Harburn Village Hall - SWRI Meetings

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On Monday 9 May Harburn Hall was festooned with numerous varieties of Peonies.  Our speaker for the evening was Billy Carruthers from Binny Plants.  He grows more than 200 different Peonies and he delighted us with slides depicting many of these spectacular flowers;  some of them  old favourites and some brand new ones developed by plant breeders.   Contrary to popular belief he assured us that they are in fact easy to grow provided a few simple rules are followed.   Lots of us bought the variety of our choice so in the next few years West Calder and Harburn will hopefully be ablaze with large colourful blooms of red , pink, yellow and cream. 
As this was an open meeting we were joined by a number of guests, who in addition to Billy’s presentation enjoyed a delicious supper provided by members.  Thanks to all who contributed.
The competition for a “Gardening Tip”  ; 1st Sandra Dobson;  2nd Helen McDonald;  3rd  Ray Kew.
Flower of the Month;  1st Susan Howie;  2nd Moira McRae;  3rd Isobel McChesney.The baking bowls are now at the ready as our next event is the Annual Harburn Festival on 11 June, when we join with Harburn Community to create a fun day for all.   Stalls will include Cake and Candy;  Tombola; White Elephant and of course “all – day” food in the hall.  Numerous outdoor events and games to entertain all visitors will be on offer.  We look forward to seeing you there. 


Chocolate  digestive biscuits with Strathdon Blue cheese!!!  Sounds disgusting but amazingly tastes very good.  And what on earth are Boodles?  Answer  -  Butternut squash noodles. 
Our speaker for the evening was a young lady from Sainsburys who introduced us to some of the new foods arriving on the market e.g. the above mentioned “boodles”, not to mention courgette spaghetti!!  Sophie  gave us a very interesting insight into the origins and development of the company.  They are involved locally with the Food Bank and have also set up a School Bank ( this to provide school essentials on the same basis as the Food Bank)
She spoke about “Free From Foods” now to found in quantity on the shelves and “Fair Trade” products.
We were treated to tasty nibbles including beef, ham and said chocolate digestives with Blue cheese.
Competition winners for a bag made of recycled material
1st  Diana Waddell:  2nd  Elaine Hilditch;  3rd  Christine Nicholl
Flower of the Month 1st Ray Kew;  2nd Morag Stott;  3rd = Kitty Jones and Susan Howie

On Saturday 23 April members and friends including two husbands left West Calder at 8.30am bound for Dumfries House near Cumnock in Ayrshire.  We enjoyed a most informative guided tour of the Adam listed building previously owned by the Bute family and now in the care of a Trust.  This thanks to the timely intervention of Charles, Prince of Wales which saved the building and its unique collection of Chippendale furniture from auction.  Quite fabulous!!
We then spent some time in the extensive grounds including the walled garden and Arts Centre before moving on to  The Dumfries Arms Hotel for a delicious meal.  Our next meeting is on 9 May at 7.30pm, when we will welcome “Binnie Plants”.
This is scheduled as an open meeting to which all are welcome.
An excellent turnout of our members were enthralled by a talk given by Lesley Cooper from the Five Sisters Zoo.  Lesley took us through the ten year history of the Zoo since its inception to the present day.  The Zoo, which is located between Gavieside and Polbeth (close to West Calder) has grown steadily over the years and has an ethos of providing a home for rescue animals both large and small.  Most famously they have created a home for three rescued circus bears and latterly four lions.  This was achieved by lots of hard work and made possible through  generous donations from a myriad of businesses and the local community.   Lesley also showed some wonderful slides of the animals; the star of the show being Stumpy, a ring tailed lemur who is about to celebrate his 30th birthday.

