Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Trees or Buildings?

I happened to listen to the ten o'clock news on Radio 4 last night, and they did a whole piece from the Hay Festival, following up one of the talks. It was called Trees or Buildings, and talked about which the British people preferred. After all the uproar about the selling off of Forestry Commission land, it seemed that trees were the favourite, and several people at the Festival were interviewed to see what they thought. Rosie Boycott went around one of the new developments in Hay and basically said what horrible buildings they were, and how 'we' ought to care more about what our buildings look like.
Which is all very well - but what voice do 'we' have?
A few years ago now, Brecon Pharmaceuticals wanted to build a new building on the Brecon Road. When local people saw the plans, in which the new building would be disguised as an old barn, they were up in arms.
"It'll look horrible," they said.
"It'll be fine," said the builders. "Just wait and see."
So they built it.
"It's horrible," said the locals.
But it was too late then.
There was a court order for part of the building to be taken down and rebuilt, but it was never done, and the original building is still there now.
One of the big problems round here is the planning department of the National Park, which is widely known to be obstructive and unhelpful and frankly bizarre in some of its decision making. Eddie at Kilverts would like to take down the shelter at the front of the building, which is fairly basic wood and plastic, and replace it with something that looks more Victorian, with fancy ironwork. It would fit better with the Victorian building, and look a whole lot nicer. Can he get permission? It's a long and tortuous process.
So maybe we do care about architecture, but we can't do anything about it.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Back in the Bookshop

Lots of people around today in the bookshop. At the desk, I sold a Philip Pullman book to a little girl who said he was her favourite author.
"So, if you had a daemon, what would it be?" I asked.
"A polar bear!" she said.

Upstairs, a man was looking for books about Thomas a Becket. He said he was descended from one of the three knights who killed Thomas! "Certainly the one who struck the first blow," he said. His daughter wanted to find out more about the knights and what happened to them, so I told him about the Pandy Inn in Dorstone - one of the three knights is reputed to have retired there when he came back from doing his penance in the Holy Land.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

More Exhibitions

Sarah Putt, who works at Booths Bookshop and does those amazing window displays, had the opening of her exhibition of paintings yesterday evening in Booths Cafe. She's done lots of portraits of local Hay people, and there were a couple of landscapes, and mixed media mosaics. I liked the one called Lost in Hay, with a group of bits and pieces that had been picked up off the street. The portraits are excellent - I was talking to Susie, who sat for her portrait, and she said that it not only looked like her, but it got inside her too. Her husband said that he wouldn't want to own it, though, because Susie looked far too serious in it!
The cafe was packed out - I saw lots of people I knew.
Sarah has a website at www.sarahputt.org
As we were leaving, Elizabeth told us that there was another exhibition opening around the back of the building, and we were welcome to go to that as well.
This one is called Ex Purgamento, and is a collection of frankly strange and surreal objects by Natalia Zagorska-Thomas. I quite liked the white shoe with white kid glove 'wings'. She was offering drinks and nibbles too, but in her case it was herring and vodka! To quote her flyer (which gets rather philosophical): "Tadeusz Kantor said, 'The object exists between the rubbish heap and eternity.' It is in that space, suspended between destruction and immortality, that Zagorska-Thomas's objects fight with her for control of their own destiny."
Natalia has a website at www.zagorska-thomas.com

Saturday, 28 May 2011


"This is the friendliest launderette I've ever been in," said the man who'd cycled from Lancashire to come to the Festival.
I was in there, but so was Mr Pugh, the retired postman (also a keen cyclist) who ended up telling the visitor his life story. When he did National Service in the 1950s, he was in a tank regiment, and was stationed in Germany eight miles from Belsen! He said their motto was "If you can't go round it, go over it."!

