Monday, 3 December 2012

Ripping Raffle

Oo have we mentioned we're having a Christmas Fayre? Maybe once or twice....

Along with the stalls of lovely things and the choir who will be filling the hall with festive tunes we also have a raffle.

So far the very generous businesses of Frome have donated some lovely things, including:

- a festive quilt top from Millie Moon - stitched in part by the ladies of the WI.

- a gift of knitting which contains needles, yarn and the pattern to knit some gorgeous socks.

- coffee from the Little Red Cafe.

- more craft books than you can shake a stick at.

And there's more!

If you love craft then this is the best raffle ever!

See you on the 6th december from 7.00pm in the United Reformed Church Hall.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Dates for your diary

Evening ladies, the weather is rubbish and the nights are closing in. So to provide a little bit of festive cheer here are some dates for your diary:

Sunday 2nd December:
Frome Artisan Market
It's the last market of the year and we will be womanning our stall with lovely and reasonably priced refreshments. Please come and say hi if you are around on the day!
If you would like to help out either by baking for the market or helping out on the stall on the day then please email us

Thursday 6th December:
Frome WI Christmas fair
We are so excited about our Christmas fair! Ladies from the WI will be selling their wares, the choir will be singing some festive tunes and we will be serving tasty, nutritious (not really) and delicious (definitely) festive food and drink.
We will also be having a raffle and we have some really lovely prizes already to give away.
Please also invite any non-WIers (including men!) along for a bit of lovely local Christmas shopping.
For more information please visit the Facebook event:
Or email us at

Thursday 20th December:
WI December meeting
This will be our final meeting of 2012 and we're planning a Christmas party!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Green fingered joy

Hello Ladies!


Well, another month on and what to do with your slightly chapped and chilly green fingers?!

The weather won’t be very enticing out there but thankfully there is still much fun to be had with growing under cover.
I’ve been asked to focus on what we can all grow in our own homes, without the aid of a greenhouse (or safety net!), so thought I’d introduce you to Microgreens this month, if you have not already discovered these small but highly tasty and nutritious little gems.

Quick and easy to grow, ready in just one week, they are great for bringing life to all kinds of dishes, salads, soups and sandwiches. River Cottage chefs are in awe of them and grow them throughout the year.

Grown in a similar way to cress, they can be sprinkled on the top of wet compost in a plastic tray, placed on a sunny window sill or in a conservatory. Keep moist and then harvest with scissors when the stems reach about 4cm high. I actually use a half pipe of guttering as a container, just fill to ¾ of the height of the guttering and leave an inch of pipe clear of soil at each end to allow any excess water run off.

Available from Suttons, priced around £2.35 per pack, you can grow these seeds all year around and I can personally recommend their Rocket Victoria, Basil Dark Opal and Broccoli varieties. All have an intense flavour to them so you only need a small handful to really add flavour to your dishes.

Also look out for a variety of winter salad leaves that can be sown inside and some hardy ones that can still be sown outside if you cover with horticulture fleece or a cloche.

Celery can be sown (in a heated greenhouse or on a warm sunny windowsill) for harvesting later in May.

December doesn’t have to be a completely dull month in the garden. If you’re looking for a hint of colour or maybe a nice festive present for a gardener, then there are still a number of shrubs and plants that can be grown and will flower even in this icy month! You might like to look out for Rhododendron ‘Christmas Cheer’, Clematis cirrhosa ‘Freckles’, Helleborus niger ‘Christmas Rose’ ornamental cabbages and kales.

Buy or cut festive favourites such as mistletoe and holly as late as possible. When you’re ready to use them indoors, cut about an inch off of the stems then dip the tip of the stem into boiling water for about 20 seconds or so before standing in cold water overnight in a cool dark room – this will help maximise vase life / decoration life.

The end of the year is also a good time to get out on a dry day and repair fences and woodwork behind large shrubs and trees as access is much easier when the leaves are down and the plants are dormant. All that effort and banging around should keep you warm!

If you’re not composting your garden waste, do have a good poke around and check beneath any prepared bonfires as frogs, toads and hedgehogs all like to hibernate under nice piles of leaves and branches.

If we’re lucky enough for some of the glistening pretty white stuff later on and it’s a heavy fall, then It’s worth clearing off the worst from tops of hedges and conifers as the sheer weight can easily snap off large branches.

Remove pumps from ponds before severe frosts start. A useful tip for ponds and bird baths is to place a ping pong ball directly into the water as this stops it from freezing over owing to the constant movement of it being blown around.

Bulbs and bare rooted trees, shrubs and perennials can still be planted now whilst they’re dormant.

Lots of apples left over...?? See the recipe below for some much needed comfort eating in the warm!

