Monday, 5 June 2017

SHWI learn car maintenance with Kwik Fit


There’s nothing more confusing than trying to work out what your car is trying to tell you when its lights go all funny on the dashboard. 

I love driving, it gives me freedom, it means I can go to lots of lovely places at the weekends with my hubby and our dog and also to work in the week (boooo!) but what would I do if something went wrong with my car and I was on my own……that’s what you have breakdown cover for, right? Well not anymore, I have my own set of skills thanks to Kwik Fit and their Ladies in the Driving Seat night.


On a hot Thursday evening, when most people were chilling with a cold beer or G&T, a group of members from Seven Hills WI descended on Kwik Fit on Ecclesall Road to be greeted by Chris (Manager) and Liz (Customer Liaison) and Shaq, Mike and Cameron who had all agreed to stay behind after hours to pass on their engine and car-related skills. Did I mention that there were cream cakes and overalls for us all to wear? We were officially winning at life!

Following the completion of the obligatory paperwork and a few photos of us in our overalls before we got down and dirty, we were straight into some supervised engine action.

Changing a wheel has always seemed like a huge challenge, its thankfully not something I have ever had to do in an emergency (or at all!) but I freely admit I wouldn’t have a clue and would probably end up ringing my husband, Dad, breakdown service and as a last resort, look all mournful on the side of the road until someone came to my aid. 



Well no more, thanks to the patience of Shaq who allowed us to change a wheel on his own car. I now know what the jacking point is, why my locking wheel nut should be cherished, coveted and kept safe and the importance of the torque wrench – I am aware that I am speaking a foreign language, but it no longer holds me in fear. I can do it – a wheel is much heavier than you might think and the tiny jacks we will have in our car will be far less satisfying to pump than the pneumatic jack we used on Shaq’s car – no fair.

We then moved onto tyre pressures and tread wear, who knew that the relevant information can actually be found within your car and you do not have to rely on the power of Google! Why does no one tell you these important things? We deflated a tyre and inflated it to the correct PSI (get me with my technical lingo!). No longer will Alice turn her head away when pumping her tyres through fear of popping it - this is actually a lot more difficult to achieve than you might think.

Finally, we went under the bonnet, the home of all the action and where my own car maintenance skills currently started and finished with the topping up of the windscreen wash; well I take the screenwash and I raise you with oil, coolant and brake fluid – boom! I will no longer look under my bonnet thinking it’s all witchcraft and stare in wonderment and gratitude for the invention of the internal combustion engine. No, I now have the knowledge of what normal looks like and when to go to a garage (note to readers, you should visit a garage for anything that’s not screenwash or oil related)

Chris and his team were so patient and helpful with our questions and queries, most of which were using hypothetical situations which we may or may not encounter in the future...who are we kidding, they were all car related incidents we had been involved in and alternative facts we had picked up over time about the mystery of the car.

As it got towards 9:00pm we thought it best that we finished up and let Chris and his team get home for their tea; we had a quick quiz, a last cake and all left with a goodie bag and a sense of achievement from leaning something useful and at last destroy the mystique of car maintenance.

Rachel
Vice President

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Ooh la la! Wine tasting with Le Bon Vin

Our SHWI May 2017 meeting saw Patrice from Le Bon Vin come and talk to us about WINE! And give generous tasters. And told us how attractive we are. And got distracted by a moustache on a cup. And had quite a strong accent and so was difficult to follow at times.

Needless to say, the meeting went swimmingly. The wines we tasted were as follows:
  • 8 Secco Prosecco (2016, £12). A fresh tasting bottle of fizz from Italy. Patrice gave us the lowdown on the history of Italian wine, and what a laborious process it is to make fizzy wines such as Prosecco! Patrice advised that we have to drink it quickly so you don’t lose any of ‘ze bubbles’. He described this wine as ‘like a good French man, you burst and you go’(!) It was light, fruity and flowery, and we agreed very tasty for the price.
  • Juno Chenin Blanc (2015, £9). A tropical tasting Chenin Blanc from South Africa, with bonus points for being Fairtrade. It was smooth and well rounded, and Patrice talked about the Goddess of Love, Juno. The wine was fairly strong for a white at 13% but still very drinkable.
  • Carlos Series Crianza Rioja (2013, £9). An oak-aged rich Rioja. By this point, Patrice complained that the microphone he was holding was too heavy. He advised us that with regard to reading official tasting notes you should ‘tell yourself it and you will find it’. And he recommended that if you don’t like the taste of this wine you need to drink more of it because the tannins will go away and the flavour will improve. The evening was getting silly!
  • Outback Jack Cabernet Merlot (2015, £8). A solid Cabernet Merlot from Australia. We heard about how the huge wine industry ‘down under’ started because of a need to serve wine with mass, and Patrice gave a convoluted explanation of brewing wine and developing cooling apparatus. This was a ‘stick your lips together’ kind of tipple with flavours of plum and oak. He just had one final question for us… ‘Would you prefer a good screw or a bad cork?’.


