Thursday, 31 March 2011

The Best Laid Plans...

...of mice, men and the Film Society....

They were going to show The African Queen as their next film, on 1st April. The date should have alerted them that all was not going to go smoothly. They were told that the digitally remastered film would be ready in March, so they decided to show it in April. Alas - it isn't ready yet, so they've had to find a last minute replacement. I forget the title, but it's a mystery thriller, and Jo Eliot of the Film Society said that everyone she knew who had seen it said it was really good!

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Spring Flowers

Every year, I see the lovely white flowers down by the riverside walk, and every year I'm determined to find out what they are called - and remember them for next year!
And every year, I forget again.
Here they are, though, taken not half an hour ago. I like them almost as much as snowdrops.
Meanwhile on the other side of the river, the cowslips are coming out up the hill.

Saturday, 26 March 2011


A few years ago, I went down to London with a bunch of re-enactors and, while we were there, we were taken to a pub called the Dev (don't ask me where it is - we just popped up from a tube station. It could have been anywhere!) At that time, it was The Goth Pub in London, and many and various were the costumes and makeup on show. Somewhere towards the back of the bar was a film screen, and the film they were showing that night was Metropolis. I only caught snippets of it, but it was enough for me to know that I didn't want to miss the newly re-mastered version being shown at the Parish Hall as part of the Borderlines Film Festival.
It was a small, but appreciative, audience for a film which is hardly mainstream - a black and white, silent film made in Germany in 1927. But Fritz Lang's dystopian view of the future still has resonance today - the break-down of the Herz-Machine when the workers revolted reminded me rather too closely of the Japanese nuclear reactors that are in the news at the moment.
Brigitte Helm was wonderful in her dual role - she was both the saintly Maria and Evil Robot Maria. Amongst Star Wars fans, robot Maria was usually known as 'C3PO's mother', because that was pretty much what she looked like, but for most of the time the mad scientist gave her Maria's human form and the actress showed the difference between them in her body language. Hard to believe that she was only sixteen when she started work on the film, and that it was her first starring role. (I'm afraid I thought the hero was a bit wet).
The skimpy costumes for the dancing scene and the scene in the garden were a reminder that this was before the Hays Code made Hollywood respectable! One girl appeared to be wearing nothing but a bit of net curtain on her upper half!
It's a fun movie, and it can still make you think, which is not bad for something that was made in 1927!

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Meetings and Primrose Farm

I should really be down at the School at the meeting about parking, but I kind of ran out of steam and just wanted a quiet evening in.

However, I did find this classified ad in Permaculture Magazine.
I always treat myself to a magazine I can't get in Hay when I go into Hereford (the newsagents near the bus station is very good). So this time it was Permaculture, and this advert jumped out at me:
"Gardening and Cooking for Life and a sustainable future; covering permaculture design, the theory and practical skills involved in developing and maintaining the award winning sustainable Primrose Organic Centre near Hay-on-Wye; low carbon food; wild foraging; preparing and preserving food to maximise flavour, nutrients and vitality."
Paul is the person to ring, on 01497 847636, or email on

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

St Patrick's Celebration

Another enjoyable evening at Salem Chapel, with excellent Irish stew from Catherine (we had two bowlfuls) and Jameson's whiskey. There was a chap in a big Guinness hat playing jigs on a transparent green recorder, with enthusiastic percussion accompaniment from the children.
However, by the time we moved into the chapel, the children had got rather over-excited, and had to be taken out.
Rob Soldat told two stories, about Niall of the Nine Hostages, and how St Patrick banished a demon from a pub (to the great happiness of all), Catherine sang, Geoff got rather emotional over Republican songs, and told us about the time he met Seamus Heaney at Windsor Castle, while going to have tea with the Queen! And there was poetry.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Beyond the call of duty

This is Mark, resting from his Herculean labours with the mini oven. (I know it's sideways - I'm still practicing).

Monday, 21 March 2011


Enough of this frivolity! Things are happening around Hay.

Tomorrow night, the 22nd, Transition Towns are having their AGM at Kilvert's at 7.30pm (followed by Open Mic Night). They are aware that they have only scratched the surface of what is possible in Hay, despite the success of the Community Garden, and will be asking such questions as: Could Hay be self sufficient in fruit and vegetables? Could we use waste cooking oil for community transport? What would a Zero Waste Hay look like? Anyone who's interested in finding out more should go along.

