December 2022 report

We were unlucky with the weather on our “Walkabout Woodbridge” outing in October. It was pouring with rain and quite breezy too, but nevertheless an elite group of CLC members made the trip, and although none of us fancied the walk, we found an oasis of warm, dry surroundings in the shape of Notcutts Garden Centre, and were soon settled in a cosy corner of the restaurant with coffee and refreshments! After a while we decided it was time for lunch and we moved to our reserved dining area and ordered our meals. There was a good selection to choose from, sandwiches and hot food included, and while the rain beat down on the roof we laughed and chatted together. Afterwards we all had a look round the Christmas shop where some of us chose some festive gifts. It was a fun day out in spite of the weather!

Our first meeting in November was a chance to get creative, and Ann Wilding was on hand to show us an alternative way of making greetings cards. We sat round tables with coloured ribbons, sticky tape, scissors and templates, and most of us were soon getting stuck in. Some members chose to watch rather than risk getting in a muddle, and they were the ones to go and get the teas and coffee ready so that worked well too! A fun, sociable time was had by all!

Coming up we have our coach trip to Ely Cathedral Christmas Fair, and then our Christmas Lunch at Hintlesham Golf Club. Goodness – as I write this, I realise that the festive season is really and truly almost upon us! Come and share some of the fun – check out the rest of our website to see what else we get up to, that should tempt you along!

November 2022 report

After all the various highs and lows, and seriously worrying events of recent times, it was good to see a show which was a complete diversion from all of that! This was our Capel Ladies visit to see “Kinky Boots”, a lively feel-good musical at the New Wolsey in September.

The show is based on the true story of a failing English shoe factory and its successful recovery, thanks to the unlikely collaboration of the owner, Charlie Price, who has inherited the business, and a drag queen named Lola. The show was lively, fast-moving and full of energy, with some stunning dance moves and incredible costumes, which included those AMAZING kinky boots with their six-inch heels!

The songs and music were written by the famous singer Cindi Lauper, and the Wolsey multi-talented cast certainly did justice to them with their skills at singing, dancing and musicianship. The show had a moral theme running through it, too, about being accepted in life and dealing with relationships and grief. The happy ending left us all in good spirits as we headed for the car park!

Vanessa Hale, from Wiltshire Farm Foods, was our October speaker. She spoke about the variety and convenience of all the meals – but, as the proof of the pudding is always in the eating, we simply HAD to try some of the flavours for ourselves! These included shepherd’s pie, hotpot, chicken curry and sweet & sour chicken, and desserts were sticky toffee pudding and blackcurrant cheesecake amongst others! I think the general feeling was that they were all very tasty, and the flavours didn’t have that characteristic hint of shop-bought ready meals, they were every bit as good as home-made! I’m sure quite a few of us will be trying some at home in the weeks to come!

Our next gathering is a trip to Woodbridge on October 20th, with a chance to look round the shops or walk by the river, followed by lunch at Notcutt’s Garden Centre. Then in November, at our next “In” Meeting, we will be getting creative as we make alternative-style Christmas cards with Ann Wilding. On 17th November we are off on a coach trip with Capel W.I. to Ely Christmas Fair in the Cathedral, and then follows a busy December with our Christmas lunch out and Christmas Social in the Vine Lounge. Now if all THAT doesn’t tempt you to join us, I don’t know what will!

