Sunday, 31 May 2009

That's it for another year!

The stall holders in the Castle Grounds were packing up when I passed by this evening - just as the last performance of the Tempest was starting on the other side of the castle. The Festival is winding up with Hamish and Dougal (Barry Cryer and Graeme Garden) and men outside the Crown were shouting "I 'ate you, Butler," at the driver of the double decker bus.
Another Festival over.

The MS society would like to thank the people of Hay, and the visitors, for their generosity on the flag day they held on Tuesday. They raised over £400.

Meanwhile on the river, there are 7 cygnets!

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Tempest in the Castle Grounds

Not a real one, fortunately - the Shakespeare version, on a blisteringly hot afternoon, and with a small but appreciative audience. Anvil Productions were performing, on tour from Theatr Colwyn in North Wales. The website is There was quite a bit of cross-dressing, and doubling up on parts, as you'd expect from a small touring company - but they were very good indeed, especially Prospero and Ariel. And with no electronic amplification. When Prospero did the "this rough magic do I now abjure" speech, I think you could have heard him in the Market Square!
I love seeing Shakespeare outdoors - the Dream at Regent's Park, Tempest at the Rollright Stones, Twelfth Night and As You Like it at Kinnersley Castle....(and for Twelfth Night the cast and audience stuck it out to the end in rain so hard that the makeup was washing off the actors' faces!)
I took Islay along - I thought it was time she got a little culture - and she behaved impeccably.
The Castle is a good location for outdoor theatre, and I hope they do more up there.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Festival Friday

A very pleasant day taking in the sights and sounds.
I went to see Daniel Crayshaw's (sp?) exhibition in Marina's upper room. Last year he did paintings of snowy hillsides that made you feel cold just to look at them; this year he's moved into a more urban environment, and there are more vehicles in the paintings. One of them was the bus in Alaska where a young man died of starvation. Still monochrome, though.
On a more cheerful note - or maybe not, considering that the subject of the competition is 'Lost' - I picked up an entry form for the short story competition from the Festival site. It's being run by the Hay & District Community Support office; the closing date is 31st July, and the website is There were 400 entries last year, and the winner read their story out at the Hay Winter Festival.
The Festival site was full of bustle and sunbathing people. The Guardian have a yurt this year (last year it was a double decker bus, I think - there was certainly a double decker bus there, sinking slowly in the mud). I loved the life size bronze pig - with the label round his ear saying 'Please don't touch, I'm sold' - which was a great pity, because it was the sort of sculpture you just wanted to throw your arms around and hug!
There were people knitting a blanket at the Keep & Share stall - and they have a website at They're based in Lugwardine, in Herefordshire.
Wiggly Wigglers had three hens in their wildlife garden - Oberon, Hermia and Peaseblossom.
Later I left Islay sunning herself at the front of the house while Pam next door sold the contents of her wardrobe to passers by. David Jardine was speaking on Myth and Magic at the Globe, and reading from his book Visions of the Cailleach. I was impressed. He'd done a huge amount of research and was obviously enthusiastic about it.
The day finished off nicely for me in Marina's garden, sipping sparkling white wine under an ancient rose bush that will be a mass of pink blossoms in a few weeks time. It's an old variety called Isfahan, apparently, and it's also highly scented.
They are intending to burn the wicker man - not in situ, and not for a few weeks, but I think it will be a fun party.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Tibetan Monks

