Sunday, 30 March 2014

March and Holistic Therapy

Welcome to Wednesday! Yes we're back in the Upper Vestry but now on our new evening of the third Wednesday in the month... Sadly after all her work dealing with the practicalities of the change, President Pam couldn't be there to oversee the evening as she was away in sunnier climes on business.

Which meant that I had to do it...


Firstly a welcome to two new members, Kirsten and Bernadette!

As you may recall we are in the process of changing federation from Surrey to Middlesex, this is in progress and we are awaiting confirmation.

Knitting and, err, texting...
The trial for a new Craft Club venue went well, hence we have booked again for next month (1st of April) when I will be bringing along my box of bits so we can try our hand at basic jewellery making. The room certainly lived up to expectations with eight of us being there for the first evening. One of the ladies from Atlantis Bookshop even mad a special sign so late arrivals could find us:
Tea and 
Oh. Anyway, it was a really could craft evening with Jane explaining how to read patterns. Again thanks must go to Jane for her patience.

Also this month we had the community preview of the Vikings exhibition at the British Museum, it was certainly an interesting exhibition although it was apparent there were a few teething troubles with the new space.

Holistic Therapy

Our speaker for the evening was Julieanne Cresswell of Papillon Angels. Her talk opened with a deeply personal rendition of her journey from being a Deputy Headteacher at a Pupil Referral Unit to where she is today concentrating on her particular flavour of holistic therapy. It was quite apparent that she holds the benefits with high regard and she talked enthusiastically about meditation, massage, spirits and  even angel card readings.

We did get the opportunity to try the meditation as a group. Julieanne set the scene by playing some deeply calming music as she lead us through the steps needed to take us to a meditative state. Her voice is beautifully soothing, calm, reassuring and it was easy to relax in to the flow of the process.

I'm glad to say that I wasn't the only lady that reported having shed a few tears as we relaxed!

The range of questions that were put to Julieanne were as interesting as the responses given, as a flavour of these I noted:
  • Were you psychic when young?
  • What is angel card reading?
  • Does everybody have an angel?
  • How does this connect with counselling.
Towards the end of the session Julieanne offered the opportunity to try a little hand massage with two of us taking up the offer. I have to say I was astonished by the emotional release that came from this and I think it's safe to say I will be making time in my diary to see how Julieanne and her approach can help me.

Julieanne offers her services at a number of sites, further details of which can be found on her website.

Finally, as a thank you, Julieanne was presented with a LWEWI teapot and cosy as crafted by Jane!

Friday, 28 February 2014

February: Campaigns and a tour


A reminder! Yes from next month the main meeting is on the third Wednesday but back in the Upper Vestry where we belong.

Another change for March is that we are trialing a new venue for the Craft Club, this will be in the Atlantis Book Shop on Museum Street. We will be asking for a small donation to help cover the room hire charge though we will be getting tea, a proper table and... Light!

Next we have two dates for your diary:

Ruth and her choir will be performing at St Clement Danes on Strand at 7:30pm on the 1st of March.

For those of you who have already asked for tickets for the Vikings community preview remember that our tickets are timed for 3:40pm on Sunday the 2nd of March, the plan is that we meet at the foot of the stairs to the reading room at around 3:20pm.

And finally... it's subs time, don't forget to pay!


Jenny introduced Marylyn Haines Evans, Chair of the National Federation of Women's Institutes Public Affairs Committee. Crikey, quite a title! She'd certainly travelled a long way from her home WI in Wales and was warmly welcomed. She'd also brought along Rachel Barber who is the NFWI Head of Public Affairs.

Marylyn Haines Evans
Marilyn opened by regaling her WI history which truly showed how important the organisation is to her and her family. Moving on we had a comprehensive explanation of how campaigns are chosen, the time scales and how campaigns never leave the books, so to speak. Of particular interest was a summary of some notable past campaigns, including her joking that we'd pre-dated Jamie Oliver by campaigning for better school meals in 1926.

The key message seemed to be that the WI is seen as a "big hitter" when it comes to campaigns and that real change has been achieved over the years. In short, the WI makes a difference.

St George's church talk and mini-tour

A man in his element
Pam introduced Frank Macey who would be imparting his knowledge as St George's top tour guide, he rather self deprecatingly pointed out he was also their only tour guide...

Pam's assertion as it turned out proved correct!

Frank opened with the story of how the church came about, its foundation being set around 1711 in the New Churches in London and Westminster Act 1710, also known as fifty new churches or Queen Anne's Churches. As it turned out the fifty were never built and St George's was the last of only 12 that came to fruition. Of the twelve there were six designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor, sadly whilst the man was a fabulous architect - a former assistant and protégé of Wren - he wasn't so good when it came to finance so the costs rather overran. It was the description of Hawksmoor's experience that gave a clear insight to his extraordinary architectural lineage.

Hawksmoor windows.
Over the years the church has changed with the Victorian's making significant changes to the original design. They changed around the internal layout of the building as well as replacing the simple and plain glazing with stained glass by Clayton & Bell. Sadly though the church began to fall into disrepair and needed significant work. Fortunately the World Monuments Fund, along with Paul Mellon, stepped in to make sure that the work happened. During the renovations the building was changed back to the original layout, many of the windows were returned to how Hawksmoor envisaged them and the structural issues were resolved.

