July Newsletter

Hello friends

Such a shame we’re having to Zoom yet again. Hopefully this really will be the last time. We’ve lined up an entertaining sounding speaker to give us all a laugh though. She’s called Vanessa (top name!) and is a wedding planner with her own company, Rocks and Frocks.

Next  Zoom meeting July 8th 8pm

We don’t normally have an August meeting but who even knows what normal is any more? The committee have decided to tear up the rule book, rebels that we are, and we’re throwing a big WoSWI picnic at Shoebury East Beach on the evening of August 12th. We’ll be meeting earlier than normal, at 6pm, to make the most of the light. If you’re feeling hardy, bring your swimming things. If you’re less hardy, just bring plenty of cake and alcohol. And a chair, of course. Due to the ongoing Covid situation we think it’s more prudent to avoid food sharing so please bring your own picnic – (although the WoSWI police won’t be in attendance to stop you having a taste of your neighbour’s, should all be in agreement!) If you have any suitable outdoor games, do feel free to bring them along too.

Looking forward to Zooming with you.

Much love


June Newsletter

Hello friends

Gushy message
Oh my goodness, I can hardly contain my excitement! Is this going to be our last online meeting? Will we really be able to smile at each other and chat away in the actual, real world? It’s been such a long time but they say absence makes the heart grow fonder, and my heart is feeling jolly fond. I don’t know if you feel the same but WoSWI has taken on a new importance in my life over the last year. With my world shrinking down to the four walls of my house, it was wonderful to have a regular connection with you all and to feel I was part of something bigger. Weirdly, I think I’ve actually been able to get to know you all better on Zoom than I did in meetings…and what a lovely lot you are. I just want to thank you for joining in and entertaining me over the months, and also for keeping the faith and renewing your  membership.

Next  (last?!) Zoom meeting June 10th 8pm

This month we have a personal stylist coming to talk to us about looking gorgeous whilst being kind to our planet. She’ll be discussing the life cycle of a pair of jeans and also showing us how to shop from our own wardrobes, rather than succumbing to disposable fashion. She’s going to be talking for a bit and then there will be plenty of time for questions so she can solve all your fashion dilemmas and clothing conundrums.  Here’s her website, if you’d like to check her out

Next month’s meeting July 8th
You name it and I’m crossing it – fingers, eyes, wires, tees – that we’ll be able to meet indoors. I’ve spoken to the hall and they’re ready and waiting for us so it’s all down to Boris and the scientists now (Boris and the Scientists. Worst band name ever). We’re planning a relaxed and informal meeting to ease us back into public life, with much cake and chat. So far it has a working title of ‘Bakes and Banter’, courtesy of Sally Ann. If there are any hiccups with the road map and we can’t meet at the club, then we’ll arrange something outside instead.

We don’t normally have an August meeting but who even knows what normal is any more? The committee have decided to tear up the rule book, rebels that we are, and we’re going to be organising a big WoSWI picnic on the evening of August 12th. We’ll be meeting earlier than normal to make the most of the light but that’s about as far as we’ve got with the planning. Put the date in your diary and all will be revealed in due course.

Looking forward to Zooming with you.

Much love


May Newsletter

Hello friends

I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed seeing so many of you over the weekend. I love entertaining and cooking for people and hosting seven back to back tea parties is my idea of heaven! It was really lovely being able to spend proper time with small groups as I’m usually so busy floating about at meetings that I don’t get to chat to anybody for very long. What a fabulous bunch of women we have in WoSWI and roll on being able to all meet again; not long now. 

Next Zoom meeting May 13th 8pm

We’re going for classic WI this month and an expert from Create98 will be showing us how to do a modern flower arrangement and sharing hints and tips. You can, of course, just watch, but should you want to join in and beautify your home, below is a list of the things you will need.

A vase or container that is around 20cm high and has an opening around 10cm in diameter at the top – filled half full with water
A roll of floristry pot tape (if possible – see link to amazon below costs less than £3) cellotape may work as an alternative or parcel tape 
Approx 7- 10 stems of foliage – mixed lengths around twice the height of the vase  cut from the garden (or anyone else forageable!) 
A few (say 3)  branches of flowering blossom
A bunch of tulips or roses (eg. From supermarket) and then a filler flower (3-5 stems) this could be gypsophila for example or carnations.

