Radiant Riders cycle London to Paris!

Note to reader: Despite the trip originally being planned as just a challenge for us all, we later decided it would be a great opportunity to raise money for a worthwhile charity. If you would like to sponsor us we are raising money for Calais Kitchen, who work in refugee camps in Calais and feed over 9,000 refugees in Calais and Dunkirk daily. Thank you.

Having conquered lots of short rides in East London (usually finishing in a good pub for a well earned drink), the Radiant Riders started to think about something more challenging…and the classic cycle from London to Paris was the one that captured our imagination. Nine members signed up and the planning and training began, with a decision to follow a scenic 340km route over four days. We did plenty of training rides, learning useful things along the way, like the fact Essex is lovely, and it’s pretty hilly on the way to Brighton. A few members of the group hadn’t ridden since they were about 15 and so new bikes and learning how to maintain them suddenly became more important!

Then two weeks before D-Day disaster struck. Stef was hit by a car door when cycling home and ended up with a broken wrist – very sadly she had to pull out. (Get Well Soon Stef!)

So eight ladies set off for Paris, leaving in a range of groups, meeting up in the lovely village of Lindfield to start our journey proper.

radiant-riders-at-the-beginning-of-the-journey

After a pleasant 35mile ride through beautiful Sussex we made it down to the coast for the HUGE ferry to France!

massive-ferry-fun-times

We started our time in France as we meant to go on : with delicious things. After bakery products and coffee we set off on our 35 miles of the Avenue Vert – an old railway line converted to a lovely cycle path – nice and flat!!

After a relaxing lunch it was time for the hills to begin! At least hills=views

hills-equal-views

Upon arrival at our overnight stop, celebratory drinks were in order!!

celebratory-drinks

The second day in France was more rolling hills. The spectacular views just about made up for the pain of pedaling up them. And then we arrived at our accommodation for the evening – a chateau!!!

chateaux

After relaxing on the terrace and a eating a delicious home cooked dinner (made by the owner, not us) we retired to bed at about 9.20pm (rock and roll!).

Final day!! We set off for the final 40 miles in high spirits, knowing most of the route was through beautiful forests and we’d be in Paris for dinner.

Minor disaster with a detour for Kathryn off of a dual carriageway and Karen experiencing the only puncture of the trip, but these didn’t hold us up for long and we were soon on our way again.

We stopped to enjoy French bread, cheese and salami in an uber picnic in the genteel gardens of Versaille, before pushing on for the final stretch to the Eiffel Tower!!

versaille

As we started our final descent we turned a corner and caught our first glimpse of the city, and moments later the Eiffel Tower was revealed, standing proudly like a beacon over the rooftops. We paused to squeal and enjoy the magical moment before doing our final weave through the city streets, with the tower getting larger with every pedal stroke.

And then we made it! We were greeted by the lovely Katie and Stef at the Eiffel Tower, waiting with bottles of sparkling wine and medals to congratulate us on completing the route.

eiffel

Cycling through Paris to Gare du Nord to drop off our bikes was an experience but we all survived and made it for dinner involving copious amounts of wine and ALL OF THE CHEESE.

We had a well earned relaxing Sunday in Paris and then a Eurostar journey home with more wine!

Here’s to the next challenge in 2017!!

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

KPVP x

Ladies on Tour do Bath.

Is this seat taken?

What do you get when 16 Shoreditch Sisters escape London for Bath? A bloody awesome weekend that’s what! A weekend of military precision organisation – really what else would you expect from the WI?

We had a jam packed weekend, kicking off in the world’s smallest and cosiest pub The Bell Inn on Friday night with drinks.

Saturday started with a free tour of Bath organised by the Mayor ( just to clarify the mayor of bath didn’t personally organise the tour!) after a frosty start our tour guide warmed to us when she realised we weren’t a bunch of rabble rousers.
A tour of the Jane Austen museum was obviously on the cards, with the history of Jane and the rest of the Austen Clan. Possibly the best bit was the end where the Sisters got to run a mock in the dressing up box. Should I ever find myself magically transported back to 1817 I have my fan sign language down!

Come here often?
You’ve changed!

The evening was rounded off by a brilliant dinner at a cheeky little Italian place called Martini that did excellent cocktails. But the night wasn’t finished yet, oh no. These sisters like to dance. With the additional hour danced away at The Nest a random and cosy club it was pretty much the best Saturday ever.

Rachel’s loving her cocktail!

Phew if your exhausted after that, Sunday was the perfect blend of relaxing and eating. We visited Bath’s legendary Spa complete with roof top pool. Having learnt our lesson the previous day (at the walking tour), we denied all knowledge of each other in the queue to get in (no groups allowed). 3 hours of relaxation later and we were ready for some food. Like a boss, our tour organiser arranged only the fanciest afternoon tea at a Bea’s Vintage Tea Room complete with our own room and millions of cakes, it was a feast. There was quite the debate about the correct order of cream and jam placement on a scone, but luckily no fights broke out.


Thanks to our excellent President for organising a WI worthy trip.

Jodie’s travel agency comes highly recommended. Five star service!

Blog post by Jen Lane on behalf of Shoreditch Sisters WI

Do You Hear the People Sing…?

On Saturday something amazing happened. People from all over Europe congregated in London to show their support for all those refugees currently struggling to find their place in this world. Tens of thousands of men, women and children joined the Solidarity with Refugees march to Parliament Square led by a group of refugees; including some of our friends made from our campaigning with Women for Refugee Women. Everyone was there to send a message to the government.

Refugees are welcome here.

