Alnmouth WI, July meeting

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There was a buzz at the meeting of Alnmouth WI this month, caused by a good turnout of members, plus quite a few visitors.

After the formalities of finding a seat and socialising, Janis managed to get a word in, welcoming everyone, and because of a full agenda, quickly going through outstanding business, with the help of Barbara Galbraith, who was standing in for Yvonne, our secretary.

She particularly mentioned various outings and activities in the offing, including our annual participation in ‘Hindmarsh Hall at the Friary Day’, which is on Saturday, August 2, in our usual spot, the cake stall, and, of course, long-standing member Caroline Martin’s special birthday.

As our speaker for the evening was by this time more than ready after browsing through our antiques and collectables, Janis put on hold both her and Judi Hills’ talk about their respective visits to London until after we learned whether our treasures were worth a fortune, or perhaps heading for the tip, introducing Giles Hodges who would reveal all.

After a very interesting, brief description of his life as a valuer, which leads him to all parts of the UK and Europe, he started his valuations with a talk of what is in favour now and in the past.

The web, of course, has changed the whole way things go as it has now gone global, and most valuations can be found on some site or other, and it appears gone are the days when we mooched around the sale rooms trying to guess what items sell for.

Our lovely Victorian pieces of china and pottery are not very popular at the moment, particularly as the young are much more minimalistic than we are, and even the ones we thought were holding their value, such as Pool pottery, Wedgwood and Moorcroft, are not.

There is, of course, always something that may turn up out of the blue, which kept our hopes up a little.

Silver and gold, depending on hallmarks and weight, is still a good bet, but the lovely jewellery carefully cared for and inherited from our great aunts etc, while still good to have, is not going to make us millionaires.

It was very fascinating, and we all thoroughly enjoyed Giles’s in-depth talk about most of our treasures on display.

Sue Ellis gave a vote of thanks on our behalf, reiterating what we all felt, that going global is fine, but you can’t beat being on tenterhooks in the sale rooms, bidding for something you cannot live without – that moment anyway.

Before Janis and Judi gave us their views of their respective London trips, we were served a rather special supper.

Our programme secretary, Celia, had tried to book Doddington’s, the famous cheese and ice cream producers in north Northumberland, but because of their many commitments, they were unable to come in the foreseeable future, so, as a fantastic apology, they sent us some of their beautiful cheese, which we had for supper, enhanced by a glass of wine, served by our committee.

It was a perfect relaxing way to listen to the exploits of our two members let loose in London.

Janis was our delegate to the WI centenary annual meeting, and Judi was our representative to the Queen’s Garden Party at Buckingham Palace.

Both had a great time as their reports were excellent and also hilarious in parts, meeting fellow members from all over the UK, Judi chasing her hat all over the grounds in Buckingham Palace, and Janis sitting on the steps outside the Royal Albert Hall in all her finery eating her sandwiches.

They did a sterling job representing us and both told a good story.

It was a very enjoyable evening, a good way to start our summer break.

Our next meeting will be in September, and our subject for the evening is ‘Characters on my Doorstep’ by Joan Friel.

September 13 is our celebration of 100 years of the WI, which will consist of an exhibition from our archives from 1918, the start of our own WI, as well as a traditional pooled afternoon tea, from noon to 4pm, in Hindmarsh Hall.

Open to everyone, do come along and find out what has gone on throughout that time.

The exhibition is free and the tea is £5.