Unwrapping the Mast Brothers

Our June meeting was all about CHOCOLATE! It was a taste extravaganza, as the lovely ladies from the London branch of the Mast Brothers took us to flavour town with a talk…and samples of their chocolate making process. Mast Brothers are craft chocolate makers and according to our lovely guest speakers they are a full bean to bar chocolate makers. The roasting process is all done by hand, using similar methods to the Mayans and Aztecs. More exciting than that though was getting to see a full on cocoa pod which was still filled with its pulpy fruit – which honestly looked like an extra from the Alien movies- but it tasted ok. I’m not sure I’ll add it to my weekly fruit intake, but it was exciting to try out the mushy blob!

mushy alien fruit

We learnt about tempering chocolate…all important if you want to avoid bloom on you chocolate… That’s the white stuff you occasionally find out your chocolate that has melted in the sun, and then reset. If you heat and cool chocolate without controlling the temperature the crystallisation of cocoa butter will result in crystals of different sizes (bad crystals) forming. The key crystal is crystal number 5 apparently. 5 is the key for cocoa and coco butter to remain friends!

Aside from amazing flavours, the chocolate is wrapped in the most amazing paper. Totally beautiful designs…. Puts Wonka bars to shame!


Prints to D.I.Y for

It’s just as well our May meeting was about memory, as we needed a reminder to update the blog for April! It was actually an unforgettable evening, but we got a bit carried away with the end result and forgot to tell you lovely lot all about it.

Everyone knows the W.I likes to get crafty, and one of the ways you can spot us when we’re out and about campaigning is with our trademark banner.


Kicking off with a bumper turnout Sarah Mangan guided us through the process of screen printing with the aid of lovely assistants in the audience to help demonstrate how to put some welly in when getting the ink to stick.

With varying degrees of artistic confidence we were put to work creating cut outs inspired by SSWI’s subgroups, and activities. It became apparent that this largely involves food and drink! Between cake, chatter and pints it proved to be a productive evening, and the room was filled with “oohs” and “ahhs” as the banner came together.

By the end of the evening we had put together a beautiful banner incorporating all the things that make us the Shoreditch Sisters!

Saving the best till last, the moment we were all waiting for, Sarah added the finishing touch for the final reveal:

Coming to a street near you!



The AGM and Remembering, Forgetting, & the Science of False Memory

First things first, a WI doesn’t work without some serious behind the scenes Mafia type organisational skills. For the last year the committee has planned, organised and executed all the meetings and subgroups which we as members get to enjoy, and who without which we would be cake and raffle less. So thank you to our dedicated team of ladies, and an especially big thanks to the ladies that are leaving the committee this time round: Jo Mayhew, Louise Corden, Jasmine Didymus and  Rachael Walker. Ladies we salute you! Welcome to Caroline Brooks who has rejoined the committee this year.

Special thanks to the lovely ladies from Middlesex federation who attended our organised chaos again this year, and for braving the basements of east London.

KP VP, Our lovely Sarah of Middlesex Fed (HQ), and Angie
KP VP, Our lovely Sarah of Middlesex Fed (HQ), and Angie

Next up was the fabulous Dr Julia Shaw, so popular was her talk that it was one of our busiest evenings. Shock horror two chaps actually turned up to attend… (sorry Gents, ladies only!)

Dr Shaw
Mind Ninja!

Dr Julia  is a senior lecturer in the Department of Law and Social Sciences at London South Bank University. Julia’s talk took us through the astonishing world of memory: from why you can’t recall a name you’ve said hundreds of times to your brain creating false memories.

Basically everything you ever remember is a LIE… sort of. Every time you remember an event you are reconstructing it and have the ability to change it… Which makes us all fantastic JK Rowling style writers of our own autobiographies… such fun!

Did this meeting even happen or am I just making it up, or mis-remembering it? Do repressed memories exist? Can you make someone remember a crime they didn’t commit? In an experiment by Dr Shaw she managed to convince 70% of her participants to remember a crime they didn’t commit… she’s like a mind ninja!  But more importantly Dr Shaw’s work actually has implications when it comes to witness statements and memories of crimes.  Researchers have speculated that certain tactics may lead people to recall crimes that never occurred, and could potentially lead to false confessions. Dr Shaw’s study was one of the first studies to provide evidence to suggest that full episodic false memories of committing crime can be generated in a controlled experimental setting. If you want to read more on the study you can read the paper here.

