Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Acoustic Session at the Swan at Hay

There's a new manager at the Swan, and so they tried a one off acoustic session last night. It was led by Bob Evans, who is in charge of the Wednesday night sessions at Baskerville Hall, and several of the Basky regulars came along, as well as a family from South Wales who have been a few times - he plays guitar and bodhran, she sings and the son plays fiddle. I think they call themselves Occasional Domestics.
Although Bob had said that he had not negotiated his usual chips and free drink for performers deal, chips arrived on every table at 8pm, when the session started, and more arrived later, with bread and butter. After that, cake appeared on the bar, but not many people tried that - I think they may have been full of chips!
We were in the back bar, which has changed since I was last there - they used to have a pool table in the middle. That's now gone, though the lights that used to hang over the table are still there, and leather sofas have appeared.
And it was a lovely evening, of good music (and me doing Stately as a Galleon and a reading from Gervase Phinn's book about being a Yorkshire school inspector, and Susan singing Gilbert and Sullivan). There's always a good variety - one chap who plays the fiddle actually works at the Swan, so he was included in the music making while he was working, and the German lady with the harp came along too.
And here we all are, seen from where Bob was sitting:

Phil is singing, centre, in this view.
And at the end of the evening, I could walk home, in company with Brian, Jane and Susan - all of us humming different tunes!

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Birds of a Feather

I've been very slow at getting round to listening to this CD I was given by Huw Parsons. He was performing his poetry during Hay Festival, with a guitarist friend, live for BBC Radio Hereford and Worcester, who had a stand at the Festival.
There's a bit of an interview, talking about Huw's CD The Big Freeze, in which Huw's poetry was read by a variety of people with regional accents, including Sting! (He did the North East).
There are several poems on the CD as well, including one about Father Richard of Hay St Mary's, debating about which car would be suitable for him to buy.
Huw has actually been quite prolific in his recordings - there are 15 CDs so far, available from peevishbeebooks@yahoo.co.uk They include Being Welsh and Another Night in Merthyr, Loose Leaves, The Big Freeze and Jam Tomorrow.
At his best, Huw Parsons is very good indeed, and his worst is pretty fair, too!

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Bank Holiday Problems

I had a phone call on Friday evening, as a result of which I needed to go to the bank to transfer some money. However, the Barclays Bank in Hay doesn't open on Saturday morning, and as it's Bank Holiday, it doesn't open on Monday either. For a while now, it has closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays as well. Which meant that I wouldn't be able to do my business there until Thursday.
At this point I should say that Hay is far better off for banks than many similar sized towns along the Marches, where banks have been closing completely all over the place.
Fortunately, it was easy to look up bank opening times online - Brecon is also closed on a Saturday, but Hereford is open. And I had a few errands I needed to run in Hereford anyway.
At the bus stop, I met a Chinese lady who was trying to work out the bus times. She was unaware of British Bank Holidays, and had therefore thought it would be a good idea to travel from Hay to Penzance on Bank Holiday Monday. I explained that we only got a Sunday service on Bank Holidays (and we're lucky to get that thanks to the Hay Ho people) and the first bus goes at 11.25am. The lady needed to be away earlier than that, to catch a train. She checked with the bus driver when he came, having seen the week day services starting at around 7am (mostly for the schools), but he confirmed that there would be no Stagecoach buses running on Monday. She went away thinking about a taxi - expensive, but there seemed to be no other option.
In Hereford, the visit to the bank went smoothly - but it's years since I was inside the Hereford branch of Barclays, and it's changed a lot! Now a lot of it seems to be self-service, on a bank of computers along one wall, and there were only two actual humans behind a counter for those of us who are perpetually confused and need a bit of help!
There was an Indie Food Festival on in Hereford, but I didn't have time to follow the signs to have a look round (which was a pity) but I did manage to treat myself to a Captain Marvel graphic novel - The Rise of Alpha Flight, which looks like great fun.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Patmos, Iona.... and Hay?

