The fascinating tales of a literary great

Members of Kirkley WI during their summer outing to Abbotsford Hall, near Melrose.
Members of Kirkley WI during their summer outing to Abbotsford Hall, near Melrose.

KIRKLEY WI

Kirkley WI ladies met in Ponteland on July 4 for their annual outing.

Departing at 9.30am on a beautiful, warm, sunny day with driver Alan, from Keith’s Coaches, we travelled to the Edinburgh Woollen Mill at Jedburgh for a refreshment break before continuing to Abbotsford Hall near Melrose, the home of Sir Walter Scott.

We were met by guide Hamish Reid, who walked us down to the beautiful Scottish Baronial Hall, which Scott purchased in 1811 and rebuilt over the following 14 years to what we see today.

The house was what Scott called his “conundrum castle“, his fantasy, and being an avid collector he incorporated his weapons, armour, antiquarian curiosities, furniture, museum pieces, works of art and leather-bound books into his home to add interest and amusement.

Hamish was full of knowledge of the life and times of this prolific writer, who published more than Dickens and Shakespeare put together, which we were all fascinated to hear about.

Lunch was booked at the visitors’ centre cafe, overlooking the hall and gardens, and the mushroom soup, sandwiches, tea and coffee was most welcome.

We then made our way to the shop and had an independent look around the gardens, chapel and house before making our way back to our coach.

A most enjoyable and informative day was had by all.

• The story of English embroidery from 900 to the present day was given by Hilary Fielding at our May meeting.

The desire to decorate our clothing goes back to the early Egyptians, and in our country the earliest evidence was discovered in the tomb of St Cuthbert upon his raiments.

Hilary had an impressive range of samples. They displayed a wide variety of stitches and techniques. Her oldest sample was a section of a Jacobean gentleman’s coat, which was exquisite.

There was a significant number of entries into our competition for a piece of embroidery, which Hilary judged. Jean Dixon won with an embroidered pot lid in a modern style. Hilary was impressed by the quality of all entries.

Judith Arthur gave the vote of thanks, which reflected the pleasure and fascination we all enjoyed.

• At our June 6 meeting we were wonderfully entertained by Hazel Graham, Hilary East, and their husbands, with music, poetry and song from their Hadrian’s Wall walk from Wallsend to Bowness on Solway, which took 14 days and lots of blisters.

They told of their exploits and the history discovered along the way, interspersed with poetry from Poems of Tyneside and songs. We all sang along as they accompanied on accordion, guitars, recorder and piccolo. They finished with Water of Tyne, a lovely end to a delightful evening.