Tuesday, 28 June 2016

More Beer, and Cider, News

Something else to look forward to at the weekend, at Beer Revolution:

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Marquees Going up around Hay

At the Castle, there's a marquee on the lawn which was used yesterday for Barty's memorial service - he was the owner of Bartrum's stationers, and died suddenly a week or so ago. The shop will continue to trade. I'd met him, but didn't really know him, but I believe the memorial was well attended, and the community choir sang.

Next weekend there will be a Crafts and Rural Skills event at the Castle, using the marquee, which sounds like fun, while in the Town Square, the marquees will be going up for the Food Fair and, on the Sunday, Hay Does Vintage.
So there's lots to look forward to, here in the Independent Kingdom of Hay!

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Small Business Saturday

Last week's entry seems to be the last of the new businesses around town that I'd taken photos of, so in future, this will be an occasional slot for any new businesses that start up in Hay, or for any news about local businesses. I started recording all the small businesses in Hay on 28th January, 2012, with Doll's House Fun on Brecon Road, and have hardly missed a Saturday since!

Friday, 24 June 2016

News from Hereford Hopvine

I'm feeling rather depressed today, having woken up to find myself on the losing side of history, so to cheer myself up, I'm thinking about beer.
I went into Hereford today, and picked up the Hereford Hopvine at the Lichfield Vaults (owned by a Greek chap who does really good Meze).
One thing I'm looking forward to is Beer on the Wye, on July 8th, 9th and 10th at the Rowing Club. They have a new, bigger marquee this year and over 120 cask beers, 40 World Beers and 120 ciders and perries to choose from. My Young Man is coming that weekend, and we're planning to go on the Sunday, which is Family Fun Day, with a folk band called Emma & the Professor. I don't think we'll be having our faces painted, though it is an option that's available. There'll even be a Ladies' Morris Side, Jenny Pipes from Leominster, dancing there.
On the Saturday, we'll be at Mallyfest, which is on the Hay Festival field this year.
On the bus into Hereford I noticed that the Boughton Arms in Peterchurch is closed - the Hopvine says this is because of the landlord Alan Hughes' untimely death.
Meanwhile the Nag's Head, up the road in Peterchurch, has re-decorated, and re-surfaced their car park.
The Rhydspence Inn seems to be doing well under new landlord Mark Price, who now has Swan Gold real ale at the bar, from the new Swan Brewery in Leominster.
The Bells at Almeley, which I visited last year, has just won the BBC Award for Best Food Retailer of 2016! They have survived as a pub by turning half the building into a local Market and Deli shop, full of interesting local produce.
There are a lot of new and interesting bars in Hereford - which I never seem to have time to visit on my shopping trips (and of course there are no evening buses). There's a micro-pub now where a laundrette used to be, just outside the ring road on the way to Sainsbury's, and another in Bastion Mews, called Shack Revolution.
Firefly has opened where the Orange Tree used to be, near the Cathedral, part of a company from Worcester, and there are finally plans to knock down the Ship Inn, which has stood empty on the roundabout near Asda for as long as I can remember, to replace it with flats.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016


I've been avoiding any mention of the up-coming referendum here, as I don't think this is the place for campaigning (I've been doing that on Facebook!), but it is important that everyone who can goes to vote tomorrow.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Guest Post by Emma Balch - Hay Library

This is the first guest post I've ever had - and Emma is far more coherent in her thoughts about the plans for the Library than I am!

Some thoughts following the public consultation about Hay Library last week.

It was a good meeting, although I thought it was disappointing that various key people and groups in Hay were not represented. Perhaps they sent apologies. A lot of sense was spoken by those who did attend, and I hope the Powys CC representatives can take those views and ideas on board, given that they are asking the community to practically and financially support the library service.

In no particular order:

* I'm not sure about a 'friends' group, or at least one called that. One of the unique things about a library is that it is for everyone and as soon as there is a group who are the 'friends', what does it say about everyone else? They're not a friend of the library because they're not on the committee, or they don't give money, or they don't agree with having to pay to put up a poster in the public library etc. I would argue that if a group is formed it is not called the 'friends'.

