Saturday, 28 February 2015

Small Business Saturday

Lucinda's hairdressers.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Fairtrade Evening

As part of Fairtrade Fortnight, there's an event at Tomatitos on Monday which looks interesting, and one of the speakers has come all the way from Malawi!

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Stories about the Castle?

The Hay Castle Trust are trying to collect any stories local people might know about the Castle and things that have happened there. They're also interested in old photos and documents relating to the Castle, which can be dropped in at the Castle office, or emailed on
It's nice to see that part of the plan for the building includes a library, archive and study centre, along with the exhibition space and cafe.
They're also planning an auction of local art to raise more money for the restoration project, with details to be released soon.

Monday, 23 February 2015

The Missing Bench, and other Mysteries

I've been watching the workmen install the new green box on the road outside the Cinema Bookshop, which is supposed to give Hay better, faster broadband. To do this, they removed the bench and rubbish bin, which were useful for people walking up from the Gypsy Castle end of town into the centre. They were planning to re-install it underneath Fiona Howard's front window, which she wasn't too happy about - but it's just vanished. The workmen have departed - and no bench or rubbish bin has re-appeared.

Something else which hasn't appeared yet is the questionnaire that the Town Council were planning to deliver all around town, to find out what the people of Hay want for the future. It was supposed to be done last week, if they wanted the grant money for it.

A colleague at work told me that she'd been informed that the parking permit scheme won't be starting on 1st March as planned, either - though when I went to the County Council website I couldn't find any information about it at all. So I don't know what's happened to that. I don't have a car, so it's not something that I get to know about automatically.

And finally, Broad Street will be closed in the evenings from this Saturday. This is the re-surfacing work which was supposed to be done last year, but which was put off. The work is supposed to take a week, working up till 10 o'clock at night every night.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Renovating the Castle

I didn't book for either of the two talks in the castle, being given by the architects who have been given the job of renovating the Castle, but I did wander in while my washing was in the launderette to see the plans - which will be on display in Booth's bookshop this coming week.
It all seems very impressive.
They want to open up the original Castle gate, the one that's presently being held up with a wooden prop that's been there since 1992. I know this because I was involved in putting it there when I worked for Richard Booth and still thought of myself as a professional archaeologist - it was only supposed to be a temporary stop-gap until something more permanent was sorted out. They want to have steps down to the square, as there were before the Cenotaph got moved there, to link up the Castle grounds with the town better, so that it's more convenient to hold events in there. There will also be an accessible ramp going over the garden terraces somehow.
I met one of the ladies who had booked for the afternoon talk that morning, in the square, when she was squinting up at the gateway - in particular the crack in the gateway that needs urgent attention. She said she was going to bring that up at the talk.
The log fire was blazing away nicely in the back of the hall, and I met one of the architects there, warming up before he went to the other end of the room, which has a distinctly chilly draught. It was nice to see such enthusiasm for the project - after all, this is one of my favourite castles. He said that it was difficult to find a continuous history of the castle anywhere. There are highlights here and there where quite a lot is known about the occupants, but also periods where nothing much is recorded. I thought what a shame it was that we've lost Rob Soldat, the local storyteller and historian, who knew everything there was to know about the castle and the people who have lived there.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Small Business Saturday

Hay-on-Wye Booksellers, in one of the older buildings in town - actually two older buildings, full of old beams. They go back a long way as they are on burgage plots, part of the medieval layout of the town, which were always long and narrow, with a shop at the front and garden at the back.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

The Tea Ladies are Back!

Fairtrade Fortnight is coming up - so next Thursday, the Tea Ladies are back! They will be dispensing free Fairtrade tea from their tea trolley around the Thursday market.
This was great fun last time (I'm in this picture, as Cissy, together with a well-known bookseller and members of the Fairtrade team).
So here's a good chance to find out just how good Fairtrade teas are!

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Hooray for the Hay Handbook!

So, I have this sofa, which my mum gave me. There's nothing wrong with it - it's a nice sofa (just not really my taste), but it no longer has a fire safety label. This means that most of the charities which take furniture won't touch it with a barge pole. Apparently there is new legislation on the matter.
So I was starting to think that my only option was to pay for the Council to take it away, which might mean a perfectly good sofa going into landfill. I'd already tried Freecycle and Freegle, but loads of people are trying to get rid of sofas at the moment. While I was looking through my magazine rack for an old Red Kite with all the Council numbers in it, I came across something that I had totally forgotten - the Hay Handbook! And near the back there were a couple of phone numbers that I hadn't tried yet for recycling furniture. So many thanks to Full House (, who will be coming on Tuesday. They provide furniture for low income families in the Hereford area at a low cost, so the sofa will be going to a good home!
And thanks, of course, to Hay Together, without whose work on the Hay Handbook I would never have found out about this local charity.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Small Business Sunday

McCartneys estate agents (and just on the edge of the picture is the HSBC bank, an organisation which is gaining some notoriety in the news lately regarding tax evasion and other financial misdemeanours).

