Sunday, 31 May 2015

Last Day of the Festival

And here are some of the things that I forgot to mention earlier!
I went back to the Buttermarket yesterday to chat to the lady with the stall opposite Shelley and her silk scarves. Mostly, she does decoupage, on a variety of items like bowls and picture frames. She's called Jo Verity and her work can be found at
She's also recently learned the technique of taxidermy, and she had a couple of field voles and a squirrel on her stall, under glass domes, with little leather satchels and clothed like something out of Beatrix Potter - they're really quite sweet, and ethically sourced.
And the Masonic Hall wasn't just playing host to music and a beer tent over the week - they also had a collection of wooden sculptures by Danny Thomas, who does chainsaw carving - his work can be found at
It was a bit dark to see during the music there, but there were also paintings and other things made of wood in the hall.
And over on the Riverside site, there were fireworks on Friday and Saturday nights. I missed the Friday display, but saw the Saturday one from my bedroom window.
And now the tents are coming down in the Castle Gardens as the caterers pack up, and it's all over for another year.
So I had a look at the clips that the BBC have put up on their website, and wished that I could have got to see the discussion about Mary Renault and her novels about Ancient Greece, and Sandi Toksvig talking about her heroines of fiction and history, though she also seemed to find the fictional heroines rather disappointing - Jo March marrying Professor Behr instead of Laurie, and Anne of Green Gables giving up university to marry Gilbert Blythe and have eleven children, or however many it was. And several people came into the shop today saying how good Michael Morpurgo was in his talk about his picture book The Mozart Question. And I missed good music from Tinariwen, the Tuareg band from Mali, and one of my friends has been raving about how good one of the tents down of the Riverside site was, part of the How the Light Gets in festival.
But there's always next year....

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Celebrity Spotting, and an Event

It was my day off, so I wandered up through town to see what was going on. The Artisans were in the Buttermarket, including Richard with his prints and Shelley with her silk scarves - shivering in the blustery breeze that was knocking prints over and sending scarves slithering to the floor. It was sunny outside the Buttermarket.
I'd just bent down to say hello to a little dog. It must have had paralysed back legs, because it's back feet were bandaged up, and it had a little harness around its hips with a lead attatched so that the lady with it could hold its back end up. It seemed quite happy, sniffing round.
When I said hello to Richard, he pointed out that I'd just walked straight past Tony Robinson, who was with the lady and the dog.
Later in St David's Hospice shop, the lady there said that she'd seen someone famous too - "big lady, Australian, feminist...."
"Germaine Greer," I guessed.

I always go to at least one event at the Festival, and this year the one I really couldn't miss was Neil Gaiman, being interviewed by a lady from the Guardian.
He was doing a talk for the children in the morning, and I went up in the evening for the adult talk. It had been moved from the Wales Stage to the Telegraph Tent, and it was packed out.
For the first part of the evening, they talked about Terry Pratchett, and Neil told some funny stories about their collaborations and friendship, which led into a discussion of the themes of memory in Neil's own work ("I keep trying to do different things, and when I look back - there it is again, the same themes keep coming up"), and about Alzheimer's in general. He also read an extract of Good Omens - and to do this, he had to ask to borrow a copy from someone in the audience, because the Festival bookshop had run out! Before he gave it back, he signed it with a little message. The bit he read out was where the parcel delivery man delivered a parcel to Pollution, who was sitting beside a polluted river, and he said that he had written that bit, apart from 5 words from Terry, which had made it "17% funnier".
He also talked about his new collection, Trigger Warning, and read out the July story from the sequence of 12 stories (one for each month of the year) he'd done as part of a social media collaboration for Blackberry. He had tweeted questions for each month, and written a story based on the answers he got back. This one, he said, was particularly apt to be read at Hay, because it involves a man who builds an igloo of books.
The last story in the collection, Black Dog, hasn't been published anywhere else, and he was writing it right until the last day of the deadline. It's about Shadow, his character from American Gods, who he sends to an English pub. It's a pub he visited in the Peak District, with Colin Greenland, another SF author. Earlier, he had said that he spends a lot of time in the States, going to places and saying: "This is wierd." So he walked into this pub, and he said: "This is wierd - has anyone noticed we're the only people here who haven't got a lurcher with them?"
He wanted the story to involve one of those monstrous black dogs of legend, so he phoned up Colin Greenland, because he thought there wasn't a legend local to the Peak District. "Oh, you mean Old Shuck," Colin said. "You know that lane we walked along on the way back to my place from the pub? That's where he's supposed to appear to people."
"Sometimes," Neil said, "you don't have to make anything up - it's all already there."
He was asked if he would be writing any more about Shadow, and said that he would be sending him to London, where he would get involved with "certain characters from another of my books." He said no more than that - but I'm sure I wasn't the only one in the audience to make a quiet squee of delight at the thought of Shadow interacting with the Marquis de Carabas and Door and the rest of them from Neverwhere!
American Gods itself is still progressing towards being a TV series with Starz in the States - "all it needs is for the red button to be pushed to provide the money." He also said that he's been asked about writing a sequel to American Gods already, because if the series goes to three seasons, they'll run out of story, and will want to have a published book to go to in order to continue. So that's quite exciting, too.
Other questions from the audience led to talk about writing, and why The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains had never been performed here in the Black Mountains. Neil pointed out that the stage show (they had done a mini world tour) involved an Australian string quartet - the first show had been at Sydney Opera House - and he may look like a man who always has a string quartet following him around, but he isn't really, and transporting them around the world was quite expensive!
On the way home, I stopped by the Masonic Hall, where they have a beer tent outside (the only real ale was bottles of Butty Bach, so that's what I had) and music inside, with a chap doing food as well. There was a guitarist playing when I went in, followed by Mel, who performs poetry at the Globe, reading one of her poems, and then Alan Cooper went up with Di, the lady with the cello, and a chap playing a mandolin (?) who I think was called Dan James. Alan and Dan had obviously played together before - the problem was finding something that Di could join in with too. So the introduction went something like: "What shall we do first?"
"Something we all know!"
And what they did play was beautiful.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Thursday Evening

