Saturday, 28 May 2016

Getting the Festival Buzz

I have spent too long today walking and standing - but I've talked to some interesting people!

Over at Broad Street Books, I was delighted to have sold "fashion victim Batman", a collectable model from the 1990s where Batman was dressed in blue and white stripes rather than the more familiar black or grey.
Mary, who runs the B&B Rest for the Tired, told me that she has the Spanish Ambassador for Culture staying, "and he's lovely!" He quizzed her about all the food he got for breakfast, to find out how local it all was. She gets her sausage and bacon from Tom the organic butcher, more or less next door, local bread, and gave him local strawberries for the top of his Bran Flakes, but had to say that she had bought the mushrooms down the Co-op! He's very impressed with the variety of local shops in Hay.

Down at the Festival site, I met Lawrence, who was volunteering outside the Wales Stage, waiting for the crowds to arrive for Melvyn Bragg. He's also the co-author of Framespotting (available at the Festival Bookshop), so when he and Alison saw the giant picture frame on the Festival site, they had to do this:

On the way back from the Festival, all sorts of stalls have appeared along Brecon Road, including a charity tea garden with a woodturner and crafts, a noodle bar to rais money for RAFA, where I bought a couple of badges of a Hurricane and a Lancaster, and another stall selling Welsh cakes. I stopped at Minnies Ice Creams, and had the one flavoured with local honey, which was delicious! I like ice cream, but I don't often have a cornet - but this time the walk was long enough for me to enjoy it right down to the bottom of the cone.

Earlier, I met Ellie, collecting for a Motor Neurone disease charity. "Funny how a high-viz jacket makes you invisible," she mused. She was standing near the Granary. "The music's better down here," she said, nodding towards Malcolm and his son who were busking with accordian and guitar outside Barclays Bank.
Up in the Buttermarket was Shelley, with her stall of silk scarves, as part of Hay Artisans. She lives over in Malvern now, but seemed happy to be back in Hay for a while.
Outside the Chemists was Paddington Bear, with a young helper carrying his suitcase, while he held a placard advertising the event in the Parish Hall on Monday in aid of refugees (there will be a teddy bears' picnic as well as crafts to try).

I've been to some events over the last couple of days, too, which I'll blog about shortly.

Small Businesses at the Festival

It's the first weekend of Hay Festival, and we've already had our first little thunderstorm!
During every Festival, shops pop up around town - like A Rule of Tum, a burger bar which has taken over St John's Place for the duration, with tables outside as well. They were here last year, too, and I'm told their burgers are really good.
Up above them (with signs warning of the Wonky Stairs) is my neighbour Julie, with her Welsh tweed ponchos. She has the cloth made at the only Welsh woollen mill which still does that style.
Down on Brecon Road, the Freemason's Hall has been taken over by the Strand Cafe of Talgarth - they do outside catering.
On the edge of town, the Children's Bookshop is open from 8.30am to 8.30pm for the Festival (they're No. 1 on the Book Town Map).
My computer has decided not to talk to my camera again for the moment, so you'll have to imagine the photo of the hexagonal tent next to the Stone House, opposite the Globe, where Paul Haynes is selling some of his stock of books. He also has a unit at Broad Street Books for his more collectable volumes.
Yesterday there were stalls in the Buttermarket and Cheesemarket, with crafts and vintage goods - Fabazar Fairtrade stall was there with a colourful array, and a stall raising money for Rojo Rojo orphanage, at Kilifi, Kenya- they have a regular spot at Ludlow Market on Mondays with their Kenyan crafts.
And today it's Fair on the Square, with lots of vintage stalls.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Anti-Establishment Hay-on-Wye

There's a good article in the Guardian today by Oliver Balch, about independent shops in Hay, and the way Hay business people tend to go for the quirky rather than the conventional - which is one of the reasons that Hay is such a good place to live in.
The title of the article is Anti-Establishment Hay is a Breeding Ground for Independents, and mentions the new Keep magazine, the bookshops (with comments from Elizabeth Haycox of Booths and Ann Brichto of Addymans), Bartrums' stationers and the Fairtrade Eighteen Rabbit (Andrew Williams is also the head of the Chamber of Commerce), and the lingerie shop Underwhere, and the taxidermy shop.
Here's the link to copy and paste:

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

An Evening at the Rhydspence

It must be about fifteen years since I last set foot in the Rhydspence. In those days, it was quite a posh place to dine, with white tablecloths, and Dunkertons cider at the bar - we could never afford to eat there, but we did drink in the English bar occasionally.
Last night, Emma from Pottery Cottage kindly gave me a lift over there, and we had a lovely evening. Mark, who has recently taken over the running of the Rhydspence, told us he'd had a very busy May, and was looking forward to his first Hay Festival - all the rooms are booked. They've also sponsored the Festival event for Oliver Balch's book Under the Tump. The Dunkertons has been replaced by Thatchers, and the beers are Butty Bach and Doombar, and the place has a nice, welcoming atmosphere.

