Wendy Morris President of Fulshaw WI writes: There have been plenty of WI camping festivals this year but last weekend was the return of the first and biggest after a year’s break.
Tea and Tents consists of just over 500 women who camp, lodge or stay in caravans and camper vans in a very large field in Wallesby, Nottinghamshire. It was organised by three wonder women – India Rabey, Sue Carter and Clare Gunning and their Secret Squirrels who organise the event with military precision. Each one living in different parts of the country met on line but, since, then have enjoyed meeting at various events over the years.
Everyone who attends has to volunteer by helping campers to set up, litter pick, keep urns topped up or run workshops, activities and talks. It’s a simple scenario but ensuring that an event so large runs smoothly whilst ensuring that those attending enjoy themselves could be a logistical nightmare but it just isn’t.
The atmosphere is jolly with friends old and new meeting up. It can be eye opening with campers dressing as pirates, mermaids, show girls and Where’s Wally. You even get the chance to entertain in the talent show or show your knowledge in the T&T Quiz night. Or how about entering the Bake Off and Sewing Bee or even contributing to a Yarn Bomb called Blue Planet where all the knitting will be donated to charity.
Members from across Cheshire Federation attended. Some for the first time, others attending their second, third or fourth camp. The joy is that you get to meet WI members from all over England and Wales from just about every Federation. Familiar faces from across our Federation showed a really great presence – we even tried to take a Federation photo but many were too busy drinking cocktails, skinny dipping and learning to publish their own book! In our little camp area four WI’s from one Group shared food, equipment and camaraderie.
You learn lots to bring back to your WI to pass ideas and skills on too. You even get to try something new or rekindle a passion from beer and gin tasting, iris and book folding, walking, running, axe throwing, Morris dancing, willow weaving and hoola hooping to name a few.
You could even relax in the sun spending you’re time listening to some fabulous talks in the Speakers Corner; from ‘The Life of a Zoo Keeper’, ‘Living with Endometriosis ‘, ‘Sailing Tall Ships’ or even ‘Moving Up in the WI’. Or even learn how to make Egyptians falafels, Caribbean cuisine or enjoy attending pop up food events such as Swedish, Mexican or Get What You’re Given! There really is something for everyone .
Charity is never far from our minds. The camp’s raffle raised over a £1k to be shared by three charities including Denman and bras and sanitary products were collected. Alia from Great Moor & District organised a cookery demonstration and the donations she received will be sent to ACWW.
As a seasoned Tea and Tenter each event brings something different but gives me encouragement that as a WI we really do belong to something bigger than ourselves. It feels really very special.