Thursday, 30 August 2012

Go Jo Go

I attempted to take a photo of the window display in Castle Street, but got too much reflection for it to be seen properly.
There's a portrait of Josie Pearson in the centre, with two papier mache Jack Russells looking up at it, with flowers - because Josie Pearson is in the GB Paralympic team, and she lives in Cusop (and the shop is her mum's!). She'll be competing twice, with the clubs and throwing the discus, on September 1st and 7th. There are newspaper cuttings and a biography under her picture, too.
Before her accident (when she was seventeen) she was a keen horse rider, and she's been involved in wheelchair rugby and racing before she concentrated on the discus. She has also been back on a horse, but can't take it to a competitive level - and I get the impression from the quotations in the article in the window that she is very competitive!
So here's wishing her the best of luck!

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Timbuktu Forum

I heard Baroness Amos on Radio 4 this morning. She's in Mali on behalf of the government to find out what conditions are like there at the moment, with the Islamist rebels in the north and drought conditions elsewhere in the country.
Two Towns One World has set up a Timbuktu Forum at The Swan on 12th September, starting at 7pm, for all the groups and individuals who are interested in supporting or learning more about Hay's twin town, which is in the middle of all the trouble.
Fund raising has been going on around Hay to help the people of Timbuktu since the trouble started there earlier this year.
According to the Hereford Times, the person to contact about this is Anne Hillyer on 07969 309001.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Herefordshire with a babe in arms

There's a blog called Indelible Journeys, and the family has just been on holiday to Hay, and Ross and other local places. Looks like they had a good time - the blog is at

Monday, 27 August 2012

Hours of Fun....

....for all the volunteers!

I popped into St Michael's Hospice at lunchtime - they put a few clothes outside on a frame propped against the wall, and I spotted a rather nice red blouse in my size - but I couldn't get served straight away. The volunteers were far too busy testing the electronic toys that had come in! One was a sort of board game featuring Winnie the Pooh, with his voice giving instructions. There was also a wind up toy with two owls in a basket, who moved their heads in time to the music - and there was a sort of drum that flashed coloured lights and made musical noises when you rolled it round the floor or hit it.
Well, of course they had to check that they were all working properly!

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Hay Fayre

The Globe has been running an event which is part craft fair, part music, over the weekend. I started making a new medieval dress (I got the wool fabric in Hereford the other week, and I've been looking at it ever since), and when I got stuck, I decided to go out and look around.
The top field around the Globe was mostly food and drink tents, with a chap singing with a guitar in the beer tent, and the grill looking busy. The ground was a bit muddy underfoot, but not too bad, considering. There was a Maypole in the middle of the open ground (dancing round the Maypole had been at 11am) and the rest of the space was taken up with the craft tent.
Karen Wallace the author was there, selling her children's books. I've seen her picture books before, some of them illustrated by very good artists like Barbara Firth, but I hadn't realised that she's written books for older children as well.
There was also metalwork, leatherwork, woollen goods from Talgarth, a stone mason, furniture, and a couple of food stalls, all beautiful and high quality. Outside there was a lady with pretty floral cotton dresses as well. The stone mason was actually carving a flower into a block of stone as we watched - Lottie O'Leary from near Knighton, who has a website, with Will O'Leary, at
I wandered into the main hall just in time to see a dancing demonstration - clog dancing mixed with break dancing! It worked really well - and the clog dancing was making the floor rock! Both the dancers were doing workshops later in the afternoon, so I came back to watch Laura Connolly with the children (I wasn't quite brave enough to have a go myself). She also has a website, at, and the kids in her class were clearly having a great time. This time they were downstairs, on the stone flags, where they could jump up and down and make as much noise as they wanted!
It was a lovely, relaxed atmosphere all afternoon, and they're doing it again in the middle of September, and in October.
(and I did manage to finish making my dress).