October 2022 report

What a great sport our September speaker turned out to be! Wendy Smith, our “Wimbledon Line Call Judge” had arrived early and not only helped with us getting into the Library, but also got the tables and chairs out! She can certainly come again! Her talk was very interesting, too – even if you weren’t a tennis buff. She told us she had been line-judging for 38 years, but – experienced though she is – she and all the other line-judges have to go through the application process every year, starting in December when they fill in the application form. They even have to visit smaller tournaments throughout the UK to show their prowess over several days of matches, and once selected they are placed in teams and allocated their courts at Wimbledon. Standards are extremely high and they have to wear particular uniforms, (designed by Ralph Lauren, incidentally!) and there are rules for how to wear them, too! They are given a leaflet showing the details, for example – if they are wearing a skirt, they have trainer socks which don’t show above their new trainers, and if they have trousers on, they wear short socks with the cuffs turned down! As well as watching the lines they have to keep tabs on the score, in case the umpire loses track, and also listen to any mutterings from the players on court to make sure they don’t use foul language – in which case they have to be reported to the umpire and disciplined accordingly! This actually happened in the 2001 semi-final when in the final set of the match between Andre Agassi and Pat Rafter, Wendy reported Agassi’s bad language and he received a code violation notice from the main umpire!

Wimbledon Line Judge Wendy Smith shown in these cuttings from past championships.

Over the years, Wendy has made a lot of lifelong friends who she stays in touch with by email, even though they only actually meet up for the Tournament itself. She had brought some memorabilia with her for us to see, including menus from the After-Finals dinners, personal press cuttings and awards and books and articles about various players. Her favourite player is Roger Federer, as she says he is a highly talented but modest player and a real gentleman. She also said she misses players like John McEnroe, who was a controversial character (she admits) but who never actually swore, and only lost his temper when a point was in question. In many ways it made games “more lively and interesting”, Wendy said. Now she really admires him as a tennis commentator!

Our next meeting is a theatre visit to see “Kinky Boots” at The New Wolsey, when 20 of us will enjoy a night out. All the info about our Autumn Programme is on our website – have a look, you might be tempted to come and join us!

August 2022 report

On June 16th Capel Ladies Club held their usual Summer Social, but with a different twist this year, as it was a “Country & Western” themed evening. We were entertained by “Mr Smooth” (Jim Hawkins), a versatile singer who performs all types of songs. We enjoyed numbers from the songbooks of Glen Campbell, Roger Miller, Johnny Cash and Kenny Rogers, amongst others – and a few ladies even took to the floor to do some line dancing! There was a tasty buffet with contributions from each of us, and a Cowboy-themed Quiz with prizes including cans of sausages and baked beans, in the tradition of a Cowboy’s breakfast! A fun evening, it was just a pity more members couldn’t make it due to holidays or illness.

Our next project was Scarecrow-making for the annual Scarecrow Trail, and as it has been a Right Royal Year, we thought something regal would be suitable… so we chose The Queen of Hearts, Disney-style, with an angry expression after the loss of her tarts! Mary, Pat, Shirley and Sue spent a very entertaining morning creating the figure with a lot of laughs along the way!

On 7th July a party of us went to see the Orchard Players’ latest show in the Community Centre. It was entitled “Into the Light”, and it was an evening of songs – and dances – from many different genres with some brilliant performances from younger members, as well as the seasoned regulars and the live band. A fun, foot-tapping evening – CONGRATULATIONS Orchard Players! My overall favourite number was the Victoria Wood classic, “Barry and Freda” – Let’s Do It! Finally, to end a busy month, Capel Ladies manned the refreshments stall at Rose Chiverton’s Open Garden Event in aid of the Blossom Appeal, our charity for this year. Rose’s garden is unique as it includes a permanently laid out model railway track with working trains. These can all be operated with remote hand-held controllers, and visitors to the garden had great fun sending the trains going, over the bridge and round the circuit! There were stalls selling plants and pink items as well as tea and home-made cakes to try! It was a scorching afternoon and the men’s singles final was on the tele, so although it was a fair turnout, we might have had even more visitors on a cooler day with no other distractions!

We look forward to afternoon tea at Kersey Mill to end our busy summer season! Do try and join us in the autumn – we begin with a talk from a Wimbledon Line Judge on Thursday 1st September! Have a good summer – and remember to check out our Programme here on the website for details of our Autumn activites!