Link for pot tape.

Me. Myself and WI

There’s still time to book into one of the events below – just reply to this email.

Monday 10th 6pm.. Run with Anne (distance open to discussion!). Meet at the Saltwater Cafe at 6pm.

Tuesday 11th 12.30. Pub lunch with Vanessa at The Peterboat in Leigh. So far ten people have signed up for lunch and I have an outside table for 6 and another for 4, booked in my name (Vanessa Milligan). We might be able to extend the booking but you’ll need to be quick!

Wednesday 12th 4pm  Walk with Sally Anne  in the Barling Magna Wildlife Reserve . Possible bacon butty cook out! No dogs, unfortunately.

Thursday 13th 10am. Walk with Lynne along the seafront, with a stop off at Rossi’s. Meet at the Sealife Centre

Friday 14th 10am. Walk with Sarah Cambell and dogs, meeting at the Cherry Orchard car park.

Saturday 15th 2.30pm. Dip in the sea with Sally Anne.

Sunday 16th 3pm. Knit and natter in Sarah’s garden, near the hospital. 

What’s happening next month?
For our Zoom meeting on June 10th we have a personal stylist coming to talk to us about looking gorgeous whilst being kind to our planet. She’ll be discussing the life cycle of a pair of jeans and also showing us how to shop from our own wardrobes, rather than succumbing to disposable fashion. Here’s her website, if you’d like to check her out

See you soon.


April Newsletter

Hello friends

Treats for you!
Keep an eye out over the weekend as I have a strong suspicion a team of eager Easter bunnies will be hopping all over Westcliff and the surrounding area, delivering WoSWI goodie bags!

Subs and events
Many thanks to all of you who have renewed your membership online or by cheque. I can’t tell you how happy I am that you are all sticking with us after the year we’ve had, and I’m looking forward to the next year with excitement. There is a party invitation in your goodie bag, and I’ll also be announcing a series of events at next week’s meeting. Let’s make the most of finally being able to see each other in person!

If you haven’t yet got round to paying up, never fear. You can give a cheque or cash to the committee bunny on your doorstep or scroll down for the bank details. And if you aren’t planning on renewing, just let us know. I promise we won’t crochet an effigy of you and stick pins in it!  

Next meeting Thursday 8th April
Our next meeting should be hilarious. For the last three months we’ve had speakers – with varying degrees of success, it has to be said – but this time it’s being run by yours truly. I’m going to be removing my presidential sash (naturally I do wear this at all times, even though it makes turning over in bed somewhat awkward) and I’ll be donning the persona of……The Taskmaster! I have a variety of tasks, running the full gamut from utterly ridiculous to completely preposterous, all of which require no talent or agility whatsoever and can  be done on Zoom. We might have prizes, we might not…I’m the Taskmaster, my word is final…I’m hoping for an evening of mayhem, surprises and laughter, plus a bit of bingo thrown in. Be there or be square, as we used to say in the good old days.

Really looking forward to spending time with m’ladies.

Much love


March Newsletter

Hello Ladies

I can’t believe it’s March already! Back at Christmas when they announced a three month lockdown, right through the dreariest part of the year, I thought time would crawl along at the speed of a snail. Instead it seems to have rushed by at a breakneck pace. Or is that just me?! So lovely to have the hopefulness of Spring in the air and the promise of more normality ahead of us. In no time at all we’ll be able to meet up again.

Our next Zoom meeting – March 11th 8pm
This month’s speaker is Sarah Kelly. Her subject sounds fascinating as she handled communications between the media and the police in the Harold Shipman case.  

Get Togethers
Our coffee morning last week was thoroughly enjoyable. We only had six people so it was very informal and intimate, but there was a lot of chat and laughter and great fun was had by all. I’m really relishing the chance to get to know people better. The next one is Thursday 4th March at 7pm so grab a coffee or glass of wine and come and hang out with us for a bit.

