Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Monsters and Men

Addymans Bookshop is hosting an exhibition of art by Stefano Tambellini over the Festival. This is the first time I've found out about something on Twitter (so it does have its uses!), and when I turned up there was a good little crowd there. Stefan has illustrated some of the Terry Deary books (the chap who writes Horrible Histories) and the work being exhibited also included pictures with a macabre Shakespearean theme.
For £5, you could get a postcard of his work, which he would then sign, together with a unique sketch on the back. He was signing all the time I was there, and I was fascinated to see that he holds his pen like a small child with a fist round a crayon! And yet his drawings have so much detail in them.

Monday, 30 May 2016

Poems to Make You Think

When I saw Marva at the How the Light Gets In launch party on Thursday, she kindly gave me a copy of her new booklet of poems, "poems for landscapes: prelude", which she's also illustrated with photos taken around the place where she lives, up in Llanigon. She says she's lived up there for 13 years now, and she still feels lucky to be in such a beautiful place!
The poems are not about the local landscape, though - they're about the terrible things that are happening around the world, and her reactions to them. Which sounds a bit grim, but there's a strong strand of hope running through the poems, too, and the last lines of the last poem in the booklet are:
"spinning futures
where equality
is reality"

The booklet is available from www.griots.net which is Marva Jackson Lord's website, and her email is info@marvas music.com

And here she is, performing at the Old Electric Shop (picture taken by Julia Elkington):

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Meanwhile, at the Globe

I live very close to the Globe, and as they seem to be doing their best to be neighbourly, I got an invitation to the Thursday launch party and a wrist band for the week to access the site. There have been quite a few complaints about the Globe from neighbouring houses, including calling the police when lorries stocking the Globe blocked the road. It's a difficult site to get access to with a big lorry, but it all seemed quite disorganised.
Last year, I didn't go on the site, or the Riverside, at all, because I just didn't have time. A wristband for the day is fine if you're a visitor who intends to spend the day moving between events, but it's not so good for a local who just wants to see one event and then zip back to work! And a few people have said that they find the pricing structure difficult to understand.
But this year, I have the wristband, and so I went along to the Launch Party - which was great fun, mostly because I met up with Emanation and Marva. I ended up not seeing any of the events that evening, because I was having such a good time chatting - not just to Emanation and Marva, but to several other people who passed by. We were down near the Champagne Bar at first, and both of them ordered pasta from the nearby food stall. It looked and smelled delicious. Someone ordered pizza, too, which seemed to go down very well.
I was drinking a Bath Ale from the bar in the tent where music was happening. There are several bottled real ales on offer there. I didn't get to hear a set, but I did see a black girl with a violin tuning up. Her name's Kizzy Crawford, and even the tuning up sounded fantastic!
The next day, I went over to the Riverside site, where Spiegel's Circus and the funfair are set up. There are also several stalls, including one of hippy fashion where I found a lovely top. I wore it later to Addyman's to the opening of the art exhibition there, and got several compliments! I was thinking about going over there for folk music around the firepit - but that was when we had our mini thunderstorm, so I didn't think anyone would be sitting outside!
Last night, there were fireworks, followed by Fairport Convention - who I've wanted to see live for years, but an 11pm start was just too late for me, as I had to be at work the next morning.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Getting the Festival Buzz

I have spent too long today walking and standing - but I've talked to some interesting people!

Over at Broad Street Books, I was delighted to have sold "fashion victim Batman", a collectable model from the 1990s where Batman was dressed in blue and white stripes rather than the more familiar black or grey.
Mary, who runs the B&B Rest for the Tired, told me that she has the Spanish Ambassador for Culture staying, "and he's lovely!" He quizzed her about all the food he got for breakfast, to find out how local it all was. She gets her sausage and bacon from Tom the organic butcher, more or less next door, local bread, and gave him local strawberries for the top of his Bran Flakes, but had to say that she had bought the mushrooms down the Co-op! He's very impressed with the variety of local shops in Hay.

Down at the Festival site, I met Lawrence, who was volunteering outside the Wales Stage, waiting for the crowds to arrive for Melvyn Bragg. He's also the co-author of Framespotting (available at the Festival Bookshop), so when he and Alison saw the giant picture frame on the Festival site, they had to do this:

On the way back from the Festival, all sorts of stalls have appeared along Brecon Road, including a charity tea garden with a woodturner and crafts, a noodle bar to rais money for RAFA, where I bought a couple of badges of a Hurricane and a Lancaster, and another stall selling Welsh cakes. I stopped at Minnies Ice Creams, and had the one flavoured with local honey, which was delicious! I like ice cream, but I don't often have a cornet - but this time the walk was long enough for me to enjoy it right down to the bottom of the cone.

