Our WI Summer Season and learning about aromatherapy…

If you didn’t make it to last Thursdays meeting you missed out on the delicious smells of lavender, frankincense, nutmeg, and immortelle. Jane Williams gave us an expansive talk about aromatherapy which started with the history of the art of using scent extracted from plants and spices and ended with members giving themselves a personally scented hand massage. We smelled fresh leaves gathered from Jane’s garden, compared varieties of lavender oils (always keep lavender oil handy for kitchen burns) and discovered how to use essential oils safely. We also learned about how Jane helps cancer patients at University College Hospital where aromatherapy is something that helps relaxation and relieves some of the cruel side effects of cancer treatment.

For those of you who want to buy some oils Jane recommends Neal’s Yard and her own favourite Oshadi.

Essential oils and scented plant leaves

Essential oils are extracted from plants and spices.

Thursday also saw the circulation of a host of sign-up sheets for the summers big fund-raising events. The first is this coming Saturday when we are running a cake stall at A Royal Knees-up party in Rosemary Gardens to celebrate the Queen‘s birthday. There will be an afternoon of fun for families including a dog show. We are still looking for cakes so email if you can bake, the WI will refund costs.


The knees-up is followed by another cake stall at Party in the Park on 9th July – again we are looking for bakers and helpers on the stall. Lastly (but this is the big one) – we have agreed to co-produce the Flower and Produce show in September alongside the de Beauvoir Gardeners. The show will be a great opportunity to raise our profile in the area as well as fundraise. We are looking for volunteers from members and their families to help make this community day better than ever.


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.


The year began not with a bang, but with a wiggle of the hips and a shimmy of the thighs for us as we had the pleasure of Obie, professionally known as Miss Pearl the Whirl teaching us to hula-hoop! The room was packed and it was great to see lots of new faces as well as regulars.

As well as the fun to come from the expert hooper, there was a serious decision on what our next year’s WI campaign was to be. We all put our votes in the boxes – grabbed a cuppa or glass of wine and the fun began.

Joan (87 years old)

Joan (87 years old)

Two women I met, Penny and Michelle became members after the evening it was so good. But, the prize of best hooper of the night goes to Joan, 87 who moved to the area when she was 16! It turned out it was her first ever time hooping too! She is a strong believer in staying fit and when you look at her you’d never guess her age so that’s something for us all to aspire to.

I asked Obie, who has been hula-hooping for three years to tell us a bit more. Here are some great tips (some of which apply to any New Year’s project you may be starting – she was so inspiring!)

How did you get into it?

My mum saw a hoop class in Time Out so we went along – I was unstoppable and immediately started looking at YouTube videos and going to hoop events. I then saw The Majorettes doing a hula hoop and roller skate show – YES at the same time! I thought I have to join this troupe – so I said hello to Marawa The Amazing and have been a Majorette performer and teacher ever since!

What are top three top things about it?

Keeps you fit and it’s super fun! (Improves balance, flexibility, and cardiovascular health).
– Make great friends and teach amazing people.
– Builds confidence, self expression and creativity.

What were the hardest three things which you now look back on and wonder why you ever thought ‘I can’t do that’.

– At the beginning performing in public was daunting – but I have practised different ways of helping me to feel relaxed and confident.
– Mistakes aren’t the end of the world – I’ve learned to let go and and carry on.
– It was hard and scary to make a lifestyle change hoping that it would better for a work/ life balance.

How often do you do it; professionally and personally?

Obie (Instagram: @misspearlthewhirl)

Obie demonstrates

I decided to leave my full time job in design to pursue my hobby! Now the hoop has taken over my life – professionally on a weekly basis I work mainly in the evenings teaching adults and in the day children, I also co-ordinate The Majorettes. I perform at local to international events and attend festivals in the summer. In my spare time I’ll be at home practising or blogging.

I teach in East London: Tuesday in Hoxton – £12 and Saturday in Shoreditch – £12.

DBWI Discount – To book places email marawasmajorettes@gmail.com for 20% discount with WI membership card.

What was it like teaching such a mixed bag of women at the DBWI?

HOOPTASTIC ! The best thing was seeing such a wide age group all getting their hoop on! Some people had never picked up a hoop before, some had as a child – but everyone got involved – learning one trick or two that they could take away!

And finally, why is hula-hopping so good for you & why should the uninitiated try it?

It’s good exercise, it’s fun, it’s uplifting and it makes you happy! Hoops are also super cheap – hoops for life!