Although the WI steers clear of aligning itself with political groups (all views are welcome ladies) it doesn’t mean that we won’t stand up and show support for people who need a voice.

For those who have never marched before I say – try it – stand up – use your body to demonstrate the essence of your heart –  there is nothing quite as remarkable as a group of people coming together for a common cause.

Once the backlog of people cleared and we started to march forward I heard a hum in the crowd…I couldn’t believe it… a song…Do you heeear the people sing? Singing the song of…’

what?…why are you raising your eyebrows?

OK, OK.  So the crowd didn’t burst spontaneously into that stirring song from Les Mis but – honest to God – it had the same sentiment. One collective voice. And It sang…

Sing it loud, sing it clear, refugees are welcome here’

The best thing about these marches is the amazing ways people find to communicate their messages – a few of my favourite included a ‘Welcome’ door mat, an intricately cross stitched placard stating ‘Refugees Welcome’ (pictured below) and a child holding a sign she’d made out of a Shreddies box that morning – my heart literally broke.

Cross Stitch Placard

The march ended with speakers in the square including of course the Corbynator…sorry, the Corbynmeister. Crap! Sorry! Jeremy Corbyn, the newly elected leader of the Labour Party. Again the WI is non-party-political but I will say this; the agitation of both the media and of all the political parties (including Labour!) following his appointment will surely spark more debate on issues as important as this one. And that cant be a bad thing.

Blog post by Katie Pepper for Shoreditch Sisters

Cocktails, marijuana cigars, hookers and passing out…

Perfume bottles

…No, not a summary of the Shoreditch Sisters July meeting, but the start of a fragrance from Sarah McCartney of 4160 Tuesdays. Sarah runs a micro perfumery in Acton and at our last meeting, she took us on a tour of her perfumes and the history behind them (and it was awesome!).

Sarah Chapman 4160 Tuesdays

Bethnal Green Working Men’s club has never smelt so lush, (no seriously, it hasn’t) with a liberal spritz of perfume the place smelt fantastic.  Once samples were distributed round it was a hard job get everyone to pipe down so Sarah could tell us the background. The first perfume was What I Did On My Holidays which was exactly how English beach holidays should smell – Sea, coconut, mint rock and ice cream – although Shirley thought a bit of vinegar wouldn’t have gone amiss to really round off the holiday experience! 4 days later and my mobile phone still smells of coconut, minty goodness!

This could do with some vinegar

We meandered through seven of Sarah’s scents and how they came to being, the best involved the story of Maxed Out – the inspiration?…a blogger and perfume fan’s former wild times. The perfume is based on the kind of night out in New York that involves cocktails, marijuana cigars, hookers and passing out. If you ever wondered what that might smell like – it smells divine.

Sarah’s talk was fun and engaging and it was only with the promise that we could actually buy some of the perfumes at the end that got us to stop asking questions. Sarah has recently developed an Exclusive fragrance for Fortnum and Mason entitled Centrepeice inspired by a visit to Fortnum & Mason’s ice cream parlour and perfume salon. Sarah has a knack for putting fragrances together – Unicorn Tears and Saturdays? …that has a smell… one that can be turned into a perfume! Shoreditch Sisters?…Tea, Vanilla and violets…. and possibly Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club! We shall  see if we can’t make a Shoreditch Sisters signature scent at one of the workshops.

Thanks to Sarah and her fragrance Elf – Aisha for taking us on a magical mystery tour through perfume, and in case you were wondering – 4160 Tuesdays – What’s in a name? If we live until we’re 80, we have 4160 Tuesdays – so make them count and do something amazing on a Tuesday – like come to a SSWI meeting, or for a bit of a knit and a natter.

Aisha the fragrance elf

Blog post by Jenny Lane for Shoreditch Sisters WI

This Year’s Ours

First of all I’d like to thank you. Thank you for letting me turn what was essentially a coup into an officially elected democracy but also I’d like to thank you for trusting me with something that I know means a lot to you. Over the next year I want to make sure I prove to you, it was a good choice.

Bethnal Green Working Men's Club: Home
Home is Where the Heart is

What I have always been impressed with is the incredible talent, intelligence, kindness and humour that every woman who comes to our meetings has. Individually every one of you is an amazingly impressive human and when we come together we become exponentially more than the sum of our parts. We provide an incredibly welcoming home to any woman who wants to share what we have fostered, we stand united against the inequalities of this world, we share and teach skills encouraging each other to better ourselves, we share brilliant thought-provoking conversations (occasionally over a pint or two) and, most importantly, we have an awful lot of fun doing it.

Knot Just Natter
The ladies at Knit and Natter

So this year I want us to take this amazing atmosphere that we have made together and spread it further. Your committee is working so hard to get some amazing speakers and activities in the diary for the rest of the year which I know are going to be a lot of fun! We also have some amazing one-off projects like the Inspirational Women Quilt and ongoing projects like the Shoreditch Sisters Blog happening this year. But I want you all to get more involved: would you like to write for the blog? Let us know! Would you like to lead or help out with a subgroup? Let us know! Have you had an idea for a main meeting? Let us know! This is your WI and the committee are only here to work for you, any idea whether it’s a tiny suggestion (that you want jaffa cakes at each main meeting) or a huge idea (like you want to lead a project to Yarn Bomb the entire City of London) GOSH DARN IT let us know because we want to help you make your great ideas into a great reality! We cannot wait to hear from you (shoreditchsisterwi@gmail.com).

I can feel it in my bones, this year we are going to make some truly amazing stuff happen: I think this year is ours – let’s make it a good one.

All my love to you all,

Jodie, President