Saturday, 14 February 2015

Happy Valentine's Day

Behind the reflection, there's a great big heart!

Friday, 13 February 2015

A Castle for the Future

This looks interesting.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Cheaper Electricity

There's a title to get people's attention!
Transition Hay have shared this information, which they got from Llangattock Green Valleys:

Residents in Powys are being encouraged to join forces to get a better energy deal through an energy switching scheme.

Cyd Cymru / Wales Together is the collective energy switching scheme for Wales. Registration for the scheme is now open and Powys County Council is encouraging residents to register and get a better energy deal.

Free registration for the scheme is available online at or by telephoning 0800 093 5902. Households will be asked to provide information about their energy use from their bills. Those who registered will then be provided with a ‘no obligation' personal tariff offer.

Householders will receive information which will allow them to see how the Cyd Cymru offer compares with other best market tariffs on offer prior to deciding to switch.

There is no obligation to switch after receiving an offer, however anyone who chooses to switch will be assisted to do so by our partner the energyhelpline.

For every person who switches energy suppliers through Cyd Cymru a contribution will be made to a Community Fund. This fund will be shared amongst local authorities lending their support to the scheme and ring-fenced for fuel poverty related work and projects in their local area."

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

The Great Antique Map of Britain

I've just been watching the Hay-on-Wye edition on iPlayer, and what a fun programme it is! The silver caravan for the programme was parked up at the Castle during Hay Festival last year, so there are plenty of shots of the crowds of Festival goers thronging the streets and the Festival ground.
Diana looks fantastic in her Welsh costume and there was also an interview with King Richard - in 2014 and in 1964 when he was just starting out. What fascinated me about the 1960s film was how little the shops in Hay have changed! There was also a bit of footage from the 1970s, when Richard Booth declared independence (but I was rather distracted by a woman running down the Pavement behind the reporter - what was she up to?).
Also in the programme is the toll bridge on the other side of Clifford, celebrating its 240th anniversary, and the Hereford trow, which took part in the great flotilla of ships on the Thames in 2012 for the Queen.
The programme is available for the next month on iPlayer.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Bronllys Park/Hospital Meeting

There will be a meeting at Hay School on Wednesday 11th February, at 7.30pm, with all the latest information about Bronllys Park, "our Well Being Park with our Community Hospital at the Centre of it".
Basically, this is the new name for the area presently occupied by Bronllys Hospital, and is a way of retaining the services there, and improving them for the future. We already have the Haygarth Doctors taking over Llewelyn Ward, and the team who have been working on this want to check with the public that they are still moving along on the right lines. They're also looking for more people to help, and to find out if anyone out there has knowledge of people or organisations they can contact to further develop plans for the Park/Hospital.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Council Meeting - the other bits

There's a questionnaire coming out this coming week (rushed out to take advantage of National Park funding) to find out what residents want for the future of Hay. They'll be delivered by hand any day now, and there will be drop off boxes around town to collect them. Someone mentioned that a 20% return rate would be good going. The results will be used to create a document which the Town Council can use to demonstrate to the County Council and National Park where there is strong feeling about local issues.

There was a meeting in Talgarth last Wednesday about extending the Hay Ho Sunday bus service through Talgarth to Brecon, the original route of the Sunday bus. None of the councillors could get to the meeting, but they were interested in hearing the plans and wanted to invite someone to make a presentation to the Council soon.

The Warren Trustees, meanwhile, are celebrating the successful purchase of the land and fishing rights along the river with an evening at the Black Lion tomorrow.

On Friday there was a tour round the Castle to which councillors were invited, with the architect, to show the plans for the work that is being proposed now that they have their grant money.

The running of the Town Clock, which Steve Like considers should be a National Monument, was discussed - it seems that the fee for winding the clock (paid for by Powys) hasn't gone up since the 1970s! A company from Derby services the clock.

The new Tourist Information Office has now opened, and they have applied to the recycling fund for help with sorting the shop out.

The Residents' Parking Scheme starts on 1st March. Also, the councillors want to get their hands on the traffic warden's rota - after complaining about the frequency of traffic warden visits to Hay, they disappeared for a while, but now they're back, and Fiona Howard complained that parents who had dropped their children off at school, and had stayed a few moments longer to speak to teachers, had been ticketted.

Rubbish collection might be cut to once every three weeks, due to cuts (but nothing's settled yet).
Which led to one councillor suggesting that PAVO could be done away with, and that would save the County Council some money.
The Town Council also want to invite Roger Williams, MP and Kirsty Williams, AM, to a special meeting to discuss what the Welsh Assembly require by law and the cuts to services that the County Council want to impose, which may conflict with that - though another councillor said that it had been done before, and nothing useful had come of it.
The new councillor suggested that the regular piece that is written for WyeLocal should be about the difficulties of making decisions about next year's budget.

