The Ladybirds’ monthly craft group is a chance to sit about, do crafty things, drink tea, eat cake and have a general chit-chat and catch-up. It was during our April craft group that I overheard someone say ‘tea and tents’ and my ears pricked up. I like tea and I’m partial to a bit of camping and I wondered, ‘What’s tea and tents?’. Three months later and I’m setting up my tent in a field in Nottinghamshire for a weekend of camping with more than five hundred other WI members. This is Tea & Tents, a camping get-together of like-minded, fun-seeking, WI sisters. It began in 2014 with around two-hundred and fifty women for a wonderful weekend of skill-sharing and friendship-making. They decided to do it all again in July 2015 but this time bigger and better, almost doubled in size and with a jam-packed programme. Pun intended.
I’m a relatively new member of the WI but I’ve quickly learned that one should not underestimate WI women. Who else have the collective creative vision to take a scout camp site and transform it in to mini-city of bunting, fairy lights and creativity at every turn. There was a yurt. There was bunting. There was a former RAC van converted to caravan complete with kitchen and pantry. There was more bunting. There were umbrellas suspended from trees. There was a Land of Oz yarnbomb. There was even more bunting.
The weekend’s programme consisted of over seventy activities, each activity voluntarily run by a WI member. So we had lessons in self defence, pilates, zumba, and mediation. Craft sessions ranged from intro to crochet, to making flower crowns to lampshade making. Speakers Corner hosted talks on topics such as the HMS Bronzefield WI and mindfulness. The Walesby site staff ran activities including axe-throwing, archery and kayaking. Sophie, Alana and Elaina from the Ladybirds ran The Big Bunting Project, contributing to their Craft for Climate initiative (check out craftforclimate.com for details of how you can get involved in their nationwide craft bomb in November!) There were also workshops on night light jam jars and jam-making working. Jam-packed indeed.
There was a fair share of competitiveness to the weekend too of course, and I’m proud to say Cambridge represented ourselves well on the competitive front. Personally I’m still basking in the glory of winning the table quiz but I’ll spare you the blow-by-blow recap of that. Fellow Cambridge WI members from Cam City and Bluebelles won in the sewing bee and the bake off (Chocolate Cake category) respectively which we joyously celebrated together.
The highlight of the weekend for many of us was the chance to meet and spend time with the other Cambridge WIs members in attendance. There were around thirty members representing the Ladybirds, Bluebelles, Cam City and Mill Road and we look forward to supporting each other and collaborating on events in the future!
Tea & Tents was the WI at it’s very best. A wonderful idea created by a group of inspiring women who worked together, to bring the rest of us together for a weekend of fun, friendship, laughter and tea. And bunting.