Thursday, 31 December 2015

Food for Calais Refugees

I came across this post on Facebook this morning, from the group Hay, Brecon and Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees:

"Request to the good folk of Hay on Wye and surrounding areas for food for Calais.

Ben from the Parsnipship in Cardiff is going to Calais on Monday to help cook (& bring supplies) at the Refugee Community Kitchen there. For those who don’t know, The Parsnipship are a vegetarian streetfood organisation who come to Hay for various events.
Derek from Hay Deli is driving to Cardiff on Sunday with food that he’ll be donating on behalf of the business but would be delighted if others would like to donate from the following;
Oil – Coconut Vegetable Olive
Tins – Tomatoes, Chickpeas, Pulses
Fruit – Apples, Bananas, Oranges
Veg – Onions, Ginger, Leeks, Mushrooms, Garlic, Carrots, Beetroot, Cauliflower , Cabbage (red & white) etc
Herbs – Parsley, Coriander
Dried pulses & rice – Chickpeas, Kidney, White beans, Lentils, Rice (In minimum 10kg bags)
Misc: Sugar, Salt
They don’t want pasta or potatoes...

Cash donations gratefully received, so that they can buy supplies when he gets to Calais- which can be made to Derek in Hay Deli today, Thursday or Saturday 2nd.

Derek.Hay Deli t: 01497 820708"

I've just been up to the Wholefood shop to give a donation.

For those who want to remember the hungry at home, there is also the Hay Food Bank, the Community Cupboard, who can be contacted on 07908 876978

A Rousing End to the Year

I've had my New Year's Eve party a little bit early!
It was the last acoustic evening of the year at Baskerville Hall, and a good crowd turned out for it. The German lady with the harp came with a friend who does step dancing - and she just happened to have the proper shoes with her. A piece of board was found somewhere in the hotel so she could dance in the middle of the bar - it doesn't work on carpet!
And there was poetry from Huw - a beautiful love poem he'd written as recently as Christmas Day, and classic nonsense from Lear (the Dong with the Luminous Nose) - and I'd found a ballad about the Great Flood of 1872 in Manchester, which was my attempt to be topical.
There were also guitars, ukeleles, mouth organs, tambourines, flutes and Irish whistles from Thomasin, pop and rock and roll and, as a finale to the evening, The Potato Song from Geoff.
The Canadian lady was back for a visit, too, sketching the musicians.

Bob Evans, who keeps the evenings going with a swing, made a CD a little while ago, with Di Esplin the cellist and Alan Cooper the fiddler. He's having an official launch for it on 8th January, at the Muse in Brecon. It's £5 on the door, and it should be another good night.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Mission Accomplished

I went into Hereford this afternoon on a mission. Ever since the Young Man told me there was such a thing as a Jedi Librarian, I've wanted to make the costume. In fact, I already have most of it - a brown skirt, brown top and boots. All I needed to finish it off was a length of material to make two strips of cloth over the shoulders, and a broad belt. Like this:

So I went to Doughty's on Capuchin Yard, and found some cotton in just the right buttery yellow colour - the design of lines will be drawn on later, with a marker pen. The young man there was very helpful, and even measured over my shoulders to get the right length of material from the roll (100 inches should do it). So I'll be pulling out the sewing machine from where it's hiding in the next day or two, for some costume making.
Flushed with success, I headed next to Cartridge World to get new ink cartridges for my printer....only to find they have completely vanished and the shop is to let.
So I tried WH Smiths, but they don't do the right make.
I bought the printer from PC World, right out of town up Widemarsh Street. Ah, well, I had plenty of time for a walk.
Fortunately they still stock the right ink.
Back in the middle of town, I stopped by a very busy Lichfield Vaults for a half. It was so warm I sat out in the beer garden.
And then I had leisure for looking round a few charity shops, and browsing through Marks and Spencers to see if there was anything that caught my eye to buy with the gift voucher I got for Christmas. I think I may use this as an excuse to go to Cardiff sometime soon.
And right beside the Oxfam Bookshop, I found a new printer cartridge shop - so I may try there first next time, so I don't have to walk all the way out of town, and dodge the cars at the roundabout by the Heart of Oak!

