Category Archives: Women’s Institute

pink flat daisy style flower dark leaves

Denman College Women’s Institute – Six on Saturday – 13 10 18

I’ve been down south to Oxfordshire, for a crafting weekend with my mum. We are both members of the Women’s Institute (motto – inspiring women!) her in a small town in Berkshire and me in a new Institute in the centre of Manchester (www.cottonopoliswi.com). I’d seen on an email about a ‘mothers and daughters’ weekend at the Denman College, the WI’s education centre in Oxfordshire, and asked my Mum if she wanted to join me. It’s a lovely place to spend the weekend – and the food is great too. I had a lot of fun learning new skills – and meeting new people – it’s a packed schedule as youre on the go from breakfast at 745am until the entertainments finish about 930pm.

Denman was founded in 1948 – it’s played a big part in teaching women (and men) skills and is an important part of the history of the Women’s Institute. The main building is listed – and running costs are high so we’ll see if this remains part of the Institute’s activities in the future. Member’s come from all over the country, often funded by bursaries.

1. Denman – a mini-mansion

We didn’t stay in the mansion though some people do. Instead, there are mini blocks in the grounds with well-appointed ensuite rooms much like those on University Campuses.

A slightly wonky sundial

2. Borders 😉

Always good to name your borders 😉

3. Dahlias everywhere

These are my favourite types of dahlias – I’ve grown the various ‘bishop’ colours before but all my dahlias struggled this year despite the hot weather in June/July – it should have suited them as they originate in Mexico.

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In a Vase on Monday – Raspberry (jam) and custard

‘Happiness is like jam, you can’t spread even a little without getting some on yourself’ Author: Unknown

The weather in Manchester has made a return to its usual Summer windy, soggy-ness but that’s a good thing as you almost hear the plants sucking up the water. Everything is looking a bit more chirpy than last week. I’m still pottering along gardening in the shade, sorting out the house and making changes – it’s been a good summer so far especially as my arthritis pain just about disappears when it’s very hot.

I’ve been pondering a few things this week – in the garden as out and about. We’ve got a few trips planned including a trip to Derbyshire at the weekend and a WI camping trip in September. It was jam making of all things, that inspired my In a Vase on Monday.

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In a vase on Monday: yarrow and marguerites

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Spread kindness like confetti – International Kindness Day 

Ask yourself: Have you been kind today? Make kindness your daily modus operandi and change your world. Annie Lennox – singer 

If you’ve been anywhere near the Internet, or the news, today you can’t possibly have missed that it’s International Kindness Day.  I don’t know about you but I try to be kind to people, ‘stand in their shoes’, ‘treat people as you’d like to be treated yourself’… I don’t always get kindness back, but hey that’s their problem NOT mine.  But, what I do know is being kind, helps me be a better person.  It also helps when the world around us looks dark, whether it’s Trump, Brexit or people breaking laws.

13 November 2017 – Spread kindness like confetti

One of the best things I found today was the 2017 Kindness Advent Calendar from Helen at Make Today Make Today Happy. Have a look!

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Happiness – five things that helped #3 – 19 May 2017

The weather took a major turn for the worse this week (12-19 May 2017) – it’s hurled down for most of the week, the garden certainly needed it – everything was really parched. But, all the rain meant I didn’t get into the garden much, let alone anywhere else. I’ve also been feeling very tired, and arthritis pain is high.  However, I’m continuing to note down activities, people and things that make me happy or I’m grateful for.

Thanks, Emma from www.misspond.com who inspired me to blog and also writes regular posts on Happiness.  One of the things, I love about blogging is meeting (usually virtual) new friends, finding a community and developing a network of people all around the world.

Here are five things that helped bring me happiness this week:

1. Hen Do arrangements 

Officially, according to tradition (recent tradition, mind you), I shouldn’t be organising my own hen do – but I am.  It’s because I have friends from various parts of my life work, locals, friends from uni, women’s institute and friends I met for random reasons over the last 30 years. My two UK bridesmaids have a lot on in their lives at the moment. One lives in London and is doing a Masters. The other is local to me in Lancashire, but she has a very hectic family life, busy life and her own 25th wedding anniversary do to arrange.   I thought I’d get the ball rolling so I asked everyone what they might want to do… So I’ve done a survey – I want to give people a chance to get to know each other, potter around Manchester, and also have some fun.  No dressing up, no tackiness, no clubbing (I’m too nackered). I am quite sure an Afternoon Tea will be involved 🙂

2. A visit to Salford Angels Women’s Institute 

I’ve been a member of Cottonopolis WI (since it started in January 2015), we meet in Ancoats, just north of Manchester city centre, on the first Wednesday of the month (7.30pm). Do come along if you’re a local. There’s always cake 🙂

I’ve written a few times about WI means to me; the fun, camping, adventures and excellent meetings and speakers – it’s most definitely not jam and Jerusalem – it’s been a campaigning organisation since its inception in 1915, lobbying for equal pay, The WI were founding members of both the ‘fair trade’ and ‘Keep Britain Tidy’.

