Thursday, 31 May 2012

Jolly Fun in the Hereford Times

Derek Addyman is on the front page of the Hereford Times this week! (cunningly disguised as Prince Derek Fitz Pitt Booth Addyman, and in his Henry VIII costume!). He's declaring Hay a Kindle-free zone*, and has a Royal proclamation:

1. There will be no supermarket in Hay
2. July 4th will be known as Alice in Wonderland day
3. No Kindles
4. Royal Charters for Open Mic Night and all shops selling second hand goods, especially books, and "craftspeople of worth".
5. National sports will be encyclopaedia tossing in summer, conkers in autumn, and dragon racing in winter "once another dragon has been located" (which rather begs the question - where is Derek keeping the one that he has already?)

This is followed up with a rather fine editorial, describing Prince Derek's proposed Kindle ban as "a kind of Passport to Pimlico for the modern age", and making the more serious point that the proposal is opening up our thinking about what a book, and reading, actually is.

Meanwhile, on page 9, there's a photo of that unholy trinity - 'Sir' Rob Soldat (dressed as a knight), George the Town Cryer and Toby Parker the busker, to publicise the opening of the new Brook Street Cinema, at the back of Booth Books.

Today is also the first day of the Hay Festival - so of course the weather has changed and light rain has started to fall.
It's also time for How The Light Gets In at the Globe. As a near neighbour, I got a programme for this pushed through my letter box, together with a letter offering a pair of free tickets to a short list of events, as a good will gesture in case anybody was bothered by noise and so on. "Sounds great," I thought, so I went along one evening to collect a free ticket - I rather fancied seeing the talk on the Higgs-Boson particle. In my innocence, I thought that they would just give me a ticket - but it seemed to actually be hideously complicated and computerised, and they said they'd let me know by Tuesday....
Oh, well, I wasn't that bothered about seeing the talk anyway.

*see Hay on TV for more on that

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

The Numbers Game

50 Years - of Hay as a Booktown

25 Years - of Hay Festival

135 Years - of Golesworthys outfitters ("Quality Lasts")

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Red Cross Fire

This was the scene when I came home from work this evening, having heard the fire engines during the afternoon:

It looks as if the fire was over the shop window, and now the shop is cordoned off with police tape.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Events over the Festival

This is slightly embarrassing. I told Toby Parker I'd mention an event he's doing over the Festival, and now I can't find the link back to all the details. Fortunately, I wrote some of it down the old-fashioned way, in a notebook!
It seems that, all through the Festival, there will be a cafe-yurt at Hilltop Field by Radnor's End, where there will be a campsite. Toby is hosting an open mic session every evening there, with the offer of a free meal and beer for every performer. It's only 10 to 15 minutes up the hill out of town if you're walking.

Meanwhile, in the Buttermarket on Saturday 2nd June, Artisans at Hay will be exhibiting a wide range of high quality crafts, including handbags, silk scarfs, glass, ceramics, ironwork, soap, honey and more!

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Rhydspence Again

Just as everyone thought that the Rhydspence, over the river just outside Hay, was saved as a pub, it seems to have gone wrong for the tenants and the owner.
After just three months, the new tenants have pulled out, and the owner is back behind the bar - but the good news is that he has already lined up new tenants to start in July. He's going to be opening the pub over the Hay Festival, according to the Hereford Times.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Small Business Saturday

I honestly didn't plan for this picture to be shown on this week! It really was just the next one in the sequence.
This is the Drill Hall, the beating heart and command centre of the Hay Festival - which starts next week, of course.
It was built for Victorian soldiers to practice their drill in, and has also been used for Gilbert and Sullivan performances, and a fishing tackle shop, and (naturally) a bookshop, over the years.

In memory of Hay's Poet Laureate

Well done to the Sandwich Cellar!
Here is Brian's Bench, in use, with the commemorative plaque on the back.
They still have a few copies of Hay Man, Brian's book of poetry, on sale, along with a book of poetry from local Hay Writers. (Their cakes are really nice, too!).
The new bench joins another bench which was bought in memory of a regular customer of the Sandwich Cellar.

Friday, 25 May 2012

County Council Shake-up

The B&R did a big spread about the new County Council this week. Of special interest to Hay is Gareth Ratcliffe's new position. He has left the Conservative party, of which he was the joint group leader in the last Council, to sit as an unaligned councillor - and he now has a seat on the Cabinet!
In the last Council, he was fairly powerless, but now he's right at the centre of things.
With the changes to the Town Council, too, the near future could be interesting....