To watch or contact Obie (Miss Pearl The Whirl) here is her website; she is a member of world record hula hoop troupe The Majorettes founded by The Amazing Marawa. Find details of their local shop etc here.


Bees, Cakes, Angels and Suffragettes

Its been a busy Autumn and there have been plenty of activities happening. We try to keep the website updated so if you want to know what is going on check in on the relevant pages – reminder links are posted below. This is a brief summary of what members have been up to…

IMG_3042The Bees Knees

Local de Beauvoir resident and beekeeper Richard Turnbull was our speaker for October’s meeting. With an easy charm he delighted us with a description of how a beehive works and how he keeps his own hives on a flat roof in his garden. We sat spellbound as we learned about the Queen, her male drones and the thousands of female worker bees that make up a colony. It ended with tasting Richard’s delicious Honey and a slice of Sara’s stunning honey cake! If you want to know what to plant to help support bees there’s a good list HERE.

Afternoon Tea Party raises £740

On Sunday 11th October we baked and served teas for the Macmillan tea party in the crypt organised by one of our members, Barbara. A massive thank you to everyone who baked, drank tea and donated. A special thank you to the lovely lady who paid £30 for Sara’s chocolate and pomegranate cake which got us off to a flying start. Here are a few pics:

coronation gown angels replicaDressed by Angels

A small group of us went to see this fascinating exhibition at the Truman Brewery which charts the history of Angels costumiers. Costumes from famous shows, films and tv are interwoven with the history of the Angel family (can you imagine having such a lovely name?). Costumes from Star Wars, Downton Abbey and Doctor Who are on display as well as a replica of the coronation gown itself (shown here).   The detailing is quite astounding particularly on the more intricate outfits as was the amount of time and expertise that went into making of these costumes.

Votes for Women

There was a short notice trip to see Suffragette on Wednesday 14th. It really is a wonderful reminder of the sacrifice that hundreds of women made in order to earn equal status and the right to vote. In the final credits there is a list of dates when various nations extended the vote to all women – from New Zealand who was the first in 1893, to our own in 1928 and then on through a surprisingly late list of entries that included France 1945, Switzerland 1971 and trailing way behind, Saudi Arabia in 2015.

If you want to keep up-to-date with activities you can find details of our subgroups, outings, campaigns and activities on the website, including details of a christmas Rosemary Branch trip, the Book Group, Jewellery Making and Knit and Natter group.

We are looking forward to seeing you all at the next meeting – we have Hackney MP Meg Hillier talking to us on Guy Fawkes night!

What a week! Royalty, Newsnight and Albert Hall!

If you missed it last night De Beauvoir WI were featured on Newsnight’s piece about the WI Centenary celebrations and the AGM today at the Albert Hall. There are short interviews with Amanda, Victoria and Susan and lots of clips of our members enjoying Monday’s private tour of De Beauvoir Gardens (see below). Catch it here (towards the end): http://bbc.in/1FvGj5v

On an overcast evening on the first day of June, 17 of us assembled outside a house in De Beauvoir to start what was to turn out to be an enchanting couple of hours. The National Open Gardens Scheme who raises money for various charities, while showcasing some of the best gardens in the area had invited us to an exclusive preview of their amazing creations. We visited 4 gardens, all of which where breathtaking and all unique, we where able to met the owners, get ideas and inspiration, chat and enjoy the various spaces. We spent time in the last garden, wandering around or relaxing under the pergola with a glass of wine and nibbles, wonderfully organised by Nancy, the owner of the garden. We also had a BBC camera crew in tow but that’s another story. By Jacqui James.

I had my gold edged invitation & posh frock. Together with Jamila from Shoreditch Sisters I set off to Buckingham Palace on Tuesday.
All the approach roads were thronged with excited women, hanging onto their hats & fascinators in the wind all heading for the queues snaking round the palace.
We  crossed the front court yard, through that famous archway & into the palace. The sun shone as we came out onto the steps leading down to the gardens. All you could see were WI women – 8000 of us. All shapes & sizes, floral, patterns & plains. We drank tea & ate dainty cucumber sandwiches & of course chatted to other lovely friendly WI women from all over the country. Jamila & I teamed up with Alison from up North! Two military bands played. The Royal party arrived, flanked by Yeoman of the Guard. The Duchess of Cornwall & Countess of Wessex chatted as they walked through the crowd to the Royal tea tent.
What went on in that tent remained a mystery as there was no public address system. Us commoners wandered around outside, enjoying the vast gardens, the food & the chat. We bumped into our neighbours from Gothic Valley & N1. I’m not ashamed to say I networked & picked up a couple of speaker recommendations for future meetings.
After the royal party departed we all filled out through the main Buckingham palace gates, past the waiting lines of Japanese tourists snapping away.
It was a real experience & privilege to be part of this WI centenary event. I felt a warm glow of sisterhood. By Amanda Lovegrove.

