Sunday, 30 September 2012

Back from Holiday

I've spent a lovely few days away with the Hay Traveller's Club, and a few days (mainly watching a marathon session of Game of Thrones!) with my Young Man, and now I am refreshed and ready to get back to Life in Hay.
We did manage to catch the tail end of the Hay Community Fair at the Castle yesterday. There was someone still singing in one tent, and Rob Soldat had been storytelling in another. The Fairtrade group were just packing up, and press ganged Mark into helping load the car. The man who sells gorgeous bread on the Thursday market was there - he said he'd sold out of one lot of bread and what we could see on the stall was the second lot he'd brought down. Next to him there were local vegetables of various sorts. The Lions were there, too, and Gareth Ratcliffe was handing out leaflets for Summerhill Golf Club (they have a website on
Tomorrow evening I'll be up at the Council Chambers, finding out what's going on again.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

A Short Intermission

I won't be updating the blog for a little while, as Real Life is Happening.
Meanwhile, here is a picture of Islay:

"This internet business. Keyboards and suchlike. It'll never catch on."

Monday, 17 September 2012

Eklim Branches Out

Crickhowell will soon be able to sample the delights of good Indian cooking from the Red Indigo team - they have bought the White Hart there to turn into a new Indian restaurant.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Small Business Sunday

I missed this last week - writing up what had happened in the Council meeting took a bit more time than I thought it would!
Anyway, we're heading up Broad Street now, and the next small business is:

Pinewood Health and Beauty.
I'm afraid that what goes on behind these doors is a mystery to me!

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Petitions and Planning

The 11th September has come and gone (with a big celebration for Josie Pearson, of course) - but that was also the date that the Cabinet of the County Council were supposed to sit down and discuss the development plans for Hay.
I haven't heard anything yet about the results of that meeting, but last night when I went on Facebook I found a petition.


Hay Junior Football Club currently have 123 members, If the care home was built then children would not have a football pitch to be active on. HADSCA are not offering in anyway a replacemnt area for the children to play on and have neglected these young people during the process of offering the developers an option agreement and sell the land for 750K if this option is taken up by March 2013.

I must stress that 2 out of the 6 trustees did not agree to the option agreement being signed!!!


Hay JFC"

It's been started by Gareth Davies.

Meanwhile in Talgarth, it seems that the local protest group are succeeding in their bid to stop the old Hospital site being re-developed into 100 new homes. They have concerns about access, amongst other things. Their latest information is that the planning committee of the National Park will refuse permission on five counts. The biggest shame here is that a wonderful (and huge) Victorian building has been allowed to rot by the owners since it was closed down as a mental hospital and sold off.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Local History

I was in the Blue Boar last night for a meeting of the Cheesemarket local history group. The Cheesemarket committee are waiting to hear if their grant application has been accepted - they'll hear in December. Meanwhile, they have plans to knock down the toilet block under the Cheesemarket building, to open it up as it was originally. The toilet block is painted to look like stonework - and that was done for the filming of Dandelion Dead, twenty years ago!
They're also selling pieces of a mosaic which will go up in the renovated building - and on Tuesday they presented one piece of the mosaic to Josie Pearson. It will be the only gold piece, and has her name on it.
One member of the group is trying to track down missing documents relating to Hay's history - they're missing from boxes that were stored at Llandrindod Wells, donated by Williams Beales solicitors, and may possibly be in Hereford.
There's also some enthusiasm for making the group a more general Hay History Society, for research purposes and also to have visiting speakers, and to be a voice to protect local history. For instance, there was no archaeological dig in advance of the Millbank houses being built on the site of Underhill's Garage - which was previously the site of a mill (and possibly a tannery somewhere in that area), and a Local History Society would be better able to call for something like that than individual members of the public. The mill existed until about 1935, when the machinery was sold off by Mr Cadman, who also owned the Corn and Seed Merchants where the Granary now is. One of the complaints at the time was that he couldn't work the mill because the mill pond was being used as a source of water by the local fire brigade, and to flush the sewers out, and for other uses, and there wasn't enough water left for him! There don't seem to be any pictures of the mill - we don't even know if it was an overshot or an undershot wheel.
Kington has a thriving society, and they have started putting documents about their local history on-line - and all sorts of things have been donated to them as a result. The old Hay History Society still exists, in cold storage, with a bank account (and about £50), and Malcolm Smith, who ran it, might be persuaded to start it up again, with a new committee. It would be easier to do it that way than to start from scratch with an entirely new society.

