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Royal Icing

Tuesday 1st September 2015

Royal Icing (cupcakes!)

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In our exploration of the WI’s 100 years we are up to the decade 1975-1985, the title for this meeting was inspired byt the two major events of this era i.e the Silver Jubilee and Royal Wedding.

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Thank you to Sally for loaning us some visuals for the evening, these lovingly preserved ladybird books!

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Our host (and facilitator) for the evening was the lovely Carolyn from Vintage Rose Tea Room (a favourite haunt of the Valley Girls)….#bestcakesinllangollen have I said that before??

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Team Vintage Rose generously shared their expertise with hints and tips on getting the best butter icing swirls. Apprentice Molly showing us all what the future of baking looks like…..the future of WI….hopefully!

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…..but alas there are always the odd few who will lower the tone!!

Next meeting – Tuesday 6th October Roller Disco!

 

Grow Your Own

Tuesday 30th June 2015

Grow Your Own

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The decade being explored this month was 1960’s and early 70’s an era synonymus with the  Hippy movement and being green, growing your own and  being self sufficient just like in The Good Life. We decided to put our own Valley Girls spin on this concept and explore how growing your own produce can be used to start up your own business. Two of our own members have done that very thing.

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Beth along with her husband Carlton run Geufron Hall, a five-star country house B&B with stunning views of the Vale of Llangollen. http://www.geufronhall.co.uk/Beth and Carlton provide an outstanding array of their own produce to guests at their boutique B&B from home grown fruit and veg to fresh eggs from their chickens and pigs which make some of the finest sausages in the Dee Valley! The couple love to keep seasonal so depending at what time of the year you visit you’ll be spoilt with delights of the season from their garden, the summer brings fresh strawberries and homemade Pimms whilst in the Autumn you can expect to sample their own pressed apple juice.

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It was lovely being hosted in this idyllic location on a beautiful summer’s evening we thought the meeting couldn’t get any better…..then we  welcomed Sarah Hughes (another Valley Girls member) to tell us about her business she started up in 2010, Eat My Flowers.  http://www.eatmyflowers.co.uk/

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Sarah  used to work as a business advisor helping people out of work start their own businesses. In 2010 she took some of her own advice and looked for a business that fitted around family life as well as using her skills in horticulture and marketing.

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Sarah grows her own edible flowers, such as violas and primroses on the family farm again situated in the beautiful Dee Valley near Corwen. The flowers are crystalised using as pasturised egg white solution and caster sugar. Whilst the process as described sounds fairly staright forward painstaking attention to detail is required but it’s worth it as the finished product is stunning!

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Sarah kindly produced a cake stand of cupcakes each individually decorated with one of her own flowers or petals. Cake decoration is one of Sarah’s main market areas with many of her flowers being used on vintage style wedding cakes. Her edible flower lolipos have become something of a trade mark too being snapped up by both Harrods and Fortnum and Mason no less!!

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As well as hints and tips on growing produce and using your own produce, we also got some excellent business and marketing advice from both of our Valley Girls – thank you ladies we didn’t realsie there is so muchexpertise within our own numbers…..home grown talent…..pardon the pun!!

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Since our meeting we are so pleased to hear that Sarah has won a Good Taste award…with three stars!!! And Geufron Hall has been awarded a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence – Well Done you both!

Next meeting…..Tuesday 1st September

Royal Icing….cup cake decorating at Vintage Rose Tea Room

Annual Meeting – Royal Albert Hall

Thursday 4th June 2015

Annual Meeting, Royal Albert Hall

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On Thursday 4th June Gail and Mary attended the Annual meeting in the Royal Albert Hall.

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Five thousand members of the WI, from around the country joined together to sing Jerusalem, listen to some amazing speakers and enjoy a rendition from a WI brass band known as the Brassy Tarts!!

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As this was the centenary meeting HM The Queen was in attendance (she is a member….in fact President of Sandringham WI) along with the Princess Royal and Countess of Wessex. The Queen delivered an inspiring speech to those gathered saying that “the opportunities for women to give something of value to society are greater than ever”.

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For further reading on this historical event see the following two links http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-33002176 and  http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jun/04/womens-institute-wi-100-pleasingly-bolshie They are both worth a read.

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As is was the Centenary year the meeting was streamed live across the internet and the whole meeting is now available on Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVuoLzrydks however if you haven’t got a full 6hrs to spare (!) then I have kindly picked out the highlights.

