Tag Archives: Spa Sweethearts WI

June 2014: Tour de France


With the Grand Depart of the Tour de France just three weeks away, our June meeting was a great opportunity to find out a little more about what this huge event will mean for us all.

Dee Marshall from Welcome to Yorkshire was our guest speaker and provided a fantastic insight into the months of hard work which helped to secure the Grand Depart for Yorkshire. She shared some of the more unusual aspects of the bid, including the fact that the Tour de France organisers had no idea where Yorkshire was (or even what is was – “is that a country?”) until the Welcome to Yorkshire team contacted them. After 5th and 6th July, hopefully many more people will know where we are and what our lovely region looks like!

As well as telling us about how the Yorkshire bid was put together, Dee explained that it became increasingly apparent that this would be an event on a scale never seen before in Yorkshire. It will be broadcast live in 190 countries around the world, with a global audience of 3.5bn. An impressive three million people are expected to come to Yorkshire to line the route of the Grand Depart, and the television audience means there could be millions more people visiting the region over the coming years after seeing our rolling hills and historic towns and villages on the footage. Following an investment of £10m to host the Grand Depart, Welcome to Yorkshire believes the return for the region’s economy could be at least £100m.

However, there are still some people who have not appreciated the scale of the event and Dee was keen to emphasise that it will cause disruption over the weekend of 5th and 6th July. However, she pointed out that unusual weather such as heavy snow often means things grind to a halt in Yorkshire. “The difference between us and being snowed in,” she said, “is were telling you it’s 5th July. You can plan ahead!”

Yet Yorkshire folk are creatures of habit, and Dee has dealt with several disgruntled locals who are deeply unimpressed at having to change their usual routine. Why shouldn’t they go to the supermarket on the Saturday morning as they do every week?!

However, the majority of people have been quick to embrace the Tour de France. Harrogate and the surrounding towns and villages are already looking suitably festive, with plenty of yellow bikes, bunting and shop fronts decorated for the occasion. The North Yorkshire West Federation of the WI, which Spa Sweethearts is part of, has also supported the Tour de Bunting project organised by Harrogate Borough Council which saw more than 23,000 mini knitted jerseys donated by people from around the world.

TdF collage

After Dee’s entertaining talk, we enjoyed the delicious French-themed Yorkshire ploughman’s buffet prepared by committee member Sue Warburton, along with some great wine and beer from

Fancy dress editAke & Humphris. There was also a chance to emulate the Tour de France cyclists (well, sort of) with an exercise bike challenge. We split into two teams – one named Yorkshire, the other France – and covered as many miles as possible during the evening. In the end, Yorkshire was the worthy winner, having completed 22.36km to France’s 21.23km. Everyone in Team Yorkshire was then entered into a raffle for the chance to win some beautiful bicycle mugs from Fodder.

Finally, there was a fancy dress competition on the theme of France. There were several berets on show and a number of stripy shirts, but in the end there could only be one winner and it had to be Rachel in her fantastic Eiffel Tower outfit.

It was a fantastic evening and certainly gave us all much more information about the arrival of the world’s biggest annual sporting event, and biggest free sporting event, on our doorsteps. Spa Sweethearts members will no doubt be celebrating in style in July!


May 2014: Fodder


Our May meeting was held at Fodder, the fantastic shop, deli and cafe run by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society just behind Sainsbury’s in Harrogate which will mark its fifth birthday next month.

On arrival, we were all given a glass of chilled elderflower cordial, before the canapes were brought out. We enjoyed everything from local sausages, mini jacket potatoes filled with Yorkshire Blue cheese, and palmiers, to macaroons and chocolate cups filled with whiskey flavoured foam, which went down very well (even with our teetotal president!).

Our speaker was Jane Thornber, who described the ecological features of the building as well as the business’s organisational structure, which puts the customer at the top as the most important person. We found out how they use the shop as a larder to prepare food for the cafe, while 85% of the produce on sale is sourced in Yorkshire.

As its fifth anniversary approaches, the team at Fodder has plans for the future including mail order hampers, a click-and-collect service, and outdoor catering via a new van which has just been acquired.

After an interesting talk, everyone spent some time browsing the shelves and displays to get some fantastic Yorkshire produce – complete with an exclusive Spa Sweethearts discount on the night. We’re very grateful to Fodder for an evening which was both interesting and delicious.

April 2014: Nutrition


Our topic in April was Nutrition, and Morna Murphy from Harrogate Nutrition shared some of her top tips with us.

These days, it’s easy to set yourself up as a nutritionist or food adviser and give out advice. However, Morna told us she used to work as a scientist before her interest in food and nutrition led to a change in direction. She has a diploma in nutritional therapy and is a member of the Institute of Optimum Nutrition.

Everything Morna told us had a good scientific foundation, from the reasons why eating too much sugar can cause you to gain weight to the benefits of maintaining steady blood sugar levels throughout the day. We found out that although the latest advice is to eat seven or even ten pieces of fruit and veg every day, in fact it is better if most of these are veg because fruit contains much more sugar. Equally, drinking too much coffee can play havoc with our energy levels, so limiting our caffeine intake will help to keep everything in balance.

There were plenty of questions for Morna at the end: everything from feeding growing children to the need for dairy in our diets was covered. To finish the evening off, Morna had brought a selection of snacks which many of us believed were healthy. While some certainly were, others contained large amounts of sugar – often hidden in things like dried fruit – which would cause our blood sugar levels to rise rapidly and then fall later on. She encouraged us to check food labels when we shop, and opt for items with no more than 10% sugar, in order to maintain good energy levels throughout the day.

As young WI members, most of us have hectic lives, working hard, running around after children and dealing with our many commitments. It’s easy to fall into the trap of eating the wrong things because we don’t spend enough time planning ahead and buying the right food, and we feel the need for that sugar hit. Morna helped us to stop and think about what we’re eating and what it’s doing to our bodies, our energy and our health – and to make better choices in future.