Friday, 28 August 2015

The Dancing Floor

Some years ago, I attended a very helpful writing course taught by Lyn Webster Wilde. She isn't only a writer - though I can recommend On The Trail of the Women Warriors and Becoming the Enchanter - she is also a film-maker (she begins Becoming the Enchanter with a scene where she's trying to film in Liverpool, and has to find a way to deal with some cheeky kids).
Becoming the Enchanter is a book steeped in the mythology of the Mabinogion, the collection of Welsh myths and legends which are pretty much all that survive of pre-Christian religion in Britain, and she's returned to these myths to write and direct a film called The Dancing Floor.

So far, she's made a fifteen minute pilot film, which will be shown at Hay Castle on Wednesday 9th September. The evening starts at 7pm and there will also be storytelling from Seiriol Tomos and Wayland Boulanger. Seiriol Tomos also appears in the film, along with Isha Gurung (aged 8, from Mount Street School in Brecon) who plays young Sita, the half-Welsh, half-Indian heroine of the film. Renu Brindle from Bristol plays the adult Sita.
There's a lot of local involvement in the project - Dylan Fowler and Gill Stevens, from Abergavenny, are writing the music, and will be performing live at the Castle. Richard Greatrex, who lives in Hay and who shot Shakespeare in Love, is director of photography, and Jasper Fforde, local novelist, has been helping him. Filming so far has taken place around Brechfa Pool, where Lyn Webster Wilde lives, and at Erwood's Ciliau House.
They are, of course, hoping to raise money to make the rest of the film. They are trying to raise £40,000 through the crowd-funding website Indiegogo. They also want to find extras to appear in the film - primary school children to do some dancing, adults to appear at a funeral, a pub scene, and a dance scene at the climax of the film.

They can be contacted at

It looks as if it's going to be a magical evening.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Meet the Brewer

Beer Revolution are now selling beer to drink on the premises, as well as in bottles to take away, and they've made the upstairs area into quite a smart little bar.
And I think it's great that Hay has its own brewery now! The beer is good, too - I try to get a bottle when I see it (either at the Wholefood shop or Beer Revolution).

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Testing the Water

"Think of it as having won the lottery!" said the man from Welsh Water. He'd been given a random address in Hay to call on to test the quality of the water, and when he found that no-one was in there, he started to knock on doors along the street. I'd just come home for lunch, so I got to have my water tested.
My taps have never been so clean! He made sure they were as sterile as possible before he took the samples - and said that it was no reflection on my cleaning standards! They have a tap where he works that they only use to take samples, and they sterilise that every time, too.
I was most impressed with the thorough job he did - and it was an interesting insight into the work that goes on "behind the scenes" to make sure the water that comes out of our taps is of the highest possible quality.

Monday, 24 August 2015

A Family Visit

My sister and her family came over for the day. They'd been camping at Eastnor Castle, and decided it wasn't that much further to come to see me. Young James spent the journey acting as navigator, doing the "pace notes" like they do in a rally. He was quite disappointed that he had to wait until he was fourteen before he could do it in a proper car rally!

It was lovely to show them around.
We had lunch at The Old Electric Shop - Buddha bowls and guacamole on toast, with Vintage lemonade or coffee, with an extra plate for my nephew, who wasn't quite up to eating a full portion.
Then we went up to Salem Chapel to see the model railway, and the chap on duty gave us all sorts of details about how he made the trees (grape stalks with green stuff glued onto them) and how much the engines had cost, and how he'd adapted carriages so they didn't jump off the rails. He was very pleased that one of the local electricians had been in that morning, to fit new light bulbs for free. They've been getting quite a bit of help like that, which they very much appreciate. They were working on the electrical system for the points while we were there - they could hear the mechanism clicking, but the points weren't changing, so they weren't sure what had gone wrong.
Later in the afternoon we went down by the river, near the canoe landing stage (the car was parked down there), and were able to point out where the railway line had been, and the bridge, and the cottages that are on the model.
We went past the Buttermarket, too - I'd been in the morning, before they came, and seen the photos of the Woodland Group doing work on the riverside path, and the pictures of the steps that they want to renovate next. They also had examples of the tools they use, and of course Alan Powell's sign made out of twigs. Also there were the Lions and other local charities, with the usual range of bric-a-brac and clothes to sell, and a tombola stall.
We had sweet pastries, too, from the lady in the Cheesemarket - this week she wasn't surrounded by wasps like she had been the previous, more sunny, Saturday (she has nerves of steel!).
We went in the camping shop on Castle Street, too - now young James is in the Cubs, he's doing a lot of camping and canoeing, and has his silver swimming badge for survival and swimming a mile (the one where you start off by jumping in the pool fully clothed)! I never even got a 10 metre badge!

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Hay Ho for Another Year

I'm glad to hear that the Sunday Hay Ho bus will be continuing for another year (with minor variations in the timetable). My mum is coming to stay in a few weeks - she will be catching a plane on the Saturday night, and making her way to Hay from Manchester on the Sunday - thanks to the vagaries of Sunday travel on public transport in the UK, she'll spend longer waiting at Manchester Picadilly for the train to Hereford than she will actually travelling anywhere. So it's good news that there will be a bus from Hereford to Hay at the end of the journey, rather than a £50 taxi ride.

This is what they say on the Hay Ho Facebook page:

"The good news is that we have secured Hay Ho! for another year. There will be a few small revisions to the timetable. The bus will now leave Hereford Railway Station at 1015,1315 and 1615 to allow better connections with other incoming buses at Hereford. It will return from Hay-on-Wye (beneath Castle) at 1125,1455 and 1725. The new timetable will start on Sunday September 6th.

To kick off the second year of operation we will be holding our first annual gathering at 1130 at the Swan Hotel, Church Street, Hay-on-Wye on Sunday September 6th.

We’ll discuss the future of the service and how it can be improved in the coming months. The meeting will last about an hour and complimentary tea and coffee will be served."

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Small Business Saturday

St Michael's Hospice shop (the Hospice itself is in Herefordshire), and Russell, Baldwin and Bright estate agents.

And that's it! The last two businesses on my route round Hay! I may have missed one or two on the way, but I've tried to include everybody since I started this project in January 2012.
Of course, as I've gone round, old businesses have closed and new businesses have appeared, so I'll still be going round with my camera to find the ones I missed first time round.

However, I'm taking a break from small businesses for a while, and next week I'll be starting a new, and much shorter, project, taking photos of all the places of worship in Hay.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Woodland Group

I went to see Alan Powell in his workshop the other day. He'd kindly lent me some photos he'd taken of the VJ Commemoration - he was right in the thick of the action, and got good photos of the Swansea Pipe Band, and the Chelsea pensioners, and inside the armoured car, and so on.
He was working on a sign, gluing pieces of twig to a board to spell out Woodland Group - he said he'd put leaves and things round it as well. He's one of the prime movers of the Woodland Group, and they'll be in the Buttermarket tomorrow talking about what they do - and how people can help.