Saturday, 16 November 2013

The SHWI 2014 charity calendar

Look how pretty it is! 
So, you’re interested in our lovely charity calendar? That’s great news!
We’ve spent the past few months creating the 2014 calendar which features our members at some of Sheffield's best loved landmarks, including the City Hall, the Leadmill, the Cutting Edge sculpture, the Lyceum and the Peace Gardens fountains, and we are really proud of the result!

The calendar is raising money for the Parents' Association of Children with Tumours and Leukaemia (PACT), a charity based at Sheffield Children's Hospital which supports families whose children have been diagnosed with cancer. We chose to support PACT this year after the charity helped our President Lindsay Garfitt's three-year-old niece Isabelle who was diagnosed with a rare form of childhood cancer, Neuroblastoma, in July 2012.

The calendar photography was done by SHWI member and talented photographer Laura Bainbridge and the cover design was done for free by Daniel Rose of DRD Studio

Local companies Apollo, BAPP, Beer Central, Boudoir, Dale Hirst, Exposed, Foster's Dental, Gregory's Haulage and Sheffield Signcraft also got on board to sponsor the printing of the calendar, meaning that every penny from sales can go to PACT.

One half of the Calendar Team, Jen and Kim 

The money bit
Each calendar costs just £10 and you can feel good knowing every penny is going to help children with cancer and their families.

If you’d like us to post your calendar to you, the cost is £12. The extra is to cover the envelope and postage.

The calendar is limited edition (and we've already sold more than half!) so if you want one, please act fast before they all go! Simply email us at with your name and how many calendars you’d like (plus your address if you want it posting) and we will reply with our bank details so you can transfer the money. Please ensure you use your name as the reference when making an online payment.

Your calendar will be posted via Royal Mail second class once payment is received. If you’d like to collect your calendar from us instead, please let us know when you email us. You can collect from the Chapeltown or Meersbrook areas or from Electric Works on our meeting nights (Thursday 21 November and Thursday 19 December from 7pm to 7.30pm). Please note if collecting, we must receive cleared payment beforehand (either bank transfer or cash on collection).

SHWI goes to West Egg...

Anna and Laura with the Showroom chefs

Another month, another SHWI Dining Club..But not just any Dining Club! November saw a return visit to The Showroom, noted for being Sheffield's friendly independent cinema, but also has a fabulous café bar with chef Simon Ayres in charge of the eats. After the success of our bespoke Tudor themed banquet earlier in the year, we went back for a Great Gatsby themed affair.

The regular customers must have thought they'd entered a time-warp as the bar area filled up with ladies in furs, pearls and feathers, and gentlemen sporting trilbys, spatz and braces. Seriously – everyone looked amazing and I agree with someone's comment that we should probably dress like it's the 1920s all the time.

1920s girls

Once seated in the café area, we were treated to an array of beautifully crafted canapés – lobster croquettes, egg and cress sandwiches, bread and butter folds, and fungi flatbreads with quails eggs. They were all beautiful and incredibly moreish.

Next up, we were served potato and leek velouté, with a garlic toast topped with cavier. I've never drunk cold soup from a teacup before – but if it's always going to be that good, I'll happily do it again!
The fish course was a sharing platter of Caesar salad - seared, rare tuna steak, fresh anchovies, shavings of Parmesan, crisp little gem lettuce, chunky croutons and a tasty, tangy dressing. On the side we were treated to a shrimp cocktail – with proper little brown shrimps in a piquant pink sauce. Non-meat eaters could have a green, fresh carpaccio of kohlrabi, with a wasabi aoli and plenty of sweet broad beans.

So far – soooooo good!

As I sat there with a glass of Pinot Grigio, looking at everyone enjoying themselves, I was suddenly interrupted by my Dining Club partner Anna Pilson – who, whilst being pescetarian herself, was so excited (on my behalf) at the sight of the meat course coming out, had come to tell me to prepare myself. It's always good to get a warning on a meat feast – it gives me chance to get the camera out. And what a sight is was - a steaming mound of hot, Bourbon pork shoulder, with crispy roast potatoes, carrots and romanesco broccoli, and gravy. Oh, the gravy... At the Tudor Banquet, I may have drunk a small jug of gravy to myself. I'm a Northern lass. I love gravy. This time round, it being a more classy affair, I drank the gravy from a wine glass. (As you can imagine, I was a little thirsty later in the evening, but I don't regret a drop of it.)

The vegetarian option of braised globe artichoke, roast garlic and spelt risotto with veg friendly Parmesan seemed to go down okay – but I would have covered it in gravy.
By this time, I was getting a little full. But the food was coming out at a nice leisurely pace, which allowed a little breathing space before the dessert trolley was rolled out.

I was expecting mini bite-sized versions of desserts – but no. It was massive, actual portions in amounts we were never going to be able to finish. With this in mind, I saw no problem in having three different desserts. I asked the chef, Simon, which he would go for - raspberry meringue roulade was the answer, with a cheeky chocolatey brandy snap (cream filled of course) on the side. A jokey comment of 'if there's any chocolate cake left over, I'll take some off your hands' was met with the offering of a slice of delicious ganache covered cake.

I think some tea and coffee may have been offered around at the end of the evening – but by then I was in the middle of a gravy overdose and was trying to look gracious as everyone thanked me for organising the event.

