Friday, 30 October 2009

Yarn Bombing

The ladies from Stitch and Bitch were out last night, scattering yarn around the town. Keep an eye on for photos of what we were up to!

Monday, 26 October 2009

More Missing Street Furniture

I don't go across the bridge every day, but it was mild and sunny this morning, and Islay wasn't quite as stiff as she has been, so we headed for the Offa's Dyke Path.
On the town side of the bridge, up until now, there has been a road sign, powered by a little solar panel. When cars come across the bridge fairly slowly, it stays dark, but when they approach at over 30 miles an hour, the sign lights up '30', to warn them to slow down for the impending junction.
Or at least, it did. It's disappeared entirely now, though there is a sort of socket in the pavement where it could be put back.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Busy Weekend at the Castle

Last night was the Help for Heroes concert, Amalgamation Reunited - and I understand that all 500 tickets were sold for it. I saw the marquees when I passed earlier in the day, and heard someone practicing. I haven't met anyone who actually went to it yet, but it seems to have been successful.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Castle, up the steps, signboards were appearing. This is part of the 350 campaign to take action on climate change, and the steps up to the castle were an ideal way of showing what happens when the CO2 emissions in the atmosphere get higher and higher.
It's part of the International Climate Day of Action - there are 15 others going on all over Wales, and one in Hereford which is part of 150 events in the UK.
'350' is the parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere that campaigners see as the safe limit, before global warming spirals out of control. Events like this are being held all through the run up to the UN climate talks at Copenhagen in December.
Photos from all the events round the world will be given to the UN, and will also be displayed on the big screen in Times Square in New York.

I couldn't get to this event either - a friend dropped in for a cup of tea.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

The Bench is Gone....

....from outside the HSBC bank. Can it be that the only way to fit new benches into the middle of town is to take out the ones that were already there first?
Or has it gone for good?

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Farenheit 451

....which is the temperature at which books burn, according to Ray Bradbury's famous book.
In other words, we're having a new fire alarm put in, which involves miles of cables and large drills making holes in the walls.
And at the same time, we've had the BBC in, doing some filming for Antiques Roadshow.
They seemed very efficient, quickly in and out, and nobody got us to say things like "An e-book?!" like the people from the One Show did.

Monday, 19 October 2009

A Little Bit of History

I've met people before who remember the Cinema when it was a cinema, but today I met someone who had helped to build it! He even went upstairs to see if the ceiling he had helped to put in was still there!
(It was - the blue one with stars painted on it. He was so pleased).

He told me that the original cinema was a little bit down the hill somewhere, and that it kept on working while the new cinema was being built. This was in around 1965. The projectionist from the cinema kept coming up to the building site and scrounging wood for his fire, and after a while, the builders said: "Come on - we've given you all this wood. When are you going to show us a film?"

They chose a day when the boss visited the site in the morning, so they knew he wouldn't be back for the rest of the day. Then they downed tools and headed off to the old cinema, and settled down to watch one of the Lassie films.
When the film was over, they were going to go back to site, but one of their number wouldn't move. "We haven't had God Save the Queen yet!" he complained!

Saturday, 17 October 2009

...And Then There Were Five

The cygnets are back by the bridge, and starting to show specks of white in their brown plumage - but there are only five of them now.
It was warm and sunny yesterday, and I saw more butterflies than I'd seen all summer, Red Admirals and Tortoiseshells mostly. There were clouds of little flies over the fields above the bridge, too. I thought that this would be good fuel for the swallows as they started their journey back to Africa - until I realised that, despite the warm sun, we are in the middle of October, and the swallows are long gone. And I didn't notice them go this year.
Meanwhile, the potato trailers are about finished, but more agricultural machinery has been trundling through town with the remains of the hop harvest dusted over them.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Come to Barclays Bank....

