Thropton WI, October meeting

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At their October meeting, Thropton WI members were thanked for their help at Rothbury’s MacMillan coffee morning.

Their baking efforts had raised over £100 towards the total. More contributions came this evening to fill the basket we are donating to our Federation’s Pledge Auction and our pooled supper table looked most inviting.

Bev Dean was thanked for organising our educational trip to Glenkinchie Distillery, where we were given a comprehensive insight into whisky production followed by a couple of tots to help us appreciate the product itself.

We then continued to the port of Eyemouth, where Bev had organised fish and chips as well as glorious sunshine and a seal in the harbour.

Next, we are to investigate the studios and corridors of BBC Newcastle and are wondering if there are any future radio or TV stars among us – will the next Kate Adie emerge from Thropton WI?

Our speaker tonight was familiar to many of us as a neighbour. Ian Webb had come to tell us about refurbishing Thropton’s pele tower, which is technically a bastle and was probably built around 1500AD. It had been lived in continually, but was in a poor state when Ian bought it from Lord Armstrong in 1980.

The challenge of the restoration project cannot be over-emphasised. Ian told us that he and his wife had fallen in love with the ancient building and that she supported him throughout the process, but it only took them two weeks to realise that they were probably barking mad!

Their task lasted 10 years and involved some demolition, including that of the coal hole and nettie before the renovation could begin. Traditional building methods were called upon, huge timber beams and stone from the demolished building were utilised and an imaginative extension was constructed, giving the bastle a double-height entrance hall. The trials and tribulations during these long years included extreme cold, all-pervading dust and a sharp-toothed mole which had somehow got into the bath – it appears that moles are not the cuddly creatures found in children’s books.

Ian’s talk was much appreciated by Thropton WI members who were all in awe of how much he had achieved and how hard he had worked.

Our next meeting will be on November 5, when we will once again be entertained by the cooking skills of Gert Jones, always a favourite with us. Potential new members are most welcome to come along and sample Gert’s cooking and our friendly WI.