Yarnbombing around De Beauvoir

Yarnbombing in de Beauvoir, Valentines Day 2017

It started on Valentines day when De Beauvoir woke up to find the cycle path outside St. Peters had been yarnbombed. The bollards had a knitted cover and the newly planted trees either side where decorated with knitting and hearts. Anyone who saw it felt very loved.

Next up was International Women’s Day when the other end of Northchurch Road, on the junction of Southgate, was decorated with tiny pink pussy hats and the slogan of this year’s theme: ‘Be bold 4 Change’. No-one has yet owned up to being the mysterious knitter (or more likely knitters) and the secret is causing a stir. Local press coverage rang up our WI looking to solve the mystery of the Banksy style yarnbombers. Whoever they are – they can certainly knit! #debeauvoirk2p2

Our prize winners

The sun could not have shone brighter for our first joint De Beauvoir WI and De Beauvoir Gardeners Flower and Produce. Everyone I meet who attended has had nothing but praise for the event and how much it brings the community together. If you missed the prize giving (or if you sadly missed the show altogether) we can happily now give you a link to all the winners HERE and a gallery of pics HERE.

Special mention has to go to some of our own lovely ladies who took away some of the top prizes. Justina Kochansky won first prize for her piece of homemade jewellery which was then awarded the Silver Cup for the BEST EXHIBIT in the show. Gillian Rowe won the highly prized Rose Bowl for the highest number of points in the flowers and fruit and vegetable categories.


Other members who did very well include our knitting guru Pamela who won both first and second prize in the tea cosy category. The picture below shows why!


Sara Lawrence got first prize for her cupcakes. Jacqui James was a popular winner in the Dog Show after her gorgeous dog Humphrey (below) wowed the audience with his best trick.


The Flower and Produce Show

The De Beauvoir Flower and Produce Show (and Dog Show) has been taking place every year since 1979 (at least).

This year, for the first time, WE are jointly organising the show with De Beauvoir Gardeners and this means that we need some help and volunteers. We are not only running the cake stall (domestic delights) but helping with all aspects of the show which is a really lovely annual event – a village style show in the heart of London. It celebrates this corner of Hackney’s growing, creative and dog owning communities and is promoted through local schools to encourage children to bake, draw, grow and make – we even have cup cake decorating on the day.


As well as the usual flower, produce, baking and preserve categories there are new (WI) craft entries as follows:

  • For children – A glove puppet made from a sock

and for everyone:

  • Greeting card in any medium (e.g. sewn, painting, collage, photograph, crafting)
  • A floral tea or egg cosy, stitched, knitted or crocheted
  • Homemade piece of jewellery (brooch, necklace, bracelet or ring) on a garden theme

To make this year a success we really need your help in lots of ways:

  • Volunteers to help for a couple of hours on a stall.
  • Volunteers to help with setting up or clearing up. This includes husbands and burley teenagers to help with the heavy work of setting up gazebos, carrying books and tables – either in the morning or at the end (or both).
  • As many individual entries in all categories as possible (we are not doing WI group entries this year) again encourage neighbours, relatives and children to enter too. CLICK HERE to see all the categories so you can start planning your entries now.
  • Contributions of nice items for the tombola (bring items to the August and September meetings).
  • Whole cakes and savouries to sell on the day.
  • Bring your dog along and consider entering the floral fancy dress category.
  • Promote the show on facebook or twitter using the links on this page.
  • Put a poster up.

We will have sign-up sheets and be available for questions at the August social where we will also distribute posters and leaflets for those who have already signed up for leaflet distribution.


Magical moments with the local poet Marina Evans

Unique, funny and charming are all words that describe the Irish-born local poet and novelist Martina Evans who read from her collected works at April’s meeting. Ahead of the launch of her new collection, Burnfort, Las Vegas, Martina treated us to excerpts of prose and poems both old and brand new. Originally from County Cork Martina kept us enthralled by drawing us into her personal and imaginative world. She was initially shy about reading to us, but as we hung on her every word and we were spellbound by poems such as Frank O’Hara and Oysters her confidence grew. Mixing up the ordinary with the extraordinary (Donny the cat featured heavily as did references to local London history and Shakespeare) she told us how she learnt her craft and now teaches at Birkbeck College.IMG_3533

As a child she always had her head in a book and told us that she started out on her creative writing career (first novels and then her true love poetry) because she, “loves telling stories and I love fairy tales too.” She finished the evening with a Q&A and we learnt that… She writes best… “Early in the morning, the earlier the better”. Nothing is wasted. She’s a natural poet because… “I like intensity. When I started writing I had done the Artist’s Way (a guide to unblocking your creativity) and it changed my life. It was absolutely transformational.” The saying may be that everyone has a novel in them… “But, I think that everyone has poetry in them.” Her next book is… “All about teenagers.”