Is all about felting and a great opportunity to get some more squares made for our banner. DBWI member Leslie is at the Albert Hall celebrations today and is voting on our behalf. Lets give her a big thank you tonight! Guests welcome – £5.

An eclectic April meeting!

Even with great articles busting the myth that the WI is more than just all “jam and Jerusalem” sometimes I don’t think people believe me. However, if they’d come to our latest meeting then seeing really would have been believing.

The evening’s discussions ranged from making your own beaded jewellery, artisan Fairtrade Palestinian products to Rolfing (and this wasn’t all that was covered!)

Fancy getting into jewellery?

purple beadsKicking off with making jewellery, member Nancy Turnbull proposed the idea of a sub group to share ideas and learn techniques from each other which was received enthusiastically. Apart from metalwork, which requires a lot of expensive equipment and space, her ideas include:

  • Making polymer clay beads and jewellery
  • Wire wrapping
  • Necklace and bracelet stringing
  • Kumihimo

There are many ideas and tutorials online – to look at especially on YouTube and search on any of the above. An expert could also be invited along to teach too if it takes off. The inaugural meeting of our DBWI Jewellery Making group will take place on Friday 24th April at 10.30am at Nancy Turnbull’s house – email HERE to request the address details, all members welcome.

Palestinian pleasures

Zatoun logo Nancy then spoke about Zaytoun products that she and her husband, Richard, are selling on a not-for-profit basis. The company was founded 10 years ago to help Palestinian farmers who had lost their olive oil markets, it distributes Fairtrade pesticide-free extra virgin olive oil together with other artisan products.

Olive oilAs well as rigorous quality testing Zaytoun works actively with producers to secure international fair trade and organic status for all of its products and is a member of the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO). The products they are stocking are available to see here. soapThese products are at wholesale prices (compare prices with local organic markets!) passing the discount onto customers. Please tell your friends and colleagues. To place an order contact Nancy and Richard at n1oliveoil@gmail.com or 07905 243644. They will contact you to arrange payment and collection. Local delivery by arrangement. Nancy will also bring products and a product list to some WI meetings.

What is Rolfing?

3ae8c832a3Finally, Naomi Wynter-Vincent one of only 34 Rolfers in the UK mesmerised the group with her talk about this unique kind of bodywork. Devised by American Ida Rolf in the 1930s, hence the name (which has nothing to do with golf or the former celebrity currently residing at Her Majesty’s Pleasure), Rolfing is described as a, “holistic system of soft tissue manipulation and movement education that organise(s) the whole body in gravity. There’s a lot to it, but essentially it’s an alternative therapy, which is used to relieve stress patterns in the body and improves posture and self-confidence.

Rolf believed that there is an association between the emotions and soft tissue issues, which, while not supported by scientific evidence has a staunch following in the popular world of alternative medicine. She drew on an eclectic mix of theories such as osteopathy, yoga, massage. There was a lively Q&A following this talk and for anyone who wishes to explore further Naomi practices in Luton.

Burlesque Evening

‘There was something amusing and touching about five of us meeting at the Southgate Road bus stop, dressed up for a girl’s night out, and heading off on the bus and tube for Knightsbridge! Almost regardless of where we were going, it was lovely to go out with a group of local women, and to have the chance to get to know some of them better.’ Lesley Thompson, DBWI member

So it was, no one knew quite what to expect when 15 of us trekked over to a basement club in a ritzy part of town on Friday 13th March, to see a burlesque show.  However, after meeting Delores Deluxe at our January gathering, we where intrigued to see her in action. Well, it looks like the evening exceeded expectations and a good time was definitely had. We had a rather delicious 3 course meal and then were treated to the show. The gorgeous Ms D was fabulous, funny and very entertaining. The club staff looked after us and at the end of the evening we decanted into Beauchamp Place in ebullient mood. We made an impression on them as well, Delores said we where the most fun table and the Manager Alex would love to see any of us again there in the future.

Jacqui James

Catch up with news about tomorrow’s menu at the Crypt Cafe and a talk by Robert Crampton organised by the DBA, next Thursday 26th HERE.

Finally you will have seen the posters go up for our next meeting on 2nd April and you can read a bit more about ‘Rolfing’ HERE.