I usually try to go to one good thing over the Festival, and this year my eye was caught by the Tibetan Monks from Tashi Lhunpo Monastery.
I went up on the shuttle bus after work. The performance had been delayed by half an hour, but I found friends who were going to see it too, and we sat together. They had Friends tickets (so got in first), and saved seats for the rest of us in a good central position.
The performance was sold out. An English lady in Tibetan dress introduced the different chants and dances, and eight monks performed them and played various musical instruments - drums, cymbals, bells, those huge long trumpets, 'snake-charmer' trumpets - and trumpets that were traditionally made out of the leg bones of humans, to attract demons, so that the monks could persuade them to be more compassionate (I think). They didn't say whether these particular trumpets were made from human bones.
I now know what the round black hat with the sticky up pom pom is, in Nepal Bazaar - the monks were wearing something very similar when they performed the Black Hat Dance. I liked the story that went with it, of the assassin hiding a small bow and arrow up the big sleeves of his costume so he could shoot the king - and he covered his white horse with charcoal beforehand so that when he escaped, he could swim the horse across a river and turn it from black to white so he wouldn't be recognised.
Tashi Lhunpo monastery was originally the monastery of the Panchen Lama, second only to the Dalai Lama - but the boy who was recognised as the new re-incarnation of the Panchen Lama was arrested by the Chinese, and no-one knows where he is. The monastery itself is no longer in Tibet, where they had 6,000 monks and students in its heyday, but near Mysore in Southern India, where there are now 300 monks.
One of the things they were selling in the interval was a monastery cookbook, with quantities for 300! (but they had scaled some of them down).
At the end of the performance, it's traditional at Hay Festival to give a long stemmed white rose to each of the speakers or performers - and the monks seemed delighted!

I think I made a good choice - though one friend said she'd been given tickets to see Dylan Moran, and laughed until her sides hurt!

This morning, St Michael's Hospice shop had had their window smashed - and it struck me that the Craft Centre, where all the break ins took place, has CCTV all over the place - for all the use it was. No-one knew about the break ins until the morning, when the first people came in to work, so obviously no-one watches the CCTV at the time, or they could have called the police when the crimes were being committed, rather than hours later when the criminals were long gone.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Break ins

Every shop in the Craft Centre was broken into last night - just on the night that all the Bank Holiday takings were there, because they couldn't get to the banks.
The thieves seem to have been very methodical, because it wasn't just Hay that was hit - they left a trail of destruction across the county over the course of the night.
"Talgarth!" said Suzy, who told me about it. "Why Talgarth? You'd have thought they'd have left money there - what is there to nick?" (which is slightly unfair to Talgarth, but she had had a very stressful morning).

This happened last year as well, when Shepherd's safe was taken out of the shop and then abandoned.

Meanwhile, on a happier note, Peter King the artist blacksmith erected some of his steel sculptures outside the Cinema - not my cup of tea, but they were attracting quite a bit of interest (but a price tag of £1850 each makes them available to only a minority of visitors). He has a website at for those who want to see what they're like.
On Saturday, a camera obscura is going to be set up outside the Cinema for the weekend.

The marquee on the square came down this morning, and the local craft people went into the Buttermarket for the day.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Festival Diary again

The record fair was setting up in the Buttermarket this morning. The day dawned grey, but the rain held off until lunchtime, and then it was only on and off showers - which is far better than the two previous years.
The morning at the Cinema was enlivened when a Jazz Band came marching up into the car park, and stayed to play a couple of numbers. They were accompanied by a man in top hat and tails, and a decorated umbrella.
The jester was wandering round town again, too. Over the weekend, he was stiltwalking - and he managed to get inside Oscars, on his stilts!
At lunch time, the kids from Red Kite managed to close Lion Street while they did mime to a large crowd.
I wandered through the Castle Grounds, and stopped at the sight of two Ashford spinning wheels for sale, with a variety of other spinning paraphenalia. They'd been left behind in the Castle, apparently, and the lady selling them hadn't got a clue how they were supposed to work (or how much to charge for them). The drive bands were missing, unfortunately, but I demonstrated how they should go for her, and bought some wool dyed with weld, a lovely bright yellow.
In the evening, I took Islay round town, and she went straight into Marina's old shop, which she's opened up as the Mad Old Cow cafe again for the Festival. Champagne and cake, mmm. She said that she was so tired, earlier in the day, having been up the night before until gone 2am, that she started making up rude songs about the customers in the kitchen - unaware that they could hear every word she said! Which was the cue for hysterical laughter.
The Addymans weren't up that late, but they did still have customers in the shop at 10.30pm. Anne said they were closing a bit earlier tonight and going for a curry.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

More Festival Fun

And glorious sunny weather.

There seems to be some doubt whether Richard's march actually took place at all.
Arthur Scargill's speech did - and was reported on the BBC website, but Richard didn't get a mention.

