Thursday, 27 July 2017

Hereford Hop

I went into the wholefood shop the other day to get some cheese - one of my favourite local varieties is Hereford Hop, a mild and mellow cheese with hops pressed into the surface of the cheese. When I first came to the area, I thought that this was a traditional variety of cheese - but it turns out it was first made in 1990, by Charles Martell, who is also the cheesemaker who came up with Stinking Bishop. He has a farm in Gloucestershire. An article in Beer, the magazine for CAMRA members, tells me that the hops are first roasted and then pressed into the surface of the cheese, and the variety of hop is usually locally grown Fuggles.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Celtic Evening at the Globe

It was a fine night, organised by Thomasin and with several musicians I didn't know, including a lady who sang in Scots Gaelic (Katie?) and three men who played Appalachian dance music on fiddles and guitar while two women, who I think must have been mother and daughter, did step dancing. The room was full, and I think everyone was enjoying themselves. I certainly was.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Post Office Vans

I was in the newsagents the other day, and a couple of Post Office vans were parked on Lion Street, which is the closest they can get to the back door of the Post Office, where the post is taken in and out. They park on the double yellow lines, and block the street while they're there.
Margaret was not happy about it. She sees it most days, and she'd had enough of it.
"It's not the boys from Hay," she said. "They park round the corner. It's the boys from Hereford."
So she had rung up one of the managers in Hereford to complain.
He was less than sympathetic. "There's nothing you can do if they're legally parked," he said, according to Margaret.
But the whole point was that they were not legally parked. Margaret told him exactly what she thought of him, and slammed the phone down.
A little while later, however, the vans were moved....

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Discussing the Future of Hay Library

The top area at the back of Tomatitos was packed out for the meeting called by HOWLS to discuss the future of the library. The new portfolio holder for Powys County Council, Rachel Powell, is due to meet with HOWLS shortly, and the committee wanted to make sure that they knew what the membership of the organisation wants before they go to that meeting.
At the moment the most important question to ask is - do the members want the Library to stay in the current building, or move to the school?
The meeting started with some background information so that the people at the meeting could make an informed choice. Deb Johnson, a local architect, has drawn up the plans showing the present library at the same scale as the proposed library in the school, for direct comparison. The room in the school is about a third smaller than the present library, and the present library also has a toilet and little kitchen and storage area. The room in the school is also the larger of the two rooms put aside in the plans for community use - there was a site meeting at the school for the Powys Cabinet recently, where they made that decision - there has been some uncertainty over whether the library would get the large room or the small room, and they decided on the large room, with the small room available for community use, when it's not being used to store the bookcases on wheels from the library. So much for Hay having a new community centre to replace the one that was knocked down.
However, the library room will have fixed furniture, such as a counter/desk for the librarian, and some shelves. So the school is disappointed that the room cannot be emptied completely so it can be used for things like yoga classes. However, the current library has computer terminals. It is unknown whether the library in the school will have any computer terminals, which are a necessary part of a modern library.
The access to the library and community room is separate from the access to the main school, so there is no possibility of library users wandering through the classrooms - as Rev. Charlesworth said, there are no safeguarding issues with this layout of the buildings, just as the swimming pool at the school is presently used by the public with no issues.
Powys County Council have said that, if the library remains in the current building, it can only open for 6 hours a week.
If the library moves to the school, it can open for 12 hours a week.
At the moment, the library is open for 23 hours a week.
It is unknown what will happen to the present library building if the library moves into the school.
If the library stays in the current building, the rooms in the school will be available for the school to use as they wish. The school would be paying for heating and lighting for those rooms if the library was there.
If HOWLS wants the library to stay in the current building, Powys County Council have said that they will have to put together a viable business plan by the 31st December. In the last few days, and with the help of Kirsty Williams the AM, HOWLS have got a breakdown of the costs involved in running the library, but they haven't had much time to study it yet, and it still seems worryingly vague. However, the minimum the community would have to raise would be £8,000 a year - and maybe as much as £15,000 a year. Since donations to the cause so far stand at around £200, this seems like a lot to find, especially as the Festival will not be donating any more money to the library after this year. The figures provided don't seem to include rates, either, though HOWLS could apply for rate relief if they did decide to go down that road.
According to the County Council, most of the other libraries at risk of closure around Powys have found solutions to the problem - but they weren't very forthcoming about what those solutions might be.
One question from the audience was about the library buying new books - would this be done by the county library service, or would the library have to raise money to do it themselves?
Jayne, the Librarian, was unable to comment on the County Council's plans, as an employee, but she did point out that lending books was only part of what a library does. She added that book lending has gone up significantly in the last 3 months. It was also mentioned that, since the school has started to take the children up to the library for visits, children have brought their parents along to the library - parents who may never have been to the library before. The school also saw benefits in walking the children through their community to visit the library, and it was also pointed out that the library is a safe place for children to go to - and there aren't many places like that around.
It was also pointed out that the plan of the new school is basically two sheds, with moveable internal walls - and who can say what the library's place will be in future years? Maybe the entire school will become a "learning environment" for adults and children alike, and it would be better for the present library to be in a flexible space, which can also be moved around for different styles of classroom teaching?

So everyone had post-it notes on the tables, where they could write their comments - yellow for positive comments and green for concerns and negative comments.

Once this was done, the comments were to be taken away to be collated, and HOWLS will be emailing members shortly with a digest of what the mind of the meeting turned out to be.
For the future, HOWLS are bearing in mind that it is not just the population of Hay that uses the library, but people from all the villages in the area, and it would be a good idea to get all those community councils on board with whatever decision is made about the library's future.
Hay Town Council will also be meeting with HOWLS shortly - Alan Powell was there representing the Town Council, and Gareth Ratcliffe was also there as county councillor.

HOWLS will next be meeting on August 15th at 7pm at the Library.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Visiting Cardiff, and a Tour of South Wales

This was another day out with vague plans made. The one essential feature, though, was to visit the Doctor Who Experience on Cardiff Bay. It's closing in September, and there are a few things that are only available through the official shop there, so I was on a mission to get what I could.
This meant getting up at the crack of dawn for the first bus into Brecon, where I changed for the T4 to Cardiff. It's a nice run down, and I can do it all on one Explorer ticket, which costs £7.90. In Cardiff, I paused for a coffee at the Rendezvous Café in Queen's Arcade, and then got another bus down to the Bay - there was supposed to be a bus stop by the railway station, but I couldn't find it, so I went to the end of St Mary Street and found the bus stop there - the number 6 that I caught didn't do change, but I managed to scrabble the £1.80 out of the bottom of my purse and drop it in the hopper As we went round the railway station, I saw the bus stop I'd been looking for on the other side. There were quite a few well-dressed people on the bus, including one lady in a gorgeous deep blue and gold sari - I wondered if they were going to a wedding or something similar.
The bus dropped me right outside the Doctor Who Experience, a big hangar-like building painted Tardis blue. I didn't have time to do the Experience tour, so I passed the Lego dalek, and the three daleks from the series, and went up the stairs to the shop.
I bought quite a lot....
Then I walked along the edge of the Bay, past the Norwegian church (and café and art gallery), to see a big crowd of people around the Millennium Centre. Many of them were wearing academic caps and gowns, and I recognised a couple of families from the bus ride. It seems it was graduation day for Cardiff University, and I saw students in their gowns all over the city centre after that.
I also visited Ianto's Shrine - the character from Torchwood (which had its secret base under the square on the Bay) who died in the mini-series Children of Earth. It's looking a little faded now, but still covers an impressive amount of wall space.
Then I got a bus back into the city centre from outside the Millennium Centre - a number 8 this time, which only cost £1.60 - and gave change.
Back in the city centre, I had intended to go to the Brewdog pub for lunch - but I'm not having a lot of luck with pubs at lunchtime at the moment, and they were closed. So I headed on to the comic shop, and Forbidden Planet, and did a bit more shopping around town. I ended up eating lunch from a Subway, at the bus stop for home.
Where I got on the wrong bus.
I didn't realise this until we were leaving Merthyr Tydfil, when I started noticing that this was not the route I had come by that morning. We went up through Dowlais, where there is a historic blast furnace, and a statue of the Trevithick steam engine. Then I noticed the road sign which pointed the way to Abergavenny.
I went up and consulted the driver. He said I could go to Abergavenny and get the X43 to Brecon. Okay, then. A little further on, we pulled into a modern little bus station, and I asked the driver where we were. "Ebbw Vale," he said, "and look - there's the T4 going back to Merthyr - it might be better if you got on that." This seemed like a good idea, so I ran down the bus station and caught the T4.
Fortunately I was in time, back in Merthyr, for the bus which got me to Brecon before the last bus back to Hay - and I'd done the entire mystery tour for not extra cost - all with my Explorer ticket!