I’m not sure that we were the most attentive of audiences but we certainly enjoyed ourselves - huge thanks to Patrice and Le Bon Vin for keeping us entertained!

Charlotte Wright
Committee Member

Monday, 22 May 2017

Jam, Gin and Jerusalem: WI teams up with local companies to make charity jam for Sheffield Food Festival

South Yorkshire’s largest WI group have teamed up with local food and drink companies to create a boozy jam.



Seven Hills WI’s raspberry and gin jam features ingredients from Catherine’s Choice jam and Locksley Distilling Company, who produce Sheffield’s Robin of Locksley gin.

The limited edition jam will be sold at the WI’s cake stall in the Peace Gardens at Sheffield Food Festival on 27th and 28th May 2017.

The jam costs £3.50 and all the money raised will go to local charity, Mental Health Action Group Sheffield.

Grace Escott-Tebbutt, President of Seven Hills WI, said: “We are very grateful to Catherine’s Choice and Locksley Distilling Company for donating their time and their ingredients to help us make this quality jam. Jam is a massive part of WI history and I can’t wait for people to taste our boozy version!”

Victoria and Di with our jam
Shaun Bamford, Owner of Catherine’s Choice, said: “It was great to work with Seven Hills WI to make this special jam and hopefully raise lots of money for a great cause.”

John Cherry, from Locksley Distilling Company said: “A raspberry and gin jam sounds delicious so we were pleased to be able to help Seven Hills WI create this jam and raise money too.”

All the money raised will go to Mental Health Action Group Sheffield, a local charity who help people with mental health issues.  

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Getting historical with Meridith Towne

Last month, we had my ideal meeting: History. Clothes. Women. REAL historical bags.

On arrival, our speaker, Meridith Towne proceeded to unpack a history lover’s dream from her boxes. Edwardian dresses were placed onto dummies, fur trimmed boots worn by a real Edwardian woman were carefully set onto the table. Beautiful beaded bags and purses glimmered as if they were only made yesterday.

I knew it was going to be a fascinating talk from the start. Meridith brimmed with enthusiasm about her subject and her collection of original items was astounding. I love a good talk with real objects to see and touch – it’s what history is about.

At the beginning of the meeting we also had an extra treat. The Sheffield Country Market ladies (including the one and only Nora Tebbutt …. recognise the surname?...) had brought us a range of sweet and savoury treats to try and taste. I particularly enjoyed the breads and pates. However, after having a Street Food Chef quesadilla before the meeting, my stomach didn’t agree…..

Lovely food from Sheffield Country Market
The ladies then gave us a talk about how the markets had originally been linked to the WI alongside some information about what they do and why. It was a lovely overview and hopefully got some of our members to either go and buy from them on a Saturday morning or to join in and sell their own wares!

After the usual info swap and Laura’s usual comedy routine (seriously, this girl should go into stand up) we prepared for the talk we had all been waiting for.

Meridith Towne

Meridith didn’t disappoint. Gliding into the room in her full Edwardian shopping outfit, we all gasped. She introduced us to exactly what Edwardian middle class women would have experienced if they had had the extra cash to roam the new department stores of the day such as Harrods and Selfridges. From gloves to French underwear which you wouldn’t tell your mum about (oo-er!) the story of the Edwardian shopaholic was a fascinating one. As well as being able to look at the original pieces of fashion in Meridith’s collection, we found out some amazing facts about women during the period. The ones that particularly stuck with me included the fact that there had not been women’s toilets in shopping stores previously as women ‘didn’t do that’. Also the dark detail (I like a bit of horrible history!) that a women would buy a shroud to go in her wedding trousseau. Because this was frequently needed due to the high rate of death through childbirth. It was just something that you had to prepare for!

At the end of the evening, ladies were allowed to look at and handle the original objects, connecting them to the women of foregone times.



A truly fascinating and insightful experience from an unusual and enthusiastic speaker.