Earlier, I met Ellie, collecting for a Motor Neurone disease charity. "Funny how a high-viz jacket makes you invisible," she mused. She was standing near the Granary. "The music's better down here," she said, nodding towards Malcolm and his son who were busking with accordian and guitar outside Barclays Bank.
Up in the Buttermarket was Shelley, with her stall of silk scarves, as part of Hay Artisans. She lives over in Malvern now, but seemed happy to be back in Hay for a while.
Outside the Chemists was Paddington Bear, with a young helper carrying his suitcase, while he held a placard advertising the event in the Parish Hall on Monday in aid of refugees (there will be a teddy bears' picnic as well as crafts to try).

I've been to some events over the last couple of days, too, which I'll blog about shortly.

Small Businesses at the Festival

It's the first weekend of Hay Festival, and we've already had our first little thunderstorm!
During every Festival, shops pop up around town - like A Rule of Tum, a burger bar which has taken over St John's Place for the duration, with tables outside as well. They were here last year, too, and I'm told their burgers are really good.
Up above them (with signs warning of the Wonky Stairs) is my neighbour Julie, with her Welsh tweed ponchos. She has the cloth made at the only Welsh woollen mill which still does that style.
Down on Brecon Road, the Freemason's Hall has been taken over by the Strand Cafe of Talgarth - they do outside catering.
On the edge of town, the Children's Bookshop is open from 8.30am to 8.30pm for the Festival (they're No. 1 on the Book Town Map).
My computer has decided not to talk to my camera again for the moment, so you'll have to imagine the photo of the hexagonal tent next to the Stone House, opposite the Globe, where Paul Haynes is selling some of his stock of books. He also has a unit at Broad Street Books for his more collectable volumes.
Yesterday there were stalls in the Buttermarket and Cheesemarket, with crafts and vintage goods - Fabazar Fairtrade stall was there with a colourful array, and a stall raising money for Rojo Rojo orphanage, at Kilifi, Kenya- they have a regular spot at Ludlow Market on Mondays with their Kenyan crafts.
And today it's Fair on the Square, with lots of vintage stalls.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Anti-Establishment Hay-on-Wye

There's a good article in the Guardian today by Oliver Balch, about independent shops in Hay, and the way Hay business people tend to go for the quirky rather than the conventional - which is one of the reasons that Hay is such a good place to live in.
The title of the article is Anti-Establishment Hay is a Breeding Ground for Independents, and mentions the new Keep magazine, the bookshops (with comments from Elizabeth Haycox of Booths and Ann Brichto of Addymans), Bartrums' stationers and the Fairtrade Eighteen Rabbit (Andrew Williams is also the head of the Chamber of Commerce), and the lingerie shop Underwhere, and the taxidermy shop.
Here's the link to copy and paste:

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

An Evening at the Rhydspence

It must be about fifteen years since I last set foot in the Rhydspence. In those days, it was quite a posh place to dine, with white tablecloths, and Dunkertons cider at the bar - we could never afford to eat there, but we did drink in the English bar occasionally.
Last night, Emma from Pottery Cottage kindly gave me a lift over there, and we had a lovely evening. Mark, who has recently taken over the running of the Rhydspence, told us he'd had a very busy May, and was looking forward to his first Hay Festival - all the rooms are booked. They've also sponsored the Festival event for Oliver Balch's book Under the Tump. The Dunkertons has been replaced by Thatchers, and the beers are Butty Bach and Doombar, and the place has a nice, welcoming atmosphere.

