Saturday, 30 November 2013

Small Business Saturday

Tinto House B&B. The beautiful gardens at the back (tended by Tim the Gardener) are sometimes open to the public, and they also have a little art gallery at the back.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Retail Therapy - Not!

I hate shopping in Hereford!
Why is it so hard to get a flat double bed sheet?
Why are lightshades all so hideous?

I started off well at the model shop near the bus station, where I got something special for my nephew for Christmas - and it all went downhill after that!
There's a specialist light fittings shop just up the ring road from there - and the only lightshades that weren't hideous were way out of my price range. (Actually, the hideous ones were mostly out of my price range, too!)
So I went on to Poundstretcher, to look for double sheets for my new bed. And TK Maxx and Wilkos, and the market, and anywhere else that looked as if it might possibly stock bedding - even Tesco. I even went in Laura Ashley to whistle at their prices! Eventually I trekked out to Sainsburys, and they were the first place where I found flat sheets rather than fitted. (I hate fitted sheets. I got rid of all the fitted sheets I inherited from my mum. Which is one reason why I need new sheets.)
I still need a new lightshade. In desperation, I got the least hideous shade I could find - one of those round paper ones from Wilkos - but it's only a temporary measure until I find something I can live with.
At All Saints there was a craft fair going on. I saw Martha from Love Zimbabwe, but I didn't stop to chat because I was feeling a bit snappish by that time.
And on the way through the square I was stopped by three different people collecting for the Red Cross.
I really needed that pint of Christmas Cheers from Hereford Brewery that I got at Wetherspoons while I waited for the bus home!

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Getting Ready for the Festive Period

Not a lot has been happening this week (and also I've been geeking out on all things Whovian rather than taking notice of what's going on in Hay!).
However, tonight the marquee is going up for the Food and Vintage Fairs, and the barriers around the Cheesemarket have been pulled back to make room for it. Christmas displays are going up in shop windows, and the Christmas lights are going up all round town.
So, tomorrow night is the switching on of the Lights by Mac Eager, and the start of the Hay Winter Festival, which lasts all weekend.
On Saturday is the Food Fair, and on Sunday it's the Vintage Fair.
And Salem Chapel is hosting an exhibition of driftwood sculptures, kimonos, painted boxes and cupboards, and prints and paintings. They'll be there for a week, and the exhibition is called Artefacts.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Family Furnishers

Rumours that the Young Man and I broke the bed are completely unfounded!

I've been thinking of getting a new bed for a while. The old mattress was starting to get a bit lumpy and 'twangy' - and I've never really liked divans anyway (this bed came from my mum's in North Wales when I cleared the house for her, when she decided to sell up and stay in Greece permanently).
So I did a bit of research online, and when I went into Hereford to see the Young Man off at the end of his visit, I thought I'd walk out to the big furniture showroom and have a look at the beds there.
It was raining when I set off along Widemarsh Street, so when I saw a sign saying "Furniture Showroom 30 yards" I didn't need much encouragement to turn off down Catherine Street.
I saw the bed I wanted as soon as I stepped in through the front door. The young lady at the counter was lovely, and I bought it there and then, together with a decent mattress. She offered me a delivery date on Friday, and even gave me an hour slot (between 3pm and 4pm) for the bed to arrive.
By way of celebration, I went down to Poundstretcher and bought a new 15tog duvet as well.
Bless them, they came on the dot of 3pm, and took the old bed away as well.

I then spent the next three hours trying to put the thing together, and swearing at the top of my voice at the bright spark who invented Allen keys.
But it's done, and it looks fantastic, and it is so comfortable!

So, thank you, Family Furnishers!

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Small Business Saturday

Roses Bookshop, which specialises in children's books.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Edgar Street Trees

I'm still trying to work out how this possibly makes sense!
Herefordshire Council paid a company from Birmingham to come at 7am on a Sunday morning to cut down ten healthy lime trees that they said were in the way of widening the road near the roundabout. They would have cut down all the trees if there hadn't been a lot of protest about it.
Now, the same company have been paid to come back, under cover of darkness, to plant ten new lime trees.
Wouldn't it have been cheaper and easier to just leave the original lime trees alone?

