August Newsletter

Hello friends

We will be gathering next Thursday 11th at Shoebury East Beach at 6.30pm. Anne will be marking the meeting spot with one of those tall festival flags so look out for the rainbow colours fluttering in the  sunshine (hopefully!). You’ll need to bring a chair and your picnic.

Membership Numbers
Wasn’t our last meeting fabulously busy and buzzing? Our new venue really does seem to be bringing people in and we had a record number of guests, seven of whom have become members.  Due to the surge in interest we’ve realised that we’re going to need to put a cap on numbers, so if you know anybody who is thinking about joining, tell them not to miss the boat! Can I also ask you to please let us know in advance if you would like to bring a guest, rather than just turning up with them? It helps so much with planning. Thanks in advance.

Just a quick mention that you are welcome to bring a bottle of wine or your tipple of choice to meetings, if you miss not having the bar. Can I urge you to bring a mug too. Those little cups and saucers barely hold enough for  a pixie and it’s a complete pain when we’re left with a load of washing up.

September Meeting
Next month we’re going to be having an antiques expert to share his stories and anecdotes and also value our treasures, just like the Antiques Road Show (only with cake). This is your chance to dig out great aunt Edna’s stuffed poodle or your cherished Ming vase.

The rest of the year in brief
In October we will be having a thought provoking meeting with a transgender police officer. November is Christmas themed and we’ll be sampling and comparing festive food offerings from all the different supermarkets so we can stock up on our favourites, plus we’ll be making a rag wreath. We’ll also have craft stalls so if you know anybody who would like to have a stall, please let us know.  Our December celebration will be a murder mystery party!

Our outing to Barnards Farm in Orsett is on September 4th, meeting at 1pm. You’ll need to book your own ticket and sort out transport but if you need a lift, let us know and we’ll see what we can do. Below is some info I’ve copied from their site. (If you’re wondering what on earth a ‘sitooterie’ is, I’ve looked it up. It’s a Scots word for a garden house ie somewhere to ‘sit oot’! And a malus is an apple tree. Even though it sounds like a snail). 

The creation of this garden over the last 35 years and opening in aid of the National Garden Scheme has been a labour of love for owners Bernard and Sylvia Holmes. A visit is an exuberant, absorbing experience not to be missed. Extending over 17 hectares, the garden’s heroic size is matched by the memorable main vista between undulating yew hedges, and the fantastic collection of sculptures including works by Anthony Gormley and Elizabeth Frink and a Sitooterie by Thomas Heatherwick. The garden also holds the Plant Heritage national collection of Malus and children love the numerous discoveries to be made and the miniature railway. 

See you in September

Much love


July Newsletter

Hello friends

My diary can often be a bit on the dull side but I had a really nice, action packed time last week, including seeing Cosi Fan Tutti at the Royal Opera House and trying out a Mexican restaurant (Pieno-Lleno on Southchurch Avenue. Really good) and it was all thanks to the lovely friends I’ve made at WoSWI. Making new friends and improving my social life was the reason I joined the WI and it’s paid off in spades. Now I have next week’s meeting to look forward to, so thanks to all of you for brightening my life xxx.

Essex County Annual Meeting
On Thursday Jane Sealy and I went to the County Annual Meeting in Colchester and were entertained by the charming Jennie Bond, the former BBC royal correspondent. It’s the first time I’ve been to a county meeting and I’ve vowed to return next year with a much bigger posse from WoSWI.  There were 750 women in attendance and it was inspiring to feel part of a larger organisation than just little old us. 

July 14th
Looking forward to seeing you at our meeting next Thursday. A calligraphy expert from Create98 (what a wonderful organisation that is) is coming to teach us penmanship skills so that we can wow our nearest and dearest with our fabulous handwriting. If you get bitten by the bug there will also be calligraphy sets to buy.

August 11th
Your WI membership gets you 11 meetings a year and we don’t usually meet in August, but we’ve decided to have a picnic at Shoebury East Beach, after our lockdown get together there was so successful. Meet at 6.30 and bring your picnic tea. An actual meeting spot will be announced as it’s quite a big place to wander around looking for familiar faces!