One of the great things about all the new WI’s around Great Manchester is we do lots of joint activities and people attend other WI meetings – so I know ladies all over the city.  So on Thursday I went off to see the Salford Angels and had a lovely evening, with plenty of cake.

3. A walk around our neighbourhood – Monton in Salford

My Chap and I went for a walk around the neighbourhood after we’d had our tea. It’s something we do often in the summer evenings. We have a good look at all the flowers and plants in front gardens, noticing plants for our garden.  It was lovely to chat about this and that, nothing complicated or heavy, just a good chat and a laugh or two.

We are lucky to live in Monton, in Salford. It’s very green place, the Bridgewater Canal is at the end of my street, Worsley Woods are a mile, or so away, and there’s a couple of golf courses (not that we play – but there are many footpaths).  There’s even a parkrun at the end of our street.

It has a lighthouse that’s 30 miles from the North Sea (it’s really a garden shed) – just another reason why Monton is a bit quirky.

Red and white lighthouse, with two canal barges by the Bridgewater Canal

19 May 2017 – the lighthouse by the Bridgewater Canal, at Monton, Salford -30 miles from the sea!

4. Lunch with my pal C

I had a great time catching up with my good pal, hearing all her news and discussing my news – it really lifted my spirits. She’s a good listener. I’ve known C for over 12 years, we shared an office at work. She’s an IT geek and I’m not 🙂 Our birthdays are a couple of days apart, we usually go out to celebrate our birthdays, involving cocktails. Annual trips to Manchester Christmas markets, days out to Dunham Massey. She’s part of the Cottonopolis WI posse too – and obviously, she and her husband will be at our wedding in September.

5. My Gardening magazines arrived

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know I love our garden and gardening.  I’ve been a bit lax about taking part in In a Vase on Monday recently, but I’ve got my eye on some margarites for next week. Bloggers get involved from all around the world. Their beautiful flowers lift my mood when I’m feeling low. This link hosted by Cathy at:

This week my Gardeners’ World and Royal Horticultural Society Magazine arrived. I’ve spent quite a bit of time looking through deciding what we might plant, or if money and space were available. The Gardeners’  World is very accessible for beginner gardeners like me, the RHS one helps with plant pests, plants that might suit our shady, north facing soggy back garden – and Latin plant names too.

6. Royal Horticultural Society Bridgewater Garden, Salford

We’ve been to RHS Tatton Park garden show most years (we are going again this year), but I only got around to joining RHS last year.  I can’t tell you how excited I am that the 5th RHS garden Bridgewater will be a mile or so from our house up the Bridgewater Canal from our house (hence it’s name). It’s great for Salford in so many ways, not least employment and training. Watch this space, as it develops – work has started, it opens in 2019 – the plants need time to grow 🙂

What have you been grateful for this week?

Carpe Diem

Love Bec xxx

 

Vase with Hypericum, Rudbeckia, Hydrangea

In a Vase on Monday -friends, flowers and the future – it’s never too late

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.  Marcel Proust 1871-1922

This week is the third birthday of ‘In a Vase on Monday’ hosted by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden. This week she asked us to join her and write on the theme of three.   Cathy’s blog post really resonated with me, her kind words in my difficult times last year really helped me, as did her fellow gardening bloggers from all across the world.  Reading their blogs and all the beautiful flowers lifted me so much… and inspired me to plant, prune and grow.  I’ve picked three kinds of plants to represent three groups of my friends.

  • Lacecap hydrangea – these are white, fading to pink and then finally the delicate brown of the lace which look beautiful through the winter. It’s planted in my front garden and it makes me smile every time I leave the house.
  • Rudbeckia – The dark one is ‘Cappuccino’; I don’t know the name of the bright yellow one. I bought it at Monton festival. There are hundreds of varieties of Rudbeckia.
  • Hypericum – which has small yellow flowers in the spring which change to red berries in late summer and black berries in the autumn. This plant was in my front garden when I bought my house seven years ago.   So much has changed since then but so much has stayed the same.

