower & Produce show on September 16th outside St Peter’s Church on Northchurch Terrace selling jams and preserves and cakes and bakes. If you would like to bake something or make something or help out do let us know at the usual email address.

If you are interested in entering the various categories of the competition you can find all the details here



Tea & Birthday Cake at our 4th Birthday and AGM

In May we celebrated our 4th Birthday with tea and cake and our AGM.  We looked back at all the fun we had last year and enjoyed a wonderful slide show of images from the last 12 months and planned for new and exciting adventures ahead. Thanks to our Middlesex Federation representatives who helped the proceedings go smoothly.  We had a lively discussion and voted on the resolution Mental Health Matters and committee member Sara will be taking our vote to the National AGM in Cardiff in June and will report back at June’s meeting.






January meeting


What better way to kick off the New Year than with last nights practical workshop that helped us rebalance our bodies and our energy after the business of the festive season. A big thanks to John Haywood who joined us to introduce us to the ancient art of Qigong (Chi Gung), literally translated as ‘Life Energy Cultivation’. Qigong is a holistic system of co-ordinated body posture and movement, breathing and meditation used for the purpose of health. It is traditionally viewed as a practice to cultivate and balance Qi, translated as life energy. There is also research published showing benefits for mental health, with a reduction in cortisol, the hormone produced in the body in response to stress, so a great way to kick off our own self care in the light of the 2019 national resolution on mental health.

John runs a weekly class at Castlehaven Community Centre in Camden on a Tuesday at 11am.

Dates for your diary
Book group is up and running after a December break and will be meeting on 8th January at Bavo at 8pm to discuss The Hitman’s Guide To Housecleaning by Hallgrimur Helgason, email in if you would like to join us but it helps if you have read the book

Knitting group is also back, for beginners and experts, we will be meeting on Monday 21st January, venue to be decided, again email in if you would like to learn to knit, hone your existing skills or want to come along for a knit and natter

We will be resuming our collections of toiletries for the women in the Solace refuges – bodywash, shampoo, conditioner, etc all welcome

Night Shelter
The Night Shelter at St Peter’s will be up and running from the 7th January, we are providing a home made cake every Monday throughout the course of the shelter running – we have had volunteers for January but if you fancy baking a cake in February or March to deliver on a Monday then let us know.



Book Group

At the November meeting we discussed a book by De Beauvoir WI member Barbara Barnett – The Hide and Seek Children, recollections of young survivors of the Holocaust from Slovakia. Barbara came to talk to the group about how she came to meet the contributors and collected their stories many years later into her book.  For more information about the book group see What’s On.

Book Cover

De Beauvoir Discovered

A very big THANK YOU to Edward Benyon for providing such an interesting talk about De Beauvoir and his family history at our October meeting. We were a large spellbound audience with lots of members and guests eager to find out more about this glorious corner of London. For those of you who missed it we will be uploading a video of the talk soon.

We welcomed three new members/sisters in October: Pamela Dow, Emily Constantinidi and Lisa Topliss. A big Hello!

There’s lots of autumn activities to tell you about – so here goes:

woolCampaign for Wool Ride
This weekend, Campaign for Wool celebrates its 5th anniversary a family friendly Wool Ride on Sunday (5th October) through London’s top landmarks. Potters Field by Tower Bridge is the start and end of the ride and will be a hub of entertainment and activity throughout the day. The cycle ride starts at 9am and is about 13.4 miles long lasting roughly 2 hours. The ride isn’t a race at all, rather a lovely, leisurely event. For more information and to sign up for free, visit the site HERE.

Macmillan Coffee Morning
We are making the drinks at this year’s coffee morning at St. Peter’s Crypt Cafe on Saturday 18th October 11am – 1pm. Bake something to bring along as a donation for the home produce stall or just bring your friends for a coffee and cake (£1 entry plus donation for tea and cake). We are also hosting a knitting corner so do bring your latest knitting project along! If you want to volunteer your services for cup cake baking contact avril@broad-base.co.uk.


The Rosemary Branch Sequins on my Balcony
A one hour, one woman show, Yvette has been living with cancer since 1996 when she was a young woman, she turned herself into a belly dance teacher and performer and she is telling her funny and feelgood story at The Rosie for 6 shows from October 14th. More details HERE.

East is East meet the cast and Q&A
Thursday 30th October, 2.30pm matinee, Whitehall theatre. Special WI offer for groups of 6+, see full details HERE.

BBC 1 ‘Rip Off Britain’
The BBC are setting up a pop up shop at Broadcasting House 20 – 24th October 2014.
A team of experts will solve consumer problems as part of a week of live programmes and they have asked WI members to participate. You can email your consumer qualms to ripoffbritain@bbc.co.uk or contact janine.weaver@bbc.co.uk for more details.

De Beauvoir WI Book Club
The next book is Eimear McBride’s debut novel, which won this year’s Bailey’s Women’s Prize for Fiction, (formerly the Orange Prize for Fiction): A Girl is Half Formed Thing. Meet Tuesday 7 October, further details HERE.

