I joined my ‘local’ Women’s Institute at the beginning of the year, deciding to go a bit further afield to St Helens rather than join the Warrington group. This was mainly because St Helens was a new group just starting out and the shy person in me liked the idea of not having to infiltrate groups that had known each other for years!
Many of my friends mocked me initially and asked why I wanted to join a WI, to be honest I wasn’t exactly sure myself! However I knew that I wanted to meet new people and try new things and the WI definitely ticked the boxes! After attending several meetings, becoming a member of the committee and even attending a WI info day (more about that later!) I wouldn’t look back and would encourage everyone to join! We have so far had a great speaker talking about the rescue efforts after the Haiti earthquake, we have theatre and garden trips planned and tomorrow is the first book group meeting. We even have craft and textile clubs in the pipeline and a quilt group has been meeting once a week. It is such a varied programme with a wide mix of people that there’s bound to be something to suit all members.
The one thing that was mentioned at the first meeting was the Lancashire county show held in September in Garstang. Now anyone that knows me will know that I am not at all competitive, however with the mention of the show I did get quite excited, probably helped by my regular viewings of Kirsty Allsopps Handmade Britain programmes! So when I had the opportunity to attend a County Show know how day I jumped at the chance, eager to learn more about what you should and shouldn’t do at the show.
So today was the day that Helen (President of our WI) and I made our way up North to the Beautiful village of Downham not far from Clitheroe. It was a gorgeous blue sky day and the village looked so pretty
The day consisted of talks around the different classes for the show and the things to do and what to avoid. We had a great talk by the Preserves Judge and I learnt a huge amount on making jams and chutneys. This wasn’t really a class I considered entering and after the talk I have to admit I definitely wont be entering – there are so many things that I know I’d get wrong!
We also learnt what ‘Lancashire Nuts’ are. This is one of the items judged in the cookery section and many of the ladies (including me) had never heard of them before. They are infact nothing to do with nuts, but instead a type of biscuit! I have included the recipe if you fancy trying them:
120g self-raising flour
pinch of salt
1)Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the egg and beat in thoroughly to combine. Work in the dry ingredients to make firm batter (it will be firmer than a typical cake batter).
2) Grease a baking tray then add the batter by the teaspoon. Flatten slightly with the back of the spoon then transfer to an oven pre-heated to 160°C and bake for about 20 minutes.
3)When ready they should be golden brown and firm to the touch. Allow to cool then sandwich together with your choice of filling.
Today has reassured me that the show isn’t just for experienced crafters and bakers (they even have a novice class!). They told us about how they judge the exhibits and award marks – each judge will make sure they leave constructive and positive feedback and will tell you where and why you have lost marks. They will always ensure they offer advice which is constructive and helpful to allow you to learn from the experience.
I can almost guarantee I won’t get a prize but I will still be entering just to experience the day. The show is open to the public so If any of you want to come along it would be great to see you there!