Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Wonderwool at the Royal Welsh Showground

Here's part of the Organic Wool Fabric Project display, near the stage - where we also saw the first Wacky Hat competition (the one shaped like a tree stump covered with small animals and flowers won), while we were drinking our Fairtrade teas and coffees and scoffing chocolate cake from Love Patisserie (which is based in Cusop!).
Four of us from Stitch and Bitch went up to Builth Wells together, sharing a car, and we all managed to find interesting yarn to buy.
I was on the lookout for things I could use in my re-enactment displays, so I stocked up with natural dye stuffs from Mulberry Dyers and Fiery Felts. I also got some lucets from Hedgehog Equipment to teach kids the basics of medieval cord making, and a book of more advanced techniques for myself.
Lucy the Tudor, another re-enactor, was there, with various Tudor yarn crafts on display, and also wooden chests for sale. There was a display of traditional fishermen's gurnseys, with stories about the fishermen attached.
And then there was linen, and hemp and wool and angora and silk, traditional woollen mills and "upcycled" garments, leather handbags and Far Eastern traditional clothing, felt art work and patchwork, spinning wheels and hand spindles and looms of all sorts, knitting needles and nostepinnes and crochet hooks and wool carders and felting machines, and jewellery and buttons and handles for bags, and different breeds of sheep, and angora rabbits....
We spent a very happy day there.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Bin Bags

I happened to be at home when the bin men came round last week. They were giving out this years allocation of the purple bags for non-recyleable rubbish.
That's three rolls of bags per household.
I still have about half a roll left in my cupboard, which should last me another year, so I said thanks, but I only wanted one.
"But it's your allocation!" he said, trying to make me take them.
"But I will never use them," I said. "What's the point of filling up my cupboard with plastic bags I will never use? And next year you'll bring me another three...." I still have a roll and a half of black bags from before the system changed - which I have no use for either.
"You'll have spare ones for people who need more," I said, and eventually persuaded him to take the unwanted bags away. It did make me wonder how many more unwanted rolls of bags are out there, cluttering up people's kitchen cupboards.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

What I Missed Last Week

Sadly, I can't be everywhere at once, so I missed the celebration of forty years of the WI stall on Hay Market on Thursday. George the town cryer was there to shout about it, and Karl Showler had come over from Brecon - his wife Betty was the organiser of the stall for many years. They all got on the photo in the B&R.

On Friday, it was the first birthday of the St David's Hospice shop by the Buttermarket. They had wine, and cake, and balloons. In one way, it doesn't seem as if they've been there five minutes, and yet at the same time it seems as if they're really quite well established, so I was surprised they've only been there a year. However, I missed that one because the flyer I was given said the date was in July!

On Saturday was the second car boot sale of the year down at the school - and I was off in Builth Wells at Wonderwool all day, thoroughly enjoying myself!

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Small Business Saturday

The Old Stables, for award winning tea and scones, and wonderful Chef on the Run jams.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Dogs in Pubs

The latest issue of CAMRA's magazine Beer has an article called Rover's Return, about pubs that welcome dogs.
The nearest they got to Hay was North Wales, and the Groes Inn near Conway, where the owners' two rescue dogs come into the bar.

Hay has always been dog friendly. When my dog Islay was a pup, she once got drunk on a saucerful of Guinness in the Blue Boar, and had to be carried home! She was banned from there once, too, for running round the customers' ankles with the landlord's two terriers. Unusually for Johnny, though, he later un-banned her. He stopped me outside the pub once, to tell me how well he thought Islay had been trained - I think it's one of the best compliments I've ever had! She liked to lie by his open fires (and she never got any more Guinness!)
The Rose and Crown has also always welcomed dogs. One lady I know used to take her standard poodle in there (when he got older, she would wear a badge saying "I am the guide for the blind dog"). They also have an open fire that the dogs loved.
At Kilverts, the bar is named after Freddie the Fox, their own little ginger dog (this is the little dog that once pee'd up my long skirt when he was out for a walk - which was too funny for me to be able to tell him off!). Even when Islay was so decrepit she could barely walk, she was still canny enough to be able to steal his cushion by the fire - and he would sit and watch her chew his bones. There's usually at least one local dog or another in there.
The Three Tuns is very much a food establishment now, and they don't welcome dogs indoors, but there is the back yard with big square umbrellas over the tables where people with dogs can sit. I remember one (quite big) dog, belonging to a friend, trying to climb right onto the table one evening.
The Black Lion is another food oriented pub - and I don't remember ever seeing any dogs in there, but I haven't been for several years, apart from the occasional Christmas dinner.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Meetings over the Weekend

It's quite depressing to think that there are people in the Hay area who may be in need of a Food Bank, but on Saturday, 27th April, at 11am in the Council Chambers, there will be a meeting to talk about setting up a Hay Community Larder. Ellie Spencer is organising it.