Monday, 17 July 2017

The Best Laid Plans....

To be honest, the plans weren't really that best laid. I had the vague notion that I might like to get the bus to Dorstone, walk out to the castle at Snodhill to look round, and come back to the Pandy at Dorstone for lunch. And, because I grew up on the Famous Five books, I made sure I was equipped with a small backpack with fruit juice and chocolate (and an unbreakable steel goblet to drink from), like a 1930s rambler.
That plan lasted until I got off the bus at Dorstone. When I went over to check the opening times at the Pandy, they don't open on a Monday lunchtime.
Hey ho - I could still walk out to Snodhill. It wasn't that far, and on the way I bought some eggs from outside Snodhill Court Farm, from an honesty box.
The entrance to the castle had gates across it, and large notices saying that this was a hard hat area and there was no public access. At the top of the hill, the castle ruins themselves were hidden under scaffolding.
I couldn't see anyone about, so I thought I might just sneak in and take a photo, and then sneak out again.
I was caught straight away, by a very nice young man who came out of the tea hut, where the workers were having their break.
The Snodhill Preservation Trust is having work done to stabilise the stonework and stop the castle from falling into further ruin. The young man gave me a leaflet, which says that Historic England did emergency work on the castle last year, and the work this year is to clear the undergrowth, restore the standing remains and to investigate the surroundings to find out more about the medieval castle.
Surprisingly little is known about the origins of the castle - it may be built among the earthworks of an Iron Age hill fort, and may even be a rare, pre-Norman castle. The first certain information is in the time of William Fitz Osbern, first Earl of Hereford, around 1070 - he built all the early castles from Wigmore to Chepstow. He granted Snodhill to Hugh l'Asne, who held it until he died in 1100, when it passed to Robert de Chandos, who had married Hugh's daughter. The de Chandos family held the castle for the next 300 years or so, and at one point during Edward II's reign the castle was stormed by Roger Mortimer.
There are rumours that the castle was besieged by the Earl of Leven in 1645, during the English Civil War - cannon balls have been found - but after that it fell out of use, and stone from the castle was used to build nearby Snodhill Court.
The tower keep is unique - it's twelve-sided - and Historic England have started an extensive survey of the castle and its surroundings, including the nearby village and park, field systems and lanes.
The Preservation Trust are looking for Friends and volunteers to help with the work. To become a Friend costs £10 a year, for which you receive a newsletter called The Turret, and invitations to events over the year. They can be contacted at:
The Friend's Secretary,
Snodhill Castle Preservation Trust,
The Green
It's a fascinating castle, and I hope it becomes better known when the work is done - I'm certainly going to be going back next year, when it should be possible to get a better look around.
Later, I was talking to Mary Fellowes at Broad Street Books, and she remembers one of the local farms taking their pigs up to the castle for the summer!
Then, instead of going back to Dorstone, I walked on along the valley to Peterchurch, where I had a very nice half of Ludlow Gold at the Nag's Head, where the landlady told me that the people working at Snodhill came to have their site meetings. Then I caught the bus back to Hay - so it was a very pleasant morning out after all.
A few nights ago, Brian and a few friends were having a drink at Kilverts, and got talking to some other people sitting outside, who turned out to be working on the castle. If you're reading this, young man from Snodhill - take no notice of Brian - he was only winding you up! Apparently he was spinning some sob story about how I'd been looking forward to the visit to the castle for months, and saved up all my pennies to get there, and was bitterly disappointed to be thrown off the site! In fact, I completely understood why I wasn't allowed any closer, and the young man couldn't have been nicer!

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Celtic Evening

I'm looking forward to going to the Globe on Friday evening - Thomasin, Justin and some of their friends will be playing Celtic music from 8pm. Tickets are £5. They're both very good musicians, so it should be a good night!

Saturday, 15 July 2017

HOWLS Meeting

Next Wednesday, the 19th July, there will be a meeting at Tomatitos, at 7pm, about the future of Hay Library.
To quote the Facebook page:

"The sole emphasis of this meeting will be to make a start on compiling a list of the pros and cons of all the options facing the future of Hay Library.

This will require HOWLS to look closely at all the options on offer so what do you think?

Is our community best served by the Library:

* Moving into the new school premises
* Staying where it is and finding a way of making up the Powys
funding shortfall
* Other? Are there any other options that we haven't thought of yet

Come equipped on the night with your own ideas and we'll add them to the list or if you can't make the meeting or simply prefer to add your opinion in writing then please contact the Secretary Melanie on and we will ensure that it gets added to the list."

If we want to keep a library which really is a library, and not just a room with a few books in it, this will be an important meeting.

Friday, 14 July 2017

The Big Skill

While the Town Council and volunteer groups were in the Buttermarket, The Big Skill was on at the Globe.
This event has been on in Hay before, but it's the first time they've used the Globe - previously it's been on the fields across the river.
It was £5 to get in, but once you were inside there were all sorts of craft workshops to try, as well as crafts and art to buy, and live music through the afternoon and into the evening.
Just at the entrance was the Brecon and Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees, selling teddy bears with labels describing how people had become refugees ("I fled from Syria because it wasn't safe there" and so on), and with information about their work. The refugees they support are in Swansea now, mostly from Syria.
Around the grounds of the Globe were tents with a variety of stalls. Lottie O'Leary was giving people the chance to try stone carving, while down the steps at Bridget's Scrap Bag (rag rugs and other fabric crafts), people were making flowers with a sacking back and rag petals Bridget Morgan sells her work at Talgarth Mill shop, and holds regular workshops - details available from The Bakers' Table at Talgarth Mill,
Another stall was selling jewellery from Kenya - the Brecon Molo Community Partnership, and Greenpeace were giving information about their campaign to save the rich bio-diversity of the Amazon reef, under threat from oil drilling by BP - with the help of SpongeBob SquarePants. An artist was working on a landscape, and another stall had a spinning wheel, and all the tools for spinning and weaving. Elsewhere children were building an impressive turreted edifice from clay, and a chap was wood turning. I treated myself to an annular brooch turned from Applewood. Another stall had decorative stained glass, and another had children trying needle felting.
Inside the Globe was set up for the music - it's all been recently refurbished, so the scaffolding gallery is gone, replaced with something that looks much smarter and more permanent, with a proper solid stairway up to it, and the wide benches around the edges of the hall have been rebuilt.
Bob Evans, who presides over the acoustic sessions at Baskerville Hall, was there (after I'd gone), at his second gig of the day - the first was in Brecon - though he only had a small audience.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Meet the Council Day

Here are three members of the Town Council at the Buttermarket last Saturday. Rob Golesworthy introduced me to one of the new councillors (sorry I've forgotten his name!) and said that, although he'd had issues with some things that I'd written on this blog, he had to say that I was always accurate. Which is high praise indeed, and it is what I try to achieve. (I don't always manage it, but I do try).
Another two councillors (Trudi and Alan) were over at the Woodland Group stall, looking after their display of garden and woodcutting tools and with some rather pretty mugs to sell. I'm drinking my tea from one now.
Also in the Buttermarket were Dial-a-Ride and the North Weir Trust, with a large display of plants for sale. Dial-a-Ride members can be any age, living within a 9 mile radius of Hay, and they can use the service for shopping trips, visits to the doctors' surgery, visiting friends, and more. They also run trips to places like Hergest Croft Gardens and Abergavenny Market. And they have fully accessible buses for wheelchair users. The drivers are volunteers, and one of the aims of the day was to sign up new volunteers to the various local groups.
North Weir Trust gives grants to local people for educational purposes.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Beer on the Wye

I was planning to go to Beer on the Wye this year - the thirteenth year Herefordshire CAMRA have organised it - and the night before, I got a phone call. One of my friends was going to see her mother in Hereford; her husband is a member of CAMRA and wanted to go to the beer festival, so would I like a lift? It would only be for the Friday afternoon, but that was ideal for me, because that's what I was planning to do anyway, but working around the times of the 39 bus. This way, I was dropped right at the Rowing Club, picked up afterwards, and had company to chat to while I was there. And it meant that Richard had company, too, so a win all round, although he does know several of the volunteers running the festival, and had a good chat about cricket at the bar.