The following timings are approximate, could be a minute either way.
1hr – The Queen and Royal Party arrive
1.19 – First singing of Jerusalem
1.43 – talk by Lucy Worsely (highly recommend you watch this)
2.17 – the resolution discussion begins
3.08 – the resolution is thrown out (wait for the seconder of the objection Anna Kidd….truly inspiring lady!!)
5.06 – Tani Grey-Thompson (really entertaining)
5.47 – Helena Morrissey (business woman – inspiring….the way forward speaking up for working women)
…..finally 6.45 Jerusalem (again) and Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau (goosebump moment!)

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Gail felt very honored to represent Valley Girls WI  at the Centenary Annual Meeting.

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And was also very amused to spot herself in the crowd listening to Lucy Worseley making her speech!

 

 

Rock and Roll

Tuesday 2nd June (evening)

Rock and Roll

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One, two, three o’clock four o’clock Rock! We’ve reached the decade 1955-1965 in our walk through the WI’s 100 yr history, and what better way to explore this decade than by having some fun with music and dancing from this era. Karen and her team from NEW Dance http://www.newdance.org.uk/ put us through our paces teaching us some key steps of the jive and bop.

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We started off in lines trying to master the steps.

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And then paired off and added in a few twirls and twists.

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The NEW Dance team showed us a couple of routines giving us novice dancers something to aspire to.

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Once again ther was lots of period dressing to reflect the era with circle skirts, neck scarves cropped trousers, bobby socks and of course polka dots.

Thanks so much to Karen and her team for a really fun and active evening, a workout without even thinking about it! We ended the session with a group line dance to an Olly Murs track in a Rock and Roll style mixing old and new…..what the centenary year is all about!

Next Meeting ……Tuesday 30th June – Grow Your Own

Royal Garden Party

Tuesday 2nd June 2015

Royal Garden Party

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In celebration of the WI  centenary The Duchess of Cornwall, joined by The Countess of Wessex, The Duchess of Gloucester and Princess Alexandra hosted a Garden Party for 8,000 WI members at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday 2nd June 2015.

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Representing Valley Girls WI were Jane Berry and Karen Maurice, who both looked the part in their finery. Both ladies reported back that it was a lovely day and a memorable experience.

To read more about the event follow this link

http://www.thewi.org.uk/centenary/buckingham-palace-garden-party

Canoeing

Thursday 21st May 2015

Canoeing – over the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct!!

Ok, it wasn’t a slalom run down the River Dee from Horseshoe Falls to Town Falls, with the famous Serpents Tail; it was a flat water paddle on the Llangollen Canal.  However, it was just as knee wobbling experience for those who hadn’t been in a canoe since their junior school day trips out to the adventure park, or indeed never been in a canoe before.

In conjunction with Pro-adventure activity centre – Llangollen, we congregated at the Froncysyllte Draw Bridge for our safety briefing and distribution of buoyancy aids.

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Joined by some members of Chirk and Trevor WI’s we launched eleven canoes into the canal and were given instructions on the correct way to actually sit (knees under the seat not stretched out in front – not the most comfortable!) plus basic paddling skills.

At this point, we must apologize to the people who were moored up in their narrow boats enjoying the tranquil setting.   Probably just sitting down to their evening meal and cracking open a nice bottle of wine, when they suddenly felt that they had been transported to the fairground for a ride on the dodgems!!

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There was such a buzz in the air as we tried to get to grips with the paddling technique, the tranquility was shattered as our laughter echoed through the valley and the sound of bumping canoes (and stationary narrow boats!!) caused a breach of the peace.

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We made our way towards the famous Pontcysyllte aqueduct which was our main challenge of the evening.  After a short wait to allow on coming boats to pass and another brief from the instructors, the concentration on some faces (or was it fear?) showed, whilst ‘some’  (no names mentioned ……………….. ) showed their competitive side and raced to the starting point of the magnificent structure, so they could have first claim to fame.

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Others however, were still getting to grips with the technique and using the canal bank (or dare I say stationary narrow boats) to steer off the side and redirect themselves into the middle of the canal to obtain some sort of straight navigation.

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Although we didn’t all master the true technique of the paddle, so created our own zigzag approach across the aqueduct, we all managed to arrive safely on the other side.

