Tag Archives: competition

September 2013: Cheese

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One thing you can say about the ladies of Spa Sweethearts is that they like their food and drink.

Our cocktails session last month was one of our most popular evenings yet, and when we were told we could bring some wine along to enjoy with our cheese this evening – well, it doesn’t get much better than that.

Rather than just shoveling food and drink into our mouths, Merritt’s of York had added an element of challenge to proceedings. We were invited to try six cheeses and match them to the descriptions we were given.

As well as the cheeses, there were breads and biscuits to try, as well as some grapes on the side of the plates. More than one visit to the top table was needed to ensure we were sure of the flavours we were tasting, and to find a favourite.

It was interesting to see that, when Julian from Merritt’s asked us which cheese was our favourite, there was a fairly even spread of hands going up for each cheese. There were only a few crumbs of cheese left of each plate by the end!

We had a great evening and enjoyed trying all the different cheeses, competing to see who was best at recognising the different flavours and textures.

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February 2012: AGM and the Great Sweethearts Bake Off

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Is there any better way to spend Valentine’s Day than by eating a lot of cake with some lovely people, and then judging them for their skills?

As our February meeting fell on the night when a lot of strange people want to spend time with their loved ones, we were unsure what sort of crowd we would attract.

We needn’t have worried, however – our fabulous bakers and eager tasters turned out in sufficient numbers to ensure a lively evening and a great competition.

The night began with our AGM, which is a vital part of our role as a WI. It was nothing too onerous, however: a bit of an update on our finances, a look back on our first year-and-a-bit together, and a talk about where our annual membership money goes from Carol Ambler, one of the wonderful federation advisers who helped us to get started in those early days.

We were then introduced to the committee members (most people probably had no idea who they were because they spend every meeting running around like lunatics!) and a vote was taken on who our president should be for the coming year. The lovely Bex Brown was re-elected by a landslide, which we were thrilled about – she has been the heart and soul of the group since it began and works incredibly hard to make it all run smoothly. Of course, she has the backing of a great committee to help her out!

After the business of the night was complete, we moved on to the bake-off. The instructions had been simple: bake something and bring it with you. The result was an incredible array of sweet things, from biscuits to brownies, and lemon drizzle to loaf cakes, to suit all tastes.

With so many entries, we decided to split the competition in two: large cakes (ie one big cake which required slicing) and small cakes/biscuits. Everyone was encouraged to try as many different samples as possible and then to vote for their favourite in each category.

Incredibly, almost every entry got at least one vote, showing that a good cake really is a matter of taste. All of the entries showed a lot of skill and time had gone into the competition – you would expect no less from the WI! However, there could only be one winner – or, in this case, four winners and a best in show.

We chose a runner up and a winner in each category. The overall winner, with the most votes out of both categories, was Debs Wynn. She had baked an incredible raspberry cheesecake with brownie base, using the very clever tactic of including a range of delicious cakey elements to try to please as many people as possible. Each category winner was given a first place rosette, while Debs got a special Best in Show rosette.

It was a very successful first AGM and bake-off, as well as a brilliant way to spend Valentine’s Day. Roll on next year!

June 2012: Archery

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A cold and windy evening saw the Spa Sweethearts go on their first field trip, to the St George’s Archery Club at the back of St John Fisher High School in Harrogate.

We began with a serious talk from Bill, who told us the importance of listening to whistles and instructions in order to avoid anything unpleasant happening with the (rather sharp) arrows.

The club had organised for a number of experienced members to be there to help guide us through the basics. We split into groups and took it in turns to shoot at the targets, which seemed quite a long way away until we noticed the fully-fledged club members shooting at least three times that distance on another part of the field.

Not only did we learn the best technique for shooting, we were shown how to remove the arrows from the target without spearing anyone in the stomach. We also noticed our technique improving as we were given one-to-one tuition and help.

Despite this being our June meeting, by an hour in the wind had got through all our layers and was steadily numbing our hands and feet. Used to the exposed field and its effects on archers, the club had laid on hot tea and coffee, as well as biscuits, for all of us, and there was almost a scrum as it was wheeled over to us. It was also a good chance to catch up with friends without a lethal weapon in our hands.

Once the break was over, we were challenged to compete against each other. We were split up according to which target we were aiming for and were told we would score points based on where our arrows hit: five points for getting the “gold” centre, then four, three, two and one for each circle moving outwards. Everyone seemed pleased they were able to score some good points for their team even after just a little bit of coaching, although one team did out number the others!

Finally, we were told to all line up together and raise our bows ready for an “Agincourt volley”. When we all released at once, the resulting sound of the arrows slicing through the air and hitting the targets at the same time was incredible.

Quite a few people were so impressed by the session they asked for information about the club’s courses for beginners and many said they would bring their partners along too.

It was a great evening despite the cold and we were very grateful to the club for making it so much fun.