Saturday, 25 October 2014

Small Business Saturday

Another recent addition to the stalls by the Clock Tower is Grandma Bees skin balm.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Cider Bread and other Bargains

I've been into Hereford to do a few essential bits and pieces I can't do in Hay. Friday is market day in High Town, and since I nearly always miss Alex Gooch's bread in Hay I had a look at the bread stall there. The lady must have had twenty different sorts of loaf on display, one of which was cider bread, which sounded intriguing, so I've bought a loaf to try along with a more conventional wholemeal.
I think the charity shops in the centre of Hereford are going a bit up-market! I found some lovely bronze coloured spoons in Hay at a stall under the Cheesemarket a while ago, and I've been looking for knives and forks to go with them - but the only charity shops that had any cutlery at all were the Martha Trust shop near the old cinema, and a set of six forks in Oxfam. So I'll just have to keep searching.
Back in Hay, I treated myself to some cookbooks from Backfold Books Retirement Sale, including a Culpeper's Herbal which is much nicer than the paperback Wordsworth Classics version I used to have. Culpeper has the best line in any herbal I know, under the entry for Nettles: "Nettles are so well known that they need no description; they may be found, by feeling, in the darkest night."

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Up-Coming Events

There are a few interesting events happening around Hallowe'en, starting on Thursday with the next meeting of the University of Cusop Dingle. They'll be at the Swan at 7.30pm, with Mollie Lord talking about the contrast between Ayervedic and Western Medicine.
On Hallowe'en itself Phil Rickman and Barbara Erskine will be at Booth Books at 6pm, talking about ghosts, and Phil will be launching his new book, Night After Night. This is a free but ticketted event, and I already have my ticket.
The day after that, November 1st, is the Big Skill at the Globe, with lots of different local crafts on show. This again is free to get in, but of course there will be lots of beautiful and useful things to buy - in nice time for Christmas!

Monday, 20 October 2014

Grand Retirement Sale

Backfold Books is closing down, because Alen and Jenny want to retire. They've been selling books in Hay for around fifteen years, first at Broad Street Book Centre, and later at the little shop opposite the craft centre which they took over from a photography specialist. The sale runs from 22nd October to 22nd November, and the Tourist Information Office is due to move in at the beginning of December, leaving a large space free in the craft centre.
They've always had a nice selection of books and knick-nacks, so there are plenty of bargains to be had!

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Framespotting Book Launch

There was a good turnout for the launch of Alison and Laurence's book - it was difficult to get to the bar for the glass of free wine! Alison and Laurence, perched on library ladders so they could be seen, make a good double act, and they gave a short presentation about the ideas behind the book and how they came to start thinking about the subject. This was when they were working with climate change groups, and they found that politicians and activists alike had very set ways of looking at the problems. So this is a book to help people move beyond that, to "see the frames", and to realise when they are being manipulated by the language used to set out a problem. The example given in the presentation was "tax burden", which suggests that tax is a bad thing, and paying it is a "burden", so "tax relief" must be a good thing, rather than framing tax as a "membership subscription", for instance, for which you get public services.

And once you know about framing, you start to see it happening around you.
Today I was looking at a blog post by Kameron Hurley, who won two Hugo awards at this year's World SF Convention (the Oscars of the SF world). She was talking about epic fantasy, and how it is conventionally framed (she actually uses that word) as a pseudo-Medieval, European world, usually with a quest, or a peasant boy who becomes a hero. Anything outside that frame, that doesn't fit the box, gets dismissed by the authors who write to the formula and by the reviewers and publishers who want "more of the same, only just slightly different". So fantasies that are set in Ancient China, or have romance in them, are squeezed into different boxes, even though they might be just as epic as the Tolkeinesque or George RR Martin fantasies.
The blog post can be found at

I'm looking forward to reading my copy of the book properly, but it's already making me think!

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Small Business Saturday

This clothes stall is a fairly recent addition to the market, down by the Clock Tower.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Walking around Almeley

It was a golden afternoon. Brian had finished early in his shop, and I was outside doing a bit of weeding when he passed.
"Fancy a walk round the brickworks?" he asked.
So off we went to Almeley with the dogs.
On the edge of the village there's a railway line, with a tiny station that's no longer used, though the little house is lived in, and beside the railway line there was once a brickworks - the railway presumably being convenient to move the bricks to where they were needed. A little narrow valley runs below the railway line, with woods and a pretty stream, and cottages strung out along a narrow track. The dogs love it. It's almost like stepping back in time - none of the cottages can have been built in the twentieth century - they're all timber framed and brick infill (perhaps from the brickworks - we kept finding old bricks in the stream and embedded in the path). The path itself is part of Vaughan's Way, which is 17 miles long, between Kington and Bredwardine.
We emerged onto a tarmac road where a big timber framed farmhouse is being renovated. When we looked it up in Pevsner later, I think this must be Summer House.
The village is all spread out randomly, and a little further on we passed the Friends Meeting House, a charming little timber framed cottage which was built, according to Pevsner, in about 1672, as a meeting house. Just as we walked by, some Friends were coming out of a meeting, among them someone I know as Qlib from the discussion forum Ship of Fools! So that was an added bonus to the walk.
We ended up at the Bells pub, where I had a very nice half of Three Tuns XXX from Bishop's Castle brewery.
The pub has changed quite a bit since I first saw it, when I went in with some friends who were members of CAMRA, and found a surly landlord who hated CAMRA and blamed them because he was going to be forced to buy lined pint glasses.
The next time I went, he had gone, and a temporary landlady was there - she was lovely, and served giant Yorkshire puddings with all the meal inside them, which filled us up nicely.
And now it's a couple with children, and where one bar used to be they now have the village shop. The other bar was being treated as the family living room, where the children were watching TV, and the dogs were welcome inside. As we headed back to the car, the landlord was taking the kids out for a climb up the Twt, the castle mound in the middle of the village.
We walked back to the car, completing a full circle, past the late Medieval manor house, which is timber framed with brick infill, which gave it a nice warm glow in the evening light.
On the way back to Hay we passed through Eardisley, so we stopped at the New Strand for another half (for me) and diet Coke (for Brian). It's a warren of a place, with the cafe and bookshop and bar - where there was the most adorable Alsatian pup, who was being brought out to get her used to people. Brian always carries dog biscuits in his pocket - he gets them from the stall on Hay market - and the pup enjoyed them so much that her owner asked where he could buy them from.

That bar at Eardisley used to be the favourite drinking spot of Mr Penny, who lived at one of the sadder landmarks in Herefordshire until his death in a car accident a couple of years ago - a tumbledown old cottage at nearby Willersley. The house has just been sold, at an auction held at the New Strand, and the new owner hopes to renovate it. It'll be quite a job - it's been falling apart for years. A little while ago one of the national tabloids (the Mail, possibly) did a full page spread of photos someone had taken when they managed to get inside - the rooms are full of vintage furniture and all sorts of personal belongings and toys from Mr Penny and his brothers' childhood, coronation mugs and china, that looked untouched for years. I think Mr Penny actually lived in a caravan parked out the back. Before it was a private house, it was a pub and cider house called the Old Crow. I hope the new owner can bring it back to life.