Monday, 23 May 2016

The Keep - the Launch of a New Magazine

What a lot of talented people there are living around Hay!
This week, a new magazine is being launched on the world, with a talk at Hay Festival on Friday 27th May on the Good Energy Stage called The Genius of the Marches. Many of the contributers to the magazine, authors and photographers, will be there for an evening of readings, stories and pictures.
The following evening, at Booths Bookshop, is the launch party. Copies of Issue 0 have already started appearing around town, in Addyman's Bookshop, The Old Electric Shop, Eighteen Rabbit and elsewhere.
I was given my copy at the Stitch and Bitch meeting at the Three Tuns last week (which I completely forgot about until they rang me up from across the road!). Another member of Stitch and Bitch, Tracy Thursfield, is the assistant editor, and Emanation crocheted the Green Man mask that features in one of the articles. In fact, on the way home from Stitch and Bitch that evening, we met one of the organisers (there was a big sign in the back of his car with the Keep logo on it, which was a bit of a give away!), and he told Emanation that her Green Man mask now has a back stage pass for Glastonbury!
The following day I met another of the organisers, off to deliver a few copies to the Drill Hall, for the Hay Festival booking office. He was very excited about how good the magazine looks, and said how helpful everyone they approached had been.
As I looked through the magazine, I noticed that quite a few of the contributers had also been reading from their books at the recent Vanguard Reading evening at Addymans. There are extracts from Addlands by Tom Bullough, and Under the Tump by Oliver Balch, along with an interview by Soma Ghosh with Nina Lyon, who wrote Uprooted (and which features the Green Man mask). Ben Rawlance, who wrote City of Thorns (about the huge refugee camp in Kenya) talks about the history of his local area and religious persecution.
Tracy Thursfield shows her writing ability (though she gives all the credit to the editor) with an article about Katherine Sheers and her silk embroidery, while Duncan Fallowell ponders the connections between the Welsh borders and Notting Hill via the street names.
There's also a restaurant review of River Cafe in Glasbury, and an article about the church at Patricio, photographs by John Bulmer from his long career, and more recent photographs by Billie Charity, and a cartoon, Bordertown, by Dix.
The magazine will be six monthly - the next issue will be out in the winter. It's a little expensive, at £10, but beautifully produced, and overflowing with local talent.

The website, www.thekeepmagazine.com has extra articles, including one by Sarah Putt, about the recent art installation she did in the window of one of the shops on the Pavement in Hay, and two by Tracy Thursfield - about purple dye, and about her day as the Queen of the May at Avebury! Soma Ghosh talks about the death of Prince, and there's another article on John Bulmer's photography, this time of the village of Pembridge in 1966.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

New School, No Pool

Gareth Ratcliffe has posted a letter on Facebook about the building of a new Hay School, and the future of the swimming pool which is in the present school.
Basically, it seems that the swimming pool doesn't have a future. There are no plans to include a pool in the new school buildings. Gareth was told this by the school - not the County Council (which he might have expected, being a county councillor).
Apparently, though, if the main entrance to the new school comes off the car park (as it is now) rather than Forest Road, this would bring the cost down enough to include a new pool.
The school pool has already been transferred from County Council control to local control, so the County Council can save money, and the local people running the pool have turned a £50,000 loss under the County Council into a surplus, so they can invest in the pool.
Teaching children to swim is a compulsary part of school life, and the next nearest pool is in Brecon, so retaining the pool, in a big, spread out county with a low population, is pretty important.
Gareth finishes his letter by saying:
"As local member I am consistently frustrated at Powys County Councils neglect of my community we have had to fight to keep services and run them ourselves and when we make them a success officers and lead members seem to want to punish us for succeeding where they can’t."

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Small Business Saturday

Hay Tek, a new computing shop. Previously, it's been a cafe, and a bookshop (I worked for Steve Sage in the bookshop for a while).

Friday, 20 May 2016

Archaeology at the Castle

Just after the Festival, there's going to be more digging up at the Castle, and they want volunteers to take part. Here's a cobbled surface that they found recently in a test pit:

Hmm, I still have my trowel....
For more details email info@haycastletrust.org

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Art and Music Coming up at the Festival

On my way home yesterday evening, I stopped in at the opening of a new art show. Elena Underhill has put an exhibition on at Ty Powys, down the alleyway to the side of Rose's Bookshop, and opposite Belle Books. The exhibition will run through the Festival until 24th June.
Elena is a Canadian, just flown in from Canada, but she's been to Hay before, when she came to several Baskerville acoustic evenings and sketched some of the musicians. So this is the sort of thing she does:

Later that evening, she came over to Baskerville Hall as well, bringing her sketch pad with her. A party of ramblers were staying in the hotel, so the music had a rambling theme, and we had a large audience - it was the first time this year that we've moved from the bar to the ballroom. Brian of Belle Books has now interested so many people in the Wednesday evening sessions that we needed two cars!