If you’re looking to really get stuck into some veg growing next year or are after a last minute garden gift idea, I can recommend the River Cottage Courses (although pricey, they are good fun and you can sometimes get a good discounted deal via their Axminster Cafe) – see Rocket Gardens also do some fab organic plug plant instant gardens which I’ve been buying for several years, with great success and taste – see I was also lucky enough to attend a ‘No Dig’ talk by Charles Dowding recently and would recommend his day courses – see

Interesting Fact
Trees are the longest living organisms on the earth

Stourhead Gardens (National Trust) are definitely worth a visit in November – please see The tree colours can be absolutely amazing there. Just try and get a visit in before the winter gales hit so you benefit from seeing the leaves still on the trees, as opposed to on the ground! My recommendation is to enter the lake via the gardens (as the former house owners had designed that pathway purposely), that way you benefit from some excellent views across the lake as the gardens are positioned higher up.

Until next time.... happy gardening :>)

Our questions for...

Regular WIer and mother of two, Fiona is a local birth worker supporting women and families before, during and after childbirth.

She is passionate about supporting women in their choices around birth and has kindly answered some of our questions.

Q: I have heard the term doula but am not really sure what this is, please could you tell me more?

A: The term ‘doula’ comes from a Greek word meaning ‘woman servant or caregiver’. A doula’s role is to support the mother during her pregnancy, birth and early postnatal period with practical and emotional support – this ‘mothering the mother’ will help support the whole family. Traditionally, the women supporting a mother during birth would be members of her family or friends, but these days we tend to live separated from our loved ones, and we have lost that circle of support. Doulas fill that gap.

Q: Why did you decide to become a doula?

A: I’ve been involved in women’s health for about 20 years. My own journey with supporting women began when I first fell pregnant when I was 19. I unfortunately lost my baby, and I started looking into healing myself with traditional Chinese medicine, homeopathy, yoga, and Ayurvedic medicine. I studied Shiatsu and acupuncture, and worked in drug and alcohol services for a while and supported women who were in recovery during their pregnancies. A Shiatsu friend and colleague of mine asked me to be at the birth of her first child, so I did a post graduate diploma in Shiatsu in maternity care with Suzanne Yates. This deepened my knowledge of women’s health and birth, and I was very privileged to support my friend through her birth. She had a long labour, but said that the only pain relief she needed was my support and the massage of certain acupuncture points. I was hooked! The moment that my friend and her baby looked into each other’s eyes was just magical, and I knew that supporting women and babies is what I am meant to do with the rest of my life. It’s my calling and my deepest joy.

Q: What sort of training do you have to do to become a doula?

A: There are several training courses here in the UK that are recognised by Doula UK, the voluntary umbrella organisation for doulas. Learning doesn’t stop there; it’s a lifelong process of self development, debriefing, and staying well informed about women and children’s health.

After a new doula has completed her course work with one of Doula UK's Recognised courses, she then works with a personal Doula Mentor through a process that involves reflection and supplying documentation to support her experiences as a doula over a period of not less than 6 months and preferably not more than 2 years. This then leads to a formal assessment interview with the Doula Mentor before the doula herself is Recognised. A minimum of 4 birth and/or postnatal experience records are submitted for review by the Doula Mentor during the process.

A condition of Doula UK membership includes a commitment to life-long learning and continuing personal/professional development.

Q: How do you work with midwives/HCP/the families during labour?

A: The relationship with the mother begins during pregnancy. It’s important that the family trust and feel comfortable with the people that will support them during the birth, so I meet the mother regularly during pregnancy to start building a relationship. I am also available for her to call or email with any questions that she may have. The parents and I usually meet up for birth preparation sessions about how to be actively involved in the birth process, and I will share with them some tools for how the birth partner can support and assist the labouring mother. These sessions may include simple Shiatsu techniques, acupressure points for pain relief, birth positions, themes from Active Birth, breathing and visualisation, and techniques from Birthing from Within (a wonderful book by Pam England) such as using art to explore feelings and ideas around birth. Themes that can be discussed during these antenatal sessions include homebirth / waterbirth, breech / optimal foetal positioning, vaginal birth after a previous caesarean (VBAC), how to have a positive caesarean, pregnancy loss and grief, and previous birth experiences.

For the birth itself, the mother calls me when labour has started, and I go to her home or the hospital when she feels like she needs me to be there. It’s important not to go too early as it may interfere with the flow of hormones during early labour as women generally need privacy during early labour. I do whatever the mother needs me to do, and that may include massage, fetching food or drinks, helping with the birth pool etc.