There was another suggestion that a new school could have been built by now just across the bridge - but nobody in the County Council was thinking outside the box. Hay School is doing well academically - they are in the green band of attainment, which means "highly effective". Now, if only they could get a new building....
Meanwhile, the funding of secondary schools is being looked at seriously - and although Gwernyfed is one of the best in Powys, and therefore fairly safe, a school somewhere in Powys will probably have to close.
The Gwernyfed Sports Facilities are due to be transferred - to the school from the County Council - at the end of March, and it's a difficult time for the staff, because none of them knows whether they'll have a job in April. The school is ready for the transfer of assets, but (as ever) is waiting for the County Council.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Small Business Saturday

Mayall's jewellery and clocks - one of the oldest businesses in Hay.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Council Meeting - Hay will be Running Things for itself

There's been a meeting between councillors and the different sports clubs that use the Pavilion on Brecon Road. Shortly, the County Council will be giving the running of the Pavilion over to the clubs that use it, or the Town Council, or whoever is willing to step up and take over - but the impression that the councillors got at the meeting was that members of the clubs don't seem to recognise the seriousness of the situation. Some of them were asking if they couldn't just contribute for half the year, if their club only met in the summer, for instance (though the Pavilion and the sports fields are there year round, and need to be maintained year round).
There are also statutory requirements that need to be met, such as a chap coming out from the County Council to check on the asbestos in the building, and to turn all the taps and showers on once a week to prevent health problems (I think this is to do with Legionnaire's Disease). The fire extinguishers need to be checked annually too.
What they need is a definitive list of the responsibilities for the building, because every time they go back to the County Council, something new seems to be added. They also need a definitive cost for the running of the Pavilion.
There is an option for the Town Council to take over the running of the Pavilion, but in that case certain grants would not be available.
If no-one is willing to take on the running, the land would be sold.
There was some annoyance earlier in the meeting, when they were discussing the annual audit of the Town Council's accounts and how it has to be changed to comply with new rules. The Town Council has to be totally transparent and account for every penny (which is good) but it's almost impossible to get a straight answer on finances out of the County Council, which should be that much more responsible about transparancy and accounting for every penny because it's handling so much more money than the Town Councils. This has been the case with the toilets as well as the Sports Pavilion.

Meanwhile, the situation with the Council Chambers seems to be that the building will be transferred back to the ownership of the Town Council, but if they ever want to sell it in future, the profit will go back to the County Council (though looking at the state of the records going back to the 1970s and the disputes about who owned what, all they have to do is wait long enough and everyone will forget who gets the profits and the records will be lost or hidden in some obscure corner of the Archives anyway).
At any rate, retaining the present building will be better than the councillors camping out in a classroom of the new school to have their meetings - if the school ever gets built. The present estimate is 2017, and a lady contacted Gareth Ratcliffe's Facebook page to tell him how angry she was that Llanigon School had been closed down without the new Hay School in place to take the children.
It seems, too, that there are doubts about whether the Library will be transferred into the new school building, too. For the next two years, there are contingency plans being discussed. The County Council want to cut Hay Library's hours by 20%. Gareth was unable to go into detail, but it seems there is a group that might be willing to help to keep the Library open for the existing timetable, but they also want to look at the hours and see if they can change the opening to the times when most people want to use the Library. This would be done with the help of Jayne the Librarian. There was some worry about the main Library in Brecon, but that wasn't discussed as it's outside the remit of Hay Council.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Council Meeting - Signs and Memorials, toilets and speeding cars

There are plans to put up some new fingerpost signs around town - there's a grant for them of £10,000. Gareth has been looking at different designs, in oak and metal. They would point to "Town Centre" and "The Warren" and so on, and would perhaps provide pointers for a circular walk around Hay. He'll be looking for local companies to provide quotes, but brought along some pictures of the sort of thing that could be done.
Meanwhile, down on the Gliss, there are plans for signs too, including interpretative signs, such as showing the different sorts of butterflies that can be seen there. There were several grumpy comments about having to have bilingual signs, and couldn't the Welsh be really small? Another sign to be put up down there would be the Environmental Agency's Code of Conduct.
Down at the picnic area, Alan and Rob noticed how horrible the dog fouling is, and it was suggested that a fence be put up along the edge - so that the dogs that are let off the lead at the top of the path will run straight past the picnic area, and it won't matter so much that their owners aren't picking up the poo. Rob Golesworthy said he could build a fence at cost price.
Just recently, a birch tree blew down around the picnic area. It's been tidied up, but there was a suggestion that a new one should be planted as a memorial to Nigel Birch. He served for 40 years on the council, and they feel that something should be done to mark this. However, it was pointed out that several serving councillors have died over the past few years, and nobody thought of having a memorial to any of them. Other suggestions were a plaque on a bench, or naming a road or area after Nigel. The Nigel Birch Picnic Area has quite a ring to it!
And on the subject of councillors, there is, of course another vacancy for a new one, and there will be an advert going out shortly.