Monday, 23 May 2016

The Keep - the Launch of a New Magazine

What a lot of talented people there are living around Hay!
This week, a new magazine is being launched on the world, with a talk at Hay Festival on Friday 27th May on the Good Energy Stage called The Genius of the Marches. Many of the contributers to the magazine, authors and photographers, will be there for an evening of readings, stories and pictures.
The following evening, at Booths Bookshop, is the launch party. Copies of Issue 0 have already started appearing around town, in Addyman's Bookshop, The Old Electric Shop, Eighteen Rabbit and elsewhere.
I was given my copy at the Stitch and Bitch meeting at the Three Tuns last week (which I completely forgot about until they rang me up from across the road!). Another member of Stitch and Bitch, Tracy Thursfield, is the assistant editor, and Emanation crocheted the Green Man mask that features in one of the articles. In fact, on the way home from Stitch and Bitch that evening, we met one of the organisers (there was a big sign in the back of his car with the Keep logo on it, which was a bit of a give away!), and he told Emanation that her Green Man mask now has a back stage pass for Glastonbury!
The following day I met another of the organisers, off to deliver a few copies to the Drill Hall, for the Hay Festival booking office. He was very excited about how good the magazine looks, and said how helpful everyone they approached had been.
As I looked through the magazine, I noticed that quite a few of the contributers had also been reading from their books at the recent Vanguard Reading evening at Addymans. There are extracts from Addlands by Tom Bullough, and Under the Tump by Oliver Balch, along with an interview by Soma Ghosh with Nina Lyon, who wrote Uprooted (and which features the Green Man mask). Ben Rawlance, who wrote City of Thorns (about the huge refugee camp in Kenya) talks about the history of his local area and religious persecution.
Tracy Thursfield shows her writing ability (though she gives all the credit to the editor) with an article about Katherine Sheers and her silk embroidery, while Duncan Fallowell ponders the connections between the Welsh borders and Notting Hill via the street names.
There's also a restaurant review of River Cafe in Glasbury, and an article about the church at Patricio, photographs by John Bulmer from his long career, and more recent photographs by Billie Charity, and a cartoon, Bordertown, by Dix.
The magazine will be six monthly - the next issue will be out in the winter. It's a little expensive, at £10, but beautifully produced, and overflowing with local talent.

The website, has extra articles, including one by Sarah Putt, about the recent art installation she did in the window of one of the shops on the Pavement in Hay, and two by Tracy Thursfield - about purple dye, and about her day as the Queen of the May at Avebury! Soma Ghosh talks about the death of Prince, and there's another article on John Bulmer's photography, this time of the village of Pembridge in 1966.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

New School, No Pool

Gareth Ratcliffe has posted a letter on Facebook about the building of a new Hay School, and the future of the swimming pool which is in the present school.
Basically, it seems that the swimming pool doesn't have a future. There are no plans to include a pool in the new school buildings. Gareth was told this by the school - not the County Council (which he might have expected, being a county councillor).
Apparently, though, if the main entrance to the new school comes off the car park (as it is now) rather than Forest Road, this would bring the cost down enough to include a new pool.
The school pool has already been transferred from County Council control to local control, so the County Council can save money, and the local people running the pool have turned a £50,000 loss under the County Council into a surplus, so they can invest in the pool.
Teaching children to swim is a compulsary part of school life, and the next nearest pool is in Brecon, so retaining the pool, in a big, spread out county with a low population, is pretty important.
Gareth finishes his letter by saying:
"As local member I am consistently frustrated at Powys County Councils neglect of my community we have had to fight to keep services and run them ourselves and when we make them a success officers and lead members seem to want to punish us for succeeding where they can’t."

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Small Business Saturday

Hay Tek, a new computing shop. Previously, it's been a cafe, and a bookshop (I worked for Steve Sage in the bookshop for a while).