August 2017: Ice Cream

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For a summer treat we were joined in August by Dawn from LICC, the Luxury Ice Cream Company . Dawn gave us an interesting and informative talk taking us from the arrival of ice cream in Britain to the development of her own gelateria in York.  She explained how she set up her artisan ice cream parlour after needing a career change from the housing sector. After training with an Italian ice cream maker and purchasing the specialised equipment Dawn, and her partner, built a successful business. Of course we

 were all keen to try out the product so we paused for Dawn to serve us a tub of her popular Malteser flavoured ice cream. While we devoured the tasty treat Dawn told us more about the successes and pitfalls of setting up a business in 21st century Britain. She told us some of her craziest flavour requests (whey protein or marmite flavour anyone?) and how the customers often suggest interesting flavour combinations .Dawn predicted 

that artisan ice cream parlours would soon be as popular as coffee shops on our high streets and after tasting tonight’s offering we certainly hope so! This month’s recipe is for a no churn ice cream you can make at home.

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Spa Sweethearts at the Great Yorkshire Show 2017

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The Great Yorkshire Show is one of the federation’s biggest events of the year and Spa Sweethearts were keen to play an active role this year.  The work started weeks before the show with our crafty sweethearts meeting and organising entries for the group and individual competitions. A few weeks before the show the entries in the craft competitions were delivered to Alma House in Ripon by Felicity and her mum. This year’s theme was Botanicals. We had 3 entries in the floral garland category and 1 each in the brooch and lavender bag sections.

On the day before the show Felicity and Heather collected the various parts of our group entry and delivered it to the WI pavilion at the showground.  The group entry had to contain 5 items on the theme of ‘Floral Fantasy’. We submitted a spray of sugar crafted sweet peas (Amanda), a floral arrangement and crocheted square (Felicity), a pot of felted geraniums (Heather) and 2 handmade soaps (Jayne). As we set up our entry we had a sneaky peak at our rivals and were happy to be proud of our efforts this year.

We were also excited to see that Heather’s garland had won Best in Class and the other entries had done well too.  Several members also entered the baking category of the show and we were thrilled that Sue’s rhubarb and gin cake also won Best in Class in the Showstopper group.

Well done to all who entered the competitions. The pavilion looked truly amazing and it was great to see so many skills shown off to promote the 21st century Women’s Institute.

Many of our members also helped in the catering part of the pavilion.  There was lots of fun to be had measuring out the ingredients for gorgeous fresh scones and serving traditional tea and cake to the public. Over the tree days several sweetheart also worked as stewards. Promoting the WI and encouraging people to vote for the group entries.  It was fascinating to chat to the public and clear up misconceptions about what the modern WI is all about.  It was also a chance to meet members of other Yorkshire WIs and see what they have been up to this year.

The last day of the show coincided with our monthly meeting so we took the craft entries for the wider group to admire. The cakes were not fit to eat after 4 days in a hot tent but were recycled to feed some very lucky chickens!  The show was very successful for both the federation and Spa Sweethearts. Now it’s time to start planning for next year…..

Felicity Jennings 2017

July 2017: Blogging

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We kicked off our July meeting with a display of our successes from this year’s Great Yorkshire Show. With Sue’s cake and Heather’s flower garland both winning Best in Class and a popular group entry,  we were proud to be well represented this year.  We were also pleased to welcome two speakers to our July meeting. Local blogger, Victoria Turner, aka The Harrogate Girl, joined us to explain all about her successful lifestyle blog. Victoria told us how she came to set up her blog and the kinds of things she covers, from local restaurant reviews to Spa days at Rudding park. She also gave tips to any bloggers in our group as to how to turn your blog into a business. Keep your eyes out for the next internet superstar from Spa Sweethearts!

Following The Harrogate Girl we were delighted to welcome TV star Ben Fogle. Ben had put an appeal out on Twitter as he was writing a book about the English and wanted to feature the WI. After filming at Bettys he came to our meeting to chat to us and discover how a modern WI represents Englishness. He gave us an entertaining and informative talk about his varied TV career and even apologised for starting the reality star revolution! We had a lively discussion on what it means to be English before Ben and his Labrador, Storm, headed off to Morecambe having charmed us all. We look forward to his book and spotting if our ideas are in there.