Prairie Garden Visit

11 of our members visited the Prairie Gardens near Henfield on 9th September.   The owner, Pauline McBride, introduced us to her garden with a lively description about the garden’s beginning:  it took 2 weeks to plant 36,000 plants, most which Pauline and her husband had grown from seed, cuttings, and division in Holland.   They conscripted family and friends to help by inviting them to a party – which went on for days!

Although, it felt a bit like a party of our own, on a WI outing, the Prairie Gardens proved to be a very relaxing and tactile place – pure escapism for a couple of hours.  In a lush and well-formed garden, we immersed ourselves amongst the plants as we walked on paths in the borders, we took in its gentleness as we sat by a pond, and of course we had tea and cake!

Jan Marsden

To see all the photos click here

West Sussex WI Federation visits

Some of our members joined in with other WI members from across West Sussex on three events run by our WI Federation Public Affairs and Environment sub-committee this summer.

Warnham Nature Reserve Outdoor Talk and Walk – pond-life and plant-life was described to members by the wardens at this nature reserve near Horsham with passion for conservation.   What a gem – a public space hidden just off the A24 near Horsham – well worth a visit.

In a Spin …. on a July summer evening – was held at a delightful venue at Field Place in Durrington.   WI members, friends and family, were able to reflect the impact micro plastics may have in our oceans, and consider ways of reducing the detrimental effect on wildlife and potentially human life.    An informative and thought provoking evening, with speakers from National WI Federation, Southampton Oceanographic Centre and Southern Water.

Barfoots of Botley Farm Visit – Barfoots’ farmers treated a total of 80 members from WIs across West Sussex to tractor trailer tours of their local farm at Pagham.   They explained the workings of the farm, from planting through packaging and marketing the vegetable produce.   It was impressive: the way Botleys balance environmental challenges with the need to produce our food was remarkable.  To be given such a close insight into modern farming practices was an honour.

Each event was rewarded by good weather, good company and good speakers – reminding us how we can expand the value of our WI membership by  joining in events put on by our WI Federation, advertised each month in the West Sussex News.
Words and photos:  Jan Marsden

The Women’s Land Army


A small but perfectly formed group of WI ladies went to a talk at the Weald and Downland museum. The talk was ” The Women’s Land Army, The Battle of the Fields“, and the speaker was Gill Clarke.

We were privileged to have our own land girl Stella with us.

Gill’s interest in the Land Army had been sparked by her mother’s involvement, and she talked us through the history, recruitment, and day to day lives of the women involved, with the aid of artwork from the era.

Stella was able to add her personal experiences and recollections to an interesting and thought provoking evening.


It was only in 2008 that the contribution of the women who were part of the army in the Second World War was formally recognised by the award of a commemorative badge.

words and picture: Sue Harris

Visit to Tuppenny Barn

On May 29th a group of us visited this organic smallholding in Southbourne.   Tuppenny Barn provides learning experiences for children and adults to promote organic growing, healthy cooking and eating, and sustainable horticultural practices.

First we had a talk about the history of Tuppenny Barn, then a tour around the grounds, a cream tea, and a visit to the shop.  It was a very interesting and pleasant afternoon.

Many thanks to Dinah for arranging this.

click here to find out more about Tuppenny Barn

and click here for more photos of our visit.

photos & words: Katie and  Kate


Arundel Walking Tour No. 2


You may remember that last year we went on a Walking Tour of Arundel with our postman guide Martin?  Well last week we joined up with Martin for another tour, this time mainly along the lower part of the town near the river.  Martin regaled us with  tales of Arundel when it was a busy port with ships sailing along the River Arun to the sea 5 miles away.  Many of us had never been in that part of the town and were impressed with what is a rather pretty area.  Martin had many old photos of Arundel to illustrate the stories he had to tell.

