Monday, 29 November 2010

Winter Wonderland

It was a beautiful run up to Brecon on the bus today, like travelling through a Christmas card - though the bus driver said that there was no snow in Hereford at all.
I stopped by the Tourist Information office to pick up a bus timetable, as I'd lost my old one, and the lady there told me that she's been interviewed for Radio 4! As she works in the Tourist information office, she got the phone call to ask who they should interview about Hay when the Festival wasn't going on. She suggested Richard Booth, but they wanted someone else as well, and after talking to her a bit, the chap on the other end of the phone said "Don't bother thinking about anyone else - you can do it!" A lovely man in a pink turban came down (he's something to do with the One Show), with a sound man, and they chatted for about twenty minutes. "It'll be edited, of course," she said, "the programme's only half an hour." He asked her what she didn't like about Hay, and she said the fact that Hay has a Hereford postcode when it's in Wales, and that she didn't like the mispronunciation of some of the Welsh names, "like Heol-y-Dwr, that turns into Holy Door, and I told him, there's nothing Holy about it!"
She gave the BBC men some lunch, and a few days later, she got a beautiful bouquet, with a note thanking her for the lunch and the "lively interview".
The programme will be broadcast at 11am on Boxing Day, on Radio 4.
I had a few bits of Christmas shopping to do in Brecon (when a man says he wants cucumber seeds, and even goes so far as to state a preferred variety, that's what I'm going to get for him), and I slid into the empty front bar of the Boar's Head for a half of Welsh Pale Ale from the Breconshire Brewery - they had four Breconshire beers on tap, two of them CAMRA champion beers (Cribyn and Rambler's Ruin).
Back in Hay, there's a very impressive set of icicles on the porch of bwa design on Broad Street. The longest is over two feet long.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Getting Ready For Christmas

Santa's going to be busy this year - he's appearing at Booth's Bookshop and the Old Railway Line Nursery, and I saw a Santa's Grotto at the Buttermarket over the weekend too (but Santa must have been hiding inside).
The Granary have put up their Christmas window display of gingerbread people (which should last the course better than the vegetable display they did last year. Wonderfully imaginative, but with a tendency to go off). Cotswold Collections aren't even trying this year, since they close down on the 4th December. Rumour has it that Spirit of the Andes will be taking over - at least they're used to the cold up there!
Today I sold books about Mount Everest and Eskimo art - I think everyone's thoughts are revolving around snow at the moment.
And one person told me that the thermometer in their car had shown a reading of -13.5C this morning.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Down at the Rose and Crown

Sometimes, you've just got to go out down the pub.
Happy Thanksgiving, Jackie!

(But I missed the switching on of the Christmas Lights).

Meanwhile, the Food Fair was fun, and this year Islay could see the tops of all the stalls from her perch on her little trolley - last year she was down on the floor tripping everyone up. I got some useful stocking fillers, while listening to the music of the Brecon Town Concert Band.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Special Council Meeting

I bumped into Shelley yesterday, and she asked me if I'd had a letter from the Town Council about a special meeting to discuss the Globe. I hadn't, so she photocopied her letter and dropped it round.
It's addressed to the residents neighbouring the Globe, in Heol-y-Dwr, Booth Gardens, Brook Street, Mill Bank, Newport Street and Broad Street. I dare say Mary (our Mayor) thought she'd see me over the weekend so she didn't need to drop a letter off - I have to drop in to Broad Street Books so Islay can have her daily biscuit(s) after all.
The meeting is "to discuss any issues relating to the Globe", and it will take place from 6.30pm to 7.30pm on Monday 6th December in the Council Chambers.
Because this is an official Council meeting, members of the public are not allowed to speak or comment during the meeting (it'll be held just before the usual monthly meeting of the Council). However, written submissions can be sent in, or dropped at the Council offices, as long as they are received by Monday 29th November. Representatives of the management of the Globe will be there to comment on any issues raised.
Which should be interesting - I intend to go along as an observer. One of my colleagues at work is a neighbour of the Globe, and is very much opposed to their continued existance.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Is this the last of the court cases?

Headlines in the B&R this week seem to give the green light for the biomass digester at Great Porthamel Farm at last - but they've thought they were cleared to start before and been wrong.
It must have seemed like a good idea when they started. Farm diversity, green energy - it seemed to tick all the right boxes, and they were having the abbatoir waste delivered to their farm already anyway, to be spread on the fields. Making electricity out of it must have seemed like an obvious next step.
The National Parks authority seems to have gone out of their way to be obstructive, though, and the legal costs mounted. First the planning application was accepted; then the plans were sent back to the committee and this time they were rejected.
An inspector from the Welsh Assembly came down and gave the project permission to go ahead, subject to certain restrictions - but the National Parks wouldn't accept his findings and sought a Judicial Review. Which has just been heard in court - and thrown out by the judge. "I regard this application as unjust and do not consider it can be granted and I dismiss it," he said, also ordering the National Parks to pay legal costs of £14,500.
The Welsh Assembly, meanwhile, has given a grant of £690,000 towards the cost of the digester.
When the digester is finally in operation, it should be able to supply enough electricity to power 300 homes.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Globe on Fire