Thursday, 21 November 2013

More on the Phone Mast

It was front page news in the B&R this week. After the opposition to the phone mast on Forest Road failed to stop it being built, a parent at Hay School organised someone to come in to the school to take measurements of the strength of the signal from the mast. The results were reassuring - the strength is below the European guidelines (which are stricter than the UK guidelines) and about the same as the signal from the TV and radio mast.
That doesn't mean that it's okay to stop worrying - we're still wandering around in an electro-magnetic soup that just didn't exist a hundred years ago - but it does put it into more perspective.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013


Over the weekend I went into the Hay Deli with my Young Man - he loves going in there. He says the smell of the shop reminds him of the Food Hall at Harrods! We noticed that there is a new range of local beers in, and we tried the BV (Black Vaughan) Stout from Mayfields Brewery in Leominster, which was very nice indeed, and uses Herefordshire hops.
So today I went in to get samples of some of the other beers on offer.
Stroud Brewery do an organic pale ale called Budding, after the man who invented the lawnmower in 1830 (he came from Stroud), based on machinery at a woollen mill that cut the excess fluff off newly woven cloth. Their organic barley is grown in the Cotswolds. Derek at the Deli said that it was one of the new range that he liked the best (he's obviously serious about trying his stock himself, to ensure high quality!). This beer won the Champion beer of Gloucestershire in 2006 and 2008 in a CAMRA competition.
I also got Ducking Stool from Mayfields, named after the ducking stool which is still on show at the Priory in Leominster, made with Challenger and Cascade hops grown in Herefordshire, and Auntie Myrtle's from Mayfields, made with Fuggles hops from Herefordshire and winner of the Heart of England Fine Foods 2011 Diamond Award.
So that should keep me going for a few pleasant evenings.

After a long handing over period, Derek is finally completely in charge at the Deli (he's even changed the labels on some of the products, as another customer while I was there pointed out. It's a nice, clear font and simple design). Jenny and Alex Valentine have gone on to do other things (Alex is a musician, and Jenny writes rather good children's novels).

There will be more beery goodness happening up at the Castle on Saturday 7th December, too. The Castle Tap will be featuring beer from local brewers like Jones the Brewer, RedStone and Wobbly Brewing, with cider and wine as well, and food, and music from Lonesome Stampede - all for £10 including two pints and food! I've had some of Jones the Brewers' beer before, at the Rose and Crown and at the Hereford Beer Festival Beer on the Wye, and their Abigail's Party is very good.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Mally Powell

I didn't know Mally Powell, but a lot of people in Hay did. One of my friends, who knew him, told me a bit about him. She told me about his music, and that he could fix anything mechanical.
He was from a farming family near Llanigon, and his funeral took place over the weekend, at a little chapel high on the hills above the Wye Valley. He was only forty seven, but he'd been ill for some time.
He was, in a small way, a rock star, and a lot of the people standing outside the chapel (because there was no room inside) had come up from London to see him off.
Over on Hay on TV, there's a video of him with his band.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Small Business Monday

Also tucked away behind Rose's Bookshop near the clock tower is this silversmith's.

My Young Man was visiting over the weekend, but posting will be back to normal now.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

The One Show in Hay

I saw Pudsey Bear and some of his helpers hanging around by the clock tower at lunch time. One of them had a sign under his arm which said something about them being sorry for any inconvenience.
It seems that some of Hay's school children will be on the One Show this evening, and they were getting ready for filming!

[edited to add - it seems the Hay film footage was left on the cutting room floor!]

