Sunday, 31 August 2014

Persimmon Homes at Gypsy Castle

More housing for Hay, it seems, as Persimmon Homes have put a flyer in the latest Wye Local to advertise a public consultation on proposed new houses off Gypsy Castle Lane. The site is at present a field on the edge of town. They will be at the Parish Hall from 12 noon to 7pm on Wednesday 10th September. Comments on the plans are invited until 26th September.
I wonder how these plans fit in with the Local Development Plan.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Small Business Saturday

Llewelyn and Co, at the end of High Town. Before the home furnishings, this shop sold chocolates for a while.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Going Round Some Strange Bends

There have been diversions on the roads around Hardwicke all week, as the roads are mended. It's been leading the buses up some very narrow lanes, and apparently, if you want to go to Hardwicke from Hay, you have to go all the way to Hereford and get a special shuttle bus back!
I've seen a couple of confused customers in the shop, who weren't sure where they were, and had taken a lot longer to get to Hay than they bargained for. It seems that Hardwicke is a real bottle-neck on the route to Hay from Hereford via the Golden Valley, and the only alternative routes are single track. Not very easy for a bus to get round.
I was thinking of going into Hereford again tomorrow - I still need printing ink that I can't get in Hay (the replacement cartridge didn't work either - if the next one doesn't work, I'll have to assume that it's the printer that's at fault). They may have finished the work on the road by then, but I'll take emergency rations along just in case!

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Events in September

On one side of the border, there's h.Art coming up from 6th to the 14th September, with open studios, exhibitions and workshops all over Herefordshire. Right here in Hay we have the Caemawr Studio opening, on the lane down to the Offa's Dyke path near the car park, and opposite the Castle. There's a picture of Hay Castle, painted by Gaynor Funnell, in the brochure, along with a portrait by Eugene Fisk. Other artists are Sarah Putt, Mary Simpson and Tracy Thursfield - all of them worth a look.
Meanwhile in Glasbury, at the River Cafe, Sophie Windham is exhibiting her paintings, and in Clifford at Walkers Cottage there are paintings and drawings by Veronique Avon, Ellie Ling, and Martina Jirankova-Limbrick. They're doing refreshments in the cottage garden, too.
Also in Clifford is Chris Armstrong, the furniture maker, sharing The Workshop at Paddock House with Benjamin Hills, and over the river in Brilley is Maureen Richardson with her paper and jewellery from found materials.
And in Brecknock at the same time, it's History Week. Hay is taking part in this over the weekend of 5th to the 7th September, with a showing of the film Resistance, and several World War I and II events, as well as vintage stalls, a Hay Castle open day and a pop-up museum.
And later in the month, we will have visitors from Timbuktu again, in the shape of the Malian Honorary Consul. There will also be a film night at the Globe, and shops around town are being asked to have Malian themed windows, as they did last September (I wonder where those Malian flags went....).

Monday, 25 August 2014

Exhibition at Hereford Library, and Fire Engines

I wasn't only enjoying myself at the Flavours of Herefordshire Festival on Saturday - I also found time to visit the World War One exhibition at Hereford Library, where two little girls were playing at nurses in the military tent that had been set up in the exhibition space. There were lots of exhibits relating the war to the local area, too - Herefordshire was an important place for feeding the nation in a time of national shortages. There's a permanent exhibition of paintings by a local artist who served in the First World War (I'm afraid I forget his name) and I'm sure there were more paintings on display than there normally are.

And, back in the main square, the firemen were collecting signatures for their petition to keep both fire engines for Hereford. Because one fire engine really isn't enough for the city.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Flavours of Herefordshire