There will be a Brecknock History Weekend next September, and that might be something for Hay to work towards - perhaps to host an event. There will be a meeting at Brecon Library, upstairs, on Tuesday 9th October, at 10.30am, to discuss plans for it. It would be on at the same time as the Open Houses Scheme, when historic buildings that are not normally open to the public are opened for the day. They have a website at

The Cheesemarket was built at about the same time as Glanusk House - and there was some speculation about the architect of the house. He might have also drawn up the plans for the Cheesemarket, though he was known more for Gothic country houses than classically arched market halls. It is possible that he just drew a few sketches and left a local builder to do the best he could with them. There is a roof truss in an awkward position that an architect would have designed differently, but a builder with less experience might have worked himself into a corner and made a bit of a bodge to make the thing work.
A picture was passed around of a sort of bus shelter arrangement that was on the end of the Cheesemarket in the 1970s, where the tables from Shepherds are now.

And finally, talk turned to the Catholic Church. One of the Maddy family was married at the Cheesemarket, which also did duty as the Catholic Church at the time. Then the congregation had the chance to move into the present building, which was originally a Presbyterian chapel. At the time (it must have been the 1960s) Ian Paisley was coming to Hay to browse the theology section of Richard Booth's shop - and it is said that he lay down in the road in protest against the Catholics!

The Cheesemarket group will be at the Hay Together Community Fair at Hay Castle on September 29th, with a big historical map of Hay (and a treasure seeking game), and more details of what they're doing.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Welcome Home, Josie!

There's a party going on at the Swan at this very moment as I type - I decided not to go along, because it looked packed out, with a crowd on the pavement as well.
I did see the procession go down the road though, with Josie in her wheelchair accompanied by George the Town Cryer ringing his bell and a strange blue person that looked like a Teletubby. There was lots of cheering, and flag waving, and Midlands Today had their cameras there, and so did another TV company, and there was bunting all along the street.

We also have our gold pillar box:

Here's the man painting it yesterday. He had his picture taken quite a lot, and there were several people being photographed leaning on the finished pillar box this evening as I passed.

Nearly every shop and business in town, and a few private houses, have messages of support in their windows - though I think my favourite is the Hourglass (which sells interesting rocks among other things), with the message "Josie Rocks" in their window!
And here's a picture of the window at Number Two:

Monday, 10 September 2012

About the Globe

There was a discussion about the Globe and licensing issues at the Council meeting last week. The rules have changed, and now the environmental health people can get involved in decisions about granting temporary licenses to venues.
There have been stories in both the B&R and the Hereford Times about the result of this - The Crunch festival has been cancelled, and HowTheLightGetsIn may be cancelled. Nigel Evans, in his Blue Bit of the B&R, is annoyed that there were only five complaints that led to the environmental health people getting involved - but those were only the official, written complaints. When Gareth Ratcliffe gets a phone call late at night and he can hear the noise from the Globe down the phone, that's not counted. The temporary licenses cover the outside areas of the Globe, which is the events that take place in the tents. The interior of the Globe is covered by the permanent license.
When the Globe first opened, a lot of the concern by opponents to the venue related to noise late at night. At first, the Globe was careful about this to the point of paranoia - staff would come round the outside tables at about 9pm to ask people to come indoors so there was no noise outside. As time has passed, so they have relaxed, and events outside now go on far later than 9pm, although they have rewired the outside areas so that they don't have to rely on noisy generators.
When the environmental health people first met with the Globe, they were in extremely uncompromising mood, insisting on no outdoor noise even during the day. After a lot of negotiation on Gareth's part, at least the two sides started speaking to each other and started to make some compromises.