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Getting Ready for the Festival

There's no getting away from it - Hay Festival is almost upon us!
Here's what's been happening on Broad Street to get ready:

In the background is the empty shop which used to house the design people who have moved to the back of the British Legion (and before that, it was a bookshop). There are now people in there painting shelves like mad things, getting everything ready to open in time for the Festival. They are the Hay Craft Company.
Closer to the camera, Herbfarmacy have been working on the patch of cobbles in front of their shop and Oxford House bookshop. They've put raised flowerbeds in, and planted some more plants through the cobbles - and this lunchtime when I passed they had put an iron bench outside, and a little iron table, and statues of two hares and a long-legged bird.
And elsewhere round town there is bunting for the Festival and union flags for the Jubilee, and in the lovely sunshine we've had this week it's all been looking very festive.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Meanwhile, back in the Real World....

...or what passes for Real in Hay....

On the way back from London I went through Cheltenham and Gloucester on the bus, and saw signs along the way for the Olympic Torch Route. The Torch passed through Cheltenham today, and will be going through Gloucester tomorrow - and on Friday someone from Hay will be carrying the torch! Hay TV will be there to film it.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

More London Enjoyment

...starting with the Place of Beery Happiness (or in other words the Utobeer stall on Borough Market in Southwark!). There I found a bottle of Tally Ho, from Adnams - a beer I haven't seen since I lived in Norwich! (It was their last bottle, too). On the next shelf was a range of St Peters beers which was much larger than I remember from the last time I bought from them. After much deliberation, I chose the St Peters Mild, and now I'm determined to try more from the range.
We went for lunch with Mark's sister at one of her favourite places, the Stringray Globe Cafe. Don't ask me where it is - I just followed her! They serve some really very good Italian food - and a fine chocolate fudge cake (though they no longer do 'lumpy-bumpy'!).
Not far from there is the Geffrye Museum. It's free to get into, and the building was originally a 'hospital' for old ladies, built by Ironmonger and Alderman Geffrye in the 17th century (judging by the wig he was wearing in his statue). A graveyard for ironmongers is just to one side of the building.

Inside is a succession of living rooms through the ages, from 1600 to the present day, as well as the original chapel for the hospital, and exhibition space. There's also a lovely garden at the back, and a garden room overlooking it where anyone can go to sit quietly and read. There's a reading room full of interesting looking books as well.
Hayley doesn't drink real ale, but she had managed to find us a wonderful pub, also nearby. The Fox at Haggerton serves craft beers (so not necessarily real ales, but from small breweries that care about quality). There I tried the St Peters Porter (it really wasn't intentional that my bottle of beer was twice the size of Mark's!) and Mark tried the Harvistoun Old Engine Oil. At least partly because of the Steampunk name.
Later we went on back to Greenwich to meet another friend. The Gypsy Moth is the pub right next to the Cutty Sark (named after Sir Francis Chichester's yacht), and there we found a local London beer - Sambrook's Wandle (named after one of the lost rivers of London). Every so often I had to casually turn round - while thinking I'm sitting next to the Cutty Sark!!!!
It was another very fine day.

Monday, 21 May 2012

A Day around Greenwich

Since the Cutty Sark recently re-opened after the terrible fire they had, we decided to go and see what's been done with it. I'd seen pictures, and I thought it looked as if the ship had crashed into a greenhouse - and the entrance fee of £12 seemed rather high.
When we got there,though, the greenhouse doesn't actually look that bad, and it's really quite interesting to be able to see clearly just how much ship is underwater (and to be able to walk right underneath the copper covered hull).
You enter through the gift shop, and a walkway to a doorway in the side of the hull - and they have packed such a lot of good things in there. There are displays on the walls, and tea chests everywhere; you can listen to the thoughts of a Shanghai docker loading the ship with tea, or one of the crew, and try to beat the Captain's record 74 day trip back from Australia (carrying wool) on an interactive map with a ship's wheel (Mark did it in 106 days).
The man who was captain for around 20 years seemed to be an interesting chap, too. Not only did he learn to ride a bike on the between decks, and roller skate there, but he also bred prize winning collie dogs while he was at sea!

Here I am at the wheel.

Underneath the ship at the stern is the cafe, and at the bows there is the Long John Silver collection of ship's figureheads, the largest collection in the world! And again there are interactive displays about the rebuilding of the ship, and what was happening in the world when she was sailing, and so on.
It really was great fun, and beautifully set out - and well worth £12.

After that, of course, there was only one thing we could do - the Meantime pub and brewery was only a short walk away, so we retired to the bar for some liquid refreshment. They also have a lovely walled garden, with rambling roses. While we were there, there was a beer tasting session going on in one corner.

On the bus to Greenwich, we passed a barber's shop ("Asian and European") which also sold fireworks, which I thought was an interesting pairing. The following day, when we visited Borough Market, we noticed another barber's shop, Hobbs, and across the way from that was Hobbs butcher's shop. Could this be a trend in barbers having a sideline which is completely unrelated to hair?