Grace Escott-Tebbutt
President

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Hey Honey! Buzzin' over bees


For March's meeting, Beekeeper Bronwen White joined us to teach us all about the art and skill involved in keeping bees, an essential part of our ecosystem. 

We heard all about the different types of bee we may find in our gardens (including my personal favourite - the hairy-footed flower bee), the life cycle of a bee, and we were shown all of the components required to provide a hive for them to thrive. 

Toni and the bee!
Here are some fun facts we learnt about our humble bumbles! 
  • A Queen bee can lay up to 1500 eggs per day...them's some hardworking ovaries!
  • Bees communicate by waggle dance! The direction of the waggle lets the other bees know which way to go, with the speed of the waggle telling them how far they need to go to reach their pollen-y destination
  • Bees can't see red, but can see in UV - so you should notice that when petals on flowers are lined, the lines will always point to the pollen which help the bee find it's way.
Bronwen brought with her a bee hive and some honey samples

We also held a honey-themed bake off - sampling honey glazed chicken, an array of honey cakes, tiny honeyed doughnuts and more. Mary's baklava was judged by Bronwen to be the star bake of the day and she was rewarded with a jar of honey to take home.

Anyway, time for me to buzz off.

Bee Happy!

Laura Rangeley
Committee member

Friday, 10 March 2017

Girl Gang Sheffield and our new charity of the year

Our February meeting was a miserable, cold and wet night, several Committee members were ill, but it was the night we discovered our church has some sort of underfloor heating system. It was like winning the lottery, warm parquet is a actual thing. 

We opened our doors and were greeted by our ladies laden with cakes and full of chatter; I can only comment on Karin's incredible kladd kaka (like chocolate brownie) with orange and cayenne pepper - wow!! Our meeting for this month was made brighter by our friends from Girl Gang Sheffield who led our meeting on positivity and self celebration. 



Before we got down to positivity and feeling great, Grace ran through some SHWI business, passing on thanks from Light Sheffield for our fundraising efforts in 2016 and informing us of her successful negotiations in securing a stall for Sheffield Food Festival.

In February we traditionally vote for our charity of the year, this year we had 7 amazing nominations; Ashiana Sheffield, Golddigger Trust, Haven House, Memories from Isla, MHAGS Sheffield, Snowdrop Project and Whirlow Hall Farm Trust. Following a wholly democratic sticky dot led voting process (watch out Electoral Reform Commission) I was delighted to announce that our support for 2017 will be MHAGS Sheffield.  Watch out for our fundraising ideas over the coming months - one definite already in the diary is the Food Fest in May, so get your bake on!



After a swift break, Vanhessa, Ellie and Charly from Girl Gang Sheffield introduced their manifesto to our group and shared the reasons why they set up Girl Gang - their focus being to shine a light on women in Sheffield and support and promote the work they are doing.  

Girl Gang started by a core group of like minded women in Sheffield and has now expanded to Leeds and Manchester where their events centre around creativity, artistry, music and talent, and have a feminist undercurrent to encourage us all to value ourselves more.  The Girl Gang website states that a girl gang can be whatever you want it to be - encouraging skills sharing, self love and the power of female friendships - all of which I get from our fantastic SHWI girl gang.

Our activity for the evening was poster making focusing on making a positive statement to ourselves, taking back the negative perceptions and opinions we have about ourselves; the little voice in your head which can appear to be shouting you down and making you feel crappy.  What followed was an hour of positive reinforcement, shared experiences and laughter; and what resulted was a whole array of amazing posters, many adorned with a vast repertoire of swear words.



When I joined SHWI in November 2015 it was because I was missing nights like this. I was existing in a city I had called home for over 10 years with friends living 40 miles away becoming more and more remote, what I craved was the company of like-minded people, women supporting women, sharing experiences and offering advice.  We all lead such busy professional and social lives, living in a digital era where the restorative power of an actual conversation can often be forgotten.  Thank you Girl Gang for your support in delivering such an inspirational and uplifting evening!

Rachel White
Vice-President

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Don Valley Carol Service



We organised a special carol service last Saturday for the Don Valley Group of WI's in Sheffield in collaboration with St Andrew's UR church where we meet regularly.



A big thank you to our events team who organised the event and all the members who volunteered their time and baked for the event.

It was bitter sweet as we are leaving the Don Valley Group soon to form a new Sheffield group of WI's - the Sharman group. More details to come! 

Monday, 5 December 2016

WI pie features in second helping of Sheffield cookbook


South Yorkshire’s largest WI group feature in a new Sheffield cookbook with a special pie recipe from one of their members.

