Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Rhydspence Reopens

I was glad to see an article in the Hereford Times last week about the re-opening of the Rhydspence Inn, just over on the other side of the river. It's not so long ago that the local CAMRA group campaigned to keep it open, partly because of the historic interest of the building. Oliver Balch also writes about drinking there regularly in Under the Tump, though he noted that it was always very quiet.
I hope the new owners make a success of it, and keep it open for many years to come.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Scarlet Curtains

Lydia, the lady who gave the presentation to the Council about the Bronllys Well-Being Park, came to visit me the other day. She's been having a clear out, and had some knitting patterns and dress patterns that she wanted to go to a good home. She'd noticed that I belong to Stitch and Bitch, and I'll be taking the three binders down on Thursday to share out. It's from 6pm to 8pm on the first Thursday of every month, at the Three Tuns.
She also had a pair of bright scarlet curtains. "I thought these might be good for a superhero," she said, also knowing of my fondness for dressing up.
The sewing machine has come out from the back of the cupboard.
So far, I have made a sash for the Young Man, for his Steampunk adventurer's costume, and I'm half way through making a scarlet skirt (possibly for a version of Wonder Woman, or even Captain Marvel?). There is enough fabric left for another skirt, made with the other side of the fabric facing out, which is a darker red, so that's the next project.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Small Business Saturday

The Bean Box, coffee down by the river (just across the bridge). It's also where canoes are hired out.

Friday, 29 April 2016

Poems for Landscapes: Prelude

Here's another local poet - Marva Jackson Lord - who has just brought out a book of poetry. Poems for Landscapes: Prelude is available from Marva's website, https://marva-jacksonlord-xvmj.squarespace.com/ for £6.50 plus p&p. The launch party was held at Tomatitos, where Marva organises a monthly poetry session (which I never seem to have time to get down to, which is a pity. The couple of times I've made it have been really good).
She will also be appearing during the How the Light Gets in Festival at the Globe, on Wednesday 1st June and Thursday 2nd June, with the guitarist Justin Preece.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Village Quire at New Radnor

"Do you know where we're going?" Jane asked, in the absence of a GPS.
"Oh, head to Kington and keep going," Brian said confidently.
We kept to the main roads, rather than attempting the hill roads via Painscastle.
"There's Old Radnor," I said.
And a little way further on, we came to the turning for New Radnor. "There's the church!" I said. We headed up Broad Street and turned into Church Street. "Where's it gone? I'm sure it was over here somewhere. Oh, there it is, behind us up the hill!"
We found a place to park quite easily, and wandered through New Radnor, admiring the pretty cottages - well, apart from the two modern houses on the footpath up to the church. You have to be fit to go to church there - it's a steep climb!
Inside, it's a very Victorian church, but the outside looks older. The audience was quite small, enough that the three of us from Hay made a difference. We sat near the front, despite being warned that we would have the best view of the sopranos' backs. Phil Smith, the narrator, was sitting just in front of us, and let us look at the field glasses he was using as a prop in the interval.
The first half of the show, Back to the Garden, was based on the letters from William Bevan, at the Western Front in 1918, to the man he'd been head gardener for before he was called up. I forget the name of the landowner, who had a big house somewhere near Lyonshall in Herefordshire, but he was obviously a good employer from the tone of the letters - the letters to William did not survive. William was married to Alice - but if he wrote to her, no letters survive either.
William was no ordinary gardener - he was also assisting his employer in breeding new types of daffodil, with a trumpet of one shade of yellow and a corona of another shade. At one point, designing a new garden (with gardener's cottage on the South facing slope) distracts William from what's happening around him, as his platoon (he was a Corporal) is rotated forward to the trenches for eight days and then rested before going back again. I'm not sure if the songs were written specially, or were very carefully chosen to go with the letters from songs of the time. They were, as always with the Village Quire, beautifully performed.
The second half of the show was selected highlights from earlier shows, including Precious Bane, and readings from The Rape of the Fair Country, where Phil Smith sported a carnation in his button hole like the character Iolo Milk "for ladykilling" and made good use of his "five Welsh accents, all of them bad."
CDs were on sale at the back of the church (I have three of theirs now), and on the way back down the hill in the dark, Phil Smith and Brian chatted about astronomy as we looked up at a clear star filled sky. On the drive home, the moon was full and golden over the hills.
They'll be performing at Craswell in May.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Under the Tump

Oliver Balch, who lives in Clyro, is a travel writer. He's written about Latin America and India, broad sweeping books covering whole subcontinents - but for this book he's narrowed his focus to one tiny bit of the Welsh Marches - Clyro and Hay.
And he's got it spot on.
At the beginning, he talks about local drinkers at the Rhydspence, and the members of the Young Farmers Club, while wondering if it's possible to put down roots in a village. He doesn't have the same memories of the area as the local men. He isn't a farmer, either, but as he interviews more local people, or people who have moved into the area, like the owners of the Majestic Bus, he starts to think it might be possible.
In the second half of the book, he turns his attention to Hay - the Festival, and the Council, and Chamber of Commerce - he's there in the shop as Andrew and Louise of Eighteen Rabbit move into Lion Street, for instance. Here, he started talking about people I know as well - and he's got a very good eye for character.
At the same time, he's comparing his experiences with those of Rev. Kilvert, over a hundred years ago - also an incomer, with a position in society that meant he was able to talk to anyone. He visited cottages, and was invited to the big houses, and he observed everyone.
So the book also compares Kilvert's countryside to the countryside today, and looks at the changes there have been.
I enjoyed it immensely - and was delighted to find that I'm mentioned! Near the beginning, Oliver and his wife Emma are looking for a place to settle, and they find this blog:
"In the months before we moved, Emma's hesitations about rural life were further alleviated by her close reading of Life in Hay, a well-informed blog by an idiosyncratic local bookseller. The site includes a profile picture of the author in historical re-enactment garb as well as links to websites such as Hay Feminists, Brilley Buddhist Retreat and Cosy under Canvas."
I was very kindly sent a copy of the book by the publishers, Faber and Faber, who said that Oliver had mentioned me to them.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Books from Peevish Bee

Huw Parsons has been both writing and collecting - and publishing the results as e-books, on Amazon Kindle.
A Clyro Diary - 2016 is both his thoughts on the news of the day and his daily life in Clyro, and trips into Hereford, with the people he meets and some of the poetry that the news and the meetings inspired.
Very Rev is available as an Amazon Kindle download, and includes seventy seven poems that Huw has written over the last four years or so, ranging from a pen portrait of a vicar to his thoughts on a court case where he was a member of the jury. Some of the poems have been performed at Baskerville Hall's acoustic evenings.
Huw said I could quote from his work - but it's impossible to choose. So I'll just recommend the poem about Penywyrlodd Long Barrow and the companion to it, Skulldiggery, and the one about the Battle of Pilleth, and the one about How the Light Gets In (the Festival at the Globe which is on at the same time as Hay Festival), the difference between being six and sixty and the Ballad of Clyro, My Beautiful Lady Alice (about the font at Eardisley Church), Reasons to be Cheerful and Hunters in the Snow, which is all about one of Breughel's most beautiful paintings, and the one about the Victorian workhouse. There are poems about stars and freezing winters, a long forgotten battle on the Begwns near Clyro, an adder on Egdon Heath and refugees in Calais. There's the lovely 'Somerset and Dorset' Remembered, about a long lost railway line, and one about an ancestor of Huw's fighting in the Monmouth Rebellion. One is about learning to drive with his dad, and another about David Bowie's death.
It's a collection well worth having!