Meanwhile, the autumn programme for the Globe is out. They're holding two more Hay Fayres, on September 15/16th and October 13/14th. They're screening children's films and providing a space for Have-a-Go Shakespeare and a Theatre Club. There's a Book Club and a Philosophy Cafe, the Globe Open Mic Night and The Soapbox. There are talks and bands and the Community Choir. The Globe Makers and the local Amnesty Group meet there and they have art exhibitions.

On Saturday, I went round to the Clothes Swap event, in aid of The Gateway Retreat. This is a spiritual retreat in Belize, which respects all religions, preserves and protects local Mayan ruins, and encourages self-sufficiency and sustainable land use, and renewable energy. And they have a gift shop.
The clothes swap was a good idea. I took along three items of clothing that didn't fit me, paid £5 to take part, got three vouchers, and came away with three items of clothing that did fit and looked rather good.
It was also, of course, a quiet event!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Council Meeting Part Four

The next item on the agenda was the Globe - but I'll pass over that here and save it for a post of its own.

So we move on to travel expenses for councillors - is there any money to spare for this and when is it appropriate to give it out? There are lots of meetings going on that some councillors would like to go to, but the consensus was the official travel expenses should only be paid if it is necessary for the councillor to attend.

Then there was the long list of correspondence that the Council has received; only a few of these were singled out for special mention. Dates for diaries include:
The Domestic Abuse Forum is having a national campaign about violence against women, and there will be an event at Brecon Cathedral at 3.30pm on 18th November.
The Normandy Market has applied for permission to hold a market in Hay on 21st October, and all the councillors were in favour of this.

Gareth gave his County Councillor's report, focussing on some of his duties that are not directly concerned with Hay. (He also brought the sweeties that were being handed round - he went to Warwick University for a course recently, and sweets were left out on the tables - he collected the ones that were left over every evening!)
One of the areas he's concerned with is children in care, or "looked after" children, as they are now called. Some of these are long term, but others are only in care for a short time due to family crises such as a parent in hospital, for instance. There are 161 in total throughout Powys.
Gareth is also concerned about the changes to payment of benefits which will be coming up in the next financial year. Housing benefit will be paid to the tenant rather than directly to the landlord in future, so the tenant becomes responsible for passing the money on in rent. Gareth is concerned about this, and believes that more people will slip into rent arrears as they use the money for other necessities (like getting a car through its MOT, for example)
At the same time, under-occupied houses will have to pay a charge for the un-occupied rooms - so a single person in a three bedroom house (for instance) will have to pay a charge for the bedrooms they're not using.
This has been the case for people on benefits for a long time - if they rent a house deemed too large for them, the housing benefit will not cover the total rent and they have to make up the shortfall themselves. (I've had to do this myself, back in the days when I needed housing benefit). This seems to be something new, though. When Gareth was asked whether this would apply only to people on benefits or to everyone, Gareth said "Everyone." He also said that this is a case of the people in the worst situations getting the worst treatment.
There is a shortage of one and two bedroomed properties in Powys for people to rent, so it's very difficult to find a smaller property to downsize into and stay in the same area.

The meeting finished up ("Keep going - we're nearly at the end!") with a couple of short items.
Barclays Bank has applied for permission to put a ramp for the disabled outside their branch - and this was thought to be fine, but they'll have to move the bench to another position.
There will be a cycling festival in the spring.
The Health Focus Group needs to communicate much better - this was a reference to the recent meeting where about 70 members of the public turned up to find out what is intended for Bronllys Hospital. Also on health matters, it was commented how hard it is to get appointments in a reasonable time at Hay Surgery.

