Category: wi

Ooh la la! Wine tasting with Le Bon Vin

Our SHWI May 2017 meeting saw Patrice from Le Bon Vin come and talk to us about WINE! And give generous tasters. And told us how attractive we are. And got distracted by a moustache on a cup. And had quite a strong accent and so was difficult to follow at times.
Needless to say, the meeting went swimmingly. The wines we tasted were as follows:
  • 8 Secco Prosecco (2016, £12). A fresh tasting bottle of fizz from Italy. Patrice gave us the lowdown on the history of Italian wine, and what a laborious process it is to make fizzy wines such as Prosecco! Patrice advised that we have to drink it quickly so you don’t lose any of ‘ze bubbles’. He described this wine as ‘like a good French man, you burst and you go’(!) It was light, fruity and flowery, and we agreed very tasty for the price.
  • Juno Chenin Blanc (2015, £9). A tropical tasting Chenin Blanc from South Africa, with bonus points for being Fairtrade. It was smooth and well rounded, and Patrice talked about the Goddess of Love, Juno. The wine was fairly strong for a white at 13% but still very drinkable.
  • Carlos Series Crianza Rioja (2013, £9). An oak-aged rich Rioja. By this point, Patrice complained that the microphone he was holding was too heavy. He advised us that with regard to reading official tasting notes you should ‘tell yourself it and you will find it’. And he recommended that if you don’t like the taste of this wine you need to drink more of it because the tannins will go away and the flavour will improve. The evening was getting silly!
  • Outback Jack Cabernet Merlot (2015, £8). A solid Cabernet Merlot from Australia. We heard about how the huge wine industry ‘down under’ started because of a need to serve wine with mass, and Patrice gave a convoluted explanation of brewing wine and developing cooling apparatus. This was a ‘stick your lips together’ kind of tipple with flavours of plum and oak. He just had one final question for us… ‘Would you prefer a good screw or a bad cork?’.

I’m not sure that we were the most attentive of audiences but we certainly enjoyed ourselves – huge thanks to Patrice and Le Bon Vin for keeping us entertained!

Charlotte Wright
Committee Member

Getting historical with Meridith Towne

Last month, we had my ideal meeting: History. Clothes. Women. REAL historical bags.

On arrival, our speaker, Meridith Towne proceeded to unpack a history lover’s dream from her boxes. Edwardian dresses were placed onto dummies, fur trimmed boots worn by a real Edwardian woman were carefully set onto the table. Beautiful beaded bags and purses glimmered as if they were only made yesterday.

I knew it was going to be a fascinating talk from the start. Meridith brimmed with enthusiasm about her subject and her collection of original items was astounding. I love a good talk with real objects to see and touch – it’s what history is about.

At the beginning of the meeting we also had an extra treat. The Sheffield Country Market ladies (including the one and only Nora Tebbutt …. recognise the surname?…) had brought us a range of sweet and savoury treats to try and taste. I particularly enjoyed the breads and pates. However, after having a Street Food Chef quesadilla before the meeting, my stomach didn’t agree…..

Lovely food from Sheffield Country Market

The ladies then gave us a talk about how the markets had originally been linked to the WI alongside some information about what they do and why. It was a lovely overview and hopefully got some of our members to either go and buy from them on a Saturday morning or to join in and sell their own wares!

After the usual info swap and Laura’s usual comedy routine (seriously, this girl should go into stand up) we prepared for the talk we had all been waiting for.

Meridith Towne

Meridith didn’t disappoint. Gliding into the room in her full Edwardian shopping outfit, we all gasped. She introduced us to exactly what Edwardian middle class women would have experienced if they had had the extra cash to roam the new department stores of the day such as Harrods and Selfridges. From gloves to French underwear which you wouldn’t tell your mum about (oo-er!) the story of the Edwardian shopaholic was a fascinating one. As well as being able to look at the original pieces of fashion in Meridith’s collection, we found out some amazing facts about women during the period. The ones that particularly stuck with me included the fact that there had not been women’s toilets in shopping stores previously as women ‘didn’t do that’. Also the dark detail (I like a bit of horrible history!) that a women would buy a shroud to go in her wedding trousseau. Because this was frequently needed due to the high rate of death through childbirth. It was just something that you had to prepare for!