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Winter Festival

There's going to be a lot going on over the weekend of the 29th November to 1st December.
First of all, it's the weekend of the Hay Winter Festival. As usual, they have an interesting and varied line up of events - Ranulph Fiennes, the life of Eartha Kitt, the history of cats, and Peter Pan among them. Alison and Laurence Matthews are doing a talk called Zoom Control on the Sunday morning - looking at the big picture and hoping to unlock a saner future! Alison is one of the ladies who goes to Stitch and Bitch, and another Stitch and Bitch lady, Kitty Corrigan, is chairing a talk on Women in Business on the Saturday, with local businesswomen Claire Trumper of Trumper's Tea, Liz Knight of Forage Fine Foods and Allie and Ella Thomas of Cradoc's Savoury Biscuits.

I went down to the Drill Hall to book tickets only to find that my first choice, the Inaugural Smith-Soldat Memorial Lecture on the Buildings of Wales by Robert Scourfield, had sold out very quickly. They have organised a second talk on the Sunday, but sadly, I will be working then, so I'll have to miss this one. I was pleased to see that Rob Soldat, the storyteller and local historian who died earlier this year, will be remembered in this way. I hope there will be many more lectures to come.
So I went for my second choice - Phil Rickman talking about his latest Merrily Watkins novel, The Magus of Hay. He had to get round to Hay sooner or later! This is on the Sunday evening, so I can go after work. Yet another Stitch and Bitch lady, Tracy, does occult and esoteric research for Phil. (Stitch and Bitch sessions are really just a front for a cunning plan to take over Hay! And after that, the world!!!)

Over the same weekend, there will be a marquee erected on the car park in the middle of town for the Food Festival, always a good excuse to stock up on little luxuries. That's on the Saturday, and on the evening of Friday the 29th, the marquee will be used for local businesses to show off their wares for the Turning on of the Christmas Lights. Guest celebrity this year is Mac Eager, who has been keeping the streets of Hay clean for over twenty years, and there will also be carol singing and mulled wine. The fencing around the Cheesemarket will be coming down to make room for everything, and then going up again the following week.

Then on the Sunday, it's Vintage Day. This will be the third Hay Does Vintage Fayre, and will include furniture, jewellery, curios and upcycled items as well as vintage clothes. It also includes the Travelling Tea Room, serving tea and cakes on vintage bone china.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Artisans at Hay

On Saturday the Artisans at Hay were in the Buttermarket. Shelley was there with her silk scarves, also looking after Richard Evans' prints; Jackie was there with the Castello de Haia soaps; there was a chap with wooden toys and a chap with wrought iron garden ornaments, and a potter.
A few days before, I'd dropped my metal trivet that I stand my hot pans on, and it cracked right across. I'd had a quick look round the charity shops for a replacement - and came away from the Red Cross Shop with a lovely jug decorated with ivy leaves instead. In fact, it was so lovely I went back for the plates that matched it the next day.
So there on the potter's stall was a round ceramic trivet, made (as he said) with his own fair hands. If it lasts as long as the last one, £12.50 is a bargain price!