I went into Hereford yesterday to get some new ink for my printer (so I can print off some of the photos I took at WorldCon). It seemed a bit quiet for a Saturday in August in the middle of town, but then a chap on the organic veg stall on the market in the middle of town told me it was the first day of the Flavours of Herefordshire Festival on Castle Green.
That's where all the people were, and what a lovely bonus to the trip it was!
The Castle Green was covered in tents and stalls, and there was a stage where music was being performed (two girls and a guitar when I was passing). One tent was a stage for celebrity guests - Mary Berry was there doing cookery demonstrations and book signings. Waitrose were there too, advertising their new shop in the Old Market. There were wood-fired pizzas and Afro-Caribbean food and coffee, and lots of tables and chairs out in the sunshine.
I wandered up and down the big U-shaped tent, taking it all in - the bread and meat and ice cream and chocolate and French garlic and jams and pickles and coffee and sausage rolls and biscuits and a stall full of handmade wooden trays and dippers and spoons and bowls that made the re-enactor part of my brain light up in appreciation. I bought some slices of layered pies, and a raspberry pavlova ice cream cone (I'm not a great fan of raspberries, but somehow in ice cream it's the taste of childhood!). I stopped by the Indian food stall and soaked up the scent of the spices.
Outside, I treated myself to a tshirt from Wye Valley Brewery - and one for my Young Man, for Christmas.
This is the third year that the Festival has been on - it's still on tomorrow, and well worth a look.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Friday, 22 August 2014

Sitting in the Iron Throne

I had a wonderful opportunity to combine two completely disparate fandoms on the Friday of WorldCon. Here I am as Captain Marvel, the comic book heroine, sitting on the Iron Throne of Westeros from the Game of Thrones series.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Back from WorldCon, Exhausted and Happy!

It's been fantastic! WorldCon is like Hay Festival, but for SF and fantasy fans. LonCon3 has been the biggest ever, with over ten thousand members. The writers and artists mingle with the con-goers, and over the five days there were something like 900 events, mostly talks, but also theatre productions (the world premiere of The Anubis Gates, by Tim Powers, for instance) a classical concert, a huge art show, dealers room, and a "fan village" where people could chill out and go to the bar, and let their kids play safely - there was also tai chi in the mornings, and a Stroll with the Stars outside the venue.
It isn't like ComicCon, where lots of people come in costume, but there were some costumes about. This is me and my Young Man as Inspector LeBrock of Scotland Yard and his (first) girlfriend, the Divine Sarah. One of the highlights of the Con was meeting the creator of these characters, Bryan Talbot, who took our photo for his blog! (this picture is taken by our friend Becky Probert). We also got Hall Costume Awards!
It also isn't like ComicCons in that WorldCon is organised and run by fans, for fans. Which meant that it ran extremely smoothly, because everyone wanted to do their best, and everyone was friendly, and it was a lovely atmosphere all round. It's also geared towards sharing enthusiasms and knowledge, rather than trying to find every opportunity possible to make the fans pay for stuff - all the signings are free at WorldCon, for instance, as they are at Hay Festival. At ComicCons there is always a charge, sometimes quite high.
I'll be talking in a lot more detail about the Con over on my other blog, Morwenna's Tower, over the next few days, and maybe posting a few more photos here.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Sunday Bus Saved!

I'm just back from a fantastic and awesome week in London - and to excellent news!
It seems that the efforts of the Hay Tourism Group, together with the Chamber of Commerce, Rail for Herefordshire and Herefordshire Ramblers, have paid off, and there will be a Sunday service when the present one finishes at the end of September.
The new bus will be called Hay Ho, and will run three return services from Hay to Hereford on Sundays, which will be timed to better connect with rail services.
So well done to everyone who has worked so hard to retain a Sunday service, especially Anna from Drover Holidays!

Monday, 11 August 2014

Off to WorldCon!

I'm very excited - I'll be away for the next week or so at the World Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention (and the Great British Beer Festival) with my Young Man.
So here's something to look at while I'm away - one of the Guests of Honour at WorldCon is Bryan Talbot, who wrote and illustrated (among other things) the Grandville graphic novels.
At some point during the weekend, my Young Man will be dressed as Inspector LeBrock of Scotland Yard, and I will be his girlfriend the Divine Sarah - and this is what we will look like (but without the big guns - there's quite a strict weapons policy at the Con):

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Bryngwyn Church Fete

I had no idea I knew so many people involved with Bryngwyn Church! They took over the Buttermarket yesterday. I bought some focaccia from Kate the Bread, and the man with the pole lathe was working away, and there were a couple of people manning stalls of crockery and nick-nacks that I stopped to talk to on my way through. They even had tables set out with little vases of sweet peas, and were doing teas - and bacon buns which I was told were delicious.
Round at the Cheesemarket there was old furniture, interesting odds and ends and a lady with a spinning wheel selling hand spun and plant dyed wool. Freddie the cat had settled himself down on one of the chairs. Here's Freddie during the Hay Festival, making himself at home at one of the stalls in the market place.

