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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


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