twentyfive: women’s institute


Yesterday evening I did something a little out of character. Not a bad out of character but still kind of stepping out of my box. The idea of going to do the pub to meet with a bunch of ladies I don’t know scares me a bit – mainly along the line of “what if they don’t like me?” Thankfully in the end I wasn’t on my own as a friend happened to be going too.

Anyway so when you say “The Women’s Institute” I imagine older ladies with blue rinses talking about jam and making sure their Victoria Sandwiches are the best with the perfect jam to cream concoction in the middle to glue it together.

Well either that or Helen Mirren and Julie Walter’s characters in the film Calender Girls getting the giggles at the back of the meeting and getting in trouble.

The Women’s Institute was formed in 1915 with two clear aims: to revitalise rural communities and to encourage women to become more involved in producing food during the First World War. Since then, their aims have broadened and they are now the largest women’s organisation in the UK.

The Women’s Institute plays a unique role in providing women with educational opportunities and the chance to build new skills, to take part in a wide variety of activities and to campaign on issues that matter to them and their communities.

The WI is made up of County Based Federations. The Scone Roses WI belongs to the Bedfordshire Federation. Bedfordshire has over 80 WIs across the county, some based in villages and small towns, others around the more urban areas in the county. Each WI meets at least once a month with a speaker or demonstration.

But in this case The Women’s Institute isn’t all like that any more.

There’s a local WI here in Bedford called The Scone Roses set up by Lucy, Liz, Sîan and some other lovely ladies. Lucy is the president of The Scone Roses (and a blogger – her blog is here).

Once a month they have a “Stitch and Bitch” night (aka S&B from here on) at The Ship pub. I packed up my crochet, put Chris on Sidekick duty and headed off to the pub. I was a little worried I’d be first but my friend was waiting outside when I got there (after nearly getting pushed along Goldington Road by a car who didn’t appreciate me sticking to the speed limit!!).

We grabbed a drink and sat down in the bay window seat. The pub has a wood fire so it was toasty and warm in the pub. We had a chat and caught up since I saw her a few weeks ago and got out our WIPs (then again it should be “works in progress” rather than “work in progresses”).

While we were sat that another two ladies arrived, followed by another two. We all settled down with our projects and got chatting. I taught Berry (I’ve nicknamed her for this conversation!) how to do granny squares – although we both kept getting distracted by the conversations that were going on around the table.

I felt so welcome and have decided to go to the next meeting – I’m thinking of becoming a proper member too. Chris thinks it would be good for me to make new friends and also some non-church friends.

I think we worked out that the average age around the table was 30ish. I was the youngest at the table yesterday but I really don’t think it mattered at all.

The one let down of the wood fire was that it made my hair and clothes smell smokey. Bit worried that my WIP now smells too but I’m hoping by airing it and running through the washing machine before its commissioned into usage with get rid of the smell.

So the WI isn’t just for older ladies
You can find The Scone Roses on the Web, Facebook or Twitter.

The next proper meeting is on the 7th February and the talk is going to be by the creator of the website about how he got started, and a chance for us to all appear in future postings!


  1. HRWI says:

    Yay. Glad you’ve found a WI near you and that you enjoyed it. I know my first WI night alone was super scary, but everyone was lovely.

    • Hannah says:

      Thank you for your comment. It was kind of by accident, I’d heard about the Scone Roses and thought it might be cool to go along but the stereotypes of the WI and being part of the WI kinda scared me lol. But clearly I had nothing to fear.

    • Hannah says:

      Hey Lucy.

      Thank you for your comment. I hope your week gets better – I’d read your post about your week – It was a tough one for me as well.

      Look forward to meeting you too. 🙂

  2. jinglewho says:

    First thing’s first – no cream in a WI Victoria Sponge. Tut tut.

    I’m amused as ‘The Scone Roses’ pun would only work with some people – me not included. Haha.

    I can’t imagine I’ll ever join a WI group, not sure why not, but I’m glad you enjoyed it!

    • Hannah says:

      Really? No cream in the middle – why did I think that there would be cream – or is it buttercream? Ah I don’t know but I’m sure you got what I meant right?

      I tried to explain “The Scone Roses” reference to Chris last night and I don’t think he got it but then when I pointed out that I’m pretty sure that no-one round the table fitted the stereotypical WI lady Chris then thought that the name worked in a way – then again him and my Mum keep winding me up about it (especially when you include my increasing number of gray hairs!)

      If you’re down in Bedford when it’s a WI night you could come and see – give a try at least right?

  3. jinglewho says:

    Nope, officially it’s just jam. And generally raspberry, I think. Yes, they still have to be perfect though. Same as the ‘rule’ being it has to be caster sugar on top, not icing.
    Even Mary Berry says it should be ‘sconn’ and not ‘scone’. Awww, winding you up is a little mean.
    Aside from the fact I’m not a keen knitter (I don’t have the patience), I just don’t think it would be my thing, but that’s not to say I would dismiss a visit once. :]

    • Hannah says:

      Really? Okay so clearly I need to learn some more lol. When I attempt sponges they tend to end up with whatever I have in the middle – strawberry jam or chocolate spread! Oops! Clearly been getting it wrong all these years lol. Again I thought it was icing sugar not caster. Wonder if Mary Berry does a help line lol.

      You could come once and then it would be over and done and you never ever have to go again lol. If you’re here for the S&B evening it’s in the pub anyway so it’s not like its a real meeting lol.

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