Spend a morning at Denman on 27 November 2014 with celebrated actor and author Sheila Hancock as she discusses her eagerly awaited new book: ‘Miss Carter’s War’. Afterwards you can enjoy a delicious two-course lunch. Tickets are priced at £60 for members and £65 for non-members including a copy of ‘Miss Carter’s War’ RRP £12.99. For tickets call their team on 01865 391991.

Women-on-aWomen on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
The Musical with Tamsin Greig and Haydn Gwynne
Wednesday 28th January 7.30pm Exclusive Meet The Cast!
Join fellow WI friends for the Evening performance and stay after the show for an exclusive opportunity to meet members of the Cast & Creative Team. Top Stalls Or Circle Ticket & Meet The Cast £35 for WI Groups 8+ (reduced from £59.50), further details HERE.


De Beauvoir WI Knitting Club
The next meeting is on Monday 13th October when Nicole will be demonstrating crocheted stars. Full info HERE. (If you are a knitter please bring your knitting to the Macmillan coffee morning (see above).

The Knitting and Stitching Show is at Alexandra Palace 8–12 October.
Join the Middlesex Federation of WIs on stand No. RCA3 at the new Stitch-by-Stitch area.

The BBC Good Food BAKE AND CAKE SHOW is at the Islington Business Design Centre 25–27th October.

Craft Dabble Days
Needle Felting and Knitted Toys – Thursday 6th November
Christmas Crafts – Thursday 4th December –
£5 per day – full info HERE.

Sugarcraft Workshop for Beginners, Saturday 22nd November 2014.
£18.50. Details HERE.

May Martin’s Sewing Bible: 40 Years of Tips and Tricks
Join the fabulous May Martin, star of BBC2’s the Great British Sewing Bee on 27 October 2014, as she talks about her new book followed by a scrumptious lunch. The cost of the book, RRP £25, is included in the price! Tickets priced at £65 for members and £70 for non-members. To book go to www.denman.org.uk

Stroud Green WI WInter Fair
Stroud Green WI is launching a WInter Fair. This jingle bell bonanza is to be held in the grand chandelier room of the Stapleton Tavern, right in the epicentre of Stroud Green, N4 on Sat 22 November.  There will be cakes, there will be jams but there will also be face-painting, a raffle and vintage and craft stalls galore. WI Members who run a stall or a business that might like to participate in the Stroud Green WInter Fair should contact them now to apply for a stall. Email: stroudgreenwi@yahoo.co.uk


As part of the WI Centenary celebrations next year there are a few initiatives and competitions popping up:

Member’s Stories
The WI are looking for at least 100 Inspiring Women stories from members to share on the WI website. It could be your favorite or most inspiring WI memory – whatever you would like to share – or you could simply tell us what you love most about the WI, what you have gained from your membership or what advice you’d like to give to WI members in 100 years. If you would like to take part you can submit your story (in no more than 500 words) to communications@nfwi.org.uk attaching any photos/images/videos that relate to it by 5th December.

National Federation/Makower challenge – make a wallhanging or wearable item using the colour collection range from Makower UK. Full details HERE.

Middlesex Centenary Baton Competition – make a cushion to display the Centenary Baton on its journey through Middlesex next May. Cushions should be 24 x 12 inches. Email us for a copy of the entry form HERE.

The Middlesex Federation October Newsletter can be viewed as a pdf HERE.

Autumn events

Last Thursday’s meeting was as delicious as organic chocolate tasting promised to be. A very big thank you to Master Chocolatier Anthony Ferguson of Niko B Organic Chocolate who described his craft with such passion and taught us the difference between ‘high street’ and fine chocolate. We tasted chocolate from different regions before sampling his own delicious organic truffles. Needless to say we’re all going to be paying visits to his stall in the Farmers Market at Stoke Newington (every Saturday).


So now that summer is drawing to a close there are plenty of plans to keep us entertained of an evening. Trips including an Evening of Magic and Friendship and a federation picnic in Regents Park as well as the famous Rosemary Branch Panto in December. You can read about them on Ruth’s new DBWI TRIPS page. Email her directly HERE if you’re interested in booking them.

Middlesex Federation WI have a stand at the Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace 8–12 October where they will be taking part in stitch-by-stitch demonstrations, full details on their pdf flyer which can be downloaded HERE.

DBG_2014PosterThis Sunday, 14th September, is the De Beauvoir Gardeners Flower and Produce show. You can see all the categories and pre-enter your prize winning cakes, biscuits, flowers and veg HERE. We thought it might be nice to enter some things under the DBWI umbrella so if you are feeling generous with your entries please consider putting some in as de Beauvoir WI (you can still add your own name). As the organiser of the dog show I for one have 500 dog biscuits to bake so I might not be entering anything other than that jar of jam sitting on the top shelf!

Lastly, looking forward to December we have booked our own WI stall at the De Beauvoir Association Christmas Fair at St. Peters on December 13th. We already have some ideas about what to sell (details will be posted soon) but anyone interested in helping on the day or contributing any kind of craft or edible please contact the committee by email.

Remember to check out the Book Club and Knit and Chatter pages if you want to join either of those sub groups.