Midwives that I have worked with have said that they appreciated having an extra pair of hands to help out, and felt that I was an extra support for the whole family. Midwives are often so overstretched these days that they don’t have time to do the things that they’d like to do to support women, which is a real shame. I see it as my role to help hold a peaceful space, so will work towards building a good relationship with the midwives or family members, and that may involve anything from making tea to quietly explaining the massage I give or the homeopathy that the mother has requested. Sometimes fathers need some extra support too, and I do my best to ensure that he feels comfortable and empowered in order to better support his partner.

Q: How do you think the lack of midwives is affecting women in the UK? Do you have practical experience of this?

A: There are many women wanting to study midwifery, but there are comparatively few university places.

Studies have shown that caseload midwifery (where the midwife’s care is centred around the woman rather than being attached to a hospital, and the mother is more likely to know the midwife that attends her during labour) leads to more ‘normal’ births.

Caseload Midwifery, A Review; Andrews S, Brown L, Bowman L, Price L and Taylor R.

I was lucky when I had my children that I saw the same NHS midwife throughout my pregnancy, and she also came to my home for their births. Unfortunately this isn’t the case for most women. It can be difficult to build trust during labour with a midwife if the mother has never met them before.

Many women who have chosen to birth their babies at home have also been told that there aren’t enough midwives to enable that to happen, and are encouraged to go in to hospital.

I have supported women in various hospitals when the labour ward was extremely busy, and I have seen how stretched the midwifery team were. It affects the mothers as they tend to not get the support from the midwives that they would have liked due to time constraints, and that’s of detriment to both the families and the midwifery team.

Q: Childbirth seems to be such a political thing at the moment ('natural' vs 'unnatural' birth, formula vs breast feeding etc) - how do you stay neutral when working with women?

A: The role of a doula is to support women, whatever their choices are. I don’t make judgments on the choices that other people make, as pregnancy, birth and mothering is such an individual path. My role is to support and pass on information to women so that they can make informed choices about their care. As a doula, its vital to debrief regularly with a mentor to help talk through any personal difficulties that may arise from supporting women with different viewpoints, or after a challenging birth. This enables us to let go of our own experiences and opinions to be able to fully support women and their choices.

Q: Are doulas used in other countries? For example, countries with higher home birth rates, is this because they use doulas to supplement midwives or just that they have more midwives generally?

A: Yes. Doulas are found in most places around the world, although they might not be called ‘doulas’. For example, in Mexico the rural areas are still quite traditional, and therefore doulas are used to support mothers, but its not a profession that is recognised as such; it’s just what women do, support other women in their community.

In my research into the origins of belly dance, I found out that in the Middle East and North Africa women traditionally gathered around a birthing woman from their community, and danced certain movements to encourage the mother to do the same to help ease the sensations of the contractions and to help facilitate the birth. How wonderful to have the choice of a whole community of dancing doulas!

The Netherlands has a good model of support with it’s medical service for new mothers. A maternity nurse or health professional comes to the mother’s home to help support her with the early days of looking after the baby, and to make sure that the mother recovers properly after the birth.

Q: My impression of doulas is that they are for women who are a bit hippyish, although this is not based on any experience! Can all women use a doula during birth?

A: All women can use doulas, we’re not just for hippies. ;)
Doulas come in all shapes and sizes, there is a doula for every woman! Every woman deserves to be empowered and nurtured.

Q: What do you think of One Born Every Minute? It seems to have made birth more acceptable to talk about but to be honest it terrifies me and I'm done having children years ago!

A: I find that One Born Every Minute tends to portray birth as fearful and a medical procedure, and this can make women fearful. Birth is a normal physiological event (although it does need assistance sometimes), and this sort of show perpetuates the idea portrayed by the media that birth is something to be afraid of. It is known that when women are fearful, their birthing hormones can’t flow properly, and this can interfere with labour. A labouring woman’s hormones flow much more effectively when she feels safe, so women need to be in the place where they feel safest to give birth - for some women that will be hospital, for other women that will be at home.
Of course, some women will need extra assistance at times, and so I’m thankful for the full range of obstetrical medicine that is available here in the UK, but we need to get the word out to all women that birth is a normal event. When women understand the normal physiological process of birth, and just how amazing their bodies are and what they are capable of, they usually feel more confident in their ability to birth, and are better able to make informed choices about their care. It’s so important that women know their rights around birth so that they can make truly informed choices.

Q: And a question we ask everyone - what's your favourite cake!

A: Raw chocolate cheesecake!

Fiona Willis
Shiatsu practitioner, doula, childbirth educator and belly dance teacher.

October meeting with pictures

The October meeting was themed around Birth and Booze.