July 2022 report

Capel Ladies Club members had a great time at their latest outing on June 16th! They were on a visit to “The Shed” at Sproughton, a unique period café and salerooms selling antiques, homewares, gifts, outdoor furniture, plants and flowers, retro items – and even ladies’ dresses! It was indeed a browser’s paradise, with refreshments, too! After having a look round, with some ladies making purchases, everyone sat down to tea and cakes in the charming Nora’s Tea Room, which was decorated with memorabilia in a 1940s style, with proper teapots and strainers, and china cups. Even the waitresses were dressed in 1940s outfits, down to the last detail with seamed stockings! It was a most enjoyable afternoon, and many of our members said they will definitely make a return visit on their own!

Our June “In” meeting was cancelled due to the Jubilee Celebrations, but Capel Ladies Club did participate in the Exhibition in the Community Centre, contributing a display about the Toys, Games and Hobbies we remember from the past 70 years! Many of these remembered items are still being enjoyed by children today, although in some cases they have been brought up-to-date a bit! We’re now looking forward to our Summer Social, which this year has a Country & Western theme, and also to watching the latest Orchard Players’ Show in July. We round off the summer with a visit to Kersey Mill, and then close our doors until September 1st when we will have a talk from an ex-Wimbledon Tennis Line Judge to start our autumn programme.

June 2022 report

Who would have thought, in centuries past, that the production of one of the most luxurious and expensive fabrics in the world owes its very existence to a tiny caterpillar of the Bombyx Mori Silk Moth, which feeds on the leaves of White Mulberry trees in far-off China! The story of silk was revealed to us by Mrs Frances Harper, our April Speaker, and herself a retired employee from one of the silk manufacturers in East Anglia, at Braintree.

The process of silk production is known as sericulture. It was established by the Chinese 5,000 years ago, when, according to legend, the princess Xi Lingshi discovered that a cocoon could be unravelled to produce a thread when one dropped into her tea while she sat under a mulberry tree! For centuries the secret of silk manufacture was known only to the Chinese, until in the middle of the sixth century two Persian monks managed to smuggle silkworm eggs to the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I. The secrets of silk gradually spread into Europe, and an Italian merchant, explorer and writer named Marco Polo established what we now call the Silk Road, a trade route from China to Europe.

All the moths and caterpillars are still bred in China, where the silk is extracted and spun into skeins to be exported to the west, where it is woven into luxury fabrics in silk mills.

What is silk used for? Besides fine clothing, silk has been and is used for tablecloths, pillowcases, bedding, curtains, wall hangings, table runners, surgical sutures, parachutes, upholstery and bike tyres, as well as bridal and formal wear, brocades and velvet. Hampton Court, The Houses of Parliament, Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace have all got furnishings, upholstery and wall coverings made from silk, much of it manufactured in East Anglia! Most of these factories are now closed, but at one time silk was woven at mills in Sudbury, Castle Hedingham, Braintree and Norwich, to name but a few of them. Nowadays the main silk weaving industry is based at Lyons, in France, known as the silk capital of the world.

Now for something completely different! Our May Speaker, Jane Hoggar, came to recount some of her experiences as a former Bluebell Girl, whose dancing career began in the 1980s. At the age of twelve, Jane had to abandon her dreams of becoming a ballerina. Measuring six-feet tall with size nine feet, she reluctantly gave her tutu away, instead, sewing herself a sequinned ‘boob tube’ and turning her ambitions to Top of the Pops, Pans People and the exciting world of cabaret! Jane described her exciting travels around the globe during the 80’s that eventually led her to the remarkable Margaret Kelly, better known as Miss Bluebell of Le Lido de Paris.

She has worked in places as far away as Cairo, Tokyo, Paris and parts of Italy, coping with the most challenging of situations on a variety of exotic work engagements. In recent years, she has also suffered from breast cancer, and kept a diary of her “chemo summer”, an uplifting book that could help other sufferers get through their treatments for this disease.

During her talk she had us all in fits of laughter, and she even demonstrated some of her dance moves and sang snatches of songs from pre-recorded sound bites, finishing with Edith Piaf’s “No Regrets”! It was a joyous and uplifting evening for all of us!