At the end of the evening, ladies were allowed to look at and handle the original objects, connecting them to the women of foregone times.

A truly fascinating and insightful experience from an unusual and enthusiastic speaker.

Grace Escott-Tebbutt

Girl Gang Sheffield and our new charity of the year

Our February meeting was a miserable, cold and wet night, several Committee members were ill, but it was the night we discovered our church has some sort of underfloor heating system. It was like winning the lottery, warm parquet is a actual thing. 

We opened our doors and were greeted by our ladies laden with cakes and full of chatter; I can only comment on Karin’s incredible kladd kaka (like chocolate brownie) with orange and cayenne pepper – wow!! Our meeting for this month was made brighter by our friends from Girl Gang Sheffield who led our meeting on positivity and self celebration. 

Before we got down to positivity and feeling great, Grace ran through some SHWI business, passing on thanks from Light Sheffield for our fundraising efforts in 2016 and informing us of her successful negotiations in securing a stall for Sheffield Food Festival.

In February we traditionally vote for our charity of the year, this year we had 7 amazing nominations; Ashiana Sheffield, Golddigger Trust, Haven House, Memories from Isla, MHAGS Sheffield, Snowdrop Project and Whirlow Hall Farm Trust. Following a wholly democratic sticky dot led voting process (watch out Electoral Reform Commission) I was delighted to announce that our support for 2017 will be MHAGS Sheffield.  Watch out for our fundraising ideas over the coming months – one definite already in the diary is the Food Fest in May, so get your bake on!

After a swift break, Vanhessa, Ellie and Charly from Girl Gang Sheffield introduced their manifesto to our group and shared the reasons why they set up Girl Gang – their focus being to shine a light on women in Sheffield and support and promote the work they are doing.  

Girl Gang started by a core group of like minded women in Sheffield and has now expanded to Leeds and Manchester where their events centre around creativity, artistry, music and talent, and have a feminist undercurrent to encourage us all to value ourselves more.  The Girl Gang website states that a girl gang can be whatever you want it to be – encouraging skills sharing, self love and the power of female friendships – all of which I get from our fantastic SHWI girl gang.
Our activity for the evening was poster making focusing on making a positive statement to ourselves, taking back the negative perceptions and opinions we have about ourselves; the little voice in your head which can appear to be shouting you down and making you feel crappy.  What followed was an hour of positive reinforcement, shared experiences and laughter; and what resulted was a whole array of amazing posters, many adorned with a vast repertoire of swear words.

When I joined SHWI in November 2015 it was because I was missing nights like this. I was existing in a city I had called home for over 10 years with friends living 40 miles away becoming more and more remote, what I craved was the company of like-minded people, women supporting women, sharing experiences and offering advice.  We all lead such busy professional and social lives, living in a digital era where the restorative power of an actual conversation can often be forgotten.  Thank you Girl Gang for your support in delivering such an inspirational and uplifting evening!

Rachel White

Don Valley Carol Service

We organised a special carol service last Saturday for the Don Valley Group of WI’s in Sheffield in collaboration with St Andrew’s UR church where we meet regularly.

A big thank you to our events team who organised the event and all the members who volunteered their time and baked for the event.

It was bitter sweet as we are leaving the Don Valley Group soon to form a new Sheffield group of WI’s – the Sharman group. More details to come! 

WI pie features in second helping of Sheffield cookbook

South Yorkshire’s largest WI group feature in a new Sheffield cookbook with a special pie recipe from one of their members.
The recipe, written by Seven Hills WI (SHWI) member Di Coupe, is one of 80 local recipes in ‘The Sheffield Cookbook: Second Helpings’.
Di’s SHWI pie is a much-loved recipe and regularly baked for the WI’s cake stall at Sheffield Food Festival every year.

