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WI Newsletter – October 2003

If it is not being too smug, Abbotts Ann WI is feeling very pleased with itself, as we hosted a very successful walk and lunch on 31 October. It was our usual monthly meeting the night before and as we gathered in the hall, the main fear for the following day was the weather. Despite a long hot summer and most spectacular autumn, the much-needed rain had, unfortunately, finally arrived. However, Friday morning dawned rather foggy and damp, disappointing but somehow rather appropriate for Halloween, and the rain held off.

About 40 or more of us walked round the village, one or two elected to do a short walk round by the Church, but the majority went all the way – so to speak. We set off along Dunkirt Lane, across the field and down The Drove, through Bulbery Sportsfield and then across the main village road up the track that leads to the rear of Dell Engineering. It was at this point, having turned left down the footpath that runs parallel to Salisbury Road that the mist cleared and the glorious autumn colours were revealed by some welcome weak sunshine. Once back in the village we returned to the Village Hall along Church Path.

It was at this stage that those of us who were entering into the spirit of the occasion – sorry for the pun – put on our witches hats etc. All our guests were ready to sit down with a cold punch – a tonic and blackcurrant combination that worked very well and was most refreshing. Other guests who had elected not to walk, joined us at this point, which meant that 61 of us sat down to lunch including two young grandchildren of one of our members, who came as Dracula and a very fetching witch.

As everyone was ready, lunch was served slightly earlier than planned. We started with a delicious pumpkin soup served with fresh French bread, followed by “bangers and mash”, which went down very well, both the bread and sausages also coming from the Village Shop. Having been worried that there wouldn’t be sufficient, we had enough to able to go round with seconds. Then it was time for tea/coffee with the Halloween shaped biscuits, there were bats, witches and pumpkins. A lot of discussion had gone in the preparations for the catering, and it certainly all paid off.

It was now time to thank everyone for coming and particularly those who had done all the hard work.

We weren’t sure ourselves, how the trick or treat raffle would work on the day, but it seemed to go down very well. All the prizes had been wrapped in black crepe paper, so no one knew what they had won. There was some amusement when all was revealed, especially if the prize was a “trick”.

During the whole event, there had been the opportunity to take part in our Halloween Quiz, comprising four rounds, one on the TV. series Bewitched, a Harry Potter Round, then a Mixed Cauldron and lastly Witches & Ghosties. In all, there was a total of 55 points available. It was now time to reveal the answers. Whether we had been too ambitious, I don’t know, but the winner had 27 points. First prize was a book on Myths & Legends, needless to say, I gave out quite a few booby prizes.

It was revealed by some of our guests that they especially like coming to events organised by Abbotts Ann WI as we always do it so well. That is very nice to know and makes all the hard work worthwhile.

Due to a technical hitch, photographs of this event are in short supply, but there are a few on this website.

As mentioned previously, we had been in the hall the night before for our October meeting when our guest speaker was Anne Ridge, As a Magistrate she had come along to explain a little more about the role of a Magistrate in the Community and who is eligible to be one. With a few exceptions it would appear that just about anyone can apply. Rather than just talk to us however, she made us work, splitting us into groups of three, just as it would be in a real Court. Mrs Ridge then gave us three case histories, explained what courses of action would be available and asked us to reach a majority verdict. I won’t mention any names, but there was one group of members that I most definitely would not like to appear before – talk about harsh sentencing. Although, it all caused some amusement it certainly made us realise what a tough job this is – without any financial reward.

I was able to tell the meeting that two of our members had taken our banner across to the Winchester Museum, and their textiles expert had advised that it did indeed date back to the 1920’s and had probably been stitched by more than one person. Early in the New Year we will start to look at the options open to us for its restoration/repair. Our two WI cups remembering past members, Mrs Thomas King and Marjorie Fowles were presented to Margaret Wilson for her success in the Flower & Produce section of the Village Fete.

Earlier in the month five of us travelled to Portsmouth Guildhall to the Hampshire Federation Autumn Council Meeting, it is always good to go to an event such as this, as it makes you realise that as a member of the WI you are part of a much larger organisation. Items on the Agenda included an emergency resolution on the fate of Assay Offices, NFWI announcements, presentations from various committees as well as a representative from Post Watch whose particular responsibility is the regeneration of urban Post Offices.

After lunch, our guest speaker was Gyles Brandeth who had us all in stitches, he really is a very funny man able to deliver his witticisms and throw away remarks with such perfect timing. He admitted that having watched the earlier entertainment, a group from Winton WI who gave a repeat of their entry in a recent Choral & Speech Competition, which was compilation of readings and extracts from Shakespeare and TS Elliot amongst others, he had been inspired to throw away his prepared speech. He christened them the Winton Wonders and spoke about out they had brought back long forgotten memories. He spoke about this term as a Member of Parliament, his first visit to Portsmouth Guildhall and an encounter with Sir Michael Redgrave. I cannot do him justice here, but he is certainly a very talented man.

Earlier that week 9 of us had attended the Danebury Group Autumn Meeting hosted by Longstock & Leckford WI. Once the short business had been dealt with, Marion Emery, our guest speaker, gave a talk entitled “Not just a roll of wallpaper”. The subject was William Morris and we were given a very detailed account of his life, we discovered that his design talents incorporated over 500 different fabrics, nature being his inspiration. He also turned his hand to stained glass windows, as well as writing poetry and prose. His life was certainly eventful.

Gosh, I feel if I have written a book not just a newsletter, but as you can see the WI does not just meet once a month and I cannot emphasise enough that the rewards of being a WI Member are great, not only do you get opportunities to attend events that have first class speakers, but you get to have fun and make good friends as well.

Sharon King

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