My friends have helped me so much especially these last 18 months, just as my garden has.  Writing my blog helped me too even though most of the time I was so exhausted, I could barely string a sentence together or take photos.    I’m feeling so much better now, but my new role means reams reading, many people to meet and numerous projects to plan, so  less time for getting outdoors, let alone blogging.
My mission for 2017 is to be much more organised!

Vase with Hypericum, Rudbeckia, Hydrangea

13 November 2016 – 3rd birthday for In a Vase on Monday -Hypericum, Rudbeckia, Hydrangea

These flowers represent just some of my friendships –

  • Hydrangea – my Women’s Institute friends (some are old friends and some new) Inspiring Women every one of them – We’re members of Cottonopolis WI, in Ancoats, in Manchester www.cottonopoliswi.com– do come along if you’re local
  • my pals from work who come from so many places near and far (like the many varieties of Rudbeckia), some of them I’ve known for nearly 20 years and others are much more recent arrivals in my life.
  • and my Monton pals who’ve always been here with me  🙂 like the Hypericum.

The square vase is a gift from one of my oldest friends from University in Stirling – I’ve known her and my other Uni pals thirty years this autumn.  How did that happen ;-)? I feel 31 in my head apart from when my arthritis, aches and pains are playing up.  They’ve been such a support to me over so many years, but especially these last 18 months.

Cathy also talks about how picking flowers for her Vase has made her very observant about her garden.   This certainly chimes with me – noticing what is in my garden, what’s in bud, flowering, what’s gone over – and also what’s been munched by the slugs.  It helps with my mindfulness, which is one of the  activities which helps me daily.  She also says it’s humbling to read how the meme has changed people’s lives.  I know it’s changed mine.

Thank you Cathy

I know how much though goes into Cathy’s comments on every blog that links up to the meme.  Her words helped me so much when I was feeling so overwhelmed and exhausted.

And I’m sure this will make Cathy smile – as usual I’m late with my contribution.  I don’t think I’ll count up how often I’ve actually posted on a Monday and how often I’ve missed the day – oops. Cathy says it doesn’t matter so I guess I’ll keep picking vases and posting them a bit late.

It’s been a very hectic at work – and frankly it’s been another momentous week for the world.  So I’ve been reflecting this week about remembrance, friendship and the future.

  • I joined in with ‘In a Vase on Monday’ on 16 March 2015 only a couple of weeks after I started blogging – tête-à-tête daffodils and iris.  I’ve planted daffodils for next Spring this week – how appropriate 🙂
13 November 2016 - 3rd birthday for In a Vase on Monday -Hypericum, Rudbeckia, Hydrangea

13 November 2016 – 3rd birthday for In a Vase on Monday -Hypericum, Rudbeckia, Hydrangea

RHS Bridgewater – their 5th Garden here in the North West of England

This week I went to a public meeting about the plans for the new Royal Horticultural Society Bridgewater Garden on the site of Worsley New Hall in Salford.   It’s called Bridgewater because the canal runs to the south of the site.

  • There’s a sneak preview on the RHS website – and they’re asking the public for comments via email.
  • The plans look wonderful, they will repair the walled kitchen garden, repair the Victorian cottages and bring them back into use.
  • There will be low glass buildings, with cedar cladding and wild flower roofs.  It goes to Salford planning committee in December, with work starting Spring 2017.
  • There will be 140 jobs created at the garden, many volunteering opportunities, education, and support for schools, young people and the local community.  They will repurpose the disused terraces and formal gardens, repair the lake and put in a new one.
  • The first phase will open in 2019 (the area in the SW on the map) as the plants need to grow :-).

 The garden will be about a half hour walk from our house along the canal.   I’ll be a regular visitor; just like my Mum who’s a regular visitor at Wisley.  We often walk up to Worsley Green and the Woods, no one can believe how lovely it is despite being in the middle of the city.  We’ve been getting out on more walks around Lancashire and Greater Manchester too, so fingers crossed I might get up a small hill or two next year.

I can’t tell you how excited I am.   It will be stunning…  a new beginning.

In other news, we think we’ve found our wedding venue for September 2017.  It won’t be a surprize that it has a beautiful garden.

My Chap is my rock – he has truly helped my soul blossom – he IS my new beginning.

As Robert Ford (1874-1963), the American poet, who knew a thing or two about the rural life, said:

In three words I can some up everything I’ve learned about life: It goes on.  Robert Ford (1874-1963)

Carpe Diem indeed!

Much Love

Bec

xx