For more of the same, with a great variety of speakers and entertainment, why not come along to one of our meetings on the first Thursday of the month, at 7.30pm in Capel Library? You will be most welcome! Bring a friend, too!

Coming up we have a visit to the Orchard Players’ Summer show and a Summer Social with a Country and Western theme.  In July we are taking part in this year’s Scarecrow Trail again, and one of our members, Rose Chiverton, will be opening her garden, complete with model railways, in aid of the Blossom Appeal.

Lots of events to enjoy!

April 2022 report

After another of our very pleasant coffee and cake gatherings at the Bluebell Tea Rooms, our next “In” meeting was appropriately entitled “Staying Fit and Healthy”! Our two guest speakers were Tom Leith, our popular local Physiotherapist, and Pilates Instructor Jill Sharp, who runs courses in Capel and Bentley. They were responding to questions from members and giving advice on health topics.

Tom talked about aspects which influence our overall well-being and mobility: good breathing, digestion and hydration, posture and exercise all play an important part. There were several questions asked, which led to much open discussion.

Pilates Instructor Jill Sharp, Physio Tom Leith & Brian Taylor from the Blossom Appeal

Jill gave us an outline of Joseph Pilates, and the fact that he’d developed his exercise regime as a result of his own sickly state, (he suffered from rickets, asthma and rheumatic fever), to improve his own health, strength and resilience. Its main focus is on exercising the body from the diaphragm to the pelvis.

During the evening we launched our charity fundraiser for breast cancer, to help the Blossom Appeal, and their spokesman Brian Taylor was there to report on the progress of the new Breast Cancer Treatment Centre at Ipswich Hospital. Building has just started, with completion scheduled for October. They are about half a million pounds away from their £6.2 million target, but with several pledges in place.

To boost funds for this very worthwhile cause we had a “PINK ITEMS” Bring and Buy Stall, and this, together with a donation from Capel Ladies Club, raised £100.00!

We also had a few guests, including some from East Bergholt, all in all it was a very successful evening. What we need now are a few more new members!

Our next meeting is for tea and cakes at The Outlook at Fox’s Marina, near Bourne Bridge, on 17th March, and our trip to the New Wolsey Theatre to see “The Birds and The Bees” is on April 7th! Come and join us!

March 2022 report

‘Musical of Dreams’ performed by The Orchard Players

Who needs Britain’s Got Talent when there’s plenty locally – as shown by The Orchard Players in their most recent show, “Musical of Dreams.” It was a cleverly written piece which tells how a young teenage boy finds the courage to stand up to school bullies and then the confidence to audition in a musical show at his school. The plot leads conveniently from musical to musical, picking out the appropriate songs on the way. Many of the cast were youngsters from around the Capel area, and they showed just what talented performers they are, singing, dancing and acting out the storyline.  It was a really heart-warming tale full of well-known songs, and presented with skill and poise, and our group of Capel Ladies who saw it went home singing some of the tunes in their heads! A real tonic for a dark, January evening!

Club members enjoying the ‘Backwards Raffle’

Our AGM this year was held online and the accounts, Chairlady’s report and voting in of the new committee were emailed out to members who had the chance to reply or comment in the same way. Mary Butters asked at our ‘In’ Meeting whether there were any queries about any aspect to do with these items, and there were none.

Our first regular meeting of the year was a social get-together with a chance to catch up with other members and then join in the Backwards Raffle. Thanks to Di Barker who organised the prizes for this, although unfortunately she could not be there herself. This was a fun activity which caused much laughter and regular swapping of prizes!