On Sunday 28th April, from 2pm to 4pm at the Swan, Hay Together will be meeting again. The person to contact in this case is Johnny Kramer. They will be talking about their new office at the Castle, on-going projects, sustainable tourism and the school, among other things.

And John Evans of the Chamber of Commerce is looking for people to man/person the desk at the entrance to Hay Festival this year. I did it a few years ago, when I wasn't working full time, and it's actually quite interesting. You get the Festival buzz, and you get to chat to visitors about Hay.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Visit from Brittany

This morning, a chap came into the shop with a rucksack, and dangling from the rucksack were two flags - the Welsh dragon and a black and white striped flag with a patterned corner, like so:

It's the flag of Brittany, and the chap told me that he came from the town of Gouesnou in Brittany which is twinned with Brecon. A group of Bretons are here at the moment, visiting, and today they all came into Hay. The flag is called "gwenn ha du", which means "white and black" in Breton.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

A Reminder of Plan B

This came up recently on a travel blog by Mufidah Kassalias. He was in Hay last May, and noticed the yarn bombing that had been done in support of Plan B.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Car Rally

A rally went through Hay on Sunday, but it wasn't just a race. The competitors had to stop off on the route to look for things.
One of the things they were looking at, in the bookshops, was a book with a picture of their make of car in it. At the Cinema, we can't sell any books on a Sunday until 11.30am, because of the Sunday Trading laws, so the chaps who found a book with their car in it had to be content with taking photos of the relevant pages with their phones.
Another competitor told me that they were looking out for Welsh Ham - a pity the butchers' shops are closed on Sundays.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Crafts at the Buttermarket

Yesterday, two ladies from Stitch and Bitch shared a stall in a craft fair in the Buttermarket (they were the ones with the hats and bunting, amongst other things). The lady organising the fair imports goods from Nepal and, I think, Tibet (she was having a conversation with a customer about the Dalai Lama when I passed by). There was also a man selling decorative ironwork, and a jewellery stall - and something I've never seen before.
Chiselbrick salvages old bricks from skips and carves them into interesting shapes for use as doorstops or bookends, or paperweights - even pet tombstones. Some of the bricks are over a hundred years old, and they look quite beautiful chipped into the shapes of hearts or letters or numbers. There's a website at www.chiselbrick.co.uk

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Small Business Saturday

The Bear on Bear Street, once a coaching inn and now a B&B.

Friday, 19 April 2013

At the Dentist's

I went to have a filling this morning - and I can confirm for any people who are nervous of dentists that Dr Naghshbandi is very gentle!

But why, I wonder, do they need a combination lock on their cleaning cupboard?
Are they worried that a patient might run amok with a mop?

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Drinks and Entertainment at the Castle

Hay Castle has applied for a drinks and entertainment license - the sign is up on the castle gate opposite the car park.
They want to serve alcohol from 10am to midnight (outdoors) and until 2am indoors as a regular thing, with entertainment (plays, music etc.) for the same hours.
During the Festival, this would increase - they want 7am to 4am (indoors).
They also want to serve Late Night Refreshments from 11pm to midnight outdoors and until 2am indoors as a regular thing.

If anyone has any comments, the address to contact is:
The Licensing Officer
Powys County Council
Public Protection
The Gwalia
Ithon Road
Llandrindod Wells

and the closing date for comments is 25th April.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Rumours of my Death....

...have been greatly exaggerated!

A friend came to see me in work today, and fell upon me with cries of gladness!
"Thank God you're all right!" she said. Someone at her keep fit class had told her I had died!

So I thought I'd better make it clear that I'm feeling quite well, actually, with no plans to shuffle off this mortal coil just yet.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Ladies Night

It sounds like the sort of thing that would have me running for the hills, but I'm sure a lot of people will like it.

Kilvert's is hosting a Ladies Night on Saturday 27th April, from 7pm to 11pm.
There will be handmade jewellery, "delicious cupcakes" (mmm, cupcakes....), and Ann Summers Party, manicures and pedicures, waxing, mini massages, spray tans, "fabulous raffle prizes" and more.
The idea of the evening is to raise money for Beth's Wish - which I know absolutely nothing about.