I was working late yesterday, so when I came out of the shop I had the choice of poetry with Julian Pettifer (with music from Alan Cooper and someone else) at the church, or a bluegrass band at the Old Electric Shop.
The Old Electric Shop was on my way home, so I stopped to listen to them for a bit. The windows were open, and the band were in the front part of the shop, where the cafe tables are, complete with double bass.
I've heard a report from someone who was at the Globe that the DJ for the disco was very good - and he "danced like no-one was looking".
And overnight, the rain came, though it's pretty much cleared up this morning.

And there's a strange tricycle with a curved, metallic cabinet on the back, parked outside Anima Rising, the pop-up shop on Broad Street. I couldn't get a photo of it because it's impossible to get an angle where I can see all of it at once - it's parked very close to the bushes of the garden next door - and I have no idea what the cabinet is for.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Music at Baskerville Hall

British lions on a stall in the market this morning.

Last night, we arrived at Baskerville Hall in daylight for a change, and so we noticed the stump of the great cedar in the garden, which collapsed a few years ago, has been carved beautifully, with a howling wolf made from one limb, and an eagle in flight on another.
Inside, Moriarty's Bar was full, and everyone was having fun. We met the chap who owns the Sitting Room Gallery near the Clock Tower. He'd been in the bar a few days before, and Cally behind the bar told him he should come on a Wednesday evening. He was delighted - he said he'd never seen an evening like it. I think he's going to come again.
The Canadian lady came again, with her friend, and showed her sketch book round to the people she was drawing last week. She's added water colour to the pictures, too, and she was doing more sketching over the evening.
There was a couple from Warrington there, too, who came last year - they've been staying at the Baskerville over the Festival for the past seven years. The lady sings with a jazz choir, but said she didn't sing solo. She remembered Paul and his giant bass guitar, which he made himself, from last year.
Bob brought his home made banjo in for everyone to admire, this time, and there was another banjo player, who Bob introduced as the fastest player in the universe!
As it was the Festival, I did Joyce Grenfell's The Writer of Children's Books, which seemed to go down well, and I sang until my voice cracked! I needed to belt out the songs a bit, because of the noise in the bar, but it was nice that everyone quietened down for me.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Festival Wednesday

The good weather seems to be coming to an end this evening, with blustery winds and spitting rain, but we've done quite well so far.
It's a pity that the funfair across the river hasn't been very busy - maybe it's because it costs £8 just to get on the field!
I overheard a little girl, looking at a display of Alice in Wonderland books, and asking if Lewis Carroll was giving a talk at the Festival!
(I don't think he would have been very keen to give a talk - apparently his sermons were not very good, and eventually he stopped being asked to give them).
And a chap who got lost in the Cinema Bookshop claimed to have found a lost tribe of pygmies with their shaman in the uncharted areas at the back of the shop.