A quick scan down the list of beers, and I didn't notice any from East Anglia this year - the beers from that part of the country don't make it across this far very often so that's always my first choice if there are any available, and I was wearing my Woodforde's Wherry tshirt for the occasion, which is one of my favourite beers from East Anglia.
So the first beer I tried was from the North West - Robinson's Trooper, which was named after the Iron Maiden song. Richard went for Timothy Taylor's Golden Best, always a reliable name, and a nice light beer to start with.
And we managed to get seats, on a table under the stage, where tech people were getting ready for the first band to play that evening.
Moving around the country, my second choice was Orkney Raven, a golden refreshing ale. I try to go for a beer from each category of the list if I can (my upper limit for beer festivals these days is three pints, taken as halves or thirds so I can try a variety of beers), so the next beer I chose was Mantle's Dark Heart, a ruby porter from Ceredigion which was absolutely gorgeous - and just right to finish on, as our lift arrived then and was waiting outside for us. Richard finished with some Malvern Hills Pale Ale, which he thought his wife would like.
The weather was good, it wasn't too crowded (being the first afternoon) and we got to try some very fine beers, with good conversation, so it was an extremely pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Hereford History Day

I went into Hereford sitting on the bus next to a lady I know, who had just come back from London, where she'd been staying in a hotel where some of the survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire are staying. She said the hotel was making them welcome, but they aren't sure how long they are going to have to stay there.

The show was smaller this year than previous years, but the medieval group they got in - Historia Normannis - were really good. When I was there, they were explaining the economic aspects of medieval warfare to an interested group of members of the public (such as, you don't want to kill too many peasants because they're needed to grow the crops, and you don't want to kill your noble adversary if you can capture him and hold him to ransom - I'm simplifying madly, obviously). They also did a display where they attacked cabbages on sticks to show the effects of different weapons. One of the women on camp was dressed as a Benedictine nun, a costume choice that isn't often seen since nuns tended to be cloistered and not wandering around the countryside with a bunch of knights! One chap, dressed as a peasant this year, said he'd portrayed King John at a show in Swaffham last year. Apparently, King John is very popular in Swaffham, because he granted them their market charter! He's also married to someone who works for Hereford Council, so he's been involved in most of the History Days they've held. Last year, he was a Victorian gent, sipping tea and eating cucumber sandwiches in the tea tent!
The group has a website at, and they were also doing a show in Flintshire that same weekend, so it would be interesting to see the whole group working together if only half of it is this good.

Wandering around the show was this executioner:

This little dog didn't like him at all!

There were also stalls selling crafts and displays from local history groups, falcons, an archery butt, a vintage car, a medieval doctor and a scribe demonstrating their crafts, and a folk orchestra by the refreshment vans.

Later, while I was doing a bit of shopping round town, I came across these drummers, who were collecting so they could afford new drum skins:

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Library Plans

When I went to the Council meeting on Monday, I was sitting next to Anita, from HOWLS, in the audience. On the way home after the meeting we started chatting about the new school building and the plans for the library. I'd been of the opinion that the important thing to do was to keep the library open until it transferred into it's new premises at the school. I knew the room would be smaller, but in my innocence I thought that we would be more or less trading like for like in terms of library facilities.

It turns out that it's not like that at all. The "new library" in the school will be an empty room, with a storage area. The library books will be on mobile bookcases which will be trundled away into the storage area when the library is not open, leaving an empty room which can be used for other purposes.
So what's going to happen to the computer terminals which are in the present library building? Where are library users going to be able to access a computer if not in the new library in the school? Come to that, where is the librarian going to sit? Is there going to be a library counter and chair that gets trundled out each time the library opens to the public?
It also strikes me that this sort of library would be very easy to take away - all they'd need to do would be to load the mobile bookshelves onto a truck, and there would be a new empty room for the school to use, with storage area.

So what's being offered by the County Council is not a proper library, and not a proper community centre - the other empty room in the school which is supposed to be for that purpose, with no facilities for art or pottery classes, which used to take place in the old community centre, for instance.

It seems that it's more important than ever to campaign to keep a proper library, in a proper library building - and with proper qualified staff to run it.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Council Meeting - Planning Matters around Hay and Bookers Edge

In planning matters, the town council has the duty to comment on the applications, but they don't make the final decision on whether it will go ahead or not.

The first planning application the council had to deal with was for Lion Garage. It closed as a garage a little while ago, and someone bought it with the intention of turning it into a seven bedroomed house which would be used as a B&B, while keeping the external appearance the same as much as possible.
The councillors liked this idea, since it fitted with the local development plan that said the building had to continue in use as a business, but the National Parks rejected the application. Now it has been re-submitted as a seven bedroomed house which would occasionally be used for B&B, in the hope that the National Parks would accept this. There was some discussion about whether the owners should make some contribution towards affordable housing in the area as part of their application - and the councillors still preferred the original application for a B&B.

Next was The Willows in Gypsy Castle, where the owner wants to build a garage with an annexe above, separate to the main house. The owner of the house is disabled, and there was some confusion over whether the annexe was for his carer or for him to live in. Either way, they decided that this was not an annexe - it was a completely separate building, and as such did not fit with the local development plan. There had been a previous application last April, which was withdrawn, to be submitted again now in a slightly different form. Again, the council said that they should make a contribution to affordable housing if the plans went ahead.

And then there's Bookers Edge.
This is the field opposite the Co-op, so it's actually in Cusop, and Cusop Community Council have been considering the application. However, Hay has an interest because the people who eventually live in the houses will be sending their children to Hay School, and going to the doctors at Hay Surgery and so on.
The plans for the site are for 26 dwellings (the poster at the site says "bespoke houses"), nine of which are to be affordable housing. This was agreed on - but now the builders are trying to wriggle out of that agreement. They have gone back to Herefordshire Council to say that there are problems with the drainage of the field, and difficulties with the builders, so the cost of building the houses has gone up and they can't afford to build 9 affordable homes. So would the Council accept £360,000 instead to build social housing elsewhere? They would still want to build the nine houses, but sell them at market value.
All the councillors thought this was disgraceful. There is a great need for affordable housing in this area, and the reasons the developers have given for wanting to renege on their agreement are pretty feeble. The general attitude was "Tough - they agreed to build nine affordable homes, and that's what they should do." It was commented that this is a common strategy by developers, and they needed to be held to account.
Hay Council will be sending a letter in support of Cusop Council to the planning authorities, stressing that the developers should be held to their original agreement. They also noted that Hay Council should have been involved in the planning process much earlier.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Council Meeting - Loggin Brook, Disabled Access and Recycling

Meanwhile, back at the Swan....
There are plans for another Transfer of Assets from Powys County Council to the Town Council. This is the area near the church including the footpath, with the Loggin Brook and the old castle mound, and also the Swan Well. The idea is that the Woodland Group would manage the area, and make it into a picnic area - but the Woodland Group might not always exist, whereas the Town Council will always be there, so the idea is that the Town Council will take it over on behalf of the Woodland Group, which will then manage it (at this point, Trudi and Alan Powell left the room due to conflict of interests, as they are in the Woodland Group).
One councillor pointed out that the Town Council are in the middle of three Transfers of Assets already - did they really want to start a fourth? There have been huge problems dealing with Powys County Council in the existing negotiations.
But the decision was that the idea was a good one, and the area would be better managed by the Woodland Group than by anyone else, so they're going to go for it.

Josie Pearson is particularly interested in disabled access around town, for obvious reasons, and made the point that disabled access should be included in the Town Plan. At present, there is nothing about disabled access in the Town Plan, and it was agreed that this should be rectified. She also talked about a scheme called Miles Without Stiles, which is making footpaths more accessible - stiles are okay for able bodied walkers to get over, but impossible for the physically impaired. In some places, kissing gates can be opened wide for wheelchairs with a Radar Key, which is also used to gain access to toilets for the disabled. The gate to the Warren can be opened with a Radar Key, for instance, and the Miles Without Stiles scheme looks at places where kissing gates or other gates can be installed in the place of stiles for ease of access. It's been successful in the Lake District, and there are funds that can be applied for.
The first job is to find the footpaths that can easily be made accessible with modifications - it looks as if Josie will be busy trying out paths in the near future. The power wheelchair she was using at the Council meeting looks as if it can be used over rugged terrain, and she was asked how steep a slope she could manage in it - she's never tried going up the very steep lane at Black Lion Green, so she may be trying that out to see how far she gets. While checking the paths, they will also be thinking about walkers with visual impairments. Obviously, they also need to get in contact with landowners and get them involved. If this could be done, Hay would be one of the forerunners of the scheme in Wales.
And while the council were thinking about disabled access, they considered the narrow pavements and other difficulties around the town. One of the problems here is that pavements are being made narrower and more difficult to negotiate by the many shops which put signboards and stuff for sale outside their shops. This is a matter for the Chamber of Commerce to be involved in, and Josie seems to have some involvement with the Chamber of Commerce, too. They also talked about getting the History Group involved, as they have guided walks, so know the footpaths well already.
The Chamber of Commerce are starting to ask for donations for this years' Christmas Lights - they want to extend the display down Broad Street, and along to the Cinema Bookshop, and Josie asked why the Town Council only gave £1,000 last year, when previously they had given £1,500. This is because the Town Council have so many new obligations now, and only a limited budget.

