Thursday, 31 May 2012


The National Federation of Women's Institutes AGM took place on the 30th May in London. Every year the NFWI as a group debate and vote on whether to support a proposed resolution. This year the resolution calls for more midwives to be made available in the UK.

The resolution: 
“There are chronic shortages of midwives. The NFWI calls on the Government to increase investment in the training, employment and retention of midwives in England and Wales to ensure services are adequately resourced and are able to deliver a high standard of care” will now become the campaigning focus for over 210,000 WI members across England, Wales and the Islands."
(source: NFWI)

96% of the delegates voted in support of the resolution, making it one of the most popular resolutions in recent years. 

Ruth Bond, Chair of the NFWI said “As the main campaigning focus for the year to come, the weight of over 210,000 WI members will be behind our calls for more training, employment and retention to ensure that women and their babies will continue to be supported by midwife services across the UK.”

Here are the speeches made about the resolution - the original proposal and a speech from a representative of the RCM. 

Monday, 28 May 2012

Minutes from May Meeting

Formation Meeting, United Reform Church, Whittox Lane, Frome.

17th May 2012

Present: Magaret Bigg, WI Adviser
Eileen Hurd, WI Adviser
Laura Francis
Storm Fagan
Emma Rodger
Approximately 50 ladies.

Storm introduced the meeting.

Laura introduced the evening activities and Millie Moon Boutique who hosted the activities, Jubliee crafts and craft demonstrations. Making Jubilee corsages, Jubilee card making and demonstrations on quilting, bunting making and how to make a Jubilee tea cosy.

Margaret then proposed: Laura as Secretary, Storm as President and Emma as Treasurer, the members ratified the nominations. The rule books were duly signed.

Margaret asked for volunteers to join the committee. The following members volunteered and were ratified:
Gilly Newell
Sophie Shields
Tina Meldon
Rachel Lloyd
Lara Hain
Tamsin Westbrook

It was confirmed that the annual meeting will be in May. Lloyds TSB was chosen and approved as the bank. The name of Frome WI was approved by all.

Attendees then took part in the evenings activities, there was a great buzz, it was a real success and everyone seemed very pleased with their creations.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Quilting at the Radstock Museum

A couple of weeks ago I visited the Radstock Museum to see their exhibition on Patchwork and Quilting. The exhibit includes over 200 quilts spanning the last 175 years and it is pretty awe inspiring. The amount of work, creativity and love that has clearly gone into the making of each piece is breathtaking.

It reminded me why I love quilting - each quilt is individual and often has a story behind it; some quilts used fabrics that had sentimental value and others were created by a group of women investing their time together in creating a blanket for a loved one. And as historical records they are so important, often history covers the actions of men and we are left to guess at the lives of the women who lived in the past. The crafts made and handed down through the generations clearly show the love that was felt all those years ago.

If you are already a sewist or an interested spectator I highly recommend going. I've posted some photos below, although it was pretty busy and the photos were taken on my phone so they don't quite do justice to the amount of detailing and scale of the work. I'll put the rest of the photos up on our Facebook page (

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Our questions for...Mary Berry

Mary Berry originally trained in catering at Bath College of Home Economics before venturing to France to train with Paris cordon bleu. Since then she has written over 80 cookery books which have sold more than 5 million copies. Along with writing books, Mary has appeared on radio and tv, most recently as one of the judges on the Great British Bake Off.

Mary has kindly taken the time to answer some of our questions.

Q: How long does it take you to put together a cookery book? And where do you get your inspiration from?
A: It usually takes about a year from start to finish, but it depends how much help I have.  Lucy Young my assistant of 22 years and Lucinda Kaizik helps me part time so if we have a book we are writing we spend a couple of days a week testing recipes and the rest writing.

Q: Do you have a quick mid-week supper dish you could share with us?
A: I have a couple of favourites, Penne pasta with fried parma ham, mushrooms, cream, parmesan and fresh basil. Or a quick fish pie - layered spinach, smoked haddock, hard boiled eggs and cubed potatoes all in a white sauce with a cheese topping.

Q: Do you choose which of your recipes are used for the technical challenge on the Great British Bake Off? If so, how do you go about choosing from all of your recipes?
A: Yes I do - we have to think of technically difficult recipes which are technical to bake and show skills and expertise.

Q: Have you learned any new baking tips from working with Paul Hollywood?
A: I have learnt that it is best to have a wet dough for bread and when kneading a plain dough to knead on an oiled surface not on a floured surface.

Q: I have heard that using a fan oven is not so good for cake baking. In your experience how much of an effect does this have on the end result?
A: I think fan ovens are good if you take care, I use a fan oven for testing recipes as most people have them at home.