See you soon

Much love


June Newsletter

Hello friends

I hope you’re having a lovely long weekend, whether you’re partying with friends and family, watching the festivities on the tellybox, or indulging in the classic bank holiday activity of embarking on an ill fated DIY project.

We are continuing the celebrations at our meeting on Thursday, which will be a right royal knees up. We’ll have extra special refreshments, courtesy of Cherry, Kelly, Christine and me, and Alison will be making cocktails (with and without alcohol).  Don’t forget to bring your entry for the craft competition and to dress yourself in as much red, white and blue as your wardrobe will allow. We’ll have a quiz and singing and it will all be top fun.

Next month we’re going to be learning the art of calligraphy. Materials will be supplied but there will also be kits you can buy for a tenner, should you get bitten by the bug.

Apologies that this is such a short newsletter but I have a party to get to! 

Much love


May Newsletter

Hello friends

New Venue. The Hub, Hamlet Court Road
Well, I think it’s safe to say that our new venue was a success and I heard a lot of comments about how bright and friendly and welcoming it seemed. There was much interest in the topic of mudlarking but I know that some of you who were sitting at the back had difficulties hearing the speaker. I am at a loss as to why so many people refuse to use a microphone and labour under the mistaken belief that their voice will be loud enough! Sam suggested that from now on we tell every speaker that they have to use a microphone, no choice, when we book them, and I think this is a good idea.

This month’s Meeting May 12th
Our May meeting has a gardening theme.  Chris, our gardening expert, will be imparting his wisdom, solving our gardening problems and showing us how to take cuttings. We’re  going to be getting hands on and planting up our own displays too; we’ll provide the plants and compost, you just need to bring a small container – maybe something unusual or recycled? Gloves and a trowel might be handy if you own such things. We’ll also be having a plant ‘swish’ so any donations of plants, seedlings, seeds etc would be most welcome.
On top of this, we  have a lady from Healthwatch Southend, the local consumer champion for people who use health and social services, popping in to tell us a bit about what they can offer us.

Many thanks to Sandy, Jill and Kelly who have offered to help clear up/wash up this month and to Rosie, Diane, Jenny and Marilyn who will be making cakes for us to enjoy. Baking ladies, you can get the cost of the ingredients reimbursed if you bring an invoice to the meeting. 

Next month
Our June meeting on the 9th will be a Platinum Jubilee knees up with  slap up refreshments, cocktails, a pianist, singing, a right royal quiz and much jollity.
Hopefully your entries for the craft competition are progressing well. You can sew, knit, papercraft, whittle, paint, cake decorate, blow glass, arrange flowers, make a life size statue of the Queen in ice, anything you want…as long as you can make a good case for it having some kind of tenuous link to the Jubilee.  It would be lovely if everybody could wear something themed around patriotic red, white and blue too. 
Thanks to those of you who have offered to help with the refreshments. I’ll be in touch shortly to formulate plans. If you would like to be added to the list,  just reply to this email. 

Ladies that Lunch
Our next get together for top chat and nosh will be on Friday 27th May. I think the venue is likely to be that nice old pub in Shoebury. The Angel, is it?  Don’t hold me to that though. If you’d like to join us and you haven’t let Sam know on Facebook, drop us an email.

Craft Club
The next meeting will be on May 30th. There is still some debate re the venue though. We have been offered a very nice room at the Hub, for a mere tenner, but this relies on a committee key holder being available to open the doors to let us in. (Also the top lock is so high up that our more vertically challenged ladies can’t reach it without a ladder!!) Our lovely Christine has offered to host the next one in her home, address to be announced, and we’ll then decide where to go from here.

The mudlarking adventure in London on June 16th filled up very quickly but our resident mudlarking expert Alison (and brand new committee member) has offered to arrange something more local for us. Watch this space.
Anne has also planned a trip to Barnard’s Farm in Orsett on September 4th, which is a beautiful garden, complete with miniature train. Do let us know if you have any other ideas for trips and outings.

