Almost a year to the day since my WI story stepped up a gear it was time to again get the tent out, but this time I wasn’t heading as far as Nottinghamshire (Tea and Tents is taking a year off this year, much like Glastonbury does when the organisers feel the need to put their feet up for a bit). Instead I was heading to a farm in Ware, Hertfordshire, for the Hertfordshire Federation of Women’s Institutes (HFWI) take on Tea and Tents – Wine and Wigwams.
I should probably come clean here and tell you that technically I was on the organising committee of Wine and Wigwams, but with life and loads of personal stuff getting in the way I feel that my contribution to everything was pretty much limited to going along to a few meetings and drinking tea whilst knocking some ideas about. I can take no credit at all for the amazing weekend that we all just spent at Wine and Wigwams. Credit has go to Emma G, secretary of the Herts Belles, and the real volunteers, who put on an absolutely amazing event for us all.
Some of the ladies enjoying the rag fairy light garland workshop
My completed rag fairy light garland
So, what the heck is Wine and Wigwams I hear you ask? Well – as I described it to my boyfriend – it’s basically like a guide camp for craft loving women who also like a spot of alcohol as evening lubrication! A group of WI members from across Hertfordshire (plus a couple of others from further afield – including my mum from Nottinghamshire Federation) gathered for the weekend to camp together, make friends, cement existing friendships and have a lot of fun in the way that only WI members can.
Peggy showing off the results of her Spanish Tortilla de Patata Demonstration
This was no where on the scale of Tea and Tents (there they had 570 women camping!) but I think there were 16 members who braved the elements (which included torrential rain) to camp for a couple of nights in a farm field. In the evenings we joined together for a fuddle (that’s a meal where everyone brings a dish along and shares it for any of you that were thinking of something else!), a spot of bingo, a quiz, a BBQ and even a lecture on amusing church history. All aided by a spot of vino. It was in the event title after all!
The daytimes saw us joined by about 50 other WI members who hadn’t been brave enough to camp(!), but instead took part in a variety of workshops and other sessions with us that ranged from a poetry writing class to bath bomb making and beginners knitting. There was also Thai foot massage, sugar paste flowers, chicken scratch embroidery, patchwork mug rugs, hedge laying and a farm walk. Whatever you say about the WI you can definitely never accuse us of not being varied in what we get up to.
The results of the Flower Illustration workshop
The weekend passed in a flash and was a huge amount of fun. Not only did I get to spend some quality time with my mum, but I was able to introduce her to a very different side of the WI from that that I think she is used to in Nottinghamshire. I also got to have a fantastic weekend with my friends, and make some new ones. I tried my hand at some new crafts and enjoyed some that I was already acquainted with. I always enjoy sleeping under canvas and my WI friends are fantastic camp and tent mates.
I think this was the third time that I’ve done Jane’s Chicken Scratch Embroidery Workshop, but I still enjoyed it as much as the first time
Learning how to make a “patchwork” mug rug with Janet. I’ll definitely be making more of these as gifts in the run up to Christmas.
Tea and Tents is due to make a return in 2018, and I plan to be there again, but there was something special about the smaller scale of Wine and Wigwams that made it extra special. Emma and others are already been asked about plans to host a similar event next year and I’m really hoping that we can and that this time I can actually pull my weight properly on the organising committee!
It may have chucked it down with rain and been rather cold overnight, but I was very much still smiling at the end of the weekend