I met an interesting couple who were customers in the shop a few days ago (I noticed them first because the chap, Dan Siegel, has an extremely impressive moustache!)
They were enjoying their holiday in Hay, both for the books and the countryside, and it turns out that they run GoodWorld Journeys, from San Francisco. They've been organising holidays for twenty five years - originally on Patmos, and now also on Iona - which they describe as salon-style gatherings, with social time, meaningful conversations and excursions. They appear to have mainly literary themes - three gatherings on Patmos this year had the titles Revelations in the Art of Memoir, Discovering and Telling Great Stories, and Screenwriting in Greece, with visiting speakers.
They're thinking of extending their range to include gatherings in or near Hay - they were thinking about local hotels on their last day. They also mention sacred places on their website. Hay might not be quite as numinous as Iona, or have the religious associations of Patmos, where St. John wrote the Book of Revelations, but we do have Llantony Abbey within easy reach, and lots of sacred wells and beautiful medieval churches.
They have a website at www.goodworldjourney.com

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Herefordshire Cider

I didn't know much about cider when I first came to Hay - just the Strongbow adverts with the arrow thunking into the scenery, and the vague idea that it was too tart and acidic for me.
I was just getting into real ale.
But Herefordshire is traditionally a cider county, and that overflows to the Welsh side of the border too, with lots of old cider presses dotted around.
The Bulmers factory in Hereford didn't look much like the old cider presses, though the orchards are lovely. I've been down to Monnington-on-Wye when the blossom was out, and it was a sea of pink everywhere we looked.
And then someone introduced me to Dunkertons cider, which was like fine wine alongside the likes of Woodpecker and Strongbow. It's organic, too.
This week in the Hereford Times, I see that Ivor Dunkerton, the founder of the business, has died at the age of 83. His son Julian runs the business now. In 1980 starting an organic cider business must have seemed an eccentric thing to do, but the business is still growing, so they must be doing something right.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Music at the Swan

The new manager at the Swan is trying something out on Bank Holiday Monday evening. He's asked Bob Evans, who usually does the Wednesday night acoustic session at Baskerville Hall, to run an acoustic session there. As it's a one off, there won't be any free drinks or chips - but there will be plenty of good music if the Wednesday evenings are anything to go by!
The evening's entertainment will start at 8pm.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Honey Cafe, Bronllys

Here's a picture that was shared on Twitter - three great grand-daughters of the founder of the Honey Cafe, Glynwen Davies, now working in the cafe.

The Honey Cafe used to be on the main road to Brecon, when the main road ran through Bronllys. Now the main road veers off to the new roundabouts, avoiding the village, and the Honey Cafe is just on the end of the road through the village nearest to Hay. It's a lovely place to go out for a meal, and the gardens at the back are beautiful.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Local Charities in the Buttermarket

There was a wide array of charity stalls in the Buttermarket yesterday. I didn't take note of all the names, but Riding for the Disabled was selling t-shirts, among other things, and asking for volunteers, and there was a tombola. Hay Theatre Group were there, and Hay Castle Trust were selling raffle tickets and books. Bric-a-brac and toys were on sale as well.
Prize find of the day for me was a Black Dalek! It's about 6 inches high, and it says "Seek! Locate! Destroy!"

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Fishing on the Warren

I know nothing about fishing, but I'm pretty sure this is an impressive catch!

This is a barbel, caught on the River Wye at the Warren yesterday (and then Tweeted by Hay Warren Anglers, which is how I saw it). The fisherman caught two barbel, one weighing 5lb 4oz and the other weighing 7lb 12oz!