The recipe, written by Seven Hills WI (SHWI) member Di Coupe, is one of 80 local recipes in ‘The Sheffield Cookbook: Second Helpings’.

Di’s SHWI pie is a much-loved recipe and regularly baked for the WI’s cake stall at Sheffield Food Festival every year.

Di Coupe
Di said: “After I made the chicken, stuffing and sausage meat pie a couple of times, members of the public soon started asking for the recipe! It’s a true ‘bucket-list’ achievement to have my recipe published alongside such delicious food from restaurants on the Sheffield scene.”

Meze publishing, who created the book, have allowed Seven Hills WI discounted copies of the book to sell and raise money for their charity of the year.

Anna Tebble, Publishing Manager at Meze and Seven Hills WI member, said: “Compiling a book about my favourite thing - food from my favourite city, and as an added bonus getting to feature my favourite lady team, Seven Hills WI, was an absolute treat."

Member and Meze Publisher, Anna Tebble

The book is available direct from Seven Hills WI at £14.95. Contact sevenhillswi@live.co.uk to buy a copy

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Remember, remember the cake of November


What a splendid meeting November was! First of all a big congratulations to our new President, Grace, on her inaugural meeting in charge. I know you’ll all join me in three big cheers and we know its going to be a blinding year with you at the helm. All the new committee members did a brilliant job organizing the meeting and settling into their roles too, along with the seasons ladies running things smoothly as usual.

Next up a big thank you to our meeting guest, Meryl White, who knows everything there is to know about this history of afternoon tea. We were delighted with all kinds of stories and anecdotes about tea and cake from the Boston tea party to the correct way to put milk in your tea. 


Meryl White and Grace

It was also interesting to hear that Victorian ladies would eat cake with gloves on, which caused much rumbling of these questions…..wouldn’t you get crumbs on your gloves? and, wouldn’t you get fluff on your cake? 

In fact, she is so obsessed with tea and cake that she counted that we’d mentioned cake 37 times before she even stood up for her talk! 

Her stunning array of cakes was enjoyed by everyone too along the now infamous Di’s SHWI Pie which we’re delighted to announce is featured in the Sheffield Cook Book (great idea for a Christmas present hint hint!). 

Di, Anna, Bex and Ruth were very excited about the new Sheffield cookbook
Di's SHWI pie
Everyone had their last chance to join up for the next year so fingers crossed its going to be a great year and we’re looking forward to meeting the fresh faces ready and waiting to join with their fingers over the eventbrite buttons when it opens up soon…..

Jodie Winters
Fundraising and Campaigns Officer

Monday, 21 November 2016

Beer-brewing WI raise money for local charity

South Yorkshire’s largest WI group have teamed up with Abbeydale Brewery to raise over £1000 for a local charity, Light Sheffield. 

Grace (right) receives a cheque from Sue Morton (left)
Seven Hills WI were invited by the Sheffield brewery to create their own beer called Not Just Jam, a lemon and earl grey tea flavoured pale ale.

The beer was the signature ale at Abbeydale’s SunFest beer festival at the Rising Sun pub in Fulwood this July and was also sold in pubs across Sheffield and the UK.

Abbeydale have donated 10p from every pint to Seven Hills WI’s charity of the year. Combined with donations from the festival, the total raised was £1277.

Grace Escott-Tebbutt, President of Seven Hills WI, received a cheque from Director of Abbeydale Brewery, Sue Morton, at last Thursday’s meeting (Thursday 17 November 2016). 


Grace said: “We had so much fun brewing the beer and zesting 100 lemons by hand for the special recipe. I’m so pleased we could raise so much money for Light Sheffield and we’re very grateful to Abbeydale Brewery for the opportunity and their generosity.”

Sue Morton, Director of Abbeydale Brewery, said: “We’re delighted the beer was a success - it was definitely one of my favourite ales we’ve brewed this year. It’s fantastic we could help raise so much money for a worthwhile cause.”

All the money raised will go to Light Sheffield, a local charity run providing support across Sheffield to families affected by perinatal mental health illnesses, including post natal depression and anxiety. Members of Seven Hills WI voted to support Light Sheffield as their charity for 2016.

To read more about our beer, read Kirsty's blog

Monday, 7 November 2016

All Hallows' Eve and birthday cake

October saw the 7th birthday of the birth of our lovely SHWI, but also bought with it some spooky goings on…

The meeting kicked off with a final address from our long-serving Vice President, Jen Marsden-Lambert who is one of the founders of SHWI and has decided to step down and take a break from committee responsibilities. Jen received much love and a bottle of Japanese whiskey to enjoy in her new relaxed role as SHWI member!