The competition winners for an animal photograph were:
1st Helen Bissett;  2nd  Shelagh Steele;  3rd Elaine Hilditch

Flower of the Month
1st  Joanna Pearce;  2nd Shelegh Steele;  3rd  Diana Waddell



Anyone passing Harburn Hall on Monday 8 Feb would be forgiven for thinking that a Rock Band or even a Heavy Metal Group were in concert. The noise emanating was phenomenal!!  The explanation was simply that Harburn Women’s Rural were up to their antics yet again.  Under the expert guidance of David Dobson conducting a drumming workshop the members wholeheartedly grasped drumsticks, tambourines,  maracas and other various percussion instruments.  But this was no random cacophony.  Under David’s patient direction  we played kettledrums. snare drums and the aforementioned percussion instruments in a sequence  of changing rhythms which he taught us.  He said we did very well !!  It was certainly great fun and enjoyed by all.  Who says the the “Rural “ is  dull?
The competitions
4 Decorated  Heart Shaped Biscuits.   
1st Diana Waddell  2nd Elaine Hilditch
Flower of the Month
1st Helen McDonald  2nd Juliet Boulting  3rd Diana Waddell

Words : Morag - Photos : Sarah Thomson



Harburn WRI celebrated their 90th Birthday  on Monday 11 January.  President Kay Gibson welcomed Christine Hutton, National Chairman and Rita Poulter Federation Chairman along with Sheila Mason, guests from Polbeth, Bellsquarry and Ratho Institutes.  Also in the company were Jean Brash (cake maker exraordinaire)  Janet Meikle, Mary Kerr (past president) Kath Kendall, Mary Maclaughlin and members of the Harburn Ladies Song Group.
tryst birthday table
birthday 16 birthday 16

Everyone was welcomed by Moira and Juliet  with a glass of something bubbly. We lit the candles on the beautifully decorated cake (note the “rural” badge.  Well done Jean!)  sang Happy Birthday.  Rita Poulter said Grace and we proceeded to enjoy a sumptuous Buffet meal provided by our members and co-ordinated by Sandra and Morag.
By each persons plate was a hand made card to commemorate our 90th birthday.  These exquisite cards were made by Helen Bissett and greatly admired. A specially printed pen was also gifted ( more are available at £1) and a lucky raffle ticket. Also on the tables, beautiful blue and gold themed floral decorations, made by Juliet provided the finishing touch to the ambiance.
Christine Hutton then graciously  presented the prizes:-
Points Cup  1st Sandra Dobson;  2nd Isobel McChesney  3rd Helen McDonald
Flower of the Month  Diana Waddell
Midlothian Paperweight for Craft  Susan Howie
Beth Garnett Salver for Baking  Juliet Boulting

birthday 16 singers at birthday 16

The Stewart Cup won at the Federation show was also on display.
Honorary President Margaret Rennie reminded us of how it was at past Birthday Parties with amusing tales of the old kitchen and the pot-bellied stove.
Christine Hutton spoke on the history of the Rural in Scotland.  The list of achievements and events she recalled is very impressive. She thanked us for inviting her and for a very enjoyable evening.
Sadly our Honorary Member Bella Kirk was not well enough to be with us so Mary Maclaughlin read the poem Bella had written for the occasion.
Then it was on to the music.  The Harburn Ladies Song Group sang Grandfather Clock and Memories conducted by choirmistress Carolyn Hamilton.
The well known group  “Tryst”  then sang a number of songs.  Some were new, some known to us, some poignant and some funny.  Great stuff!

cups and things 2 cups and things

Rita Poulter, on behalf of the guests thanked us for a lovely party. Grateful thanks  to Joanna for keeping the programme running to time. Thanks also to Nicky and Lesley, who ”worked their socks off” in the kitchen and with Isobel’s help kept the buffet running smoothly.

In short, thanks go to all who helped in any way to make this a typically  happy Harburn Rural Thanks to Shelagh and Beryl for the photos.





