June meeting – Money, money, money!

Well, that was interesting! Our June meeting addressed the very serious issue of money and personal finances, and it somehow managed to be a fun and engaging session in spite of our original speaker cancelling.

After the usual business and reminders, we had a (very difficult, yet interesting) quiz to get us in the right frame of mind – once awards were haded out we needed some sustenance, and happily we had lots of cake and treats to choose from. Thank you to all the meeting fairies that contributed: Aoife, Liz P, Jackie, and Kara!

The it was time to share our wisdom with the rest of the group. Belles Jan and Liz P shared with use some insights they have gaining from working in financial services: Jen as a debt advisor and Liz as a mortgage broker. Lots of advise and information, it was great to find out more about issues that affect us all.

We had a fabulous raffle, New Belle Luck struck again and a lot of the prizes went to new members and visitors.

We had planned to have a tip exchange but time ran away from us so we ended up collecting all the tips and recommendations on paper, the committee is collating everything and we’ll make it available as soon as possible. In the mean time, if you have something to contribute to the money guide (like a catchy title, for example!) please email us or post in the Facebook group.

Finally, a heads up that there is no formal meeting in July – we are having a party instead! Details will be emailed to members, and we look forward to having visitors and potential new Belles at the August meeting, which will be about Photography!.

– LG

May meeting – Shiny rocks, rocking the resolutions, and resolved new Belles!

May meeting – Shiny rocks, and rocking the resolutions!

We had a super interesting meeting in May. The first half was taken up by Jason Middleton, who talked to us about gemstones, their features, uses, as well as the countries where you can find each different type and ways in which they are mined. He brought samples of many different kinds (sadly no diamonds!) so we could see for ourselves what he was talking about. It was very informative and it peaked our interest to find out more!

This month’s refreshments deserve a special mention. Not only did we have delicious cupcakes, mini-poundcakes, and sponge fingers (fingerellas?) – we also tried out having fresh fruit for those with any dietary concerns / trying to eat healthier. It went down very well, so we’ll try to make it a regular feature!

The second half of the meeting was all about the 2016 resolutions. We introduced the idea of resolutions for our visitors and Belles attending their first meeting; we also brushed up on the rules of how to vote and what happens with our vote at the AGM. Members Aoife and Yvonne introduced a resolution each, and explained their views about the wording and the content. This helped us get a quick short discussion started around each topic and then we voted.

Collectively, we decided not to support either one of the resolutions while also giving our representative discretion to change her vote at AGM if any amendments were introduced. We think it is important to say that our lack of support is not because we do not care about the topics or because we don’t think they are important. It was mostly the wording what stopped us from voting in favour.

In the case of the Avoid food waste, address food poverty resolution the general feeling was that the wording is not strong enough and that it should be about the whole food production, supply, and retail chains rather than just the supermarkets. We will try to find ways of avoiding food waste and reducing food poverty in our community through means other than the resolution.

Something similar happened with the Appropriate care in hospitals for people with dementia resolution. In spite of discussing it in groups and having a personal testimonial, we couldn’t quite see how the resolution could be implemented or what it was seeking to achieve. We will strive to support those in our community that are struggling with dementia and other conditions as best we can, independently of the results of the vote at the NFWI Annual Meeting.

Jason, our main speaker, remarked on how lively our group is – he is right, of course! The May meeting saw one of the highest attendance records both for members and guests. We were delighted to have friends of Belles visit us, as well as WI members that have moved to our city and WI rookies visiting a meeting for the first time. Five fabulous women signed up to join us after the meeting, which means we are now almost full. A handful of spaces remain – get in touch by email (cambluebelles@gmail.com) if you, or somebody your know, are interested in becoming a Blue Belle.

April Meeting – Bingo, Raffles, and a new Committee

Our Annual Meeting / Birthday got very animated and loud! So much so that we tripped the motion activated alarms on the windows more than once!

Kara, Victoria, and Laura, our Treasurer, Secretary, and President, did an excellent job of reviewing the past 12 months for us, and we played our now traditional Buzzword Bingo while we listened to them. Lots of Belles won sweets and Independent Cambridge books, and there were a couple of lovely flowery prizes for the overall bingo winners.

We also had two very exciting raffles. First, the long awaited draw of the Dig for Denman Bursary, which went to the fabulous Emily. She has been an important part of Blue Belles since the very beginning, and has had different roles in the Committee for the first three years so it was a lovely of Lady Luck to make her the winner of the bursary this year. Right before we drew the bursary winner we had a vote to amend the rules of the bursary to allow our dual members to participate, the Committee will amend the guidelines and circulate them before the next Annual Meeting.

The second raffle, of a £150 voucher for the amazing Cambridge Satchel Company went to the Liz C. – she was thrilled with the prize:

Liz and Lucy visited the CSC shop in St. Mary’s Passage the Saturday after the meeting, so that Liz could choose a satchel and have it engraved. The team at the shop took great care of them and they had so much fun!