And also on the theme of disabled access, Dial a Ride now have a special wheelchair which can be used in their minibus, which was paid for by the recycling fund.

Which leads neatly on to the matter of recycling plastic film, which is no longer accepted for recycling by the County Council in the red bins provided to each house. There is a company which offers to take away plastic film, including bubble wrap and plastic bags, for recycling for a small fee - £8.50 for a 1100 litre bin. The fee is because plastic film is very difficult to recycle. The same company (Caepost?) are going round farms taking agricultural plastic waste as well, which is even more difficult to recycle because it tends to get very dirty.
The councillors thought that they should be seen to be doing their best for recycling, and that this was a good idea. The fee could be paid from the recycling fund. They haven't yet decided where to site a plastic film bin - the car park seems the obvious place, but they don't want it to become too cluttered.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Choral Singing

I always enjoy listening to the Community Choir when I see them, and it seems that the same organiser is also responsible for another group, the Decibelles.
The Decibelles will be singing at Clyro Village Hall on Sunday 9th July at 7pm and the Community Choir will be at Baskerville Hall on Sunday 16th July from 7pm.
I'm not sure if I'll be able to get to either of them, but if past performances are anything to go by, they'll be enjoyable evenings!

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Wings over the Wye

I don't go walking anywhere near as much as I used to when I had a dog - but at the weekend I decided to go down to the Warren. It was a grey day, but warm enough. While I was walking along the pebble beach something made me look up - a large white bird was flying along the river, towards the town. It wasn't a swan - it had a long neck, but it was tucked back, and it had a long bill.
Someone had said that they'd seen an egret down near Hay Bridge - and here it was! I got a good look at it as it swept downstream, and then turned to disappear over the trees.
Of course, I didn't have my camera with me!

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Meet the Council

I was a bit late for the council meeting this week - I hadn't realised that it was being held in the Swan rather than the Council Chambers (in a room with some noisy machines whirring away at the back where the bar was, so I couldn't hear everything that was going on very clearly). The reason for the change of venue was that level access was needed for one of the new councillors - Josie Pearson, Hay's Paralympic champion, and the reason our pillar box is painted gold.
There were quite a few new faces round the table, so it was appropriate that they should be discussing a Meet the Council event during the course of the evening. They will be in the Buttermarket this Saturday, from 10am to 2pm, on a rota, along with the Woodland Group on a table manned by Mayor Trudi Stedman and Alan Powell. Trudi was disappointed that the bacon roll lady wouldn't be on the market that day - she'd been looking forward to that for lunch!
A banner has been ordered, newsletters talking about the Council's work have been printed, and there will be volunteering opportunities and the chance for people to put their names down for regular email updates on what the Council is doing. The newsletter is also planned to be a regular feature, coming out quarterly, and available around the town at the Library, Post Office and other places. One of the volunteering opportunities is to join the Community Speed watch so that they can extend the scope of their activities. They have been quite successful down Newport Street and Brecon Road already. Richard Greatrex, another new councillor, said that not enough people know the good work the Town Council does, and it's important for them to get out and meet the public.
One of the new councillors suggested that they should have an official badge to show that they are members of the council, and not just random people standing around. They will have name badges on Saturday, but something a bit more official will be looked into for other occasions - a bit like Blue Peter presenters always wearing their Blue Peter badge when on duty!
If the day goes well, they will try it again, perhaps with a table on a market day.

They were still working out what everyone was doing - Fiona was reminded that she was the council representative for the Gwynne's Almshouses committee, and the school had sent a message to say they needed a new school governor, and also someone to join the committee to run the swimming pool. Josie expressed interest in becoming a school governor, and David said he would join the pool committee, as long as he wasn't expected to come in to lock up at nights! The pool committee are looking for grants to maintain the pool, and are hoping to appoint a part-time pool manager soon.
And on the subject of the school, Richard wanted to be sure that the fire regulations had not been relaxed for the new building. The town council wants to be sure that a full fire safety survey is done by the County Council, and that there are sprinklers in the building, fire risk being very much on everyone's minds after the Grenfell Tower disaster.

The new bench was mentioned - it's on loan from the Castle until a new permanent bench can be found, which is why it has "Agincourt 600" carved on the backrest.

There was also concern about the new ATM (still having teething problems) at the Post Office. Apparently, the original idea was to move the post box next to the new ATM, but the Post Office decided that the gold pillar box would be adequate. However, the slot on the pillar box isn't big enough for large letters, or some parcels, which can only be posted now when the Post Office is open, so the councillors felt that this was not adequate at all. They weren't keen on the bright lighting around the edge of the new ATM either.

Just recently, a child impaled himself on a spiked railing round the back of the cattle market while climbing over it, so there was some concern about the safety of the railings around town. The ones by the cattle market are a relic of the old railway, but there was also the case a couple of years ago of the man who slipped and fell, impaling himself on the safety railings at the end of Castle Street, which have knobs on the spikes which are supposed to stop people getting impaled. So councillors will be checking to see where there are spiked railings on council land, and investigating ways to keep them safe - perhaps by putting a bar across the top of the spikes, or cutting the spikes off altogether, as the council does have a duty of care. Meanwhile the parents of the child who was injured have apparently said that it is the responsibility of kids not to do stupid things!

Sunday, 2 July 2017

New Bench

Gareth Ratcliffe moved fast, and a new bench was delivered opposite the Cinema Bookshop the very next day.
This one is all wood - the last one had ironwork legs and arms, and wooden slats.
Let's hope it lasts longer than the last one!

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Small Business Saturday

A new business in town, next to Hey Hair - Beaubell, which is selling lingerie and other clothing.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

New Cabinet

One of the last things that Paul Harris left outside for anyone to take away was a glass fronted cabinet, which I thought would look very nice in my front room.
Then I tried to lift it.
Fortunately, my neighbour The Welsh Girl was outside the front of her house potting geraniums to put up the steps to her shop over St John's Place. She sells ponchos made of Welsh tweed. She did have lavender, but in the heat wave it went all crispy.
She helped me into the house with the cabinet - and it does, indeed, look very nice in my front room.
I saw Paul this evening - the house is empty, everything is packed, and he's off to Spain early tomorrow morning.

Monday, 26 June 2017

The Doomed Bench

I was standing at the counter at the Cinema Bookshop when I heard the bang. It wasn't particularly loud, but when I looked up, I saw a car up on the pavement across the road, and another car stopped in the road. The drivers were getting out to talk to each other and inspect the damage.
Later, it became clear that the car on the pavement had driven right into the new bench next to the BT cabinets, and demolished it.
The new bench had only just been put in a week or so ago - to replace the one that BT took away and then put back, much lower than the original. There had been a length of concrete under each leg, which made the seat up to a reasonable height, and those pieces never made it back. There was a lot of correspondence between the Town Council and BT on the subject.
And finally, there was the new bench, with the brass plaque commemorating Arnold Wesker.... and now it's gone again.
Gareth Ratcliffe is looking for a replacement - I hope it lasts a bit longer than this one!

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Valerie Singleton - National Treasure!

