May 2024

The month got off to a great start with a visit to National Trust’s Hampstead gem Fenton House. After exploring the gardens in the light rain, NT Volunteer Frances (our very own secretary) gave us an introduction and a bit of background to the house before we explored at our own pace. Having various musicians playing some of the instruments in the extensive keyboard collection was certainly a highlight.

As our May meeting coincided with Deaf Awareness Week we had a really informative & entertaining introduction to British Sign Language led by the fantastic Sian Cooley (thank you Teddington WI for lending us your president for the evening).

A visit to Wakehurst followed about a week later, exploring the gardens and having a picnic lunch. Climbing up to the top of the scaffolding surrounding the Mansion gave us great views both of the gardens and the restoration work to the Mansion roof.

In a reprise of last year’s circular walk from Tonbridge via Tudeley we had a perfect day walking through meadows and orchards (there was even a distant cuckoo), with stops for a pub lunch and a visit to see the fantastic Chagall windows in Tudeley church.

A lovely sunny evening for Dining Club at ‘Waterway’ finished off the month and eating at an outdoor table made it feel as though summer was finally on its way. Perhaps it needs a bit more coaxing….

April 2024

After four months away from London it was wonderful to be back catching up with friends and enjoying all the things we do as a WI. The month got off to a great start as we shimmied, hip-rolled, and laughed our way through our April meeting whilst the fabulous Sandrine took us through the basics of Belly Dancing. Who knows when we will next put those skills to use but we had a great time learning!

Dining Club took us to the top of the ‘Walkie Talkie’ building for breakfast at the Sky Garden as a change from our more usual evening outings. The far-reaching views both from the terrace and the restaurant looked particularly spectacular in the spring sunshine.

A short train journey took us out to the Chilterns for our April walk near Tring and the Ashridge estate. We were lucky with the weather which meant we could really enjoy the magnificent views and the carpets of early bluebells.

Our Culture Club outing this month was to see the NT Live screening of ‘Nye’, and rounding off the month Birnam Wood divided opinion at Book Club. Some members found it tiresome whilst others would recommend to a friend. We all agreed that one of the joys of Book Club is reading books one might not necessarily have read otherwise.

Weekly games of doubles tennis continued through the month despite the best efforts of weather forecasters to deter us. We know we’ll never make it on any pro circuit but we have such a laugh and we think we are improving…..?

March 2024

A fascinating visit to the UK Supreme Court, arranged by Rebecca, kicked off our activities for the month. A very informative guide explained the workings of the court and led us on a private tour of the beautiful Grade II* listed building, a haven from the noise and bustle of Parliament Square outside. Some of us even got to sit in the justices’ (very comfortable) chairs!

Monika the mudlark was the brilliant speaker at our March meeting. One of a limited number of licensed mudlarks permitted to operate on the north shore of the Thames, she spoke of her passion for sifting through the mud to find fragments of London’s past. A highlight of the evening was the chance to look at some of the amazing artefacts she has found on the Thames foreshore.

Our March walk was a beautiful, though muddy, route from Dorking to Reigate along part of the Greensand Way, led skilfully as always by Angela. We stopped off at St Michael’s, Betchworth, one of the churches from Four Weddings and a Funeral and enjoyed a well-deserved pub lunch at the Skimmington Castle.

To round of the month, dining club members enjoyed a great evening at Côte brasserie in Hampstead, hosted by Dési.


The chance to dress up in a sari certainly banished any February blues. Nidhi Uppal, who demonstrates sari wearing at the Design Museum, brought a beautiful array of saris to our monthly meeting. She talked about where in India some of the exquisite fabrics came from and showed us how to tie and drape them to fashion different outfits. Then she let us loose on the dressing-up box!

A trip to the Kiln cinema to watch NT Live: Vanya was another highlight of the month, organised by Ena. Members were treated to a brilliant one-man performance by Andrew Scott in a reworking of Chekov’s Uncle Vanya.

A more active outing for 10 of us – and Ronnie the dog – was a beautiful walk in the Chess Valley from Chorleywood to Chalfont & Latimer, led by Angela. Lots of spring flowers (and mud!), and an excellent pub lunch at the Red Lion at Chenies.

Book group members who met to discuss The Life and Rhymes of Benjamin Zephaniah, decided autobiography wasn’t his forte – perhaps we should have opted for his poems!


