29 December 1995

In northern territories

THE snow had just started to fall the morning I left home to visit Farm Womens Clubs in the north, so an extra coat and blanket plus thick woolly socks and a hat were packed "just in case".

The first part of the journey was horrendous and I did wonder at the wisdom of it all but with hindsight it was the best thing to do as I avoided the really bad weather of the south-east. The sun actually shone on me driving through Essex but then in Cambs, the snow was driving horizontally across the road.

The plan was to call in and join the York group for coffee after their Christmas lunch at Loftsome Bridge Coaching Inn. This hostelry is situated near the water treatment works where tanker lorries were thundering up and down the main road delivering this vital commodity from elsewhere. It brought to mind that old film The Hell Drivers starring Stanley Baker.

Phyllis Sleightholme and Sheila Wicks were so surprised to see me but I wouldnt have missed the presentation to each of them by new contact leader Margaret Daniel who, with Mary Liversage is taking over the running of this group. Sheila and Phyll have served their club admirably for the past 10 years and to mark the occasion they were each given a variegated holly tree by the club. Jackie Green, a dedicated member, was also presented with a plant for all her help in organising meetings in 1995.

I really enjoyed meeting these members again who told me of the old days when they used to travel to Boroughbridge for meetings before a separate group was formed. It has certainly worked out well and all four Yorkshire groups are thriving with a total number of 250 members in the county.

The following morning I headed north to Corbridge to visit the Northumberland club for the first time. I was horrified driving across the Pennines to see a signpost stating that Corbridge was another 40 miles – I had misjudged the distance as the page of the road atlas was turned over. One thing did occur to me was that the police didnt bother to stop me as they thought I was a low flying aircraft.

It was great to see the Northumberland members on their home ground and enjoy a delicious festive meal with them in such beautiful surroundings. This club has about 30 members and Christmas seems to be the only time they all get together which suits them well as the rest of the year they manage to meet in each others homes.

Jean Howells