This year the NFWI (National Federation of Women's Institutes) voted in a resolution to campaign for more midwives. For more information on the national campaign please visit the website.

Kaz Woodbury, a birth worker and trainee ante natal teacher from Frome NCT talked to us about the importance of this campaign and how crucial midwives are to women's experience in childbirth.

Joy Horner, a local midwife, then talked to us about her experiences as a midwife both in the NHS and working independently.

Joy and Kaz both talked passionately and articulately about this issue which has an impact on so many women.

We then moved on to a little light refreshment with Gareth and Vicky from Great Western Wine who talked us through a very interesting and educational wine tasting!

Along with Paul from Sagebury Cheese on Cheap Street who brought along some amazing cheeses to try.

As always the cake table was absolutely amazing.

Thank you to our wonderful speakers the evening was jam packed with so much information.
Thank you to everyone who came, brought cakes, donated to refreshments.
And thank you to everyone who has joined up for next year!

Saturday, 20 October 2012

How does your garden grow?

Hello Ladies

I’ve been asked by Storm and Emma to write a blog for you on gardening, offering some monthly advice and tips to maybe whet your appetite for a spot of vegetable / flower growing and to help give you some ideas to make the best of your gardens, whether they’re vast or compact.

Before I start though, I thought it only polite to give you a quick intro first. I’m Jo Tucker and I grew up on a small holding in the rolling Mendip Hills. At 38, I’m still loving country life and marvelling at how ‘growing your own’ can be so rewarding and, in terms of edible crops especially, so much healthier and far more tasty than shop bought.

I moved down to proper ‘cider making country’ (as I call it) some 3 years ago and now live in a small village called Kingsbury Episcopi, famed for its Burrow Hill Cider Farm (not that that heavily influenced my relocation decision, of course - hic!). 2 years ago, my husband and I bought some farmland, built a house and since then, I have been tasked with turning the 1.5 acre site into a garden and vegetable plot, along with clearing out, replanting and maintaining the handful of older trees left in the 3.5 acre old cider apple orchard.

The days of sedentary office life and being beautifully manicured, smartly suited and booted for the working week are but a distant memory! Yes, still booted (but in wellies nowadays) topped off with my standard uniform of mud splattered old sweatshirt, ripped jeans and a pair of very well used gardening gloves! As for manicured, ummm... soil seems to erode anything by No 7 or Max Factor so I have given up, besides, they say sludgy colours are ’in’ this winter, so I console myself that I am terribly fashionable with my peat stained talons and have opted for the ‘natural’ and somewhat earthy look!

Apart from a handful of knowledge picked up from my folks whilst growing up at home and helping out, coupled with a bit of dabbling myself in my own gardens thereafter, I didn’t really have much to go on. So, I threw caution (and some seeds!) to the wind, bought basic tools, booked myself onto a part time course and completed a diploma in horticulture, whilst rustling about and experimenting no end here! What have I learnt so far? Many things but mostly that gardening requires a fair amount of patience, a little vision, constant tending, big bursts of energy from time to time and not to be too disheartened when, even if you have followed every set of rules going, some plants just die for no rhyme or reason and that’s just the way it is!

Now I should point out at this stage that I am by no means an expert or about to exhibit at Chelsea, but I am very happy to pass on some handy tips and information I have learnt over the past couple of years which may be of use to you as the seasons change. My idea here is to work a little bit ahead so that you get the benefit of seeing in advance what may be required the next month, Anyway, see if this is useful and do feedback any comments on format to Storm or Emma and I will adapt accordingly.

Lawns – reduce mowing now and patch up any bare areas that need attention or sow an entire new lawn before the first frosts strike. Think about what type of area you are sowing, ie. shady area, hard use area etc and pick appropriate seed.

As outside plants finish, tidy and cut back, removing all dead leaves. Late flowering climbing roses can also be pruned.

Daffodils, hyacinths, crocuses and other spring bulbs can be planted in containers – I found these made great Christmas gifts last year (pick a nice pot and plant away with colour co-ordinating bulbs). Tulips are best left for planting until November time though as they can rot off if planted in pots this early. If you plan your planting carefully, you can create an early spring flowering pot that lasts right through to the early summer months with continuous flowers. Don’t forget to include some drainage in the base of the pot (stones, broken crockery or wedges of polystyrene) then top with good quality compost.

Spring bulbs can also be planted out in the flower beds up until December time too, such as crocus, snowdrops, bluebells, narcissus, anemones etc.

Winter lettuce (ie. Arctic King and Winter Density) can be sown outside, just protect with a piece of horticulture fleece to keep it frost free as the nights get colder.