Sunday, 27 December 2015


I was very pleased to see a news story on the BBC a few days ago about the start of a study in Powys to find out how old some historic buildings are by looking at the timbers they are build with. Dendrochronology has a pretty good track record of accuracy, and can even show which season of the year a tree was cut down.
The Three Tuns pub in Hay is one of the buildings to be tested - probably built at the beginning of the 16th century - and the gates of Hay Castle, which are thought to be 12th century, and the oldest castle gates in Wales. Some testing has already been done on the Jacobean part of Hay Castle, which was thought to have been built in 1660, but has now been proved to be earlier.
Elsewhere in Powys, Tretower Castle is also one of the buildings that will be tested.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Boxing Day Hunt

They'll be getting to Tack Wood about now - because the fields are so wet, they've started off on the roads, but the Master of the Hunt said that he was very pleased that all the farmers had allowed them open access despite the wet conditions.
It was a good crowd, with seven or eight small children on ponies - they just come for the parade at the clock tower, and not for the hunt itself - and a big crowd of spectators. I was standing with Mary Fellowes, who used to hunt herself, and she said that most of the riders had come over from Radnorshire today. I would have a photo, but my camera is being unco-operative today.
Apparently, it's the seventieth anniversary of the Golden Valley Hunt meeting at the Clock Tower on Boxing Day - the applause at this made half the horses skittish - and they're hoping to still be doing it in seventy years time.
Despite a quite detailed speech against the Hunting Ban, though, it was announced that the hunt would be complying with the law today - though the Master is hopeful that the ban will be overturned during the present Parliament.
And next Tuesday, they'll be meeting again somewhere in Boughrood, to go over jumps - the Master said that children were especially welcome.

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Christmas Greetings

Angels in the window of Bain and Murrins.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Equine Reflections

I hadn't realised that, as well as being an accomplished cellist, Di Esplin (who sometimes comes to the Wednesday night acoustic evenings at Baskerville Hall) is also a horsewoman. She is part of Equine Reflections, a new forum for horse lovers which will be starting monthly meetings at Baskerville Hall on 18th January from 7pm to 9pm. They hope to get guest speakers as well. They'll be talking about different, and gentler, methods of horse handling and training horses.
Angela Dunning, the other forum leader, works with people who want to increase their self confidence and empathy by working with horses. She calls it Equine Facilitated Learning. They'll also be doing practical work with horses, either one-to-one or in groups.
They have a website at

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Best Christmas Window in Hay

Here's the winner of the Christmas Window competition this year. It's Hay-on-Wye Booksellers, and they filled the window with quotations from A Child's Christmas in Wales. This is just a part of the display, with the little chair by the fire.

Monday, 21 December 2015

Hay Vouchers in Use

We had our first Hay Voucher in the Cinema Bookshop, a few days ago. A little boy came in and bought a couple of children's books with it, and it was all very straightforward and easy (basically, you treat it just like cash).
Lots of shops around Hay, selling all sorts of different things, have the sticker up in the window to say they take vouchers now, and the organisers say that they have issued over £1,000 of vouchers so far.
Possibly they'll be turning up in people's Christmas stockings, or slipped in with a card.
The vouchers are available from Londis.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Small Business Sunday

Drover Cycles in their new premises.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Special Council Meeting

I've been in bed with a bad cold - didn't even feel like crawling to the computer!
So of course I missed the announcement of a special Council meeting to consider what they call an "easement" - permission to put a pipe through Council land to alleviate flooding on the field where Persimmon want to build their eighty houses. When I went out today to buy cough mixture, a chap stopped me in the street and told me, and then I came on line to find out what was going on.
The meeting will be in the Council Chamber at 6.30pm on Tuesday evening, and I think there may be quite a crowd there! According to Hay Together, a reporter from the Hereford Times will be there.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Council Meeting - Parking, Job Coaching, Gwernyfed School and Housing

Poor gold post box - you'd think it would get noticed, but it's been hit by cars more than once, which is why there's been a suggestion to protect it with bollards.
Further down the hill, the new owners of the Swan have approached the relevant authorities to ask for the exclusive use of the car parking spaces on the road outside the front of the hotel. It is doubtful whether they will be granted this.