April Goodie bags!!
Our Christmas deliveries were so well received that we’re going to be sending out another batch of goodie bags before our April meeting. These will contain materials for a craft and other activities, as well as some lovely Spring treats for you. Looking forward to some more doorstep chats as well. 

It has been a challenge, to say the least, to keep WoSWI running throughout  lockdowns and social distancing, and myself and the committee have tried really hard to make sure you get value from your membership and feel that you are still an important part of our WI community. We’ve all had an extra three months membership but in April it will be time to fork out £44 to renew for another year. We have a lot of plans in the pipeline for more outside gatherings, and a big celebration when we are finally allowed to meet up indoors again, so I’m really hoping that you’ll all want to renew your membership. I appreciate that the last year has been difficult, particularly if you haven’t been able to join in with our online meetings, but better times are ahead so don’t give up on WoSWI!

Really looking forward to seeing you all next Thursday.

Much love


February Newsletter

Hello ladies
Hope you are all keeping well and managing to find things to do to stop each lockdown day merging into the next. I’m considering taking up binge drinking but I’m not sure I have time for a new hobby,  alongside my current snail racing  and learning to play every national anthem of the world on the bagpipes. In seriousness, apologies that this is a very short newsletter. I am somewhat overwhelmed with work, as you can probably imagine

Wasn’t last month’s speaker entertaining and interesting? I could have spent all evening listening to her tales of prison life. It was so nice to just be able to hang out and chat with each other afterwards too. We talked about organising some informal Zoom get togethers so here goes.

Get Together Dates
 I suggest we try out a morning and an evening session and see how we get on. We might want to put something more formal in place, like an activity to do together, but we can chat about that in the first couple of sessions. Put these dates in your diary and then I’ll send log in details later
Thursday Feb 25th 10.30am
Thursday March 4th 7pm.

Next Zoom meeting. February 11th 8pm
This month we have another interesting sounding speaker coming to delight us. Jane Glennie is an actress/speaker and she will be telling us all about the history of tea, while dressed as a fifties housewife.  It would be fun if we all got out our best tea cup and teapot so we can have a socially distanced tea party together.

Really looking forward to seeing you all

Much love


January Newsletter

Hello ladies and a very happy new year to you all.

Well, I say happy, but I think genuine happiness may be in fairly short supply for a lot of us at the moment. Perhaps I’ll wish you a hopeful and healthy new year instead. Better times are just around the corner so hang on in there everybody. Have you got any tips you’d like to share for making this latest lockdown a little easier? I’d like to recommend Wind Walk Travel videos on YouTube. They are basically videos taken by somebody having a walk in an interesting place and they satisfy two needs for me – the need to exercise and the need to travel. When it’s too dreary to go outside I put one of these on the tellybox and walk/jog on the spot in front of it. Today I did 5000 steps along Venice Beach in the sunshine! Thought I might go to Singapore tomorrow.

Next Zoom meeting. January 14th 8pm
This one should be a treat! Our guest speaker is Chris Duffin, the first woman governor into HMP Strangeways and the notorious Dartmoor Prison. Chris Duffin was a ground-breaker and will be sharing some of the many stories and incidents from her twenty-year career both as a lowly ‘screw’ and as a prison governor. Whether it’s flying out of the UK with a briefcase full of class A drugs, talking to the BBC News in her nightie, displaying a naked hunk’s willy on her office wall, or having Myra Hindley as her tea-lady, these tales will amuse, entertain and definitely change your view of life behind bars.

As well as our guest speaker we’ll also be having a bit of our usual WoSWI fun and the chance for a chat and a catch up. It was so nice to see you all at the Christmas party so I’m hoping you’ll be able to join us next week.

The WI isn’t going to stop campaigning just because there’s a pandemic! On no, not us, we’re made of stronger stuff! We need to vote on which resolution to put forward though. You will find more details on the resolutions and how to vote in the newsletter sent to your email.