I'm being a tourist again today, so after I'd done the practical stuff I thought I'd wander round town looking at all the exhibitions that have sprung up. Practically on my doorstep is Sycamore House, which has opened the garden for a craft stall and, when the weather improves, teas. Inside the house are pictures by Louise Dear, who is apparently now so busy working for a major chain of galleries that she's had no time to sell off her older prints. She does her original work on big sheets of aluminium, but these are limited edition prints that, to me (but what do I know about art?) have a sort of Japanese print look to them.
Last year, the students of Herefordshire College of Arts came to Hay for their photography course, and displayed the results in the back of Booths bookshop. This year, they went to Kington. The space they used last year is full of builders, so this year they are right at the top of the new metal stairs with the pictures being hung from the rafters of the loft space. The quality is very high again.
Then there are the Golden Valley Crafts in St Johns Hall, and stalls right to the top of the Castle steps, with a Hog Roast outside the Old Curiosity Shop. There's a little stage in the craft centre, and Morris dancers were dancing with their hankies flying. "Now you'll be able to tell everyone back home in New Zealand that you've seen proper Morris dancers," said a man near me, to his companion.
In Athene English's garden, there's a green woodworker (meaning that the wood he uses is new rather than seasoned - not that he's green in colour), and more teas. He's a bodger called Gareth Irwin, and his business is called Penpont Green Woodwork.
Tinto House has opened the garden (more teas!) to display Dominic Clare's wooden sculptures, some of which he sets on fire to finish them!
And there's a cafe/takeaway in the entrance to the beast market opposite the Blue Boar, selling "Farmerish Foods" (more teas!).

Friday, 27 May 2011

Festival Sights

Normal life carries on during the Festival - so the first thing I did this morning was to go to the dentist's to fix my crumbling teeth.
After that (blessedly painfree) interlude, though, I was a tourist for the day. I had a quick look at the stalls in the Honesty Gardens, where a Zimbabwean sculptor was exhibiting for the first time, alongside others who come back year after year. His name is Bernard Mavunga, and his website is www.marasculpture.com. It was all very simple, clean lines, and beautiful.
I met Sarah, who invited me to a private view of her art exhibition Painted Faces, Human Traces at Booth's Cafe, and another friend gave me a spare ticket to a talk this afternoon. She didn't even tell me what it was about. "Just go and be enthralled and impressed," she said. So I did, and I was.
I had a ticket to see Justin Hill talk about his book Shieldwall first, so I went down to the Festival ground early for a mooch round. Feeling lazy, I took the shuttle bus from outside Tinto House. It was a small audience, but he did have Rowan Williams as a rival speaker in another tent. This is Justin Hill's first foray into historical fiction, and he's planning a series. He started off thinking about the Battle of Hastings, and while doing the research realised that it needed to be set in its wider context - and that wider context started about 50 years before, with the reign of King Cnut and the coming to prominence of Godwin, son of the hero Wulfnoth and father of Harold. As someone who stood in the shieldwall at Hastings on the Saxon side in 2006 (actually not a warrior, but a water carrier - I passed the combat test, but decided in the end it was too scary!) I agree with him that this is a fascinating area of history, and far too little known. And Godwin is a fascinating character. I just wish I'd asked him if there were any women in his book at all!
From there I wandered over to the Elmley Foundation stage - and found myself in a queue for The Mystery of the Last Supper by a Cambridge academic, which was not quite what I had been expecting. While I was there, I met Judith and Chris, who had just been to the Caerleon talk that I'd considered as an alternative to the Anglo-Saxons. Judith said it had been very good, but she rather lost the thread in the middle as they spent twenty minutes talking about granaries! And they'd just missed the shuttle bus I was on, so had walked up to the Festival site instead.
As it turned out, there was a switch of venues, and I had to dash right across the site to the Starlight tent - which is lovely. The roof is all black cloth with thousands of little lights. Which the speaker thought was rather appropriate for her subject, who turned out to be Samuel Palmer the painter. I knew of one picture by him. It's sort of sepia and has a rabbit in the foreground and a rather odd looking tree. He did other pictures, it turns out, of quite luminous beauty, and I found myself wondering if he had any connection at all with William Morris, who also had a thing about peasant craftsmanship and rural life. Rachel Campbell-Johnston was a wonderful speaker, describing Samuel Palmer's part in a group of painters and medievalists called the Ancients, and his association with the then elderly William Blake, with real enthusiasm for her subject. She's written the first biography of Samuel Palmer for 35 years, and it was obviously a labour of love.
I had intended to go to Evensong at St Mary's, where the preacher was Archbishop Rowan, but the Samuel Palmer talk carried on past the time that Evensong started. Later in the evening, though, I met someone who had gone to Evensong - he was waiting for someone double parked behind him to let his car out - and he said that Rowan Williams had been a splendid speaker, and it was a shame I'd missed him.
I did have time to go to the opening of the exhibition in Salem Chapel Gallery, on Earth Art by a variety of artists. I think my favourite was a series of aerial photos of a ploughed field (somewhere in Herefordshire) on which the artist had laid out thousands of limewashed pieces of sandstone in a swirling pattern that could only be seen properly from the air. It had taken her nine days to do. Another artist was Peter Horrocks, who goes into Clearwell Caves to collect the ochre he uses himself (the caves have been mined for ochre for something like 4,000 years).
There are always dis-satisfied voices, though, and I met one lady who was furious about all the temporary cafes that spring up around town over the Festival. "I bet they don't have to do all those health and safety courses that the rest have to do!" she said. "It's all money money - they don't do it the rest of the time for the benefit of the locals."

