No porridge for us!

We had a fascinating visit to HMP Shepton Mallet yesterday with our fellow Chippenham WI friends, and we're pleased to report everyone managed to get out afterwards! Our two-hour long tour led by former prison warder Graham was fascinating. He had a fund of tales from his own experience, plus extras garnered from visitors since the prison closed in 2013. We learned what hard labour meant at the prison in the 1800s, where work such as the treadmill installed to human power corn milling led to the phrase 'turning the screw' (how the speed of the treadmill was regulated) and the nickname 'screws' for prison warders. Who knew that 'cop' is derived from 'constable on patrol' and 'pulling the

July Meeting: Skips, fun and capers

If June's meeting was a chance to chill out, then July's meeting was hot! Chippenham Morris gave us a wonderful demonstration in the heat and managed to teach many of us to dance in the process. The origins of Morris dancing are lost in the mists of time. Some say it's associated with the Moors (people not topography!), but no-one knows for sure. There are different forms of the dance and our side dance the Cotswold tradition, which has handkerchief and stick dances in its repertoire. We also learned of Cecil Sharp's work in saving many morris dances from obscurity. Many dances are specific to an area, often to a particular village and we saw dances from Adderbury and Bampton in Oxfordshir

Book Club: the results are in

The votes are in and we now have our reading list for the rest of the year. We look forward to reading the top 5 - possibly 7 - in the coming months. Don't forget August's read is Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World, which is free in Kindle's Classics options. Apparently Close to Home is down to 99p on a certain website at the time of writing if anyone prefers their own copy instead of one from the library (though using our local library is indeed a good deed!)

Are those plastic straws? No :)

July's Flexi Group decided to try The Garden's morning offerings after our successful Unofficial Supper Club there recently. Our clever exam success ladies Sally and Sarah F celebrated with a couple of mocktails; namely a virgin mojito and a raspberry thyme. We commented on the accompanying plastic straws... and our smiling waiter told us they're made from plants instead! It means they can be composted. It's fantastic to see there's an eco friendly alternative to paper which serves the needs of those (like Michelle's mum) who actually need a firmer straw to drink from. In other environmentally friendly news, The Garden was the first Chippenham eatery to sign up to the Refill Scheme. Or

Fun with memory wire

Who knew a simple coil of wire, plus pliers and beads could produce such pretty results? Thanks to Gill, the Crafty Crew had a lot of fun making our bracelets last night. With a little thought on a design, then assembling the right beads, these makes were completed in around an hour. Memory wire has the ability to stretch and then rest back into place to allow the bracelet to slip easily onto the arm. Gill also showed us some charms she'd made to go onto the base of wine glass stems. A simple but effective make that would make a super little gift. We all agreed this would make a great group activity.

Book Club: Fingers in the Sparkle Jar

July's book club choice was Fingers in the Sparkle Jar by Chris Packham, the group's first foray into non-fiction and memoir. There weren't so many in attendance this time, so it was great to welcome Sarah to the group. Quite a few struggled with this one, so much so that there were a few non finishers. Some enjoyed the detailed flowery language but for most it was just too much. With so many non finishers we elected not to score this one! Whilst voting for the next choices is on going we've chosen The Lost World by Arthur Conan Doyle for August, which is free on Kindle. The next meeting is on Wednesday 15th August at 7.30pm in Rivo Lounge.

Flushed away

Our latest foray into Wiltshire Federation's events wasn't the bog standard offering! Six Pewsham Belles proved they look stylish wherever they go, even when it involves hivis and Trowbridge sewage treatment works. It proved an mind boggling and fascinating visit. We may simply flush our waste away, but the ensuing process of dealing with it is quite complex. The waste is screened (twice), settled in tanks, then digested by beneficial organisms (in two different ways), before the much cleaner waste water is discharged into the local river. This discharge occurs no matter how low the flow in the river may be and adheres to strict standards which are monitored by the Environment Agency. We

Passport to the bridge

A warm summer's evening spent in Wendy's lovely garden hides the fact the Creative Writing group's thoughts turned a little darker this month when grappling with the prompts Bridge and Passport. The tales featured bullying and teenage suicide; domestic abuse; and the Syrian refugee crisis. Fine tales despite their dark subject matter which used the prompts in quite different ways. Finally we had some light relief via Sofia the overweight Italian fairy and her beau, Mario. A charming and gigglesome poem. We're trying something a little different next month with a prompt taken from the local newspaper, Mischief at the library! We'll meet at Wendy's as usual on Thursday, 16th August at 7.

Pewsham today

Four stalwart members of the Our Town group met to explore modern day Pewsham. This will form part of the history exhibit the group are planning for September and will contrast with the older photos of the estate's formation the group have looked at already. The main photo shows the street (and possible house) where Pewsham residents voted prior to King's Lodge school being built in the early 1990s. It's strange to think of someone's kitchen and lounge being used for the democratic process! Naturally we ended the evening with a welcome drink at one of the sites we explored, the Old Lane pub. It made a nice change to be able to sit outside. Update from Sue Reed via Comments: "I can conf

Book Club: Next reads

NB this is an updated post 18/7/2018. Our reading list is empty, so it's time to get your votes in for our next set of choices. You can vote for up to three books; three points for your first choice, two for your second and one for the third. Those with the most votes will form our reading list for the rest of 2018. We have thirteen nominations - the links will take you to more information on Amazon if you need it, to keep this post brief. Contact Wendy ASAP with your votes. The Girl with all the Gifts - MJ Carey Down Cemetery Road - Mick Herron Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman A Man Called Ove - Fredrik Backman Full Dark House - Christopher Fowler Magpie Murders - A

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