Get ahead - early sweet peas can be sown and kept in an unheated greenhouse or coldframe but be prepared for some losses if it’s really cold. If you don’t sow them now, you’ll get another chance in the Spring. I grew Sarah Raven’s ‘Black Knight’ sweet peas this year and can recommend them for amazing scent, prolific flowering and deep burgundy colours. Kerton Sweet Peas (located near Bridgwater) are also highly recommended by a number of my gardening colleagues, they have grown various varieties this year and had very positive results.

If you’re fortunate enough to have a greenhouse, it’s a good time for clearing out the old soil after your crops have finished (reuse this on flower borders but not on veg beds to avoid the spread of any diseases). A good wash down of the interior of the greenhouse with Jeyes fluid is worthwhile to kill off any nasties. Winter lettuce, baby spinach, carrots, spring onions and mange tout peas can all be sown now in the greenhouse. Bring in and house any frost tender plants such as geraniums/fuschias etc.

Late October / early November is the best time to move and relocate any deciduous trees when they are dormant and have dropped their leaves, plus bare rooted trees and shrubs can also be planted out too.

Compost as much of your garden waste as possible, it’s amazingly nutritious for your garden and rewarding to put something back into the soil, just don’t include woody cuttings, perennial weeds (ie dandelions/buttercups etc) or lots of dead leaves. Instead, keep leaves in a separate pile as they’ll take far longer to rot down, but they provide an excellent mulch later on. Easy enough to create a leaf bin – just stick four posts or poles in the ground and some chicken wire around them and bingo!

As the weather grows colder and less appealing for being outside, start planning what you’d like to see in your garden next year, flick through some seed catalogues, draw up any new designs and ideas and look for online offers... all whilst sat by the fire with a large glass of wine, of course!

Did you know that earthworms can live for up to 10 years if left to their own devices?!
Until next time.... happy gardening :>)

Thursday, 18 October 2012

The Fabulously Festive Christmas Shopping Fayre

Please save the date in your calender for the Frome WI Fabulously Festive Christmas Shopping Fayre!

If you are interested in being a stall holder, please fill in and return this form by the end of October. 

Contact Sophie Shields for more details.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Wraxall Vineyard trip

In August we went on our first trip as the Frome WI to Wraxall Vineyard near East Pennard.

It was a lovely summer's evening with only the merest threat of rain.

And the most amazing views of the surrounding countryside.

Brian, who owns the vineyard along with his wife Jackie, talked us through the history of the vineyard and it's current incarnation in their care.

We then went on a stroll looking at the vines.

And learning a little bit about viniculture. Geneva double curtain anyone?

We then went inside as the sun set to taste some of the wines.

Monday, 27 August 2012

August meeting pictures

In our August meeting we made jam jar posies with Grace Haskins from Bramble and Wild on Catherine Hill.

First Grace demonstrated how to create a loose, natural looking posy. She started with showing us how to choose and cut the flowers.

Then moved on to gathering the flowers together - a tricky technique (that she made look really easy!) to ensure the stems all twist in the same direction.

The end result was a beautiful, effortless looking posy.

Then it was our turn...

Some ladies brought beautiful flowers from their own gardens.

And Bramble and Wild supplied really beautiful blooms for the less florally fortunate of us to use.

Rose 'Memory Lane'
Alchemilla Mollis

By the end of the evening the hall was filled with lovely looking jam jars.

And the cake table was, frankly, spectacular as always.

Thank you to Bramble and Wild for a lovely and very interesting evening. I think we all have a new respect for the art of floristry! And thanks to all the ladies who came, made posies, baked cakes and donated to refreshments.

In September's meeting we will be hosting Marmelade Yarns for stitching and bitching at all levels. More details to follow...

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Our first trip

Roll up, roll up ladies who's up for a tour round a local vineyard and a chance to try their wine?

On August 21st we will be heading over to Wraxall Vineyard on our first ever WI trip. The tour and tasting cost £5 per person and we will book a minibus if you would like (for a small additional charge) so we don't have to drive.

Fun times! If you are interested please get in touch by email or via our Facebook page

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Our questions for...Helen Skelton

Helen Skelton joined the Blue Peter team in 2008 and has since gone on to complete some amazing physical challenges. She has kindly found time in her really busy schedule to answer some of our questions.

Image credit: Ruth Crafer

In 2009 she became only the second woman ever to complete the Nambia Ultra Marathon – a gruelling 78 mile course through the Namibian desert, which she finished in under 24 hours. Two weeks later she was back in her running shoes, taking part in the London Marathon for Leonard Cheshire Disability.

In early 2010 she decided to push herself further by kayaking 2,010 miles down the Amazon in support of Sport Relief. Along the way she broke two Guiness World Records; the longest solo journey by kayak, and the longest kayak by a woman in 24 hours.