Meanwhile, Huw Parsons, another regular at the Baskerville, will also be busy during the Festival, along with Laurie Pyle, Justin Preece and David Cooper Orton. As the band Birds of a Feather, they will be performing live at 'BBC Introducing in Hereford & Worcester' on the BBC Radio Wales Hub at the Festival site, at 2pm on Sunday 29th May.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Bristol Bargainista Visits Hay

Some nice photos on this blog, talking about a day out in Hay. The post was made on the 1st March, at www.bristolbargainista.blogspot.com

Monday, 16 May 2016

Oliver Balch at Hay Library

These days, authors don't just write books - they have to publicise them, too, and one of the ways they do this is by giving talks and readings. Last week we had the Vanguard Readings at Addymans' Bookshop, and earlier this evening Oliver Balch was talking about his book Under the Tump at Hay Library.
10% of the proceeds from sales of the book on the evening were going to Hay Library funds - and the place was packed. I wasn't the only person sitting on the floor.
It must have been fairly nerve wracking for Oliver to have two of the ladies he's written about sitting on the front row, especially as he read out a section of the book where he meets them in Isis coffee shop and walks round Hay Market with them. The talk was all about belonging to a place and becoming part of a community, so it was fitting that one of the ladies said that she had actually been brought up yards away from where we were sitting, in a two bedroomed house that is long gone (her parents brought up ten children there!).
Oliver also revealed some of the research he'd done which hadn't made it into the book, because he felt he had been too much of a journalist. He followed the local hunt, and was a beater for the local shoot (feeling guilty about flushing out the birds towards the guns), but he felt that he was only doing that to get something to write about, which was not what he was aiming at.
Likewise, he avoided interviewing strange and wierd locals, because he wanted to show everyday life in Hay and Clyro, not the oddballs. He said it was actually more difficult than his previous travel writing, where he'd been the journalist with the notebook, done the interview and gone away again. In this case, he has to carry on living with the people he's been writing about, and hopefully stay friendly with them!
Near the end, he was asked about his children, and whether they felt they belonged in Clyro now - by the mother of one of their friends. Oliver said that a big part of the reason they moved to the area was so that the boys could go to school in a village school, and move on with their friends to the local secondary school. And now that may not happen, as the County Council threaten to close Gwernyfed High School. He said that, if the family were to move away, then closing the High School would be one of the reasons that would persuade them to leave.
It was an enjoyable evening, and I hope he sold a lot of books!

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Evenings at the Rose and Crown

You never know quite who you're going to meet when you go into the Rose and Crown.
A week or so ago, I was invited to join Brian in a drink, and we got talking to a visitor who turned out to be an artist and photographer who spent several years in Africa working for UNESCO. His name's John Harrison, and he gave me his card. His art works, in vibrant colours, are on his website at www.johnharrisonartist.com
And a few days ago, I learned a lot about the water content of wood with a local chap - who explained why wagon wheels used to fall apart in dry places like Arizona, and how to bend planks to build ships without breaking them - with a side trip to logging in Canada before the First World War, and a bridge disaster caused by wood panelling on an iron bridge hiding the rust - so one rush hour something like 200 people crossing the bridge caused it to collapse onto the train tracks below....
And Brian has completed his Pharaoh's mask:

Something for the casual Pharaoh about town, I think.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Small Business Saturday

Radnor House, now a B&B, but previously Chris Arden's Natural History Bookshop.

Friday, 13 May 2016

Where is Cusop?

To those of us who live in Hay, Cusop is a gentle stroll away on the edge of town. The Dingle is one of the nicest walks locally I know, getting gradually less built up as you go, until you reach farmland and, even further along, a dirt track instead of the road. And of course, this is where Kilvert said in his Diary that the last fairies had been seen!
All along that walk there's the Dulas Brook, with some pretty waterfalls.
And that's the problem, because the Dulas Brook is the border between England and Wales. Cusop is mostly in England - Herefordshire, and that's how it's being described on TripAdvisor now.
Herefordshire is quite a big place, so people wanting to stay in a B&B in Hay - or within a short walk of Hay - will probably not know that the B&Bs of Cusop would be ideal for them.
The Chamber of Commerce wrote to TripAdvisor in November to try to sort this out, and still hasn't got anywhere with them. There are seven B&Bs affected, including Lower House, which is actually on the Welsh side of the stream, although still in Cusop, but TripAdvisor seems not to be taking any notice of any of them, despite repeated complaints.
So the message is - if you want to come to Hay, think about staying in Cusop!

Thursday, 12 May 2016

The Figure Outside Belle Books

Well, the good news is that my camera and my computer are finally talking to each other again - but the bad news is that I can't rotate this picture, so I will have to show it sideways!
Brian of Belle Books has been getting creative with cardboard and newspaper and glue, and this is the result - a Plague Doctor's mask for the figure he made last year. A Tutankhamumn mask is in production at the moment (or Mayan, possibly....). I sewed the black hood under the mask for him.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Lorries in Hay

Never a good idea!