Emma Balch is doing a thing on Twitter and Facebook called #thestoryofbooks, with 16 questions, such as "Where would you set the opening scene of your biography?", which book you'd take to a desert island, which book you'd like to sleep in or take a holiday in.
I don't know what she's going to do with the answers, but Narnia seems to be a popular holiday destination, and I'd like to sleep in Milly Molly Mandy's attic bedroom!

Tuesday, 26 May 2015


I went straight from work last night to St Mary's, and slipped in at the back just after they had started the musical evening. There was a lady with a cello, who will be playing Bach and Taverner later in the week, a lady singing with guitar, and Justin, also singing and guitar.
And it was absolutely lovely. The church was lit in the nave, but the choir was dark behind the performers with only a couple of candles on the altar, and the faint smell of incense in the air, and the sound of the guitars and cello were just the thing to wind down to at the end of a long day. It was beautiful. They sang a variety of songs, traditional folk and several of Justin's which I've heard him perform over at the Baskerville, finishing off with one in Welsh. At one point, they asked how long they had left, and a voice from the back (one of the organisers) said: "Carry on!"
Apparently, the organisers were let down by the performer who was originally meant to be there, so this was a last minute replacement, and they were brilliant.
There will be music in the evenings at the church all week, as well as the BBC lunchtime concerts, and of course Father Richard will be playing the organ to accompany Nosferatu and A Cottage on Dartmoor at the end of the week.

Back on the streets this afternoon, though, was one busker who would have been perfect casting for Cacafonix, the tone deaf bard from the Asterix books! I was quite relieved when he decided to move on.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Festival Monday

I've been wandering round the town, soaking up the ambience, listening to the musicians - a very good Spanish guitar player outside Spar, for instance, and a jazz band in Fair on the Square.
In the Buttermarket the CD and record sale is on today.
Both my neighbours are outside with clothes rails and tables, having fun and making some money, even though it's a lot cooler than Saturday was.
And today I've discovered The Secret Garden Tea Room, serving Painscastle Preserves round the back of Paraphernalia on Market Street, next to the Antique Centre.
Soon I go back to the Cinema for the late shift, until 9pm - and then I'll decide whether I've still got enough energy to go round to St Mary's for the Nocturne, which tonight is a folk evening. One of the performers is Justin, who goes to the Wednesday Acoustic nights at the Baskerville.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Seen Around the Festival

Brian has been making his bookshop beautiful for the festival, with new signs, a table and chairs outside, plants, and model Staffies here and there (after all, the shop is named after his favourite Staffie!). It's down near the Clock Tower, behind Rose's Bookshop.

Yesterday there were crafts in the Buttermarket, including one chap I hadn't seen before. His stall is called Iconic Delights, and he makes replica icons with modern pictures - he'll also do photos, made to look like antique paintings. Very popular with re-enactors, he said. He'd come down from Ludlow for the day.
The Fair on the Square had music going on, and stalls selling a variety of vintage items - one stall had a lot of leather footballs and boxing gloves!
The Africa Market was on today, at the Parish Hall.
Meanwhile there are rumours of a cocktail bar, hidden within one of the bookshops, down the Book Passage, perhaps?
Hay on TV are having a competition - to win an iPhone6! They want people to record their best Hay moments, during the Festival, reviews and comments on events, bars and restaurants, and are asking participants to upload their video onto Youtube and forward the url to
There have been buskers all over town, including Toby Parker, who went off to Liverpool to make his fortune! This evening there's a fiddle player, a banjo player and a guitarist outside the pop up shop in the middle of Broad Street - the shop is also having meditations throughout the week, and is selling dreamcatchers and art and vintage clothes (there are so many places in Hay to buy vintage clothes now that I never need to buy a new dress again!).
Yesterday I spent a bit of time sitting outside with my neighbour, who usually does a table sale for the Festival. I think she did quite well - she has a good eye for interesting clothes and pretty things. One couple of regular visitors who stopped for a chat were disappointed, because they'd intended to go down to the Globe, as they have on previous years, to have a drink and soak up the atmosphere, only to find that this year you need to buy a wristband to get in. So they'd come away again.
They weren't very impressed with the chippy in Talgarth that they stopped at on the way back from Llanidloes, either. They said the batter was soggy.
And last night, there was a jazz quartet on the pavement just opposite my house! Which was quite nice, actually, even though I'm not a great fan of jazz.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Small Business Saturday

Number Two Style, companion shop to the clothes shop further along the road - they sell clothes, too, but also shoes, and in the basement there are garden and home accessories, and all sorts of interesting gift-y items.
This shop used to be Grants' newsagents - he sold all sorts of other things as well, and at one time even had a china department. He also had a stuffed armadillo in the window, with a sign that claimed it had been caught in the River Wye!

