Saturday, 1 August 2015

Small Business Saturday

Athene English's shop (in the centre of the picture, more or less), which specialises in Welsh blankets and also leather goods. Athene has some of her blankets in the exhibition Spun Gold at Hereford Library at the moment.

Friday, 31 July 2015

Spirited Away!

When I passed Spirit of the Andes at the beginning of last week, it was open as usual.
The next morning, the shop had been stripped!
Apparently the whole (quite small) chain has gone into liquidation, very suddenly.
Which is awful for the ladies who thought they had a secure job there - they seem to have had slightly more warning than the general public, but not much.
So there's a fine, Victorian fronted shop in a prime position in town that's empty now.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Military Commemoration in the Town Square

Keep watching the skies on Sunday afternoon - a Mustang from the Second World War will be flying over Hay as part of the parade in the town square to commemorate the war dead of the twentieth century. This includes the Hay Territorials posted to Aden to fight the Turkish Empire in 1915, right the way through to the soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan today. They are also marking the 70th anniversary of VJ Day (Victory in Japan) and VE Day (Victory in Europe) and the end of the Second World War.
Father Richard will lead prayers at two o'clock at the cenotaph, followed by the fly-by, and there will then be a talk by retired Territorial Army Colonel Tim Van Rees from Brecon. Wreaths will also be laid, and the Swansea Pipe Band will be there.
From noon, in the Cheese Market, there will be exhibitions from the Welsh Guards Museum, the Military Vehicle Trust and Hay History Group. A World War One field ambulance will be there, and a World War Two replica hospital in front of the castle.

Alan Nicholls, of the History Group, now has a book out about the First World War as seen through the pages of the Brecon County Times - he's been displaying some of the information he's discovered in the Cheese Market over the last year.
Since the article appeared in the Brecon and Radnor yesterday, saying that the book was available from Broad Street Book Centre, they've sold out! More supplies will be available soon!

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Spun Gold at Hereford Library

When I was in Hereford last, I found the time to visit the latest exhibition at the Library. Spun Gold is all about wool, particularly from the local Ryeland Sheep, and it's really very good. It covers spinning - and there was a rather interesting table spinning wheel on display, used by turning a handle (I think I'd have problems with that, as I generally need both hands on the fleece!). There was weaving, on an upright loom that anyone could have a go at, and a peg loom. There was art - a student project jazzing up boring woollen jumpers and some wild wool bikinis. As well as history about shepherding and other uses of wool, such as in insulation.
Just the thing for a rainy Saturday morning!

Monday, 27 July 2015

The True Story of the Mail Coach Monument

Since I repeated the legend rather than the facts when I wrote about a recent trip into Carmarthenshire, I thought I'd better look up the facts.
It seems that the Mail Coach Pillar is a warning against drunken driving. It was erected in 1841 by the Royal Mail as a warning to its drivers of the dangers of driving whilst intoxicated, according to the South Wales Guardian, which carried a story about the repair of the monument in 2011 (the repairs don't seem to have been carried out, though, as the railings around the monument look as if they have been bent out of shape for some time).
Edward Jenkins was the drunk driver in question, at the reins of the mail coach between Gloucester and Carmarthen shortly before Christmas 1833. The coach was being driven at a furious pace, on the wrong side of the (narrow, winding) road, when it met a cart coming in the opposite direction, and plunged over the side of the road and into the river below. Amazingly, there were no fatalities (though no-one seems to mention what happened to the horses).

Here's the inscription on the front of the monument:

"This pillar is called Mail Coach Pillar and erected as a caution to mail coach drivers to keep from intoxication and in memory of the Gloucester & Carmarthen mail coach which was driven by Edward Jenkins on the 19 day of December in the year 1833 who was intoxicated at the time & drove the mail on the wrong side of the road and going at a full speed or gallop met a cart & permitted the leader to turn short round to the right hand & went down over the precipice 12 feet where at the bottom near the river it came against an ash tree when the coach was dashed into several pieces. Colonel Gwynn of Glanbrian Park, Daniel Jones Esq. of Penybont and a person of the name of Edwards were outside & David Lloyd Harries Esq of Llandovery solicitor and a lad of the name of Kernick were inside passengers by the mail at the time and John Compton guard."

And on the side of the monument:

"I have heard say where there is a will there is a way, one person cannot assist many, but many can assist a few, as this pillar will shew which was suggested, designed and erected by J. Bull Inspector of mail coaches, with the aid of thirteen pounds sixteen shillings and sixpence received by him from forty-one subscribers in the year 1841"
and below:
"The work of this pillar was executed by John Jones marble and stone mason Llanddarog near Carmarthen. Repainted and restored by postal officials 1930"

So there we have it - a cautionary tale from history.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

The Phil Rickman Appreciation Society Go Up the Dingle

Fortified by lunch (in my case a salmon and broccoli quiche and salad with elderflower presse, which was very nice) the PRAS group set off again, along Broad Street and down to the river. A couple of important scenes in Magus of Hay take place at the mouth of the Dulas Brook, where it joins the Wye - and the Dulas is also the border between England and Wales, so we went there first, and then ambled along the Riverside Path to St Mary's Church. There we admired the organ, and the icon of Our Lady of Capel-y-ffin (painted by an icon painter from South Wales - other icons in the church were painted by Christina Watson, who is also in the choir). [edited for accuracy - I originally thought Christina had painted all of them]
The minibus was conveniently parked just up the hill at the cattle market - we passed the old castle mound on the way (this weekend really was well organised!).
The minibus took us, and a couple of cars following, to Cusop Dingle, where we went up to Cusop Church and parked in the car park there. I'm very fond of Cusop Church. There we were looking for Major Armstrong associations (though the grave of his poor wife is unmarked), and also admired the huge yew tree by the church door.
Cusop Church also has the grave of a Methodist Martyr in the churchyard - William Seward, who was stoned by a mob when he preached on Black Lion Green in Hay, and later died of his injuries.
From there we stepped across the lane and into the field which is the site of Cusop Castle.

Here's one of the pictures that was shared on Facebook.
One chap in the party was convinced that the site was originally Iron Age, from the way it was laid out and the positioning on the spur of the hill overlooking a small stream. It's certainly a very defensible position.
Somewhere near there is the fictional bungalow and barn belonging to the Magus of Hay, whose body was found in a pool of the Dulas Brook, which is where we went next. It's always been my favourite pool along the Dingle, just on the Hay side of the Mill, because of the waterfall. On the day that Frannie Bliss was called out to look at the body, the stream was more swollen. On the day we were there, the sun was shining through the trees and it was just lovely. We did go a bit further up the Dingle than we needed to, though - it's very hard to turn a minibus round in that narrow lane. Polly turned out to be very good at manouvering!

And then it was back to Hay for a bit of light book browsing and maybe a Shepherds ice cream.

I forgot to mention before that the main car park in Hay also plays an important part in the Magus of Hay, when the hapless American who owns Thorogood Pagan Bookshop becomes a suspect in the murder case because of where he parks his car....

In the evening, some of the group went to the Three Tuns for an evening meal.
On the Sunday, I had to be at the desk of the Cinema Bookshop, but the minibus took everyone up to Capel-y-ffin and Llanthony Abbey, which also feature in Phil Rickman's books, with lunch at the Skirrid.
And I think I'm right in saying that a good time was had by all!

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Small Business Saturday

The End - all sorts of interesting vintage items, including French linen.

This used to be a gift shop - the owner had a sweet spaniel, and kept dog biscuits behind the counter. My dog picked up on this very quickly, and always wanted to go in when we passed to say hello!

Before that, it was once the ticket office of the original cinema in town, and I think a bike repair shop.