Wednesday, 9 January 2019

New Year. New Venue.

Happy New Year and welcome to our first meeting back!

We're very excited to be in our new venue this month. From now on our meetings are going to be held at Christ Church, 3 High Oaks, St Albans, Hertfordshire, AL3 6DJ.

This month we will be having a board games and pizza night. As it's our first meeting in the new hall we wanted to keep things as simple as possible while we find our feet. There's also lots to tell you and membership forms to sign etc so what could be better than a relaxed evening catching up after the break and a chance for new members to chat. If you're planning on coming please pop over to Facebook and mark yourself as "going" in the event there, or drop us an email,  just so we have an idea about how many pizzas to bring. There will be vegetarian and gluten free options too.

So what you need to bring....
-If you're a first time visitor you'll need to bring £4.50 as a visitors fee and some small change for refreshments and the raffle.
-If you're planning on signing up/renewing membership you'll need to bring your cheque book or £42 in cash.
-A board game if you have one, the more different and unusual the better.

This months raffle is unwanted Christmas gifts so if you've got a bottle you won't drink, chocolates in the cupboard, bath set you really don't need then bring it along to add to the raffle.

There is parking at the venue and plenty of off street parking in the surrounding roads if it's full when you arrive.

As always donations of cake are very much welcome the more the better!

Visitors are always welcome! Looking forward to seeing you all x

Friday, 23 March 2018

Scent-sational March - 4160 Tuesdays

Scent - sational March - 4160 Tuesdays

21st March is International Fragrance Day and by a very happy coincidence our guest speaker was the fabulous Sarah McCartney (no relation to the other famous McCartneys), founder of 4160 Tuesdays, London based independent perfumery.

Sarah shared the story of her journey from writer of the Lush Times, novelist to award winning perfume creator. She brought an array of scents to try and it was fun trying to work out what each smell was. Sarah's passion for chemistry and creativity made the subject absolutely fascinating.

She explain the chemistry behind the scents, the costs (who knew vanilla was so expensive!) and unraveled some of the myths about the perfume industry.

We love the names of the fragrances including "Mother Nature's Naughty Daughters", "The Sexist Scent on the Planet Ever (IMHO) and "Tart's Knicker Drawer"! Thank you for our samples of the delicious "Lemon Sherbet Mrs Gloss" which smells like sherbet lemons and Dibdabs.

More information about 4160 Tuesdays, including details about perfume making workshops for those of you who have been inspired by Sarah can be found at their website:

Thursday, 22 March 2018

2018 - time to resurrect the blog!

New Year! New Resolution - don't forget the blog!

Finding time to update the blog hasn't always been easy  - work, children and life in general just get in the way. We tend to update our social media, particularly Facebook pages far more frequently (give us a "Like" if you haven't alreadyπŸ˜‰), but I've made a promise that I will at least try not to neglect the blog this year so here goes.

2018 has got off to a fabulous start!

January - Medau Movement

January saw the Belles kick start their year with an alternative exercise class in the form of Medau Movement. 

Medau Movement is an exercise class suitable for all ages and abilities based around natural body movements, fluidity and stretching. Using a variety of different apparatus including balls, hoops, scarves and even bats, everyone was able to have a go and work off some of our Christmas over-indulgences.  Our instructor, Rosemary, stepped in at last minute as her colleague was poorly, and did a fantastic job. A great evening with lots of new faces and lots of laughter.

February - Bullet Journalling and a Happy Birthday

Herts Belles embraced the latest planning trend and had a go at bullet journalling. Lovely Liz from The Fickle Craftroom came down and ran a taster workshop explaining the ideas behind the bujo and showing an array of different planning styles and trackers. Whether you wanted every day to-do lists, habit trackers to keep you focus or a way to set short and long term goals, there was a suitable planning style. Lost of coloured pens, washi tape, stickers and stencils allowed people to be creative as well as organised.  Sales of notebooks certainly went up in St Albans following this session!

We also celebrated our 5th birthday with a fabulous cake made by Treasurer, Dawn



 Happy Birthday Herts Belles! Here's to many more!

Friday, 20 May 2016

Annual Meeting

2016 Annual Meeting
Resolutions, tea-duelling and bras

May is our most formal meeting of the year as it is our Annual Meeting. It gives us a chance to look back over the previous year, look ahead to the next year and debate the year's resolutions ahead of the National meeting in June. There was a lot to talk about.

Emma G announced that Helen Ramsey had been appointed as our independent examiner for the coming year.

Treasurer Dawn introduced the accounts and we discussed how money we raised was spent. Adoption of the accounts was proposed by Dawn and seconded by Jenny.

As group secretary, Emma G read a report summarising the previous year. Herts Belles has been extremely busy! Our meetings included life drawing, ghost walks, crafts, power hooping, stuntmen and giant knitting to name a few. We also took part in last year's centenary celebrations, Sustainable St Albans week, Bake Offs and our Jungle Canopy caravan renovation. 3 of our members had babies and we have our highest membership with 47 members signing up this year so far and lots more visitors. Emma G gave a presentation about all the things we had been up to at the HFWI Spring Council Meeting. Herts Belles seems to be going from strength to strength. The annual report was proposed by Emma G and seconded by Penny.

