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!

May 2022 report

It was a bright sunny St Patrick’s Day for our trip to The Outlook Cafe at Fox’s Marina in Ipswich. About seventeen members, (many wearing a bit of green!) enjoyed coffee and cake and had a chance to catch up with each other and set the world to rights!

The Birds and the Bees

Our first meeting in April was a visit to the New Wolsey Theatre to see “The Birds and the Bees”, a cheeky comedy set on an East Anglian farm where Gail (appropriately named) keeps honeybees! This was a saucy and very funny romp concerning a lonely widowed mother, and a daughter whose marriage had recently broken up, but who both found love and romance in unexpected ways, after a few hiccups on the way!

In spite of the sometimes-raucous comedy, and bawdy sex scenes which had the audience in stitches, there was a heart-warming and positive moral to this story. Even when the best-laid plans don’t work out as expected, there are usually ways through the difficulties which give a happy outcome for everyone! A lovely, positive note to end on!

Coming up we have a talk on “The Silk Road from China to East Anglia”, “Reminiscences of a Bluebell Girl” and a garden visit with tea and cakes to look forward to! Why not join us? You’ll be glad you did!

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)

January 2022 report

In mid-November a small group of Capel Ladies enjoyed another afternoon tea and some retail therapy at Corncraft Gift Shop and Tearoom, Monks Eleigh. It was a chance to do a bit of early Christmas shopping and relax over cakes and coffees!

Our Christmas meal was able to go ahead this year – and thirty-one ladies enjoyed a slap-up lunch at The Brook, Washbrook. The staff were very efficient and attentive and everyone enjoyed the festive food and the chance to celebrate after missing out last year because of Covid.

One of our members – Sue Maynard – was also celebrating a “Special” Birthday, and after a chorus of “Happy Birthday” our Chairlady Mary Butters presented her with a potted plant! Altogether it was a very happy occasion!

Coming up we have our Christmas Social, and then, in January, a visit to the Orchard Players’ show, “Musical of Dreams”. Lots to look forward to – why don’t you join us?

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!

November 2021 report

Now that Autumn has arrived, we are properly into our Autumn programme, and we now have something a bit more meaty to report on!

Brian Faulkner & Chairlady
Mary Butters

After our entertaining Jazz Galore Social we had a second gathering in September for our Open Evening. It was a very successful night with the craft and cards stalls as well as Kristy Barbouti’s Zova Chic clothing outlet for visitors and members to browse. There was a raffle which included some floral table arrangements made by Linda Evans, and coffee and cakes were served. At least two new members signed up and there were a few more interested ladies who promised to come to our next meeting. This was, of course, the talk by Brian Faulkner, the charismatic vet, entitled “Oh, the Life of a Vet…!” on 7th October.

Brian was born into a Northern Ireland farming family, the eldest of three children. His family had a mixed farm with cattle, sheep, pigs and chickens, and they also grew vegetables, largely potatoes. It was generally expected of Brian that, as the oldest boy, he would take over the family farm when he grew up, but instead he went off to Edinburgh University to train as a vet. Although his training involved all types of animals, he preferred the smaller creatures and domestic pets, and after working in Lincolnshire for a while he eventually married a Suffolk-born girl and his current practice is in Aldeburgh, not far from where he lives. Being very interested in animal and human behaviour he also gained a degree in psychology, and has lectured on this in different parts of the world.

He gave us a very interesting and amusing talk, relating some of his funny experiences with different animals, and he told us that a lot of the time the problems animals have can be aggravated by the way they are kept and treated. Their owners sometimes need to be educated in how to look after them properly with careful attention to their diet, exercise and surroundings. Much like humans really! Capel Ladies had one or two questions for him, and we even learnt some interesting facts about the sex life of the ferret! A very entertaining evening – and so nice to be back at a normal scheduled meeting!

Here are the details of our Programme leading up until Christmas, which we hope will go ahead without any further Covid restrictions! As a rule, we meet on the first Thursday of each month in Capel Library, with the meeting starting at 7.45pm., although it’s best to arrive by 7.30pm to find a seat. On the 3rd Thursday of the month we usually have an outing of some kind. We hope to see as many of you as possible who would like to join us at these events!

  • 4th November – ‘Suffolk Ghosts and Hauntings’ – Robert Halliday.
  • 18th November – Trip to Corncraft, Monks Eleigh for Christmas Shopping (own transport).
  • 2nd December – Christmas Meal at The Brook, Washbrook (details coming soon).
  • 16th December – Christmas Social, with table decoration demo by Brenda Eyers.

We look forward to welcoming anyone who would like to join us! For more details please see elsewhere on the website, or ring our Chairlady Mary Butters on 01473 310859.

October 2021 report

Our delayed Summer Social in September was jazzed up a bit this year by a lively band of musicians in the shape of Jazz Galore, when they entertained Capel Ladies in the Vine Lounge.

The turnout from members was rather disappointing, but then some were still away on holiday, (including myself), or unable to be there on the night. However, there were also a few guests and prospective new members, and those who were there enjoyed the evening as it was also a chance to see people and catch up over the cold buffet with everyone bringing a plate of food to share.

Jazz Galore played a number of well-known tunes and there was plenty of foot-tapping in accompaniment around the room. Their members come from all over Suffolk and are quite used to travelling across the county to different gigs. Look out for a chance to see them again as they may have other local bookings too! I, personally, was sorry to miss them!

At the time of writing, our Open Evening on the 16th September is all set to go ahead. Fingers crossed it is a successful evening and we will have attracted some new potential members!

Brian Faulkner, the charismatic vet, will be our speaker for October, definitely not one to miss!

Meanwhile, check out our website, or pop along on the first Thursday of the month at 7.45pm to Capel Library. Everyone welcome!

September 2021 report

As you are reading this no doubt Capel Ladies Club members will have enjoyed their delayed Summer Social in the Vine Lounge, listening to Jazz Galore and tucking into their shared buffet supper! Let’s hope it really IS the start of things getting back to normal again! More details of the evening and photos will be posted soon.

We finished our summer meetings with a delicious lunch out at The Brook in Washbrook. The weather was on our side, and many of us sat in the garden to have our lunch, while another group decided to stay indoors and avoid the risk of sunburn. However, the groups did mingle in and out to catch up with each other, and there was also a special guest to chat to, as ex-member Joan Molle had joined us from Stowmarket!

A new season marks a new start – and a new name! It is proposed that CLC will now stand for:
(although, at time of writing, this is still in the melting pot… watch this space!)

We are trying to change our image and become more vibrant and interactive to all age-ranges, and – as the new name implies – to CONNECT with both our current and potential new members! To this end we will be holding an Open Evening on 16th September! Look out for our advert in Capel Capers this month, and for posters around the village!

Ladies of all ages are warmly invited to this FREE event – non-members very welcome! You can drop in any time from 7.30pm to meet our friendly committee and members, have a coffee/tea and some cake, as well as peruse local fashion and craft stalls from two enterprising local ladies.

Kristie Barbouti will have a selection of versatile clothing and accessories for sale, from her online business ZovaChic, and you can also discover Lynn McConnachie’s range of innovative ‘seed’ cards, and other creations, made in support of the BrainTumour Trust.

Why not come along on 16th September at 7.30pm to Capel Library and see what’s on offer? Bring a friend along too!

With all this excitement there’s another event to look forward to! Our October 7th meeting will host the extremely charismatic vet Brian Faulkner, whose amusing anecdotes about the ‘Life of a Vet’ are sure to make you smile!

Hope we’ve shown you there’s something for everyone and lots to enjoy – plus good company of course! See you there!