One thing that made us laugh was a wall that we came across.  This was built by a man, famous in his day for selling all sorts of bits and pieces – I guess a sort of rag and bone man.  He built this wall and basically included all sorts of odds and ends, including false teeth – which you may spot in the photo below…


Many thanks to Celia for organising what was a very pleasant and interesting tour.

words: Kate Claisse

Photos: Kate and Dinah


Walking Tour of Arundel


Yesterday 12 of us met up in Arundel outside the Norfolk Hotel wondering what our walking tour would be like – and we weren’t disappointed.  It was entertaining, interesting and informative – all due to our excellent guide, Martin.

Martin our Guide

Martin was brought up in Arundel and clearly loves the town.  He doesn’t give a heavy historical talk, but instead told us lots of interesting facts about the town, and particularly it’s architecture – Martin called these facts ‘nutty’ which was about right.

I won’t attempt to relate all that we learned in case any of you would like to do the tour,  but a few funny things were …

Cathedral with plastic spire and empty plinths!


tudor facade masking an electricity substation!


and  ….

  • the castle walls were only built in the 1870s, replacing a whole parade of houses and shops
  • there is a genuine tudor building with fake tudor facade

… and lots more

Martin is a postman.  After his morning round he goes to the Norfolk Arms at 2 pm and if there is anyone there that wants a tour he picks them up – £5 a person – highly recommended!  His website is

For more photos click here.

Words and photos – Kate Claisse




Walking Netball

Yesterday Chris and I enjoyed an hours Walking Netball taster session at Westergate Leisure Centre.
Stacey was a great instructor. She took us through a gentle warm up and then some practise drills, followed by a short 3 on 3 game to learn some of the rules. We both managed to score a goal and had a lot of fun.
In January 2018 England Netball and NFWI announced a partnership and want to give everyone the opportunity to try the game, regardless of age and fitness levels. If anyone is interested in having a go please contact one of the committee.
Dinah Barrand

London Processions – June 10th


20180610_154232They estimate around 100,000 women took part in Processions 2018 on Sunday 10th June across the UK in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh and London to celebrate 100 years of women’s suffrage.

It was a commemoration of the mass marches of the Suffragettes and Suffragists campaign and a reminder there is still more to be done in regard to equality and the treatment of women even in 2018.

Myself, Sue Harris, Karen, Jan, Jack and Sheila got the train from Bognor and spent the majority of the trip looking out for other women boarding the train with their banners and dressed in green, violet or dressed as Suffragettes.

We made our way to Park Lane and Hyde Park to be met with the most beautiful and colourful banners that wouldn’t have looked out of a place in a stately home, such was the workmanship. They were truly works of art. Hyde Park was the first of many wrong locations we found ourselves in, for we had entered the area for the  ‘professional banners’, so we sat down, had our lunch and soaked up the atmosphere.

Another two registration tables later, we got our green scarfs. The whole procession was to be a living art statement with each woman wearing (however they like) a green, white or violet scarf. We then meandered along the street following all the other chattering, smiling ladies and their banners and flags. At around 2pm the Procession officially started with a rousing cheer from the crowds (cue the first of many goose bump moments.)


We then walked leisurely in the sunshine for another 2.6 miles, occasionally stopping due to the many, many women in front of us. This gave us the opportunity to look at the banners, talk to other ladies, admire our surroundings and revel in the pedestrian London we were experiencing.

IMG_7275A helicopter continually buzzed above our heads, capturing the moving suffragette colours we were creating between the historic buildings. Camera’s (professional, tourists and fellow marcher’s ) clicked away.

In London alone, more than 30,000 women joined the procession and my last ‘goose bump moment’ was as we were nearing Parliament Square and the end of the Procession; hearing the all female Guildhall School of music brass band playing away, whilst we had another enforced stop. I just soaked up all the positivity, colour and took a moment to appreciate being at such a historic event, I was very proud to be a woman, felt very empowered and privileged to be representing the Women’s Institute. (There were apparently at least 40 WI’s represented.)