....unless it's Wednesday.
I passed by the bank on Wednesday lunchtime and met a lady with chequebook in hand who was wondering why the doors were locked.
To be fair to the bank, leaflets and a poster have been around for some time, advertising the change in opening hours - but I had to laugh at the way they worded it. Apparently, we're not getting less service - we're just getting service "at slightly different times".
In practice this means that we have gone from 100% service on Wednesdays to no service at all.
When I first heard about it, I did wonder if this was the thin edge of the wedge and they would eventually shut the branch altogether. Then it also occured to me that some shops in Hay use the bank every weekday, so they're all going to change the way they deal with their cash.
Of course, the poster in the window says that anyone is welcome to use the branch in Brecon.
I really can't see that happening. Someone who needs change for the till at short notice is not going to shut the shop for an hour while they drive to Brecon and back - and the bus is even worse. If anyone in Hay actually needed to visit the bank on a Wednesday urgently, and could only use the bus, that's nearly an hour's journey to Brecon, visit the bank, wait around for two hours and then spend another hour on the bus coming back.

Thank goodness there are two other banks in Hay.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Next Step for the Commonwealth

But first, a letter from the B&R from a fervent Royalist, on the recent execution:

"Elizabeth is Knot amused

I am sending in this letter to the Brecon & Radnor Express to correct a false impression given in The Brecon & Radnor Express in the Thursday, October 1st edition.
Perhaps your reporter Nigel Evans was deliberately given misinformation by the ingrates and traitors who beheaded the effigy of King Richard Booth in Hay Butter Market just recently.
Far from being a 'relatively small but loyal band of royal supporters', those who turned out to express their love and their loyalty to King Richard far, far outnumbered the wreched malcontents who represented nobody but their traitorous selves.
The Sealed Knot had to be imported from elsewhere."

Well, Col. John Birch's Regiment is local to Herefordshire, which is why they were chosen to assist in the execution - and there may have been a lot of Royalists at the execution, but there was certainly a loud cheer when King Richard's head was cut off!
Marches TV now has film of the event, with interviews afterwards, at

And now the Buttermarket will be used by the Commonwealth again, for a less bloody occasion.
Hay Corner will be the Commonwealth's equivalent of Speaker's Corner in London, where anyone can come to stand on a soapbox (kindly lent by Kilvert's) to rant about whatever they please. The first Hay Corner will take place on 1st November, between 12.30pm and 3pm, and is aimed at attracting local speakers. For the second session, on 22nd November, some big names are being invited (watch this space!).
The Commonwealth believes in Free Speech For All.
The Commonwealth has also been given official recognition, in the form of a government grant to hire the Buttermarket for this purpose.

Meanwhile, the First Minister of Hay will be writing an official letter to the man who may shortly become the First Minister of Wales when Rhodri Morgan retires. Carwyn Jones has recently made comments about the deplorable state of Bridgend town centre - and made the point that it does not have a bookshop! Our First Minister will point out to him that, here in Hay, we know how to keep a vibrant town centre filled with local businesses - and we're certainly not short of a few bookshops! Maybe Carwyn Jones should make a State visit, to see how it's done.

Saturday, 10 October 2009


After a freezing cold day yesterday, it's turned very mild and sunny today - so I decided to do some gardening. Yesterday, I took Islay down to the Co-op and, as a reward for being able to walk so far (she couldn't have done it last Friday - in fact, we tried and had to turn back) we went in Hay and Brecon Farmers on the way back for a treat for her. While I was there, I noticed some dwarf daffodil bulbs, and thought a bit of spring colour might be nice.
So, this morning I went looking for the plant troughs I knew I had somewhere. I finally found them under the comfrey plants - but I couldn't use one of them. It was full of water, and three little heads popped up to look at me! I had no idea we had frogs in the garden, and frogs now is far better than daffodils in six months time, so I left them there, and found something else to plant the bulbs in.

We had a potter round town after that. There was a girl in Londis inviting customers to try new flavours of Tyrell's crisps (the pork and apple was very nice - and I don't usually like crisps). Next door, Simon was sitting on the doorstep of Goosey Ganders with a cup of tea balanced on top of a little classical column. He was taking a break from making a new chandelier, which is hanging in the window. When he started off, he just had the arms of it, but now he's got a couple of boxes of crystal pieces to add to it, and some lovely turquoise glass he found on the Greek island of Santorini. It's going to look magnificent when it's done.

Up by HSBC, the busker had wandered off and left his stool and guitar there. (Only in Hay!)

Meanwhile, posters have gone up all round town for Amalgamation Reunited - half a dozen bands are coming to Hay Castle on October 23rd to play in aid of Help for Heroes - and there's going to be a hog roast and a bar. Sounds like it could be a good night out.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

First Frost...