"If anyone feels a little bit nervous," said Goffee, through the megaphone, "they can hold the hand of one of the stewards." At that point in the proceedings, the stewards (and the St John's ambulance people and the policeman) outnumbered the marchers in the parade from the Market Square to the Globe. There were, however, two girls from the Ukraine, and one from Germany, who had made lanterns to carry, and later some children arrived with lanterns that they had made in the workshops at the Globe.
Rob Soldat, in swirling cloak, led us through the streets, and we picked up marchers on the way. "This is Lion Street - watch out for the Lion!" he cried. By the time we got to the Globe, the Japanese drums were throbbing in the background and there was a queue to get in.
I just went along for the fun of the procession (I don't get that many opportunities to wear my Goth dress and cloak), so I didn't go in to see the show. I didn't want to go home straight away, though, so I went up to Kilvert's for a half of Brewdog's Trashy Blond before I carried my little candle lantern home.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Crime Wave in Hay

It's Children in Need day, and my neighbour always puts on a coffee morning with lots of nice cakes. This year, Mary Fellowes came across the road with her mayoral chain over her ordinary clothes - she said people are always asking her to wear the chain, so she thought she'd make the coffee morning an 'official' event for the town.
Another neighbour told us about the theft he'd suffered on Tuesday night. He'd parked his car down by the river, and in the night someone had come along and cut off the catalytic converter. He called the police when he found out, and they sent two PCs from Brecon, but there was nothing they could do about it. All they wanted, he said, was to know his date of birth and his religion, and they'd fill a form in and then close the case. He said that they had told him that another car had its catalytic converter stolen on the same night.
"Well, that's three then," said Mary. One of the Dial-A-Ride vans was parked down in the Co-op car park (which is well lit, unlike the riverside). It wasn't used on Wednesday, but on Thursday morning the driver found that it, too, had had the catalytic converter removed. She was going to tell the police as soon as she left the coffee morning.
The general opinion was that a gang had come into town from the Valleys, or Birmingham, or somewhere equally distant, taken what they wanted and disappeared whence they came. It's making people rather worried about the places they park their cars though.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Goings On at the Globe

So the rumours are true - I'd heard that the Globe had bought the bit of spare ground where the Ship Inn used to be, but I didn't know if it was true until I saw the purple, yellow and blue flags in place, matching the ones outside the front of the building.
They've levelled the ground off, and done a bit of landscaping down towards the retaining wall by the road. They've put in a nice wooden staircase to get down to the terrace, and a ramp made of those wire baskets full of stones. There are three big green containers on the terrace, which are to house art works for the Crunch weekend, just coming up. On the upper level, two yurts have been erected, and behind them I assume is where the mad morris dancers and fire show will be tomorrow night....

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

How Times Change

I was chatting to a chap who used to come to Hay regularly, but who hasn't visited for some time.
"The bookshops all used to be freezing cold in winter," he said, "and they smelt of calor gas - now they're warm and they've all got settees and stuff!"

Monday, 15 November 2010

Cold and Frosty Morning

Greg came down from his office shortly after the shop had opened, ready to open the lids of the outside shelves under our canopy in front of the shop. "We'll only get the Scott of the Antarctic Appreciation Society browsing out there today," he commented.
Then he noticed that Julia was already out there opening up. "Captain Oates!" he shouted, "Come in! You're not dressed for it!"

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Wye Valley Life

I've been flicking through the pages of this month's Wye Valley Life. One of the headlines on the front cover is "Party Pictures of People You Know". This is never usually true, but in this case one of the parties was the launch of Hay's second Festival of British Cinema. I couldn't get to it, so it was nice to see all those familiar faces in the magazine.
There was Haydn Pugh (looking like a Welsh James Bond in his tuxedo) being presented with a bottle of wine for winning the Best Bookshop Window award. Jo Eliot and Seza Eccles were there from the Film Society, without whom none of this would have happened, along with Francine Stock of Radio 4. There was Mandy, Mary Fellowes the Mayor with Gareth Ratcliffe our County Councillor, Betty and Vera from the NW Trust, and Elizabeth Haycox who was hosting the event in Booths Books.
The good news along with these pictures is that the Festival has secured funding for a further two years.