Talking to the other ladies at the June meeting:

Karen’s favorite moment was walking down Whitehall, were she used to work and being part of such an amazing day.

Jan’s memory was the powerful vocal Mexican wave that reverberated along the procession a number of times during the march, in particular as we were approaching Trafalgar Square.

Jack was overwhelmed by just being with all the other women, seeing them wearing their scarves, the conversations with total strangers, the trust and positivity in a city where you usually wouldn’t talk to anyone you didn’t know.

Sheila’s impression of the day was the power of women and the thought of what we could do together if we all believed in something or wanted to change it.

Sue’s memory was thinking back to when she was a Londoner and walking the streets she had walked many times before; in particular walking past the memorial to the Women of World War II and then Downing street where a Woman Prime Minister currently resides. Approaching the Houses of Parliament she was struck by the fact that the Suffragettes must have also walked this path with Parliament as their target. In the midst of all the beautifully crafted banners, Sue’s favorite was a very simple one that just said “For Grandma”. She thought how proud that woman must have been of her Suffragette Grandma and wondered what the Suffragettes would have made of our Procession? It was at that moment Sue cried!

Words – Katie Lyne

Photos – Katie and Jan Marsden

A Golfing Adventure


On a beautiful May morning 8 members of Bognor Regis WI met at Hotham Park to have their first go on the Wildforest Falls Adventure Golf. This new venture had recently opened in the park, replacing an older version.

Having chosen our clubs, a coloured ball, and armed with score cards, we split into 2 groups of four. Amid much laughter and cheers as well as groans, we tackled all 18 holes. Some were very straight forward, others not so. We encountered hollow tree trunks laying horizontally through which the ball had to travel, water jumps, narrow entrances to tunnels and interesting zigzags. Each hole seemed to be perched on a little mound causing the ball to roll back to the start. It was amazing how our golf balls seemed to be attracted to the rocks surrounding each hole bouncing here, there and  everywhere, including into the water features. This must happen quite often as fishing nets were provided for players to use to retrieve their golf balls from the water (and we did, several times.)


The star of the day was Debbie, who achieved a hole in one on hole number 11. The attendants presented her with a small certificate to celebrate her amazing feat. The last hole, number 18, presented its own challenges to everyone amid much bewilderment. You need to go and play the Wildforest Falls Adventure Golf yourself to find out why.

When we had completed the course, we all agreed that we had had a great morning and decided that we would play again later in the year and encourage more members to join us.

Celia Janering  

Goodwood House visit

Last Sunday a group (14) of us enjoyed our Goodwood house tour and afternoon tea.

The tour was conducted by Jennifer, a very pleasant and knowledgable guide who amazed us with her amazing memory for dates, the various Dukes of  Richmond and Gordon (first, second third, up to eleventh), and the history of this house and it’s artefacts.  My memory is nothing like hers so no dates, but I can remember paintings by Canaletto of scenes from Richmond house, the family’s home in London, and paintings by Stubbs of the local hunt and exercising the racehorses.  In one Stubbs painting galloping horses looked rather wooden but apparently this was before photography so there was no way for him to record how the legs looked when galloping.  We also viewed the Card Room where we saw a display of exquisite Sevres porcelain.  There are many more paintings of course, of the family over the years and the Royal Family at the time – all very grand and very large.   There was also an amazing Egyptian dining room. Unfortunately after I had taken a few photos on the tour I was informed, very politely, that that wasn’t allowed, and this was before we reached the dining room which needs a photo to do it justice – it is magnificent.

The tour took about an hour and when it was over we were well ready for our tea!  It was worth waiting for – sandwiches, scones, dessert, cakes, and lots of tea – all of a very high standard, and beautifully served by some pleasant young men and women.  Most of us couldn’t finish all that was there, so we were given very elegant ‘doggie bags’ to take the remains home – my husband and son were delighted when I arrived home with the goodies!

I would certainly recommend this to those who haven’t been yet, and many thanks to Sharon for organising it for us.

Kate Claisse