...and mist over the river, with sunshine filtered through the yellowing leaves of the trees. It was an absolutely gorgeous morning to walk the dog along the Offa's Dyke Path - where there is a new finger post, at the top of the steps on the other side of the river. Amongst other things, like the Wye Valley Walk, it tells you that Kington is 14 miles away along the footpath.
Down at the water's edge, dodging the flying seeds from the Himalayan Balsam as I ducked through them to watch Islay having a little paddle, I noticed that the mist was moving at the same speed as the water in the river.
I haven't seen the six cygnets for a while, but the adult swans have been about.
When I came up out of the woods, most of the mist was gone, and it was a beautiful sunny (and cold) morning.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

"Who's Visiting the Cathedral?"

Nigel Evans has a fun job. He's the B&R reporter who did the piece on King Richard's execution last week - and this week he's been at Brecon Cathedral, where scenes from Doctor Who were being filmed!
They had the Tardis in a corner of the cathedral, and everything!
The cathedral is apparently standing in for a Museum of Artefacts, and was chosen over rivals Gloucester and Llandaff.
The Dean and the Verger both had their photos taken, coming out of the Tardis.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Last Word on the Signboards

Things seem to have settled down around the old horse trough. Jean's new laminated sign for Open Door has been unmolested, and so has the sign that was put up to advertise the rug sale at the Swan last week. At the moment there's a sign taped to the post there for the Painscastle Cider Festival, which has been there for a couple of days.
It seems all the excitement is over.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Hay Heads

Well, I was supposed to be down a cave in the Forest of Dean, but Islay was too ill to go - I couldn't inflict two days of camping on her when she could hardly walk. She seems much recovered now.
So I was in Hay, and not working, and free to go to Eugene Fisk's exhibition at Tinto House and the Oriel Gallery.
Which was all very civilised, chatting away to people I knew slightly, some of whom had their portraits up on the walls around us. Unlike the previous two days, it's been bright and sunny and warm today, so Tinto House with it's lovely garden was a perfect setting.
Then I went up to the Oriel Gallery to find myself the only one there. The chap in charge said that the place had been full earlier - he said that Sundays were the best day to start an exhibition. On Fridays no-one wants to go out, on Saturdays they shop, but on Sundays they like to look at something interesting before or after lunch. He expected more people later - and some of the pictures have already sold.

Friday, 2 October 2009

'Vandalism' at St Eigon's

There's a little story about St Eigon's Church in Llanigon on the Way-on-High website (and in their magazine) this month. The link to Way-on-High is on the sidebar. Click on 'Church Notices' to find the article.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

After the Execution....

Tim the Gardener was inspired to write a poem:

On Monday 28.9.09
I met a moping Royalist
patrolling Hay this morning
I greeted him quite royally
but he pretended scorning,
ignoring me and strolling on
was all he could contrive
no hello, jest, jibe or blow,
he barely seemed alive
"He'll do his rounds," I thought, "and then
go home for cup of tea
amid the fitted kitchen
armchairs, sofa and TV
and dwell upon the good old days
while nursing more resent
but fail to see his own hand in
former dismal non-event."
God send us leaping Morris men
and Rodgers fit to dodge
not grown up men who snub like girls
and can't discuss the grudge
God send us laughing holy men
and a Tiny Tim who's tall
and we will cut a caper in
this waxworks 'ere we fall.
Republicans cannot be snobs
whatever else we be
for in our day all nobs are topped
or hung upon a tree
We're common men and Levellers
That structures our ambition
No-one and nothing known can be
beneath our recognition.
Meanwhile, in the press, there's a good piece in the B&R this week (page 5, with Boz being menaced by two Cavaliers), and there's a piece on the Guardian website at

Hay Heads Art Exhibition

There have been posters around town for some time now, saying that the exhibition will be 'Coming Soon'.
Eugene Fisk has been painting portraits of Hay people, and now he's ready to put them on display, in Tinto House and at the Oriel Contemporary Art gallery at Salem Chapel. Unfortunately, I'll be down a cave in the Forest of Dean on the day of the private viewing, but the exhibition will be going on from 7th to 31st October, 2pm to 5pm from Wednesdays to Sundays.
The portraits of Lucy (of the Three Tuns) and Gareth Ratcliffe are on the posters, and are instantly recognisable, and very good, as is the portrait of one of Marina's friends, so this should be an exhibition worth going to see.