Posted October 13, 2014 by Ards in Local Areas

A Happy Exchange with Kirkley WI Northumberland

For almost twenty years the Institutes in Northumberland and Ballywalter in County Down have been making exchange visits.  In this their 50th Anniversary year, eleven members of Kirkley WI travelled to Northern Ireland on 4 June for yet another exchange visit.

After a very early start from Newcastle upon Tyne airport they were met at Belfast City Hall by their Ballywalter hostesses.  Following a welcome cuppa, all boarded the Belfast City tour bus.  This extensive tour of the city included many of the well-known sights and was not only enjoyed by the visitors but by the Ballywalter ladies as well.

The following day was Ballywalter’s annual outing.  The first stop was the beautiful garden of the Farr’s outside Crossgar.  Following morning coffee everyone enjoyed wandering around the five acre site full of magnificent shrubs, trees, herbaceous plants and water features.  The ladies then progressed to Dundrum Bay for a picnic lunch, and to Newcastle for some retail therapy.  A drive down the coast brought everyone to Mourne Grange, part of the Camphill Commumnity outside Kilkeel: then a lovely drive through the Mournes brought everyone back to Crossgar where they enjoyed a delicious evening meal.  Ballywalter WI’s President presented a framed picture of Ballywalter to the Kirkley ladies.  This was a copy of a painting by the late Fred Walker, husband of Ballywalter WI member Lorna, to celebrate Ballywalter’s 50th anniversary, and it seemed appropriate to give to Kirkley WI on their 50th.

Friday morning saw the party visit the home of Ann and Mike near Portaferry.  One of Mike’s hobbies is wood turning, everyone marvelled at his craftsmanship.  Ann a member of Ballywalter WI, is also a gifted craftswoman, she showed off her doll’s houses, the interiors of which both she and Mike had contributed to designing and furnishing.  Ards Peninsula Executive Member, Elizabeth W joined the party and presented the Kirkley ladies with WI merchandise.  Following light refreshments, and a tour of their lovely garden the group headed to Portaferry to the  RNLI depot.  Mike and Ann are great supporters of this charity – he showed the ladies round the new life boat, and explained how the charity is run.  Then it was off to Harrisions in Greyabbey for lunch, a good rest after a busy morning.  The hostesses then took the Kirkley ladies back to their homes for an evening meal, and then it was off to the airport for their flight back to Newcastle.  Three busy days packed full of friendships and fun, and most of all the weather was kind to us.  Next year it is Ballywalter’s turn to visit the Kirkley ladies.  They are looking forward to renewing old friendships and continuing the new ones made this year – isn’t that what WI is all about?!




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