March 2009

MARCH MEETING REPORT

The National Federation of Womens’ Institutes is issuing a challenge to its’ members. This is for W.I. members to complete a Triathlon which consists of a 5 mile swim, a 20 mile cycle ride and a 50 mile walk or run. The endurance test is not so formidable as it sounds as it is to be completed as a combined effort by the whole institute so the distances can be shared out between the more active members. We thought we might give it a try as we have got until September 30th to complete it. By that date, if we succeed, those that take part should all be fighting fit!

We are organizing an outing for August either to Carter’s Vineyards or to the Mechanical Instruments Museum at Cotton. We are also going to have a tour of the Seamen’s’ Centre down at the docks and a strawberry tea in our president Iris Hitchen’s garden. On February 25th eight of us had lunch at the Spa Pavilion, a very pleasant place to eat overlooking the sea. On March 2nd several of our members attended the Annual Federation Council Meeting at Trinity Park. Elizabeth Sugarman was our delegate and gave us an interesting resume of the events on the day.

Our speaker at the March meeting was Mr Durand who came to give us a talk with slides on ‘Where Tibet Meets China’. Mr Durand visited China in the early 1990s with the Alpine Garden Society. This part of south-west China has borders not only with Tibet but with Laos, Vietnam, India and Burma (now Myanmar). In fact they spent a lot of their time on the Burma Road travelling in a Japanese bus and having unscheduled stops to mend punctures. Their first port of call was Hong Kong, at that time still under the British, where they stayed in a massive modern hotel with swimming pools thirteen stories up. This was quite a contrast to the peaceful countryside amongst which they found them selves soon afterwards, with its picturesque rural villages probably unchanged for centuries apart from the odd television mast. They had arrived at a time when the wheat was being harvested after which the fields were flooded and rice planted. At one point they came across people dredging rich silt from a river bed to fertilize the crops. Because he was with a botanical society we saw lots of pictures of wild flowers, larger and more exotic than those to be found in this country, although the yellow water lilies were exactly the same species as those we get in the British Isles. He ended at Shigu, a town on the Jing Jang River at a point where it was crossed by Mau on the Long March of 1935.

V. E. Bines