To celebrate another year of this wonderful girl gang, our member Nicky Campbell had baked the most incredible SHWI fist cake, which Jen sliced ceremoniously before it was demolished by ravenous members. White chocolate buttercream icing? Yes please! 

Nicky with her delicious cake

Founding member Jen cuts our birthday cake
It being the month of October and All Hallows Eve being one of the most fun times of year (following closely behind Christmas and Great British Bake Off months) members had come dressed in their best spooky head wear for a creepy competition. There were sparkly witches, Brexit themed horror crowns, crocheted pumpkin patches, skeleton ladies and a pumpkin tea cosy worn as a hat….ARRRRRGH!

Finally, our terrifying troop of ladies were seated to enjoy our speaker for the night – Jo Johnson-Smith who entertained us with tales of Sheffield past. We cringed at the stories of cannibalistic paupers reminiscent of Sweeney Todd and shuddered at the tale of the black dog, who haunts people on the urban streets at night. The legend of the naughty thug, who runs through town, knocking people into the road sent a shiver down the collective spine. One thing we learnt? Sheffield’s ghoulish history is more petrifying than we imagined……

Jen awards Mary with her spooky prize
And so at the end of the meeting, Jo kindly judged the haunted headwear of our members and ruled that Mary Beckinsale’s disembodied hand veil was the ultimate winner of our Halloween hat-off.

Happy birthday SHWI! Here’s to many more! 

Grace Escott-Tebbutt
President

Thursday, 22 September 2016

SHWI enjoy the Good Life


What can be more enjoyable than sleeping under the stars, chatting with friends over crochet, listening to chilled music and a homemade scotch egg? Nothing! That's the Good Life, my friends.

I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Good Life Experience with WI friends from across the country last weekend.

We weren't there just to have a good time (although we definitely did!). We were invited there by Cerys Matthews herself, festival organiser extraordinaire. For the last 3 years, the WI have had a presence at the festival. Last year, our amazing Sarah Willoughby helped to organise a craft tent. This year, we were invited back but we were a bit more chilled, a bit more low-fi.



The festival itself is a relaxed affair of curated music, crafts, books, poetry and food. It takes places on the Hawarden Estate in Flintshire, North Wales which is absolutely stunning. The site has a farm shop which stayed open during the festival and provided us with tasty food across the weekend (hence the scotch eggs!).

We decided to do some pop-up crochet and knitting sessions, showing people how to make twiddle muffs. Now before you call the Daily Mail, Twiddle Muffs are the colloquial name for sensory mitts. Used by dementia sufferers, they can help patients to stop pulling out IV drips. They provide sensory stimulus as they are made with lots of different textures. 



Over the weekend, we showed festival-goers how to get started making them via crochet or knitting. Less confident people could sew on beads or ribbons and even make pom-poms.

Our WI contingent comprised us of the ultimate legends (yes, I hate that word as much as you but in this case, it is true) that are Sarah Willoughby and Joanne Croxford (Cambridge). These two organised the whole thing and names went into the hat for the other places - I was lucky enough to get one as well as Anna P, Grace T and Cat from Seven Hills WI. Other WI's were Emma from Blackmoor and White Hill WI (Hampshire) and Claire from Mansfield. 



We planned to do a few sessions every day but ended up sitting on a lovely mound near the main stage all day on Saturday. It was great to interact with people about the twiddlemuffs and dementia, as well as talk to people about the WI. I'm sure we recruited a few members that day as well as taught people how to crochet!



In the evenings, we had to wrap up warm (gosh it was cold!) to enjoy Jo's veggie stew and the evenings entertainment. Unfortunately I was under the weather but I heard tales of Balkan brass bands, midnight campfires and hoola-hooping ladies.

A massive thanks to Sarah and Jo for organising the weekend and a big thanks to Hobbycraft for supplying us with lots of yarn and needles to help make twiddle muffs and a HUGE thanks to the Good Life gang for inviting us.

Our finished twiddlemuffs will be heading to Peterborough's NHS trust.

Kirsty
President

Team SHWI pull papercutting out of the bag

My last meeting as WI President summed up the best things about being in Seven Hills WI - teamwork and friendship.

Sometimes, planning a smoking hot programme of activities and speakers a year in advance comes a cropper and we have events that fall through. A week before our meeting, our plans came undone.

But instead of taking the easy option and filling in with an easy back-up meeting, my crack team of dedicated commitee members decided that a papercut workshop was something we could pull off ourselves.

