DI DIMOND has been organising meetings for Sherborne FWC for 20 years – ably assisted by Ada “Girlie” Hole – but now the time has come to hand over to someone else.

Wendy Huish is following in Di”s footsteps and she and other members enjoyed a casual evening of programme planning in Sherborne Bowls Club last week. In next to no time, their diaries were full of the monthly activities arranged for the rest of the year.

They will be doing keep fit in April, visiting the local fire station in May and going on a summer coach trip. An evening meeting in a member”s garden is always popular and Vera Stranger has invited everyone to her place in July. In the autumn, a trip to the theatre is planned as well as shopping in Cardiff – and, of course, a Christmas party, which is a must for this friendly club.

 Meanwhile, Wilts and Glos members were pleased to welcome their contact leader Amy Bliss back into the fold after a short break to become a bionic woman (she is now recovering well from her hip operation).

organised

 Amy and Sue Rawlings run this club like clockwork and this was evident when I met members for lunch at the Thames Head Inn near Cirencester. The meal was superb and the raffle afterwards was great fun, with Amy”s unique ticket system – I didn”t even realise that I had won a prize – but was delighted to win half a dozen organic eggs from Sue”s farm.

They had a talk in the afternoon on Wildflowers by Rosemary Westgate; she certainly brought plenty of slides!

Oxford club was also busy last week. They have something of a reputation to live up to as a few years ago were confused with a St Trinian”s reunion. As I entered the museum in Woodstock, I was greeted by Julie Barnett, who led me to meet the rest of the members who were viewing the amazing embroidery in the Stitched in Oxfordshire exhibition.

There is also a Victorian exhibition downstairs, which is fascinating. We all enjoyed seeing how this museum has been modernised and made so user- friendly, especially for children.

laughter

There is, I always realise, a thread of laughter that weaves its way from one FWC meeting to another, and I am sure other visitors were pleased when we retired to the tea room.

The photographs were taken out in the garden where we viewed snowdrops, crocuses and hellebore. Luckily everyone behaved themselves, so there were no photographs taken of ladies in the stocks in front of the museum!

Farm Women’s Club members give their views:

Doris Burton Oxfordshire, FWC

“West Oxfordshire District Council is very good at coming out to remove dumped items; there was an old computer and furniture up a lane near us recently. Members of our club wondered if the charges made to small builders and businesses at local tips makes a difference to the amount of rubbish dumped elsewhere. Some unscrupulous tradesmen will charge householders a fiver for removing items and then just dump them in a hedgerow.”

 Julie Barnet Oxfordshire, FWC

 “When I was living in Warwickshire years ago, my dad found some rubbish in one of his fields, managed to find the address inside of whose it was and took it round and dumped it in the man”s front garden. The irate householder asked what he was doing and the reply was: Just returning what you gave to me.”

 Hilda Gore Berkshire, FWC

“I know some people whose farms are closer into town have problems with cars being dumped. Luckily we don”t seem to have too much of a problem on our farm as we are a long way out between two main roads. I can”t say I”ve heard much about this new DEFRA database called Flycapture – there is so much paperwork sent out that I have only just read about the new rules for shooting rooks!”

MURIEL GARDHOUSE has been a member of FWC for more than 30 years.

 It started with the Saturday afternoon meetings arranged by Laura Brough in Dalston Hall and the all-day events held at Newton Rigg College when Zanna Johnston used to do cookery demonstrations.

 In those early days, it was a break for her to have an afternoon off from the hard work of being a farmer”s wife and bringing up young children.

Muriel has been married to John for 52 years. Married life started living with her parents, with John pedalling three miles on his bike to and from work, and Muriel helping with the family milk round.

 Eventually, they did get their own house – out in the middle of nowhere. They loved it there but Muriel said it could be lonely, despite the fact that they had six children.

 In one way the old adage of life beginning at 40 was true for Muriel; she persuaded John to first go on an FWC weekend 27 years ago. He was a reluctant participant, but now greatly enjoys these annual get-togethers.

 “We have made so many friends up and down the country” she says. “I have gained so much from the club.”

 Muriel has taken up lots of hobbies and crafts in her lifetime and has thrown herself into each one with vigour. The first one was cake icing, which she learnt as it was the only class available.

At their golden wedding party, Muriel stood up and asked if she could say a few words, to which her brother replied: “No one has managed to stop you yet!” She went on to praise her husband for putting up with her for so long and she joked that he was lucky, because many of the hobbies she had taken had been cast aside!

With six children and 16 grandchildren, there is never a dull moment in Muriel”s busy life; she is up at 5am three mornings a week to bake for daughter Julie”s caf in Wigton.

To spend time in Muriel”s company is a breath of fresh air. Sometimes it is a job to understand the strong Cumbrian accent, but she tells a good joke. Like the one about the girl skipping past a well who hears a frog calling out from inside: “Get me out, get me out. I”m a wealthy farmer who”s had a spell cast on me, if you kiss me I”ll marry you.”

 The girl stopped and picked up the frog and put him in her pocket. “Aren”t you going to kiss me?” he asked.

 “Not likely, a talking frog is worth much more than any farmer,” was the reply.