Liz ended up picking the classic satchel, in an updated version with magnetic clasps that makes it so easy to reach in when you need something, while keeping the contents secure. Liz went for a lovely shade of red and had her initials and a bicycle engraved. Alice, from CSC, let us watch while she did the engraving. It’s a super cool process:

These bags are meant to last, it’s all about style and not disposable fashion, so Alice also showed us how to take care of the leather and Liz got a couple of products to protect her new satchel. Did you know that the Cambridge Satchel Company will fix your bag for free in the first you have it, and after that they can still reattach clasps, get straps, and fix any stitching issue? I’ll stop gushing now – I don’t want this to sound like an advert! (Though if you haven’t visited the Cambridge shop, you really should stop by – it is gorgeous!)

Head over to the President’s Blog to find out all the details about the new committee, and what you can expect from them in the next 12 months, as well as way to contribute and get involved in the running of the group.


March, March, March!

It was lovely to see so many members at our March meeting! Those that couldn’t make it missed out on an amazing raffle that included books, a purple knife, jewellery, and many other goodies. New Belles continue to be the luckiest in the bunch! This month’s raffle was partially sponsored by Ark Cambridge and it would be fab to show them some appreciation in the form of visits to their shop, tweets, and Facebook likes. If you were one of the lucky Belles that won one of their items in the raffle we would love ‘action shots’ of you using / wearing your prize so we can tweet at Ark. If you’re happy to help with this please post your photo on our Facebook group or email it to the Commitee.

We had some amazing treats courtesy of Kara, Liz C, and Jane – and somebody brought a lovely coconut concoction but we didn’t see who! Turned out Jackie was the mystery baker – thank you all for your the treats!

We are still looking for ideas for new social groups – Film Club? Wine / Beers Appreciation? Dinner Dates? Get in touch by email or on Facebook if you fancy starting a subgroup!

At our next meeting, on April 13th, we’ll be celebrating our 3rd birthday! Woo! We’ll hear from the Committee, have our annual elections, unveil next year’s programme, eat cake (duh!) and we’ll have a very special raffle prize… hopefully this time Lucy’s phone won’t run out of battery so we can have lots of photos!

February meeting – British Sign Language!

Thank you to everyone that attended the February meeting. We had a fab speaker, Jane Kennedy, who brought along materials from the Action on Hearing Loss charity and taught us to finger spell. It was interesting and easy to learn the basics of British Sign Language, hopefully it will spark interest in some of us to learn it fully – if nothing else, it was great fun to sing The Rainbow Song, and we can now sign ‘Cambridge Blue Belles’! Photos and a video are posted in our private Facebook group (only members can see it!).

The treat for the meeting were very tasty and we’d like to share the recipes:

Jo’s deliciously moist apple fruit cake

Lucy’s yummy orange friands (ignore the blueberries, substitute the lemon for orange, add a splash of orange essence)

Alice’s lovely vegan brownies came from a hand written recipe, so you will have to ask her for it!

A highlight of the evening was definitely the small bouquet of new Belles we welcomed – we very much hope you enjoyed your first meeting, do get in touch if you want to be added to our private Facebook group, a lot of social-out-of-meetings activities are arranged there, and it’s also a good place to ask for advice, support, or just to share good news and information. Other facebook groups you might be interested in are the Cambridgeshire federation one, the Unofficial Women’s Institute group , and if you’re into camping there’s the the Tea & Tents group.

Updates on our social groups:

– Our first shared Games Night (organised with Ladybirds and Cam City) is at The Burleigh Arms on February 25th, with games starting at 7:30 pm

– The book club is meeting on Wednesday 16th March at Alice’s house (check the Facebook group for her address, or email the committee). We are reading The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

– The Craft Club is a bit dormant at the moment, if anyone knows what’s going on with it drop us an email. Same goes for the Allotmenteers, email the committee to share any news on the produce + jam front!

Do you have any ideas for a social group you’d like to get started? Get in touch with the committee, we can help with logistics for the first meeting and help you take it from there!

At our next meeting, on March 9th, we’ll be exploring the world of colour, style, and fashion – stay tuned for more details!

November Meeting – Willow Weaving Adventures

Our November meeting saw our intrepid Blue Belles attempt a new skill – willow weaving. Our guest for the evening was the wonderful Val Curwen who first gave us some information on where she sources her willow (Linton and Somerset), the different types of willow and how it is prepared. She then set the Blue Belles loose creating a wreath, followed by a Christmas tree garland and finally a star.

There was much bending and shaping, concentration and mutterings as we came to grips with the quirks of this lovely natural product, but by the end of the evening most of us had managed to produce the beginnings of our willow Christmas decorations. Thanks to Val from everyone for a fabulous evening!

November is also Craft Fair month! The Blue Belles will be hosting their second Craft Fair at St Andrew’s Baptist Church in Cambridge on Saturday the 28th of November. As well as lovely crafts (Christmas shopping perhaps?) there will be delicious cakes, tea and coffee on offer. We’d love to see lots of people there.

Our December meeting will be our Christmas party. Blue Belles should watch their inboxes and Facebook for details, but suffice to say we have a fabulous party evening planned!

