with a few thousand friends!


thankfully, not all on the same coach as me!


I came well prepared and my hero’s socks grew a few inches along the way.


The fun of being in Liverpool is that there is such a strong sense of place that I never forget where I am, even if some of it – Penny Lane, above – doesn’t look quite how I think it should!


But reminders are never far away anyway.


I was staying down by the waterfront, meeting friends for dinner at London Carriage Works, which was a great choice!


My travelling companion Ellen and I were ready to go the next morning, with all papers in order.


My goodness, though, it was windy!  Somehow, though, we stayed dry and didn’t blow away on the short walk over to the arena.


We had great seats and Jerusalem was as moving as it always is, when thousands of women sing.  You’ve just got to be there to share the experience – there is nothing quite like it.


The day was filled with interesting speakers, including Josephine Fairley, of Green and Blacks chocolate, above.


Susie Dent, the lexicographer and etymologist spoke in the afternoon, raising a few smiles with her amusing malaphors (it’s not rocket surgery) and eggcorns, producing a spectacular example of jargon that I’m sure is pretty commonplace in the kinds of places I work from time to time:


(she told us it described a go-karting activity)

But as always, the real stars were the members.  I was going to include the adjective “ordinary”, but really, there is no such thing as an ordinary WI member.  Every one of us brings her own set of unique skills and experience with her and rising to the challenge is all part of the fun.  I know from experience how much confidence it takes to speak to an audience of several thousand people and I always admire those who do.


As usual, there were two resolutions to discuss and both prompted some interesting contributions from the floor.  The first focused on working to alleviate loneliness and I enjoyed hearing both the proposer and seconder’s address, for they spoke with the familiar East Riding accent, pronouncing “lernliness” exactly as I’d say it myself!  They put forward their points well, the audience responded with supportive discussion and the resolution was carried. 


The afternoon resolution on Microfibres in our oceans proposed by a member from Buckinghamshire provoked a particularly enthusiastic responses though, mainly as a result of Natalie Welden’s passionate address about this subject of huge concern.  Not only was this something which was dear to many hearts, it was something on which every one of us could take action and for once, the WI was ahead of the game.  Here was a campaign everyone felt they could get behind 100% and when another “ordinary” WI member stepped up to make a comment, describing herself as an oceanographer, later revealing her international standing and wide experience, it was clear, we had the benefit of first class opinion.  No surprise then, that the resolution was carried with more than 90% support.  Watch out then, for mentions of “plastic soup” and microfibres in the coming weeks.

Extraordinary women making a difference!


As the meeting was drawing to a close and we began looking out that helpful phonetic translation of the Welsh National Anthem, ready to attempt to join in the traditional finale to our meetings, the Retros came on stage and the party began.  The Hippy Hippy Shake and All you need is Love hit the spot – what a great way to end a fantastic day in Liverpool and to warm the vocal chords up for the grand finale of Jerusalem, Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau and last of all, the National Anthem.

Winking smile

The conversation on the coach home was rather different from yesterday.  After a day of such thought-provoking discussion we had plenty to think – and talk – about.  It’s such a privilege to spend a day in the company of so many inspiring women and I’m already looking forward to seeing them all again in Cardiff next year!

A creature of habit

A creature of habit

Around here

Around here