The next Council meeting will be on 1st October at 7pm.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Council Meeting Part Three -

Next the Council came on to a more contentious issue - an update on the School/Supermarket proposals.
Fiona Howard wants the man in charge of Education in the County Council, Paul Griffiths, to come down to Hay in person to speak to the Council here, as soon as possible after the County Council meeting on the 11th September. It was suggested that questions were prepared before the meeting so that he would have an idea of what he was supposed to be answering when he got here, and could have the information at his fingertips. Apparently the County Council Cabinet will want to visit Hay after their decision - but last year there was a meeting in the Swan, and the school and the town council were not invited!
Rhona Muirhead had brought along a copy of the Plan B document which has been compiled out of all five of the surveys that were held around Hay about the school and proposed development of the site. There is a copy of this in the Library for anyone to consult (and I'll be going along when I have a moment!) Copies of this booklet have been sent to all of the Cabinet members who will be making the decision.

On Saturday 29th September, Hay Together will be having a fair at the Castle for all the different organisations in Hay to show what they do. Several councillors will be there, manning different stalls such as the Cheesemarket development, and there was a suggestion that they should have a badge to show they are also Councillors so that members of the public can approach them. It was thought that a board showing all the things that the Town Council is responsible for would be a good idea (and of course this would also give an idea of what the Town Council can't do anything about as well).

On September 11th, at 6pm at the Swan, there will be a big party to welcome Josie Pearson home from the Paralympics. At the time of the meeting, she had only done one of her two events - but now we all know that she not only got a gold medal in the discus, but broke the world record as well! It was quite hard to find a suitable venue for the celebration, as disabled access in Hay is very poor generally - and something like this means that people start to think about it and what can be done about it.

Looking forward to the future, there is going to be a Herefordshire River Festival along the Wye in May 2014. For a big event like this, they have to start planning well in advance, and councillors were keen that Hay should be included, as the point where the Wye crosses from Wales to Herefordshire.

A debate followed about what a Town Council could do if the County Council isn't doing its job. There are several issues here, such as parking and a zebra crossing which was requested several years ago, and the County Council just keep putting off doing anything. Many other towns across Wales are in a similar position, and someone said that Anglesey is now run directly from the Welsh Assembly because the County Council were failing so badly. It could be that approaching the Welsh Assembly with complaints is the next step for Hay.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Council Meeting Part Two - Global Links with Hay

We're still on the first page of a four page agenda - though one entire page is taken up with all the correspondence that the Council has received.

There have been fires at the recycling banks in the car parks, resulting in the loss of some of the plastic and tins that were left there - and thus loss of income for the council.
There is also going to be a clampdown on businesses using the public recycling instead of paying for their recycling to be taken away separately.

Round the back of the Council Chambers, Orbiting Books has now left the Annexe, and someone else is interested in moving in, though there is a bit of maintenance needed.

Then we got to another guest speaker, for the Two Towns One World Project.
The situation in Timbuktu continues to be serious for the people living there, but the artisans who were able to come over for Art in Action in Oxford recently were able to raise £12,000. The emergency appeal around Hay also raised £8,000 to help, which is an amazing response. It was especially important, because nearly all communication has been cut off, except for phones, and it's very easy for them to think they have been forgotten by the outside world. It's also quite impressive that people from Hay were able to give briefing updates on the situation in Timbuktu to the government!
Obviously, the projects that people from Hay were involved in have been seriously disrupted, especially those concerning education for girls and women's rights. At the moment they are continuing, but pretty much in secret. Rob Golesworthy asked if this would put the girls and women in danger, but he was told that they know the risks and are being very careful not to put anyone in danger.
The insurgents are raising money for themselves by shipping drugs from South America, through Northern Mali and then to Europe, and they are also kidnapping people for ransom.
Members of Jump4Timbuktu have also been involved in a meeting of the Elders in London. I had no idea what this group was until I had time to read the notes that were given out at the Council meeting - but this is a group of global leaders who work together for peace and human rights. It's chaired by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Nelson Mandela is a founding member and still an honorary Elder. One of the senior advisers of the group has been appointed to try to find a peaceful solution to the situation in Mali.
There will be a Timbuktu Forum for everyone interested at the Swan on Wednesday 12th September.
Ann, the co-ordinator of the Two Towns One World Project, who was giving the presentation, asked that her hours could be increased from 16 to 21 a week so she can deal with everything that needs to be done, and this was agreed by the Council. There is funding for this already in place.
As well as the present political situation and its problems, the project is developing resources for schools locally, for global citizenship classes for eleven and twelve year olds, focussing on the culture of Mali.
In July, Hay was awarded a UN Gold Star for Youth Work at a ceremony in Cardiff! Hay has been given a road sign to put up, and there was some discussion of where it could go, and a possibility of other road signs being made for other entrances to Hay.
There may also be a possibility of French funding for the links between Wales and Africa.

