Sunday, 26 July 2015

The Phil Rickman Appreciation Society Go Up the Dingle

Fortified by lunch (in my case a salmon and broccoli quiche and salad with elderflower presse, which was very nice) the PRAS group set off again, along Broad Street and down to the river. A couple of important scenes in Magus of Hay take place at the mouth of the Dulas Brook, where it joins the Wye - and the Dulas is also the border between England and Wales, so we went there first, and then ambled along the Riverside Path to St Mary's Church. There we admired the organ, and the icon of Our Lady of Capel-y-ffin (painted by an icon painter from South Wales - other icons in the church were painted by Christina Watson, who is also in the choir). [edited for accuracy - I originally thought Christina had painted all of them]
The minibus was conveniently parked just up the hill at the cattle market - we passed the old castle mound on the way (this weekend really was well organised!).
The minibus took us, and a couple of cars following, to Cusop Dingle, where we went up to Cusop Church and parked in the car park there. I'm very fond of Cusop Church. There we were looking for Major Armstrong associations (though the grave of his poor wife is unmarked), and also admired the huge yew tree by the church door.
Cusop Church also has the grave of a Methodist Martyr in the churchyard - William Seward, who was stoned by a mob when he preached on Black Lion Green in Hay, and later died of his injuries.
From there we stepped across the lane and into the field which is the site of Cusop Castle.

Here's one of the pictures that was shared on Facebook.
One chap in the party was convinced that the site was originally Iron Age, from the way it was laid out and the positioning on the spur of the hill overlooking a small stream. It's certainly a very defensible position.
Somewhere near there is the fictional bungalow and barn belonging to the Magus of Hay, whose body was found in a pool of the Dulas Brook, which is where we went next. It's always been my favourite pool along the Dingle, just on the Hay side of the Mill, because of the waterfall. On the day that Frannie Bliss was called out to look at the body, the stream was more swollen. On the day we were there, the sun was shining through the trees and it was just lovely. We did go a bit further up the Dingle than we needed to, though - it's very hard to turn a minibus round in that narrow lane. Polly turned out to be very good at manouvering!

And then it was back to Hay for a bit of light book browsing and maybe a Shepherds ice cream.

I forgot to mention before that the main car park in Hay also plays an important part in the Magus of Hay, when the hapless American who owns Thorogood Pagan Bookshop becomes a suspect in the murder case because of where he parks his car....

In the evening, some of the group went to the Three Tuns for an evening meal.
On the Sunday, I had to be at the desk of the Cinema Bookshop, but the minibus took everyone up to Capel-y-ffin and Llanthony Abbey, which also feature in Phil Rickman's books, with lunch at the Skirrid.
And I think I'm right in saying that a good time was had by all!

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