* There are of course many people who believe public services should not be funded by the community or private enterprise. As I said in the meeting, I think there would be resistance to putting Powys' pocket, especially when they're threatening to close the local high school. (I appreciate the funds come from different pots, but there is a general perception that Powys can't be trusted because of the situation with schools and failure to deliver on promises.)

* It struck me there were two key issues raised at the meeting:

1) publicity/awareness of what the library offers/could offer (to the local community and to tourists)

2) costcutting/fundraising

* In light of the previous point, I do think it is fair to ask the local community and library users to help with publicity and awareness-raising. There is a lot of goodwill on this point and so many of us are grateful for the role that libraries played in our childhood and today. There are services on offer that many people don't know about, and opportunities that people in the community would grab and run with if they knew they were there. The local government services can't be expected to do everything, and if we value a service - private or public - we should support it and encourage others to do the same. There are changes that people would like to see, and those voices should be heard, and perhaps there are simple ways to make them happen. So I think as a community we could certainly get together to give more profile to the library, its services and resources and the brilliant staff at Hay Library. Jayne and her team are unofficial social workers, supporter the community in whole range of ways in addition to lending books.

* The costcutting/fundraising side of it is more tricky. As a relative newcomer to Hay (arrived 2011) I am amazed at how many times the community is asked to give to a whole range of groups, causes and public services - and how political and tribal these groups become. There is something wonderful about the library that is outside of that. By stepping in the library you are not aligning yourself with specific people or a group within Hay - anyone can go there. Nobody expects you to donate or pay for your time there, you can stay for a minute or as long as it is open, you can be loud or quiet, nobody 'owns' it more than you do. Jayne and her team treat everyone equally and they're the ones who are in each day, so they know everyone's name.
I think as soon as their is a group assigned to fundraising it creates another tier and it would be so sad to create those divisions in a space that is so blissfully free of it.

* So, the Hay Festival funding is great [for the last couple of years they have generously given £7k to Hay Library which supports one of the staff posts]. The Hay Festival receives plenty of grants and public funding, so that makes sense, to support the library in their own community.
Are there other organisations like Hay Festival who could support the library e.g. by paying for staff time for say one day a week to run events, or drop-ins, or a workshop in part of the library, with the library staff time and opening/running costs during that time covered as part of the funding, but offering a specific new service, with the rest of the library open to the general public. In this case it would be an independent project that is using the library as a venue, but in doing so pays for the library to be open to the community at that time.

* It would be useful to see a breakdown of the costs for running Hay Library and the list of things that will be cut if the £18k is not found. What if £14k is raised - what will be saved, what will be kept? I think there is great value in community fundraising efforts, because it brings people on board and make it a joint effort to support OUR library, but there are big costs that perhaps could be funded by other ways that not only provide finances but really contribute to the service that libraries provide. (I felt that was lost a little in the meeting - the value and purpose of libraries and why they are important.)

* Last Thursday I was in Ledbury and I had a good look around the Master's House. This beautiful heritage building houses the council offices and the library services. The renovation was lottery funded and it is an interesting, tasteful and welcoming public space. Could the plans at Hay Castle be adapted to accommodate the Powys CC library service within the castle grounds? I have no idea if it is possible, but it would certainly be a wonderful way to meet a genuine community need AND bring together books+libraries+castles as places of refuge in a physical space in the centre of Hay.

* I agree with the point that Oliver [Balch] made at the library consultation meeting that Hay is in a unique position that could definitely be drawn upon. It is the library in the town of books. It is great for PR, for marketing as part of the town of books. The library could be the hub for potential projects, for providing a cross-generational, public space where anyone is welcome to be part of the town of books and make it their own. You don't need to own a bookshop, or a castle, or even a book to be part of the town of books - you can borrow one from our fabulous library free of charge!

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Small Business Saturday

The Secret Garden, now a shop divided into craft and vintage units, with a cafe in the pretty little garden at the back.
Previously it's been an underwear shop called Sigi's, a solicitors' office, a book shop and a shop selling vintage pottery.