Friday, 22 May 2015

Strolling round the Festival Site

I've been wandering round the town while it's still quiet enough to move - up at the Festival site it's schools day, so the Festival bookshop was full of school parties queuing to have their books signed. It's nice to overhear young teenagers talking enthusiastically about books.
The Friends of Hay Castle have a pitch this year, showing a model of the Castle with the planned renovations, and offering limited edition mugs and tea towels to anyone who wants to become a Friend. I like the way the Castle has been done with the outline full of the pages of a book, linking the history and the books of Hay together - with the birds which are the symbol of this year's Festival flying above.
Alan, of the History Group, was there, very enthusiastic about September's history weekend when they will be having someone talking about Arms and Armour at the time of Agincourt, with skirmishes, someone from Tintern talking about calligraphy, and Anne Curry giving a talk about the Battle of Agincourt. He's also looking forward to the event in Brecon on 20th June - I'm going to try to get along to both of them, in costume (though I'll have to make some adjustments to my 13thC kit to come up to date to the 15thC!)
The Hay History Group also have a pop-up mini museum at the Library over the Festival, with some of the local artefacts they've collected.

Elsewhere on the Festival site, the Barclay Wealth tent is now the Tata tent (sponsored by the Indian steel magnate) and there's a Tata stand showing some of the research projects they're involved in. Good Energy have sponsored a stage this year - last year they just had a stand.

Tents are going up in gardens again, along the Brecon Road, selling a variety of things for charities, and the Masonic Hall has food, beer and crafts on sale, with live music later - one of the performers will be Alan Cooper on his fiddle.
Back in town, there's music at the Old Electric Shop, too, and cocktails in the evening.
And in the town square, the big marquee is going up for the Fair in the Square.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

First Day of the Festival

Here's the Eve Victoria cafe, with the artificial turf - which is also on sale, on the lectern at the side. And across the road is:

the Red Cross window.

Today there were two policemen on traffic duty at the bridge, with cars and coaches backed up in three directions. I don't think I've ever seen police directing traffic during the Festival before.
For the 150th Anniversary of Alice in Wonderland, Edward Wakeling has lent out some paintings of the characters on boards - some in the window of Roses' Bookshop (with the White Queen shouting "Off with his head") and Alice at the Cinema Bookshop.
And there's a pop-up burger bar in town, and poetry at Tomatito's organised by Marva (who always finds interesting guests), and a programme of music at St Mary's, as well as the scheduled Festival silent film events, with Father Richard playing the organ.
The Black Lion has a picture of an exploding piano on the side of the building, to advertise their jazz events, and Tinto House is having an art exhibition (which may also have something to do with jazz).
So things are happening all over town, and tomorrow I'm going to be a tourist on my day off and see what's out there.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Last Minute Preparations

So the Old Electric Shop chose today to have the outside painted bright white, Eve Victoria (the candle shop and Hay's newest cafe) has had artificial turf put down outside, where they put their tables, Addyman's Annexe has only just emptied their window to put in the Festival display, and a life sized wood carving of a black bear was being trundled into the Castle Gardens, where the tents are going up. The Red Cross shop have done an imaginative window display of books, with red spines making a red cross in the middle and bunting made of pages strung across. There's a funfair by the river, and the circus, and tents up all around the Globe.
Will the toilets by the Car Park be ready in time?

Monday, 18 May 2015

Red Kite over Hay

I looked up yesterday morning to see a red kite gliding gently over Castle Street, just over the roof tops.
Those forked tails are unmistakable.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Armed Police

The police commissioner for Powys has a poll out at the moment - see
Apparently 74 police officers in Dyfed-Powys regularly carry firearms while carrying out their duties.
That's not duties that require a firearms officer - it's normal duties.
Yet this area has a low crime rate, so why on earth is it necessary?