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Some even stopped to have a look at the magnificent views midstream

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After a short ‘play around’ at Trevor Basin, surprisingly confidence had built and some thought they were participating in the Hawaii five-O closing credits (for those of you who remember it???) or heading for the next Olympics as they raced to get back over the Aqueduct to Froncysyllte, where we made a right ‘splash’ and once again disturbed the peace.

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I am pleased to say that there were no casualties during the evening, except for the odd canoe, although some members were much ‘wetter’ than others.

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So, still no sign of Jam and Jerusalem, but we have experienced one of the most amazing canoe paddles across a world heritage site that has a 126 foot drop down to the River Dee.  Be proud of yourselves Ladies.

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When the sun went down the evening ended with a well earned drink (none alcoholic of course) at the Telford Inn.  A great evening had by all. Some suggestions for future activities include Gorge walking / Archery & Ax Throwing /Climbing & Abseiling if you fancy taking part, drop us a line.  Everyone is welcome x

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get the Vintage Look

Tuesday 5th May 2015

Get the Vintage Look

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With the help of Charlotte Grittiths of Lottie’s Bespoke Vintage the Valley Girls opened up the “dressing up box” to try and recreate some vintage styles from the 1940’s/50’s and early 60’s. Here’s a bit of background on the fashion of this era http://vintagefashionguild.org/fashion-timeline/1940-to-1950/

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A few had a go at being Land Girls complete with headscarf and garden implements!

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Others went for a more classic look.

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And Charlotte showed us all how to create that war time and post war favourite hairstyle the Victory Roll.

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We were priviledged for this meeting to have the use of  Lottie’s own boutique shop for dressing up and styling then the socialising  took place just over the road in the very apt Vintage Rose Tea Room (Lottie’s has since moved and is now down the road from Vintage Rose Tea Room). Where Carolyn hosted us beautifully with lots of tea in her vintage china and several Valley Girls made the most of this one off evening opening and sampled some of her delicious cakes #bestcakesinllangollen (fact!).

We were also very lucky to have an excellent local photographer Kim Price http://www.kimpriceweddings.co.uk/who kindly agreed to come along and get some photos of us all in our vintage outfits. We’ll be using some of these photos for a very exciting project to be revealed later this year…..keep watching!

Next Meeting

Tuesday 2nd June…..Rock and Roll

Rounders

Thursday 30th April 2015

Fun Rounders Evening

Rounders (437 of 14) cropWe commenced our evening with a casual stroll from town up the ‘slight’ incline to Geufron Hall, were one of our members (Beth Boyce) kindly offered to host a game of rounders.

Such a beautiful spring evening, we arrived at our venue greeted by a charming waiter (Carlton) presenting the best fluid start of the evening (calm down ladies……….) Homemade Pimms and Lemonade!!!  So much better than the concoctions that you would find at any other fine event such as ladies Day at Chester or Ascot (of course the respectable WI that we are, we inform you that the alcohol contents were very low!!).

Rounders (428 of 14) cropThe waiter disappeared and we enjoyed the fabulous views from the patio of Geufron whilst sipping our Pimms and embracing some general chit-chat, when someone suddenly piped up……………. Are we supposed to be playing Rounders?  Of course that was the purpose of the evening.  One had forgotten!

A quick decision on dividing the attendees into two teams and distribution of Red / Yellow bibs we took a guess at the course layout erected the poles and casually commenced our game.  No rules, no specific outline to the pitch, just a bit of ‘fun’…………………….

Rounders (436 of 14) cropFirst innings, with the Yellow team batting was quite graceful with no rules and Secretary Kate Collins reaping the first rounder of the evening (well done Kate). Jane Berry claimed the first casualty into that lovely black stuff that the sheep left behind in the field, by sliding down the pitch (which sat on a slight incline) in a frantic attempt to catch Liz Evans out at the last post.  A huge roar when Jayne Pradham ? (Yellow team fastest runner) was taken out of the running by Beth’s brilliant catch.

Eventually, with all team members out, time for the Red team to bat.   Off to a flying start Beth claimed the first rounder for the Red team.  Then things began to change slightly.

Rounders (425 of 3) cropFrom no exact line to the pitch and not a single rule, to a sudden stop watch ticking against each team innings, not being able to run to the next post if the bowler had possession of the ball, not dropping the bat whilst running, allowing sideliners (children) to run the course for the batter (as they were deemed to be able to run faster and increase the chance of a rounder), brought the statement made by the editors of the encyclopaedia Britannica ‘Rounders never became a seriously competitive game’  into insignificance !