In a crime involving a weapon people are more likely to remember details of the weapon than the perpetrator. So if you are planning on committing a crime… don’t. There’s no need to be a git.

Dr Shaw has a book out on the 16th June – The Memory Illusion: Remembering, Forgetting, and the Science of False Memory –  which you can purchase from a member of a legendary race of female warriors believed by the ancient Greeks to exist in Scythia or elsewhere on the edge of the known world (Amazon.)

Blog post by Jen Lane on behalf of Shoreditch Sisters WI

Haiku you!

How do 25 ladieez celebrate International Women’s Day? With poet, writer and performer extraordinaire Cecilia Knapp of course! And what a doozy of an evening it was. We had poetry, a workshop, some free style writing, cake and a never-ending raffle. What better way to celebrate the day, than with a group of wonderful lady chums, unearthing your latent, or not so latent in some cases, creativity.

Poet and all round amazing lady – Cecilia Knapp

For the whole bus ride home, I thought I was a poet, almost. I saw Haikus and couplets in everything, such was the enthusiasm and creative energy imbibed into our group by Cecilia. To listen and watch her perform was such a pleasure, her poetry and delivery is such a richly evocative experience that it was impossible not to feel her words relate to some part of all our experience. Her eloquent romp through love and loss, washing machines, fags made of tea and of night buses was a beautiful insight into her world and ours.

Is that you God? It’s me… Walt Whitman

Next came the moment that if this was a work away day, I’d be burrowing under my chair in the hope of escaping any part of – the get involved section! However, Cecilia is clearly a pro at putting children and grown ass women at ease! A bit of free writing and focus and suddenly everyone is Walt Whitman!

Haiku bingo was another classic game, one I’ll be busting out at all future family functions… so you can enjoy it too, below is a winner of Haiku bingo…

 Some of my parts

Not just a fanny
But a wondering mind too
Celebrate us Woo!

What’s in a name? Juliette wouldn’t have got a look in with these rose meringues.

Shout out to Linda for the AMAZING cakes… all shall now be judged by the standard of the rosewater meringue. Seriously though, any bakers out there, cake/snacks and bingo donations always welcome. Bring ’em along!

Pants, pom poms and one truly awesome day!

  What’s Galentine’s Day? It’s only the best day of the year! Galentine’s Day is pretty much Shoreditch Sisters in a holiday – it’s about celebrating your wonderful lady friends. That is exactly what we did at our February meeting in our new fantastic home of the Book Club.
There was pant decorating a plenty with fabric and pom poms for those of a sewing persuasion, and if needle and thread wasn’t your bag, there was fabric paints to get your creative grove on. For those who were less inspired there was plenty of chat to be had. We covered the standard subjects – what to do when ghosted by your tinder date – Move on, delete their contact details and never contact them again. How do you make new friends in London – Join Shoreditch Sisters. Obvs! How to make a Suffolk Puff and why they are not called YOYOs, and why can’t sloths shiver?


Gotta be in it to win it!
There was the usual excellent raffle – we have reached peak raffle recently, with some amazing prizes. Will we be able to keep it up? Any donations for the raffle greatly appreciated – bring your wares along to the next meeting. All the money is donated to charity.
Shout out to DJ Angie for keeping us primed with lady anthems though out the evening – if anyone has any musical suggestions let us know by commenting in the Facebook event for the meeting.

We also had a bonanza of new guests joining us for the day – hello ladies! It was great to see so many new and regular faces at our new venue. We look forward to welcoming you all next month too – and if anyone wants to bring a cake, we’d love that too.

Winnin’ Wimin!

January, a month for fresh starts, new beginnings and resolutions for the year ahead. How appropriate then that we kicked off 2016 in a brand new venue! It was so great to welcome back current members and meet some brand new ones too. There were just so many beautiful and smiling faces everywhere – it’s no wonder the man who wandered down the stairs and found himself lost didn’t want to leave!

Our new home (The Book Club in Shoreditch) was the perfect setting for our meeting this month – our Wimin’s Quiz of the Year!

All teams battled it out admirably across 6 rounds which were completed with furious whisperings, exclamations of joy, panic and sometimes despair. I managed to shoe horn in questions about my favourite two women on the planet (Amy Poehler and Tina Fey) and everyone had a good chat and a good laugh about the year that was 2015.

