November Meeting – Strictly Dancing

The November meeting was our annual group meeting with other local WI groups and we had visitors from N1, Stow Roses, Stone Rangers, East End and Stoke Newington.  We learned how to lindy hop,  calypso and dance to Bombay Dreams with top choreographer and west end performer Jreena Green.DBWI_Nov2016

Jreena also works with the Green Candle Dance company who believe that everyone has the right to practice, learn, watch and appreciate dance, regardless of age or ability.  Their classes at Oxford House, Tower Hamlets include Dance and Dementia, Older Men Moving and Green Candle Senior Dance Classes.  See their website for details.

 

 

Bombay DreamsAmerican bakes

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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.

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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.

 

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.

Knees-up

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.

de Beauvoir Bunting and Abney Park – a secret wilderness

Hello everyone, in advance of next week’s meeting I thought I would post two picture udpates to keep everyone in the loop about what we’ve been up to.

De Beauvoir Bunting

Last Sunday saw a group of us, plus some kind helpers from the community, take over the hall at St. Peter’s Crypt for a marathon bunting making session. We had a massive amount of fabric donated so a big thank you to everyone who gave their unwanted material – we have enough now for many sewing projects to come. Here are a few pics including a very serious one of me taken by Victoria! You will have to wait until Party in the Park to see the bunting in all its glory.

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Bunting

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Abney Park Cemetery

Monday night saw a group of us wrapped up warm (well except for me) meeting at the gates of Abney Park Cemetery for a tour of this wonderful and wild corner of Hackney. We spent a really interesting couple of hours exploring the history of Victorian Hackney through the story of the cemetery and the people buried there. It was fascinating, beautiful and just a little bit spooky. A huge thank you to Justina for organising the event. Please visit, support this haven for wildlife, take part in a course, a tour or one of their upcoming events – full details on their website.

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See you all next week to learn about aromatherapy.

Avril

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.

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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.

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Written by Sara.