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Hay Girl in the Big City

I've been down to London again, and I've been doing some fun and interesting things (beer was also involved!).
One of the places we went was the Museum of the Knights of St John - the military order which became the St John's Ambulance Brigade. Only the gate house and a church is left now of a site that covered six acres of medieval London. (It's between Farringdon station and Barbican underground).

It was the last of the religious orders to be closed down by Henry VIII, who took over the site - and the Grand Prior died on the same day. His skeletal effigy is on display in the crypt of the church, all that is left of a far grander tomb.
Later, the gatehouse was used for many different purposes. 30 of Shakespeare's plays were licensed there, and Dr Johnson's Dictionary was published from there. It became Hogarth's coffee house and the Old Jerusalem Tavern (Dickens drank there - but Dickens drank almost everywhere!)
It's well worth seeing - and it's free (though you pay for guided tours of the more private parts).

We also visited Patisserie Valerie on Old Compton Street for some of the most delicious chocolate cake in the world, and finished the day in Camden at the new Brewdog pub. Mark treated me to a bottle of Paradox Jura (there are two different varieties of Paradox, aged in different sorts of whisky barrels). It cost £12 a bottle - and the taste! They also serve excellent pizza.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Small Business Saturday

Here's Jenesis Hair Studio, on the little parade of shops by the Drill Hall, which is where I go on the rare occasions I have my hair done.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Does the Light Get in?

I came across a feminist criticism of the Globe's line up for their festival How the Light Gets In today. It appears in the blog It's Not A Zero Sum Game, in the post for April 20th. If you look closely at the programme, only about one third of the speakers are women.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Small Business Saturday

Here's the Vision and Sound Centre, on the little parade of shops by the Drill Hall.
Behind it is the local baker's - but the picture I took of that was pretty awful even by my standards!

Friday, 11 May 2012

Shopping in Hereford

Where did the week go? The time seems to have flown by - and I haven't even been doing anything much.
I needed some supplies that I could only get in Hereford - so it was time to brave the bus again (still no reply to my email of complaint about last Saturday, when the last bus failed to run).
This time, fortunately, everything was on time.
Shopping in Hereford, though, can be a fairly depressing business. Several shops have closed down since I was last in town, and lots of others are having sales. Neal's Yard have opened where Shepherds cafe used to be (and before that Elgars - I always enjoyed a cup of tea in Elgars as a civilised end to a shopping trip when they were open). In the middle of the square there were plant stalls and antiques and so on - one of them had a Starship Enterprise clock. I remember it coming out - instead of an alarm, it said different phrases from Star Trek to wake you up!
Instead of a civilised cup of tea, at the end of the trip I popped into Wetherspoons for a Woild Moild, from Wolf Brewery in Norfolk - it's nice to see the beers from that part of the country coming so far afield. It was also rather cheaper than a cup of tea for a half!

Monday, 7 May 2012

A Fun Day Out .... Spoiled

Here we are, setting the medieval camp up at Droitwich Spa for the St Richard's Fair. It was a lovely location, in a little park on the banks of the recently re-opened canal (though the vast Waitrose looming over us across the canal was a bit off-putting!). This was the first chance I'd had to do a bit of re-enactment since last July in Hereford - where I could get the bus there and back on the day. For this one I stayed over with my friends the night before, so I could help with setting up the tents in the early morning.
It was great fun. I had all my weaving and spinning equipment out on display, and people were genuinely interested, and even had a go. Nearby we had the quern stone for grinding flour, and a steady stream of kids to work it, as well as a couple of lovely Indian ladies who explained how it had been done in their childhoods in India. We also had weapons on display, including a fine selection of bows and arrows, and we ate our lunch from a cauldron over the camp fire.
Sadly, I had to leave early, in order to catch a train to Hereford, so that I could be there in plenty of time for the last bus to Hay.
The train journey was no problem at all. I had a lovely chat with a blind lady and her husband who had been to the show, and when they got off the train at Worcester, the guard came out and talked about walking sticks (I had my distaff with me, which is a long hazel stick with a spiral groove around it where honeysuckle grew up it), and how he had seen a Navaho woman demonstrate spinning in Monument Valley!
When I got off the train, there was a bus at the bus stop. "There's no point getting on," the driver said. "It's broken down." He went on to say that he was waiting for someone to come out to him, and the best thing I could do was to wait for the quarter to six bus - which is the last bus of the evening.
That was fine. I bought a magazine, got a pint of Shropshire Lass in Wetherspoons, and was still 20 minutes early at the Bus Station to catch the bus.
Which didn't come.
Five of us waited for an hour after the time it was due.
One lady rang a friend to pick her up, the three chaps went off to the pub - and I got a taxi home.
The taxi cost £48.
I am sending Stagecoach the receipt.
So that was my good mood ruined.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Small Business.... Sunday

I was away yesterday, so here is this week's picture of a local small business now.

