Meanwhile, the Shoreditch Sisters…


With the Spring all around us, for our April main meeting we decided to arrange something special for our members to nurture ourselves as well as some plant life.

Bridget and Frances of the Meanwile Club  joined us for a members exclusive Desktop Garden workshop. The Meanwhile Club’s ethos being to build community through horticultural activities we thought this would be the perfect way for members to get to know each other, whilst making something wonderful to take away by the end!


Equipped with soil and succulents we got stuck in with arranging our plant pots. Not forgetting a key component – decorative dinosaurs!

And of course it wouldn’t be a main meeting without a bumper raffle (raising money for Ella’s Home).

Proudly clutching our very own terrariums, there was a satisfying sense of achievement by the end of the meeting.

The Meanwhile Club can be found on the last Thursday of every month on Leake Street running their Make Do and Mend Yourself workshops. The Shoreditch Sisters give their seal of approval!


Shoreditch Sisters meet up with Art Macabre

Our March Main Meeting involved a collaboration with Art Macabre for a life drawing class with a twist!

Fueled by the Strongroom‘s W.I meeting meal deal  of Poutine, we were ready to recapture the joy and freedom of how we drew as a child!


Our muse for the evening was the mother goddess of destruction Kali (our second meeting involving the theme of goddesses!). Expertly portrayed by Geta Von Tease who had the difficult task of portraying a deity with six arms, she provided several poses for the drawers in the room to replicate this effect. Where was Kali’s infamous belt fashioned from the heads of men? Alas, we had to turn to our imagination for that, although we didn’t have to dig too deep for inspiration given current world politics…


Art Macabre warmed the room up for the activity by asking us to first draw Geeta without looking at the page. Trusting our instincts was the aim. Another approach was to work together on a joint drawing, taking it in turns to hold the pencil together and guide our partner through the image.


To finish our very own Committee Member Katie Pepper posed as the defeated Shiva!




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.


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


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


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


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!!!


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!!


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.


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!!

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!



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


March Meeting: Dreams of a 50:50 Parliament.

With the huge balls of politics beginning to gather momentum in the lead up to the election on 7 May we had a couple of wonderful and terribly relevant speakers for March’s meeting. Francis Scott from the 50:50 campaign came to speak about women’s representation in parliament and Councillor Racheal Saunders who is leader of the Labour Group in Mile End came to discuss the political process and the importance of voting.

SSWI show support for the 50:50 Parliament Campaign

Francis Scott kicked us off with a fantastic discussion on her 50:50 Parliament campaign which is trying to raise awareness that only 23% of MPs are women and that we need fairer representation in parliament. The campaign isn’t about proscribing one specific way of achieving the goal of fairer representation and is instead calling for more debate on the matter. However Francis took us through the possible options to increase female representation which included; gender quotas, all women shortlists or two seat constituencies where one seat is for a man and one seat is for a woman (an idea put forward by Tony Benn in the past). Francis gave us the fairly horrifying statistic that if we continue at the same rate we will only attain gender equality in the year 2115, I can’t wait that long guys. If cryogenics doesn’t work then I probably won’t even be a head in a jar by then! So if you think we need a fairer representation of women in politics now and want to debate how we go about doing just that then sign the petition here. You can also follow the campaign on twitter and Facebook.

The leader of the Labour Group in Mile End, Racheal Saunders then lead a conversation on the importance of voting and taking an active part in politics. Racheal spoke about getting in to politics as a women and highlighted the fact that two thirds of people who sign up to join the Labour Party are men. This is down to a whole raft of factors including inherent gender bias in politics generally and the socialisation of women, which means they put themselves forward less than men for senior roles. Rachael also spoke about the necessity for everyone to get involved in politics, explaining that politicians work for the voters and if you aren’t voting then they are less likely to drive forward change that benefits you. This means if you want to see change then you should make sure you’re registered to vote here – you’ve only got until the 20 April.

It was a fantastic meeting and thank you so much to Francis and Racheal for coming to talk to us!

Book Club – Derivative and Inspired

Like you were at the book club but without the cake or the spoilers

WI Girls at Book Club

This month the book club read The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters, another break from Waters’ previously self-proclaimed pigeonhole of “Victorian lesbo romps” (which is definitely a genre I’d like to see added in Waterstones). And weren’t we all thoroughly disappointed to find out how totally lacking in said Victorian lesbo romps it was: I didn’t go to book club to discuss literature, Goddamn it!

The Little Stranger is a gothic and ghostly tale set in post-war Warwickshire in the dilapidated and slowly crumbling grand country estate of the Ayres family. The occupants of the house are the ethereal widowed lady of the estate and her two grown children. As our narrator, Dr Faraday, becomes gradually more entangled with the lives of the Ayres family, we witness through his account the decline of the house and its inhabitants.

The novel takes a little while to get going, a few book clubbers mentioned getting to the hundred-page mark and still not feeling like anything much had happened. However, once you are into the action it really does become very gripping – we had one book clubber admit to binge reading the book and finishing it at 2am! The gothic style can at times be fairly heavily borrowed from other gothic authors such as Henry James, Shirley Jackson and Edgar Allan Poe but it is certainly no less ghostly for all that.

Although many book clubbers did mention how creepy and scary the story is Waters didn’t actually set out to write a ghost story. Being an incredibly thorough researcher she had enough material left over from her research for The Night Watch to fill another entire book so she started this one on the theme of class structures in post-war Britain. It’s a theme that seems to seep through the pages rather than thrust itself too obviously into your face. As a reader you never seem to come to any real conclusions on where she stands on this issue.

Book clubbers had a veritable smorgasbord of views on the ending. With probably about four or five interpretations doing the rounds; from the true supernatural, Freudian projections to deliberate misinformation on the part of our narrator it’s obvious that the ending is somewhat open to interpretation. However no one was unsatisfied with the ending and this seems to be Waters main strength in the gothic genre, she’s happy to keep you guessing and you’re happy to continue guessing.

The next book club is Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham which I’m sure will lead to strident feminist rants all round which I for one cannot ruddy wait for. It’s going to be on Tuesday 20 April, you can check the details in ‘Upcoming Events’. Can’t wait to see all your little faces there!

Blog by Jodie Major for Shoreditch Sisters WI