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Small Business Saturday

This is the vet's at Lamb House (which was once a pub), where Islay used to go for all her treatment. They treat farm animals, as well as pets, and you can often see a trailer with a sheep in it on their little car park.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Don Giovanni in Hay - and Harps

Not in person, of course - but in the form of a film of a performance of the opera from the Salzburg Festival in 2008. It's going to be shown at the Cinema at the back of Booths Bookshop on 6th September, and will cost £14. Drinks and a light supper will also be available (and they would appreciate it if the supper was booked in advance, so they have some idea of numbers who would like it).

Meanwhile, in Brecon on the first weekend in September, there will be a harp summer school culminating in a concert on the evening of 1st September. Last year they had 28 harps on stage, and this year they're saying there will be more!
I'm considering going along for the Have A Go Day (which is free).
The event is supported by Telynau Teifi (telynau being Welsh for harps) and the Lady Llanover Society. Lady Llanover was the Victorian lady who had a passion for Welsh culture and folklore, and more or less fixed the popular idea of what the Welsh national costume should be, as well as supporting harp music.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

And Another Shop

As I was walking past Herbfarmacy this morning, I noticed that it, too, has changed. It has now gone over to concentrating on the therapies that it has always offered, and has stopped doing the herbfarmacy products.
The garden is looking lovely, though.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Shops Changing Round

Outcast Books will be closing down at the end of September, and Dave is having a half price sale at the moment. When he moves out, a new bookseller (Brian with the Staffies) will be moving in. I'm not sure what areas he's going to be specialising in yet.
Meanwhile, Orbiting Books has very quietly closed down and disappeared.
However, next to Golesworthy's, Border Antiques has just opened up, with some interesting things in the window (like a life sized pottery tiger, for instance!).
September is also the month that Richard Booth moves out of the Castle - he's having a half-price sale as well.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012


I saw some meercats enjoying a rare moment of sunshine in Kilvert's garden the other day.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Small Business Sunday

Here's the Globe, once a chapel, now an arts venue - I know someone who went to Sunday School where the downstairs bar now is! It's also the venue for the new Open Mic Night on Tuesdays, starring Toby Parker and Alan Cooper the fiddler - and more readings from the Green Book of Olwen Ellis! Next weekend it's hosting the second Hay Fayre, a mixture of music and crafts and all sorts of other things.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

The Hereford Bull

I didn't have time to take a photo of him (and he is very definitely male!) last time I was in Hereford, as I was making a dash for the bus home. Also, the weather was awful. It wasn't much better today, but he looks very handsome outside the Old House, I think.

I was in Hereford for a few things that just can't be obtained in Hay.
The last time I wore my medieval dress (on the day that I had to dash for the bus) I noticed that some of the seams were coming apart. I've mended them, but it also started me thinking that fine linen is not the warmest of fabrics to be wearing outdoors in weather such as we have been having lately. Wool. That's the thing. So I went to look for wool for a new dress at Doughty's and the fabric shop round the back of the Green Dragon Hotel (bonus here is two large and friendly poodles). I was very pleased to find just what I wanted - and at about half the price I thought I'd have to pay - behind the Green Dragon. I also managed to have time for a half of Broadside at the Lichfield Vaults (nectar), and trawled the charity shops for blouses that I could transform into Steampunk costume (think very bright colours and satin - not what I usually wear at all!).
All in all, a very successful day.

And today I picked up some trimmings from Bedecked to go with the medieval dress, because they have a better selection than anything I could find in Hereford.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Japanese Visitors

I missed the Japanese delegation who visited recently. They only had time to say a brief hello in the shop en route to their audience with King Richard up at the Castle - and I was on my break at the time.
So I didn't really know why they had come to visit Hay until I picked up the Hereford Times this week.
It seems that the Mayor of Kakamigahara, Mori Shin, wants to reinvigorate his city, and is looking at the model of the book town to help him. Kakamigahara didn't mean a lot to me, but it seems to be close to Fukushima, where the nuclear disaster happened last March, in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami - so it's an area that needs regeneration.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Update on Local Schools