The second innings for the Yellow team and Kate struck two rounders in her debut game, despite a sudden pull at her shoulder that left her in great pain (think it was the determination in winning that kept her going).

Rounders (426 of 3)The second innings for the Red team unfortunately did not see any additional rounders (despite great effort) and they gracefully accepted defeat in the form of true team spirit.  They didn’t take any offence by the gloating of the Yellow Teams win nor did they swiftly remove their red bibs in embarrassment of losing, they accepted that the Yellow team had won ‘Fairly’ on this occasion, but the last match was take by the Red team and the situation is currently on an equal par (one match a piece)   …………………UNTIL NEXT TIME!!!

rounders sunsetThe evening ended with the reappearance of the illusive waiter with a rather large jug …… of Pimms,  which we enjoyed as we watched the magnificent sun set over the valley.  A perfect finish to a fun packed evening.The next match is to be confirmed, when we would like to welcome any other WI’s to join us by getting in touch via our facebook page.

Everyone is also invited to our Canoeing evening on Thursday 21st May.  In conjunction with Pro-Adventure, we will be congregating at Trevor basin and paddling over the Aqueduct in two-man open canoes.  Spaces are limited so please confirm your interest ASAP.

Make Do and Mend

Tuesday 7th April 2015

Make Do and Mend

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We are working our way through the WI’s 100 year history, and this month  we explored the decade 1935-1945. Obviously this period in British history is dominated by WW2 we therefore took a wartime slogan “Make Do and Mend” as our inspiration.

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Make Do and Mend was a pamphlet issued by the British Ministry of Information in the midst of WWII. It was intended to provide housewives with useful tips on how to be both frugal and stylish in times of harsh rationing. With its thrifty design ideas and advice on reusing old clothing, the pamphlet was an indispensible guide for households. Have a look at this link  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-31719704 for a bit more background information on the subject.

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We took this idea and gave it our own Valley Girls twist by encouraging members to bring scraps of fabric from previous projects, old garments etc and any bits of haberdashery. We then attempted to make our own Valley Girls WI bunting. Everyone had a go even the self confessed “non-crafters”….the creativity in the room was infectious!

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Well done ladies, we have the beginnings of a very colourful bunting. It’s eclectic, shabby chic, even quirky! An excellent representation of us I’d say! We were also presented with a few modern day make dos and mends…..or “upcycling” as it’s known these days!! For examples of this see our Facebook page to see what some of our creative members can do.

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Finally a new feature of our meeting this month was a little game/exercise to help us get to know each other a bit. It’s called “three things you don’t know about me”. Secretary Kate read out the entries from four of our members, and we had to try and guess who it was. As confidentiality rules I couldn’t possible disclose what we learnt….as the saying goes what goes on at Valley Girls, stays at Valley Girls!! Ok then a couple of hints….we learnt one member nearly drowned on honeymoon, one can’t stand raw banana (they make her gag!), one has been on Family Fortunes and one once had dinner with Lady Astor. We’ll be continuing this game over the coming months so for those of you who weren’t at this meeting get thinking of some facts to surprise or shock us!!

Next Meeting

Tuesday 5th May 2015….Get the Vintage Look

Please note change of venue (for this month only) Vintage Rose Tea Room, Oak Street

Upstairs Downstairs

Tuesday 3rd March 2015

Upstairs Downstairs

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Our Upstairs Downstairs was certainly an evening of two sides (as was intended). With the glamour of our flapper girls, having a crack at the Charleston (thanks to Sarah for showing us the steps). Some great costumes, you all totally looked the part!

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We all enjoyed sipping a few cocktails and trying to look sophisticated! The downstairs element to the evening was illustrated excellently through the delicious authentic 1930s steamed puddings. Thanks to our bakers Mary, Kate and Beth.The theme of the evening was inspired by a book Mary has read about the life of  a girl in service in the 1930s. Our plan had been for Mary to give a short talk on the background to it all. But alas time ran away with us (we were all having too much fun socialising over cocktails!).  So here it is for you to read at your leisure Service in the 1930s. It really is worth a read as it does make you appreciate how far we have come (in many ways) in such a short time, thanks to Mary for compiling that.

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And our final photo is the epitome of Upstairs Downstairs….the cook trying to dance the Charleston with a flapper girl!

Next Meeting

Tuesday 7th April……Make Do and Mend

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