Thursday, 26 May 2011

It's Raining....

...so the Festival must have started!
I went down by the river this morning with Islay, and got my first good look at the swans and the latest batch of cygnets. There are six or seven of them - I'm not quite sure which because they kept bunched up together and bobbing about.
I've been finding out more about what's happening in town, as opposed to the Festival site, too.
The late night piano bar at Booth's Bookshop has some interestingly named cocktails on offer - I think my favourite is Master and Margarita, but the others are One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, One Hundred Years of Solitude (what could possibly go into that?), The Big Sleep and Casablanca.
Hay School are holding a series of evening concerts, too, all of them classical music from Castalia quartet and friends. All the proceeds of the concerts will go towards the Two Towns One World project, and every pound raised will release three more from the European Commission. The idea is to stimulate the partnership between Hay and similar groups in Timbuktu.
Jean Miller is opening up her home on Lion Street for an exhibition of her paintings.
In the Craft Centre, there will be busking on Saturday, and of course the Fair in the Square in the centre of town, together with stalls in the Honesty Gardens.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Plots Thickening

Forget the fact that the Festival starts tomorrow, usually the big news of the year.
Today's B&R has several juicy stories that have nothing to do with the Festival.
Front page news has "CRAP are parking mad". Several shop owners in Hay have banded together to protest about the changes to the parking regime now that the Council have taken over responsibility from the police. They don't like the tough enforcement, and think it will be bad for trade.
I tend to see it from the other side. As a non-driver, I see people parking in streets that are too narrow, on double yellow lines, because they are selfish and inconsiderate and too lazy to walk a few yards from a legal parking spot. Hence the constant traffic chaos around the turning from Broad Street to the bridge - because people just abandon their cars there in the way of all the lorries, coaches and other big vehicles that need to turn there. I've been watching it for twenty years, getting worse, and it's about time people were penalised for parking there.
I dare say a parking permit for residents in the residential areas of town may be a good idea - but in the centre a car in the way can mean that a delivery van can't get near the shop they're delivering to (which often happens around the Clock Tower).
And all this furore is before the Council have actually changed anything - so far they say they're just enforcing the same rules that the police enforced.

And then there's Hay Castle, and Tamara Gordon who has started a Facebook campaign to buy it for the People. She also has a blog called Buy Hay Castle on Wordpress. Rumour has it that the Castle has actually been sold, but the estate agents say that all the paperwork has not been completed yet, so it's all still up in the air for now.