Finally, this is what the Mayor of Timbuktu said last week:
"Thank you for everything you have done, and continue to do. You are true friends. When I came back to Timbuktu after the interviews, the rebels said that I should not have said the things I did. I said; 'Should I tell lies or the truth? Tell me one thing I said in those interviews which is not true.' And they went away. Please keep phoning. There is no TV, no radio. The only news I get is through the phone. The only contact I have with the world outside is through the phone. Please thank all the people of Hay for their support."

and here's what an IT Centre technician said:
"There are not enough words to describe these people or what they are doing. I hope that you never have to live through what we are living through here. But when I speak with you I feel happy, I feel reassured that we are not alone, and that you are there, doing what you can to help. Without that, I feel completely despairing."

Thursday, 6 September 2012

September Town Council Meeting, Part One

It was another long meeting with a lot to get through, so this will be in several parts....

There was going to be a presentation from Mr Morgan, the Area Warden from the National Parks, but he couldn't come. It was suggested that it would be more useful for him to come at another time, so the councillors could actually walk around with him and see what he was talking about, on the Bailey Walk, for instance.
The Railway Line is getting overgrown, too. Alan Powell has been down there with his camera, which he showed round. It's getting hard to see that Hay is here at all from some directions! This is something to talk to Mr Morgan about - and maybe there are some tree cutting students locally who would like to get some practice!

Gareth Ratcliffe (as county councillor) said that he was going to see the Standards committee on Wednesday in case there was a conflict of interests between him having a business in Hay and being able to speak about the school/supermarket plans. He didn't anticipate any problems, but it did mean he had to leave the room a couple of times just to be on the safe side until the ruling was given. This could affect other members of the council who have local businesses, so everyone was waiting to hear what the Standards committee would say. Fiona Howard, as Mayor, said she wanted someone to come to the council and give clear guidance on the issue.

George the Town Cryer has now seen members of the council, and he claims that, based on the honorarium he receives, he will do ten crys for the Council and the rest will be subject to negotiation between him and the people who want a cry, for a further fee. The councillors agreed that he was entitled to ask for fees, but weren't too pleased about the limit to his duties for the town. He will be talked to again.

Mary Fellowes has said that she wants to give up responsibility for the flower beds round the Library and outside the Council Chambers, though she wants to keep control of the trough on Broad Street. Phoebe from Hayfield Gardens has been approached to see if she would be interested in taking over these areas with the community gardeners, and she seems quite keen, and would like to involve charity groups like Mental Health. She's going to be asked to produce a planting plan for the coming year.

There's going to be a survey of buildings in the conservation area in Hay this year looking at maintenance, and with this in mind the "garden" in front of Chancery House on Broad Street was mentioned, because it desperately wants tidying up again.
There has also been a request for the area around the Clock Tower to be a pedestrian area on market days, with all the stalls that are down there now.