We had a bumper raffle this month including many fine unwanted Christmas gifts! However it was the ‘Crafting with Cat Hair’ book and the ‘Periodic Table shower curtain’ that got the most interest.

The free cakes went down a treat and were ridiculously tasty – I certainly enjoyed ALL of them (yes ALL of them). Our amazing bakers had been hard at work producing the finest for their sisters – including a vegan friendly, dairy free, gluten free brownie that was to die for!

The scores were tallied up and after a lot of confusion and bad math skills on the part of the very beautiful but ‘slightly’ overtired quiz mistresses KPVP (Katie – yes that’s me…) the winners were announced!

In a delightful self-fulfilling prophecy style way the winning team were the Winnin’ Wimin who instantly got stuck in to their prize of a bottle of prosecco and some luxury chocolates.

Winnin Wimin January 2016

Well done to you all! We can’t wait to see you in February for our next meeting which is a Galantine’s day extravaganza!

Peace, love, light and laughter to you all in 2016, let’s make it a smasher!

Lots of love


The Snow Queen: Getting Chilly With It

Brrrrrrrr! Hear that book clubbers? That’s the sound of winter. We couldn’t think of an appropriately frosty novel written by a women so why not read one that has a strong female character? Well indeed. The Snow Queen is winter personified. And that’s snow-joke.

In all honestly, only two of us braved the wind and drizzle to the eccentric-antique-dealer-interior of the Bridge café, and exactly 50% of us had read the book so look upon this as a one-women interpretation of the Snow Queen rather than an informed discussion.

The Snow Queen opens with a sequence I definitely don’t recall from the 1995 cartoon (voiced by Helen Mirren and Hugh Laurie). An evil troll has made a trippy mirror that distorts the world to magnify the bad and ugly. The troll and his troll pupils (incidentally he runs a troll school) try to take the mirror up to heaven to play tricks on the angels but they drop it. This does not bode well for the rest of the story.

We are then introduced to two rosy cheeked children with a smidge of pre-pubescent sexual tension: Kai and Gerda, who are busy bonding over the roses in their adjacent window boxes. But oh no! Kai gets some of that troll glass in his eye and heart and starts behaving like a total douche. He trashes the window box and is mean to Gerda before stomping off to go sledging in the town square where he attaches himself to the Snow Queen’s sled. By spring time everyone has decided that Kai is dead but not Gerda. Sounds like time for an epic journey! 

Apparently the Snow Queen was the inspiration behind Disney’s Frozen. Even though these are two very different stories the comparisons are easy to see both in the overarching story, namely the strong determined female character who goes on an arduous adventure to save someone they love, and in that adventure itself, which features: a cast of helpful animals, witches in creepy houses, talking flowers which will not shut up about themselves (who knew flowers were so self-involved?), various accommodating local folks people and baddies that actually turn out to be goodies with hearts of gold, like the little robber girl that hooks Gerda up with a helpful reindeer, although not before telling her: “You’d better lie still now…or I’ll stick my knife in your belly”. Luckily for us there’s even a cutesy neatly wrapped up happy ending which I won’t spoil for you.

Of course Walt Disney borrowed/stole a huge amount of stories from Hans Christian Andersen demonstrated by the Disney versions of The Ugly Duckling, The Little Match Girl (more on her later) and The Little Mermaid (worth a read if you don’t mind horrible, horrible endings). However as a child of the late 80s I can’t help but think of Disney as the original storyteller of all my favourite talking animals which made the whole thing feel a little bit familiar.

Bonus Winter Story: The Little Match Girl

If you need one sad winter story that’s makes you glad to be at home next to a roaring fire then read this one: it’s only three and a half pages long. Testament to Andersen he really does squeeze a lot of emotion into this little storylet. The Little Match Girl in question is a scrawny frozen wretch who’s not had much luck selling her merchandise. Exhausted, she sits down in the snow and decides to light a match for a bit of heat which seems to give her a series of wild hallucinations culminating in the face of her dearly departed granny. Desperate not to lose her, she lights all her matches and her grandmother is all smiles and warmth. Of course it transpires that little match girl froze to death. Thanks Andersen. No cutesy Disney ending for her; she had to be chipped off the pavement in the morning.