Friday, 2 October 2015

A Full Body Up-Grade

Earlier this week was my 6 monthly trip to the dentist, who whizzed a little tool round my mouth to get rid of stuff that had built up on the teeth and was polite enough not to mention all the dentistry he could be doing to make my mouth perfect (he did that last time, and I know there are teeth broken and teeth missing, but as long as nothing hurts and I can still smile, it's good enough!).
Then I noticed just how many scratches there are on my glasses. My mum had been reminding me of one of my step-cousins while she was here. As a small child, she'd needed glasses, but hated them, so rubbed them up and down in the sand pit to scratch them and make them impossible to see through. Before my glasses got to that state, I thought I'd better get back to the Opticians on Backfold.
Turns out, I was last there in 2008.
However, they were able to see me the same day, and the good news was that my eyes hadn't changed all that much. It was fascinating to have my eyes tested with all the impressive machinery they have now - including the one where you look at a red dot in the centre of the screen and tell the optician how many little green lights are appearing round the edge of the screen. Having passed that one with flying colours, I asked if I was now qualified to be a space fighter pilot! And she showed me photos of the backs of my eyeballs!
While I was there, the ladies at the front desks were talking about Eugene Fisk's new book O Happy Hay! One lady said she'd seen him sketching outside the chemists - and apparently half the retail price is now going to a fund for the refugee crisis.
So, having sorted out the teeth for another six months, and now awaiting the new lenses for my glasses, I thought I'd go round to Jenesis the hairdressers to have a new, shorter hairstyle.
This time next week, nobody will recognise me!

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Midwinter of the Spirit

Phil Rickman's book Midwinter of the Spirit has been adapted into a three part serial on ITV. It's the second of his Merrily Watkins series, about the Diocesan exorcist (or Deliverance Minister, in the modern parlance), of Herefordshire. It's shot around Hereford - though the scenes inside the cathedral were shot in Chester - Weobley and Dilwyn mainly, and is marvellously atmospheric and terribly creepy!
They chose this story about Merrily because the first story, Wine of Angels, was originally intended to be a stand-alone novel about Merrily getting her first parish, and the creepy goings-on associated with the nearby orchard and a former vicar of the parish at the time of the mystical poet Thomas Treherne. Midwinter of the Spirit is the story where Merrily first gets the job of Deliverance Minister for the diocese, so seems a more logical place to start for TV.
I've read most of the Merrily stories, and belong to PRAS, the Phil Rickman Appreciation Society, which has a Facebook page, and I've been enjoying it even where it doesn't stick strictly to the book. My Young Man hasn't read the books, but messaged me after the first one to say "that's some wierd stuff", and after the second to say "episode 2 even wierder".

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Glassblowing in Hay

There's a shop on the Craft Centre that sells beautiful hand blown glass objects - vases and bowls and so on, in gorgeous colours. This year, they also offered something extra - courses on learning glass blowing.
I went to ask about them, but £99 for half a day's tuition was a bit too much for us. You have to be pretty sure that you want to do it for that sort of money!
However, the chap there was very helpful, and showed me round, even opening the furnace for me to see the molten glass swirling around inside. He said that it was a pity really that they were running the courses over the summer. On the one hand, it's when the visitors are in Hay, but on the other, glass blowing is really an occupation for cold winters' days! The heat from the furnace was fierce, and on one course they had nine people in the small space, so it was really sweltering!
The gallery website is at

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Medieval Costume

I was asked today whether I'd dressed up for the Hay History Weekend (of course I did!), so for those who are wondering, here I am in my medieval costume - with 13thC sleeves and 15thC velvet surcoat, which was the best I could do to approach the period of Agincourt!

Here I am in the Castle, with the scribe, a man who really does make his own ink from oak galls, and does beautiful work.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Russian Concert at St. Mary's

John Stark, who organises the music concerts at Booth Books and St Mary's, has really done well for the October concerts!
On Tuesday October 6th, at 7.30pm at St. Mary's Church, the St. Petersburg Chamber Choir will be singing! The perform Russian religious and folk music and have toured Europe and the United States.
And on Saturday 10th, also at St. Mary's, there will be a concert in honour of Sir Edgar Speyer, The Man Who Saved the Proms. In 1902, he saved the Promenade concerts from bankrupcy with his personal fortune. Hannah Grove (soprano),Olivia Gomez (mezzo-soprano)
John Hymas (violin) and Jeremy Fisher (piano) will perform works by Elgar, Debussy, Greig and David Lawrence.
Tickets are £12.00 from Booth Books.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Sunday Worship

I'm taking a break from Small Business Saturday, now that I've gone round all of Hay, so I thought for a change I'd feature a different place of worship every week. A little while ago, somebody said to me that it was a pity that the Open Door chapel was up for sale, and it would be nice to have a record of what it looked like before a new owner changed it. So that's my first place of worship.
The Open Door people were lovely - I used to live next door to them. They were Evangelical Christians, and they organised lunches for the over sixties, among other things. They also had a beautiful sensory garden at the back, which still looks pretty good.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Transition Towns News

The Transition Towns group in Hay is part of a national network which is holding their annual conference in Devon next month. So although not much is going on in Hay itself, they are aware of lots of things happening in the surrounding area.
I've been getting lots of emails over the last month (when I was somewhat distracted by visitors!), with details of a new timetable for the Hay Ho Sunday bus, for instance, which has secured funding for another year and a new, improved timetable.
There have been protests in Hereford about the proposed Southern Link Road (a project that has been talked about for at least twenty years and which would cross environmentally sensitive water meadows).
Fracking has also been a subject of much debate.
Up in Llandrindod Wells, local houses that have been adapted with environmentally friendly features are open to the public today - solar panels, heat pumps, rainwater harvesting to flush the loo, and more.

And coming up next week is, right across Herefordshire. Here's what the newsletter from New Leaf says:
"Come to the h.Energy Markets for creative hedgehog activities, storytelling, pedal powered egg frying, miniature chickens, master composting, energy saving and renewable energy advice, hands on activities for all ages, opportunities to try out crafts and rural skills … and lots of friendly advice, and opportunities to chat and ask questions."

There will also be talks on all sorts of sustainable subjects, about electric cars and green economics, the future of housing in the county and Zero Carbon energy.
There's also Queenswood Autumn Festival with all things woodland-related, and the chance to be a brewer for the day at Wye Valley, one of the Gold Sponsors of That's the first prize in the competition.
And there's a bee safari in Ewyas Harold, a clothes swap in Hereford, a community breakfast in Stoke Lacy, open eco homes all across the county, and lots more.

The AGM of Hay Transition Towns will take place at Cusop Village Hall on Wednesday September 30th at 7.30pm