Community Support are facing a £10,000 shortfall in their funding this year, and there was some discussion about what could be done to help them.
The area around the pumping station may be tidied up - there was talk of re-surfacing and putting in disabled parking bays.
There have been problems with grass cutting this "summer" due to the wet weather.
Meanwhile in Black Lion Green there are thoughts of putting in a play area next year to replace what used to be there.

At 6pm on 11th September, there will be a party to welcome Josie Pearson back home from the Paralympics, and there was some discussion of having a Mayor's Award for outstanding contributions to the town - not every year, but whenever something special like this happened.
Meanwhile, everyone enjoyed the Japanese visit (there were photos, too) and thought that it had been interesting.

And finally, there doesn't seem to be an up to date list of all the OAPs in town, which is difficult when you want to invite everyone over 65 to the Christmas Party - some people have died, and others get missed out! Perhaps an advert in WyeLocal would result in some people putting their names forward.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Harp Summer School Concert

Or Cyngerdd Ysgol Haf y Delyn, as the concert was introduced in Welsh and English.
On Saturday evening, I got to the Clocktower just as the Dial-a-Ride bus pulled up to take me to Brecon. All eleven seats were taken, and it was very nice to go along with people I knew at least slightly - including the wife of one of the organisers, who I know from Stitch and Bitch.
When I booked my ticket, I chose a seat on row D - and I wasn't expecting to be in the front row! However, they needed to make room for 38 harps on stage, including a space at the front for a harp, double bass and drums trio for one part of the performance, so there I was, practically sitting on the stage myself!

Just some of the harps on stage

I wasn't completely sure what to expect of the concert, and some of the little girls who filed on to the stage at the beginning of the performance were really quite young, with adults further back. There were all sorts of harps, too, from a tiny bright green knee harp to huge concert harps with lots of pedals. A lot of the audience, I think, were the families and friends of the performers.
The summer school had been held at Gwernyfed School over four days, and there were so many performers that they had learned their pieces in different parts and hadn't heard them all together until rehearsals at the Theatr Brycheiniog that day - which made it all the more impressive that they were so good.
The first soloist was eleven - and she'd asked for one of the tutors to sit beside her because she was a bit nervous. She played something classical, and was very good.
The second soloist was eighteen, and about to go to the Guildhall in London to study music. She also played something classical, and apparently quite technical (I am very ignorant about music - all I can say is it sounded wonderful!).
In the second half, the summer school students came to sit in the audience, and the tutors performed. This was where the double bass and drums came in, as Harriet Earls performed jazz harp with them. Gwenan Gibbard was a much more traditionally Welsh player - and then there was Diego Laverde Rojas, who had come all the way from Colombia and plays South American harp. He'd been teaching the summer school some Latin American rhythms over the four days. He borrowed the double bassist and drummer to play with him, too.
And finally there was Katherine Thomas, who had been so busy organising that she hadn't been able to rehearse with the other tutors, so was playing for the first time with them that evening. ("If in doubt, tap the soundboard or play G," she said, which was her advice to the students if they got lost in the middle of a piece!).
It was an absolutely marvellous evening - and next year, if they do it, I want to go to the Have a Go session!

Tuesday, 4 September 2012


There was a little craft fair going on over the weekend at Erwood Craft Centre, so we went over there in the morning. Tents had been put up along the track bed and around the old engine (the craft centre is at the old railway station). There was a lovely man making sticks there, who took little James under his wing and told him all about the different woods he used and the animal heads he was carving. Later we sat on the station platform drinking tea and nibbling cake while a man played a dulcimer down below. Tools for Self Reliance were there, too, and someone making glassware, and a local author of a walking book, and various others. It was a pity there weren't more visitors there.
We had a walk down the riverside path, too, and James got to throw stones and sticks into the river - and we saw a slow worm on the path, close enough to touch!
The best thing, as far as James was concerned, was inside the station building. They had a real Olympic torch on display, as carried by Mrs Cunningham from the family which owns the craft centre - and James was allowed to hold it!
"I'm going to tell everyone at school!" he said, beaming.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Local Attractions