It's complicated to keep track of what's happening with the local primary schools at the moment. The latest news is on the front page of the Brecon and Radnor this week.
So - Clyro School was due to get a makeover (practically a rebuild) as part of the plans for primary schools in this area. Now, however, the decision has been deferred until October 2nd, when the future of Rhosgoch School will also be considered. Rhosgoch was going to be closed.
Llanigon was going to close too, and the pupils transferred to Hay School - but there are problems with that course of action at the moment, as Hay School needs to be rebuilt before it gets more children, and while doubts about Hay School's future remain, it would probably be better for Llanigon's children to remain where they are.

So Hay needs a new school, and there has been intense opposition to the plans for the site to be sold off to a developer to pay for it. Clyro was going to be renovated, but it would probably be better to build an entirely new school there, given the short time scale and other problems. Llanigon was going to close, but won't until something has been decided about Hay.

And talks continue....

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Update on Bronllys Hospital

There's a very good letter in the Brecon and Radnor Express today, written by someone who was at the recent Health Board meeting. He says there were around 70 people there, as opposed to the more usual ten, which shows the level of interest in what was going on. He also points out a way in which the authorities seem to be dodging responsibility - by separating out the provision of "facilities" (i.e. hospitals) and "services" to different departments. It seemed to the writer of the letter that the health board was in favour of farming out "services" to the private sector, and running down the "facility" of Bronllys Hospital, whereas there was a lot of support at the meeting, from members of the local community, for Bronllys Hospital being retained as a hub of services for the area into the forseeable future.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Music in a Garden

John Stark came round with posters for the next concert. It's on the 16th September, and it will be taking place in a garden in Dorstone. The Gagliano Piano Quartet will be performing at 3pm, but the audience can arrive with a picnic from 1pm, and teas will be served after the concert in aid of Dorstone Church Restoration.
"The weather will be wonderful!" John said. "After all, it's over the border in England!" And he giggled. He also said that lifts could be arranged for anyone who needed transport to get to the concert. Tickets are £10.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Gibbons' Butchers

I went into Gibbons' Butchers this lunchtime. They've been sprucing up the outside of it recently with new paint, and I found this note on the counter:

"As you all maybe aware it is twelve months now since the death of my Father and things are now being moved on for the future. As a very loyal and much valued supporter of the shop I would now like to tell you about the plans for the future of the business going forward. As you will all know Wayne, David and myself have worked together since before the death of Dad and we have kept to the high standards of quality and service that you would of received with Dad at the helm of the business and I thank you in the most genuinely possible way for your support through what has been a very difficult time. As of the 1st August 2012 I am going to be taking over the business as my own with the help of Wayne and David as before. I will be purchasing and we will be sourcing all our meat locally in the same way as dad has done for the past 20 years and in the way we have done for the past year. I can promise you the same high standards with a few new additions going forward for the future. I thank you for your time in reading this and hope we can be of service to you in the future.
Geraldine Like"

I'm sure I'm not alone in wishing Geraldine every success in the future.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

I Love Charity Shops

"You can't put that out in public!" The speaker was an embarrassed male volunteer at one of Hay's charity shops.
"I'm going to put it on a hanger, not wear it!" replied the manager - and there it was, when I chanced to go in only a day later.
It's a black corset with ribbon lacing up the back, and it is perfect for Steampunk! It will go beautifully with my new black and green lacy bustle.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Small Business Saturday

Here's Hay and Brecon Farmer's Co-operative, which is also open to the public for gardening supplies, tools, pet food and so on. Islay used to love going in there (I would buy her dog food by the tray) and always got a pig's ear and a fuss.

