Tuesday, 30 June 2009


...to Sophie, Newly Qualified Vet! Her mum had just been to Cambridge for the graduation ceremony when I saw her.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Doing Energetic Things for Charity

Jo Lord and Annie Day (who are going off to run across the Sahara) aren't the only ones being sponsored for charity around Hay.

Gina and Oliver Nash, who run the Hay Clinic, are getting ready to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, and they're holding a raffle to raise funds. Proceeds are going to the Lalibela Educational Trust in Ethiopia, and Equine Market Watch, which champions the welfare of horses at markets. The websites are www.let.eu.com and www.equinemarketwatch.org.uk and if anyone wants to donate to either of the causes they can visit www.justgiving.com/gina-kilimanjaro or www.justgiving.com/oliver-kilimanjaro

Gem Edwards from the flower shop, meanwhile, is heading for Mount Sinai and the Red Sea. She's raising money for Alzheimer's, and the website to look at is www.justgiving.com/gemedwards5

Finally, two ladies from Golesworthy's are running for life (I think it might be in aid of breast cancer research) in Hereford, and are also looking for sponsorship.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Food Festival Weekend

Lots of people about for the Food Fair - and lots of good food, with pots of herbs for sale as well. Entertainment was provided by a brass band (I think it was the Brecon Band), and a choir of small school children - there was probably more, but not while I was there. Chef on the Run had a stand with leaflets - they're reserve winners of the True Taste (Gwir Flas) Wales Awards this year, with their rhubarb and blackcurrant jam.

In the middle of the day, a traction engine chugged through town, on the way to the meadow by the river where the wicker man had been erected. I was in the back garden (harvesting my blackcurrant crop, all 23 berries of it!) when I first heard the hooter on it, and the rattling of the iron wheels on the road, and I still had plenty of time to get round the front to watch it swing round the corner to the bridge, leaving a tang of coal dust in the air in its wake.

In the afternoon, there were Morris men wandering around town. You could hear them before you saw them, too, on account of the many bells they were all wearing. They were the Aldbury Morris Men, and they were performing in Kilvert's garden through the afternoon. The sign said "expect quaffing ale....and dancing with bells on".

And if all that weren't enough, over the river, there was jousting at Clyro Court.

This morning I took Islay over the river to Wyecliff for her walk - and they did burn the wicker man last night. There's nothing left but a black patch on the meadow.

I didn't get to see what was going on today, but the posters were up for an Arts and Crafts Fair, doing a quick changeover from the food, and the drink moved into the Buttermarket for a mini Beer (and cider, and perry) Festival. I got a bottle of beer yesterday, Cat's Whiskers from the Whittington Brewery in Gloucestershire, and it was just the thing for a hot summer's afternoon in the garden.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Bits and Pieces

Mr Pugh was unloading his shopping yesterday, and his car got clipped by the Co-op lorry as it came round the corner from the bridge. "I was only there five minutes," he said. "There's things coming round all the time these days."

The Wicker Man has moved to the meadow by the river, and a marquee has been put up next to him.

Coming up Ship Pitch, I found some sort of hawk moth sitting on the pavement. It had obviously come out of its cocoon very recently, and was sitting with its wings unfurling. I moved it to Karl Showler's garden wall, where it was safer.

Friday, 26 June 2009

School Trip

Lots of small children going into school today carrying buckets and spades - all of Hay School is going on a day out to the seaside. That's four coaches full.
I hope the weather's okay for them - it's pouring down here!

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Evening Stroll

It's a lovely summer evening, and the marquee is going up in the town square for the food fair over the weekend.
Two ladies were changing the flowers on the war memorial. It's looking lovely with sprays of yellow and white. One of them stopped me as I was strolling by.
"What d'you think of a concert in November? In a marquee like this one? It'd be bring your own blanket to keep warm, and there'd be a hog roast available, and a bar - do you think five pounds would be too expensive?"
"We could maybe get the Young Farmers to do something," said the other lady.
I said it sounded like a great idea - the marquee will be up anyway for the winter festival, so it may as well get a bit of extra use in a good cause.

On the way back, I saw Graham and Dodge the dog (one of Islay's many boyfriends). He works at the Co-op, and he said it's been closed for a few days while they re-furbish - and he added that it's the best Co-op in Wales, going by the takings (never mind that it's technically in England, because they weren't allowed to build it in the National Park).

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Double Yellow Lines Again

I was on my way to the paper shop to buy the latest B&R - and I rounded the corner to find a car pulled up on the double yellow lines, just on the junction. The driver, not a young lady, obviously hadn't noticed that there was a car waiting behind her, unable to get past - it's a very narrow road there, hence the double yellow lines. As she got out of the car the man in the car called out to her.
"It's an offence - double yellow lines."
She started to say that she was only nipping into the paper shop - but by this time two or three other vehicles had pulled up behind the man in the car, and I cheerfully joined in by pointing out that she was in the way.
She got back into her car, and before she drove off, said: "All those other cars are on the double yellow lines, too."
This was true - but their drivers weren't anywhere about, or I dare say there would have been words spoken to them, too. And one of them was a Post Office van, which really had no choice. It was parked as close as possible to the back way into the Post Office, and would be gone as soon as it was loaded up.