Never one to rest on her laurels, for her Comic Relief challenge in 2011 Helen drew inspiration from "Man on Wire" and decided to train in the art of highwire walking. A BBC1 special, Girl On Wire, followed her progress from her first tentative steps three feet off the ground, to her spectacular 150 meter long, 66 meter high walk between the towers of Battersea Power Station.

All of these remarkable achievements however were utterly eclipsed by her latest challenge for Sport Relief. In January 2012 Helen travelled 500 miles across Antarctica to the South Pole by ski, kite and bike, enduring temperatures of -48 degrees. However even that wasn’t enough to stop her breaking another world record by becoming the fastest person to travel 100km by kite ski. Her entire journey from day one of training through to completing her challenge was broadcast in a nine part series of Blue Peter Specials on BBC1.

Q: Out of the physical challenges that you have done was there ever a moment where you just found it too hard/scary and thought you couldn't complete it?

A: During the 80 mile run I did in Namibia after 26 miles I was on the floor in tears, I was so sunburned I had nothing left in my legs and I was starting to hallucinate through dehydration. It was awful but I just didn't want to come home and say to people I had failed. The thought of that made me get up and keep going.

Q: Do you find you are ever written off because of your looks (a young, attractive woman is not usually associated with extreme physical achievements)? And how do you combat this?

A: Constantly, the other runners at the ultra marathon said to me "you won't finish so just enjoy it." As long as you know who you are and what you have to offer, the things other people say shouldnt affect you

Q: Do you have any tips for how to complete endurance running races? I am trying really hard to train (only for a half marathon!) and am not sure I'd ever be able to run a full marathon although I'd like to!

A: Don't over think it. If you can run 5 miles, break a run down into 5 miles at a time, take it bit by bit.

Q: Is there a challenge that you'd really like to do in future?

A: I want to do a team event, and I would like to do an ironman.

Q: How important do you find things like sports massage/post training care? Do they really make a difference to recovery/performance?

A: I don't take sports massage and diet seriously enough. I find if I eat and drink a lot I can get through endurance events. My attitude towards food has changed since I started running. I have cake and biscuits guilt free. They are food!

Q: What sport or exercise do you do for fun?

A: I play tennis and squash against my fiancé, I love going out on my bike but the thing I do everyday is go out with my dog.

Q: The WI motto is 'inspiring women' - who do you find inspiring?

A: Chrissie Wellington is my hero. I was hugely inspired by Ellen Mcarthur as a teenager.

Q: How do you decide what challenges to complete? Do you look for records to break (e.g. the longest solo kayak down the Amazon), activities you'd like to try or are you presented with options?

A: It is always about doing something new for the audience. I don't like setting records, you get too much criticism for the elite pele who do that particular sport but my boss loves them from a tv point of view. I set them I don't break them.

Q: How have you found the label 'role model' that must come with being a Blue Peter presenter? Is it more of a burden than you expected before you took the job?

A: It's an honour to be called a role model but most of the time I just talk out loud so I think there are people who deserve it more than me.

Q: And lastly, what's your favourite cake?

A: Lemon drizzle

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

July Meeting Minutes

WI monthly meeting – Thursday 19th July 2012
Speaker – David Hill - Paralympian
Activity – Cake Pops

This evening we were first visited by a photographer from the Standard, who took a few photos of all our lovely ladies next to the fantastic David Hill (Paralympic swimmer).


· Laura has arranged a new poster which will now be available to see along with pin badges to buy
· WI Facebook site – advertising businesses will now be strictly limited to WI members only. The committee will monitor this and will delete any posts by non-members
· Help is needed at the NCT/WI cheese show on the 8th September. This tent will be providing changing facilities for mums and babies, feeding areas and refreshments. WI will support this in honour of the year of the midwife. Any helpers will get a free ticket to the cheese show
· We have been offered a table at the Frome Artisan market. One on 5th August and one on 2nd September. We need volunteers to bake for the stall and also to help for an hour or so on the stall. Handicrafts can be sold (quality things only) and anything sold will be given a 50:50 share
· Yarn bombing (street art but with knitting/crochet) We need volunteers to knit and to put up in the designated place (to be confirmed) Information will be up on Facebook and emailed
· Emma would like to arrange a non-craft activity for all those keen walkers or bikers. Please contact her if you would like to join in a walk or bike ride soon
· There will be a group trip to a vineyard at Wraxhall. £5 a person to have some fun and drink a few wines!

David Hill

We then heard the most inspiring speech from David Hill. At only 23, he told us of his life as a professional athlete and how he first got into swimming, right through to becoming a finalist in the backstroke, representing Great Britain at the 2004 Olympics and the present day.