2015 Craft Fair – Stall applications closing soon!

A reminder that applications for stalls at the Blue Belles 2015 Craft Fair are closing soon. If you’re interested, you will need to get your application in by the 5th of October.

Please see here for further information and how to apply.

Even if you’re not keen for a stall, we hope to see you on the 28th of November for lots of homemade crafts (perfect Christmas shopping opportunity!) and delicious cakes and treats.

Roll up, roll up! Our 2015 Craft Fair is coming soon!

We are delighted to announce that our 2015 Craft Fair will be held on Saturday the 28th of November at St Andrew’s Street Baptist Church in Cambridge.

There will be crafts for sale, tea, delicious cakes and baked goodies galore!

If you’re a member of a WI and fancy a stall see here for details and an application form.

We look forward to seeing you there.

For any questions, drop us a line at cambluebellescraftfair@gmail.com. 

Blue Belles in July – Picnic, Fete, Tea and Tents and Dragonflies

It’s been a busy month of July for the Cambridge Blue Belles!

Our July meeting saw a group of Belles brave a chilly (but luckily dry!) evening to picnic on Jesus Green. Highly competitive games of Pictionary and Pick Up Sticks kept everyone entertained, and in a WI first – no one brought cake!

The Blue Belles also had a stall at the Girton Village Fete on the 12th of July, joining the Cambridge Ladybirds and Girton WIs in the aptly named ‘WI Alley’. The sun shone brightly (thank you Jill from Girton who produced a parasol to shade two Blue Belles who were rapidly turning pink!), and we did a brisk trade in our jams, jellies and lavender bags. Proceeds are going towards this year’s Dig for Denman bursary.

On the 17th of July, a group of intrepid Blue Belles travelled to the Walesby Forest Outdoor Centre for the 2nd Tea and Tents event. Tea and Tents started in 2014, as a weekend of camping and activities for WI members. This year, around 500 members from all across England and Wales descended upon a campsite in Nottinghamshire for a fab weekend.

Eight Blue Belles made the trip, joining up with members from Cam City and Ladybirds WIs to create a Cambridge tented city, complete with gazebos, teapots and plenty of bunting.

A number of activities took place across the weekend including: pilates classes, flower crown making, climate bunting decorating, archery, rock wall climbing, tea duelling, school sports day games, yoga, zumba, axe throwing, swimming, canoeing, and a Saturday night campfire singalong with marshmallows. There was also a Speakers Corner, where Blue Belle, Joanne, spoke about Daisy Change WI, which meets at Fulbourn mental health service.

 The Cambridge WIs fielded a number of winners across the weekend, including a winning quiz team, a Sewing Bee winner and a Bake Off category winner (ask Kara for her prize winning chocolate cake recipe!).

And last but certainly not least, a number of Blue Belles spent Saturday the 25th of July at Cambridge Federation Headquarters at a Wirework Workshop (say that 5 times fast!). The day was spent getting to grips with bending and wrapping wire and beads to produce a dragonfly, able to be worn as a necklace or put on a keyring.

Flowerbombing for Women of World War II – Cambridge Blue Belles WI React to Act of Vandalism with Peaceful Protest

When news emerged on Saturday night of the profane graffiti left on the memorial for the Women of World War Two at Whitehall, WI Member and Founding President of Cambridge Blue Belles WI, Joanne Croxford, was OUTRAGED. Within minutes, she rounded up support from member of Let’s Make Jam WI, Stoke-on-Trent, Rebecca Brown and together they hatched a plan. ‘flower bombing’ the defaced memorial in London.

Both were willing to travel miles to do so – and by this time, Cambridge Blue Belles President, Laura Petchey, was equally upset, joined ranks and was ready to fight with flowers!

To not deter from the planned VE Day parade past Whitehall, the group decided to cover local cenotaphs with flowers and leave cards marked #flowersforheroines to show their respect for the women who gave SO much for this country and the world during its time of need.

Little did they know that through the means of Twitter and Facebook, their gesture of respect to those women who were represented in the memorial, would go viral and photos would start being posted from ALL over the country. By this point, the campaign had even gone outside the reaches of the WI, with a branch of rural police in Lincolnshire laying flowers with the #flowersforheroines tag. The campaign continues and through the power of social media, is snowballing to well over 150 WIs in participation with the numbers growing by the minute.

What’s next? The group plan to yarn storm (slightly less aggressive sounding than a bomb!), the original war memorial at Whitehall on the morning of Thursday 4th June to coincide with the WI’s AGM in London on the same day. This way, more members can be represented and gather to show the respect and honour that each and every participant expresses through being a part of #flowersforheroines.

– Joanne Croxford

PLEASE NOTE: we are laying the wreaths and will NOT affix or adorn ANYTHING to the memorial so that our gesture can be easily removed should it need to be. This is an act of response to vandalism and to that end, we will NOT be leaving a permanent mark on the memorial.




Cambridge Blue Belles LINKS

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Twitter: @CamBlueBellesWI