And Chris Bradshaw has donated a copy of his book The Green Book of Olwen Ellis to the Library. He's pictured with the librarian, Jayne, next to a piece about Salem Chapel Art Gallery, which is having a private view of the new exhibition on Friday evening, with the exhibition opening properly on the Saturday. Chris is on the committee there, too. There's a nice obituary of Geoff Evans with the piece.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Africa Market

And here's the poster....

Meetings in the Street

Half the business in Hay happens when you bump into people in the street.
Today, I was picking up gossip.
I was standing outside Spar with one friend, laughing about the day when we would both be mad old ladies careering round Hay in our bath chairs, with speaking trumpets pressed to our ears, when another friend (who would also suit bath chairs and speaking trumpets) came by. She's a neighbour of the Wheatsheaf, and said that the pub has lost its licence, and been closed since Friday! Apparently, there was a fight, and it was the final straw. She doesn't know, though, whether this is a temporary or a permanent thing.
Further down the road, I met the lady who is trying to buy the Castle to keep it in the public domain. She was sticking up posters asking people to pledge money to the cause.
And she was talking to Goffee, who is organising a piano bar in Booths Bookshop from 9pm to 1am over the Festival.
According to another friend I met today, the jazz pianist who lives on Bridge Street will be playing there, at least some of the time.
And finally, I was given a poster to put up for the Africa Market, which will be in the Parish Hall on Sunday. As the Parish Hall is a bit off the beaten track, he'll be giving out flyers on the Saturday at the Fair on the Square. Lots of good stuff going on organised by Hay2Timbuktu and Medics4Timbuktu and others. I'm still a bit worried about those goats and that giant crocodile, though!

Monday, 23 May 2011

Hay Fever

I see that the children's Festival, Hay Fever, has its own blog now, at hayfeverblog.net
Only a few days to go now....

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Smallholders Show at the Royal Welsh

I went up to the Smallholders Show today with the Fairtrade group from Hay. We were manning a table in the Green Horizons hall, offering chocolate to taste, and talking about Fairtrade cotton. For more details visit the Fairtrade Hay blog.
We also had a chance to leave the stall and wander around.
One of the first people I met was a lady on the This Is Rubbish stall, who is coming to Hayfield Gardens in Hay over one weekend of the Hay Festival, to talk about what we do with our food waste.
Just opposite the Fairtrade stall was the Transition Towns stall, and there was a very knowledgeable lady there from Llandrindod Wells. Because Llandod is known for its Victorian Festival, they've put together an exhibition entitled How Green were the Victorians, with examples of all sorts of Victorian innovations which have now fallen out of use. She said that the first electricity in Llandrindod Wells was very nearly provided by a water mill in Howey nearby, until a contract was signed instead with the owners of a coal-fired generating system.
One of our ladies has just done a beekeeping course - which is why I found myself helping to carry a beehive to the car later in the day! She was seriously investigating some chickens, too.
I was rather taken with the lovely beasts above - but they'd never fit in my back garden!
There was also folk dancing, and a Scottish piper, and wandering garden gnomes (they had a map, and a sign saying "You are Here") and pigs and goats and rabbits and solar energy and garden plants and people building a greenhouse out of plastic bottles, and woodturners, and a falconry display and Shire horses and donkeys, and all sorts of local food...and all manner of fun things. It's not as big as the Royal Welsh Show, but there's plenty to see, all the same.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Salem Chapel news

I met Chris the Bookbinder while I was at the launderette. He was about to meet the photographer from the B&R outside Salem Chapel. They want to do a piece about Geoff Evans, and what's going to happen to the gallery now. Over the Festival, there was already an exhibition and a poetry jamboree planned, and those will still be going ahead. Apparently, there was serious talk of fund-raising at the meeting of the gallery committee last night, and Chris was fairly hopeful that it would be able to continue.
While the photographer was there, Chris was presenting a copy of his book, The Green Book of Olwen Ellis, hand bound by himself, to the Library, and he was hoping that his picture would be in the B&R and the Hereford Times next week.

Meanwhile, the band Pretty Much Friends, who appeared at Open Mic night this week, have been booked to do a paid gig!