Back in the 1970s, my dad was a police marksman with the Manchester Police. He carried firearms only when he was acting as a police marksman - the rest of the time he carried out normal duties without needing to be armed. He was also a sergeant in the CID. They didn't even have stab vests in those days! Bear in mind that this was at the height of the Troubles, and bombs were going off in Manchester town centre - a far cry from rural Wales today.

So how did we get to a situation where 74 police officers are going out armed all the time?
It would be interesting to find out how often they use their firearms, and under what circumstances.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Small Business Saturday

The King of Hay - the only shop in Hay that Richard Booth still owns. Get your Hay passports and bumper stickers here!

Friday, 15 May 2015

Council Meeting - Sports Facilities, Allotments and Persimmon Homes

Negotiations between HADSCAL and the Council are not going well. Apparently, Leon Morrelli sent an email outlining the terms that he was looking for, and members of the council didn't like it at all. They said that it was the sort of thing that would be appropriate in a business situation, but this wasn't a business situation - it's the different sports clubs, which are all run by volunteers, and the Council. And the email said that the position was non-negotiable, which seems to bring an end to any further discussions.
So it seems that it's up to the sports clubs to set up their own organisation. There was some thought of approaching the Cheesemarket cic to see if the sports clubs could come under their umbrella, as they are already set up as a legal organisation.
Someone pointed out that the clubs involved cover tennis, cricket, bowls and football, all major sports, and if they set up their own organisation to promote sport in Hay, what then would be the purpose of HADSCAL?
HADSCAL, of course, own some of the football pitches, which could cause difficulties.
So the next step is to get all the clubs working together.
Last weekend, there were 600 children playing football, as well as ladies' football, bowls, tennis, and cricket matches going on, so the facilities are really very well used. The cricket club also recently had a race night at the Con Club, which raised about £600.

On the edge of the play area, there's a narrow strip of ground between the play area fence and the hedge of one of the houses, and the owner of the house wants to buy the strip of land. The councillors couldn't see that there was any use they could make of the ground, so they were quite happy to agree to that.

The allotments at the back of the Council Chambers are being transferred to Town Council control along with the building, so they are now looking at what rent is presently being paid for the allotments (which look very well-kept) and where the water supply is and so forth. Someone has also asked if the Town Council will be taking control of the large area of allotments at Gypsy Castle - they're not at the moment, but it's something they might consider in future.

There will be a meeting about the new school on 20th May, and the Town Council are also considering options for the Library - they decided that they can't do that until they've heard the latest plans for the school (which seem to be different now from the plans that went out for consultation).

Persimmon Homes want to put a drainage ditch in, having taken on board local opposition based around the flooding of the field, and they want to run it through Council land - the old railway line, which they say they would restore to its former state when the work is done, and they would also pay a fee to the Council for crossing the land. They also want to build a pond as part of the housing development, thus creating a water feature and a holding area for the excess water.
Fiona Howard was unhappy about this, in an area where families with young children would be living. The councillors also wanted to make sure that Persimmon would be liable for the maintenance of the pipework and ditches. Agreeing to the drainage pipe would, in effect, be giving agreement to the building of the 80 houses, as the building work couldn't go ahead until the drainage problem was solved. The councillors were also concerned about the affordable housing portion of the plans - they want to make sure that happens if permission for the development is given. Gareth said he was only supporting the development if the affordable housing portion of it was guaranteed.
After a round of voting, (5 - 3 in favour), it was decided that the Council will, in principle, support Persimmon's proposal, and allow the drainage work.

It was now about ten thirty, and everyone was flagging, with several things that still needed to be discussed, so they decided to press on to the end, though Gareth had to nip up to Spar for bread before they closed.
These included a visit by a party from Gung Po City in South Korea on 22nd May, which would be a collaborative effort between the Town Council, the Chamber of Commerce (though Andrew Williams, the new chair of the Chamber of Commerce, said he could only manage to see them for an hour) and Hay Festival, and would include a small reception. Apparently, they want to set up a book town of their own, so they may get sent to see Richard Booth, too.
The Prime Minister of Turkey has written to the Council on behalf of a town which wants to be twinned with Hay - but the councillors were all aware of just how much work is needed for a successful twinning, and no-one was prepared to take that on.
There's going to be a radio programme being made during the Festival, which John Evans of the Chamber of Commerce will be organising, and Nippon TV also want to come and film, which they were quite happy with.
And then we all staggered out into the night....

