Buddy Belles Blog

Thursday, 2nd April 2020

March 24th 2020 will forever be etched in my memory as not only was it my birthday but it was the first day in lockdown. We were supposed to be staying in a lovely hotel and taking long walks along the beach but Covid-19 put paid to that. I count myself lucky, however, in that, despite all the florists having shut up shop, my husband went out early and managed to source two beautiful bunches of Spring flowers at our local M&S as they had left over mother’s day stock.  The day itself was actually quite uplifting as I chatted for hours on the phone with friends afar.  Anyway it got me thinking about others whose birthday falls at this time and  I took heart when Gemma informed me that, like the queen, all of us whose birthdays fall during lockdown can choose another date to celebrate this year and what a party that will be!  Even better,  I  decided to cancel this year’s birthday altogether and now my age won’t increase until next year.

On Monday evening, the Belles committee meeting took place on Zoom. We are busy thinking of ways to amuse you during these challenging times and how we might keep in touch with everyone.

Today, our lovely President, Jane, writes about acts of kindness. So over to Jane…….

“A memory popped up on Facebook to remind me that this time last year I was speaking at the County Annual Meeting to 1000 ladies, and the Rev’d Richard Coles, about mental health. And I realised how timely that reminder was. My speech was about us not making assumptions about others and their choices. And my final line ……well it wasn’t actually mine – I stole it from our lovely member Nina (I did tell her!).

When we’d discussed mental health at the Belles, Nina had summed it up beautifully with her comment, “be kind, always”. I ended my speech quoting Nina, as that’s a very powerful sentiment.

It’s not just a powerful comment though; it’s also a challenge. When we’re in the midst of a situation that is overwhelmingly large, where we’re having to protect our health and that of those around us, where we see our amazing key workers working hard, and where we’re having to change how our lives work, we might get upset, we will get stressed and that’s totally understandable.

So why am I writing this? Well I was reminded of it because I’ve seen so many truly wonderful acts of generosity and kindness: donating and delivering food, calling to check on people, making scrubs and more. And I wanted to remind others to look for those too, so we have a chance to see something positive in amongst the other news.

I live in Doddinghurst, where a group of 50 have come together to support those more vulnerable. I know many other areas have too. The sheer upswelling of community spirit and the kindness I have seen has been incredible and I have found it genuinely moving.

Personally, I’ve had a rare opportunity to chat to people I’ve never met before and who I now hope to meet in person. Perhaps another glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel could be that by getting this unusual chance to “be kind, always”, we’re also building community spirit, remembering that small things make us happy, and maybe even making new friends.

So whether we can contact people online or by phone, or if you’re on lockdown with them, let’s keep following Nina’s rule and Be Kind, Always, even once this is all over.”


A great mantra, thank you both Jane and Nina!

So what have we been up to and what  suggestions do we have for you today?


Last night a number of Belles met for our first pyjama party. Some even brought their teddies along for a cosy chat. If anyone has any ideas for a Zoom meeting, please email me – secretary@thebrentwoodbelleswi.co.uk .  We will see what we can do. We now have a Belles subscription for Zoom so any sub group leader who wishes to organise a meeting please contact Jane for the details President@thebrentwoodbelleswi.co.uk


Gemma has kindly alerted us to the fact that Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber is to stream his musicals for free. Who can resist a good old sing along to some old favourites? 

ALW Musicals For Free

Or why not take the At Home in April – 30 Day Sketchbook Challenge? Click here
So now to finish here are our limericks – well done to all who submitted one or more and even encouraged family members to take part.




Sunday, 29th March 2020

Well we have all but completed week one of lockdown. How is everybody coping? Have you established a new routine? How amazing was the applause for the NHS on Thursday evening?  And have you noticed children’s painted rainbows displayed in windows of homes in your area to bring a little cheer to all who see them? 

Today we feature on our blog a piece by lovely committee member Nicola, one half of our  social media team, who describes her first week of home schooling………

If you’d told me six months ago that today I would be in lockdown because of the coronavirus, with my four year old in the house, I would have laughed. Or I would have run for the hills; one of the two. But here we are.

I keep seeing these fantastic ideas on social media of how we could be spending our time in lockdown: read all the books! Get lost in a box set! Learn Welsh (with thanks to ‘My WI’!)! But the reality is, if you have a four year old, you’ve got to put their needs first and foremost. Oh, and there’s the small matter of homeschooling whilst working from home almost full time, too.

I’ll admit, I was dreading it. The week leading up to the schools closing their gates indefinitely, I was filled with a massive sense of overwhelm. We are a pretty outdoorsy family, maybe not in the hiking boots and rock climbing sense, but in the country parks and National Trust sense. We are out somewhere – anywhere – every weekend. So the thought of keeping him confined to our home was not a pleasant one.

I also worried about how I’d keep up with his schooling and work from home at the same time. How was I to work when I was also supposed to be gluing feathers and cutting out shapes to stick in his project book?

But. Here we are. And so far we haven’t gone crazy or fallen out (too much). And I have to say, for the most part I have really enjoyed the small snippets of quality time I’ve had with him in between trying to work.

It’s funny, because before he started school, and shortly after, my heart was so heavy at no longer having him at home with me, even though he’d been in childcare four days a week for the year prior to that. Suddenly I’m reminded of why I missed him so much during the autumn term of his first year at school.

So as tough as this time may be, I’m going to try to cherish it, and hope that one day Baby Lighty will look back and say, “Do you remember that cool time when the schools shut because of The Bug and I got to spend all that time at home with you, Mummy?”

Well, that’s the plan at least. Ask me again in 12 weeks’ time!!