I found this picture on Twitter earlier today - the view is from inside Eve's cafe, and I have no idea how the lorry driver got out of it!

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Vanguard Reading

I was at Addyman's Bookshop last night for an evening of book readings. It was free, but there was a charge for the wine (with proceeds to St Michael's Hospice) and free olive bread to nibble. Of course, they were also hoping that the audience would buy some of the books. I treated myself to Uprooted, which is about the Green Man.
The room to the side of the front door and counter was full of stools, and the audience overflowed into the paperback section at the back, though we could all hear all right even at the back. Various people said it was nice to have an event in a bookshop other than Booths for a change, despite being quite cramped.
Apparently Vanguard book readings are popular in London - so popular they have started to publish their own books. Two were for sale at the event - a poetry book and a book of short fiction by some well known authors. Because some people said it was a pity the readings were all in London, they've started a tour of the country. They were in Grasmere in January, and later in the year they'll be in Manchester and Norwich, and other venues too.

Here's a picture of Addyman's window, with the Vanguard authors displayed.

Oliver and Emma Balch helped to organise the Hay event, and Oliver was the first to read, from his new book Under the Tump. He read the section where King Richard Booth presides over a meeting of the University of Cusop Dingle.
The next author laughed that he had tried to get even more local than Oliver with his novel Addlands, which is set around Painscastle, starting in 1941. He read a section about ploughing with a horse, and a couple of sections set in 1963.
Other local authors read from a book about manic depression called Tristomania, a book about the Green Man (Nina Lyon), a book about the biggest refugee camp in Africa - it's in Kenya and has been there for twenty five years, and there was a piece about dub music from another author.
I'm sorry I didn't take note of the names. I was too busy sipping white wine and chatting. Surprising fact of the night was that Jo Eliot thinks she may have taught the new Mayor of Bristol, but she doesn't remember him being in her class because he must have been one of the good boys, and she only remembers the horrors!
Some of the books were for sale in Addymans. One of the authors is having a book launch during the Festival, and Di Blunt threatened him with her displeasure if he tried to sell any books last night! He didn't want to get on the wrong side of Di!
[Edited to add: I assumed that Di was still in charge of the Festival Bookshop when the author made his comment, but a couple of people have told me today that she is no longer involved.]

And the authors were (I found the list!):
Oliver Balch
Tom Bullough
Jay Griffiths
Nina Lyon
Ben Rawlence
Richard Skinner

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Small Business Saturday

Edge and Rathbone dress shop, where Tom's Records used to be.

Friday, 6 May 2016

Powys Remains Orange

Kirsty Williams has been re-elected to the Welsh Assembly in yesterday's elections, with an increased majority - but she seems to be the only Lib Dem there now. On the other hand, there are now 6 UKIP AMs, including Neil Hamilton! Sadly (since I did a lot of walking around Forest Road and Gypsy Castle with leaflets for the campaign) no Green candidates were elected this time. And the local Police Commissioner remains the same, the Conservative Christopher Salmon.
Or at least, that's what I thought when I first wrote this - but now I see on the BBC website that Plaid Cymru's Dafydd Llewelyn has won the election for Police Commissioner.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Rhydspence Reopens

I was glad to see an article in the Hereford Times last week about the re-opening of the Rhydspence Inn, just over on the other side of the river. It's not so long ago that the local CAMRA group campaigned to keep it open, partly because of the historic interest of the building. Oliver Balch also writes about drinking there regularly in Under the Tump, though he noted that it was always very quiet.
I hope the new owners make a success of it, and keep it open for many years to come.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Scarlet Curtains

Lydia, the lady who gave the presentation to the Council about the Bronllys Well-Being Park, came to visit me the other day. She's been having a clear out, and had some knitting patterns and dress patterns that she wanted to go to a good home. She'd noticed that I belong to Stitch and Bitch, and I'll be taking the three binders down on Thursday to share out. It's from 6pm to 8pm on the first Thursday of every month, at the Three Tuns.
She also had a pair of bright scarlet curtains. "I thought these might be good for a superhero," she said, also knowing of my fondness for dressing up.
The sewing machine has come out from the back of the cupboard.
So far, I have made a sash for the Young Man, for his Steampunk adventurer's costume, and I'm half way through making a scarlet skirt (possibly for a version of Wonder Woman, or even Captain Marvel?). There is enough fabric left for another skirt, made with the other side of the fabric facing out, which is a darker red, so that's the next project.