Vanessa's  NOVEMBER message

Hello to all you lovely ladies

Well, wasn't the bell ringing good last month? I was expecting it to be loud and clanging but actually it was most harmonious and relaxing. That's what I love about WI; so many different and unexpected experiences.

This month we are whisking you all away from rainy Essex and off to the delights of sunny Turkey. Not literally, sadly. I was disappointed to find that the gift aid windfall didn't quite stretch to chartering a private aeroplane. Instead we have the next best thing, with a troupe of belly dancers and a plate or two of Turkish nibbles. Somewhat cheaper but I'm sure just as good. I have to be honest and let you know that belly dancing isn't going to be a new experience for me as back in my early twenties I thought I might as well make the most of my belly and I went to classes at Covent Garden's trendy Pineapple Dance Studio. Actually, I'm still traumatised by the changing rooms, which were full of bendy, skinny types standing about with one leg nonchalantly behind an ear, while us belly dancers huddled in the corner, all decidedly plumper, wearing costumes we'd made ourselves out of large Playtex bras covered in sequins. I'm thoroughly looking forward to Thursday though, and joining you all in a spot of hip swinging and belly rippling, with a bit of baklava in one hand and a cube of Turkish delight in the other. Classy.

I'm delighted to announce that the wonderful  WoSWI writers group have just published their latest anthology of short stories, called 'A Book For All Seasons'. I'm lucky enough to have had a sneak preview and I have to say, it's really good. The stories are very varied - some whimsical, some hilarious, some moving - and it's a joy to get a new surprise with each new story. Kim will be bringing a few books along next week, at the bargain price of £7, and all proceeds will be donated to our charity of the year. Well worth a read.

The programme for next year is almost finalised and I think it's going to be a corker. We've listened to your requests for more speakers so we've got a couple of good'ns booked in, including, much to my excitement, the food historian Dr Annie Gray. She's appeared on 'Bake Off', is regularly on Radio 4, and presented the BBC's 'Victorian Baker', so I think she'll be a real treat. We've also taken notice of your comments about crafting. When I looked through the comment slips some of you filled in a couple of months ago, loads of you said you loved crafts but an equal amount of you hated them! With this in mind we've decided to offer an alternative activity on crafting nights so you can choose which you'd rather do, or give both a whirl if you want. More info nearer the time. It looks as if we might have finally cleared our waiting list so if you have any friends who'd like to join our merry band next year, do let us know. 

I think I've covered everything I wanted to tell you so have a good weekend and I'll see you all next week.

Much love