Meanwhile this week, it's Brecon Jazz and the Sunday service on Radio 4 was broadcast from Brecon Cathedral, with jazz accompaniment. It was also the Steam Rally today - so it's a pity that the weather was so poor for it.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Small Business Saturday

The third of Hay's four charity shops - Oxfam.

Friday, 8 August 2014

More Bread

Often, on Thursdays, when I go through town on my lunch hour and pass Alex Gooch's bread stall by the clock tower, there is no bread left. Sometimes I'm lucky, and there's some foccacia or a few loaves. One week, I caught up with them in Hereford, where they've started to go to the food market on Fridays.
Yesterday, there were several loaves left, of different sorts - I had the white sourdough - and the chap who runs the stall said that they'd baked a lot more bread this week. "It was getting silly," he said. "We were running out by half past eleven."

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Dowsing at Mouse Castle

I went back up to Mouse Castle over the weekend, on a lovely day with just a hint of rain in the air. It was the Pagan festival of Lammas, or Lughnasadh, celebrating the beginning of the harvest season traditionally. So I thought that mucking about with a dowsing pendulum would be an appropriate thing to do. I also took the heel of a loaf with me - lammas means "loaf mass" and it's a traditional offering. I left it by the spring.
Up on top of the hill, I studied my notes from the British Dowsers Society (, which recommend that you first ask permission to dowse of the Spirit of the Place. Since the pendulum started swinging in a circle, I reckoned I was good to go, so I went round to the north of the castle site, where we'd picked up 'unusual vibrations' before, and had a go.
According to TC Lethbridge's experiments (I found the list I'd copied out of his book about twenty years ago, as well as tracking down a list online) a 40 inch long string should give a reading for the direction north, and so it proved. From swinging back and forth in a straight line, the pendulum started to swing in a circle. Then I shortened the string to see what else I could pick up. There was nothing for water (26 and a half inches), and I didn't see the point of trying for concrete or glass or the colour purple - but there was a very strong reaction for what TC Lethbridge labelled as "psychic potential". What that may mean, I'm not sure, but it was very definite.
I wondered if there would be any reaction if I moved round to the other side of the castle mound - in case there was a line running back towards Cusop Hill to the south - but the results round there were wishy washy at best. I just about got a reading for "south" (20 inches).
I also noticed that a fox has been using an old tree stump to mark his territory - fox poo is quite distinctive.
So that was all interesting, and a good excuse to make the walk up to the hill again - but I'm not sure that it tells me anything more about the earthworks there.

Monday, 4 August 2014

New Rubbish Regime

New plastic boxes were delivered today to houses, such as mine, which had been using the plastic bags of various colours for their recycling. As it happens, the space I was using in my kitchen for storing the recycling is just about the right size for the new boxes, but I don't know how some other people will manage.
I now have a Red Box for plastic and cans, a Blue Box for paper and card and an Aqua Box for glass - this is quite good, because it means I no longer have to load up the old shopping trolley and go down to the recycling bins in the car park when I have too many beer bottles. I already have the Green Box for food waste.
There's a handy little leaflet in English and Welsh to tell me what I can put in my new boxes - I'll be putting that up on the kitchen wall.
Just one thing bothers me - what on earth am I supposed to do with the rolls of plastic bags that the County Council supplied me with?

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Bronllys Hospital Meeting

More properly, it's the Powys Health and Well Being Action Group, but that's a bit of a mouthful, and what they're actually going to be discussing are plans to keep Bronllys Hospital open and at the heart of health care in this area.
They'll be at Tomatitos in Hay tomorrow, Monday 4th August, at 7.30pm.
They have been meeting with Bob Hudson, the Chief Executive of Powys Health Board, and have another meeting booked for the 11th August, so they want to finalise the details of what they'll say to him then.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Small Business Saturday

Goosey Ganders, specialising in chandeliers and garden statues. The goose sculptures over the window are called Gilbert and George.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Beautiful Black Lion Green

Here's a picture of Black Lion Green with the new stone bench, and the newly painted bridge - a lovely place to sit and contemplate nature.

And here's the view from the bridge, showing the retaining wall that has been built where all the weeds used to be.