He could swim at 3 years old and by the time he was 12 was talented spotted. He talked about his technique in the water and how is disability has led to his legs being incredibly strong and his main source of power.

His parents were totally behind his dream and supported him through boarding school to train as a swimmer. Trying to fit in school too was a struggle and David’s main message to all children now is to never ever give up on your dream, but also don’t sacrifice your education for your sport. He spoke about his training and the amount he has to eat in order to replace all his energy spent in the pool, every day eating 7 proper meals! (lot of envious ladies!)

He is now retired at 23. His next aim is to compete in the triathlon, adapting his bike to suit his disability, but he is also starting to train as a carpenter and joiner. He has custom made gadgets that fit on to a prosthetic arm in order to help him complete his woodwork skills such as a clamp, a hammer, or leveller for sawing.

His whole attitude was one of absolute passion for his sport. He felt he wanted to give others a ‘run for their money’ and always kept in mind that it wasn’t that he couldn’t do something, he just needed to find a way round it and adapt. He delivered his speech with humour and skill and made everyone feel comfortable about asking questions. A true star!

David will be volunteering at the Olympics this year as he was not allowed to compete due to an appendix operation. You may also hear him doing some commentary on Radio 5 live.

Cake pops

Storm and Laura then demonstrated how to make cake pops (balls of decorated cake on a stick!) All had a go and loved it! Other links up on the FB page.

New name for the WI

Sophie ran a group during the session to collect new names for the group. The suggestions will be discussed by the committee and then put up on Facebook for a vote.

A fantastic night as always!

Saturday, 21 July 2012

July meeting pictures

As the London 2012 games approach our July meeting featured a talk from professional athlete David Hill. As a swimmer he has won bronze medals in both the world and European championships as well as representing Britain at the 2004 Athens Paralympics.

Credit: Team Bath

The talk was really interesting and amongst other things we learned about life as a professional athlete (hard), how much he has to eat to fuel such activities (lots) and what he plans to do in the future (epic). David was an inspirational speaker who left us all feeling slightly in awe of the dedication required to achieve at such a high level.

If you would like to find out more information about David please visit his Team Bath page, or we can pass on your details if you would like to get in touch.

After David's talk we had a break allowing everyone to try the amazing cheese based baked goodies brought in by our members. There have been lots of requests for recipes so we will post these up as soon as we can.

We also had a table where members could suggest alternative names for our branch. There were lots of ideas and we will collate and share them with you ASAP.

Lastly, Storm and Laura did a demonstration on how to make cake pops.

They are delicious and very easy to make. The recipe has been put on the blog if you would like to have a bash.

Once the demo was over everyone had a go at the final steps of cake pop making - taking the rolled cake balls...

Dipping them in melted chocolate, decorating them and eating them!

A huge thank you to David Hill for a brilliant talk - good luck for the future!

Thanks to everyone who brought cheese bakes, drinks or donations. The cake and drinks tables are maintaining a super high.

And thank you to everyone that came on Thursday - it's a pleasure to spend an evening with you!

Next month
In our August meeting we will be hosting a talk from Bramble and Wild on Catherine Hill and they will teach us how to make beautiful jam jar posies.

The meeting is free to members or £3 for visitors.

Please bring your own jam jar and flowers if you are able. If you would like these supplied then there will be a £2 charge.

Please could you let us know - either by email or on the Facebook event if you plan on attending and whether you would like us to supply flowers/jam jars?

Friday, 20 July 2012

Cake pops recipe

Cake pops are the new macaroons which were the new cupcakes, or something. Anyway they are super easy to make and very delicious to eat.

Credit: BBC

Here is the recipe for cake pops from our July meeting.

Cake: this recipe uses 1 chocolate sponge made in a loaf tin, but this could be replaced with any sponge or fruit cake. You can either make a cake or buy a ready made sponge (shh no one will ever know).

Icing: this recipe uses chocolate fudge butter icing but you could use any thick, spreadable icing or frosting. Again you could make your own or buy ready made.

Chocolate, melted: we used white chocolate.

Sticks: we used white chocolate Mikados but you could use lollipop sticks or candy sticks. In fact Mikados turned out to be a bit unsuccessful with warm hands as they snapped so don't use them!

Decoration: sprinkles, sparkles, whatever takes your fancy


1. Bake cake and leave to cool completely. Or take cake out of packaging!

2. Cut crusts off of cake. This will ensure there are no lumps in your finished cake pops.

3. Crumble the sponge into a bowl. The finer the sponge the better. You could use a food processor to do this, your hands or a knife.