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Residents Parking

A few days ago, I got a questionnaire from Powys County Council through my door, on the subject of residents' parking permits. Since then, I have had two more leaflets. One is anonymous, but very firmly opposed to the scheme and the other is from CRAP (and has a contact phone number).
I actually sent my form back before these two leaflets arrived. I'm neutral on the whole matter, as I can't drive and have no vehicle. I do see parking problems, but they don't generally affect me. So on the form I said I wouldn't be buying a permit for that reason, and in the notes I added that I had seen parking permits introduced elsewhere in the country, and seen the resentment that was caused when people had to pay for something that had previously been free.
It's not going to be cheap, either. As the anonymous leaflet points out, it will start at £65 a year. There is also a permit for the main car park which currently stands at £150 a year, and since only one permit per household is being offered, a household with two cars would need one of those as well. In fact, a household might need a car park permit for both cars, because a permit for the street is no guarantee that a space will be available when they need it - which would work out at £365 a year. They also point out that, once the scheme is in place, it is easy for the County Council to put the fees up - they say, for instance, that fees have risen by 400% in Bristol, and even more in other areas, with very little residents could do about it. They are also concerned about the effect that the parking issues could have on local shops.
The CRAP leaflet breaks down the area of Hay street by street, in most cases recommending that residents support the scheme, but add on the form that the charges are far too expensive. The exception is for Lion Street and Heol-y-Dwr. Here they suggest: "SUPPORT THIS PROPOSAL and you will enjoy less pressure on your current parking and extra residents' parking outside the Drill Hall. REJECT THE PROPOSAL and cars belonging to residents, particularly those owning more than one vehicle; visitors' cars and those owned by employees of local businesses, driven out of restricted areas will put even more pressure on the parking spaces available to you."
CRAP also says, more generally: "The proposals are far from ideal and the permit cost iniquitous BUT this is the last opportunity to get residents' parking for Hay and as it is a trial, some details can be sorted out later.
Powys County Council needs more than 50% approval for the scheme to go ahead.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Small Business Saturday

Belle Books, tucked away behind Rose's Bookshop near the clock tower. The proprietor, Brian, named it after the elder of his two Staffies, and has a great interest in military history and old science fiction, among other things.
Previously, the building was Outcast Books.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Council Meeting - Cuts and Planning Issues

Plans for the new school seem to have become bogged down again at the County Council level. However, there was an interesting bit of history mentioned as they untangle who originally owned what. The community centre was originally owned by Breconshire Council, and the Council Chambers, which was also the Library, was owned by Hay UDC (Urban District Council). Breconshire Council built the present library in the 1970s.
There was a sense of regret that the old Hay council hadn't hung on to the car park - because if they had, the town would get all the revenue from it, rather than the County Council!

The County Council are also failing to reply to Hay Council about the public toilets - Nigel the town clerk sent a letter on 19th Sept and hasn't had an answer yet. He has, however, had to declare an interest on the part of Hay council in taking over the toilets and running them. If he hadn't done that, they would be closed now. As it is, they will remain open until 31st December. The County Council say it costs £26,000 a year to keep a toilet block open (but somehow it could be done for £10,000, which makes one wonder why they aren't doing it for less). Gareth has been talking to Talgarth Council, to see it Hay and Talgarth could combine forces and have a cleaning contract for the toilets between them. It would be cheaper if done for more toilet blocks - (but isn't that what a County Council is for - doing the things that town councils can't do well on their own?).
The Craft Centre was built by the Welsh Development Agency, and the toilets there could be said to be part of the car park provision, so there is an argument there for keeping them open.
Nigel Birch suggested a protest against the closures in which a group of old ladies would drop their knickers in the car park! And at the end of the meeting Ellie Spencer suggested a new campaign - Save Hay's Important Toilets!
The County Councillor responsible for all this, by the way, is Barry Thomas.
Gareth pointed out that the furore over the toilets is only the tip of the iceberg. Closing them will save the County Council only 1% of the amount they need to cut.

On to planning matters, and as part of the G4 mobile phone network being rolled out across Wales a mobile phone mast has been applied for along the A470. Councillors weren't optimistic about objecting to it - after all, it didn't make any difference last time.
Hay Council has also been contacted by Clyro and Painscastle councils about the application for a wind turbine on Cold Blow, (a very apt name!). Again, the Hay councillors didn't want to get involved, especially as the wind turbine will not be visible from Hay. (I've seen the planning application map, and the turbine is tucked away just about as far from anything as it can possibly be). There is already a Facebook page for a group called Say No to Clyro Turbine.
At the new houses in de Breos Court, the softwood frames of the windows are already rotting, and there has been an application from one of the houses to replace them with PVC frames. Alan Powell said it would make no visual difference to the properties (he would know, as a carpenter).
Work on the Cheesemarket will be going on until February, but the scaffolding will be coming down for the Food Fair at the end of this month.

