Trip rekindled long-standing friendships

Members of Kirkley WI and Ballywater WI during a visit to Ullswater in the Lake District last month.
Members of Kirkley WI and Ballywater WI during a visit to Ullswater in the Lake District last month.

Kirkley WI

On June 1 our Queen’s birthday celebration was held at our President Elizabeth Shaw’s home, with bunting and union flags in the garden and around the house, and members wearing red, white and blue.

Everyone brought something for a wonderful supper and toasted the Queen.

Final preparations were discussed for the visit of Ballywater WI, from Northern Ireland, which was to take place on June 15.

Our WI has been twinned with Ballywater for more than 20 years, having started because of a Young Farmers’ visit by Edward Potts, the husband of one of our members, 50 years ago. We have been visiting each other every few years, with the last visit by 11 Kirkley members two years ago.

Six ladies from Ballywater arrived at Newcastle Airport on the morning of Wednesday, June 15 and were met by six hosts from Kirkley WI, who took them to the home of Judith Arthur, of Brunton Bridge Farm, for coffee and cake.

They then travelled with more members to Howick Hall, near Craster, to look around the house and gardens of what was once the home of Earl Grey. Everyone had a lovely lunch at the cafe before travelling back to Black Callerton for a tour of Angela Potts’ farm, ending the day with a gorgeous supper at Mary Carins’ family farm at Callerton, before a good night’s rest at their host homes.

At 9.30am the next day, 33 of us met our Keith’s Coach, with driver Darren, and departed for Cranstons Cumbrian Foodhall and Oswalds Cafe in Penrith, where coffee or tea with jam and clotted cream scones, along with a lovely selection of tray bakes, was waiting for us.

After a look around the farm shop we made our way to Pooley Bridge to catch the Western Belle Steamer on Lake Ullswater to travel down the lake to Glennridding. It took an hour, and with an excellent commentary made for an entertaining trip in the sunshine, with beautiful views and lots of photos being taken. We had a group photograph taken as we got off the steamer, and even the sun came out.

Our driver was waiting for us and took us to Dalemain Mansion, a beautiful pink stone Georgian facade house, where we had our packed lunches in the courtyard before a guided tour.

Dalemain estate has been in the hands of the Hasell-McCosh family since 1679. It is famous for its prize-winning marmalades, which a number of us bought to take home. We then wandered through the beautiful flower gardens and saw their silver fir tree, the biggest in the UK.

On arrival back in Ponteland we made our way to The Plough, near Stamfordham, where more members joined us for a lovely evening meal. Our President made a speech saying how much we had all enjoyed the visit and presented our guests with gifts from the places they had been. A thoroughly enjoyable day was had by all.

On the Friday our hosts took their guests to either Durham City or Wallington, before we all met up at Margaret Young’s Deneholme Cottage, at Heddon, for tea and cake and a tour of her beautiful gardens. Our Ballywater ladies then departed for their flight to Belfast.

It was a wonderful entertaining visit, with friendships re- kindled, that we all thoroughly enjoyed.