Bargains Galore

It was obviously a mistake to take my shopping trolley down to the car boot sale - my excuse was that I needed to take my bottles to the recycling bank at the bottom of the car park, and I may as well combine the two trips.
I was looking for the people who sold me the little pan last time, because it's such a good one that I wanted to get any others they had left. That started to fill up the trolley, and I now have a set of large, medium and small pans with glass lids sitting on my kitchen shelf.
Then I saw an earthenware jar with a wide neck - these are perfect for building basic shelves out of planks of wood, and I bought it to replace one of the lengths of cardboard tube that came from the middle of a carpet roll. It looks much more stylish now!
There was a cute dog waiting for her ball to be thrown at one end of the stalls - so I threw it for her, turned round - and there was a butter dish. I've been looking for one since I dropped my last one, which came from a small pottery, and had "butter" on one side and "menyn" on the other. This one is plain brown, but will do very nicely.
And how could I resist the pair of silver goblets at £2 each? I'm getting a very nice collection of silver and pewter goblets and tankards together.
I did look for the man with the cavalry sabre - he was there, but the sword wasn't, so I assume it has gone to someone who will appreciate it.

On the way back, I stopped at the Buttermarket, where there were stalls raising money for Bryngwyn Church. It wasn't an ordinary bring and buy sale - there were traders there selling wooden toys, and everything you need to make fancy cup cakes - and some lovely scarves (I had three of those in summery colours). Sally Matthews was there, too, selling some of her smaller prints and some postcards of her sculptures. These are truly amazing works of art - have a look here:
Recently, one of her life sized ponies was in Lion Street Gallery (and it was quite a tight squeeze!), and more of her work was around Hay for the Festival.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Sheep Get Everywhere!

It's not a terribly good picture, but lurking within this shop window is a large beaded sheep!

It's going to be a busy weekend around Hay - there's Llanigon Show, and the Steam Rally, and Montpelier Cottage garden is open (I've been making cakes for that this morning - they can always put them at the back of the display to bulk it out. I'm not the world's best cake maker, though they should taste all right). Brecon Jazz is this weekend, too - not my glass of tea, though even I've heard of Dionne Warwick!
And around the other side of the Fleur de Lys antique shop, there's this:

It's a 1920s ladies bike in beautiful condition - apparently it used to be exhibited regularly at the Steam Rally (they do bicycles as well - and lots of other things) but the owner has given up doing that now, and so it's for sale.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Railway Memorabilia

A customer came into the shop this evening, asking if we would be interested in some railway magazines from 1952 - 54. His uncle, a signalman, had bought them for him when he was a boy, and now he felt the time had come to pass them on.
While he was talking, another customer drifted closer.
"Did you know that Erwood Station is having an event at the end of this month, commemorating 60 years since the Station closed?" he asked. It's now a rather fine craft centre, just off the road to Builth Wells, and they're going to be doing railway themed things involving steam trains.
"They might be interested in your magazines," he said.
It was, after all, quite an interesting period, covering a railwayman's view of the Coronation, among other things.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Small Business Monday

I had such an exciting weekend (unfortunately culminating in a monumental migraine!) that I forgot my weekly series. So, here we have:

Here's Williams's, for DIY, tools and building supplies of all kinds. They sell stoves as well. They're always really helpful when I go in, even when I only want something small.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Steampunk Fair

It was dry when I set out, so I foolishly did not take a raincoat....
I took the early bus to Brecon, and changed there onto the T4 for Cardiff - and found that I could use the same Explorer ticket for the entire journey! £7.00 for a day trip to Cardiff is not bad.
I arrived in Cardiff quite early, so there was plenty of time to go to Forbidden Planet, and to get a cappuccino and Danish pastry at the Rendez-vous cafe, just across the way from the Owain Glyndwr pub where the Steampunk Fair was going to take place.
So, what is steampunk? Some people say it's when Goths discovered brown. For others, it's a re-imagining of Victoriana, with steam-powered spaceships gleaming with brass blasting off to Her Majesty's colonies on Mars, while airship pirates fight air krakens in the skies above the British Empire - and lots of cogs, on everything. I hadn't been to a Steampunk event before, but my young man had, and had enjoyed it immensely, and we held a steampunk party last year where everyone dressed up and Mark served absinthe.
For a first event, they did very well. The upper room of the Owain Glyndwr wasn't ideally set out for stalls, but they fitted in with a bit of ingenuity. There was a band set up in one corner, BB Black Dog, playing a couple of songs every hour, and there was a wide variety of clothing,including corsets and bustles, jewellery, and sundries on offer. Some of the jewellery had been made with delicate bones salvaged from road kill, and there were some cute plague rat cat toys, as well as a stall for historical re-enactors, with drinking horns and knitted caps and stockings. Everyone was very friendly, and the event's charity was Help for Heroes.
When I'd spent up to my budget, I went out to wander round Cardiff. In one place, there was a samba band playing, and further along, a band on a stage, and children's rides, and a giant screen showing the Olympic rowing. Cardiff is a city of shopping arcades, and I spent a while exploring them:

