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.

June / July 2023

Being outdoors seems to have been the theme of the last few months – regardless of what the weather decided to throw at us. In addition to all the walks, tennis, and outings, both of our meetings were al fresco as well.  Our June meeting was a very informative and entertaining guided walk in the Farringdon area focusing on ‘Women, Witches, & Harlots’, and in July we gathered in Queen’s Park and enjoyed an abundant ‘bring & share’ picnic – with a special gold star going to Pat who brought homemade ice cream!

There was a return visit to Wisley (in sunshine) to see the peonies we had spotted in bud form on the previous visit, a guided tour of Chelsea Physic Garden (in rain), a beautiful forest walk from Liphook to Fenhurst, and a riverside walk from Tonbridge to Tudeley (in gale force winds). The Tudeley walk had been rearranged three times due to train strikes but it was worth the perseverance to see the complete set of Chagall windows at All Saint’s Church.

Friday Park walks continued in June culminating with a visit to Brompton Cemetery, but have now been paused until September as many members are away over the summer. Tennis is as fun as ever although we are periodically put to shame by all the tiny children having lessons over the summer holidays on the courts surrounding us.

Culture Club saw us at the Kiln Cinema for the NT Live screening of ‘Fleabag’, Book Club discussed On Chapel Sands by Laura Cumming, and Dining Club took us to ‘The Ivy’ in St. John’s Wood.

April & May 2023

These past two months have flown by – probably helped by all the Bank Holidays in May.

Tennis in Queen’s Park and the Friday Park Walks in a variety of local green spaces continue to be very popular. Lately we’ve met up for a gentle walk (& often a coffee afterwards) in Regent’s Park, Gladstone Park, Roundwood Park, Hampstead Heath, Kensal Green Cemetery, and even slightly farther afield in Kew Gardens. The lengthier weekend walks, including a pub lunch along the way, have taken us from Wendover to Princes Risborough, and from Shiplake to Henley.

In May we had a ‘Bravery to Sing’ workshop which began with sharing our memories/hang-ups about singing and ended with us moving around the space belting out a tune! At our April meeting we got crafty and put our hands to felt decorations in a session led by one of our experienced embroiderers. It was lovely to welcome five new members over the course of the two months.

There was a wonderful outing to Wisley to explore the beautiful garden just as the wisteria was at its peak, the Book Group discussed Middle England by Jonathan Coe, and Dining Club enjoyed a lovely sunlit evening at the Italian restaurant ‘La Ville’.

A big highlight for me was attending the national Annual Meeting in Cardiff representing not only our WI but six other local groups as well. From the moment the Pimm’s was handed round onboard the coach to singing Jerusalem with over 2,000 women from all the across the country it was an uplifting experience which reminded me what a fantastic organisation the WI is. The fundamental role it has played in campaigning for a host of really important causes combined with the opportunity for making so many new friends must be why it is still going strong after 108 years!