Tag Archives: North Yorkshire WI

January 2015: A Vision for 2015


If there’s one thing that January is known for, it is New Year’s Resolutions. Every year, most of us plan to improve our lives in some way – and yet by the end of the month, never mind the year, we’ve often gone back to our bad habits.

With this in mind, we invited management and life coach Zoe Whitby to join us for the first meeting of the year and help us to make sensible, sustainable changes which really can help us to make our lives better.

We began with an analysis exercise. By examining each area of our lives, from diet to finances, relationships to career, we could work out where we had the least satisfaction and therefore what we ought to address. Zoe advised us to imagine what we would view as the ideal scenario, then compare our current situation to that, to help us visualise where we were aiming to be.

Equally important was choosing the right language: many people choose to ‘give up’ something or ‘stop’ something in the new year, such as smoking or junk food. Mentally, we feel we are being deprived. Instead, if we phrase it as making a positive choice to improve our lives, we are far more likely to succeed. Doing things in small steps is also key. There is no point in trying to go from doing no exercise at all to running 10km every day. Instead, aim to introduce simple changes to your existing regime until they become routine, and build on them as you improve.

After the opening exercise, we moved on to creating vision boards. By choosing words and images from newspapers and magazines which we find striking or appealing, we were able to create a visual representation of what we want in our lives. For some of us, there was a definite theme to the overall result (cake, in my case), while for others the effect was a kind of summary of all aspects of our lives.

Vision boards

Thanks to Zoe for leading the exercise and then allowing us to make the most of some time out to focus on our own lives. It was an interesting and inspiring evening which should stay with us throughout 2015 – and perhaps beyond.

To find out more about Zoe’s work, visit her website – Z W Coaching.

November 2014: Willow weaving


There are some topics which the Spa Sweethearts take to like ducks to water. For many people, willow weaving was one of them – and the guidance of tutor Leilah Vyner from Dragon Willow helped make it a real success.

Leilah began by telling us about her background and showing us slides of some of her fantastic creations and those made by some of her students. We were all particularly impressed by the willow reindeer she brought along, but quite rightly Leilah had decided we should start with something a little more manageable. Heart-shaped wreaths were the order of the day.

After being shown the simple method, we were all given the two pieces of willow which would make the basis of our hearts and began gently bending them into shape. A few people opted instead for a traditional round wreath shape. A handful of us (myself included) had issues with snaps and kinks in our willow, but Leilah was more than happy to supply a replacement piece and help us get started again.

Once the basic shape was in place, we helped ourselves to the range of decorations Leilah had brought along, including everything from natural greenery to festive, glittery decorations. Within just one session, many of our members and guests had created impressive wreaths which wouldn’t have looked out of place in an upmarket home decor shop, with a hefty price tag attached. Perhaps this is a potential new line for Spa Sweethearts enterprises?!

Some of the beautiful willow creations made by the Spa Sweethearts.

Some of the beautiful willow creations made by the Spa Sweethearts.

As ever, some of our members had baked some delicious goodies for us all to enjoy. One unknown lady had made some fantastic mince pies – I had my first of the season. Followed by my second. Yum.

Particular thanks must go to those ladies who arrived early to help, and who stayed behind at the end to clear up. Any meetings involving greenery tend to be extremely messy and this was no exception. On top of that, we had all our 2015 membership payments to sort out, as well as Christmas party money and the small charge for materials on the night. It could have been chaotic, but thanks to the hard work of the committee and supporters it all ran fairly smoothly on the night.

Next month’s meeting will be our Christmas party night, with games, a bring-and-share supper and more. Details to follow soon!

March 2014: Beer


For some reason, monthly meetings involving alcohol* always seem to attract a crowd, and our March meeting was no exception.

Almost 60 ladies – and a handful of brave men! – gathered to find out more about the craft beer revolution from local specialists Ake & Humphris. We learned about the origins of the craft beer trend and its popularity in different parts of the world, as well as the way the beers are brewed.

Of course, it’s important to learn by doing, so there were eight beers for all of us to try. Sampling them in pairs, we first tasted and made our own notes before finding out what the experts, Des Tinline and Barry Leal, thought of each and what we ought to have been tasting. Often, we found that our notes did link in with what they said afterwards, such as tasting fruity or light. However, that wasn’t always the case – putting “blue cheese” down as one of the things you could taste in the beer is a sure-fire way to single yourself out as an amateur!

The evening was a great mix of learning and tasting, giving us a chance to try everything ourselves before we found out more of the facts behind the beers. Des and Barry certainly know their stuff and it was also a reminder of the experts we have in our community – in this case, just a few hundred metres away from our meeting venue, at the bottom of St George’s Road. They rounded off the evening by asking everyone to vote for their favourite beer of the eight we had tasted. Although there was a clear winner, there was a good spread of votes across most of the options and, as we found out, there’s no right or wrong answer – it all comes down to taste.


*We did a wine tasting session a couple of years ago. I was getting a lift home so I managed to sample all of them thoroughly. I then lost all my notes and forgot most of the second half of the wines on offer. The resulting blog post was so useless that I decided it might be better to exercise some restraint for future drinks-based meetings.