Here's one of them from the upstairs balcony.

I also explored Cardiff Market, which has a very good and extensive record shop up on its balcony - if I lived in Cardiff I think I'd be spending a lot of time there.
Then I had time to pop into the Goat Major for a half of Brains Dark. They didn't have any guest beers on, and they'd moved some of the tables near the bar, and the beer was served in a plastic glass - and there was a bouncer on the door! I'd also noticed quite a few police wandering around the city centre, and found later that one of the Olympic football matches was taking place in the Millennium stadium that afternoon.
Still, even the bouncer was friendly and later, when I was making my way to the bus stop, a shop keeper ran out of his shop to offer me a spare umbrella since the heavens had opened by that point!
To be fair to Stagecoach, the journey was very smooth, and on time throughout - and I can now recognise the Welsh for "The next stop is...." (though I'm not sure how to write it down).

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Vision for Healthcare

There's a story in the Hereford Times this week about the public meeting of the health focus group in Hay. More than fifty people turned up!
They don't seem to be saying that they are committed to keeping Bronllys open, in the quotations from the Hereford Times story. The best spin you can put on it is that they won't close services down at Bronllys unless there are equivalent services elsewhere in the county - which doesn't sound very positive to me - especially when the same story reports that when Glasbury Ward was closed the toilets were blocked with concrete! They're obviously not intending to re-open that any time soon.

Friday, 3 August 2012

The Highest Man in Hay

Imagine being in the little cage at the end of the arm of a cherry picker, dangling over the tower of Hay Castle! This is what Rob Soldat had to do recently, to get information together for a grant application for the Castle.
"I found a couple of pieces of decorated stone up there that you'd never spot from down below," he said, "and you could see just how often the tower's been re-built over the centuries - and the bits where it was obviously Friday afternoon, and they've gone "This'll do, lads, just slap it together and we'll be down at the tavern before they've sold that cask of ale!'"

Good News Across the River

After a bit of a wobbly start, the Rhydspence seems to have new tenants now. They've come all the way from Derbyshire. They're planning to re-open the restaurant, and will continue to run it as a hotel.
Their website is

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Too Crazy for the Goons

"Lovely to see you," said Tim the Gardener, as he entered Kilverts. "I'm going to take my trousers off."
And he did, right there and then, to change into a hospital gown for his performance as Mosey (recently escaped from hospital) returning to his shrink (New Zealand Ros) to discuss Michael Bentine, the Barclay brothers on the island of Brezhou next to Sark, and wellies!
A flight of surreal imagination, and great fun!

This was not the only delight of the evening, as the first performance was by a local bluegrass band - a lady with a double bass, a lady who works in Hay Wholefoods on guitar (both of them also doing vocals), a man on a bluegrass mandolin and another who played guitar or banjo. They were very good indeed.
And after Tim's play, there was Les on guitar - which led to another slightly surreal conversation as a lady sat on the end of the bench where we were both sitting, and was introduced to Lesley and Les.
I had to go early, but someone else was getting up to perform as I left, and Anna Fry's piano was about to be brought out.

Meanwhile across Hay, the Open Mic at the Globe had about fifty people there, and a great night was had by all.