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Council Meeting - Recycling, Hay Market and the Council Chamber

The Fair on the Square, for the Festival, has asked the Recycling Fund for £250. This is what they got last year, so it was granted, but this led to a discussion about the recycling facilities at the bottom of the car park. Less recycling is being collected there, because of kerbside collections (I don't need to rattle down there with a trolley full of bottles now - I can just put them out for the bin men to recycle). However, the cardboard container is frequently full to overflowing, and isn't emptied often enough. Both these things mean that the Council gets less income from the recycling than it otherwise would. Apparently, the people in charge of the recycling at the car park have been "trying to source" a new container for the cardboard for three months now.

Meanwhile, Hay Market may have found a suitable space to store the stalls - as long as they mend the roof. There are sheds at the back of the Council Chambers which are unused at the moment and need attention - so a deal is going to be worked out.
Down by the Clock Tower, on Market days, some of the stalls need electricity. Rob Golesworthy supplies electricity for some stalls - they just run a cable into the shop, and Rob doesn't charge for it. What's suggested, though, is that there should be a power point on the other side of the road, as part of the refurbishment of the toilets. However, the Council did feel a need to charge for this, and this could be done by having a sub-meter to moniter how much electricity the stalls use. The Market would pay for the installation of the power point.

Two people have applied to rent the empty room at the Council Chambers. One of them also wants to use the Council Chamber itself as an exhibition space over the Festival. They're involved in making water purifying systems as part of art works, for developing nations. The Council wasn't opposed to the idea in principle, but thought it was a bit short notice for this year. They will also be painting - there is a store room with a sky light, which is narrow, but has good light, and they will be offered this to see if it is suitable.
The other applicant for the vacant room is a local business, and the lady would be working with Maggie, who already rents a room in the building, so this was felt to be more beneficial to the local area.

Later in the meeting, a request came up from a new charity for ex-servicemen, Change Step. They would like the use of a room, quite small, for one to one chats, with tea and coffee making facilities, for a few hours once a month, maybe increasing to once a fortnight. There's a room available downstairs, so they'll be offered that at a small charge.

While on the subject of the Council Chambers, the problem of asbestos came up - Fiona Howard pointed out that they have to have an asbestos officer at the school, so that when contractors come in to do any work, they are made aware of where there is asbestos in the building. She said it's not difficult, and there is training - they just need a record to show that everyone is aware of what to do and where the asbestos is. This should also be done in the toilets now they are coming under Town Council control.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Council Meeting - New Mayor, Dog Poo, Paths and Signs

It was time for the AGM again, so Fiona Howard stepped down as mayor, and Rob Golesworthy returned to the post, with Gareth Ratcliffe as his deputy. Gareth was asked to be mayor, but declined, partly because he's just been promoted in his job at the Co-op.
The next thing to do was make sure there were enough people on all the sub-committees. The new councillor, Richard, was ill so couldn't attend, but he had sent an email saying what his interests were. He was appointed to two or three committees, with the comment "We'll tell him what his interests are tomorrow!"
There was also the matter of councillors declaring their interests - there are forms to fill in, and the information will be made public. This is one of the reasons they need the website to be up and running - Giles is still being very slow, with excuses about his brother's broadband connection. The councillors, though, are getting impatient.

The new fence around the picnic area has reduced dog mess on the grass considerably, even though there are no gates. This will be monitored to see if gates need to be added, or if they can leave it as it is. They also intend to put up signs telling people to clear up after their dogs.
The pink paint sprayed on dog mess has also worked - leading to a 50% reduction in poo! There are thoughts of extending the practice to the streets of Hay - the paint is bio-degradable and washes away safely in the rain. They even have a volunteer sprayer, though they would like more people to come forward.

The Woodland Group are going to put steps in where the fence has been broken down and people have been making their own path to get to the railway path, to make it safer. They'll even put a sign up showing that it's a way to the Warren. This is mainly to stop people with gardens backing onto the path from making their own steps down.

The B&R are planning an article about the new Railway Walk (I've seen the little engine shaped signs already, showing the route) and have asked if any councillors will be available to have their pictures taken for the article.

The new charges for fishing licences along the Town riverbank have been set at £5 for a day, £15 for a week and £35 for the year, with under 16s going free. This is about half the amount the Warren is charging, "and it's really good coarse fishing". There was some sadness that there are fewer fishermen (or women) using the river now. There used to be people using the fishing platforms or wading in the river every weekend, but now they're a rare sight.