I mention the incident in some detail, not to single out the lady in question, but because she is so typical of the drivers who do park on the double yellow lines around Hay. She seemed to think they were optional, and didn't apply to her.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Big Lorries

I stepped out of my front door at the end of lunchtime just as a big white lorry was trying to turn the corner from the bridge.
This is something in the nature of a spectator sport in Hay - it's not the easiest of corners to negotiate, and it isn't made any easier by the car drivers who park on the double yellow lines. I'm sure that, to most visitors to Hay, it seems like just a little road junction and it couldn't possibly matter if they just parked there for five (ten, more) minutes. In fact, it's a major route in and out of town, and is used by the Co-op lorries, coaches and buses, tractors with long trailers, Clive Price's lorries, Burgoynes marquee lorries, big horse trailers and cattle trucks...and today, a long white lorry which had a number plate marked Czechoslovakia at the front, and Austria at the back. So not a local, then.
He managed the corner successfully, and pulled up at the Clock Tower. With a piece of paper in his hand and a puzzled expression on his face he wandered into Rose's bookshop, after stopping to ask a couple of tourists who were only able to wave their town guides at him.
After a few minutes, he set off towards Brecon - it would probably have been easier for him to cross the river at Glasbury, if he'd known the area at all.

Friday, 19 June 2009

New Neighbours

The other end of this little row of cottages is occupied again - they moved their furniture in yesterday. And on the same day, Mr Pugh was putting the proverb 'good fences make good neighbours' into practice as he rebuilt the fence that was knocked down when the wall at the back fell on it.

Meanwhile, Islay has met new neighbour Bella, Di Blunt's new shaggy rescue dog, and they seem to get on all right.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Cheers for Volunteers

I happened to see Karl Showler going into Hereford on the bus the other day. He seemed quite pleased with himself, and he told me why - he and Betty Maura-Cooper have been honoured in the Powys Volunteer of the Year awards! They were put forward in different categories, which is why they both got to be Highly Commended.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Marathon Runners

Jo Lord and Annie Day are getting into training again. This time it's for the Marathon de Sables in 2010, across the Sahara Desert, and they're looking for sponsorship from local businesses to go to the race, and they are also intending to raise money for the North Wier Trust and Macmillan Nurses. They even have a website, at www.joandannie-marathondessables2010.co.uk/
The race is 151 miles over six days, carrying all their food and equipment. I think they're quite mad - but magnificent with it!

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Norwich - The Hay Connection

It doesn't seem to matter where you go - even right across to the other side of the country. You're bound to meet someone who's been to Hay.
Sister Pamela at All Hallows retreat house has family in Clyro, and was camping at Llantony Abbey only a couple of weeks ago! (In the rain, so not much fun for her and little Matthew the dog).
We didn't find the Fat Cat (next time, maybe - and there will be a next time. We had a marvellous couple of days, with an awful lot of walking to fit everything in!). There were certain pubs that I wanted to visit for old time's sake, though, the first being the Rouen (now Number 12), which was the diggers' pub when we were working on the Castle Mall site. In those days it was being held up by scaffolding at the back so it didn't fall into the big pit that became the Castle Mall shopping centre.
Just down the hill is the Murderers/Gardener's Arms, which (oh joy!) is now a Woodforde's pub. I managed to find a pint of Woodforde's Wherry at the Hereford Beer Festival last year, and it was just as good as I remembered from twenty years ago, so we had to go in there. But (oh, calamity!) when the barmaid pulled the pump only the last dregs were coming out of the barrel - Wherry was off. Luckily they were having a mini beer festival with 25 other real ales as well as their regular selection, so we managed to find something to drink. They also had a little booklet with a list of all the outlets for Woodforde's beers.
Which led us to the Compleat Angler, down by the railway station, the next lunch time. Good food, a balcony overlooking the river, and both Wherry and Norfolk Nog, a lovely Old Ale.
The other diggers' pub used to be the Reindeer, then an independant brew pub with just about the best selection of real ales in the City. Now it's run by Elgoods, the old brewery part is now a restaurant, and they've moved the bar down the length of the pub. There was a nasty moment as we walked down Grape's Hill when I spotted a building site with a large hole in the ground where I thought the Reindeer used to stand. Fortunately I was mistaken - it was just along the main road at the bottom. Phew!
Just along from there used to be the Valori fish bar. Best fish and chips ever. We regularly used to go for 'Reindeer and Chips' in the evenings and walk back up to the Unthank Road eating our supper. Now it's the Golden Chips fish bar. We didn't try their fish and chips, it being such a hot day. Instead we went to Figaro's, close to John Lewis and St John Timberhill's. This used to be a Pizza Piazza and is now independantly run by real Italians, and the food was delicious.
We also managed to visit a fair few churches. I got married in St John's Timberhill, and I used to worship there and at St Julian's, which is how I knew about the retreat house. We had a good look round the cathedral too, which was always a lovely peaceful place to go when you were feeling stressed out. The Cathedral Close is wonderful, too, and we were convinced that there were little lanes there that only appeared after dark!
Mark was very taken by the movie and TV shop just opposite the Forum - which is new since I lived in Norwich. They built it when the old library burned down, and it is a rather spectacular modern building.
Another new building since my time is the Chapelfield shopping centre, on the site of the old Rowntree-Mackintosh factory. We used to sit out in Chapelfield Gardens with a permanent scent of chocolate on the air. And then Nestles bought it up and closed it down.
The best of it was, once I was there in the middle of the city, I didn't get lost. A few things have changed, but Norwich is still mostly the wonderful city I remember, and it was great fun showing Mark around for the weekend.