Di Coupe
Di said: “After I made the chicken, stuffing and sausage meat pie a couple of times, members of the public soon started asking for the recipe! It’s a true ‘bucket-list’ achievement to have my recipe published alongside such delicious food from restaurants on the Sheffield scene.”

Meze publishing, who created the book, have allowed Seven Hills WI discounted copies of the book to sell and raise money for their charity of the year.
Anna Tebble, Publishing Manager at Meze and Seven Hills WI member, said: “Compiling a book about my favourite thing – food from my favourite city, and as an added bonus getting to feature my favourite lady team, Seven Hills WI, was an absolute treat.”

Member and Meze Publisher, Anna Tebble

The book is available direct from Seven Hills WI at £14.95. Contact to buy a copy

All Hallows’ Eve and birthday cake

October saw the 7th birthday of the birth of our lovely SHWI, but also bought with it some spooky goings on…

The meeting kicked off with a final address from our long-serving Vice President, Jen Marsden-Lambert who is one of the founders of SHWI and has decided to step down and take a break from committee responsibilities. Jen received much love and a bottle of Japanese whiskey to enjoy in her new relaxed role as SHWI member!

To celebrate another year of this wonderful girl gang, our member Nicky Campbell had baked the most incredible SHWI fist cake, which Jen sliced ceremoniously before it was demolished by ravenous members. White chocolate buttercream icing? Yes please! 

Nicky with her delicious cake

Founding member Jen cuts our birthday cake
It being the month of October and All Hallows Eve being one of the most fun times of year (following closely behind Christmas and Great British Bake Off months) members had come dressed in their best spooky head wear for a creepy competition. There were sparkly witches, Brexit themed horror crowns, crocheted pumpkin patches, skeleton ladies and a pumpkin tea cosy worn as a hat….ARRRRRGH!

Finally, our terrifying troop of ladies were seated to enjoy our speaker for the night – Jo Johnson-Smith who entertained us with tales of Sheffield past. We cringed at the stories of cannibalistic paupers reminiscent of Sweeney Todd and shuddered at the tale of the black dog, who haunts people on the urban streets at night. The legend of the naughty thug, who runs through town, knocking people into the road sent a shiver down the collective spine. One thing we learnt? Sheffield’s ghoulish history is more petrifying than we imagined……

Jen awards Mary with her spooky prize
And so at the end of the meeting, Jo kindly judged the haunted headwear of our members and ruled that Mary Beckinsale’s disembodied hand veil was the ultimate winner of our Halloween hat-off.

Happy birthday SHWI! Here’s to many more! 

Grace Escott-Tebbutt

SHWI enjoy the Good Life

What can be more enjoyable than sleeping under the stars, chatting with friends over crochet, listening to chilled music and a homemade scotch egg? Nothing! That’s the Good Life, my friends.

I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Good Life Experience with WI friends from across the country last weekend.

We weren’t there just to have a good time (although we definitely did!). We were invited there by Cerys Matthews herself, festival organiser extraordinaire. For the last 3 years, the WI have had a presence at the festival. Last year, our amazing Sarah Willoughby helped to organise a craft tent. This year, we were invited back but we were a bit more chilled, a bit more low-fi.

The festival itself is a relaxed affair of curated music, crafts, books, poetry and food. It takes places on the Hawarden Estate in Flintshire, North Wales which is absolutely stunning. The site has a farm shop which stayed open during the festival and provided us with tasty food across the weekend (hence the scotch eggs!).

We decided to do some pop-up crochet and knitting sessions, showing people how to make twiddle muffs. Now before you call the Daily Mail, Twiddle Muffs are the colloquial name for sensory mitts. Used by dementia sufferers, they can help patients to stop pulling out IV drips. They provide sensory stimulus as they are made with lots of different textures. 

Over the weekend, we showed festival-goers how to get started making them via crochet or knitting. Less confident people could sew on beads or ribbons and even make pom-poms.