The river is on the low side at the moment, but there's obviously still plenty of room in there for quite large fish.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Chicken Farm News

I mentioned the planning application for a local farmer to erect chicken sheds in my post about local government (our local MP is in favour of it). Someone has kindly updated me on the state of play at the moment.
The farm involved is Lower House Farm in Clyro, and the farmer there has just put in new plans for the entrance to the field where he wants the sheds to be built.
The objections to the plans are as follows:

1 Potential affect on the River Wye SAC (Special Area Of Conservation)
which has not been adequately protected by the proposed development

2 Visibility. The first eyesore you see when entering the Gateway to mid
Wales (Hay on Wye) on the A438

3 Road Danger. Access is on an S bend where there has been a number of
serious accidents and someone killed there in Summer 2014

4 Impact on local businesses, Tourism eg Black Mountain View Caravan Park
225 meters in the prevailing wind from the proposed site with the Odour
(ammonia) other B and B,s and local residents at Lower House and Bronydd

5 Potential affect on ancient and veteran trees and local woods (Wet Covert
250 meters away consisting of the oldest trees in Radnorshire) and lichen

6 Affects on local wildlife eg bats, dormice, otters, badgers, etc.

I'm sure Radnorshire Wildlife Trust will be concerned about numbers 1, 5 and 6 on the list.

The link for objections to the plans is:

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Local Government for Beginners

I was talking to some people in Oxfam the other day, and they had very little idea of which part of local government was responsible for what, partly because it's very confusing, and partly because they've been getting on with their lives and not noticing how local democracy works. One of them suggested that I should have a go at explaining it.

So - this is not a definitive explanation, but I hope it makes things less confusing.

The lowest level of local government is the Town Council. We are supposed to have 11 coucillors in Hay, one of whom is chosen to be Mayor every year. They are not paid for all the hard work they do - and it is a lot of work, and a lot of official documents to read. The Town Council are responsible for the recent work to improve the Glis, and the Woodland Group that looks after the Riverside Path. They check that the playground equipment is safe, and get to comment (but not make the final decision) on planning applications. Recently, they have been putting together a Town Plan, which will help when they are negotiating with the County Council. They will be able to point to the Plan and say "This is what the people of Hay have said that they want." There are two vacant seats on the Town Council at the moment.
The Town Council is also getting the responsibility for certain things that used to be done by the County Council. They now run the public toilets (the County Council wanted to close them down), and with the local sports associations, they run the Sports Pavilion (again, if they hadn't taken it on, it would have been closed by the County Council).

The County Council has 72 county councillors from all over Powys - they are paid for their work. In Hay we are only able to vote for one of these - our county councillor at the moment is Gareth Ratcliffe. However, most of the decisions of the County Council are not taken by the 72 councillors debating an issue, but by a Cabinet of six or seven councillors, who are chosen from the party with the greatest number of seats on the County Council. We in Hay have no way of voting for or against these people - we can only vote for our own county councillor - even though they are making decisions that profoundly affect Hay and the area around it.
They have responsibility for the provision of education in the county - so they are the ones to blame when we look at Hay School and see that a new school hasn't been built yet, and they are the ones who want to close Gwernyfed High School and merge it with Brecon High School in a new super-school in Brecon which they don't actually have the funds to build yet.
The County Council were also responsible for the Community Centre (now a pile of bricks on a bit of waste ground) which was supposed to be incorporated with a new school, which we haven't got yet. They also closed several small rural primary schools over the last few years.
They are also responsible for the Library.
They are also responsible for things like rubbish collection and street lighting.

Complicating matters on the planning front, we are also part of the National Park in Hay, so they have responsibility for planning applications, such as the 80 houses due to be built on Brecon Road, and the 19 houses due to be built on the site of the old community centre.

Complicating matters even further - we are on the border with Herefordshire, and Herefordshire County Council have responsibility for planning over in Cusop, including the Booker's Edge housing development which is due to be built in the field opposite the Co-op. They don't seem to speak to anyone in Powys, even though houses there mean that there will be more children to go to Hay School, and more people in the catchment area of the local doctors and dentists.

Oh, and Bronllys Hospital comes under the Health Authority, which is separate again, and again we in Hay have no vote in whatever they want to do with the site.

At the next tier up, there is the Welsh Assembly. Our local AM is Kirsty Williams, and the Welsh Assembly has funds from central government for things like education provision, which the County Council can apply for.

And above that, there is Parliament at Westminster, and our MP Chris Davies, who has very little influence over what happens at the local level, but has recently voiced approval for the building of intensive chicken rearing sheds at a local farm on the other side of the river in the name of diversity - even though this will impact negatively on the farmer next door, who has been diversifying into tourism and a caravan site (will anyone want to stay there, next to chicken sheds?).