For pictures of Norwich, it's worth visiting Norwich Daily Photo at http://norwichdailyphoto.com/

Friday, 12 June 2009


Well, at the beginning of June, I was off for a few days being a Viking in schools - which was great fun. We went to one of my favourite schools - one of the first ones I ever went to, four years ago; we told the children that I was the slave of my two friends who run the show, and they were all really worried about me! Next time we did it, I just lived on the same farm.
Now I'm about to set off to Norwich for a holiday - my favourite city, which I don't get back to often enough.
Islay has been taken off to her holiday home at the Children's Bookshop (her overnight bag is heavier than mine!) and I'm looking forward to a dog-free few days with my young man, in a wonderful city, with excellent East Anglian ales on offer.

Back here in about a week.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Local Heroes!

Well, I was going to write about the Euro election results - it seems that King Richard won't be off to Brussels after all. He only got 218 votes - but then, apart from inviting Arthur Scargill to the Castle the only electioneering he seemed to do was to put a small poster up on the Castle gate.

Meanwhile, far more interesting things have been happening in Hay!

Richie and Ian had just got back from Hereford yesterday, and were relaxing outside the Crown with a well-earned pint, when a man ran out of the alley way opposite. He headed for the bridge - and was closely followed by Bob Golesworthy's daughter, who shouted: "He's a shoplifter!"
Richie and Ian caught up with him on the bridge, and hauled him back to Golesworthy's shop. "He tried to bribe us twice!" Richie grinned. They got there just as the police arrived, nicely in time to arrest the miscreant.
The other thieves scattered across Hay.
Bob Golesworthy phoned up the Cinema Bookshop, with a description of one of the men, in case he'd headed up that way. Greg happened to be out on the outside staircase, having a quiet fag break, and spotted him in the car park, talking into a mobile phone. Deb moved her car to block his in, and the police were quickly on the scene. Later the car was taken away by a tow truck.
The police recovered a van load of leather jackets and £4,000 of fishing rods - these were professionals, not the sort of shoplifter that slips something small into their bag or under their coat.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Ice House

Round the back of the Library is the old Ice House for Hay. Now it's the Poetry Bookshop, with a small flat above, but originally it was built as a sort of communal fridge for the town. In the days before electricity, blocks of ice would be cut in the winter, and food that needed to be stored would be packed in with it. The ice house is partly below ground, and with thick walls, so the temperature was constant, and the ice only melted very slowly.
A 'For Sale' board has just gone up outside the Ice House - the Poetry Bookshop is re-locating.
I hope they don't want to leave Hay altogether.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Visitors from Across the Pond

"Thank you for the new friends," Jackie said, when I saw her in Broad Street Books today.
I'd had an email a few days before, from a couple who were coming to Hay, and were also looking for somewhere to live in the area, as they've been posted to the UK from the States.
Illinois, to be precise. To be even more precise, about six miles from Jackie's home town.
They'd seen on this blog that Jackie lived here (our resident American), and asked how they could get in touch with her. It's always useful to find someone who can explain the cultural differences to you, as I found when I went to Greece, so you can tell the difference between what's normal for Hay, and what's wierd in the UK.
So, welcome to Jenna and her husband, and I hope they find a place to suit them, with a nice view, and a good school for their kids.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Transition Towns newsletter

I've just been sent the fifth TT newsletter for Hay - and they're looking for volunteers. It's the same with all voluntary groups - too much to do and not enough willing hands to do it. They'd like to find people who know something about project management, fundraising, book-keeping, graphic design and communication, and they have lots of ideas about what they want to do next.
First on the agenda is a free household energy survey - find out how you can save money and energy by ringing
01588 638738 or emailing info@h-e-s.org or visiting the website at http://www.light-foot.org/hesframe.html
They're also looking into the possibility of doing more short films like Waste Not, Want Not, which was shown earlier in the year, and made by Marches TV.