Our WI contingent comprised us of the ultimate legends (yes, I hate that word as much as you but in this case, it is true) that are Sarah Willoughby and Joanne Croxford (Cambridge). These two organised the whole thing and names went into the hat for the other places – I was lucky enough to get one as well as Anna P, Grace T and Cat from Seven Hills WI. Other WI’s were Emma from Blackmoor and White Hill WI (Hampshire) and Claire from Mansfield. 

We planned to do a few sessions every day but ended up sitting on a lovely mound near the main stage all day on Saturday. It was great to interact with people about the twiddlemuffs and dementia, as well as talk to people about the WI. I’m sure we recruited a few members that day as well as taught people how to crochet!

In the evenings, we had to wrap up warm (gosh it was cold!) to enjoy Jo’s veggie stew and the evenings entertainment. Unfortunately I was under the weather but I heard tales of Balkan brass bands, midnight campfires and hoola-hooping ladies.

A massive thanks to Sarah and Jo for organising the weekend and a big thanks to Hobbycraft for supplying us with lots of yarn and needles to help make twiddle muffs and a HUGE thanks to the Good Life gang for inviting us.

Our finished twiddlemuffs will be heading to Peterborough’s NHS trust.


Team SHWI pull papercutting out of the bag

My last meeting as WI President summed up the best things about being in Seven Hills WI – teamwork and friendship.

Sometimes, planning a smoking hot programme of activities and speakers a year in advance comes a cropper and we have events that fall through. A week before our meeting, our plans came undone.

But instead of taking the easy option and filling in with an easy back-up meeting, my crack team of dedicated commitee members decided that a papercut workshop was something we could pull off ourselves.

Cue desperate googling off templates, trips to a high street stationer and certain individuals ordering hundreds of scalpels online. 

When we arrived at St Andrews before the meeting, it was fantastic to see so many members arrive early to help move tables and chairs. We got ready in super quick time!

Members mingled and chatted about the month’s news and helped themselves to Vicky’s awesome vegan courgette cake.

It was fantastic to be visited by WI friends from around the country – Joanne Croxford from Cambridge was in Sheffield prior to our trip to the Good Life Experience, as well as ladies who are setting us a new group, Wellbeck WI.

The meeting soon began and we ran through WI business. My amazing committee members presented me with a surprise bunch of flowers and asked me to give a speech! I was not prepared at all. In fact, I’m still President until next meeting but I won’t be able to make the October or November’s meeting. Apologies for mumbling a strange thank you! 

After a quick break, it was time to start papercutting. Laura and Grace decided to put the skills they have learned at Denman College to good use and lead the workshop. They showed members how to use templates to practice their designs or simply come up with their own patterns. I was amazed to see some of the fab designs people came up with in such a short amount of time. 

Soon enough, it was time to get packed away too. Another big thanks to everyone who helped clear away.

Being President has been fantastic. I have got to be involved in so many things I would not have had the chance to – a judge on the Great British Menu, a guest on BBC Radio Sheffield, and help fundraise thousands of pounds.

I’m really excited to take a break as President, continue to support the group and campaign for change in the organisation that we are a part of and the society we live in. 

Kirsty Bowen
President 2014 – 2016

Tea and Tents 2016: Wendy’s tale

I am new to SHWI having only joined in December and had been looking for a way to get stuck in and get to know other ladies in our group. Brilliantly I was lucky enough to get my hands on a ticket for Tea and Tents 2016 (they sold out in ten minutes!) Even more brilliant was the number of ladies from SHWI who also got tickets.

Tea and Tents is the most organised chaos I have ever witnessed. On arrival I was assigned my volunteer slot to be a ‘Pixie’ on Sunday evening, every single participant had a volunteer slot, to help their fellow campers be it manning a booking stall for events to litter picking and being the person everyone turned to for help with tents (Sarah W that would be you).

The SHWI camp was set up with military precision, the urn was on the cakes were out and we were all ready for a great weekend. Our first evening was spent around the campfire whilst lots of ladies finished off crocheting their soil by head torch for the yarn bomb. (This was an excellent allotment).