Q: What is your opinion of all in one cake recipes? Would you recommend this as a time saving method for a quick bake or should I stick with the standard creaming butter and sugar first method?
A: I think the all in one method is the best and most simple method for making most cakes.

Q: I've read that you recommend using Stork for baking - is this really better than using good quality butter?
A: Stork Perfect for cakes has 70% fat and gives a very rewarding result, I use it at home. Using butter, which has 80% fat means the cake will last longer as it contains more fat.

Q: Do you ever use duck eggs for baking?
A: I have never used them!

Q: Do you have a favourite cake (to eat rather than bake!)?
A: Oh I do love a lemon sponge!

Friday, 18 May 2012

May meeting

Thanks to everyone who came to our May meeting last night. We had brilliant fun creating some jubilee inspired crafts and watching demonstrations by the very talented ladies from Millie Moon.

Here are some pictures from the meeting. We'll post the minutes separately.

Making corsages...

Making cards...

The ladies from Millie Moon did demonstrations on...

Tea cosies


And patchwork

A properly fab night!

Details of next month's meeting coming soon.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

May's meeting is this week

May's meeting is on Thursday 17th May, 7.00 - 9.00pm in the United Reformed Church hall on Whittox Lane (best place to park is in the Westway carpark behind Argos, then walk up the lane by the bike shop).

Millie Moon will be joining us to sew some corsages and demonstrate some sewing techniques. Everyone will have the chance to do a spot of sewing as well as watch the experts at work.

If you would like to bring a cake then please do - the cake table was amazing last month and I for one am really keen to make that a regular feature of our meetings!

Looking forward to seeing you all there. If you have any questions please get in contact at

Monday, 7 May 2012

Green fingered grooviness

It's that time of year again, perhaps a little later than normal due to the persistent rain, where the air feels warmer, more and more flowers are popping up and I start to think about growing veg. Then I realise that I am about 6 months too late. Same thing every year, one day the penny will drop and I'll actually plan in advance. Although this will probably coincide with pigs sprouting wings. Nevertheless I usually still manage to grow crops of a few basic vegetables whilst promising that next year I will try harder. And it's true, nothing tastes as great as something you've grown yourself.

If you're an organised veg growing type then please share your green fingered wisdom. If you're keen but rubbish like me then the Internet may hold the answer...

The smart gardener is a brilliant site where you can plan your vegetable growing. It will suggest plant varieties based on your needs and has a tool for visualising your veg patch. The site will even create a calendar for you and email you 'to do' reminders. Perfect for the novice/lazy/forgetful gardeners out there.

The gardener's world website provides tutorials on essential techniques from how to pot on to how to prune mature trees. As well as a user rated plant species database.

If your type of gardening is more theoretical than practical then you can get your fill of foxgloves and French beans with the gardener's question time episodes and podcasts.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Queenie cakes

Victoria has the sandwich. A true creation of cakey joy. Simple, delicate and making use of good jam. It doesn't get much better (although personally I believe all baking to be improved with the addition of chocolate).

Credit: Delia Online

Apparently Queen Victoria liked a cake (and who doesn't).

"Every week each of Victoria's royal residencies received a consignment of pastries from the Buckingham Palace kitchens including: '16 chocolate sponges, 12 plain sponges, 16 fondant biscuits, one box of wafers…one and a half dozen flat finger biscuits…one princess cake and one rice cake'."
Source:The Telegraph

As yet, Elizabeth doesn't have a diamond jubilee cake (although a Queen Elizabeth cake was created in Canada after her coronation but it doesn't seem to have caught on).

A search for 'Diamond jubilee cake' provides a bajillion results for competitions up and down the country to create a cake worthy of the jubilee. And every bakery worth its salt is producing their own dedication to the monarch. No official cake recipe has been provided yet though.

As our May meeting will be vaguely Jubilee themed and last month's meeting produced cake creations of such epic proportions, it seems only right that this month we encourage anyone who would like to bake and bring a cake to do so. What should the Diamond Jubilee cake be? Fruity? Simple? Fancy? Iced? Plain?

PS Wikipedia has a page which is one massive list of cakes. Of all the pages on Wikipedia this might be the best.

AGM resolution

As today is International Day of the Midwife it seems apt to post about the National Federation of Women's Institutes (NFWI) annual resolution to campaign for more midwives.

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) estimates there is a shortfall of 4,700 midwives in England alone. The NFWI will vote on this resolution at the AGM in May.

The shortage of midwives is an issue that can affect all of us, whether directly or indirectly through the experiences of our mothers, daughters, sisters and friends.

Although this is the national resolution for the NFWI this is something we can get involved with locally. The NCT in Frome is an ardent supporter of the campaign for more midwives and together we have a strong voice for women within the community.

For more information on this year's NFWI AGM.

For more information about the NCT and specifically the Frome Branch.