Cue desperate googling off templates, trips to a high street stationer and certain individuals ordering hundreds of scalpels online. 



When we arrived at St Andrews before the meeting, it was fantastic to see so many members arrive early to help move tables and chairs. We got ready in super quick time!

Members mingled and chatted about the month's news and helped themselves to Vicky's awesome vegan courgette cake.

It was fantastic to be visited by WI friends from around the country - Joanne Croxford from Cambridge was in Sheffield prior to our trip to the Good Life Experience, as well as ladies who are setting us a new group, Wellbeck WI.

The meeting soon began and we ran through WI business. My amazing committee members presented me with a surprise bunch of flowers and asked me to give a speech! I was not prepared at all. In fact, I'm still President until next meeting but I won't be able to make the October or November's meeting. Apologies for mumbling a strange thank you! 



After a quick break, it was time to start papercutting. Laura and Grace decided to put the skills they have learned at Denman College to good use and lead the workshop. They showed members how to use templates to practice their designs or simply come up with their own patterns. I was amazed to see some of the fab designs people came up with in such a short amount of time. 



Soon enough, it was time to get packed away too. Another big thanks to everyone who helped clear away.

Being President has been fantastic. I have got to be involved in so many things I would not have had the chance to - a judge on the Great British Menu, a guest on BBC Radio Sheffield, and help fundraise thousands of pounds.

I'm really excited to take a break as President, continue to support the group and campaign for change in the organisation that we are a part of and the society we live in. 

Kirsty Bowen
President 2014 - 2016

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Tea and Tents 2016: Wendy's tale

I am new to SHWI having only joined in December and had been looking for a way to get stuck in and get to know other ladies in our group. Brilliantly I was lucky enough to get my hands on a ticket for Tea and Tents 2016 (they sold out in ten minutes!) Even more brilliant was the number of ladies from SHWI who also got tickets.

Tea and Tents is the most organised chaos I have ever witnessed. On arrival I was assigned my volunteer slot to be a ‘Pixie’ on Sunday evening, every single participant had a volunteer slot, to help their fellow campers be it manning a booking stall for events to litter picking and being the person everyone turned to for help with tents (Sarah W that would be you).

The SHWI camp was set up with military precision, the urn was on the cakes were out and we were all ready for a great weekend. Our first evening was spent around the campfire whilst lots of ladies finished off crocheting their soil by head torch for the yarn bomb. (This was an excellent allotment).



There were so many activities to get involved in; some of our group took part in the more energetic activities of Axe Throwing and Shooting, whilst others participated in crafting activities or led activities themselves. Laura hosted the very popular beer swap on the village green, where as soon as she began more and more ladies turned up with their brews in hand ready to share. Sarah hosted our evening with the stars, we found planets and learned something new about the night sky, and she even arranged a shooting star to finish the session off. There were talks on all sorts of subjects by some inspirational women and lots of opportunities to network and get ideas.



Aside from all the marvellous activities my favourite part of the weekend were the evenings sitting around the campfire talking and listening to each other’s stories and life events, and getting to know everyone. We all dressed up as women of steel one evening and welcomed ladies from other WI groups to join us for a natter around the fire, and s’mores and singing.



What can I say? I thoroughly recommend as a new member of SHWI to get involved in activities outside our monthly meetings as it gives you a better opportunity to connect with people.

Unfortunately Tea and Tents is taking a break next year, maybe we do a mini Tea and Tents just for SHWI ladies? My lasting impression of my weekend away is that I came home with a load of new friends and a happy feeling of sisterhood and a resolution to be brave and try more new things and get to know new people.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Not just fundraising: A post on becoming a trustee for Light Sheffield


Our members have been involved in more than just fundraising for Light Sheffield, our charity of the year. Emma Clarke has volunteered to be a trustee for the charity and has written the following post to introduce what she has been doing so far and why the charity is so important. 

It was her smile upon leaving the room at the end of the session that stuck with me. Its softness, that it reached her eyes.

As I drove home I thought of the labels which had been attached to this young woman over the previous six months. Teen mum. Mental health service-user. Perinatal mental health patient. Post-natally depressed. I wondered at what point she lost her identity and I tried to imagine just how alone she must feel.

It was Sarah's* first visit to Light Sheffield's weekly group. She came with her mum and her beautiful six-month old daughter. She'd travelled across the city and was too nervous to join in at first, so Jess, project manager, and Amy*, a volunteer, welcomed her in a separate room, telling her about Light, offering compassion and tea, letting her know she'd found a safe space, that she was amongst people who understood. She had found her tribe.