Frank certainly knows his subject, his enthusiasm and knowledge is both engaging and impressive. I for one will be making time in the summer months to actually go on one of his official tours. Can't wait!

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Fifty Squares, hurray...

The West End girls threw their all in to crafting squares to focus attention on the plight of the women and children refugees being held at Yarl's Wood Detention Centre. The effort began I'm earnest at our monthly craft club where Jane was on hand to help with the knitters whilst Jenny patiently taught those that fancied crocheting.

There were tears and laughter, cries of "how did I gain two stitches" along with a general consensus that whilst many of us hadn't picked up a pair of needles I'm years it was a fabulous reason to do so. But it didn't stop there.  In coffee shops and Soho nightclubs (yes, really), in trains or the underground, anywhere we could stop for a moment the knitting continued apace. We even had a willing volunteer in Scotland clicking away!

Ready to be sewn...
Finally, we have a pile of little squares that Jenny will be taking to Women for Refugee Women so they can be sewn together and turned in to a blanket that will be displayed at the Women of the World Festival.

Thank you to all that got involved, it's been a wonderful group effort!

And don't forget at next Craft Club we'll learn how to follow patterns. I can feel my tears of frustration welling already...

If you'd like to support the end of detention for women that seek asylum then please sign this petition and don't forget to visit the Women of the World Festival if you can!

Some of the *contributors:

  • Jenny
  • Jane
  • Jill Hurden
  • Emma Gerrard
  • Catherine RW
  • Mrs W
  • Victoria Stamps
  • KJ 
* I've only listed those that have so far said they are happy for their names to appear on our blog!

Friday, 7 February 2014

Knitted together - raising the voices of Yarl's Wood Women

The LWEWI is joining the Shoreditch Sisters WI and Women for Refugee Women (WRW) to create a Knitted Together Patchwork Blanket to be displayed at the Women of the World Festival at the Southbank Centre on International Women's Day, March 8th. We need knitted or crocheted squares, 10cm by 10cm, by our next meeting - sorry about the short notice! Jenny Anderson will collect them and send them to the WRW who will then sew them together.

Yarl's Wood detains people suspected of visa violations or illegal entry to the UK. They have often experienced rape and other forms of torture, and the conditions at Yarl's Wood have been described as a second torture. It is hoped this blanket will raise awareness of their conditions and action will be taken to alleviate them.

You can support this by signing the petition at:

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

January and the Dangerous Women...

Impressive lights!
The one where we met in the church.

Before the meeting started Ruth regaled us with some interesting details about the restoration of the church, apparently in the 1960’s the layout was 90 degrees different, a side effect of Victorian changes. The restorers returned the layout to the original Hawksmoor design.


The next meeting is February the 18th when we will be hearing from Marylyn Haines Evans, Chair of the National Federation of Women's Institutes (NFWI) Public Affairs Committee.

From March we meet on Wednesday evenings, so the next meeting is the 19th of March back in our usual home of the Upper Vestry. This change is permanent as the Chess Club is now in the Upper Vestry for the Tuesday evening. This is because Cameron Mackintosh has taken over where the chess club used to be at a rate that was too good to turn down…

So, no more musical chairs from March!

Phoenix Gardens. As many of you know this is an agricultural fair in Soho. This year it will be on Saturday September the 6th, we have a table booked and will be looking for bakers and people to staff the stall nearer the time...

The British Museum. We’ve been offered the chance to have a group attend the community preview of the Vikings exhibition. This will be on the 2nd of March. Pam did say that the exhibition is wonderful as well as the first exhibition in their new exhibition space.

Craft club. At our last craft meeting we talked about having a theme each month. Not only would be be able to potentially learn new skills but also would mean we could potentially make things to sell and raise funds. It’s not just about.

Ruth announced that her choir’s next concert is on in St Clement’s Danes in Soho on March the 1st. We’ll send out further details in a later newsletter :-)

Dangerous Women: The guide to Modern Life

Two of the dangerous women Clare Conville and Sarah-Jane Lovett had come along to us a talk about their book. Unfortunately, the third dangerous woman, Liz Hoggard was unable to make it.

The book came about around three years ago after the three met on Friday nights to drink wine and talk about The Stuff. you know the sort of thing, where to buy nice cami knickers, how to be a good cancer buddy, what to do if your husband or partner is abusive or even how to deal with a troublesome teenager… A huge range of things that, frankly, men aren’t going to cover. The range of Stuff that women of all ages will discuss. So the idea was as simple as to put it all together and create mini-guide to modern life that would hopefully have nuggets of helpful advice and thoughts.

One of the key wheezes in the book is that each section is cross referenced with others, so for example affairs is cross referenced to cami knickerscontraceptioncreative corsetryfamily therapygriefI don’tlawyerslossmoney mattersrejection and teenagers. As Sarah-Jane said, it’s not just about the fun things in life it’s about the tough stuff too. Like teenagers.

As the evening rolled on laughter followed reading and reading as the authors danced around the topics following a random adventure of thoughts from the cross references. It really was fabulous to hear and whilst I could regale some of the subjects covered. I won’t as you will enjoy the journey more if you have your own copy of the book

As the night drew on we did get the chance to ask questions or for a specific subject before finally the talk drew to a close and we had the opportunity to both chat with the authors or wander around having a good look at this wonderful building.