Adele finished the day drinking bottles of cider with friends outside the front door of Nepal Bazaar.

Mary Fellowes went up to the Festival site, and said the queue to the XOX Organics takeaway van was the longest queue there. "It was the smell," she said, "and they were proper, thick beefburgers." She said I should go up and see the church, too - the Flower Festival this year is wonderful. The theme is God's Poetry Spoken through the People of Wales.

Tim the Gardener said he'd been very busy in his (Tinto House) garden, where they're exhibiting sculpture again this year.

And playing at the corner of Backfold, beside Spar, there was a band playing a double bass, two guitars and a mouth organ.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Fairtrade Fair - and the Festival

Up bright and early this morning to help set up the Fairtrade Fair at the Buttermarket. I was just doing the information stall, but I was between Adele from Nepal Bazaar and Julia from Fair Connections bags and toys, and we spent a lot of the morning gossiping and minding each other's stalls.
As I went up there, Eric Pugh came out of his shop and called me over. "Do you think this will offend anyone?" he asked, pointing at a new sign on his shop door. 'Sorry, Only 2 MPs allowed in this shop at any time.'. I giggled.
One big disappointment was the lack of the Touareg silversmith who had hoped to be coming - he was supposed to be bringing more stocks of jewellery to sell with him as well. When he got his passport back from Senegal, having been assured it would all be fine (it's impossible to get a visa for Britain in Mali - they have to go over the border) there was no visa with it - and he'd already paid for his plane ticket.
However, we had Love Zimbabwe again, with their marvellous pottery and jewellery and metal statues made out of scrap, and BagAge, and Zimele beaded products from Zululand; Athene was there with scarfs from Burma and felt slippers from Finland (not sure how they're Fairtrade, but they were wonderful). She came by briefly during the day: "I'm nowhere and everywhere," she said, with her shop open, and a stall on the Festival site and the stall in the Buttermarket. We had Tearfund, too, and Peruvian knitwear. I don't think it was quite as good as the Christmas fair, but there were plenty of people coming through.

The town square was full of people too - there's a marquee with bands playing - and morris dancers - and something from Red Kite. Arts Alive from Crickhowell were raffling a magnificent quilt.
In the Castle Gardens there are food stalls on one side as you go in, and stalls selling jewellery and rather wonderful Tshirts and tops (they come every year) and more stalls on the terraces as you go up to the Castle.
Round the back, earlier in the day, Richard was doing his thing - the march against Rupert Murdoch had transmuted itself into a Socialist Labour Party march (now that Richard is going for MEP for them), and after the march they had speakers - Neil Clark of the Campaign for Public Ownership and Arthur Scargill, and a couple of poets, with singing from the Cardiff Red Choir. They would have been worth listening to - they came to the Castle last year and were very good.

I didn't see any of this, being otherwise occupied at the Buttermarket, nor did I see Jackie leading members of Red Kite with masks, doing miming. I didn't see the two ladies with old fashioned prams, selling sandwiches and drinks as they walked up and down the town, either.
I did see a lady pushing what looked like an old chest of drawers on wheels (it looked heavy, too). She was from the Secret Seed Society, and was selling copies of a new book (hopefully soon to be in a garden centre near you!). It's for kids, with a membership card to the Secret Society and a packet of seeds to grow - have a look at
I also got a chance to go down to the Open Door, where they're having an exhibition of work from the Hay Camera Club. Abstract photography is the theme, and some of the pictures are amazing!
And in the afternoon, down the Pavement, a little boy and girl were playing the violin to raise money for the WWF, with mum hovering in the background. I turned the corner, thinking "Someone's playing the fiddle really badly", and then I saw the size of the child, and thought "Actually, she's playing really well."
Huw Parsons was wandering round town, too, with a copy of his book under his arm. It's also for sale at Booth's, Addyman's, Backfold Books, Golesworthys and the Globe, and at Brecon Museum.