Meanwhile, other matters are dragging along in the usual way - the railings at the end of Castle Street haven't been mended yet. The solicitor at Williams Beales doesn't seem to have done anything about the transfer of land from Welsh Water to the Council, and they're thinking about finding someone else. Giles hasn't done anything about the website yet.
They're still waiting for Powys County Council to respond about the toilets. The company that the Town Council are dealing with to take them over, Healthmatix (?) want another meeting to go into greater detail. There was a suggestion that a percentage of the car park income would be handed to the Town Council to fund the toilets, but it does seem to be very expensive to get everything set up - one person said that hiring portaloos would be cheaper!
The police said they couldn't come to the Council meeting - but they did have a speed trap on Newport Road to see if there was a speeding problem there. However, they did it near the entrance to Hay and Brecon Farmers, so the results could have been skewed by people slowing down to turn in to the gates. So they're going to be asked to do it again, nearer to the steep slope.

And Mac's roadsweeping vehicle has been taken away by the County Council - but he's being expected to do the same work with a broom! This is one of the areas that the County Council want to devolve onto the Town Council, and they wondered about getting a Hay roadsweeping machine, and paying a company to come and clear the drains periodically, because the County Council don't seem to do it with any regularity.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Jolly Evenings at the Rose and Crown

Before the fire, Lucy's (the Three Tuns) was the place to go where everyone who walked through the door was welcomed into a general conversation. Now, it seems, that mantle has passed to the Rose and Crown.

On Saturday, I went into Hereford (to get my train tickets for my holiday at Easter - yay!) and did an errand for Brian-with-the-Staffies while I was there. When he came round in the evening to collect his printer ink, he asked if I fancied going for a pint at the Rose and Crown.
The real ale on at the moment is Dennis Hopper from Jones the Brewer, which is very tasty.
When we arrived, Paul the landlord was sitting by the open fire on his own, but soon more people arrived, including a couple of chaps who had come down from Ludlow. They had been intending to buy a couple of mini bottles of wine to take back to their hotel room, but they ended up making an evening of it. One of the chaps was very interested in archaeology, and had dug with people from Time Team, though his day job was an A&E nurse, so we got talking about the Dorstone dig locally, and other interesting archaeology we have known. Later another lady came in, and she goes off on holidays to Egypt where she assists with the excavation of tombs. I'm not a great fan of Egyptology, but what she was doing sounded fascinating.
The other chap from Ludlow ran the student union at Birmingham University, so I was able to trot out the old story about the lead singer from Wizard being mistaken for my ex-husband (they both had impressive beards) when he was playing there.

On Monday, I was heading for home after the Council meeting (report follows shortly) when Brian called me over again - and I was still there well after closing time! That night we were talking to a chap who plays guitar, and has written a song about waiting for the train at Sidcup station - a station I know well, because my Young Man used to live there.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Diana's Moment of Fame

Or another moment of fame - she's already been interviewed on Radio 4!
The Great Antiques Map of Britain is a series coming onto BBC2 - they've only made 10 episodes, and the only episode in Wales came to Hay, where they found Diana Jones and her Welsh costume, which she wears on special occasions.
She can also be found in the Tourist Information Office (which opened in their new premises yesterday).
"I'm mentioned first," she said, when she told me. "It's rather gone to my head!"
The episode will be screened on Monday 9th February, at 6.30pm, and they'll also be visiting the toll bridge a few miles from Hay.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Coming up in February

Here's another Mally-inspired event, for Valentine's Day.

And if that doesn't interest some people, there's a talk in Dorstone on Wednesday evening at 7.30pm about the findings of the Dorstone Dig.

Or there's the Festival of British Cinema at the end of the month, from Friday 27th to Sunday 1st March, which is the opening weekend of the larger Borderlines Film Festival. one of the films on offer, The Falling, stars Maisie Williams (Arya in Game of Thrones) as a pupil at a 1960s boarding school.
One of the features of the festival will be the Picturehouse Mobile Cinema, a 36 ton articulated lorry which contains a 100 seat cinema! It'll be parked in the Oxford Road Car Park for the festival.
And Father Richard is back! After his triumphant performance accompanying Nosferatu last year, he will be playing the organ accompaniment to A Cottage on Dartmoor - a British silent classic of passion and jealousy!

There's music, too, at Booth Books. Dragonfly are a flute and harp duo who have performed there before, and they will be playing on 24th February.