Despite inclement weather there was a good attendance at the meeting when we enjoyed a  talk from May Millward , Chair of the West Lothian Branch of Diabetes Scotland.  May gripped our attention from start to finish, answered numerous questions and we left the meeting very well informed about  the implications of Diabetes in society today. The function of Diabetes Scotland is to lend support  to people who have Diabetes and raise awareness of the condition . Lots of information leaflets were available on diet, exercise and symptom recognition. On Saturday 7 Nov  the Drama Team and roadies set off to Selkirk. The team represented Midlothian Federation in the Anstruther Gray final.
Unfortunately the adjudicator failed to recognise our talent and we were unplaced.  Thanks to David Dobson for transport, lighting and sound. Also thanks to George for driving.  It was an enjoyable day. (Shame about the weather) Competition
A Winter Salad;  1st Morag Stott;  2nd Sandra Dobson;  3rd Ray Kew
FOM;  1st= Beryl Henderson and Diana Waddell;  3rd Isobel McChesney



At a well attended meeting on 12 Oct we were entertained by the “Calder Bells”  This is a group of campanologists who have been bell ringing for some 15 years.  We passed a very enjoyable hour listening and singing along to their music. Then in true Harburn style we “had a go”.  Apparently we are the first audience members who have managed to produce a tune!!
Competition for a Musical Card:-   1st Sandra Dobson  2nd Helen McDonald  3rd Isobel McChesney
Flower of the Month  1st Susan Howie  2nd Morag Stott  3rd Isobel McChesney At the Midlothian Federation Show held in Penicuik on Saturday 24 Oct we won the Stewart Cup (a composite entry for handcrafts), Well done Juliet, Susan, Helen and Isobel  The Bowman Cup composite entry for baking was well placed.
In addition a  number of our members won prizes for individual entries. Susan Howie  the Handcraft Guild 1983/86 Committee Cup Cup for a Bottle Cover, and prizes for a hand made card and notebook.  Isobel gained a 1st for macaroon bars and Sandra 3rd for profiteroles. We are not just pretty faces Our next meeting is on 9th November in Harburn Hall at 7.30 pm. The subject will be Diabetes and Diabetic Diet.  Ladies wishing to join us will be very welcome.  Call 01506 872881 for further information. 


Harburn held their AGM on Monday 14 Sept. We welcome onto the committee Susan Howie, Kitty Jones and Joanna Pearce and thanks go to them for their willingness to serve.
The Beth Garnett was won by Juliet Boulting for a 1lb Gingerbread.
The Rural Paperweight was won by Susan Howie for a Pin Cushion  (any craft)
The Flower of the Month was won by Sarah Thomson Following the AGM a protracted committee meeting was held on 28 Sept.  The syllabus for 2016 was, after much discussion, agreed.  Kitty Jones now holds the position of Competition Secretary and Susan Howie is our Vice President.
Joanna Pearce has generously agreed to take on the task of Secretary.  However in her absence for the next two months in Zambia Morag Stott will “hold the fort”. The Federation Show will be held in Penicuik on Sat 24 Oct.
Plans are under way for our Big 90th Birthday in January with further plans for celebration in the pipeline. MS


We welcomed Bill Russell to our April meeting attended by members and friends including spouses.  Bill entertained us with slides and video clips of his journey through New Zealand.  Beginning with North Island we viewed spectacular scenery and progressed to South Island seeing many examples of their architecture and scenes of rural life.  Bill is a true railway enthusiast so no film show is complete without a railway journey (on this occasion to the highest rail point in New Zealand) Winners of the competition of a “Holiday Memory” were 1st Helen McDonald;  2nd Shelagh Steele; 3rd Juliet Boulting.
Flower of the Month 1st  Beryl Hendeerson;  2nd Dinah Waddell;  3rd = Isobel McChesney and Kitty Jones. The subject of our next meeting on 11 May at 7.30pm will be “An insight into the travelling people, with Jess Smith, Author, Storyteller and Traditional singer. All welcome!!


Around 14 members attended our “extra meeting”  on 23 March.  The purpose of the meeting was primarily to discuss the 8 motions which will be presented to the National Conference in September.

