Monday, 31 January 2011

Helping the Police with their Enquiries

Which sounds more dramatic than it really is! (Luckily, they don't yet suspect....but if I tell you, I shall have to kill you!)
I got a note through the front door from a local PC, investigating the theft of a pedal bike which was chained to railings on Newport Street over the weekend, asking if I knew anything.
I didn't, about that bike, but another bike disappeared on Broad Street the previous week, which obviously wasn't reported.
So it seems to be a time to lock up your pushbikes.

Sunday, 30 January 2011


There was beautiful music coming out of St Mary's as I passed on my way to a friend's house to drop off some papers. It sounded like someone practicing - a soprano.
On my way back, I lifted Islay out of her carriage to have a little mooch around the graveyard while I went in to buy the latest Way-on-High parish magazine. Christina and Eileen the blind lady were there, with the new musical director. I don't know what was being sung, but I think they're aiming for very high standards. Eileen needed Christina to walk with her on the way out - she lost her guide dog over Christmas very suddenly and unexpectedly, and is now waiting to be paired with another.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

The people you meet.... the launderette.
Yesterday there was a young woman who'd been at Hay School all morning, clipping the wings of the school chickens so they didn't fly away! She was also giving them advice on their ducks, who need a pond.

I noticed while I was in there that the phone number of the owner has now been added in pencil to one of the signs, in case of problems.

Friday, 28 January 2011

The Rhydspence Inn

Sad news in both the B&R and the Hereford Times this week - the Rhydspence Inn, just across the river, may be closing its doors and turning into a private residence.
It's the most wonderful timber framed building, built in the 14th century, and for as long as I've lived here it's been a place to go for fairly posh meals out. Now it seems that the owner can't make the business pay. He says he can't interest anyone else in buying it as a business either, so he wants permission for it to be sold as a private residence instead.
CAMRA, of course, are opposed to this, and say that more effort should be made to sell it as a going concern. The Planning Application to change the use will be going before the Council shortly.
The Inn has a website at

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Poor George!

I saw George the Town Cryer the other day, hobbling along on crutches.
"What happened to you?" I asked.
"Oh, it's an old sporting injury," he said.
It seems he hurt himself playing cricket last summer, and he's had a fracture ever since without realising it!

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Burns Night!

....or "You don't have to be Scottish."

I think the nearest thing we had to a real Scot last night was Richard Evans, resplendent in Davidson tartan, who did marvellous renditions of 'To a Louse' and the Wee Mousie. I had a shoulder sash of Graham tartan secured by a big silver plaid pin (that's the family tartan, though I'm not really a Scot).
The evening started in the art gallery attached to Salem Chapel, with hot whisky (it would have been spicy, but they lost the spices!) and a meal of haggis, neeps and tatties provided by Catherine and Shelley. The haggis was first brought out and presented to the company while Chris the Bookbinder recited the Address to the Haggis. And very good it was too (that's the haggis and the Address).
Then we all moved next door into the chapel itself for the music and recitations. Catherine Hughes sang, Malcolm the Busker played the accordian, and various others sang and recited poetry. We finished off with 'Wild Mountain Thyme', so everyone could join in the chorus, by Burns' contemporary the Tannahill Weaver.
Quite a few of us then moved on to Kilvert's, where the open mic night was in full swing. There were a couple of people singing who I hadn't seen before, as well as some of the regulars. I tried the Otley Porter, which was excellent. The piano came out again late on in the evening - and Chris read out the latest bit of Olwen Ellis. I was outside by this time, on my way home, but I did overhear one member of the audience remark that this was a book that could keep you warm for a whole evening, if you fed it into the fire a few pages at a time!

Saturday, 22 January 2011

"Please Move"

I was standing near the horse trough on Broad Street yesterday, waiting for a lorry to negotiate the corner before I scampered across the road with Islay in my arms to visit Broad Street Books (she's far too slow to attempt the crossing under her own steam unless it's really, really quiet now).
There was a car parked on the double yellow lines, and as the lorry turned the corner the back of it just clipped the car. The driver of the car was there - she winced.
"That's why you don't park there," I said.
"It was only temporarily," she said.
"Doesn't matter," I said. "Double yellow lines, and the stripe on the pavement." I pointed after the lorry. "And that's why!"
"Oh, well, I'm moving now," she said.

This morning, I walked Islay down the hill towards the vet's, and there was a white van parked right on the corner of the side road down to the new houses at Millbank - which is also illegal parking. It's a local van - I've often seen it parked on Broad Street. I was thinking of writing "Don't Park Here," in the dirt on the side of the van, but I saw that someone had got there before me. "Please Move" was written on the door.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Launderette price rise

I went up to the launderette this morning - and as soon as I stepped through the door, I realised I'd forgotten the change for the machines, so I had to go all the way home again, with Islay sitting in her trolley wondering what was going on.
The price for the machines went up yesterday, to £3 for a machine. The dryers have been set so that I now need £1.50 in 50 pences instead of £1, as well, for the same amount of drying time. It's fair enough, as the price hasn't gone up for some time. However, I was talking to another launderette customer, and she said that the machines have been eating people's money again - and since the sign board came down for the re-decoration, there is no phone number on display to ring if there's a problem. She told me she was advised to go down and complain to Gareth at the chip shop, as he's the county councillor.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Open Mic Night