And finally, something far more enjoyable! Someone wants to donate a vintage fire appliance to Hay, as it originally came from Hay Fire Station! It was the hand pumped, horse drawn one, and needs restoration. Alan Powell is going to have a look at it, and it was thought it would be a great addition to the town's resources, and possibly the local Vintage Society would be interested in becoming involved.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Council Meeting - "Dear Father Christmas...." and Volunteers

It's not that long until Christmas, and so one of the important tasks of the evening was to organise the Senior Citizens' Christmas party. This will be at the Swan on Tuesday 10th December at 1pm, and every house in Hay has had a leaflet so nobody is left out - and so invitations are not sent to people who are no longer with us. Dial-a-Ride are acting as the point of contact, as their office is open more often than the Town Clerk's and they can pick people up to take them to the Swan. There was mention of Bingo, and possibly the school choir. There was also mention of limiting the amount of wine available, after several people almost fell over last year!

It's Nigel Birch's turn to write the council's half page feature in the Wye Local for Christmas - a job which he accepted very reluctantly! And started writing on the spot with the words "Dear Father Christmas...."
Ellie Spencer did it last time, but the times given for the Remembrance Day parade were wrong, because Father Richard changed it after the article went to press. The correct time for the Parade will be 2.30pm on Sunday 10th November. Earlier on Monday, Gareth spent an hour cleaning the cenotaph.
St Mary's has also applied to the Recycling Fund for £500 towards the toilets they want to have at the back of the church, and this was agreed.

Also discussed was a TV programme about affordable housing which featured timber framed houses that could be built for £75,000, which included environmentally sustainable features like solar panels, which could be something for the affordable housing group to consider.

Hay Together put in a tender to provide volunteer services for Hay, now that the Community Support is no longer in existence, and PAVO have given them the contract. Ellie Spencer will be working for them for two days a week (Thursdays and Fridays) at the Hub in the Castle, and there will be someone else in the office there on Tuesdays. This will be an entirely new contract, and not taking over what the Community Support were doing, so they are starting off by finding out exactly what volunteer services are needed in Hay. One of the things they have to think about is how to offer volunteering experiences to "difficult" groups like ex-offenders, and people with mental health problems. As a lot of work needs to be done on the Bailey Walk and down by the riverside, this might be something that Hay Together could look at as a volunteering opportunity.
Betty Maura-Cooper was among the members of the public at the meeting, on behalf of the Community Support, and she said that their job had basically been made impossible by the demands put on them by PAVO - who wanted them to find 40 new volunteers, some of them from a certain age group, while at the same time cutting the funding by over 8%. This bore no relation to what was actually needed in Hay; it was just a numbers game and box ticking exercise. She was concerned that Hay Together were taking on something that would become difficult to make work.
Meanwhile the Powys Probation Service are looking for work for their volunteers to do, but it seems that they are only able to do work on Council properties, which may be something to do with insurance cover.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Council Meeting - A Safe Place to Live

There were only seven councillors at the monthly meeting last night, including Mr Gittins, the newest councillor - the ombudsman decided that the rules had been followed and he was allowed to be a Hay councillor after all. There was some annoyance that a letter had been printed in the Brecon and Radnor about the numbers of people who had voted for the new councillors as opposed to the existing councillors - Nigel the town clerk contacted them to say the numbers were inaccurate, and gave the correct figures, but the Brecon and Radnor didn't print that, but there wasn't much enthusiasm for chasing up the B&R for a correction now.

The election of new councillors to fill the places left vacant by the resignation of Rhona Muirhead and Sue Felgate will be held sometime towards the end of December. The Community Centre, which is usually the Polling Station, is no longer suitable - it has deteriorated somewhat since it has closed - so other sites are being looked at and the front runner seems to be the Bowls Club, which has the space and the parking to make it convenient.