I had thought that I wouldn't be able to go to Llyswen to see Valerie Singleton, but then a friend said she wanted to go and offered me a lift.
We arrived a bit early, and popped into the Bridge End for a swift half. I don't think I've ever been in there before, though I've been past plenty of times. There was Butty Bach on the hand pump, and a pretty extensive menu chalked on the wall, and a few locals playing darts at the back.
The village hall is just a few yards along the main road (we moved the car from the pub car park), and they have a plaque on the wall saying that the hall got a grant from the EU for improvements.
She was in the area to stay with a friend, who was up on stage interviewing her - his name was James something, and he'd gone to Finland with her some years ago for some filming work, where he crashed a snow mobile into a snow drift. She also called out to a lady in the audience who runs the B&B where she's stayed on previous visits to the area.
I've met quite a few famous people over the years, and sold books to some of them - thanks to the Hay Festival, mostly - but this was something different. I grew up watching Blue Peter twice a week, like millions of other children, and I found myself in awe to be sitting only a few yards away from Valerie, who certainly doesn't look as if she's just celebrated her 80th birthday. She was very eloquent, and had some amusing stories to tell about her life. One of her first friends, for instance, at the convent school where they practiced archery along a long corridor, was the daughter of Odette, the World War Two spy, and another friend was the daughter of Mary Norton, who wrote the Borrowers. Then she went to RADA, along with several very famous people, including Albert Finney, who she rather fancied at the time.
Video clips interspersed through the evening included some of the adverts she was in before Blue Peter, including one where she's spring cleaning a house with Flash. She was taken on by the BBC as a continuity announcer, which stopped the advertising work, and then auditioned for Blue Peter, which at the time was a fifteen minute slot once a week, mostly about model trains. After a while, she was told she had to choose between Blue Peter and continuity announcing, and thought Blue Peter sounded more interesting. She had no idea what a phenomenon it was going to be - and then came Biddy Baxter, and they went twice weekly, and started the Blue Peter Appeals, and so on.
Another video clip was the famous one showing her walking a young lion and taking him into a corner shop.
Then she was chosen to go to Kenya with Princess Ann, to film around a school for street boys. Over the years she's done a lot of travelling and travel writing, starting with the Blue Peter Special Assignments. She talked about going to Hong Kong when the first fleet of Vietnamese boat people arrived in the harbour - and how she was given a script, but ended up describing the scene in her own words, only referring to the script occasionally. She said she never had any training as a journalist, but she was proud of that piece of work, and got quite a bit of praise for it when she got back to London.
When she left Blue Peter, she moved to Nationwide, and other news programmes like Tonight (another video clip showed her interviewing Bryan Ferry and David Bowie). She also worked on PM and The Money Programme, on radio.
The most recent video clip showed her as a guest (coming out of a time capsule) on the Graham Norton show, where she made something very rude with a serviette! She said she'd been shown how to do it on a cruise she'd been on, and it seemed just the thing for Graham Norton!
She's still doing a bit of TV work - she's been filming for one of those antique programmes, where you're given £300 and have to go out and buy something with an expert, and try to make more money when it goes to auction.
The last thing she did, though, was to attend John Noakes' funeral. She said that, over the years, they'd lost touch (partly because he lived in Majorca), though Peter Purves remained good friends with him, and gave a speech at the funeral which told her a lot about him that she'd never known, like what a good actor he had been.
To finish the evening Rev Charlesworth stood up to thank Valerie for such an entertaining evening - she said that she'd been described as an "icon", which she didn't really like, though someone had once described her as being like a listed building, which she liked better - and Rev Charlesworth said that she ought to be a National Treasure!
At the end of the evening, my friend brought out her Blue Peter Book of Teddy's Clothes, which she'd had since she was eight, and got Valerie to sign it for her, and we ended up having a nice chat about what the shops in Hay were like (and I spoke to Valerie Singleton, and managed to stay coherent, even though I felt that I'd regressed to being eight years old!)
It really was a fantastic evening, and the light supper they put on in the interval was really nice, with all sorts of tasty nibbles included in the ticket price. We were slightly surprised that there weren't more people there, but I don't think it was terribly well advertised. Some of us, certainly, were of exactly the right age to be complete fan-worshippers!

Saturday, 24 June 2017

The University of Cusop Dingle Talks About Self-Publishing

Self-published authors were invited to bring along their books to show. I have self-published several Young Adult Fantasies online, on a site called Smashwords, so there aren't any physical copies. I did think of taking my laptop along to show, but decided against it in the end. I haven't used it yet outside the house, and I'd rather practice getting onto a wifi system quietly first, rather than in front of a crowd of people! (I'm sure it's very easy - it's just that I haven't done it yet).
The first part of the evening was King Richard holding court, and talking about writing pamphlets exposing political corruption and the evils of the Welsh Tourist Board. Here's a sample from the flyer he passed round:

"Brexiting BREXIT the King of Hay knew that only in his 400 pamphlets could the truth be told, and that the University of Cusop Dingle, headed by an Oxford Don, could show how a 'Renaissance of the Book and Reformation of the Tourist Industry' was possible with a 1000 book-towns worldwide.
"Hay and Hay Festival clearly showed that the pseudo-democracy of enormous wealth, and the debasement of information for commercial self-interest, was the beginning of a fascist state and totally unsuitable for the 21st century where Global Warming made continents more important than countries."

Among the pamphlets he intends to write is "12 CORRUPT MAYORS OF HAY", starting in the 1960s with a Mr Like, and Dorothy Birch (who I think must have been the mother of Nigel Birch, long time Hay councillor who died fairly recently). Also proposed are: HOW A COMMUNITY ECONOMY CAN CREATE A MILLION JOBS, MUSIC IS THE GREATEST INTERNATIONAL LANGUAGE, and SQUEAL, which will be about local corruption.

He finishes, in the flyer, by saying: "For a semi-senile 78 year old, writing pamphlets is the perfect occupation... he can change his mind, repeat himself, adapt to new information, and perhaps above all offer his opponents limitless space to refute his arguments...!"

Richard's sister was also there, in the 1812 Bar of the Swan (didn't it used to be called the Cygnet Bar?), and she is putting on art exhibitions in London, including one of art by Sidney Nolan.

And then it was time for the self-published authors to talk about their work. Chris the Bookbinder was there, with a paperback copy of The Green Book of Olwen Ellis (he used to read out passages from the book at open mic nights at Kilvert's, and later, the Globe - I don't know if he still does that). He also edits the occasional poetry magazine Quirk, copies of which are available from his shop.
Another chap (his name escapes me, I'm afraid) is a teacher in Hereford, but lives in Hay. He has written a utopian SF novel called Sweden, which begins in the distinctly dystopian period of Thatcher's Britain. He said that he'd seen the sort of books his teenage daughter was reading - things like The Hunger Games and other dystopias, and felt that there should be more fiction depicting a hopeful view of the future that we can aim towards. He went into it aware that a utopia for one person might be a dystopia for another, and that fictional utopias are often quite narrow views of possible futures, but hopes he has got round that in his version.
There was some discussion about the difficulties of promoting self-published work, and finding outlets which will sell self-published books, and how promoting self-publishing would fit with the second hand book economy of Hay, which was interesting, but it was difficult to come to any conclusions.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Something Missing at Kilverts

"What do you mean, there's no Bacardi?"
I was sitting outside Kilverts, still warm even as twilight fell (and the swifts were screaming overhead), and one of my friends had just discovered that the bar doesn't stock her favourite drink. I don't know what she ended up drinking (another friend went for vodka with Fentimans rose lemonade, so they do sell some spirits). As I always go for the real ale (Gold Beacons that evening) I hadn't noticed the lack of choice in spirits.
They don't sell Guinness either - Brian was sitting rather unhappily with a glass of Chocy-wocky, which is a bit of an acquired taste, and not much like Guinness at all. I ended up drinking that, and getting him some of the Gold Beacons (which is also not much like Guinness at all, being a pale beer).
What the Hay Tap does, it does very well - local ingredients for the food, local beers and ciders - but they do specialise. Where other pubs might want to offer the broadest range of drinks possible, Hay Tap at Kilverts have decided on their core range, and don't stray far beyond that.
So there's no Bacardi, and no Guinness - but the beer and cider they do stock are excellent (I have yet to try one of the pies there, but if they're anything like the ones at Brecon Tap, the first pub the brewery started, they will be delicious!).