So that's pretty much what we were discussing the other day.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Pokemon Go Comes to Hay

I knew that there were people playing Pokemon Go around Hereford - it got into the Hereford Times.
But now, I am reliably informed that the pyramid outside the Cinema Bookshop in Hay is a Pokestop!
and Pokemon purple rats have been seen at Beer Revolution!

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Funeral Arrangements

Leon Morelli's funeral will be held on Thursday at 1pm in St Austell, Cornwall. Rob Golesworthy is organising a bus for anyone who wants to go down from Hay to attend.

Updated to Add: I've now been told that it's not Rob Golesworthy who is organising the coach - it's Adele at the Cinema Bookshop.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Computing Success

I did what I should have done in the first place - I went to see Tim Pugh.
When I'd explained what I wanted, he got a couple of quotes together in a very short time, and I chose which one I wanted to go for. They don't carry a big stock in the shop on the Pavement, so everyone who comes in gets a "tailormade" solution.
Yesterday, Tim Pugh came round and installed the new laptop, and made sure it could talk to my desktop and printer.
And last night I took it upstairs so I could type in bed! On a tray, which was the Top Tip from Dale at Keeper's Pocket - he'd made the mistake of using a laptop on top of something fluffy that clogged it up.
It was a little bit more expensive than I'd thought, but it was well worth it for the peace of mind, and having someone who knows what they're doing and can explain it in layman's language to do all the technical stuff.

Friday, 12 August 2016

End of an Era

It's been a bit of a shock, really. When the staff at the Cinema Bookshop took over the business from Leon Morelli, it was all quite exciting. We knew that he was ill, but we thought he'd have time to enjoy his retirement.
Then on the 4th August, he died.
Leon Morelli has been part of the life of Hay for decades - owning several businesses including the Cinema Bookshop, and being the leading light in HADSCA, the Hay and District Sports Association.
There has been talk of hiring a bus from Hay to go down to the funeral next week, but I haven't heard any details yet.

Monday, 8 August 2016

Music at the Castle

A summer concert at Hay Castle will be raising funds for the Restoration Project.
The Enigma Duo, violin and harp, will be performing music by Handel, Bartok and Saint-Saens at 5pm on Sunday 21st August.
A light supper after the concert is included in the ticket price, and there will also be a raffle, with prizes provided by local businesses, like a one year pass to the toll bridge at Whitney, a night at Llangoed Hall, a pass to all the events at Hay Winter Festival, lunches at the Swan and the River Cafe, a one year cinema pass to Booth's Cinema, a gift voucher from Golesworthy's, a Christmas turkey from George's in Talgarth, and tickets to next year's Hay Chamber Music Festival.
The concert has been organised by Hay Music, and costs £20 a ticket. Raffle tickets are available from Hay Castle office.

Friday, 5 August 2016

Plans to Consider

I've now seen the plans for the new primary school, which Gareth Ratcliffe has linked to from the Cllr Gareth Ratcliffe News Updates Facebook page.
I can see why Rob Golesworthy thought it looked like a shed.
It's completely different from the last plan that everyone was consulted on, consisting of one building with classrooms on each side and a broad corridor down the middle, with a separate building to the side with the hall.
There is, of course, no mention of the library or community centre provision that were incorporated into the last plans for the primary school. I'm not sure what's happening to the swimming pool, either. They're certainly not building a new one.
I'm sure the new plans will be displayed for consultation in due course.

Meanwhile, there will be a consultation about the Hay Town Plan on Thursday 11th August at the school. It will run from 10.30am to 6.30pm and councillors will be available throughout the day to discuss the details. There will also be free parking available in the school grounds for anyone attending. The full town plan is available on the Hay Council website, under Projects.

And finally, the application has gone in for the building of 19 houses on the old community centre site, by Wales and West Housing Association - but this is only an outline application seeking approval for access (as it's on a difficult corner to get into). The BBNP planning number is 15/13047/OUT.