There were so many activities to get involved in; some of our group took part in the more energetic activities of Axe Throwing and Shooting, whilst others participated in crafting activities or led activities themselves. Laura hosted the very popular beer swap on the village green, where as soon as she began more and more ladies turned up with their brews in hand ready to share. Sarah hosted our evening with the stars, we found planets and learned something new about the night sky, and she even arranged a shooting star to finish the session off. There were talks on all sorts of subjects by some inspirational women and lots of opportunities to network and get ideas.

Aside from all the marvellous activities my favourite part of the weekend were the evenings sitting around the campfire talking and listening to each other’s stories and life events, and getting to know everyone. We all dressed up as women of steel one evening and welcomed ladies from other WI groups to join us for a natter around the fire, and s’mores and singing.

What can I say? I thoroughly recommend as a new member of SHWI to get involved in activities outside our monthly meetings as it gives you a better opportunity to connect with people.

Unfortunately Tea and Tents is taking a break next year, maybe we do a mini Tea and Tents just for SHWI ladies? My lasting impression of my weekend away is that I came home with a load of new friends and a happy feeling of sisterhood and a resolution to be brave and try more new things and get to know new people.

Fascinating Fascinators with The Hat Stand

Summer is on the way and our lovely Seven Hills WI ladies do like to dress up. Any excuse will do – day at the races, weddings, summer parties – you name it if it involves a lovely day out and an excuse to dress up we’ll be there! But wherever this summer’s activities take our members they will be looking even more glamorous thanks to the millinery master pieces they created at our May meeting. That’s right, we made fascinators!

Members choose their feathers

The session was led by the fascinatingly fabulous millinery trio, Siobhan Nicholson, Amanda Moon and Sophie Cooke – all independent Sheffield-based milliners who come together as The Hat Stand to promote the art of millinery.

The activity got off to a flying start with Siobhan, Amanda and Sophie talking us through how we would be making the fascinators. The supplies table was awash with beautiful bases, felts, feathers and jewels. Every colour under the rainbow was available to excite the creative flare of our members. As we set about choosing the component parts that would be magically transformed into a millinery masterpiece, we were told our only limitation was our own imagination! St Andrew’s was suddenly a hive of energy… and feathers!

I was inspired by the wonderful creations being put together by our members. I never fail to be impressed by the skills present in our group. So many different ideas, in such vibrant colours, were being assembled and soon several ladies were already modelling their wares. In under an hour a simple base, feathers and jewels had been worked into a creation worthy of a day out at Ascot.

Laura displays her fascinator

Having toured the room for inspiration I set to my own creation. I had a wedding that weekend and had carefully matched my colours to the dress I would be wearing. Now, I like to think I’m quite crafty and can turn my hands to most things, but it turns out that when given feathers and glue I quickly become a sticky mess! I was quick to realise I was no budding milliner, but that didn’t matter because I, like the other members, was having a super time and hadn’t stopped laughing all night. Such frivolity did nothing to improve my work and consequently I’d like to thank Siobhan and the ladies at my table for rescuing me from becoming elbow deep in glue, feathers and sequins! But all was not lost; even I it seems can (with help) create a stunning looking fascinator. Amanda helped to secure the clip and voilà – a fascinator was born!

I proudly presented my fascinator to my family that night along with one of the new funky SHWI tote bags! That’s right we are once again selling gorgeous Seven Hills WI totes, this year it’s a black bag which features our centenary teacup and flower design. Bags cost £5 with all profits going to our supported charity, Sheffield Light. But don’t worry if you haven’t got yours yet there’s still time – we’ll be selling them at future meetings, the Bakewell L’eroica festival (17-19 June) and SunFest Beer Festival (7-10 July). So come along to one of these events, buy a stunning tote bag and eat some tasty treats homemade by our talented members. You never know we might be wearing our fascinators too! 

Members with the ladies from The Hat Stand

Bex Lissaman

Committee member