When I got home in the afternoon, the front of our houses were in full sun, and Pam next door had put tables and a clothes rail outside and was selling her surplus clothes and stuff. I sat out and joined her with a glass of wine. It was a lovely evening. And a London double decker bus keeps going past, the Globe's contribution to the shuttle bus service.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Festival Diary

I started the day with the usual walk out.
The yurts are up in Tangerine Fields, on the edge of town (they were in the Castle Grounds last year, and seem really quite luxurious). I haven't seen any tepees yet, but I'm sure they're around somewhere.

What I did see was a huge 'wicker man' looming over Marina's garden wall, next door to the Wheatsheaf! It's more of a pallet wood man, really, but it's huge!

Then I was supposed to wait in for Jo to bring round the stuff for the Fairtrade Fair in the Buttermarket tomorrow. I'm going to go along and set up the information table in the morning. She was going to bring the basket round after she'd been to yoga, but she arrived much earlier - and spitting feathers! "Can you believe it? They've cancelled the yoga at the Globe and haven't told anybody! Not even the teacher! They've got the electricians in!" So she had a spare hour and a half to kill before she went to the talk at the Festival she'd booked - and was not in the relaxed state of mind she'd expected to be. And she's got 18 guests for the Festival, all friends and family. "Do you have a big house then?" one of the other yoga ladies asked.
"Oh, yes, we've got a mansion!" Jo said grandly. "No - they're all camping. We've got a field with a composting toilet and a cold tap for them!"

On the way out to the launderette, I met Paul Harris, and he said that the Commonwealth has made it to the telly! He's been interviewed by ITV, and it should be on next Thursday night. No-one except Sky TV are allowed to film the actual Festival, so ITV decided they'd make a more general programme about Hay. When they got here they found out about the Commonwealth vs. the King, so they interviewed Richard and Paul - separately, of course. Apart from that, they wanted to focus on the book sellers vs. the Festival, which Paul pointed out was mostly a made up story by the Independent, and bricks and mortar booksellers vs. the Internet, in which case Paul said they could be there until Christmas while he talked about what he thought of that!

Finally, on the way home, I passed the shop on Castle Street that used to be Silent Voices - and Bedecked has moved in there from Backfold, which will give them a lot more room for the wools and trimmings and buttons and so on.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Meet the Super Women Who Make Hay

That's the headline on the front of the new Haywire.

When I started this blog, I thought I'd stay in the background, just talking about Hay because it's such a wonderful place to live. I didn't expect to be hogging the limelight!
But there I am, in the centre spread of Haywire, along with seven other Hay ladies.
Doug's interviewed Sally of Fleur de Lys about moving her business up the road, Rachel from the Old Stables about her prize-winning cafe, Joanne - a musician who's been treated for cancer at the Haven Breast Cancer Complementary Centre in Hereford, Carole from Jones's Home Hardware shop (who is always cheerful), Mary Fellowes the deputy mayor and B&B owner - and chair of Dial-a-Ride, and a school governor, and president of the local Conservative Association, and finally Annie Day and Jo Lord who are in training to run the Marathon des Sables across the Sahara - 150 miles of it! They also work at the Wholefood shop, and Jo is a potter.

When I saw Doug today, he said he'd been threatened with violence over a piece he wrote in the last issue! "Beneath that civilised veneer, violence lurks!" he said darkly.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

In the News

Richard Booth is in the B&R this week - he's decided to stand for the European Parliament on behalf of Arthur Scargill's Socialist Labour Party (I wonder if Arthur knows that Richard once supported Jonathan Evans, the Conservative candidate, against Roger Livesey, the sitting Lib Dem - and Jonathan Evans just scraped into Parliament?). However, he wants to be one of the 4 MEPs that represent Wales in Brussels, and he's standing on an anti-globalisation ticket, he says.

