I had the tables, decked out with cloths, and the chairs all ready, and the punch was rippling gently in the bowl alongside the mugs. The lime and coconut cake was on its stand and I'd even managed to acquire an urn for the evening. I suppose I was tempting inclement weather since it had been raining on and off, more on than off, all day. This very quickly turned to on, rather than off, and very reluctantly I had to take the decision to cancel the annual August garden meeting of my WI. Most unfortunately, the message did not reach several members who turned up on the doorstep, surprised to find everywhere seemingly very quiet.
It was disappointing and, of course, by the time everything should have started, the rain had stopped, but everywhere was damp and not suitable for an outdoor soiree. However, during the phone conversations to cancel, I leaned that a friend who used to live in the village and is a WI member in Suffolk East now, had returned especially to come to our garden gathering, so happily I was able to meet up with her, which was some kind of compensation.
Being a member means you have even more in common with your friends than just friendship. We immediately started discussing the latest edition of WI Life, the AGM, WI book clubs, I know many WIs have these nowadays, as well as theatre groups and many more. My own WI has a thriving walking group too; hardly a month goes by without an organised trek, finishing up at an hostelry for lunch.
We also talked about writing down our memories or, indeed, our memoirs. More and more of us want to do this; some are more proactive but others need a helping hand to begin. Just the other day I was telling my youngest son about my father, whom he never met since he died when I was 19, and I realised just how much I had not imparted to all my children. Another snippet I had forgotten; for the first 15 years or so of living in this house, a dairy herd would be taken by morning and evening for milking - with all the mess you would expect! But by the time my son was old enough to have understood what he was seeing, the dairy herd was no more due to EU-related regulations. The farm land now belongs to the Countryside Restoration Trust. His three siblings remember the cows going by but he is just too young.