We’ll wait to hear how you get on, Nicola.

AfterZoom Tea & Limericks

Eighteen ladies joined us for our very first Zoom meeting. We enjoyed a good chat and got to meet new members too.

We love that  Jackie dressed for the occasion in her hat. Here we are:

I was inspired to write this limerick:

In lockdown but never alone

Though our meeting we had to postpone

But it isn’t all gloom

We can meet up on Zoom

Wearing lippy and a splash of cologne!

Please keep the limericks coming and I will share them on the next blog.  Send them to  me at secretary@thebrentwoodbelleswi.co.uk

Online Pyjama Party!

This week on Wednesday we are hosting an evening meeting on Zoom so thought it would be fun to make it a pyjama party . So if you’d like to join us at 7.30pm on Wednesday, please email secretary@thebrentwoodbelleswi.co.uk and the details will be sent to you. Dressing in pyjamas is not compulsory!

Staying Connected

There has been quite a lot of discussion on Buddy Belles this week and thank  you to Gemma who has posted a film quiz that has kept us all guessing. Others compared scores from the Virtual Pub Quiz which was held on Thursday evening.

Sue ran a poll to find our favourite song from Mama Mia and the Top Three were:

1st: The Winner Takes It All

Joint 2nd: Slipping Through My Fingers and Take A Chance On Me

Beryl and Vena have sent us information from The Royal Opera House about ballets and operas that are going to be available to view via Facebook and YouTube. It’s a FREE live programme of full-length productions to spread the joy of ballet and opera during these uncertain times. They will be broadcast via their Facebook and YouTube channels allowing you to enjoy them from the comfort of your own home. #OurHouseToYourHouse

And Sue has informed us that we can go to The National Theatre from our armchairs too. There is a full schedule of plays that will be streamed live each Thursday evening. See what’s on at National Theatre at Home by following this link  https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/

And for Strictly fans you can join Anton Du Beke for a workout. Find his Elevenses with Anton here  


And remember…




Hello and welcome to our new blog. We have a new media team who will be contributing on a regular basis. Our first blog is by Tricia, our lovely Secretary…

I like to write. I enjoy compiling the Belles newsletter and submitting the occasional article for inclusion in Essex News. As the committee know, I like to shout about what the Belles have been up to and get our name in print whenever possible. I could never have imagined that I would now be using terminology such as self-isolating and social distancing when writing a blog post for the Belles. But these are strange times, normal life has been suspended and our weekly structure has all but disappeared. The landscape is very different now with the high street all but closed and those who can are working from home.  In the last seven days we have witnessed panic buying at the supermarket countered by incredible support for our valiant doctors, nurses and others working to fight this virus. Daily briefings from Downing Street have become the norm as we struggle to absorb what is happening globally. Our emotions are all over the place and we miss the physical contact with our friends and family.

It can be overwhelming. Like many, I often feel all at sea in a boat without a rudder as I spend too much time watching continuous news bulletins. It’s amazing how quickly we adapt, however, and this week began with a live streamed exercise class. I wasn’t alone as I could see that Helen W. had joined in too! I have realised that there are many things to fill the time and allow us to stay connected and so many Belles have been sharing what they have been doing. Lesley B, for example, joined in The Big Sing from the comfort of her sofa whilst Liz, who sadly is self -isolating, has been doing a jigsaw. Others have been working out timetables for homeschooling whilst juggling for desk space with a husband now working from home.


Thinking along these lines we’d like you to enter our competition and complete this limerick and email them to secretary@thebrentwoodbelleswi.co.uk 

In lockdown but never alone…..


Join Us For AfterZoom Tea This Friday

I had my first ever Zoom meeting with Jane this afternoon. It was so easy and we have discussed ways of keeping the Belles connected. Firstly we’d like to get a few more Belles chatting and so have set up our first Afterzoom tea at 3pm on Friday. To join the meeting simply email secretary@thebrentwoodbelleswi.co.uk by Thursday and an invitation will be sent to you. 

Staying Connected

There has been a lot of activity in our facebook groups this week. Links to all of these can be found in the Online Groups menu under the Belles & More tab on this website.

Buddy Belles

There have been a lot of suggestions of things to keep us occupied shared in the Buddy Belles this week and this is a forum for simply starting a conversation.

 West End Belles

The lovely Sue has been testing our knowledge of musical theatre by posting a daily Know your Musicals Quiz.

Happy Hookers

Links to free patterns for either knitting or crochet are being shared as we all dive into our stash to fill the hours!

Wooden Spoons

It is a bit like Ready Steady Cook lately with an odd assortment of ingredients found in cupboards on as sole items on supermarket shelves. So why not share some of your favourite or most successful recipes with others in this group.

Shooting Stars

A small challenge for those who like to take photographs – take a photo featuring just one colour – be warned it’s not as easy as it sounds.


Lots of book commentary and recommended reading material shared here.

Craft Group

Crafty Belles have been sharing their projects. Here is Sue C’s lovely Spring Wreath inspired by WI Life.









Other ideas to keep busy include:-

  • playing Lexulous (online Scrabble) with a fellow Belle and I can vouch for the fact that Margaret is a formidable opponent!
  • Listening to craft podcasts.
  • Joining in either The Big Sing or The Great British Home Chorus run by Gareth Malone (Marilyn S and I have had a good sing today!)
  • It is even possible to take a virtual walking tour of London
  • https://secretldn.com/virtual-london-walking-tours/

There are many more so please keep the ideas coming.

And here is our lovely President, Jane, participating in a WI  Fika. Fika is an important part of Swedish culture and simply means making time to share a cup of coffee or tea and a little something to eat with friends.