And here's something I'm sorry I missed - a young lad with learning difficulties has been to the Council to give a presentation to them through the Job Coaching scheme. With help from his Job Coach, he's got a job at Baskerville Hall, and he came to talk about how the scheme had helped him. Powys County Council wants to drop the scheme to save a bit of money, which would be a great pity. Rob Golesworthy said he thinks it's a very useful scheme, and he's all in favour of equal job opportunities for all.

There's a document (100 pages to wade through) from One Voice Wales about reorganising local government, which the councillors felt gave more power to the Welsh Assembly, and weakened local democracy, with Powys County Council getting cut out of the process in the middle. With the County Council devolving responsibility for the toilets and playing fields and so on to the local councils, and the Welsh Assembly taking on responsibility for health and education, soon the County Council would only be responsible for roads and collecting rubbish!
This includes a suggestion that small local councils should be amalgamated into larger districts, almost like it was back in the 1960s and 70s. In this case, Hay would join up with Llanigon. Clyro would perhaps be a better partner for Hay, but it's across the old shire boundary, and the proposals seem to be following the old shires. These larger units would also require full time clerks, unlike the present where the clerks are part time.

By now, the meeting at Gwernyfed School has happened, but Hay Council did discuss a meeting of the Hay School governors with representatives of the County Council at Gwernyfed.
Steve Like was annoyed that he had been appointed representative of the council for the Gwernyfed Sports Centre, but the committee seemed to have been wound up without anyone being told. The management of the sports hall has been handed over to the school to run, and the committee of local reps seems to have got lost in the changeover. He thought it was important that the local communities that use the facilities there should have a voice in the running of the halls.

The site of the old Community Centre was also mentioned briefly - Wales and West Housing Association are involved in the redevelopment plans there. Apparently they want to put twenty houses on the site, which will be affordable/social housing. I had a chat with someone who lives in Garibaldi Terrace, very close to the site, who was wondering how they would fit twenty houses on there.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Council Meeting - Transfer of Assets and Funding

The Annual Christmas Party for the older residents of Hay will be held on 12th January at the Masonic Hall, at a price of £6.50, with the help of many local volunteers. Invitations should be going out now.
And also on a Christmas theme, comments have been made about there being no lights on Broad Street this year. Rob Golesworthy said that his shop would be prepared to put lights in the nearby trees, as long as they are pollarded, which will extend the lighting a little further.

Powys County Council seem to have gone very quiet about the Transfer of Assets to the local council. They were very keen to offload the responsibilities (such as the public toilets and the playing fields), but Hay Council hasn't seen any money yet from the car park, which was promised - this may be payable in April, and needs to be chased up so that someone at the County Council can give a definite answer.
And regarding the toilets - Rob Golesworthy has been keeping an eye on the ones by the Clock Tower, and has already fixed a couple of blockages. Local opinion seems to be along the lines of: "It's a pity we have to charge, but what an improvement!" The local person who cleans the toilets was praised - they're looking very good at the moment.

The lease for the playing fields has been agreed by the councillors, and was declared ready to pass back to HADSCAL for approval, so soon that should be resolved - apart from the part Powys County Council have to play. Once again, they haven't done anything that they were supposed to do. The various sports associations will have to see a copy of the new, improved lease as well.

There's another plea for new councillors! Two are needed to make up the numbers.

A Circus troupe would like to visit Hay next summer and have written ahead to ask about suitable places for them to pitch their tents.

The Council agreed to give £1,000 to Dial a Ride for 2016. They have also been asked for a contribution to the Hay Ho Sunday bus. Steve Like wanted to see figures for the year they have been running already, when they apparently made a loss - but someone did the maths and reckoned that, if they raised the fare by £1.50, they could cover their costs. Steve was also anxious to find out if other local councils along the bus route were being approached for money - which they are. I think Madley were the only ones who refused last year. Fiona Howard gave a grant to them when they started from the Mayor's Discresionary Fund.
They have also been asked for money from the Food Fair, and it was established that the Council usually give £250. One of the councillors said that they'd been to the Food Fair at Kington, and it was much better than the one in Hay! They suggested that the lighting in the marquee could be improved, and that they should remember that they fund this when they are thinking of how much precept to charge (that's the local part of Council Tax).

Monday, 14 December 2015

Council Meeting - Traffic and Roads, Floods and Bethesda Chapel

I've been a bit slow about getting round to writing this up - I've been going out in the evenings quite a bit in the last week.

