Thursday, 21 August 2014

Back from WorldCon, Exhausted and Happy!

It's been fantastic! WorldCon is like Hay Festival, but for SF and fantasy fans. LonCon3 has been the biggest ever, with over ten thousand members. The writers and artists mingle with the con-goers, and over the five days there were something like 900 events, mostly talks, but also theatre productions (the world premiere of The Anubis Gates, by Tim Powers, for instance) a classical concert, a huge art show, dealers room, and a "fan village" where people could chill out and go to the bar, and let their kids play safely - there was also tai chi in the mornings, and a Stroll with the Stars outside the venue.
It isn't like ComicCon, where lots of people come in costume, but there were some costumes about. This is me and my Young Man as Inspector LeBrock of Scotland Yard and his (first) girlfriend, the Divine Sarah. One of the highlights of the Con was meeting the creator of these characters, Bryan Talbot, who took our photo for his blog! (this picture is taken by our friend Becky Probert). We also got Hall Costume Awards!
It also isn't like ComicCons in that WorldCon is organised and run by fans, for fans. Which meant that it ran extremely smoothly, because everyone wanted to do their best, and everyone was friendly, and it was a lovely atmosphere all round. It's also geared towards sharing enthusiasms and knowledge, rather than trying to find every opportunity possible to make the fans pay for stuff - all the signings are free at WorldCon, for instance, as they are at Hay Festival. At ComicCons there is always a charge, sometimes quite high.
I'll be talking in a lot more detail about the Con over on my other blog, Morwenna's Tower, over the next few days, and maybe posting a few more photos here.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Sunday Bus Saved!

I'm just back from a fantastic and awesome week in London - and to excellent news!
It seems that the efforts of the Hay Tourism Group, together with the Chamber of Commerce, Rail for Herefordshire and Herefordshire Ramblers, have paid off, and there will be a Sunday service when the present one finishes at the end of September.
The new bus will be called Hay Ho, and will run three return services from Hay to Hereford on Sundays, which will be timed to better connect with rail services.
So well done to everyone who has worked so hard to retain a Sunday service, especially Anna from Drover Holidays!

Monday, 11 August 2014

Off to WorldCon!

I'm very excited - I'll be away for the next week or so at the World Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention (and the Great British Beer Festival) with my Young Man.
So here's something to look at while I'm away - one of the Guests of Honour at WorldCon is Bryan Talbot, who wrote and illustrated (among other things) the Grandville graphic novels.
At some point during the weekend, my Young Man will be dressed as Inspector LeBrock of Scotland Yard, and I will be his girlfriend the Divine Sarah - and this is what we will look like (but without the big guns - there's quite a strict weapons policy at the Con):

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Bryngwyn Church Fete

I had no idea I knew so many people involved with Bryngwyn Church! They took over the Buttermarket yesterday. I bought some focaccia from Kate the Bread, and the man with the pole lathe was working away, and there were a couple of people manning stalls of crockery and nick-nacks that I stopped to talk to on my way through. They even had tables set out with little vases of sweet peas, and were doing teas - and bacon buns which I was told were delicious.
Round at the Cheesemarket there was old furniture, interesting odds and ends and a lady with a spinning wheel selling hand spun and plant dyed wool. Freddie the cat had settled himself down on one of the chairs. Here's Freddie during the Hay Festival, making himself at home at one of the stalls in the market place.

Meanwhile this week, it's Brecon Jazz and the Sunday service on Radio 4 was broadcast from Brecon Cathedral, with jazz accompaniment. It was also the Steam Rally today - so it's a pity that the weather was so poor for it.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Small Business Saturday

The third of Hay's four charity shops - Oxfam.

Friday, 8 August 2014

More Bread

Often, on Thursdays, when I go through town on my lunch hour and pass Alex Gooch's bread stall by the clock tower, there is no bread left. Sometimes I'm lucky, and there's some foccacia or a few loaves. One week, I caught up with them in Hereford, where they've started to go to the food market on Fridays.
Yesterday, there were several loaves left, of different sorts - I had the white sourdough - and the chap who runs the stall said that they'd baked a lot more bread this week. "It was getting silly," he said. "We were running out by half past eleven."

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Dowsing at Mouse Castle

I went back up to Mouse Castle over the weekend, on a lovely day with just a hint of rain in the air. It was the Pagan festival of Lammas, or Lughnasadh, celebrating the beginning of the harvest season traditionally. So I thought that mucking about with a dowsing pendulum would be an appropriate thing to do. I also took the heel of a loaf with me - lammas means "loaf mass" and it's a traditional offering. I left it by the spring.
Up on top of the hill, I studied my notes from the British Dowsers Society (, which recommend that you first ask permission to dowse of the Spirit of the Place. Since the pendulum started swinging in a circle, I reckoned I was good to go, so I went round to the north of the castle site, where we'd picked up 'unusual vibrations' before, and had a go.
According to TC Lethbridge's experiments (I found the list I'd copied out of his book about twenty years ago, as well as tracking down a list online) a 40 inch long string should give a reading for the direction north, and so it proved. From swinging back and forth in a straight line, the pendulum started to swing in a circle. Then I shortened the string to see what else I could pick up. There was nothing for water (26 and a half inches), and I didn't see the point of trying for concrete or glass or the colour purple - but there was a very strong reaction for what TC Lethbridge labelled as "psychic potential". What that may mean, I'm not sure, but it was very definite.
I wondered if there would be any reaction if I moved round to the other side of the castle mound - in case there was a line running back towards Cusop Hill to the south - but the results round there were wishy washy at best. I just about got a reading for "south" (20 inches).
I also noticed that a fox has been using an old tree stump to mark his territory - fox poo is quite distinctive.
So that was all interesting, and a good excuse to make the walk up to the hill again - but I'm not sure that it tells me anything more about the earthworks there.