So, I would like to thank everyone for coming. I want to thank everybody for getting into the spirit of the evening and getting glammed up. I want to thank the new faces and prospective SHWI members for coming along and being so friendly. I want to thank The Showroom for being so accommodating (again). I want to thank Anna P for doing the boring bit of Dining Club – the spreadsheets and the banking. And I want to thank anybody who has come to a SHWI Dining Club meal. We've been doing this for over a year now, and genuinely believed it would be seven girls sat around a table in various Sheffield eateries. So to have 40 people turn up looking like the cast of Chicago last night was tremendous fun. Here's to another year of local food fun!

Laura Bainbridge
SHWI Committee and Dining Club

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Out on the wily, windy moors at the SHWI Getaway

Inspirational women fancy dress, from Anneka Rice to the Virgin Mary...
So I wrote this having been back from the inaugural SHWI Getaway for about 24 hours. I spent spent pretty much all of those hours (and the ones since) looking at photos of the Getaway, talking to fellow SHWI-ers about the Getaway, chuckling to myself about the Getaway, pondering wistfully about the fact that I am no longer at the Getaway and of course, watching Jane Eyre! Sigh. But rather than moping to myself, I thought I should instead try to capture the experience for posterity in this blog entry (well, it’s practically a love letter to the weekend really, sob).
We all set off in convoy on Friday from a very rainy and windy Sheffield and headed to West Yorkshire to Currer Laithe farm, the venue for our weekend of discussion, culture and refinement (!). Our forthcoming pot luck buffet, the company of SHWI ladies and a roaring fire certainly constituted a welcome arrival (particularly those who had braved the cobbled hill of doom en route). We then spent a sedate (ish) evening of chatting and laughing together as outside the wind howled across the Bronte-esque moors surrounding us.

The Bronte talk
That bit of GCSE A grade-standard descriptive writing leads us nicely to the activity planned for us the next day. We headed across to the picturesque town of Haworth to indulge in a spot of sightseeing at the Bronte Parsonage (although, to be honest, this was almost derailed by our spotting of Oscar, Haworth’s premier celebrity cat, and our subsequent feline-worship). But, eventually, to the Bronte parsonage we headed. We first embarked on a self-guided tour of the parsonage, which involved actually being in the very rooms where ‘Jane Eyre’ and ‘Wuthering Heights’ were written (eek) and er, getting overexcited by bonnets. We were then privileged enough to receive our own private talk about the history of the Brontes by a very knowledgeable and fascinating member of the Parsonage staff. In it we learned (apart from the history of the Bronte family) that poor Charlotte Bronte had bad teeth, Anne Bronte’s favourite holiday destination was Scarborough and that Lord Byron was FIT. I would highly recommend planning a talk if you visit the Parsonage, it was excellent. We followed this up by visiting the church where all of the Brontes are buried (except Anne), having a nice cuppa stop in a local craft fayre, sampling the local sweets and buying Haworth out of jewellery (cough, cough Zoe Loveday!). 

Before heading home, we thought it only right that we honoured the Bronte brother, Branwell, in his local drinking establishment, the Black Bull (they still have his seat, fact fans). That’s us SHWI ladies, all about respecting the history.

The view from Currer Laithe
Saturday night was party night with a theme of inspirational women. Once again highlighting the fantastic creativity within SHWI, we had costumes covering icons from ancient civilisations (Cleopatra and the Virgin Mary), sports stars (Billie Jean King), peerless politicians (Betty Boothroyd), historical heroines (Pocahontas and Rosie the Riveter), literary legends (Charlotte Bronte and Agatha Christie), scintillating statues (Lady Liberty), personal protagonists (Aunt Patsy and, erm, Anna Pilson), pop powerhouses (Dolly Parton and Kate Bush), childhood idols (sorry, ran out of alliterative vocab here but I’m getting overexcited about the immenseness of Anneka frickin’ RICE) and last but certainly not least, the living legend that is shoulder-pad wearer extraordinaire, Hilary Devey. We then indulged in some party games (all good, clean fun, er, honest guv) and while I would LOVE to tell you more about the escapades of that evening, I must adhere to the sacred oath of ‘what happens on SHWI Getaway, stays on SHWI Getaway’…

Sunday arrived and with it the prospect of a walk to blow away the cobwebs and of course, to explore the rugged moorland scenery. A good, hearty splash in the mud and the country air was enjoyed by all (except for the equestrian centre owner, but that’s another story…) and revved up our appetites for the much-anticipated SHWI Sunday lunch. It was a veritable feast, cooked with panache by Grace, Kirsty and Zoe, after being prepared by Laura, SHWI’s own Delia Smith (or should that be Monica Galetti?). The rest of the day was devoted to a relaxation-fest, comprising of chocolate, liqueur coffees, reality TV and board games (which my team won – naturally).

And then – Monday. It was a blue Monday for all as we reluctantly packed and set about tidying away our visit at Currer Laithe. We were no sooner in our cars than we had begun reminiscing about the amazing time we had all had that weekend. And it truly was a fabulous weekend from start to finish. I know I speak on behalf of all of the attendees when I say a massive THANK YOU to Getaway organisers Ruth and Grace. You truly made a lot of ladies very happy and planned a weekend of epic, nay, legendary proportions!

P.S. Notice how I said it was the ‘inaugural’ Getaway in the opening sentence? Well that’s because within hours of returning from the Getaway some of us were already planning the next one! Watch this space for more details over the coming months…

Anna Pilson
SHWI Committee