I came into the meeting a bit late, to find a discussion about the lane beside the proposed development next to Gypsy Castle in progress. They were talking about upgrading it in some way. The fire alarm was beeping at intervals - apparently someone was supposed to come earlier in the day to fix it, but they hadn't turned up.
The National Parks are still deliberating about the planning application for the 80 houses. One of the most important things for them to consider will be the drainage problems of the site. Rob Golesworthy said that he'd spoken with the developers and is now satisfied with their ideas for the pond they want to build as part of the flood defences for the area, but traffic calming still needs to be looked at. The Highways Department can't put down speed bumps around Gypsy Castle, and a chicane would cost around £10,000, and is not a priority for the County. A 20 mile an hour limit would be good, but the Welsh Assembly only want to have 20 mile an hour areas around schools. Another problem comes where the road narrows by the church - there were suggestions that a one way system would ease matters, but this would have to be worked out between Persimmon, the County Council and the landowners.
There are also difficulties with the Powys Local Development Plan, including an access road.
There have been problems with speeding on Newport Street, but the police are aware of it. This is another place where better signage might make a difference. One of the councillors suggested that someone from the Highways Department should be invited to speak to the council to explain what the criteria are for this sort of thing.
The car park on the Gliss had some flooding at the beginning of the month - further up the Wye there was a lot of flooding at Builth Wells. Apparently the police said that someone from the County Council was supposed to be coming down with sand bags, but nobody saw any signs of them.
Welsh Water want to move the gate to the water treatment works down there, to make it easier for their tanker to come in and out, and it was suggested that this would be a good opportunity to clarify the ownership of the land between them and the Council.

On a happier note, Bethesda Evangelical Church has re-opened after a long period of rebuilding work. Alan Powell went along to the opening service and met the new young pastor. They will be having a Christmas service at 10.30am on 20th December.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Important Meeting at Gwernyfed School

Don't forget - 7pm on 16th December there is an important meeting about the future of Gwernyfed School, being held at the school.
The idea is to start the community involvement in the decision making process which should have been part of it from the beginning. All stakeholders and interested parties will be able to produce Community Impact Assessments for their organisations, it says on the school website.
Meanwhile, the group which has formed in opposition to the plans to close the school have been pointing out that Powys County Council are not complying with the law with their present plans for the schools of the area. According to the Schools Statutory Code they have to make the consultations that will begin at the meeting on Wednesday, and take them into account when making their decisions.
So it's rather important that everyone who has any involvement with the school, including using the facilities there as a community group, should make their voices heard.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Small Business Saturday

A to Z Expeditions, on the industrial estate on Forest Road.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Stitching... and Bitching

We're a nice friendly group of ladies, on the whole, in the Stitch and Bitch group.
In fact, I've just waddled home from an excellent Christmas lunch at the Black Lion, where we all had a wonderful time.

Sadly, though, in the New Year we will be looking for a new place to meet.

We've been going to the Swan on the first Thursday of the month, and sometimes a Thursday in the middle of the month, for several years now. We've sat in the little room at the end of the bar, or the lounge, or the meeting room by the front door, or even in the back bar. The agreement has always been that we buy a drink when we come, and then we can spend a couple of hours knitting, crocheting, sewing and chatting. If another group has paid to book a room, we've always been happy to move elsewhere, because we have always understood that the hotel needs to make a profit.

However, times have changed. The Swan has new owners who want to take it upmarket, and I understand that all the community groups that currently use the rooms of the Swan have been given a letter with the new terms and conditions.
Okay, they're re-furbishing and spending an awful lot of money on the building....

The new terms are that each member of the group should pay £10 a session, which will include a cup of tea or coffee and a biscuit.
That would be fair enough - the hotel has the right to charge what it wants (though as a group we don't want to spend that much to meet anywhere), and the young man we spoke to was very pleasant, but at the end of our last session there, we were given a letter. Here's the bit we were annoyed about:

"I have kept my side of the agreement, but disappointingly your club has not, at the last meeting of your club. On Thursday 3rd December 2015 only £23.20 was taken. This is not acceptable and this is why the property was in a loss making position."