Can’t wait to see you all next week, you lovely lot you.

Much love


April Newsletter

Hello friends

New Venue
Spring is here and with it comes a new and exciting rebirth of WoSWI! Next Thursday (14th) will be our first meeting in Pebbles Cafe at The Hub in the old Havens building on Hamlet Court Road. The reaction to our move has been overwhelmingly positive but a few concerns have been raised about parking. There is street parking, of course, but also the car park at the top of the road is free after 6pm. There’s a car park on Ceylon Road too. If you don’t feel happy walking alone please contact us and we will arrange for an escort to come and meet you. (Not a male escort – our budget doesn’t run to that!) The meeting starts at 8pm but you can arrive from 7.30.

AGM and Mudlarking
This month we’ll be doing our usual AGM stuff of agreeing the finances and voting in our new president (which will be me again unless anybody else comes forward!) We also have a talk about mudlarking and the treasures you can find washed up along the banks of the Thames. And our lovely new member Alison, herself a very experienced mudlarker, will have a stall selling the jewellery she makes from her finds. 

Next Month
Our May meeting (12th) has a gardening theme. A local gardening expert will be talking so if you have any questions you’d like him to address, reply to this email and we’ll let him know in advance. Got a dark corner where nothing grows? Wondering when to prune your clematis? Chris is your man. We’re also going to be supplying plants and compost for you to pot up your own display so you’ll need to bring a small container, and if you have any plants, seeds or seedlings you’d like to share, that would be lovely.

Renewals are now due and I’m delighted to announce that the future has arrived at WoSWI in the shape of a brand new card reader!! This means that from now on you’ll be able to pay your subs, buy your raffle tickets etc with the mere tap of your card. Subs are £44, or £21.60 if you are a dual member paying the full fee to another WI. You are still welcome to pay by bank transfer (email for details) but from now on we won’t be accepting cash or cheques for subs.

If you aren’t planning on renewing this year, please would you reply to this email to let us know? It saves Mandy no end of work following up with people.

Craft Competition
Don’t forget the June craft competition! You can stitch, paint, cake decorate or anything else that you fancy, as long as it has a jubilee theme. And now would be a good time to start thinking about a red, white and blue dress code for our jubilee party. Full on, head to toe patriotic for those that love dressing up, or a token pair of union jack socks for those who don’t, it’s up to you.

If you have any good quality, unused items that are suitable for our raffle, Sally Ann would be delighted to take them off your hands.

Can’t wait to see you all in our new home next week. DON’T GO TO THE NAVAL CLUB!

Much love


March Newsletter

Hello Friends

So much to tell you. You might want to get a cup of tea…

We’re moving!
I’m extremely excited to announce a new chapter in the ongoing story of WoSWI! An opportunity has arisen for us to hold our monthly meetings in Pebbles Cafe in the old Havens building on Hamlet Court Road and after much thought the committee has decided this would be good for WoSWI. Our reasoning is that we are Westcliff WI and this is in the heart of Westcliff. We’ll be able to foster better connections with other community groups and be more visible to potential new members. Also, the room is brighter and more vibrant and the lighting is better for crafts. It’s also a lot cleaner. We’ll be allowed to use the kitchen area at the front and the tables and chairs are already set up, saving us a lot of work. There’s also a big empty room upstairs we can use  for activities that involve moving about. It just feels like a nice place to be. 

We do hope you agree with the move and we’re happy to answer any questions at next week’s meeting, which will be our last at the Naval Club.

Meeting on March 10th
Our meeting next Thursday will be led by a practitioner of Medau, which is a type of rhythmic movement training that incorporates music and organic movements to engage the mind and allow each person to take greater control over the body and their thoughts. With times being as worrying as they are at the moment, anything that helps us de stress has got to be good. Make sure you wear comfortable clothes that you can move in.

