Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Summer at the WI

As we eagerly await the Paralympic Games, still enthralled by the stupendous competitors of 209 countries, the tens of thousands of Games Makers and volunteers are being lauded for their invaluable contribution to the outstanding success of London 2012 Olympic Games.

I know some of those thousands are also WI members and their contributions to the whole event are charted in the July/August edition of WI Life. Many sewed quilts for athletes to take home with them, as well as knitted cushion covers, made using British wool. A WI member was also part of the construction team at the Olympic Park, and another was a dancer in the opening ceremony.  I'm sure there were even more WI members than we know taking some part in the wonderful extravaganza.  

And, indeed, we now do look forward to those Paralympic Games, hearing again of the Games Makers and, of course, the amazing athletes who will compete in the greatest show on British soil.

WI members have been stalwart volunteers in every aspect of life for almost a century, and volunteering comes in many guises. Much of it can be just what we do in our everyday life, interacting with the people around us. As WI members, although on payment of an annual subscription to cover the eleven obligatory meetings a year, all activities are voluntary.  Those who take office in a WI or Federation are volunteers, as are all the members who sit on the National Board.

For many WIs August is a holiday month, with no formal meeting (although some take the break in January). The National Headquarters in London operates throughout the year and there are never many slow days in August - there are always WI members across England and Wales needing information or advice, and help with preparations for the opening of new WIs.  And although external meetings are less frequent during August, preparations are made for forthcoming events and activities. 

Holiday or not, the WI never sleeps. Indeed, every aspect of the WI is buzzing. And the WI wasn't far away when I prepared afternoon tea for a family party last week.  I turned to my WI Books, in particular "The Women's Institute Vintage Teatime". Coconut Slices and Ginger Crunchies were among the favourites, as well as Macaroons and Chocolate Brownies. Recipes from the book are familiar but with a touch of the 'special' about them. You'll find that with all the WI cookery books' recipes. I can also thoroughly recommend Strawberry Crush and Freeform Tomato Tarts from The WI's "Cooking from the Garden", and Ruby Red Marmalade and Orange and Beetroot Jam from The WI's "Homemade Jams and Chutneys".

The WI's own range of jams, currently on sale in independent shops, one supermarket and online at Danzar Foods, are winners in the trade too, with the golden star being awarded to the Blackcurrant Jam in the Great Taste Awards.  The same gold standard was awarded to our Ginger Biscuits - the nearest thing to homemade.  You can’t beat a good WI recipe.