Meanwhile, on the back page of the Amnesty Magazine, where they put interviews with interesting people who sympathise with their aims, this time it's the turn of Peter Florence. Possibly they chose him to interview because 'Free?', Amnesty's new story anthology for children, has been picked by the Guardian for an exclusive promotion at the Festival this year.
On the size of the Festival these days (and the corporate sponsorship) he says: "It's lost some of its shakier beginnings, its shambling amateurism and its financial insecurity."
He also talks about taking the Festival into Parc Prison, one of Wales' biggest prisons. He worked with the Special Unit at Barlinnie in the 80s, and was also thinking about the great works that have been written in prisons, and the way that repressive regimes lock up writers.
Finally, they asked him why he cares about human rights: "Because in this society of police brutality, ID card fiasco and deep fear we are still luckier and freer than anyone else on the planet. British democracy may be fallible, abused and casual, but it's still a place of huge privilege, and it affords amazing opportunities to do better."

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

The Calm Before the Storm

Or, Getting Ready for the Festival.
The Transition Town group have sent a newsletter round - their event has sold out, though there may be a possibilitiy that it gets moved to a larger venue. The founder of the Transition Town movement, Rob Hopkins, is speaking, and our own Simon Forrester will be there to give a local perspective.
On the way round town this evening, I noticed that the racing pigeons are still in residence in their 'coop'. I gave them a biscuit. And got talking to the chap who used to be Kestrel Books, and is about to run the chess tent in the Castle Grounds for the Festival. It's an offshoot of the kids' chess club that goes on at the Globe. The Fortune Teller has already set up his little booth at the top of the Castle steps.
Apart from that, all is quiet - Tim the Gardener was tuning up his guitar for open mic night at Kilverts, and swifts have been screaming down Castle Street all day.

Monday, 18 May 2009


I stopped to chat to one of the chaps doing the painting at Booth's. He said that the scaffolding should be coming down on Wednesday, so they've got to get their skates on to finish the job.
There was a pigeon strutting around the pavement at our feet - at one time, Islay would have pounced on it, and that would have been the end of that. This evening, though, she just watched it in a vaguely interested way.
It tried to walk right into the shop. I noticed the ring on its leg as the painter picked it up. "You've got a racing pigeon there," I said. "No wonder it's so friendly."
"There's another one over there," he said, nodding across the street to where there's an alcove in the wall at ground level, protected by bars. He went over and put the pigeon in with its friend. It would have been perfectly easy for the pigeon to just walk out again, but it strutted up and down as if it was in a basket, quite happily.
So it looks as if the two of them have got lost during a race, and are thinking of settling down in Hay.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Rain, Rain, Go Away....

The rain was torrential on Friday, and it's been continuing on and off ever since.
I spoke to Phil the Fruit on Saturday, and he said it just seems to be us! It was dry in Merthyr, and Ross, and Aberystwyth - and even Dorstone - but it was chucking it down here.
The river is starting to rise. I've been watching the swans' nest - they're okay so far, but if it carries on they might be in trouble.
The May Fair in the car park were supposed to be open for three days, but when I passed by on Saturday night, they were already packing up, and they've moved on to the next venue today.

They say it might clear up by Wednesday - which will come as a relief to Peter Florence. The Festival starts on Thursday. (It was mentioned on Radio 2 the other night - Claudia Winkelmann called Hay "a cute little market town").

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Planet Hay - Well and Truly Launched!

I was in medieval costume this afternoon for the launch of Planet Hay, Huw Parsons' book about the town.
There was entertainment throughout the afternoon in the main room of the Globe. Islay showed herself to be a jazz fan - she lay right in front of the stage all through the first set by Li Harding and the guitarist and bass player, only looking round when people clapped.
Later, she decided to wander round the dance floor in the middle of the belly dancer's performance. I went to apologise afterwards, but they didn't mind a bit.
Then there was the poet Jan Price, in full Welsh costume, doing mainly comic verse (Max Boyce once pinched one of her poems, she said). She used to run pubs, and got a lot of material just from listening behind the bar. She had a book to sell, too, and left some on the table with Huw. Who seemed to be doing quite well.
At the end of the afternoon, Rob Soldat gave us a quick gallop through Hay history, from the Paleolithic ("nothing much happened") and Mesolithic ("fishing trips in the summer - they left all the usual things behind, like ice cream wrappers and old crisp packets - and flints, of course.") through the Middle Ages with tales of Maud Walbee and characters like Ralph the Timid and the Bishop of Hereford who fell in battle at Maesllwch, up to the Victorian period when, if you lived in Hay you were either temperance or blind drunk (30 pubs for a population of 1,500!) and the illegitimacy rate was running at 44%.
I chatted to Huw's sister's friend, who is involved in an art exhibition based on the Mabinogion over the period of Brecon Jazz this year, at Theatr Brycheniog - and has a rescue dog of her own at home who she was showing pictures of. A very cute dog.
Anita was just back from the Midlands, and Jackie is back from the States - and wasn't on crutches any more! Father Richard came in with Jimmy briefly.
I talked about re-enactment to lots of people, some of whom had been involved themselves in the past, and met a lady who'd made her own dress - a gorgeous 1950s style one in fabric patterned with Japanese figures. Pat Morgan had a go at belly dancing - they invited members of the audience up to have a go for the last dance.
The Globe was pretty full throughout, with lots of familiar faces coming and going, and I think a good time was had by all.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Grand Opening