Next month
AGM and a talk on the treasures you can find washed up on the banks of the Thames, otherwise known as mudlarking. Jolly interesting stuff. 

Treasurer needed
I would like to extend our warmest thanks to Sarah Campbell and Lynne Wheeler who have taken on the treasurer duties for the last two years. Sadly for us they are both having to step down, so we need a new treasurer, or two people to share the role.  If we don’t have a treasurer then we have to close so it’s vitally important that we find somebody. On top of the monthly committee meeting (which is great fun) it will probably take a couple of hours a month. No experience is necessary and training will be given. If you’d like to know more, please reply to this email or grab me at the meeting next week.

Essex County Annual Meeting
The 105th County Annual Meeting is taking place at Charter Hall in Colchester on Thursday June 30th. The royal correspondent Jennie Bond will be speaking, the Big Sing choir will be performing, and it’s a great way to feel more involved in the WI as a whole. Tickets are £13 if you book before the end of the month (£15 after that) and we have one free ticket to give away in a draw. I’m going and I would love to have some company. And I’m happy to give you a lift. Again, reply to this email to go into the ticket draw.

New sub groups
A ‘Ladies that Lunch’ club and a new walking group have now been launched. The first lunch is at Sarah’s Tea Room in Old Leigh (this is fully booked now) and the first walk is this Saturday at 1.30 in Wakering. If you would like to join either of these groups, just let us know. A  lunch venue for next month will be announced soon.

Craft Competition
Our June meeting is going to be a celebration of the Queen’s jubilee. We have various activities planned but one of them is a competition. You just need to create something that fits the theme, from cake decorating, to whittling, to dressing up in red, white and blue… anything you fancy. I’m telling you this early to give you plenty of time to come up with an idea and dig out your crafting tools.

Renewals are due in April but feel free to pay now if you want to get ahead. It’s £44 or £21.60 for dual members who pay the full fee to another WI.
Please contact for bank details.

Phew, I think that’s it!

See you next week


February Newsletter

Good morning ladies

It’s cold and grey outside and the rain is beating against the window while I’m writing this month’s newsletter. I always try to find things for which to be grateful as I go about my daily life and today I am deeply grateful for the warmth and cheerfulness of my kitchen. I’m also grateful for you lovely lot as I know my life would be so much the poorer without the friendships and the sense of purpose that I get from WoSWI. Thanks to all of you for enriching my days.

Next week’s meeting
So, next week we have a speaker. Deb Hart is a willow artist who undertakes commissions creating living outdoor rooms, garden structures and sculptural work and she’ll be talking about the history, traditions and uses of willow. I would imagine a great many of us have marvelled at the beautiful willow structures in the Winter garden at Hyde Hall so it will be fascinating to find out how they are made. Like last month, we’ll Facebook live the meeting so you can join us from home if you’re not yet ready to come along in person. 

Many thanks to Susan for recommending her daughter Helen to lead last month’s workshop. Everybody seemed to really enjoy the mindful activity of making our inspirational tags; I know I did.

Sub Groups
Sub groups are a great way to meet up with other like minded members of WoSWI and, being a much smaller group, it’s easier to get to know people better. We are aware though that our number of sub groups had dwindled somewhat over the last few years so we are working to remedy this. Sarah has recently launched a craft group which has been most successful (the next meeting is on Feb 28th at 7pm in the naval club) and I’m also proposing a games club, where we meet at members homes to play board/card games, and a ‘going out for lunch’ club. I’ll talk more about these at the meeting next week. If anybody else has any other ideas for sub groups, please do let us know.

After all our votes were collected in a winner has emerged. This will be put forward for the vote at the annual national meeting and then the new resolution will be announced. Our choice is:-
Equality in Law for the Menopause 
Too many women are experiencing discrimination at work and in wider society during the menopause. The NFWI calls on the Government to strengthen equality law by including the menopause as a protected characteristic alongside pregnancy and maternity under the Equality Act 2010, in order to provide better protection for women and to help tackle the stigma around menopause.