Really looking forward to seeing you all

Much love


November Newsletter

Hello ladies and welcome to the November newsletter

First off, I would like to apologise heartily for the errors last month, both for the incorrect meeting code and to you ladies who were left in the Zoom waiting room for far too long. That was our first Zoom meeting and it’s been a learning curve for us. I’ve realised that doing two things at once is just too much for me (whoever said women were good at multi tasking clearly doesn’t know me!) and I was so busy keeping an eye on the speaker, seeing as I was the only one who could talk to her, that I forgot to check the waiting room. We’ve solved this hiccup and now lovely Lynne, our new assistant treasurer, will be the lady at the virtual door speedily granting access.

November Meeting
Thursday 12th

I am awaiting our next meeting with interested curiosity. Quite how we’re going to all learn to play the spoons I don’t know, but I’m certainly up for finding out! Jo May came highly recommended for Zoom meetings on the Unofficial WI Facebook page, and, as it happens, she’s also a friend of a friend of my husband’s  so I went to one of her spoons workshops some years ago. Great fun. You can use any old spoons you happen to have but if you want to be really prepared scroll down to the bottom of the email and I’ll repeat the links I shared last month for buying the perfect spoons for bashing together and making sweet music.

Log in details
You will have received an email with login details for the meeting.

Christmas Party
Sadly, we’re not going to be able to don our party dresses and get together for a knees up this year. This doesn’t mean we can’t have fun though. There ain’t no party like a WoSWI Zoom party! Our Christmas festivities will take place on Thursday December 10th at 8pm. We are putting together a party pack for each of you, which will contain everything you need to join in with the activities, games and competitions, plus a treat or two. Your pack will be hand delivered to your address  by one of our utterly marvellous committee members a couple of weeks before the party.

Spoon Purchasing – here are some joined-up spoons that have been made especially for playing. They’re a bit easier to hold than spoons from the kitchen! – the smallest spoons in these sets of plastic measuring spoons tend to be the favourites in my face-to-face workshops – they’re usually a bit gentler on the fingers than metal spoons. But obviously you need to buy two sets of these to get a pair! I’m not necessarily suggesting buying from Amazon – I’ve seen these in lots of kitchen and hardware shops.

Much love


October/November Meetings

Hello friends

No doubt you’ve spotted that no announcements have been made about what’s been planned for our next meetings. We’ve been waiting to see whether or not we’re allowed to meet in person and, very sadly, it turns out that we’re not. However, all is not lost and some exciting things have been booked for us to all join in on  Zoom.

October meeting Thursday 8th
Following a recommendation from a fellow WI president friend of mine, we have a musical theatre actress coming to talk to us. Sophie-Louise Dann was a founder cast member of Gary Barlow’s musical about The Calendar Girls (she played the one who needed much bigger buns!) and she’s recently played  Madame Thernadier in the touring Les Mis. Sophie will be baking a cake while chatting with us and answering  our questions on all things musical theatre related. I’m told she’s great fun so I’m looking forward to an evening of chat and laughter – just what we need at the moment.

November meeting Thursday12th
 I was looking through the list of suggested speakers that has been posted in the Unofficial WI Facebook group (well worth joining – lots of interesting chat) and several WIs recommended Jo May, percussionist. As it happens I actually know Jo as she’s a friend of a friend and I’ve been to one of her workshops in trendy Brighton. So….she’s coming to teach us how to  play the spoons!  I think this is a skill we will all find immensely useful. When we can have big parties again, just think how impressed your family will be when you whip out your spoons for a quick recital. You can use any spoons but there are also special wooden ones you can buy for the purpose. Nearer the time I’ll post a link, should you feel that spoon playing will be just the thing to keep you occupied through the long winter evenings. I can see a WoSWI spoon orchestra on Britain’s Got Talent…

We would really like as many of us as possible to be able to join in the fun. Some of you will now be completely au fait with online communications and will be Zooming all over the place. Others will be terrified at the mere thought. If you’ve never tried Zoom but you don’t want to miss out, I’m here to hold your hand. I’m assuming you have access to a computer as you’re reading my email, so contact me at and I can answer your questions and help you set it up. Then you’ll be amazed at how easy it is.

Looking forward to seeing your lovely smiley faces, waving out from my laptop screen.

Much love