So, the staff were totting up what we were buying (and we did all buy a drink), and somebody (possibly even that pleasant young man) was typing in the details while we were right there in the next room.
It's worth pointing out that this is £23.20 the hotel would not otherwise have taken, and they would have had the heating and lighting on in that room anyway.

So we're looking around Hay for an alternative place to meet. All we need is a room with a good source of light - so we can see to knit and sew - and we always buy a drink each.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

The Holly Bears The Crown

I've been out a lot over the last few days....
On Saturday, I was taken to Cwmbach by Brian, clutching my cushion for the hard pews and wrapping up warm - because last year it was very cold. This year it was comfortably toasty! Susan, who has started to go to the Baskerville musical evenings with us, joined us at the church. Earlier in the evening she was elsewhere in Glasbury watching a puppet production of a story from the Mabinogion. Jo, who also sometimes comes to the Baskerville with us, joined us too.
It was a fairly full church, lit by candles in jam jars - the Village Quire have little lights clipped to their music scores.
The first half featured a poem by John Clare, interspersed with the singing, and the second half was mainly Cider with Rosie. Each half ended with a Welsh plygain - and the encore was getting the audience to join in with Gaudete!
There were mince pies (lots of them!) and mulled wine at the interval, delivered to the audience in their seats by the singers and helpers, and a raffle with a secret draw - the winning numbers were taped to the prizes and the tickets consulted on the way out.
It was, as ever, a great evening out, and Phil Smith, who does the readings, finished off with a very funny performance about a Northern man describing the production of the Messiah he's just been to - "and I 'ope they find them sheep they lost."
I came out feeling quite festive!
The Village Quire will be performing at the Globe next week (though the acoustics are not so good there as they are at Cwmbach Church). They also have a new CD out, and their website can be found at

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Photography Exhibition at the Globe

Torn is an exhibition by Tottie Aarvold, up around the gallery of the Globe. I was invited to the preview, which I rather enjoyed. I'm not sure that I'd want the pictures on my walls at home, (except maybe the blue graffiti head that seems to be eating a flight of steps!) but the pictures certainly give you something to think about. Several of them were taken in Ibiza, and others in Birmingham.
We sipped mulled cider from china tea cups, and ate the most gorgeous canapes. The Globe has been advertising their fantastic new chef for a little while now - and he really is good! I believe someone said he'd come from Bristol. At the moment they have screened off part of the upstairs gallery for him to work, but they are putting in a better kitchen in the basement, and will be doing more with the cafe side of the Globe in the New Year.
Tottie has also been responsible for several of the more dramatic window displays at the Red Cross shop in the last year or so, and also at Number Two.
The exhibition goes on until the 28th February next year.

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Small Business Saturday

The new Hay Vets building, on Forest Road, tucked behind the industrial units.

Friday, 4 December 2015

Important Visitor Coming to talk about Timbuktu

Here's some news from Hay2Timbuktu which sounds quite exciting:

"Dr Cynthia Scneider, former US Ambassador to The Netherlands, and Director of Renaissance Timbuktu, an international project seeking to support the rebuilding of Timbuktu's rich and extensive cultural life, is visiting Hay-on-Wye next week to discuss possible collaboration with Hay2Timbuktu.

Cynthia will speak at an open meeting at 8pm on Friday 11 December, in the Council Chamber, when she will both introduce Renaissance Timbuktu, and also update us on the current situation in Mali generally and Timbuktu specifically, following her visit a few weeks ago.

All are very welcome, and refreshments will be available."

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Flood Warnings

This is what the Gliss car park looked like on Tuesday night - the picture's from the Hereford Times. Apparently the Wye was up about 5 metres above normal and there was flooding upstream in Builth Wells and across Herefordshire.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Food Fair

On Saturday, the weather was still pretty foul, but there were still plenty of people in the marquee for the Food Fair. I was looking for Christmas presents - I like to give local food - and there was plenty to choose from, including flavoured teas and coffees, a variety of chili sauces and chutneys and jams, and (for my own freezer) local meats. Penderyn whisky had a stall, too - and they were offering an interesting looking Elderport - and Brecon Brewery had a stand by the door. Other local breweries were also there.
Outside, but undercover, a ladies' choir was singing while I was there, and there were also craft stalls in the Buttermarket and Cheese Market.