On 15 March, the ‘Magnificent Seven’ set off from blustery Highgate to Parkland Walk, a 2-mile stretch of reclaimed railway track that is now a wildlife haven. We walked on to Finsbury Park, then along the New River Path, a very muddy, very slippery path (options of brambles on one side and the river the other). A couple of us did take a tumble, but in true WI fashion we stopped and made ourselves feel better with biscuits! We stopped at Clissold Park for a well-earned break and a spot of lunch. Afterwards we walked through Abney Park Cemetery, Stoke Newington, where we saw the grave of William Booth, who founded the Salvation Army. From there we walked on to Springfield Park, an important regional geological site. Leaving the park, we crossed the River Lea, where we saw Springfield Marina, home to a large selection of narrow boats. We then walked along the Lea Valley Walk, which took us past Walthamstow Marsh and onto Hackney Wick, where our 9-mile walk finished.
At our monthly meeting on 12 March, members and guests enjoyed a sociable craft evening, decorating picture frames.
On 8 March, two groups of members, friends and family visited the Christian Dior exhibition at the V&A. Dresses from 1947 to the current day were on display. It was a stunning array of design, style, colour and a love of women.
On 2 March, the ‘Famous Five’ were without their fearless leader for stage 11 of the Capital Ring (Kay was unwell and unable to join us). We had a great 6-mile walk from Hendon Central to Highgate, seeing some beautiful houses in Hampstead Garden Suburb, the very fine Art Deco underground station in East Finchley and the impressive Highgate Wood along the way. We also found two parks with zipwires while on our travels!
The Sweet Peas played their second-round darts match against Matfield Arrows on 19 February. Matfield Arrows hosted the match at the King William IV Pub in Pembury. The first game was lengthy; both teams played it close, but Pauline hit the double one to take the game. The second game was fairly close and both teams arrived at double one. Linda did her magic and hit the double one, winning the game and the match 2–0 for the Sweet Peas. Matfield Arrows Captain Kathy and her team were great hosts, creating a friendly atmosphere and providing a very tasty supper after the match.
With clear blue skies and bright warm sunshine, six of us set off from South Kenton station on 15 February, heading towards Preston Park. Brent council must like their residents fit, as we come across a well-equipped fitness area. Always willing to have a go, Alison tried the space walker, Elaine went on the skier and Kay had a go at the rowing machine. However, Cam and Ursula took the opportunity for a sit down! It was good to see a small group of local women using the equipment, apparently on a regular basis, go girls! Shortly after, we entered Fryent Country Park and found the going a little boggy and muddy. We walked to the summit of Gotford’s Hill (known locally by the kids as ‘Telly Tubby Hill’) and discovered great views out over London. We walked on to Welsh Harp Reservoir and detoured ever so slightly to the local garden centre, where we took a welcome break and enjoyed a hot drink and a bite to eat. Weary, but refreshed, we continued our walk to West Hendon and onto Hendon Central Station, where the 6-mile route finished.
We had a really interesting talk by Jennifer Cooper from the Crossbones Graveyard at our monthly meeting on 12 February. It was great to hear more about the history of the site and the area and the many people who had been buried there. If you're interested in more information or in attending their monthly vigil, visit crossbones.org.uk.
Waterproofs on and with a hot drink inside them, six set off from Greenford Station for a 5.5 mile walk. We passed by Paradise Fields Wetlands, then joined the Grand Union Canal to Horsenden Hill. There were great views from the top of Horsenden Hill overlooking London. We continued onto Harrow on the Hill and walked past many of the buildings of Harrow School. The last part of the walk was along a very muddy track, where with a few near misses we managed to get through without taking a dive.
On 26 January, Kate Boyle led a group of members and friends on a city walk and guided tour of the Guildhall Art Gallery. We all meet at the Crypt Cafe in St Paul’s Cathedral, before setting off on a short walk around the cathedral, then through Cheapside and on to the Guildhall Art Gallery. At the art gallery, Kate handed over to Karen Lansdown, who showed us around the Corporation of London Art Collection, with an emphasis on women artists and subjects. It was a very enjoyable and informative outing.
The ‘Magnificent Seven’ set off from Boston Manor Station to make their way to the start of Stage 8 at Osterley Lock. From there we walked alongside the Grand Union Canal to Hanwell Lock, where we veered off to follow the Brent River. We saw the impressive Wharncliffe Viaduct, which was built in 1838 and used by Great Western Railways. From there we walked onto Brent Lodge Park, where we had a warm drink, meandered around the maze and then, with our inner child screaming to ‘have a go’, we took off on the zip wire. Worn out from laughing, we set off again, passing Brent Valley Golf Course, through Perivale Park and finishing our 5.5-mile walk at Greenford Station.
Stage-8 Extra: The Flying Club.
Never ones to miss the opportunity to have a go (or laugh trying!), we were excited to come across a newly installed zip wire at Brent Lodge Park. The ‘kids’ among us rose to the challenge, some doing better than others (no names mentioned, Kay!) and spent a fun filled 20 minutes zipping about in the winter sunshine.