Plans for the new fingerposts (there was a grant) are well advanced. They are going to be black with gold writing, with Welsh above and English below. There are several Welsh speakers around who can check the correctness of the Welsh text. The National Park has said that advertising consent is needed to erect the signs, but this doesn't seem to be the case, and the permission is given by the Welsh Assembly.

A member of the public has reported a broken drain down at the Gliss, which may have happened when a contractor was working on the canoe landing stage - though they say they didn't hit the pipes. The original laying of the pipes may be at fault because they should have pea gravel round them as a shock absorber. So it will be attended to in due course.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Viewing Art at the Old Electric Shop

Lizzie Harper and Sarah Putt are putting on an exhibition of their art at the Old Electric Shop at the moment. It'll be going on over the Festival, and the other night they held a private viewing.
It was packed out!
Lizzie Harper (resplendent in blue sequins and feathers) does finely detailed illustration, mostly of plants and natural things. She illustrated Adele Nozedar's book The Garden Forager, and many of the illustrations she did for the book were for sale.
At the far end of the shop were Sarah Putt's portraits (many of the subjects wearing masks) and flower pictures. Some of the masks were on display as well - I liked the one decorated with butterflies.
And by the bar were some gorgeous photographs of the local area - but I didn't get to see who had taken them because of the crowds. The special cocktails for the evening seemed popular, but I stuck to a bottle of beer from Jones the brewer.
I chatted to a lot of people while I was there, about all sorts of subjects - but everyone wanted to talk about the Election, and everyone was dismayed at the result.
(I've only met one person who's pleased by the result, and she's a life-long Tory, so that's not surprising!).
It was a great party - so good, in fact, that they did it again the following night!
The pictures are well worth going to see, and it's an interesting place to have an art exhibition.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Small Business Saturday

Room, the (rather posh) interior decor shop. Previously, this was Bedecked, which sold buttons and yarn and ribbon, and before that, it sold fabrics designed by members of Laura Ashley's family, who lived locally. I don't remember what it was before that.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Herefordshire County Council Results

I've just seen the pie chart showing the results for Herefordshire County Council.
It's just over half Conservative (29 seats), with 12 seats for It's Our County, 8 independents, two Greens and two Lib Dems.
It's Our County, by the way, is a group that formed when a substantial number of voters disagreed with the actions of the County Council at the time, and decided to form their own party, which would better represent the people who live in the county.

Election Results

So, it's goodbye to Roger Williams of the Lib Dems, and hello Chris Davies of the Conservatives.
I stayed up all night to listen to the results on the radio, partly because it wasn't clear (except in Scotland) what the outcome was going to be. The Brecon and Radnor result was mentioned in passing, and as the night wore on it became clear that the Lib Dems were losing seats everywhere.
So I looked up the BBC results page, and here are the figures:
Chris Davies won the seat with a comfortable 41.1% of the vote, a swing to the Conservatives of 4.5%. He has a majority of 5,102 or 12.7%.
Second came Roger Williams, at 28.3%, a swing against him of 17.8%
Labour came third with 14.7%, a swing towards them of 4.2%.
UKIP were fourth with 8.3%
Plaid Cymru came in at 4.4% and the Greens got 3.1%.
What seems to have happened is that the Lib Dem vote collapsed, and the voters transferred to every other party on the ballot paper - UKIP were the greatest beneficiaries of this - they got a swing of 6.1% towards them. In an interview on the BBC page, Roger Williams blames the fear of the Scottish Nationalist Party for his defeat, which he thinks pushed people into voting Conservative.
The turnout was high across the county, at 73.8%.

Next door in Herefordshire, Herefordshire South (a safe Conservative seat) remained Conservative. Jesse Norman got 52.6% of the vote, a swing towards him of 6.3%. His majority is 16,890 or 35.7%.
In second place was UKIP, with 16.8%.
Third was Labour with 12.8%
Lib Dems were fourth, with 10.6%, and a swing against them of 30.5%!
Fifth were the Greens with 7.2%.
Voter turnout was lower than Brecon and Radnor, at 66.8%

Herefordshire North is another safe Conservative seat, and they held it comfortably. Bill Wiggin got 55.6% of the vote, a majority of 19,996 or 41.6%.
Second was UKIP on 14%
Third were the Lib Dems, on 12%, and a swing against them of 19%.
Fourth came Labour on 11.4% and fifth were the Greens on 7%.
Again, the figures show a collapse of the Lib Dem vote, and gains for everyone else.
The turnout was fairly high, at 72%.