Our voting delegate, Sandra Dobson will represent our views on that day. A lively, if somewhat, chaotic discussion ensued.  This was good as no person felt inhibited in expressing their views on the matters under review. Everyone will have had a chance to read the motions in question.  Sandra will, therefore vote on those motions in accordance with the agreement reached at the meeting.
Motions 1 and 2     Agree
Motion 3                We will seek clarification on proposed arrangements for consultation.
Motion 4                We will enquire as to the guidelines laid down by OSCR
Motion 5                Could this be a missprint?
Motion 6                Agree  (we already implement this)
Motion 7                Agree
Motion 8                Agree Sandra will listen to the debates and if  unhappy with any of the items has our authority to use her discretion on how she votes. A number of other topics were discussed, including the Federation Show, our Annual Outing and the Drama Festival.  Further details on those will be available at the next meeting on 13 April. 


At a well attended open meeting we enjoyed a fascinating talk with slides from Jim Wyllie.  He has an amazing variety of facts and figures at his fingertips.  His treasure of slides (now converted from glass plates to digital form) taken by his grandfather some 100 years ago, show a rare glimpse of the area around Mid and West Calder. A wonderful archive of social history!! For many of those present some of the photos stirred memories of times past.  They included views of Old Mid Calder, farming activities, and old drove roads. We saw  Mid Calder railway station  (now Kirknewton) and Newpark Station, thronging with passengers (few people knew it ever existed).  Many of the grand houses in the area including Calder House, Linhouse and Alderstone House are still standing but Almondell House (badly built by the Earl of Buchan) and Westwood House (now under a shale bing) are off the landscape. Last but not least we were treated to some rare images of shale mining activity and outdoor curling events. (winters were colder then!!) The competition for an  “An Old Photograph”: 1st Anne Rennie;  2nd Isobel McChesney; 3rd  Fay Tuxworth
Flower of the Month: 1st Morag Stott;  2nd Diana Waddell; 3rd  = Isobel McChesney, Helen McDonald and Sandra Dobson. We will be holding a extraordinary meeting on Mon 23 March to discuss the changes to the organisation.(please try to attend if you can) Report to follow The next regular meeting is on 13 April when we will welcome Bill Russell giving a talk and showing slides on his trip to New Zealand.

After a lengthy discussion on the proposed changes to SWRI (more on this with next months report)  the meeting continued with a presentation of Microwave cooking by Juliet Boulting (Marmalade),  Sandra Dobson (Dumpling and Chocolate Cake) and Isobel McChesney (Lemon Curd). 
Juliet’s  Marmalades were delicious and there was a variety of the genre to suit all tastes. (who would have believed you could make marmalade in a microwave!!)
Isobel’s version of lemon curd was delightfully tangy. Again a surprising microwave make.
Sandra produced dumpling and chocolate chip cake seemingly by sleight of hand, so quickly did they appear.
We all sampled and savoured the goodies, went home replete and promised to start the diet tomorrow.
Competition winners for a Decorated Heart were 1st Helen Bissett; 2nd Susan Howie; 3rd Juliet Boulting
Flower of the Month 1st Helen McDonald; 2nd Dinah Waddell; 3rd = Isobel McChesney, Morag Stott, Shelagh Steele and Moira McRae.