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Correct Change Needed!

On my way to work this morning, I stopped at the haberdashery stall in the Buttermarket to pick up some tape to make bunting for a garden party. However, I only had a £20 note, and she had 87p in change!
"I can give you two tens for the twenty," said Mr Lawrence, who was sitting at the next stall.
So I did the swap with him.
"I can give you two fives for a ten," said Rob Soldat, who was chatting to the haberdashery lady.
So I did the swap with him.
Nearly there.
Then Rob dug into his pocket, and swapped five pound coins for a fiver, and we could do it!
I love shopping in Hay!

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Too Much Going On!

It's getting to that mad time of year again.
As well as a full programme for the Festival, there's a full programme for HowTheLightGetsIn at the Globe, and other things are happening around town as well.
Last night I went to the Transition Towns meeting at Kilverts, and they were talking about a film (followed by discussion) that they're going to show at Booth's Bookshop on the evening of 1st June.*
On the same evening, Kilverts is holding a beer and cheese tasting session, to decide which beers match best with which cheeses. Eddie has other things planned through the year, too, as can be seen on his blog Student Brewer.
I stayed on for Open Mic night, and performed Stately as a Galleon, one of Joyce Grenfell's comic songs. I cleared the pub! I don't think it was just my lack of musical talent, though - Dirty Ray was on just before me, and when he finished a lot of people went outside for a smoke. Later in the evening, it was the turn of the younger generation - all of them talented musicians and singers. And Islay had to be forcibly ejected from the 'stage' area, where she'd settled down for a snooze.

*For those who miss it then, it will be shown again at the September Film Festival and the Hay Winter Festival.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Cub Scouts and Beaver Scouts

It seems that Hay's colony of Beaver Scouts is doing so well that they want to expand, with a new Cub Scout group. To do this, of course, they need volunteers who would be willing to give up an hour or so a week for the meetings, plus some weekends and a bit of admin. Volunteers would also need to be willing to have an enhanced CRB check, which would be done through the Scout Association.
For more information, please contact Ellie Spencer at ellie.r.spencer@googlemail.com or on 01497 821650.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Hay Castle - the Plot Thickens

I don't know how true this is, but I heard today that the meeting to save Hay Castle for the people on Friday had been cancelled (I couldn't go because I was at the Memorial service for Geoff Evans).
Meanwhile, Richard Booth has been to see Greg at the Cinema, and said that he would only be the owner of the Castle for a few more days - but his wife Hope wouldn't tell him the details in case he gossiped!
And a film crew have been around town, interviewing people about the Castle.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Memorial Service for Geoff Evans

The chapel was full - eventually. The actual funeral took place in Porthcawl, so the family and the contingent from Hay who had gone down there had quite a journey to get back to Hay.
Ann Watkins, the secretary of the chapel, opened the proceedings with a short prayer, and then it was over to the family. Geoff's two sons, Tom and Patrick, talked about their memories of their father, and a friend of Geoff's, Philip Jones, talked about his influence on the Welsh art scene. He said that what Geoff had done was to make opportunities for artists that otherwise might never have been available, through his gallery in London, and later with Welsh Contemporaries and the gallery at Salem Chapel. There was music, too, on tape and live from Patrick Evans and Tommy Brooks - I don't know what they were playing on their electric guitars, but it was beautiful. Another of Geoff's friends recited some of Dylan Thomas's poetry - the beginning of Under Milkwood and a poem called In My Craft or Sullen Art. He had intended to read out the poem, but at the last minute decided to recite it from memory, mistakes and all, just as Geoff had heard it from him, because it had made Geoff smile.
He was a much loved man, who had led a fascinating life, and in his last days he was very much involved with a scheme to restore the chapel and convert it and the schoolroom into both a place of worship and an arts centre. Chris Bradshaw spoke about this - Geoff had been undecided about what to call the arts centre. Should it be named after Richard Burton, or the seventeenth century minister who founded the chapel? Chris thought that the best name for it now would be the Geoff Evans Arts Centre, and got the first applause of the evening - as it was a service, I think people had been nervous about clapping the various poems and music before this.
There were refreshments and teas and coffees in the schoolroom after the service (delicious sausage rolls and cakes, among other things) and there I met a lady who used to sit beside Geoff at Welsh classes. She said that, more than once, the class had been locked out of the community centre, and Geoff had brought them all round to the schoolroom gallery to have the lesson, and made tea and coffee for them - which was typical of his generous nature.
There's an obituary of Geoff in the Hereford Times, and another one was up on the wall of the gallery, along with lots of old photos of Geoff, from a local paper in Camden.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Festival Blogger