So that's the position locally - a sea of blue everywhere.

Herefordshire was also holding County Council elections, but the results have yet to be declared for that.

Meanwhile, it seems that Nick Clegg, Ed Milliband and Nigel Farage have all resigned as leaders of their parties.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

The Eve of the Election

So, tomorrow, we all go to the polls (you are going to vote, aren't you?), and today David Cameron was in Crickhowell. He's been to Brecon and Radnor constituency before in the campaign, to a farm in Glasbury with George Osborne, because this is a marginal constituency which is running neck and neck between the Roger Williams of the Lib Dems (the present MP) and Chris Davies of the Conservatives.
Last week, the B&R came out with a wrap-around 4 page spread advert for the Conservatives, which caused some annoyance among readers of the paper, who thought that our local newspaper should be providing unbiased news coverage, rather than appearing to plump for one party over the others. You had to look quite hard to see that the front page story was an advert rather than a front page story.
This week, three letters complaining about the advert were published in the letters column, along with an Editor's note blaming the sales department, which is different from the editorial department. Which would perhaps sound reasonable if it was a large organisation, but it's quite a small newspaper really, and the two departments could probably shout to each other across the corridor if they wanted to.
Coming up behind the front runners is Matthew Dorrance of Labour (who seems like a nice chap - he came to the Fairtrade evening recently and met the speaker from Malawi).
Behind him, at an estimated 11% in the polls, is UKIP, and trailing behind UKIP are Plaid Cymru at 4% and the Greens at 3%.
Tomorrow we'll see how accurate those figures are.
Since I've got a large Green poster up in my front window, it's not really a secret how I'm going to vote tomorrow!

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

African Market

The Festival is getting close now, and on the first weekend there's going to be another Africa Market in the Parish Hall. It includes a drumming workshop - so should be fun!

Monday, 4 May 2015

Parking Changes

From 1st May, a new regime of parking charges came into operation around Hay. Preparatory to this, new line markings were put down round town, covering over the double yellow lines in places, and replacing them with parking spots. One of these is outside the HSBC Bank, which seems reasonable, because people are always parking their cars there to use the cash machine anyway.
On the slope above the Clock Tower, there are a couple more spaces, which make the end of Lion Street rather narrow - and at the other end of Lion Street, the seven end-on to the kerb parking spaces have been replaced with three side-on spaces. Which seems a bit daft. The Council have, apparently, cited road safety issues for the change, saying that the road would be too narrow for a fire engine to get down if needed - but that hasn't stopped them making the other end of Lion Street very narrow. Local residents, meanwhile, are continuing to park as they did before - end on to the kerb.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Fairytale Princess

Here I am, waiting for a handsome knight to rescue me!

This was something to do with Troyfest - Brian took my picture on Wednesday evening, on the way in to the musical evening.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Small Business Saturday

The Ewe Tree, selling knitted goods and spinning and weaving supplies. It was difficult to get a picture because of all the parked cars and vans! It seems to be the replacement for Wool and Willow, in Backfold, which is now empty.
This shop used to be the baker's, until the owner sadly died suddenly.
A sheep was seen in the back garden recently - apparently she had had a C-section, and was recovering quietly with her lamb (or not so quietly - she had a very loud baa!).

Friday, 1 May 2015

Much Silliness at Baskerville Hall

It's my fault. I started singing TV theme tunes from the 1960s, and on Wednesday Bob brought out his kazoo and did the Robin Hood song (and everyone knew the chorus!), and Paul on the guitar did The Beverley Hillbillies ("Black gold! Texas tea!"). The chap who brings the drums (Archie?) showed off his socks, decorated with a musical score, and that set off These Boots are Made for Walking, and a dozen puns from Brian, and Nigel started telling jokes - and amongst all that, some good music got played, and we all went away feeling really cheered up.

Meanwhile, round the back of the Hall, lots of tents were being set up for Troyfest over the weekend, and there was a polystyrene castle round the front. We passed some of the Troyfest people as we left, sitting outside on the porch where they could smoke, and told them they'd missed a really good evening - but they said they were waiting for the music at the weekend.