Six of us set off from Richmond Bridge to start the 5-mile walk. We joined the Thames Foot Path and walked under Richmond Railway Bridge and Twickenham Bridge, passing Old Deer Park before crossing over Richmond Lock. We rejoined the Thames Foot Path and stopped off at the Town Wharf pub for a warm drink. We continued on our walk through Syon Park to join the Grand Union Canal at Brentford Lock, where we walked on to Osterley Lock.
For our January meeting, Nicola Dunn introduced us to the art of calligraphy. She demonstrated some basic letterforms and explained the fundamental rules for forming an alphabet, then gave us all some a simple ‘pen’ (made from stiff card and a piece of J-cloth) and some ink and encouraged us to have a go.
On 4 January, the ‘Magnificent Seven’ wrapped up in many layers to walk Stage 6 of the Capital Ring. It was a beautiful, bright, crisp winter’s day, just right for the walk. We set off through Wimbledon Park, then on to Wimbledon Common, passing the landmark Windmill (last remaining hollow-post flour mill). After a few high jinks, we entered Richmond Park, passing the oddly named Spankers Hill Wood, before stopping off at Pen Ponds Cafe for a cuppa and great bacon butty. Moving onwards, with bacon-filled contentment, we took a short detour to visit Henry’s Mount to look out over London and at St Paul’s Cathedral, some 10 miles in the distance (a protected view, no buildings can be built to obscure it). After leaving the park, we walked alongside the Thames to Richmond Bridge, where the 7-mile walk finished.
On 28 December, seven ‘merry’ women and one ‘merry’ man set off to tackle Stages 4 (Crystal Palace Station to Lewin Road Streatham) and 5 (Lewin Road Streatham to Wimbledon Park Station) of the Capita Ring. It was great to have Karrie from St Mary’s WI on the Isles of Scilly (twinned with Catford WI) join us on the 9.5-hour walk.
We started at Crystal Palace Station, walking through Westow Park, Biggin Hill Wood and onto Norwood Grove. There is a Grade-2 listed building at Norwood Grove, built in 1840, as well as the Grade-2 listed Rookery Gardens. We walked onto Streatham Common, finishing the Stage 4 route at Lewin Road.
One ‘merry’ women less, the group continued on to Stage 5, walking past Tooting Bec Lido and through Tooting Common. We stopped for a lunch break at the Sam Remo Cafe on the common – the dull sky cleared and we had a well-earned cuppa under a bright blue sky. After lunch, we continued on to Wandsworth Common, passing Du Cane Court in Balham, built in the Art Deco period, Wandsworth Prison and Cemetery, then walked through Earlsfield, before finishing at Wimbledon Park Station.
On 11 December, we held our end-of-year social – and what a great evening we had. Everybody was in party mood and seemed to enjoy the Christmas buffet and drinks. We had a great turn out of members and we were especially pleased to welcome our Federation Chairwoman Annette Smith and our long-term WI Advisor Jean Gibbins, as well as several members of our waiting list and our Treasurer’s mum, visiting from St Lucia.
Thanks to our members’ generosity, our raffle raised £230.31 for St Christopher’s Hospice.
On 9 December, the 'Steadfast Six' walked Stage 3 of the Capital Ring Walk. Following many hysterical attempts at taking the start-of-walk selfie, the group set off along the Railway Children's Walk, which took us to the Downham Woodland Walk, where we caught the little wooden train! We stopped and enjoyed a hot drink at the White House (no, not that one!) in Beckenham Palace Park before moving onto Cator Park. Along the way, we became seven when we were joined by Sian and her bicycle. We had fun with an unplanned stop in the park to have a go on the zip wire. The final stage of the 8.5-mile walk took us around Crystal Palace Park, where we saw the amazing foundations of the Crystal Palace. In true Catford WI style, we ended the walk with a celebratory cuppa and slice of cake in the Crystal Palace station cafe.
On 7 December, a group of members, friends and family had a great day out at Lullingstone Country Park. When we arrived the weather was less than friendly, but 15 of the group set off on a pre-lunch walk around the park. Rangers Mark and Freya took us round and gave us lots of information about the location and woodlands. After the walk, the walkers joined the others for a very tasty Christmas lunch.
On 3 December, the Catford Thundercats played its last first-round away match against the Flighty Frogs of Istead Rise. Caroline got the winning double 2 for the Thundercats in the first game. The Flighty Frogs threw a winning bull’s-eye to take the second game. The final game came down to double 1 and the 5-minute rule was imposed. Neither team could get the double and the captains had to throw nearest bull to win the match. Unfortunately for the Thundercats, the Flighty Frogs threw nearest to the bull and took the match 2–1. A big thank you to the Flighty Frogs of Istead Rise for being great hosts, making an enjoyable evening and putting on a good spread.
On 1 December, undeterred by the weather, the ‘Fearless Four’ set off from Falconwood Station in the rain. Once again, we took a selfie before we started the walk. Still not grasping exactly how it can be done, Tom from Southeastern Trains rescued us and took a picture. Thanks Tom!
Early on in the walk Kay and Audrey tested the anti-climb paint on the bridge over the A2 and can attest it works! We walked past the old water-supply system to Eltham Palace and continued on to Mottingham, walking past farmland, parks and playing fields, meeting the odd horse and donkey along the way. Ever-ready Ursula, armed with secateurs, started collecting Christmas decorations. We finished our 4-mile walk at Grove Park by the Quaggy River.