As the three generations of this family - grandma, mum and baby girl - sat on the floor with other mums, surrounded by toys, with a jungle gym providing helpful distraction to an inquisitive little one, I witnessed the power of fellowship. A group of mums who, through conversation, laughter, the swapping of tips and the provision of a listening ear, generated Light and shared it with one another. In professionalised terms this is called peer support, in the real world it's called friendship.

As Sarah headed out of the door at the end of the session – showing that soft smile - she took with her information on sling types, an alternative to Bonjela which came with high praise, the phone number of another mum whose own daughter was only a few weeks older and had joined a WhatsApp group to use in those lonely moments in the middle of the night or to share the good ones. But the most precious thing she took with her was the knowledge that she is doing just fine and there is Light ahead.

The two hours I spent getting to know some of the mums who use Light Sheffield confirmed in my mind becoming a Trustee was the right thing to do. And I hope this small insight in to the work of the charity shows the difference your cake-baking, beer brewing and general drum-banging makes for women in Sheffield.

Emma Clarke 
SHWI member

Visit Light Sheffield's website for more information on their work and support

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

SHWI Brew

We were ecstatic when Abbeydale Brewery asked us to become their brewing partner for their SunFest beer festival brew.

One of our newest members, Laura Rangeley works for Abbeydale and knows how much some of our contingent love a good beer so she suggested we pair up and create our own beer which would be Abbeydale's special beer for their ever-popular SunFest beer festival. Not only did it mean mucking in and making our own beer - they were going to give us 10p from every pint sold to our charity of the year - Light Sheffield. Plus they wanted us to sell our ever-popular homemade bakes at the festival for the charity. How could we refuse such a generous offer?

Unfortunately I wasn't able to take part in the brew day as it fell on the Saturday when many of us were at Eroica festival in Bakewell with another charity cake stall. But 8 of our gang went along to help brew the beer with Laura. We weren't left to our own devices - Baxter, Brewer at Abbeydale, was there to show us the ropes.

Laura Rangeley and Baxter
Laura had decided in advance (with suggestions from the rest of our group) that a lemon and earl gray pale ale fit the bill for our own special beer. Different enough to intrigue but safe enough to please real ale fans!

Laura B-H, Jules and Di get zesting
The brew gang got stuck in - zesting 100 lemons by hand. Tea was supplied by Sheffield tea-makers extraordinaire Birdhouse Tea Company and added to our brew.



By all accounts, a fun day was had by our SHWI brewers. Many can't actually remember the whole day - I wonder if the samples beers during the process have anything to do with that...

Baxter shows SHWI the ropes

A month later and the beer was ready for the festival at the Rising Sun pub. And it was delicious - so delicious in fact, it was the first beer to sell out!



We planned to keep things simple for our bake stall as we wasn't sure how popular we would be at the beer festival. Would real ale drinkers fancy homemade cake over the professional bbq stand? Bex and the gang thought a good amount of savouries would go down a treat and they were right - sausage rolls, savoury muffins and cheese straws were sold quicker than hot cakes. Friends of SHWI, Smo-Fo donated some of their delicious bar snacks which we sold to soak up the beer. And Di's SHWI lived up to it's legendary status and was all gone in less than an hour.

On both Friday and Saturday, we sold out of all our baked goods and raised an amazing £800 over both days.

Laura R, VPM, LBH and Kirsty
A big thank you to Laura Rangeley and Abbeydale Brewery for inviting us to the festival and allowing us to have our own beer. The beer is heading to pubs across the country in the next couple of weeks so keep your eyes peeled for 'Not Just Jam'.



Also, big thanks to Laura B, Bex, Grace, Anna T, Laura K, Cat De L, Anna P who helped on the stall and all our other amazing SHWI-ers who made or bought bakes for the weekend.

Kirsty Bowen
SHWI President

Friday, 15 July 2016

Forge Bakehouse meal out

I’m writing this the morning after the night before. At one point I didn’t think I’d ever get enough blood-flow to my extremities to be able to move (let alone type) again, with my digestive system being overwhelmed yet delighted by the feast I consumed last night.

Wow, Forge Bakehouse – what an evening! I never imagined that I would go to a pizza night and come home with five out of 6 slices of my pizza intact! I mean this as a huge compliment – the quality and quantity of food was so awesome that I had to make some sacrifices – and everyone knows that cold pizza is still delicious the next day. Adding a soupcon of salad cream is my accoutrement of choice. (I mean if you want to elevate any dish to Masterchef, nay Michelin-starred standard, everyone knows all you’ve got to do is add salad cream…) But I digress.