Inspector Scrace, the temporary Inspector for Breconshire (though he hopes to become permanent) had been invited to speak. There hasn't been a police report for some time, as PC Fion Thomas was ill, and then went off to work on a wildlife crime job - something he is apparently very good at - so Insp. Scrace was able to give a few up to date figures.
Powys Police are the best in the UK in detecting crimes, but their priority is prevention, and it seems to be working.
There were 16 violent crimes in the Breconshire area since April this year - and last year there were 37.
There were 21 sexual offences this year, and 41 last year.
There were 12 burglaries this year - two of houses and the rest of sheds - and 14 last year, with two being of houses again.
There were 22 thefts this year, including shoplifting, and 22 last year.
So not such an improvement there, but these are crimes that are hard to solve.
There were 31 cases of criminal damage this year, compared to 46 last year.
There were 26 drugs offences this year, of which five were for trafficking and 18 were for cannabis possession - I missed the figures for last year.
There were 174 complaints about anti-social behaviour this year, including boy racers, compared to 232 last year.
The presence of a PCSO has helped a lot around Hay. The present PCSO is Helen Scott, and everyone agreed it was good to see her out and about. The Inspector is also keen to see the PCs out and about, rather than centralised in Brecon Police Station waiting to be called out. He said that one of their priorities is policing the border between Wales and the West Mercia police area, because it was fairly common for criminals to come across and then disappear back to England.

While the Inspector was available, he was asked about dog fouling - but said that getting PCSOs to issue fixed penalty fines was not a priority for them. Another option that Ellie Spencer has been exploring is to give the Traffic Wardens the ability to issue fixed penalties (which are now £80), as well as to recruit dog walkers to become volunteer community dog wardens, to give out poo bags where necessary and report on people who allow their dogs to foul the paths. The volunteering wouldn't mean doing anything they weren't already doing, as it would just mean taking notice of other dog walkers when they went out normally with their dogs, but they would have training from Keep Wales Tidy. There is a scheme running in Hereford which covers dog fouling, fly tipping and graffiti, and they have been talking to Ellie, too.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Bridge Club

I'm feeling slightly guilty, because I met Gwyneth in the Library about a month ago and promised to mention this - and I'm only now getting round to it.
Gwyneth has set up a Bridge Club, which meets on Monday afternoons from 2pm to 5pm at the Bowling Club. It's not meant to be competitive - just a pleasant afternoon of card playing and socialising.
It's not really my sort of thing - I did learn to play bridge, at Sixth Form College, but I wasn't very good at it, and I have now forgotten all the rules. One of the tutors set up a lunchtime club, with the idea that the ability to play bridge would help students "get on" in life. On the whole, I think the Gilbert and Sullivan society was more fun for me.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Small Business Saturday

Belmont House B&B - they also sell surplus veg from their garden on a table by the front gate.

Quick Service!

On 10th July, I wrote about the day trip to Bath that I went on with the Traveller's Club. While I was there, I found a wonderful tea shop called the Bath Tea Emporium, and tried some of their Russian Caravan Tea.
When I went up to Lincoln for the Steampunk Asylum in September, I found another wonderful tea shop, and bought some more Russian Caravan Tea.
Yesterday, I was down to the last spoonful - but which shop should I order more from?
I decided to try the Bath shop first, since I'd found it first, and ordered some more Russian Caravan Tea and some Bath Breakfast tea.
I had a bit of a lie in this morning, as it's my day off - and the postman brought a small package just as I was getting breakfast ready. It was the tea, just in time for my first cup of the day!
That's what you call good service!

Friday, 1 November 2013

Stand Up for Timbuktu

That's what the Globe will be doing tomorrow, with a whole day of celebrations.
Hay Theatre will be holding a "fully participatory" workshop to start with, leading up to an actual performance in the afternoon.
Later there will be stalls in the main chapel building selling arts and crafts and sweets and so on.
And the evening starts off downstairs with comedians from 6pm, followed later by Sheelanagig, and finishing off with DJ Aubrey Fry.
So I'll probably be bimbling down there in the early afternoon to see what's on offer.