It’s cheering to see drifts of snowdrops appearing amid the January chill, signalling that spring is on its way. Members too braved the freezing weather for our first meeting of the year. We spent a convivial evening playing board games while discussing the WI’s four proposed resolutions for 2024. The champions of Cluedo and Bananagrams etc were not recorded, but a call for the government to improve poor housing conditions won the most votes from members.

Culture club saw Ena leading a fascinating visit to Neasden’s stunning Shri Swaminarayan Hindu Mandir, followed by a buffet lunch in the temple’s restaurant. Indian food was flavour of the month for dining club too, superbly organised by Desi. Instead of haggis, members enjoyed a south Indian Burns Night supper at Vijay, a long-established local favourite. 

A delicious lunch and visit to the beautiful Arts and Crafts chapel at the Watts Gallery near Guildford were highlights of the walk that Penny led on a chilly Saturday along the River Wey and North Downs Way.

December 2023

Highlight of the month was undoubtedly our Christmas party, generously hosted by Frances. Twenty-eight of us enjoyed a fabulous bring-and-share supper and a hotly contested game of true or false. A competition for the best decorated festive scarf produced some true creativity and was won by Rebecca’s holly number.

Frances was in hostess mode again for our book group meeting, where we had a great discussion about Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods over wine and cake.

December brought some chilly weather but that didn’t stop us from venturing out. Rebecca led a couple of interesting walks around Kensal Green and Hampstead cemeteries and five of us took the train out to Princes Risborough for a fantastic walk in the Chilterns led by Angela. Muddy and challenging in places, but worth it for the views and pub lunch!

Wishing everyone a Happy New Year and lots more interesting activities in 2024.

November 2023

November brought an exciting fashion gig for Caroline, our president. So I’m standing in for her on the blog for the next couple of months. Speaking of fashion, several of us visited the fabulous Chanel show at the Victoria and Albert museum on two dates in November. The exhibition is sold out, so thanks to Angela for arranging and pairing up V&A members with their lucky guests.

Our monthly meeting was the annual AGM to confirm the committee and vote for president, followed by a closely contested quiz. Caroline hosted craft group, and a dozen of us had a great evening at Pizza Pilgrims in Queen’s Park, with festive treats from Desi! November also saw Rebecca organising walks round Gladstone Park, Kew Gardens and Paddington Old Cemetery, while Angela led a longer walk in Surrey on a bright but chilly Saturday from Riddlesdown to Coulsdon via Happy Valley.

October 2023

October was one of those months where everything ticked along nicely in an autumnal sort of a way. We are noticing the trees changing colour in Queen’s Park each week when we play tennis, our Chislehurst country walk was filled with mushroom-spotting and chestnut foraging, and on our resumed Friday park walks any accompanying dogs were frequently losing their tennis balls amongst all the fallen leaves.

The highlight of the month was definitely Line Dancing at our meeting – it was surprisingly energetic and took a lot of concentration so as not to get the steps muddled up. The month was rounded out by a Culture Club visit to the Kiln Theatre to see ‘Mlima’s Tale, and a good discussion of Trespasses (Louise Kennedy) at Book Club.

September 2023

The highlight of this month was taking part once again in Queen’s Park Day – the closest thing we have to a village fête in our part of urban London. We were given a good location for our stall, and although it rained on us briefly (for the first time in 10 years!) the discovery that our gazebo canopy was not entirely waterproof didn’t seem to matter at all. We had a great day meeting local women, and selling our homemade cakes, cordials, and jams. Yes – we embraced the old-school WI this year and actually sold jams!

 Our meeting this month making colourful ‘seed bombs’ attracted a record attendance, there was a lovely walk – with pub lunch – in the Port Meadow area outside Oxford, Dining Club enjoyed tapas at the local Spanish restaurant ‘Canaletes’, and Culture Club had a fantastic evening at Sadlers Wells for a performance by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre.

 September also saw the launch of the newest WI campaign – ‘Clean Rivers for People and Wildlife’. To kick things off in Middlesex, Sunbury Village WI hosted a ‘Riverside Dip & Dabble’ and threw the invitation open. A few of our members went along with their families and had a wonderful time. Find out more about the national campaign at:

August 2023

Although there were no walks in August we still had a busy month; a resident of New Ground cohousing gave us a very interesting talk at our meeting, our Book Club book (Trust by Hernan Diaz) divided opinion which led to a good discussion, there was a full table at Craft Group, and weekly doubles tennis continued next to busy courts full of children’s lessons.

Other highlights included a fascinating (if damp) guided tour of the Willesden Jewish Cemetery, and a fantastic day at the seaside with wonderful hospitality from Louise.