Elsewhere in the magazine the winners of the Flavours of Herefordshire were being announced. The only local name I noticed was The Bull's Head at Craswall, which was a finalist in the Pub category. The winner was the Three Horse Shoes at Little Cowarne, with the runner up being the Sun at Winforton, which isn't too far away.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

"To The Fallen"

As it's 11th November, it seems only right to mention a new little book out around town. It's called "To the Fallen" and it provides photos, anecdotes, personal and service information on the men commemorated on the Hay and Cusop War Memorials. So often all that's left is a list of names, but this turns them back into people who lived here, marched away, and never came back.
It's available from Eric Pugh on the Pavement, the British Legion Club (all proceeds are going to the British Legion), and various booksellers around town. If anyone who isn't in Hay would like a copy, contact Eric Pugh via the Old Hay website on the side bar.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

The Pumpkin Song

I went to the Open Mic Night at Kilvert's last night with watchthatcheese, who also goes to Stitch and Bitch, and it was a very jolly evening. And silly. I sang the Mead song, which is "Doh, a Deer, a female deer" from the Sound of Music - except this version starts "Dough you need to buy the mead".
All the usual suspects were there: Marta sang a Lithuanian folk song, Toby played guitar and harmonica, Tim and Briar sang, Chris read the next extract from his magnum opus (to uncontrollable giggling from certain sections of the audience!). Three visitors, two men and a woman, sang in close harmony, starting with "Full Fathom Five my father lies" from the Tempest (Shakespeare! A bit of culture!) done as a round, and finishing up with a version of the 500 Mile song celebrating the life of a bricklayer "And I can lay 500 Bricks...." With actions.
After that, it kind of turned into a community singsong, with everybody and their instruments joining in for Summertime and Ring of Fire - and then Chris grabbed the guitar and said "I'm going to sing the Pumpkin Song", which is even sillier than the mead song. "You walk like a pumpkin, you talk like a pumpkin, you'll look like a pumpkin when you grow old...."
It may not be the best singing in the world (though the visitors were very good) but the laughter and enjoyment are first class.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Christmas Lights

Well, they're going up around town now - not sure when the switching on ceremony is going to be yet, but I'm sure there will be posters up soon.

Meanwhile, I saw someone coming down the alley by the Library this evening. "You know the back of Booths, where all the scaffolding is?" she said. "I saw scattered in the road - 50p, 20p, 20p, 50p - all of them stuck down with superglue!"

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Churches and Shops

I met a lady who goes to Open Door, as I walked through town today. That's the little chapel at the bottom of town, near the vets' surgery. She told me they'll be closing their doors at the end of December for good - though they will be having a Carol Service on the 18th December. They're lovely people, and they've done a lot of good in the town, but it is all run on a voluntary basis, and it's very hard work.
On a happier note, the grand organ in St Mary's Church is almost ready! There will be an organ recital on Sunday 5th December, at 5.30pm (free but ticketed) as part of the Hay Winter Festival.

Meanwhile, rumours abound in Hay about various shops that are (or might be) changing hands. Will Horsewise become an art gallery? Who has bought the Pavement Bookshop (and will it still be a bookshop?) and is Cotswold Collections closing down? One lady I spoke to said: "I hope it is - then they'll have a Closing Down Sale and I might be able to afford one of their alpaca jumpers!"

It looks as if there might be an interesting few months ahead.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

What Respectable Ladies Get Up To

There was a good crowd at Stitch and Bitch tonight - we were learning how to turn a heel of a sock (with several demonstration socks on show!). At least, one end of the table were grappling with the complexities of socks - the other end of the table were doing something complicated with crochet. The Cinema Bookshop now closes at 6pm, for the winter, so for the first time in ages I was able to attend the whole session. It was also 'show and tell' night - one of our ladies has knitted a most wonderful throw, in colours that look like jade and coral, from a kit she got at Wonderwool. Another lady brought an almost finished T shaped jumper with short sleeves (with a nice cable pattern around the arms). She hand spun the wool herself, and she can't finish it until she's spun some more. She's also putting some of her art work on display in Glasbury soon - and she's going to be in panto again this year! The lady who runs the Swan is about to start a patchwork quilt for a friend's baby - there's a new Dunelm's in Hereford and she said they have some lovely material in. (It's just along from B&Q).
Yarn Craft Rebel is becoming famous. After the yarn bombing of Hay for Hallowe'en, she's been interviewed for the Hereford Times (it's on their website), and she's also been interviewed for Radio Hereford and Worcester! The programme is going out between 7am and 9am on Monday, with additional interviews in various shops around town to ask them what they think of the yarn bombing. One of the hats (bright orange with eye holes and little devil horns) has been seen around town on someone's head.
We'll be meeting again in 2 weeks' time to decide what we want to do for a Christmas meal, though Red Indigo is out as curry disagrees with one lady, and another can't eat cumin.
As I reached home, I met Jackie from the Fairtrade group, about to go into the Three Tuns. She and Christina were about to set off on a Fairtrade pub crawl around Hay, to see if any more pubs would sign the pledge to provide Fairtrade products for sale.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Trick or Treat

I am a bad person.
Four little girls dressed as witches turned up on my doorstep last night, and I had nothing to offer them in the way of treats.
Even worse, one of the little girls dropped one of her chocolate bars on the path as she left.
I ate it.

Fairtrade Cycle Ride

Pop across to the Fairtrade Hay blog (link on the side bar) to find out how much fun we've been having over the weekend....