And on Thursday, at Hay School, there will be a meeting about the proposed changes in traffic management for Hay. From April 1st, Powys Council will be enforcing traffic regulations around Hay, and I think they can see quite a substantial income in fines coming their way. I certainly see cars illegally parked on double yellow lines all over Hay every single day. Officers of Powys Highways Department will be at the School from 6.30pm to talk to people.

Sometimes, it seems as if Hay and this area of the Welsh Marches exists in its own little bubble, unconcerned with the problems of the wider world. At other times, though, all those problems press in on us.
Take last week's issue of the B&R, for instance. Secondary school teachers threatened with compulsory redundancy are planning one day strikes across the county - six jobs at Brecon High School are thought to be in danger. 500 people went to a meeting in Crickhowell about the proposed re-organisation of the county's high schools.
It's not just secondary schools, either - there are plans to close ten primary schools and replace them with five, but using existing school buildings to house three of the five new schools. Schools run by the Church in Wales seem to be safe, but Llanigon, Glasbury, Ffynnongynydd and Rhosgoch would go - and Llanigon and Ffynnongynydd, at least, are excellent small schools that provide a wonderful education for the children. (I have no personal experience of the other two.)
There are new plans to redevelop the Bronllys Hospital site (they say they want to avoid a repeat of what happened after Talgarth Hospital closed, to the ruination of the buildings).
And Brecon Library is being considered for listing as an example of 1960s architecture, inspired by St Catherine's College, Oxford - which would make it rather more difficult for the Council there to sell the land to build a new shopping mall.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Art and Music (and boyfriends)

I've been somewhat distracted from my normal routine this last week, as Mark was here helping me to celebrate my landmark birthday. (Fifty! How did that happen?)
Completely above and beyond the call of duty, or friendship, or even besottedness, was his heroic promise to bring me a mini oven that he didn't need, on public transport. He thoroughly deserved the pint I bought him at Wetherspoons in Hereford! It's now looking very smart in my kitchen and we've already collaborated in creating some delicious meals on it (mmm, rabbit casserole with raspberry jam, and a Mexican style stew with achiote paste and orange juice).
It may be quiet compared to the Big City, but we've still managed to go out to some event or other nearly every evening, starting off with the Photography exhibition at the Globe, moving on to Open Mic night at Kilvert's, which was in memory of Andy Miller (the party moved on from the bar to Fagna's house and went on until the wee small hours). Mark had been practicing a piece to perform, so we duly got up and sang The Trail of the Lonesome Pine as a duet, with him as Stan Laurel me as Oliver Hardy (complete with hammer to change the pitch of his voice!). Then there was the St Patrick's Day celebration at Salem Chapel (of which more in another post), an evening spent tasting interesting beers in Kilvert's (the bottles of Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout may be £5.40 each, but the beer tastes fantastic!), a wonderful Indian meal at Red Indigo and a housewarming party in Cusop.

Meanwhile, of course, all sorts of other things have been happening in Hay, or are about to happen.
One day, we went into Booth's Bookshop to have a look at Richard Evans' Pop Art exhibition. Richard designed album covers for the Who, amongst others (he wrote the book on album covers that was recently launched at Booths), and his work is hung all around the new cafe. It was closed when we went, but we sneaked in anyway, and were most impressed, both at the artwork and the layout of the cafe, which I hadn't got round to seeing before.
Booth's are also branching out into musical evenings. The Sterling Trio (flute, clarinet and keyboard) will be performing on Saturday 16th April. They're based in Manchester, and were finalists in the UK Young Artists 2010 competition, with music from the renaissance to the present day.
The second concert will be on Friday 22nd April, by The Aquarelle Classical Guitar Quartet, who have played at the Last Night of the Proms!
Tickets are £10, from the bookshop - I think I'll try to get along to the guitar quartet.

And finally, Cusop Village Hall are now putting on events too. As I crossed the marketplace last Thursday, a small flyer was thrust into my hand ("I know you're a local, and you might be interested") for Howden Jones in Concert. This would appear to be a "northern tinged folk music and banter" evening, on Sunday 27th March, and costs £8, tickets from Vision and Sound by the Drill Hall, or Londis (refreshments included).