We finished the evening with cake and coffee, and now look forward to an afternoon tea meet-up at the Bluebell Café on Thursday 17th February.  “Staying Fit and Healthy” is the subject of our next meeting on Thursday 3rd March. Local Physio Tom Leith and Pilates instructor Jill Sharp will be there, and we hope to launch our charity fund-raiser for this year – The Blossom Appeal – with a speaker who will update us on the progress of the new cancer treatment centre at Ipswich Hospital. We will also be having a stall selling Pink Items to raise money for this during the evening. Promises to be a busy night! On 17th March we are off to The Outlook Restaurant, at Fox’s Marina, for lunch or possibly afternoon tea, to be confirmed! Our first April meeting (on 7th April) will be a theatre trip to the Wolsey to see “The Birds and the Bees!” Plenty of variety in the new programme then! Hopefully, some of you non-members reading this will maybe think about joining our ranks! You’re all very welcome!

February 2022 report

Our Christmas Social was very enjoyable, and had all the right ingredients to make it a success. I’d like to pay tribute to those ladies who made significant contributions. The festive table decorations were created by Pat and Shirley. The seasonal and colourful raffle was assembled by Audrey and Irene, with 22 chances to win something!  Sue Woolgar had devised a “musicals” quiz, featuring familiar songs from well-known shows, which we had to identify. We ALL knew the tunes, as was evident from the general humming, but naming their origins wasn’t always easy. The winners, with a fantastic 22 correct answers out of 25, were Irene and Audrey!

After Brenda Eyers’ impressive demonstration showing us how to create a special floral centrepiece for the table, the draw for the Members’ Christmas Hamper was made: this was another masterpiece assembled by Wendy, of which I was the incredibly lucky winner!  I should also mention that Margaret, whose ticket was the first drawn in the Christmas raffle, chose Brenda’s exquisite table decoration as her prize.

Wendy provided Christmassy tablecloths for the buffet table, and we nibbled, drank and chatted away… and before we knew it, it was past 10 pm! As they say, ‘Time flies when you’re having fun’!!

If all goes well, the Orchard Players’ production ‘Musical of Dreams’ will go ahead after Christmas, and we’ll take our seats for the evening performance on Thursday 13th January at 7.30pm.

We now look forward to a more normal year of Capel Ladies Club activities, if at all possible. We start with our first meeting on Thursday 3rd February, when we will have some fun with a Backwards Raffle, and welcome our new committee for 2022, which we hope will be a happy and healthy year for us all!

Report by Mary Butters (Chairlady)

December 2021 report

In order to keep the momentum going, as it were, Capel Ladies members had the chance to visit Alder Carr Farm, Needham Market, in mid-October for delicious tea and cakes in The Barn Café. There were also a few outlets such as a farm shop with a wide range of fruits and vegetables, frozen foods, delicatessen, bakery items and Christmas goodies for sale, plus craft and antique shops and a small nursery, so plenty to look at and lots of tempting things to buy! A pleasant drive in the autumn sunshine, too!

Our November In-meeting was one of a spooky nature! Robert Halliday gave us an illustrated talk entitled “Suffolk Ghosts and Hauntings”, which included several first-hand accounts of his own experiences! There were no headless horsemen or grey ladies involved, but also a number of sightings and unexplained occurrences which had happened to quite ordinary people, and which had been verified by others who had witnessed similar things. Altogether very credible narratives which left many of us with open minds as to whether or not we believe in the supernatural! After the talk there was time for questions and shared experiences, and a chance to buy one of Robert’s several books about Suffolk and its intriguing past.

In addition to our Speaker we welcomed back Lynne McConnachie selling her home-made greetings cards for the Brain Tumour charity, and Mel Smith who brought along some of her creative art including coasters, jewellery and decorative Christmas items for sale too.

We are now looking forward to our Christmas Lunch at The Brook at Washbrook in early December, and our Christmas Social on December 16th in the Vine Lounge at Capel Community Centre, and in the New Year we hope to be in the audience at the Orchard Players’ production entitled “Musical of Dreams”. Lots to look forward to, and – in spite of everything – lots to look back on, too, in this strange year! Wishing all members and readers of this article a very Happy and Healthy Christmas, and all the very best for the New Year!