"I thought they only played darts in Hay," said one lady I was talking to about the good night out I'd had!
As usual at Kilvert's, Tim the Gardener started off proceedings, but after that there were lots of people I hadn't heard sing or play before.
Geoff Evans from the art gallery at Salem Chapel sang a couple of traditional songs - and he's got a fine voice.
Malcolm the busker showed that he is at least as good with a guitar as he is with his accordian when he played a guitar duet with his son Robin, and Robin sang. There was poetry from Simon the Poet and a lad who was reading out his sister's poems, which she'd written on her blog while travelling in Guatemala.
Chris the Bookbinder gave us the latest thrilling installment of 'Olwen Ellis'.
And one young lady brought a piano! Or at least a small electronic keyboard thingy - and she played beautifully. I hope she comes again.
A wealth of talent in one room, and good beer flowing freely (the Nut Brown Ale from Breconshire brewery was nice, and so was the Butty Bach).

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Talgarth Hospital today

This is just terribly, terribly sad - for more information go to

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Books in Fantasy, and Fantasy Books

"A mind needs books like a sword needs a whetstone."

So says the dwarf character in George RR Martin's epic fantasy Game of Thrones, which is being turned into a TV series by HBO. He has only his wits to protect him in a dangerous fantasy world (but then, are there any safe ones?). I'm not sure if the line is from the original book or from the scriptwriter, but I suspect the former. George RR Martin was involved with the TV series Beauty and the Beast back in the 1980s, and they were always quoting Tennyson and hanging around in bookshops.
I bet he'd enjoy Hay.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Quiet Time

"Too darn quiet," as they used to say in the Westerns.
Standing outside Phil the Fruit's shop today, we looked up and down the street and saw no shoppers or tourists, and only a couple of local people who work here.
Last night in Kilvert's, there was me (I'd gone in to read my book while I sampled some of Breconshire Brewery's finest) and a group of people who seemed to be having a meeting, and no-one else.
The bookshops are deathly quiet - but I have managed to do a lot of shelving!
In short, nothing much is going on - Cotswold Collections is being re-painted to become Spirit of the Andes, Horsewise has the builders in to become the Lion Gallery, the Swan and the Globe are closed for a couple of weeks, and that's about it.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Architectural Project

I got interviewed today!
A nice young man called Daryl Robbins came to meet me at work, to ask me a few questions for his architectural thesis, which was fun. He said that he's interested in the way people use the spaces they inhabit - so, for instance, could I tell him about any local rituals like the Boxing Day Hunt meeting at the Clock Tower, or midnight at New Year's Eve. I mentioned Hay-on-Fire, too and, of course, we talked about the Festival.
Looking at the map of Hay he had brought with him, he asked about all the footpaths seeming to converge on the school. That one's a mystery to me, because the footpaths were there before the school was!
He also left a box with us for people to write down anecdotes about Hay, and whether they were visitors or residents, and what book they were reading or buying and why.
I think it's a lovely idea, and very Hay.
He said that, once he had decided on Hay as the subject of his thesis, he worried that no-one would talk to him when he got here! In fact, just the opposite has happened, and everyone he's talked to has given him other names of people he should talk to.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

More Beautiful Art Work

Have a look at the photographs of Mark Zytynski, at Old Forest Arts in the craft centre, or online at
There are some lovely landscape shots of this area, as well as some in Venice and elsewhere.
(He was featured this month in Wye Local).

Monday, 3 January 2011

Coca-Cola vs. Vimto

I understand that the chippy are no longer making Vimto available for sale.
My informant tells me that they have just got a new fridge from Coca-Cola, and have been told they can only put Coca-Cola products in it.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

"In Praise of Women"

The church was packed for the concert - and then the choir stood up and moved to the front, and it didn't seem quite so full after all!

It was an evening of unaccompanied singing, but not like the Village Quire. This was serious classical music, beautifully done, ranging from the Renaissance and Baroque to Benjamin Britten and a modern setting of Emily Dickinson poetry, with a bit of Brahms in between.
The Dutch conductor explained that Renaissance music was in praise of God, but based on the human - so the rhythm was that of the heartbeat of an adult man at rest, and the length of the line was that of a (well-trained) human breath. Then the Baroque got bored with that, and upped the tempo and chopped up the lines a bit.
The women being praised were St Cecilia, patron saint of music; St Barbara, patron saint of soldiers and "things being blown up", and the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalen, and were sung in Latin, German and English.
Beautifully sung, too - it was a very enjoyable evening.
The retiring collection was in aid of the new organ - it's being played now, but they haven't quite paid for it yet!

Saturday, 1 January 2011

New Year's Eve

Not feeling quite so fragile as I thought I would this morning!
I spent a lovely evening with friends (the wine was flowing fairly freely), and at midnight we went out to the Clock Tower. On the 'bong' we all linked arms and sang Auld Lang Syne, and there was a lot of hugging. Some of us went into Tinto House for a final drink before wending our ways home.
And this evening I'm off to the concert at St Mary's at 6pm.