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Last Post

I came to the cenotaph just as the Last Post began, and Gareth Ratcliffe dipped the British Legion banner. The British Legion have been commemorating Hay soldiers who died in the Great War, on the anniversaries of their deaths 100 years ago - I missed the name of the soldier being commemorated tonight.
The moment was somewhat spoiled by a grey car coming down Castle Street, which ran over a racing pigeon which was walking across the road. It died, of course, and not instantly. Rob Golesworthy cleared the body away when the ceremony was over.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Valerie Singleton

The Blue Peter legend is coming to Llyswen Village Hall to talk about her life (and she did much more than Blue Peter, of course) on 23rd June, at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £12 to include a light supper, and there will be video clips of moments throughout her career. She's now 80, and she was one of the three presenters back when I started watching Blue Peter in the 1960s, along with John Noakes and Peter Purves. Actually, I just about remember her with Christopher Trace, the first main presenter. I also remember her voice on Radio 4 as a presenter.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Costumes for Hay Theatre Group

Sue from Hay Theatre noticed my post where I mentioned I had some medieval costumes for sale, and yesterday she came round to have a look at them. They haven't got anything planned in the near future set in the Middle Ages, but she took about half of what I had on the grounds that it would be useful in due course.
It was quite fun getting them all out and talking about the costumes - how silk dresses were made out of rectangles, so as not to waste any of the precious fabric (I made a linen copy of a 13th century silk dress), and were medieval clothes really that brightly coloured? The linen dress is a bright Turkey red, a genuine medieval colour made with all sorts of disgusting ingredients like sheep poo and lamb's blood! (Mine uses modern dye!).
And then there's the blue velvet surcoat, which I made before I discovered that, in the 13th century, velvet hadn't been invented yet - but I kept for occasions when I didn't need to be completely authentic.
And then there's the All Purpose Peasant Dress - which I've used for every period from the Iron Age to the 15th century!
It's nice to see the costumes going to a good home, where they'll get good use out of them.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Seen in a Hay Window

It's not easy to see, but if the picture is enlarged, there's a Famous Politician looking out (in cardboard effigy!).

Friday, 16 June 2017

Technical Problems - and Shelving Solutions

I've been having a bit of trouble with my broadband connection over the last few days, but Tim Pugh came round this morning - and I think he's fixed it (touch wood!).
It seems to be my week for problems with electrickery (to quote Catweazle). My hoover stopped working as well - the engine was working, but nothing was getting sucked in. I'd done pretty well with it - I was given it when someone at work was upgrading to a Dyson, and it's lasted quite a long time. Fortunately, I am a woman of means now, and I was able to go down to the electrical shop by the Drill Hall and pick up a brand new hoover (or Bosch, in this case) straight away. I shall be playing with that this afternoon.
It's time for a good clean round, anyway, as I also picked up a set of shelves from Paul Harris this morning. As he's clearing out Oxford House, where he had his bookshop until just after the Festival, he's been piling shelves and other bits and pieces outside for anyone to take. Broad Street Books has had a nice pair of chairs and a stool for the shop, and several people up and down the road have had shelf units. Mark Westwood came a couple of days ago to take a lot of the books that Paul isn't taking with him - he's off to Spain at the end of the month, and there's a lot to sort out in the next couple of weeks.
So this morning I happened to pass just as a shelf unit had been put out - not too big, so I could carry it home, and I've been re-arranging the bedroom to fit it in. It should also give me a bit of extra space for more books!


When I was looking at events that were coming up soon, I didn't know that there would be another Mallyfest in the near future.
Then yesterday I saw the banner go up at the end of Castle Street, and today I saw the first posters.
This summer's Mallyfest will be at Baskerville Hall on 1st July, with lots of live music. Tickets are £10, with teenagers £5 and children free.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Up-coming Events

I've been gathering together a few flyers of events that look interesting.
Last week at the acoustic session at the Baskie, Valeryan brought in a poster for an event she's appearing at - A Night of Acoustic Music presented by the Friends of the Crown, Dilwyn. The Crown is owned by the parish council, who bought it when it was threatened with closure a few years ago. It's now run as a tenanted free house, with real ale, and it was built as a coaching inn in the seventeenth century. It's also very much a community pub, in the heart of the village.
Performing there on Thursday 22nd June will be Autistry (Gracie and Gelan Swift), Dan Nichol (folk and American traditional music), Mice in a Matchbox (Sally Stamford and Jim Rolt, recently back from sailing round the Caribbean) and Valeryan (former lead singer with the Settlers). Mice in a Matchbox and Valeryan regularly come to the Baskerville acoustic sessions, so if the two performers I don't know are up to those standards, it's going to be a good night.

Then on Saturday 24th June there's the Stoked Summer Feast at Lower House Farm, Longtown. It's billed as a celebration of farming, food and fire, with wood fired cookery, cocktails, and local ale and cider bar as well as the feast - and they have overnight camping with breakfast available.

I probably won't be able to get to either of those, but I will be able to get to Hereford on 1st July for the annual Hereford History Day on Castle Green. This year Historia Normannis will be there, so lots of medieval stuff going on (what a pity I've grown out of my medieval costumes!)

Some years, Hereford History Day is on the same weekend as Beer on the Wye, but this year Beer on the Wye is on the weekend of the 8th July - so I won't be turning up at the bar in any sort of odd costume this year!
I just hope the weather is good.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Uprooted by Nina Lyon

Last year I went to an evening organised at Addyman's bookshop, where half a dozen local authors read from their works. Oliver Balch read from Under the Tump, another chap read from his book about a huge refugee camp in Africa - and I picked up a book called Uprooted: On the Trail of the Green Man, by Nina Lyon.
I've had an interest in the Green Man for a long time, and Herefordshire is particularly rich in images, mostly in medieval churches, so I was interested in seeing what Nina Lyon had to say.
Nina Lyon chronicles her interest in the Green Man, even toying with the idea of creating a new cult around the mythological figure - only to find that he is already being celebrated in all sorts of ways already. She goes to the Clun Green Man festival, meets a shaman to talk about trees, decorates a wild corner of her garden in an attempt to make it into a sacred grove. She goes to Germany, where medieval images of Green Men are as common as they are in the UK - but the modern pagan revival of interest in them just doesn't seem to have happened. She goes in search of the Green Chapel from the poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and meets the Bedlam Wild Hunt Morris men in a pub.
She also talks quite a bit about philosophy - it turns out that she has been involved in the running of the How the Light Gets In festival at the Globe in Hay. In fact, the owner of the Globe, who she refers to only as H, is the father of her children. Throughout the book, she only ever refers to the people she meets by initials - but I recognised some of the local ones, such as G, who lives in a gypsy caravan and has made a Green Man maze at Penpont - he used to run Hay on Fire, a wonderfully anarchic Hallowe'en celebration when I first came to Hay.
So I learned a bit more about the Green Man, and had the enjoyment of recognising local places and people in the search for him, so it was well worth the cover price!

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Jumble Sales and Ladies who Lunch

I had quite a bit of stuff that I had intended to sell outside the house, over the Festival. Rain stopped play for that, so I loaded up the Islaymobile - and filled it to the top. This is the shopping trolley I used to wheel my dog around in, when she got too old and arthritic to walk far. It still comes in useful now and again.
I was heading up the road to the church to leave the jumble when I saw Em and Roz coming down. They were off to have lunch at the Old Electric Shop. So I trundled up to the church, unloaded my jumble, dropped the trolley off at home, and joined them for coffee.
After a bit, they started thinking about dessert. "Shall we stay here, or shall we move on?" they mused - eventually opting for scones at Booths Café.
It was a wise choice. The scones at Booths are superb, crispy on the outside and soft in the middle, with a choice of three different jams and cream. We ate them with a pot of Earl Grey tea - a lovely way to spend lunchtime for a change.

And today it was the jumble sale, in the Parish Hall, in aid of St Michael's Hospice and doing improvements to the church. It was a real old-fashioned jumble sale, with clothes piled high on tables for customers to rummage through, and toys, bric a brac, books, and (of course) refreshments in the corner. And a raffle, at the door! Hardly anything was priced, and most things seemed to be 50p when you asked.
I got a lid for my wok, a cardigan, a denim shirt and a picture of the harbour at Mousehole, Cornwall which is now hanging in my bathroom.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Living in Interesting Times

So, I woke up this morning to find that Chris Davies, the Conservative candidate, had retained Brecon and Radnor, with James Gibson-Watt, the Lib Dem, in second place. From the figures, it looks as if the UKIP vote in the area pretty much transferred entirely to the Conservatives. Across the country, the UKIP vote collapsed almost entirely, but it wasn't as simple as UKIP voters transferring to the Conservatives in other areas.
Over the border in Herefordshire, both Conservative MPs have kept their seats, which was pretty much the expected result.
Elsewhere in the country, Nick Clegg and Alex Salmond both lost their seats - and Nick Clegg was replaced by Jared O'Mara, a new MP who has been campaigning for disability rights in Sheffield. Another disability campaigner was elected in Battersea, Marsha de Cordova, who is visually impaired. Both the new MPs are Labour.
Also elected last night were two Sikh MPs, Preet Kaur Gill and Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, also both Labour.
So now we just have to wait and see if a working government can be formed from the new intake of MPs....