It shows how times have changed.
When I was growing up "nice" women didn't go into pubs alone, at all. Then groups of women started going into pubs together and sitting in a corner as a group - and now entire bars are thrown open to an Ann Summers party and mini massages!

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Small Business Saturday

Bullring Antiques, a shop that is divided up into different units. Often Hartley can be seen sitting by the door (he's a sweet little dog).
When I first came to Hay, this was a grocer's shop, which closed down just after the new Lo-Cost (now the Co-op) opened.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Desperately Searching....

I had to go into Hereford today to do a few things I can't do in Hay (like buy a train ticket - yes, I know I could do it on line, but it gives me an excuse to get out and see somewhere different).
I'd been reading in the Hereford Times that the council there were thinking of closing some of the public toilets to save money. This is after they gave vast sums to the developers of the old cattle market to get the new shopping centre built - they could afford to pay what appeared to be essentially a blackmail demand ("more money or we can't/won't build the new shops") but they couldn't afford to pay to keep toilets open for the comfort of shoppers visiting the town centre. Apparently they have tried to get local businesses to open their customer toilets to the general public - I'm not sure what success they've had with that, as I passed one cafe with a sign in the window that declared the toilets were for customer use only - and I'm sure that's a new sign.
I wasn't sure whether they had actually gone ahead and closed the toilets, so I nipped round to the bus stops at the back of Maylord Orchards to find that, yes, it has already happened, and those toilets are closed. So I headed for the one to the side of St Peter's Church - and that too is closed. So I went further, past the old Magistrate's Court to Gaol Street Car Park, and at last, success!
Call me cynical, but I did find it interesting that the toilets near the bus stops have been closed while the ones in the car park remain open, even though the car park is much further from the centre of Hereford than the bus stops.
The centre of Hereford remains in a depressing state, with lots of empty shops - not helped by the rebuilding where there was a big fire. Maylord Orchards is half empty now (so no wonder the developers are finding it difficult to find tenants for the shops they are building on the cattle market) - but I did have a gorgeous cup of hot chocolate at the Coffee Bean Cafe, just by Gaol Street Car Park, and the Graphic Novel section at Waterstones has increased in size since I was last in there. I treated myself to a story based on Joss Whedon's shortlived TV series Firefly - The Shepherd's Tale.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Silver Tankard Award

I see in the Hereford Times that Pete Amor, of Wye Valley Brewery, has been awarded a Silver Tankard Award by SIBA, the Society of Independent Brewers, for his contributions to British brewing over the past 48 years.
Most of the local pubs have a handpump dedicated to Wye Valley Brewery, even if they don't sell much other real ale. It's a reliably good pint (I particularly like the Butty Bach, which means 'little friend' in Welsh). Wye Valley also brew Dorothy Goodbodys, which is often available in bottled form. I was lucky enough to be at the CAMRA meeting in the Barrels, in Hereford, where Dorothy Goodbody was unleashed onto an unsuspecting world - we all thought very highly of it, and there are now several different varieties on the market. In those days, Pete Amor had the brewery in the outbuildings of the pub, and you could sit out there on fine days and soak up the smell of malt from the next batch. These days, he needs bigger premises, though he is still the licensee of the Barrels. The brewery owns six more pubs, too.
A few years ago, Pete Amor decided that he wanted to give something back to British brewing, so he collaborated with Pete Brown the beer blogger on a series of video blogs, visiting different breweries around the country and beer festivals, and generally talking about good British beer. Sadly, when I went looking for them again, they seem to have been deleted from vimeo, but take my word - they were very enjoyable!

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Easily Confused

The Town Council meeting was on the second Monday of the month this time, because of the date of Easter, which meant that I completely forgot about it!
I'll try to do better next month!
Meanwhile, here is a picture of a cute dog in Boz's shop window....

