Sunday, 17 November 2019

Unicorns, Almost at the Winter Festival

It's not long now to the Winter Festival.
It starts on Thursday 28th November and goes on until Sunday 1st December, and is the more intimate, smaller version of the main, summer Hay Festival. Venues are a 500 seater tent on the Cattle Market (the Baillie Gifford tent), St Mary's Church and the School Hall.
It was at the summer Hay Festival that the one man play Unicorns, Almost was launched. It was written by Owen Sheers, one of Hay's local authors, about a Second World War poet, Keith Douglas, who was a tank commander in the African desert war. It was a great success, and went on to Edinburgh Festival - and now they're back in Hay, still with Dan Krikler playing Keith Douglas. There will be a 20 minute question and answer session after the play with Dan, Owen and the producer John Retallack.
I wasn't able to go when it was first performed - there were too many other things going on at the time - so I'm glad to have a second chance to go to see it now.

I was hoping to see Mike Pitts the archaeologist, too, but his talk is happening while I'm working. Instead, I'll be going to see Thomas Waters talk about the history of witchcraft and black magic in modern times.

There will also be several woodland walks, and the Flying Pig Cookery School.
Jackie Morris will be painting a red fox on stage, and talking about the Welsh language version of her collaboration with Robert Macfarlane, The Lost Words - Geiriau Diflanedig. There's a rather nice Lost Words calendar on sale at the Poetry Bookshop at the moment, which I treated myself to.
Father Richard will be playing the organ to accompany the silent classic Metropolis - both showings are already sold out.
Jane Dodds, Tom Davies and Fay Jones - the Lib Dem, Labour and Conservative candidates in the up-coming General Election, will be holding a free but ticketed hustings.
There's an update on what's happening at Hay Castle, memories of King Richard Booth, Mid Wales Opera, Archbishop John Sentamu, and historian Max Hastings talking about the Dambuster Raid - and more!
There will also be a scratch Messiah at St Mary's Church - the ticket includes two rehearsals and a copy of the score.

Cerys Matthews will be there - and she's also turning on the Christmas Lights this year.
Also in the square, on Saturday there's the Winter Food Fair, and on Sunday the Hay Artisan Market.

Saturday, 16 November 2019

Small Business Saturday

The Drawing Room has been replaced by a new photographic gallery called Thru The Lens. They've opened their first show with a variety of local photographers - I met Billie Charity when I went in the other day. We had been told to go and look for the "blue Dalek" - which is a photo by Jasper Fforde, who is also a local writer (the Thursday Next series and other books).
For such a small space, there's a wide variety of images, including scenes of working class Liverpool, vintage photos of Wales, landscapes, a magazine of images by Richard Greatrex, and a collage of images by Geraldine Charity who is still taking creative photos despite being confined to bed.
They are generally open from Thursday to Saturday, but at this quiet time of the year sometimes they are closed on those days too. The present show runs until December 5th.
They have a website at which seems to be a work in progress at the moment.

Friday, 15 November 2019

Re-lining the Car Park

This is the car parking area in the middle of Hay, the Market Square.
I was chatting to someone the other day who couldn't understand the reasoning behind the new lay-out. Four spaces have been taken away underneath the castle wall, which does make sense because they will be building a new route down into the square there shortly, so it wouldn't be safe to park just below where the work is taking place.
The problem comes in the centre of the space, where there are now two spaces for vehicles carrying disabled people, with extra space to unload wheelchairs and so on. It's a very good idea to provide extra disabled parking. Unfortunately, five ordinary spaces have been taken away to fit the new spaces in.

Thursday, 14 November 2019

Artistraw Cider

I was in the Wholefood Shop the other week, where a local cider producer was offering samples from a table by the door. He and his wife have a farm in Clifford where they produce perry and cider from traditional, unsprayed orchards. The name "Artistraw" comes from a local dialect word for a shrew.
They have a website at, and are also on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Lime Tree Preservation

I happened to notice a yellow sign tied to a post as I walked along Broad Street this morning. It seems that the five pollarded lime trees along Broad Street have just been granted a Tree Preservation Order.

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Cwm Rhondda

I've been away for the weekend in the South Wales Valleys.
As we travelled on the Saturday morning, the bus ticket was free (travel on the T14 within Wales is free every Saturday).
We went down to Pontypridd, where my Young Man's friend met us and took us out to his place in Cwm Rhondda. It was pretty damp and drizzly on Saturday morning, but later the sun came out, and the trees growing up the valley sides were decked out in autumnal colours, with moorland just visible beyond them, and the Rhondda river itself running close to the road. It's a very beautiful place to live these days, with the occasional reminder that this was once an area of heavy industrial activity.
Our friend offered to drive us back to Hay, and the views were glorious going over the hills. Up at Storey Arms, there were cars parked all along the sides of the roads, and lots of people heading up across the moors on the paths.
It was lovely to get out of Hay for a little while and see parts of South Wales that I've never been to before.

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

No Richard Booth Procession

It was a shame that the plans for a procession and fire festival on 31st October didn't come to anything (I had a costume ready to wear, just in case). I'm sure Richard Booth will be properly remembered next April at the Independence celebrations.