My sister and her family came up for a few days, so I got to plan a day out around local places of interest that would suit a seven year old - and for a change I wasn't limited to the bus routes!
One trip took us to Talgarth Mill, down to Tretower Court and finished up at Crickhowell.
I've been to Talgarth Mill before, of course, though on that occasion it was awful weather and we got soaked. This time, part of the guided tour took place on the pathway overlooking the water wheel (and there was a little grumble about water rates - is it fair for the Water Board to charge for extracting water when it all gets put back again?). Inside the mill, James and a little girl in the party got a chance to grind their own flour on a Victorian machine, and got it to take home in a little bag. James also got to be the volunteer to help the guide demonstrate how the hopper over the grinding stones worked. He also had great fun pointing out the stuffed rats in the rafters!
We had lunch in the cafe, which was full of people, and a little walk around the village - we saw a light aircraft towing a glider from the gliding school going right over the church.
Then we headed down the valley to Tretower.
Tretower Court is fantastic!
I knew it was going to be interesting, but I hadn't realised how much work CADW had put in to make it so enjoyable. I started off by dressing James up with my re-enactment dagger (which is specially blunted, so quite safe). It's just the right length to be a sword for him. I was impressed - he was careful with it, and he was holding it right straight away. He could even do some of the parrying moves. So we went up the steps of the gatehouse and along the wall walk, exploring the rooms as we went, and then downstairs to the kitchen, buttery and pantry, and through to the hall which was set out for a medieval meal. This is where I got more excited than James, who had just been having a go at the butter churner in the kitchen and finding where they had a cage for hens under one of the cupboards.
At the back of the high table is a mural of four panels, showing important events relating to the Vaughan family who lived at Tretower. The first is Agincourt - and I was especially pleased to find Davy Gam's coat of arms of three bloody spear points among the coats of arms around the pictures. He led a troop of Welsh archers at Agincourt, and was killed there. The other main coat of arms was three boys' heads with a spotted snake wrapped round each neck - a reference to a family legend about an ancestor who had been born with an adder round his neck! There were also lots of white roses - the Vaughans were staunch supporters of the Yorkists during the Wars of the Roses.
The second panel showed the Battle of Mortimer's Cross, where three suns appeared in the sky, which was interpreted as a good omen for the Yorkist side. Then there was one of the Vaughans being knighted by the king, and finally the siege of Harlech Castle, with Jasper Tudor (uncle of Henry VII) escaping by boat and shaking his fist at the besiegers!
After that we went out into the medieval herb garden and orchard, and walked across to the original castle. It is the great round tower of this castle that gives Tretower its name. Originally the village was called Stradewy. It's a complicated building to make sense of - originally it was a shell keep, and then was rebuilt to have the great round tower in the middle, but with the remains of the shell keep around it. There was a bread oven in one corner which was clearly not original, as it was surrounded by blocked up archways from the original shell keep.
Out in the bailey there's still a working farmyard with barns - we met a chicken pecking around the outside of the tower, and saw a black pig in one of the barns.

This really is the best castle I've been round in a very long time, and it's all on a quite domestic scale in the manor house part. It also has more garderobes than I have ever seen in a medieval castle before! We weren't entirely sure where they drained to originally - there must have been a cess pit somewhere! Peter was also impressed by some of the fireplaces that didn't have chimneys - the smoke went up a little way and then found its way out through gaps under the eaves of the house.
There was just time after that to head into Crickhowell and do a little bit of shopping. We also went round Webbs, which is immense. It starts off with kitchen goods, fridges and cookers - and then there are rooms of furniture, and garden supplies - it just goes on and on!
All that, and wonderful views of the local countryside - we all had a lovely time!

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Small Business Sunday

Here's the HQ of Mr Powell the carpenter - who is also one of our more recently elected councillors, often to be seen on the streets of Hay in his long white apron.