Sunday, 7 April 2013

2011 Census

The figures are now out from the 2011 Census - and Hay is home to a lot more foreigners than I expected.
50 people in Hay were born somewhere in Europe, rather than the UK, and another 45 were born outside Europe. 34 of these have arrived in the UK since 2001 and 10 households include an adult who does not speak English as their first language.
Meanwhile 85.5% of the population have no knowledge of Welsh (that would include me, despite knowing the odd word here and there).
36 people in Hay are unemployed, and of those 17 have never worked (I wonder how many of them have recently left school though? The figures don't make that clear). That's 3.17% of Hay's total population overall, which I suppose is not too bad considering nationwide averages.
348 people, that's 21% of the total population, have a long term health problem or disability, and 175 people are unpaid carers - which seems quite a large chunk of the overall population, adding up to around 30%. Mind you, a quarter of the population are also aged over 65, so that might have something to do with it.
Strangely, there are 820 "economically active" people in Hay, but only 782 "persons in employment". So that's 42 people who are economically active, but not in employment - I wonder what they're doing?
The biggest area of employment in Hay is wholesale and retail, with 25%, or 203 of the population out of 782 working people, closely followed by "other" with 145 people. Which just goes to show that we're hard to fit into neat categories in Hay! We also seem to have one miner or quarry worker!
20% of the households in Hay have no car or van, so rely on public transport to leave Hay (that's me again!). Most people have their own transport, which again is not too surprising.
So there it is - all the official figures boiled down into neat percentages.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Small Business Saturday

Kilvert's Hotel, once the home and surgery of a doctor. Now they serve very good real ale and cider, and welcome dogs!

Friday, 5 April 2013

The Inner Workings of the County Council

Gareth Ratcliffe, our local County Councillor, has put up a link to the County Council report for the meeting that happened on the 19th March. This was the one that made the final decision about how a new school for Hay was going to be built, and what to do about the proposals Gaufron, the developers, had made to the County Council.
It's quite interesting reading, and can be found on www.powys.gov.uk if you search for C61 Hay-on-Wye Cabinet Report 2013_03_19.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Textile Market

Some of my friends from Stitch and Bitch are sharing a table at the Clifford Textile Fair, up at Clifford Community Centre on Saturday (I wimped out because I didn't have anything much ready to sell this time). There will be scarves and hats and mittens and crocheted bunting and all sorts of other things - I don't know what the other stalls will be selling!
We got together earlier this evening - First Thursday of the month is always Stitch and Bitch night at the Swan (from 6pm to 8pm, or thereabouts), and final preparations were being made. Meanwhile, Emanation was teaching a new member who lives in Talgarth how to make crocheted hearts and leaves - they met at the Feminist group at the Globe one Sunday morning. I was finishing off the embroidery on my new medieval dress, having panicked slightly when I realised there's only a month to go before my first show of the season (at Droitwich), and another lady was starting a lacy purple cardigan.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

New Food Co-op

At the recent Fairtrade Hay meeting, someone mentioned that a new food co-op has started at Hay School. The Year 6 children are running it, taking the money and orders (a good practical lesson in maths and responsibility!) and the bulk order is then given to Stuart the greengrocer every Friday, so that he knows what to buy when he goes to Birmingham to the wholesale market.
It sounds like a brilliant idea!

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Long Forest Hedgerow Project

If people aren't too tired after all that cycling, there's an event at The Old Railway Line Garden Centre at Three Cocks that sounds interesting. It's on 15th April from 10am to around 3pm, and it's on the safe care and use of hand tools that are associated with hedge laying and hedgerow maintenance. A lot of hedges are laid in this part of the world, so it's a current and useful skill to have. They will also be showing how to sharpen tools and mend handles and so on.
There are only eight places on the course (and a light lunch and hot drinks will be provided), so they suggest that a representative of an interested group should go along, and then share their new skills with the rest of their group.
Places on the course can be booked through thomas.board@keepwalestidy.org and the Old Railway Line has a website at www.oldrailwaylinenursery.co.uk

Monday, 1 April 2013

A Celebration of Cycling

I used to use a bike a lot, but around Hay, for me, distances tend to be either walkable or "I need to get the bus". At one point, I imagined myself cycling along with Islay the dog running beside me, as she had when she was young and fast - but I was given the bike just as she started creaking with arthritis, so it never happened.

Hay is a very good base for recreational cycling, though, and the first ever Hay Bike Fest will be held on the weekend of 12th - 14th April. It's being organised by the Hay Tourism Group, who have already held two successful Walking Festivals in Hay.
The 'hub' of the weekend will be at Hay Castle, with lots of different rides planned, for complete beginners (or so impossibly rusty that they may as well have never sat on a bike saddle before) up to experienced riders who think nothing of a 60km ride around the black and white villages of Herefordshire. There are time trials and trail rides and exploring the Sustrans routes. There are also bike maintenance classes, and first aid, and a Hay to Timbuktu sponsored ride (they're not really going all the way to Timbuktu - only to Whitney Toll Bridge and back, but all the miles add up!). There's a slide show by Anna and Luke Skinner of Drover Holidays - who cycled through Africa before they came to Hay, climbing a wall at Trewern (if it's wet), and even a pub quiz.
They have a website at www.haycycling.org, and can be contacted on 01497 822419.