We all donned our finery and gathered in Harburn Hall, undaunted by the inclement weather, to celebrate our 89th Bithday.  We admired the newly refurbished floor and sat down to enjoy a delicious meal provided by Bobby Grindlay’s Thistles Catering.  We welcomed guests from Federation, Tarbrax and Ratho institutes.   Grace was said by Fiona Boyd and  Sheila Mason presented the prizes:-
The Points Cup was won by Joyce Rankine; 2nd Juliet Boulting and 3rd Isobel McChesney.   The Beth Garnett Trophy for baking winner was Sandra Dobson while the Midlothian Paperweight for craft  was presented to Helen McDonald. The Flower of the Month winner for the year was Helen McDonald.  The Adeline McMullen trophy was presented to Ray Kew.
The cake, baked and beautifully decorated by Jean Brash, was cut and savoured by all.The usual large raffle was drawn and the evening continued with games organised by Juliet Boulting and Isobel McChesney.
Quizzes to stretch the mind (a bit much after a large meal!!) and a game of “fowl flesh or fish” (don’t ask)  The things we get up to in the Rural !!It was a great evening enjoyed by all and next year is our BIG 90th.
Plans will shortly be underway.

  swri 89

swri 89 Plenty going on at the 89th. Brains seem to be working overtime on the tables pictured top left. The usual incredible Birthday cake was produced by JEAN BRASH. Joyce RANKINE receives the POINTS CUP. Ex Presidents (Juliet Boulting and Isobel McChesney look relievd that the chain of office has been handed on). Mind you, Isobel was suckered into doing much of the work for the 89th. Ray Kew (bottom left) received the Adeline McMullen trophy. Thanks Sarah and Juliet for pics.

swri 89 swri 89
swri 89 swri 89
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There is never a dull moment at the WRI.  The subject matter of our meetings is eclectic to say the least.  On Monday 10 November we were pleased to welcome Professor Anthony Busuttil who spoke of his work as a Forensic Pathologist. Originally from Malta, Professor Busuttil has spent all his professional career in Scotland.  Although a potentially a gruesome subject,  the talk was sensitive, interesting and liberally sprinkled with humour. We were all very touched by his obvious empathy.  Many felt this was one of the best talks the Hall has witnessed for many years.

The competition  - A bonfire Collage - was won by Juliet Boulting. 

Flower of the month winners were
1st Helen McDonald; 2nd  Margaret Rennie;3rd  Morag Stott.

The new season's activities kicked of with our AGM which was held on 8 Sept when we welcomed Kay Gibson as our new president and Betty Idle and Morag Stott onto the committee.  Retiring president Juliet Boulting was thanked for all her hard work over the last three years. 

The winner of the Beth Garnet Trophy for baking was Sandra Dobson and Helen McDonald won the Midlothian Paperweight for craft .

Flower of the Month was awarded to: 
1st  Shelagh Steele;
2nd Morag Stott and
3rd = Beryl Henderson and Helen McDonald                  

At our meeting on 13 October  we enjoyed a fascinating talk on the subject of Modern Farming presented by Alan Graham.  The competition was for a mini Quiche and the winners were  1st: Joyce Rankine;  2nd: Sandra Dobson

The Flower of the Month winners were:
1st Sandra Dobson; 
2nd= Margaret Rennie and Joyce Rankine.

Plans are now well under way for the chidren’s  Christmas Tree Party on 21 December and our own 89th Birthday Party on 12 January 2015. On Saturday 25 October we enjoyed a fabulous day out to New Lanark. The Great Tapestry of Scotland was on display and to say 3 hours is not enough time to view this marvellous creation is no exaggeration!!


Spring was in the air at our April Meeting. Harburn Hall was filled with the scent of flowers, both from our competition entries and the lovely assortment of flowers which Laura Duncan had brought along to give us a demonstration of Floral Art.  Laura took redundancy and set up shop as a Florist a few years ago, and has never looked back!  As she worked, she shared the theory of creating pleasing displays, but added that the rules could often be broken to good effect!  Laura's creations were certainly stunning - a combination of hand-tied posies and table arrangements.  She made it look so easy!


A Simple Floral Arrangement in a Jar
1.  Joyce Rankin
2.  Morag Stott
3.  Sandra Dobson

Flower of the Month:
1.  Sheelagh Lee
2. Dinah Waddell
3. Morag Stott
On May 12th, John Donaldson will join us to give a talk on The Stirling Heads.  The competitions are a Wooden Artefact and Flower of the Month.  All welcome.

