WI Newsletter – January 2013

January can be a long month, after all the festivities in December, but if you are a member of Abbotts Ann W.I. it fairly whizzes along, even though our calendar of events was affected by the weather. Before the snow arrived it was the heavy rain that caused us to cancel our monthly walk – disappointing, but we are hoping for better conditions in February.

Nevertheless, the book club still went ahead and we were able to gather in the Village Hall for our Annual Dinner. This is the second year we have held this event in January and it seems to be popular with our members – it can be a long time between meetings otherwise – as we meet earlier in December than usual. Once again the hot buffet was plentiful and delicious. There was a quiz to test our brains cells courtesy of Kate Bennett & Wendy Casson, which just finished off the evening nicely.

Each year we choose to support a local charity and this year we have selected the local Food Bank; they will benefit from the proceeds of the monthly coffee mornings as well as the collection in lieu of sending Christmas cards to each other. Gayle Beaton kindly hosted our first this year. Last year this resulted in a total of £195 being given to the Andover Lipreaders.

One of the benefits of being a member of the W.I. is that it offers accessibility to high profile speakers. Such an opportunity arose on 24th Janaury when three of our members travelled to the Concorde Club at Eastleigh for lunch with Mary Berry. This event had proved so popular that the venue had to be changed to accommodate the 300 Hampshire W.I. members who wanted to attend. The rather eye-watering price ticket had not proved a deterrent. Mary was enchanting; she spoke principally about the Great British Bake Off, confirming that Paul Hollywood’s eyes really are that blue, and said she was enjoying this latest adventure in her long career. She also revealed she had been to Buckingham Palace for lunch with The Queen and even Mary gets anxious about dressing appropriately for such an occasion. There was a signed copy of one of her cookery books in our raffle this month, which was won by our own star baker – Evelyn White.

We had invited local businessman Steve Burbidge to be our guest speaker at this first meeting of 2013 and he was a delight, such a sense of humour. His passion apart of baking, of course, is hitch-hiking and he came prepared. He has a variety of signs for when he is on the road, but these were slightly different. The row at the back was handed “speak up”, another said “keep to the point – stop waffling”, our President Sue George was handed one which advised him when to stop and the most important was the one that noted how he liked his tea!

For some it was a walk down memory lane as he shared some family photographs, including one taken in 1940 which also showed the adjacent Linga Longa Café. He revealed that his family came to Andover from Northamptonshire via Devon and that he is the fourth generation of the Burbidge family to operate the bakery. He showed a short film made for TV in the 1990’s but admitted that not much had changed – all his bread, cakes and pastries are still made by hand. Our taste buds were definitely being teased with trays of doughnuts, sausage rolls, cheese straws and a variety of different types of bread. Steve believes in buying the best ingredients for his products and he has customers that will travel some distance for one of his loaves. He employs 22 staff and is fortunate to be able to re-invest in new equipment when necessary, but has no ambitions to enlarge the company.

So next time you are out on the A303 look more closely at the man at the side of the road looking for a lift – it may be your local baker.

We will be talking family history again this month as George Yalden is going to give us a Beginner’s guide to Genealogy, which is a popular pastime these days. So get that diary out and make a note – Abbotts Ann W.I. on 28th February at 7.30 p.m. in the Village Hall.

Diary Dates

09 February – Walking Group

14 February – Film Club

19 February – Reading Group

20 February – Coffee Morning

23 February – Lunch Club

28 February – Meeting 7.30 p.m. in the Village Hall – Beginner’s Guide to Genealogy – George Yalden

Sharon King