4. Add a tablespoon of icing to the sponge crumbs and mix with your hands. Keep adding one spoonful of icing at a time until the mixture comes together in a dough like consistency and forms one large ball. Too little icing and the mixture won't hold together, too much and it will be sloppy. This is a crucial stage!

5. Refrigerate for at least half an hour.

6. Now roll ping pong sized balls of cake mixture and place onto a lined baking sheet.

7. Refrigerate for at least half an hour.

8. Break the white chocolate into an oven proof bowl and put into the microwave on 20 second blasts until melted. Be careful not to over cook or the chocolate will separate.

9. Put a blob of melted chocolate on the end of a stick and push into a cake ball. Do this for each cake ball and leave the chocolate to dry. This will only take a minute or so and the chocolate will act like glue to hold the stick in place.

10. Now dip each cake ball into the melted chocolate ensuring an even coverage. Stand the cake pop upright to dry - you could use a cup, jam jar, floristry oasis, whatever you have to hand.

11. Before the chocolate dries add your decorations. For inspiration google 'cake pops' there are hundreds of pages of inspiration. If in doubt hundreds and thousands look quite nice.

12. Sit back, feel smug at your baking wonder and eat cake pops.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Frome WI on the Radio

Did you hear us on the radio this morning?

Thanks to the fantastic Frome FM Breakfast Show for inviting us in this morning to talk about the new Frome WI.

Laura and Sophie on air

DJs Alice and Ben

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Our questions for...the Mayor

Next in our series of interviews is a Q&A with Cllr Pippa Goldfinger who was elected Frome Town Mayor in May 2012.

Q: What is your highest priority for your time in office?
A: My highest priority is to increase public participation in all aspects of the community and with the Town Council itself.

Q:What's your vision for Frome over the next few years?
A: To improve the physical appearance of the town, especially the centre. Establish the Neighbourhood Plan so that future developments in Frome are of a high standard and we get the right economic balance – Frome must not become a dormitory town! Also to increase community engagement.

Q: What is the most challenging aspect of being mayor?
A: Dealing with stuffy protocol!

Q: What is the biggest impact the government’s austerity measures will have on Frome?
A: Both Mendip and Somerset councils have pulled back funding in many areas, leaving Frome Town Council to pick up the pieces. This often seems unfair.

Q: What do you think Frome could do to encourage greater financial investment/development?
A: We have already made a start by employing a new and talented economic regeneration officer with great experience who is both excited and enthusiastic about working in Frome. We are also one of the government’s front runners in the ‘Neighbourhood Plan’ – where the public get to shape the future development of Frome.

Q: How do you plan to engage with more people, actively get people building communities we are proud to share & live in?
A: In our September newsletter we will include projects proposed by members of the community which the public can vote on to receive grants in order to carry these proposals out. Our aim is to get people involved in rather than commenting on community projects. We also currently run ‘working groups’ where the public help us to shape policy and carry out projects using their expertise and enthusiasm. The Town Council is compiling a database of all community groups in Frome so that people who want to get involved can join an existing group.

We’ve also invited people to come and speak at the start of Full Council meetings and Committee meetings. It would be great if the W.I. came along at some point to give us a presentation on what you are upto.

Q: Why will you be different from any other mayors?
A: All mayors are individual but in recent years Frome mayors have broken from tradition to reflect both their personalities and the changing face of Frome. I intend to follow this model.

Q: Why should we be interested in a town mayor? what can you do which will make a real difference?
A: The mayor can provide a focus for the public and can communicate what the Town Council is trying to achieve to the public. It’s a community role. If you’re interested in your community you should be interested in the mayor and your town council

Q: Are you excited about waving for hours in the carnival procession?
A: I will be waving graciously as a mayor should, but please look out for my entourage!

Q: And finally, a very WI question. What is your favourite cake?
A: It’s got to be a ‘Tarte de Naranja’ a Spanish almond and orange cake from Claudia Roden’s Mediterranean Cookery.

For more information about the mayor and Frome Town Council have a look at their Facebook page:

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Wells WI Summer Party

Last night a couple of us went over to Wells to visit the WI for their summer party. Lucy Silk, the Wells president, has been really supportive during the set up of the Frome branch so it was great to see her in action.

The evening was themed 'At the Races', there was Pimms, homemade elderflower, a bake off of strawberry themed items and mouse racing. Yes mouse racing, I didn't know that was possible either!

The Wells ladies were all very welcoming and it was lovely to attend another branch and see how they operate.

After a few Pimms and some cake, Frome WIer Muriel Lavender treated us to some of her poetry. She looked fab (as always) and was hilarious.

So all in all a brilliant evening - thanks Wells WI!