Or rather, re-opening in a new (and hopefully better) location.
Fleur de Lys antiques and collectables is almost ready. When I went past today, there was a man up a ladder putting the finishing touches to the shop sign. There was a small group of people watching him. One said: "So-and-so says you're a very good artist, but we're not supposed to tell you in case it puts you off!"
Sally dashed through with an armful of fabric rolls, and another chap was cleaning the windows.
The opening day is tomorrow at 10am, just by Kilvert's, where the estate agents' used to be.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

I'm Thinking of Cloning Myself!

I came home from work at lunchtime, thinking I'd pop down to Hay and Brecon Farmers for a tray of dog food for Islay. This is not so much a 'pop' any more as a stately saunter, as Islay doesn't do fast these days.
I hadn't even got as far as my front door when Mary leaned out of the window over the chip shop, shaking a duster. "Could you come round after?" she asked. "We need a scan doing." I last worked at Broad Street Book Centre over a year ago, but it seems I'm still the only person who knows how the scanner works! I didn't have time straight away, but I'll try to get round to it tomorrow!
Then, at the top of Newport Street, Adele stopped her car and called me over. What was I doing at 2.30pm?
I said I'd be back at work.
"Couldn't you say you had a tummy ache or something?" she asked. "There's a magician giving a talk in Cusop. I just had lunch with him and he's wonderful!"
I made my excuses, and got the dog food (and the pig's ear - Islay always gets a pig's ear at Hay and Brecon Farmers, which she bears home in triumph and eats in the back garden).
I'd no sooner got the frying pan on the stove than Old Dave appeared at the open front door from across the road. He wanted to know where he could find out about local Roman sites, as a lady had shown him a glass bead he thought might be Roman, and he thought he might like to try a bit of fieldwalking. I told him where to find Boatside Roman Camp (it's just above the Offa's Dyke Path, across the river), and suggested he drop into Brecon Museum, where the ladies are all very helpful and friendly, for any further advice.
Then I went back to work for a bit of peace and quiet!

Monday, 11 May 2009

The Rumour Mill Gets it Wrong (and How!)

I met Richie this morning - not his normal, cheery self. Someone's been spreading malicious rumours about him and his wife Jackie, along the lines of:
"Well, that didn't last long, did it? You know she's gone and left him?"

She's actually gone on holiday, back to the States to visit her family.
When I saw her last, she was looking forward to the trip (and wondering if the metal pins in her leg would set off the airport security systems).
She was also looking forward to coming home to Hay, and Richie. After all, this is the man who carried her out of Mouse Castle woods when she broke her ankle. She reckoned that her first husband would have left her there!
She'll be back before the Festival.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Lots Going on at the Globe!

How a year flies! The Globe in its present incarnation is one year old today, and they're giving away free glasses of wine to celebrate. Also there's Kletzmer music later, which would be fun, but I think I'm going to be curling up with a good book instead - it's been a bit of a hectic day. I've just come back from a Fairtrade meeting at the Globe, putting the final touches to organising our Fairtrade Fair for the first weekend of Hay Festival in the Buttermarket.
The leaflet is out for the Globe philosophy festival, too. It's being held over the same time as the Hay Festival, with music and comedy, talks and debates, dancing, and workshops. See the website at
It all looks very impressive - from serious debates about science and religion to a workshop based on The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and drumming from Manu (who did the music for a Fairtrade event and is very good).