Here we are at the top of Backfold with Country Supplies and Backfold Books and Bygones.
The building that now houses Country Supplies was once part of a chapel - the rest of the chapel is now a private house next door.

Our New Council

The results are now in.
All the existing councillors were re-elected, apart from Mary Fellowes and Johnny Kramer, with Gareth Ratcliffe getting the highest number of votes.
Our new councillors are Ros Garratt, Ellie Spencer, Richard Evans, Rhona Muirhead and Sue Felgate-Campbell.
Gareth is also still our county councillor, as he was unopposed.

Friday, 4 May 2012


I was in the Blue Boar on Wednesday night, with the local history group that has formed around the Cheesemarket project, and there were a couple of people talking about being flooded out, or the tarmac on the roads being lifted. One lady had to have her kitchen pumped out.
Then someone posted a short film of the stream going through Black Lion Green on Facebook - and the water is orange, and right up to the level of the bridge - so at least six feet higher than it normally is, and flooding across into one of the gardens.
Someone else, over in Brilley, described the devastation of the local shop, which looked like a tidal wave had gone through it, sweeping goods off the shelves and leaving mud behind.
And this morning in the bank, I overheard a lady saying that her son had been called out to see to the boilers at eleven houses in Glasbury which had been flooded. Apparently it had happened because of silt in the drains, making them back up, rather than the amount of water in the river - and it was the Council's responsibility because they hadn't cleaned them out.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012


Two car loads of happy stitchers went up from Hay at the weekend to the Royal Welsh Showground for Wonderwool.
It was as good as ever - but cold!
A chap selling gorgeous mini Turkish spindles even recognised me from previous years - and this year he had some Russian and Tibetan spindles as well, which were very tempting. They'd come all the way from the Isle of Wight, where they're known as
It wasn't just wool, of course. I got some flax to spin, and some ramie, which is nettle fibre from giant nettles - I think I'll be putting some of that in a bowl for people to guess what it is when I start going to re-enactment shows again. There were rag rugs and things made out of recycled plastic, and giant knitting needles like broom handles, and spinning wheels....
I was very pleased to find a nalbinding needle, for Viking knitting, which will be very useful for the next time I'm a Viking! The people who made it also renovate spinning wheels, and had just suffered a fire at their workshop - but there was a sign up thanking all the people who had helped them, and saying that they were getting back on their feet.
There was hemp and bamboo and silk and alpaca, and ceramic buttons, and looms, and dyes, and Adam in his kilt at the Thomas shop, showing off his woven scarves. There were even woollen shroud/coffins, looking like giant cocoons.
There were baskets, and there was felt.
I got a very good idea for a woven evening bag from one of the Guild stalls, and a shawl pin made out of beaten copper.
It was a wonderful day out!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Your Town, Your Vote, Your Future

Another bundle of papers came through the front door the other night. This time it was a sheet showing the pictures of the seven existing councillors who are standing again - Nigel Birch, Mary Fellowes, Rob Golesworthy, Fiona Howard, Steve Like, Alan Powell and Gareth Ratcliffe - with the slogan Your Town, Your Vote, Your Future. With that was a bit of extra information about Fiona Howard, recently retired head of Hay School, with her top priorities - a new school and community centre, and better car parking. Gareth Ratcliffe provided a record of his actions so far, and five pledges - to talk to residents and be open to debate, listen with an open mind, fight for our community, champion everyone's views and support the youth, sports and community organisations. Alan Powell the carpenter, who has been a councillor for six months so far, said in his piece that he had enjoyed it so far, and it had been an eye-opener to him what a big commitment it is to be a town councillor. Mary Fellowes provided a list of her achievements, and wants to see a new school, community/youth centre, and enhanced sports facilities.

Johnny Kramer also delivered a leaflet separately. He has been talking to local people to find out what the issues are that they are concerned about. These include the high cost of food, energy and housing, improving public services, parking, more for the younger generation, a better police presence, dial-a-ride, footpaths and dog mess. He is in favour of a new school, community centre and sports facilities, and full community consultation, and against a new supermarket.

Meanwhile, Gareth Ratcliffe has written a piece in the WyeLocal detailing what, exactly, a town council does, and what its powers are, and Steve Felgate has written a piece about Hay Together and the elections.

And today I met somebody who has already voted - by postal vote because they may not be here on the day.