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At our meeting on 10 March, Joanna Pearce gave a talk and slideshow about her experiences on a recent trip to Zambia.  Joanna, an Art Therapist who worked in the NHS for several years, spent two weeks in Zambia working with psychiatric patients.  The aim of the trip was to introduce art as a form of communication with the patients in Chipata Hospital, Zambia.
Joanna gave us an insight into the difficulties that mental health professionals face in their day to day work. The patients live in very basic conditions with very little privacy, and although the staff are dedicated and respectful, there is a lack of medication and the little equipment they have is antiquated and poorly maintained.
The training was very well received and although resources are scarce, it is possible to use this form of therapy to help the patients communicate about their lives and experiences.  Joanna's is returning later this month for some follow up training in Chipata and Lusaka.  We raised around £65 in donations to help buy basic supplies for her trip.
However, there was some leisure time and Joanna shared her fantastic photographs of the wildlife she encountered during her trip.
Thanks Joanna - we all hope the next trip is as successful as the last one.


A knitted or crocheted square:
1.  Joyce Rankinaa
2.  Sue Whittle
3.  Ray Kew

Flower of the Month:
1.  Helen MacDonald
2. Cynthia Tuckerman
3. Isobel McChesney

On April 14th we will have a Floral Art Demonstration with Margaret Nelson.  The competitions are a simple arrangement in a jar and flower of the month.  All welcome.



February's meeting was eagerly anticipated and Alasdair MacEwan of "Delightful Chocolates" did not disappoint!  Alasdair has been in the business of chocolate from the tender age of 15 and he is something of an expert on the subject.  He demonstrated his skills whilst explaining the scientific aspects of chocolate making and answered the many questions fired at him throughout.  Who says men can't multitask?!
Samples of flavourings and colourings were passed around the room and afterwards we had the chance to admire the finished products, from chocolate bunnies to petit fours. Many of our members took the opportunity to purchase the goodies, ostensibly, for their friends and family.
I think our members all left with a great admiration for this young local entrepreneur - I am sure he will go from strength to strength.
Thank you Alasdair for a very enjoyable evening - you will always be a welcome guest at the Rural!
Alasdair can be found via the following link: http://www.delightfulchocolates.co.uk/

A Valentine Verse
  1. Joyce Rankin
  2. Agnes Cosgrove
  3. Helen MacDonald

Flower of the Month
  1. Helen MacDonald
  2. Agnes Cosgrove
  3. Margaret Ritchie and Morag Stott
Our next meeting is on Monday 10 March at 7.30 pm in Harburn Hall, when our own Joanna Pearce will be giving a talk about Zambia.  The Competitions are a 6" x 6" knitted or crocheted square (not pastel colours) and Flower of the Month.  New members always welcome.


On 13th January around 50 members and guests gathered in Harburn Hall to celebrate our 88th Birthday.  We had a lovely three course dinner, provided by Bobby Grindlay and his team.  Dinner was followed by an absolutely delicious Birthday Cake, made, as ever, by the skilled hands of Jean Brash and some very entertaining games, which were greatly enjoyed by all.

cake party 14

Prior to dinner we had a presentation of prizes to our Annual Competition Winners:

Points Cup
1st:                 Juliet Boulting
2nd:               Isobel McChesney
3rd:                Sandra Dobson

Flower of the Month:
1st:                  Dynah Waddell

The Beth Garnet Salver, which this year was awarded for Four Chocolate Brownies, was won by Juliet Boulting and the Midlothian Paperweight (for Craft) was won by Ray Kew.
Our Congratulation go to all the winners!
Our next meeting is on 10 February when we will be joined by Alasdair McEwan of "Delightful Chocolates".  We're all looking forward to this one!
The competitions are "A Valentine Verse of 4-6 lines" and Flower of the Month.
As always, all welcome.
Pics: Shelagh S
party 14 party 14
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