Our group of 22 lucky SHWI-ers arrived for the sell-out event ready and raring for pizza and dessert, all pre-ordered from a bespoke designed menu. What we weren’t expecting were the starters. I mean, we knew we had some tapas style starters awaiting us, but we didn’t expect the range that greeted us. Martha and the team at Forge Bakehouse had provided us with 8 dishes per table! And the portion size was extremely generous. 

We started off with a platter of bread, oils and dukkah, with a butternut squash dip and coriander and butterbean hummus. Happy bunnies all round. 

Then they brought s deceptively simple ‘Tom Pom salad’ – mixed tomato and pomegranate salad with fresh oregano and pomegranate molasses. WOW! The sweetness of the pomegranate combined beautifully with the freshness of the tomatoes, and I would never have thought to add fresh oregano, but I am going to try and recreate this baby at home. 

Next came the grilled slices of baby aubergine with a bulghur wheat and herb salad, topped with pine nuts and feta. Again, this is something I will (no doubt very poorly) attempt to replicate at home. So subtle, but soooo good! 

We thought that was it and were feeling pretty stuffed already when the panko friend green olives with yoghurt and salsa verde came out. They went down a STORM, with Rhian ‘just checking’ that she didn’t like olives by scoffing several – something tells me her opinion may have changed! 

And finally, a lovely retro-style dish FILLED with aubergine fries (with a polenta crust) and some of the loveliest arancini I’ve ever had. The herbs complemented the mouthwatering molten mozzarella centre perfectly. See, I’ve even cracked the alliteration out here, so you know it’s gotta be good! 

Then came the main event – the pizzas. We’d pre-ordered and knew what we were getting, but the process was made even more fun by the waiting staff jotting our numbers down on the paper-topped table in front of us. It was at that point that some of the less observant of us (i.e. me) realised that we had been provided with crayons to doodle away on the ‘tablecloths’! A brilliant touch! You can see some of Grace’s WI-inspired art work here:



Back to the grub – the team had designed 4 pizza topping options for us: Pizza One was king prawn marinated in lime and chilli, mozzarella, grilled courgette, chilli, coriander and optional chorizo. Pizza Two was a #vegan option of Sri Lankan pahi with aubergine, ramiro pepper, onion, parsley and tahini sauce - if I was blogging this from my phone right now, there’d be an array of heart-eyed emojis right here! Pizza Three was purple potatoes, garden peas, grilled asparagus, mint pesto, pea shoots, ricotta and mozzarella. Pizza Four was sausage meat with shredded tenderstem broccoli, oven-dried tomatoes, smoked onion and mozzarella. 






Nobody needs me to crack out my thesaurus right now to bombard you with adjectives to describe them, I’ll let the pics do the talking. Suffice to say, we had VERY happy customers.

And still, there were the puddings to come. Three options had been provided, based around specific flavour combinations and catering to all dietary requirements – vegan-friendly choc dessert anyone?

Dessert A was ‘Apricot and Almond’. This comprised of quite frankly the BEST vanilla panna cotta I’ve ever had (ooohhh the jiggle!) This was complemented by roasted apricots, cherries, apricot jellies and amaretti morbidi (for the uninitiated, these were chewy amaretto-flavoured biscuit-y balls). 



Dessert 2 was ‘Raspberry and Pistachio’ – raspberry sorbet baked Alaska with pistachio sponge, Italian meringue, fresh raspberries and jellies. Every portion was perfect – I have no idea how you can make 8 perfect portions of baked Alaska all served at the same time, but Forge Bakehouse managed it with aplomb! 



Finally, we had dessert C – ‘Chocolate, Lime and Rum’. This was vegan chocolate and lime pudding with mango salsa, coconut and lime granita and passionfruit. This deceptively simple-sounding dish was presented so beautifully (with a chocolate work garnish no less), that it seemed such a shame to eat it. We soon got over that! 



10pm flew round and it was time for us to stagger home (some of us even turning down lifts in a vain attempt to walk off our fullness). All I can say is that we all absolutely loved every aspect of the evening. We were very happy to be Forge Bakehouse’s bistro guinea pigs – although you would have thought they’d been running nights like this for YEARS. Thank you, thank you, thank you once again to Martha and the team for arranging a wonderful evening. When can we come back?

Anna Pilson
Committee member