President Emma C thanked all the committee for their hard work over the last year. As well as the monthly meetings, committee members meet for additional meetings, plan online, attend county and group planning meetings and manage our social media accounts. With jobs and families this certainly keeps us all busy! Members are always welcome to join the committee. And don't worry if you can't commit to being a full time member - volunteers are always welcome to take on smaller projects or organise one off events!

Emma C was re-elected as president for the next year.

There were two resolutions to be debated this year:

Avoid food waste, address food poverty
"The WI calls on all supermarkets to sin up to a voluntary agreement to avoid food waste, thereby passing surplus food on to charities thus helping to address the issue of increasing food poverty in the UK"

Appropriate care in hospitals for people with dementia
"We call upon HM Government and the NHS to provide facilities to enable carers to stay with people with Alzheimer's disease and dementia that have been admitted into hospital."

After much discussion and looking at the for and against arguments for each resolution, Herts Belles voted against both resolutions, giving Emma C discretion to change the vote for Avoid food waste at the National meeting in June.

After the formal part of the evening was over, social time was had and a tea-duelling contest held. Competitors had to dunk biscuits and see who could go the longest before successfully eating the biscuit or ending up with soggy crumbs on their faces. The victor would win the coveted golden teapot prize (kindly created by Bec). 

The Golden Teapot
Several highly competitive rounds were played before Jenny was crowned winner! Congratulations Jenny! Everyone else vowed to continue eating biscuits in preparation for next year!

The 2016 Champion - Jenny

Smalls for All

May's meeting also saw Herts Belles set up a Smalls for All collection point. Smalls for All collect and send bras and underwear to communities in Africa where this is not only a health and hygiene issue, but can protect women who are vulnerable to sexual assault. Having pants also means young women do not have to miss school when they are menstruating.

A bra mountain of 360 new and used bras and 134 pairs of new pants was collected on the evening and with more donations arriving the total is now already over 400!

Bra bunting!

Our special thanks to everyone who donated underwear, to Akers Services who kindly donated packing boxes and to Paul Knight from Mayflower Stores who is generously paying to ship our donations to Smalls for All HQ in Scotland.

Bra-vo ladies!

If you would like more info about Smalls for All or have more donations check out their website

A very busy meeting! See you all next month!
Best wishes
Emma C xxx

Giant knitting

Giant Knitting and Lots of Nattering

April saw us celebrating Her Majesty The Queen's 90th birthday with cake and so extraordinary knitting.

Knitting enthusiast, Barbra, came down bringing with her an array of interesting knitting projects with needles of all sizes and a variety of different materials. From broom handle needles to Olympic flags and carrier bags, the creativity on display was a sight to behold.

With lots of members already keen knitters it was long before the hall was full of ladies knitting and nattering. Whether continuing with existing projects or trying their hand at some of the more unusual needles everyone was busy having a go. 

Barbra introduced an array of fantastic and creative knitting projects and materials

What a creative group of women! With so many experts, even beginners had a go and many went off excited about their own giant knitted creations.

Caravan Capers with Harvey's Gift

Caravan Capers

This Spring has seen Herts Belles get involved in one of our most exciting charity projects.
Work with the charity, Jungle Canopy, we set about renovating an unloved caravan and turning it into a home for a refugee family living in the Calais Jungle.

The caravan, named Harvey's Gift, took up residence in Vice-President Bec's driveway while we set to work. Unnecessary and unusable fixtures  such as the fridge and cooker were removed to create extra storage space and the toilet even became a toddler bedroom.

Harvey's Gift arrives
With the help of volunteers from Herts Belles, family and friends (even Jack the dog), local businesses and donations from local people and Freecycle, the caravan was decorated inside and out. Everything was refreshed, fixed and cleaned. The aim being to make the caravan as warm and dry as possible.

Before and after

Once the inside was completed with  new worktops, carpet and a seating area that could become beds we set about making the outside just as nice. And what does a caravan really need - yes, you've guessed it! Polka dots and bunting!

Belles get arty
The outside was finished off with Herts Belles and Jungle Canopy logos and the names of everyone who had made donations or contributed their time to the project. 

The finished caravan
After several weeks of hard work it was a very different caravan that set off on its journey across the English Channel to be come home for a refugee family and their children. Brimming with donations of bedding, clothes, and the precious commodity in the Jungle - baby wipes, our donations, no matter how small they seemed, will make a real and immediate difference to people living in appalling conditions.

Boarding the ferry
Arriving in Calais Jungle
Everyone involved was incredibly proud and news of the project featured in the local newspaper, the Hertfordshire WI newsletter and even in WI Life magazine.

May's WI Life magazine

Well done everybody!

if you would like find out more about Jungle Canopy and the work they are doing, or would like to get involved have a look at their website