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Polling Day

Don't forget to vote tomorrow!
The bowling club will be open from 7am to 10pm.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Codlins and Cream visits Hay

The lovely Codlinsandcream2 blog has pictures of a walk round Hay, on 25th and 30th May. I mention this because she takes far better photos than I can!

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Last Day of the Festival

It seems to have come round really fast this year! As I walked down through town after closing up at the Cinema, I saw the people on the food stalls in the Castle Gardens packing up. The lovely people at Bain & Murrin had organised a little party for the shop keepers and traders around town, and the sun was shining so we could all spread out across the street with our glasses of bubbly (or beer/lager/fruit juice). It was a lovely end to the Festival, and I only came away because I needed to have my tea!
Down at the Festival site, of course, things are still going on, ending this evening with Bill Bailey.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Artisans at Hay

Today the Artisans in Hay are in the Buttermarket, including one lady who has an impressive array of animal skulls, painted with flowers and butterflies. There's also a monumental blacksmith, a regular to the Festival, with giant metal flowers, jewellery, wooden apples and pears, pottery, and a chap who was sculpting a chicken out of clay. He had several finished sculptures behind him, of chickens doing amusing things (one, entitled "Chick Flick", was holding an old camera), and hares - "Mincing my Words" had the hare turning the handle of an old fashioned mincing machine, with pages of old books being fed into it.
Up by the old HSBC bank there was a man playing a didgeridoo.
And it's Paul Harris's last day opening Oxford House bookshop today - he's going to spend the next three weeks frantically packing before he moves to Spain. I saw him dashing down the street with an arm full of packing materials to pack his pictures.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Festival Friday - Waterways of China and more

So today I've been acting like a Festival-goer, and thoroughly enjoying myself. The weather hasn't been brilliant, unlike yesterday, but I managed to dodge the showers - though I did make the mistake of heading into the Festival Bar for a swift half while I waited for the rain to stop, which ended up being Doombar at an eye-wateringly high price!
I was booked in to see Philip Ball talk about the waterways of China, and how the control of the two great rivers that run across China, the Yellow River and the Yangtse River, have influenced the rise and fall of dynasties right up to the present day. First, I wandered round the stalls again, bought a few postcards, and sat in one of the yellow deckchairs dotted about the grass to drink my frappe.
The talk had been moved from the Wales Stage to the Good Energy stage, so I sat in just about the same seat (in a packed tent) as I had for the Astronomer Royal's talk. I wanted to see what Philip Ball would say about the Grand Canal, which stretches something like 1,000 miles from the south of China to Beijing in the north. I first found out about the existence of the canal when I was writing a Steampunk fantasy story, and needed to get my Victorian lady adventurers from Shanghai to Peking - the Grand Canal was the perfect mode of transport for them. I had no idea that the building of the canal had caused enough unrest to unseat a dynasty - though the following dynasty was perfectly happy to take advantage of the canal for itself. Later European observers talk about vast fleets of ships using the canal to bring tribute to the Emperor.
I also had vague memories of Chairman Mao swimming in the Yangtse River back in the 1960s - I had no idea then just how politically motivated that swim was (and he did it several times), to show that he had control of the rivers and therefore of the country. Although no-one in the Communist State now believed in Heaven, Philip Ball said, the idea of the Mandate of Heaven by which leaders ruled was firmly entrenched in the national psyche - and the immense floods that could happen along the great rivers were a sign that Heaven was not on the side of the present ruler, and often led to protest and unrest. And the floods really were immense - one in the 19th century killed 170,000 people when a dam burst.
The history, shading into myth, of water management in China goes back to before 2000BC, to a hero/emperor called Yu, who was the first to successfully manage the water flow with engineering works. After that, there were two schools of thought about flood management - the Daoist engineers thought that the water should find its own equilibrium and the Confucian engineers thought that the waters should be forced to go where humans wanted it to go. One of the irrigation canals dug early in China's history was so well-designed that it is still being used now.
He also talked about the Three Gorges Dam, which has been surrounded by controversy - and which he's visited, on a very well-regulated tour that only let the tourists see what the authorities wanted them to see.
He said a little about Chinese art involving water, too, and how it could be subtly subversive. Those scenic views of a certain province alluded to a place known as an area of internal exile for Court officials who were out of favour. Those high mountains showed the overshadowing presence of the State - and more recently Chinese artists have used water to protest about pollution and, by trying to stamp the symbol for water onto the surface of a Tibetan river, making a comment about the impossibility of imposing Han Chinese culture on Tibet.
There is, of course, much more in his book, including the great voyages made by Chinese fleets - but I couldn't really justify spending £25 on the hardback.
I did head back to the Festival Bookshop after the talk, though. There was an immensely long queue outside waiting to have their books signed by Anthony Horowitz. Once inside, I spotted a few things that I'd missed the first time round, and treated myself to the paperback version of The View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman, What Nature Does for Britain by Tony Juniper, and How Did We Get into This Mess? by George Monbiot. Lots of food for thought there.
Coming back into town, I noticed that the Rum Shack, presently open in the basement under La Maison by the Clock Tower, now has a hammock slung between two poles outside it, as well as a couple of deckchairs. And there's reggae music tonight at the Old Electric Shop.
I also wandered by the Post Office, where the letter box has been replaced by a new ATM machine - though it wasn't working when I saw it yesterday. The nearest post box is now the gold pillar box opposite the Blue Boar corner.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Photo Opportunities - and More on the Festival

I've been having my picture taken. I was serving in the shop when a chap asked for the photography section. When he'd had a look, he came back to the desk and asked to take my picture. He was using an old Leica - I think from the 1970s - with black and white film, just as it would have been used when it was new, and he was taking pictures of staff in every bookshop he could find which had a photography section. The camera had been a retirement present to his father, which was then passed down to him. His name is John Briggs, and he has a photography book out, of pictures around Newport, called Newportrait.
Later, I met Billie Charity on the edge of the last day of Fair on the Square. She also took my picture, which is up on her Facebook page now (also in black and white).
I went to look round the Festival site on Monday afternoon. There are a varied selection of stalls in the front gardens of houses along Brecon Road, as in previous years. The RAFA have a tea stall, and there are two stalls selling welshcakes. One of them also has crafts and wood turning. Then there are vintage clothes, and an ice cream cart, and more crafts in a tent on the corner of Forest Road. Further up Forest Road, Drover Cycles are running a café. The Swan gardens were also open with a beer stall and barbeque, and one of the cottages opposite the Swan had baskets and leather slippers outside.
On the Festival site itself, there were all the usual stalls set out - the Woodland Trust is giving away saplings all week (the first one went to the Duchess of Cornwall when she arrived to look round and to cut the cake celebrating 30 years of Hay Festival). Hay Does Vintage is there, and Athene English with her blankets and vintage clothes. The Oxfam bookshop was packed when I passed, and I treated myself to the latest Phil Rickman Merrily Watkins mystery in the Festival Bookshop, and a slim volume by Ta-Nehisi Coates called Between the World and Me, about what it means to be black in the United States. I picked it up because I recognised his name from discussions about graphic novels on various SF websites, especially the character Black Panther.
I also had a lovely chat with the lady on the Quaker stall. They were giving away postcards of panels which were part of the Quaker Tapestry - a history of the Friends done in embroidery. I remember the tapestry being done - there was a good article in one of the embroidery magazines I was reading at the time, and after the initial exhibition, the panels were scattered among Friends' Meeting Houses all over the country. There's one at Hereford Meeting House (it's down a little alleyway near the pub which is now called Firefly, and used to be the Orange Tree, near the Cathedral). It seems the panels are due to be reunited soon for a new exhibition. I came away with a badge saying "Quakers for Peace" and a couple of booklets on Quaker worship by a chap who calls himself Ben Pink Dandelion.
On the way back into town, I came upon the aftermath of a traffic accident. It seems that a shuttle bus hit a pedestrian outside the Blue Boar - I don't know how badly hurt the pedestrian was. All I saw was the bus pulled up with two police cars in front of it.
On Monday evening, Alan Cooper was playing at the Old Electric Shop, with Di Esplin on cello and Simon Newcomb. They're always good to listen to, but I finished work that night at 9pm, so all I wanted to do was crawl home and go to bed with a mug of cocoa!
Wednesday was the usual acoustic session at the Baskerville - some of the regulars, like Toby Parker, were off performing elsewhere, but Speedgums came along, swelled from their usual double bass and ukulele or banjo with the addition of Thomasin on harmonica and a chap playing the fiddle. Because Craig Charles was DJ at the Baskerville on Monday night, there was only one TV theme tune I could sing - Red Dwarf! And there were enough performers that it took about an hour to get round everyone. Two new faces (half the age of the rest of us, though they were playing Dylan and Johnny B Goode) had come from Builth, and seemed to enjoy themselves. One of them even played ragtime on the piano. And we finished off the evening with Phil leading us in a rousing version of "Sad Old Bastards with Guitars". "Hi, ho, silver lining!"