Next month
Our March meeting will be led by a practitioner of Medau, which is a type of rhythmic movement training. It incorporates music and organic movements to engage the mind and allow each person to take greater control over the body and their thoughts. It sounds to me like a sort of Tai Chi to music, but I could be completely wrong. It’s possible that balls and ribbons may be involved but I might be wrong there too. Just come along and see! (I do love all the new and unexpected experiences I get from the WI)

See you all next week.

Much love 


January Newsletter

Hello friends

After giving it a lot of thought the committee has decided that we will go ahead with meeting in the hall next Thursday, the 13th. It’s a big enough space that we can distance from each other, and we can have all the windows open for lots of ventilation. I realise, however, that some of you will feel nervous about attending, or may be shielding or isolating, so I propose I bring along my technical support team (AKA the husband) to live stream the speaker so you can join in with her workshop from home, should you prefer.

Helen Davis is a member of a local creative sketchbook collective, SEVEN, and she’ll be talking to us about creative journalling and how we can use it to explore our thoughts, feelings, ideas and memories in a more interactive and engaging way. Apparently you don’t need any artistic ability, which is a relief to me! Helen will be providing a craft pack for each of us so if you are planning on joining in from home please reply to this email and we’ll make sure you receive your pack.

Wishing you all a very happy and hopeful new year.

Much love.


December Newsletter

Hello friends

I am so looking forward to our meeting on Thursday, which I think will be enormous fun, and utterly bonkers. We’re going to be dusting off and firing up the WOSWI time machine and whisking you all back to the 1970s for an evening of  game show madness and cheese and pineapple hedgehogs. Nice to see you to see you nice! (Honestly, is that the worst catchphrase of all time?)

Early start 
To allow us time to fit everything in we’re going to be starting at 7pm. **WE’RE STARTING AT 7PM**  (thought I’d better shout to get your attention, in case you only skim read my emails. Don’t want you turning up late.) 

Jam jar tombola
This is always popular so we’re doing it again this year. Just bring an empty jam jar that you’ve filled with anything you fancy – sweets, crafting supplies, condoms (yes, that  actually happened); anything that fits in a jar and you think somebody would like to win. (I’m not sure the 80 year old lady who won the condoms was all that chuffed, frankly.) Then for a mere quid you get to win a random jar and revel in/ sulk about its contents.

Please could I ask you not to forget to do a test before you come along on Thursday? Let’s all keep each other safe. Masks are optional.

Next month
To start the year we’re going to have Helen Davis talking to us about creative journalling and showing us some practical techniques that we can take away. As she says ‘Creative journalling offers a fun and relaxing way for anyone – not least of all time strapped, last-on-the-list women – to take time and reconnect with themselves”. She assures me that you don’t need to have any artistic skill, which is a good thing, as far as I’m concerned.

If you aren’t able to join us on Thursday, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you a very peaceful, happy and healthy Christmas and to thank you for being such a valued member of our WOSWI gang.

Much love


November Newsletter

Hello friends

Looking forward to seeing you all at our Scandi Christmas themed meeting on Thursday. We will be creating super cute little gnome decorations and sampling some Nordic nosh. Definitely one to get you into the Christmas spirit. Can I suggest you bring a sharp pair of scissors, if you own such a thing, as we do have scissors but they’re not the best.

Don’t forget to bring  actual physical money for the craft stalls as I doubt they’ll be set up to take cards. I’ve been walking around with the sum total of 24p in my purse for months now, and my daughter buys everything by tapping her phone! Witchcraft! Corinne will be selling her stunning mosaics and Sally Ann has a new hobby of decorating shells and turning them into trinket dishes. She’s been extremely busy as every time she puts photos of her latest creations on the committee WhatsApp group we buy them all! There will be other stalls as well, including woodwork, cards, bags and jewellery.

Following my previous email regarding Sam’s dog Millie I’m pleased to tell you that nobody has raised an objection. This means that Sam won’t have to leave us, thank goodness. 

See you Thursday for another much needed evening of fun.

Much love