Tag Archives: Yorkshire

April 2015: Gift wrapping


The mysteries of impressive gift wrapping were explained to us by Jo Thompson of More Pretty Things at our April meeting.

She began by showing us how to wrap the classic difficult gift – a bottle. Her technique would work for bottles of all different shapes and sizes – a few carefully placed folds and you have a gift to impress the fussiest of recipients!

She also demonstrated a simple, low-cost way of putting together a flower display that would work for all sorts of occasions. With a jam jar, some tissue paper and a small bunch of blooms, Jo quickly created a sweet gift which would be fantastic for anyone from the host of a party to someone feeling under the weather – and best of all, the jar means then don’t have to worry about finding a vase.

Jo’s third demonstration was a small gift bag, which again she made look extremely easy and achieved a great result. Then it was over to us: with some beautiful paper, a bit of card, a small box and a piece of ribbon, we set about making our own gift bags.

Naturally, we weren’t quite as skilled as Jo, but it was easy to see how, with a bit more practice, we could be turning out beautiful gift bags for every occasion of the year.

Next month: join us to learn the art of Sri Lankan cookery with DeeSpice. St George’s Social Club in Harrogate, Thursday 14th May, 7.30pm. Guests welcome at £5 per person.

March 2015: Take tea with Taylors of Harrogate


For our third meeting of the year, we were very pleased to welcome Tom from Taylors of Harrogate to talk all things tea.

Taylors – along with its sister company, Bettys of Harrogate – is one of our town’s best-known exports. It has become an internationally famous brand, not least through its Yorkshire Tea, which has become a favourite with a surprising number and range of celebrities.

However, there is much more to Taylors than ordinary tea. Tom talked us through the history of tea drinking, from its accidental discovery to the modern day range available from Taylors. He also passed around a number of tins of tea leaves to allow us to see – and smell – the differences between the varieties. (Hint: do not take a deep inhalation of Imperial Gunpowder Leaf Tea. It smells on fire.)

Tom also challenged us to work out how several different items were connected with Taylors and tea, including a silk handkerchief (another accidental discovery – a sort of early version of a tea bag). He then invited questions from the audience, which were many and varied, covering everything from the tea-blending process (the details are hard to remember, but needless to say it is absolutely meticulous) to the importance of celebrity fans (did you know Yorkshire Tea is the official tea choice of One Direction? This may or may not be true, but with Zayn Malik and Louis Tomlinson both coming from God’s Own County, a link-up was fairly inevitable. Louis has tweeted about his love of Yorkshire Tea in the past, which has no doubt led to a rise in sales to teenage girls…)

Of course, we couldn’t talk about tea without having a bit of it, so our lovely hostesses obliged – and you can’t have tea without cake, can you? Our members had done us proud again and the selection of cakes and biscuits was delicious.

We must say a huge thank-you to Tom for his talk. Being relatively new to the team and inexperienced compared to some of the other Taylors speakers, he was slightly nervous. Standing up in front of one of our busiest meetings ever – a whopping 80 ladies in the room – probably didn’t help! However, he made the evening very good fun for all of us and had a fantastic sense of humour. We would certainly recommend him to anyone who wants to learn the fine art of tea-making.

NEXT MONTH: Present wrapping. Do you struggle to wrap awkward gifts? Does anything non-rectangular give you nightmares? Find out how to wrap like a pro with Spa Sweethearts WI! Join us on Thursday 9th April, 7.30pm, St George’s Social Club, St George’s Road, Harrogate. Guests £5; members free.

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.