Marina has kindly sent some links to some of her work and readings:

Here is the link to new prose poem Now We Can Talk Openly About Men on RTE RADIO which was published in The Stinging Fly magazine, it starts after a couple of minutes:

I also promised to send this essay I wrote for the Royal Literary Fund. 

And an essay on the prose poem.

And the wonderful Daniel Kahneman, Nobel prize-winner talking on memory and experience and happiness:

Singing for joy and ‘Jerusalem’

For our March meeting we welcomed singer and choir director Barbara Hoëfling who gave us a fantastic crash-course in singing in a choir and which concluded with her conducting us in a rousing version of ‘Jerusalem’.

Originally from Germany, Barbara has been living in the UK for 10 years and conducts a number of choirs including the one at St Peter’s, De Beauvoir. She started by telling us about the history of ‘Jerusalem’, a piece that is integrally linked with the Women’s Institute.

The song…

The text of ‘Jerusalem’ was written by William Blake in 1808 and set to music by Hubert Parry in 1916 two years before he died in the Spanish Influenza epidemic. Parry was a Professor of Composing at the Royal College in London and was highly regarded by Elgar who went on to write the uplifting symphonic orchestration of Jerusalem that we are all familiar with today. Parry also taught Holst, Vaughn Williams, Frank Bridge and John Ireland among many others while at the Royal College.

The WI…

Parry and his wife were supporters of the Women’s Suffrage movement and when the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) asked Parry if they could use Jerusalem at a Suffrage Demonstration Concert in Leeds in 1916, he orchestrated the piece and then assigned the copyright to the NUWSS. When the NUWSS was wound up in 1928, Parry’s executors reassigned the copyright to the Women’s Institute where it remained until it entered the public domain in 1968.


The overture…

Many of our number revealed difficult experiences in past attempts to sing, especially at school with memories of being sacked from the choir, or told to learn an instrument instead but Barbara was very encouraging about everyone’s capacity to sing and about the benefits of singing. It can improve sleep, releases endorphins, expands lung capacity, gives our immune system a boost and even tones our facial muscles. It brings people together, increases feelings of wellbeing, encourages positive feelings and creativity and is a forum for fun and laughter.

The singing…

We started with some exercises to get going and then some singing exercises, initially humming along to the tune of Jerusalem and then singing the words. At every point Barbara was positive, really encouraging, sharing her knowledge and tips and as we grew (a little) in confidence, the singing started to get louder. Lots of trips for liquid refreshments enabled us to lubricate our throats though I for one, was a little croaky the following day – as Barbara put it, akin to sore muscles after a good workout.

The Finale…

We were joined by Romee who played the piano accompaniment with passion and verve, which spurred us on to sing out louder. I found the final versions truly uplifting. Romee also revealed that when William Blake had been writing the text, he was looking out of his house south of the river onto the green hills of Islington.


Written by Sara.


Proper Perfumes

Planned to get us all in the mood for Valentines Day our February meeting was suitably fragrant. Sarah McCartney of 4160 Tuesdays gave us a funny, articulate and entertaining presentation about her micro perfumery business. As well as her range of wonderfully eclectic, modern and unusual perfumes she also creates bespoke scents for individuals, companies and events. She was so entertaining that there was hardly time to time to top up our glasses and as the end of the meeting approached there was a rush to buy her handbag sized samples. By time we left the room had taken on a heady atmosphere having all smelled and passed around testers of What I did on my holidays, Doe in the Snow, The Sexiest Scent on the Planet Ever, Sex Goddess, The Dark Heart of Old Havana. 



In other news we are still looking for a pianist for our March meeting which is a singing workshop run by the wonderful singer Barbara Höfling. If you have any ideas please get in touch.

The group of us that went to see Jane Eyre at The Rosemary Branch had a really wonderful evening and the play was another fantastic production with adaptation, direction and costumes by the talented Bryony J Thompson. We have several more trips coming up including a trip to Dicken’s House on 17th March, further details HERE.

Please see the various pages for full details of the book, knitting, jewellery and new sewing groups – all free to members.

Lastly there is a great page in the Middlesex Federation Newsletter covering our January Hula Hooping meeting and written by Leslie Sinoway. It can be downloaded as a pdf HERE.

Christmas Fayre and December’s party

For those of you who couldn’t get to the fair on Saturday here are a few pics of the lovely crafts and items made and donated by our members. We raised a princely sum for our funds which will be announced at Thursday’s meeting – so well done everyone! An extra big thank you to Amanda who contributed so much time to making it happen – including decorating the entrance to lure in passers-by. If you have any more pics send them in so we can add to the gallery (debeauvoirwi@hotmail.com). Leftover items will be on sale on Thursday.

Our next meeting is this Thursday 3rd and its our Christmas party (prosecco, hot punch and non-alcoholic punch on offer) with a selection of festive crafts to try: biscuit icing, gift tags, beaded tree decorations and a demonstration of a floral Christmas centrepiece. Most of all time to chat with all the new girl friends we’ve made this year! See you at 7.30. x