Just before the Festival there's an event that I can't miss - the launch party for Planet Hay, the new book about Hay by Huw Parsons. It's from 1pm to 6pm, and there'll be a poet (Wales' answer to Pam Ayres, only sharper, apparantly), and Rob Soldat, and Boliau Llawen/Joyful Bellies the belly dancers, and Li Harding and the Gary Phillips Trio, and lots of copies of this rather excellent book to buy (and I'm not just saying that because I'm in it!).

Thursday, 7 May 2009


We have a pretty good rubbish collection service in Powys. It's weekly, and takes away black bags for the non-recyclable stuff (or the stuff people can't be bothered to sort out), as well as a clear bag with red writing for plastics and tins, and a clear bag with black writing for paper and textiles.
It's not, however, good enough. Far too much rubbish is going to landfill, saddling the Council with a huge bill in fines.
I'm not convinced that wheelie bins are the answer, though.
In the B&R this week, there's an article laying out plans by the Council to change the way they collect our rubbish. One idea sounds quite good - diverting food waste from landfill by providing a special bin to collect it separately. This would be collected weekly, along with other bins for the other recyclable stuff.
Then there would be a wheelie bin for the non-recylable stuff, which would be collected fortnightly.
Which sounds fine in theory, but it would take me a year to fill a standard wheelie bin! And I'm not sure where I or my neighbours would be able to put one - the entrance to the back yard is too narrow for one to fit through.
The council apparently says that the bins would be issued to 'standard households', whatever that may mean - and what happens to the non-standard households?
They have plenty of time to think this through - the plan is to start the new scheme in April next year.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

King Richard's Protest March

I don't know - I go away for a weekend, and when I come back....

I was doing Have A Go Archery at Dilwyn Show on Bank Holiday Monday, as part of Drudion's living history display - in between the showers. In spite of the rain and the cold wind, it was good fun - I particularly liked the tractor cab full of balloons for a 'Guess how many balloons...' competition.

When I got back to Hay, I took Islay for her usual walk round in the evening, and we went up through the Castle grounds.
There was a poster in the window of the bookshop, announcing a march "in order to get publicity for Hay-on-Wye at any cost", led by:
"Peter Harris, from Boz Books
Paul Harris, from Oxford House Books
Leslie Arrowsmith, from the Cinema Bookshop
and Rob Soldatt"

This was the first I'd heard of it. The last I knew, Richard was organising a march with Arthur Scargill - who now seems not to be coming. The march is supposed to be in protest against "giving the name and fame of Hay to Rupert Murdoch", this being a reference to Sky sponsoring the Hay Festival.

I shan't be going. I have no particularly strong feelings either way about Rupert Murdoch or Sky - and Richard didn't ask me before he put his posters up. Also he mis-spelt nearly all the names (though I am used to having my sex changed - it happens all the time!).
Actually, I couldn't go anyway - he doesn't say where the protest march is going to start from.

Oh, and when he went round to Oxford House Books with a copy of the poster, he dropped a fiver as he left - if he wants to pick it up, Paul has it safe for him.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

A Lovely Day in the Garden

And not just my garden - I went up to Garibaldi Terrace to the Plant Swap organised by Friends of the Earth as well.
I had no idea the gardens behind the cottages were so extensive, and the garden of No 2 is gorgeous, with oval beds dotted around the lawn, trellises and stone seats at intervals. I took along some old seeds that I'd found at the back of the cupboard, which are probably still all right, and I came away with a little courgette plant that went straight into the new little bed I dug in the lawn, to keep the onion sets company.
The landlord was telling me that, up until 1978, the garden came right up to the back wall of the three cottages, with no back doors at all, and it was only then that the back yard was excavated and the back doors put in. He remembered climbing out of the bedroom window almost straight out onto the back garden as a boy.
Originally, the building was stables, which were converted into three cottages.