Hay Festival this year has its own official blogger. He's called Horatio Clare, and he lives somewhere quite local. The blog can be found at http://literaturewalesblog.wordpress.com/
I met Elizabeth in the street, and told her this. "Oh, I got his first book, and I adored it!" she said (but if he happens to be reading, I'd suggest that he look away now!) "and then I went to his talk at the Festival and he was just pathetic! He hadn't a thing to say." Then she added thoughtfully, "Maybe he's blossomed...."

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

A New Lady of the Manor?

It would appear that the anonymous putter up of posters is too late, despite their bright idea of getting two million people to put one pound each into the pot! The rumour going around town is that some sort of charitable foundation is about to buy the Castle, and that one of the members of the group is the lady who bought Booths Books and has been doing it up for the past several years.
Meanwhile, the B&R has more details about what exactly is on offer, with plenty of hyperbole in the descriptions of "magnificent grounds" and so forth. One little piece of ground that is not included in the sale is the triangle of grass just by the Castle gates - which Richard wants to keep in order to put a statue of himself on it!

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Save Hay Castle

I've seen a couple of posters around town, advertising a public meeting at the Parish Hall on Friday 13th May, at 7pm. I've no idea who has put them up - there's no contact information on the posters - but they want Hay Castle to be saved for the people of Hay, rather than becoming a private residence. The posters say that an offer has already been made on the Castle, by "an undisclosed individual".
I'll be at the memorial service for Geoff Evans, at Salem Chapel, at about that time - it's from 5pm onwards. It'll be interesting to see who is interested in taking the Castle on though, and who might have £2 million to spare to buy it!

Saturday, 7 May 2011

More on Open Mic

"How animated! How spirited! How scintillating! humans can be when given a little alcohol and a lot of opportunity to strut shamelessly in front of one another!" says Tim the Gardener in another of his entertaining newsletters. Here he labels himself Mr Lachrymose Glee (maybe it's the Jake Thackery jokes he's started telling). Dirty Ray seems to have become a fixture, which shows he's enjoying himself, and a week after a plea for performers who could play something other than guitar, a couple of fiddlers turned up! They were on holiday and without their fiddles, but Briar lent them hers, and they were really good.

Friday, 6 May 2011


Yesterday a Sky film crew, led by Emma, came to take some footage of the Cinema Bookshop and film an interview with "Gabby from the Telegraph" for the Hay Festival. I was supposed to liase with them, according to Deb, "because you are so interesting"! In the event, there wasn't much I needed to do apart from be nice to them, and sign a release form when they filmed me serving a customer.

No sooner had they left than the phone rang. It was BBC Hereford and Worcester, the local radio station, and they wanted to speak to someone. I got the phone handed to me. Apparently, Google Maps have done a survey of the best shopping streets in the country and Castle Street in Hay is in the top 20! So a nice man called Rupert wanted to interview someone from a business in Castle Street to find out what's so special about it, and clips from the interview are being played today on the news bulletins! So that was all great fun!