Friday, 18 March 2011

Crime in Hay

Hay isn't exactly the crime capital of the Welsh Marches (though Spar now resembles Fort Knox after several break ins).
Occasionally, though, something serious happens.
Yesterday, it was the Co-op being ram raided!
I went down this morning, and there was little trace that anything had happened, except that the shutters were still down over some of the windows at the front. One rumour I heard was that the thieves had used a fork lift truck to get in, and had headed straight for the booze and cigarettes.
The lady on the till that I talked to said that they couldn't open until 1.30pm yesterday, so there must have been a lot to sort out before they were ready for customers.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Remembering Andy

I didn't know Andy very well.
I'd seen him around, busking outside HSBC, or walking his spaniel Hector, or in Kilvert's with Briar. He always seemed to be cheerful and friendly. Just recently, I heard that he'd been diagnosed with cancer, and just a few days ago, he died. He was only about fifty.
The Open Mic Night at Kilvert's this Tuesday was in his honour, and it was a packed house. Kilvert's had laid on free pizza, and when Briar took the microphone to say a few words, she said that she couldn't see anyone in the room who wasn't there because of Andy. Then she handed the microphone over to a very special guest, Andy's brother Keith, who'd come all the way from Australia. He said that Andy had always been the odd one out in the family, but looking around, he could see that Andy had found a new family in Hay. He'd brought his cornet with him, and played beautifully.
We left the pub at about half past eleven, and there was still singing going on - I'm not sure how long they carried on for.

The funeral was the following day, with drinks and buffet at Kilvert's afterwards. It was at Hereford Crematorium, so I just went down to the pub. The floral tributes filled one long table, from a bunch of daffodils tied up with a black ribbon to great cartwheel wreaths.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Red Indigo meal

Red Indigo have started doing a set Sunday lunch, with four different choices. You get five petal shaped bowls arranged around a central round bowl full of rice, with a variety of tastes to sample, and poppadoms and sauces to start, all for £7.50.
The bowls are bigger than they appear to be in the picture, so you certainly get a good deal. We had a very pleasant meal (drinks extra) and staggered away with very full tummies!
A very pleasant way to spend a Sunday lunch time.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

The Heart of the Forest

"You know what this reminds me of?" Mark asked, peering closely at the picture on the wall. "Crowley's Tarot."
The photos in the new exhibition at the Globe are mainly of trees, but mirror image trees with all sorts of interesting little details made by the branches and flowers and ivy. They're by Suzy Davies, and she claims that a lot of the detail is just serendipity - she doesn't plan anything, and she doesn't mess around with the pictures to put extra details in - but every time you look at them, you can see something more.
While we were looking at the artwork, Ben was playing keyboards on the little stage, with all sorts of interesting samples, including the shipping forecast and sheep noises!
10% of the sale proceeds goes towards the Woodland Trust - square pictures are £40 and rectangular ones £45 (she wanted to keep it simple), and they're well worth seeing!
She has a website at, but when I went to look for it, all I could find was the wonderful villianess/governess from The Box of Delights!

Saturday, 12 March 2011

I Have Returned!

Or at least, the computer is back from the place that sick computers go!
While I've been offline, I've been to the St David's celebrations at Salem Chapel, which was also the opening of an exhibition of contemporary Welsh artists - including Hay's own Kate Freeman. After wine and nibbles, we went into the chapel for music, Welsh poetry, and a story from Rob Soldat about how a ne'er-do-well managed to get into High Eden (or Heaven) with the help of his faithful wife.
On another day, I was in Broad Street Bookshop, while Islay got her daily ration of biscuits, when a photographer from Herefordshire Life turned up to see Mary (who was up above having her lunch). There's going to be an article about her in the June edition, which should be out in time for the Festival.
Richard Evans has got an exhibition of Pop Art on at Richard Booth's Bookshop, which should be worth a look. I will be going there in the next day or so, with my young man (up from London for the week) to have a look.
And my long-lost cousin came to visit for the weekend, bringing lots of wonderful information about a side of the family I knew very little about. We went for a meal at the Three Tuns, and his comment was "It's lucky we don't live near a pub as nice as this - we'd be in there every night!"

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Sick Computer

My computer has a virus, and is going away to have its memory wiped and start again!
Normal service will be resumed shortly....