Thursday, 5 May 2011


It's referendum day, so I wheeled Islay up to the community centre early to vote.
It's been interesting to see people actually discussing political ideas around town in the few days before the elections.
Yesterday Edward Wakeling, the Alice in Wonderland expert who lives locally, came into the shop, and ended up discussing AV voting with me and another customer. He said that AV voting was invented by Lewis Carroll! Apparently the voting at Lewis Carroll's Oxford college was seen to be unfair, so Lewis Carroll, who was actually a mathematician in his day job, worked out a fairer system.
And this evening, at Stitch and Bitch, most of us supported AV - Ros has had actual experience of using AV in New Zealand, and says it works really well there - and a couple of others were worried that it might let extremists in by accident.
So now we wait and see....

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Powys County Councillors - what are they thinking?

When I went up to the newsagents to get my B&R this morning, I walked into the middle of a heated discussion about one of the front page headlines.
"Cabinet Members get 40% pay hike" it said. The lady behind the counter was furious. "We should with-hold 40% of our Council Tax until they give it back," she said. "Other people are having pay freezes, and cuts, and they're lining their pockets!"
Everyone in the shop agreed with her.
To do him credit, Gareth Ratcliffe is furious too, and is refusing the additional payment he's now entitled to as the deputy leader of the Conservative group.
The councillors who voted the money through are actually doling out the same money that went round 15 of them in the old ruling cabinet for 10 people in the new cabinet. The Felinfach councillor, Tony Thomas, said it was "modest in the extreme" and the Crickhowell councillor, John Morris (Lib Dem) said that it was because 10 people were being asked to do the work of 15.
Other councillors think it's scandalous.

At the same time as the Powys Independent Alliance and the Lib Dems (who run the council at the moment) were voting to allow themselves more money, plans to move the Library at Talgarth into the presently un-used basement of the Town Hall there are being discussed, to save money and to enhance the centre of the village. The move is being cautiously welcomed by people who campaigned to keep the Library open a few years ago.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

How the Light Gets In

Now that the Hay Festival booklet is out, the Globe's HowTheLightGetsIn booklet has also appeared. This is kind of a Fringe festival, with some of the speakers appearing at both venues.
I'm always working over the Festival, but there are a few things I want to see that are in my 'windows of opportunity' when I'm not at work, and one of them is a talk entitled 'The Old Gods: England's Mythic Past' - if I cycle up to the Festival site, I'll just have time to cycle back to the Globe after the Phil Rickman talk to catch it.
While I was at the Globe to book my ticket, I had a quick look at Kate Freeman's new exhibition. There were some of her abstract/landscape pictures, which I rather like.

Monday, 2 May 2011


A new shop has arrived in Hay. Sullivan's Carpets have moved out of town to bigger premises, so the little shop on Lion Street has been taken over by a lady who is specialising in animal products. So this means leather, and horn - there's a light fitting as you go into the shop that would look at home in a Prisoner of Zenda film - and silk, and honey based products, and to round it all off some gifty crockery with animal motifs. I rather like the mugs with little wild boar running round them. In the back of the shop is a magnificent throne made out of highly polished cow horns!
Athene English, who runs the long established leather and blanket shop at the top of Castle Street, has already been down to Rawhide to wish them well.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Garden in the Clouds

When I was visiting my friend's new house, she lent me a book to read. It's called Garden in the Clouds, by Antony Woodward, and the writer is going to be speaking at Hay Festival this year.
He lives somewhere in the triangle formed between Hay, Crickhowell and Abergavenny, up high in the Black Mountains, and when he moved in to the old farmhouse his dream was to open his garden to the public as part of the National Gardens Scheme. The book is about the trials and tribulations of achieving that dream.
On the way, he has to contend with sheep: "Surely once a field was properly fenced, the sheep would be excluded (or contained)" he says optimistically. Which made me laugh - the sheep around here are trained by the SAS, as he was shortly to discover!
He joins Marcher Apple Network, and starts to keep bees, and gets a railway carriage to the top of the hill to use as a garden room in an operation akin to the epic moving of the lifeboat in The Overland Launch, knocking down walls, using tractors and JCBs and a crane, and creating a scene of devastation up the side of the hill.
It's great fun to read, and I expect the talk will be entertaining as well.