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Solar Sculpture

This is the sculpture outside the main entrance of the Hay Festival this year. It has little solar panels on it, so that it lights up at night, and is meant to demonstrate what a solar power project in Kenya can do to change people's lives there. Kerosene lamps are widely used there, and the fumes can cause health problems - and clean solar lighting means that students can finish their homework after it goes dark, and so on.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Pale Blue Dot

The title of the talk refers, of course, to Earth as seen from space, as described by Carl Sagan back when men were walking on the Moon.
The speaker was the Astronomer Royal, Martin Rees, who was introduced as one of the great science communicators of the present day, and as someone who had been supportive of Hay Festival and had encouraged the science part of the programming, which is now 30% of the total.
I saw him at LonCon, the World SF Convention for 2014 - he held a large hall spellbound then.
The Good Energy Stage was packed full - I got a pretty good seat off to the side, quite by accident. Martin Rees started off with the Pale Blue Dot of Earth, and took us out through the solar system, showing pictures from the Curiosity Rover on Mars, and a picture of storms around the pole of Jupiter which had only been released two days before - so right up to date! Beyond our solar system, he talked about the other solar systems in our galaxy discovered by the Kepler space telescope, including the seven planets of Trappist-1 - the inner planets of that system have a "year" of only a few of our days.
And out we went again, to the millions of galaxies beyond our own - that we can see. He described it as like being on a ship at sea - you can see ocean out to the horizon, but you know it goes on beyond that - but not how far. We can also see back in time for billions of years, as far as the first nanosecond after the Big Bang- which he also said was quite remarkable, since when he was a student, the accepted theory was the Steady State Theory, and the Big Bang was just a wild idea.
And then he went out even further, speculating about the multiverse, within which all those millions of galaxies we can see are just one tiny part, and different universes within the multiverse may have completely different laws of physics, depending on how they evolved over the first few seconds of existence.
He also talked about space exploration, and how it made much more sense to send robots than people - at the moment we are getting those amazing pictures of Jupiter and Saturn with 1990s technology, and the technology is improving all the time. He suggested that people going into space would be like Arctic explorers or extreme sports enthusiasts now - more Ranulph Fiennes than Neil Armstrong, and that these would be the people with the incentive to experiment on themselves to adapt to the extremely hostile environments they would be going to, with genetic adaptations and so on. When he's not being the Astronomer Royal, Martin Rees is a member of the House of Lords, and sits on committees looking at the regulation of this sort of cutting edge science.
And then he brought it all back in again, back to the Pale Blue Dot - which should be cherished, because it's the only place in all that immensity that we are sure that life exists, and we should be doing our best to preserve what we have. "There is no Planet B," he said at one point, to some laughter from the audience.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Festival Sunday

This morning started, as usual for me, with Broadcasting House on Radio 4 - which was live from Hay Festival today! Judith Kerr was one of the guests onstage, talking about her childhood when her family fled the Nazis (as told in her book When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit), and how to talk to children about terrible events like the Manchester bombing this week. It's a sad thing that there are armed police at Hay Festival this year, and a strict policy on rucksacks.
Then I was in the shop all day, but I did notice a metal giraffe sticking out of one customer's bag, which told me that Martha and Love Zimbabwe were in town, and later a man came in with a small tree, which he'd got from the Woodland Trust on the Festival site.
And the Bean Box is open down by the river, in the garden of the last house before the bridge, selling coffee.
Now I'm just grabbing a snack before I head off to the Festival site myself, for the talk by the Astronomer Royal, Martin Rees.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

More Things Happening Around Town

My neighbour normally does a table sale outside the house on the first Saturday of the Festival, and I usually join her. This year I had more than usual to put out, as I'm selling off the medieval re-enactment clothes that no longer fit me.
It was noticeably quieter than previous years down at this end of town - undoubtedly because the Globe is closed this year. However, we made a few sales before the showers forced us to give up. So we went across and had a drink in the Three Tuns instead, as we watched the rain come down and congratulated ourselves that we had made the right decision when we packed up.

So then I had an afternoon free to look round the exhibitions.
Tinto House has wooden sculptures in the garden again, and paintings by John Clare. I met several people hovering outside Tinto House, looking for the Festival Bus Stop - and had to tell them that the shuttle buses are not stopping there this year. The bus stop for the Festival is up at the top of the main car park.
At the Fair in the Square there were stalls for Motor Neurone Disease and the Hay, Brecon and Talgarth Refugee Sanctuary. It was getting a bit windy at that point, and the lady behind the stall was trying to weigh down the papers with whatever she could find. Some of them were drawings by Eugene Fisk. When they organise outings for refugees living locally, Eugene takes a sketch pad along, and does pen and ink portraits of them - he's done about 75 so far. Later when I passed again there was live music in the marquee - Justin Preece who is a regular at the Baskerville acoustic evenings, singing one of his standards with a double bass and female singer on stage with him.
Up at the Hay Loft, it's not just an exhibition of Welsh landscapes (which are beautiful water colours) - the whole room smells gorgeously of leather, from Beara Belts. They also do bags and pendants and so on. And sharing the central table with them were wooden bowls, one of which was made of bog oak estimated to be 8,500 years old.
Moving up the Castle Drive to the Cobbles, most of the Castle outbuildings were in use - the Castle Café is in the stables, decorated with photographs by Billie Charity and Jasper Fforde. Next to them is Seren Books, with books of Welsh interest and portraits of authors (and some fun magpies). Herbfarmacy is also up there, and Beacons Candles where Beer Revolution used to be. Their display had a lovely scent as well.
I just missed seeing Jackie Morris at Booths Bookshop - she's the artist in residence there this weekend - I just saw the table where she had been working, and some of her books on display.

And in Backfold I popped into Haystacks Record Shop, where a new Phil Rickman themed tshirt is on sale. Haystacks have been selling the "Thorogoods Pagan Bookshop" tshirt for a while, as Phil sites his fictional bookshop just about where Haystacks is, in The Magus of Hay. Now it's been joined by "Gomer Parry Plant Hire" with a minimalist portrait of Gomer himself on the front - all bottle bottom glasses and fag hanging out of his mouth. Gomer is one of the fans' favourite characters in Phil Rickman's Merrily Watkins series - I think he appears in every book (certainly most of them).
The Buttermarket, meanwhile, has a craft market, and down the Pavement the offices of The Keep are open with an art show. The Table has pictures by Stephen(?) Dorrell and Italian food from Nonna Catarina, and the basement of La Maison has become The Rum Shack for the Festival.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Exhibitions and Things

Today, the Fair on the Square was setting up, with vintage stalls and a marquee with tables and chairs out for music and supper evenings.
I usually do my washing at the launderette on a Friday, so I thought it would be a good idea to get that out of the way before the campers run out of clean clothes! Tangerine Fields is across the river this year, and there are the yurts (with live music) by the Festival Site. When I got to the Launderette, I found that the owner has chosen this week to put the prices up. I don't begrudge paying £4.00 - it's been £3.00 for a long time, but it is starting to be a bit difficult to find the round pound coins (as the coin slots haven't been updated for the new pounds yet), and I'd only taken what I thought was the right change - so I had to walk back home to get another pound coin. A bit of warning would have been nice. The charge for the dryers is unchanged.

I went into Beer Revolution for my customary half of beer while the washing was going - a nice glass of Lucky 7 pale ale. Dix the cartoonist is exhibiting there this year. I also picked up a card for The Long Way Home, an exhibition of contemporary Welsh landscapes by local artist BR Martin Andrews, which will be at the Hay Loft, at the bottom of the Castle Drive. In July he's moving the exhibition to the River Café in Glasbury. The scene shown on the card is snow falling on a wire fence, with a thorn tree, up on the tops, in shades of grey.
St Johns has transformed itself into a Burger Bar again, and Oxfam are having their yearly linen sale - I picked up a fine lawn pillowcase, with intricate embroidery in white, for £2.50. It's a bit frayed round the edges, but it still looks beautiful!
And down the road, opposite the Globe (closed for the week), Paul Haynes has set up his book tent, with bargain books and some prints for sale.
I'm also looking forward to seeing what music is on at the Old Electric Shop this year, as they stay open into the evenings. Last night, I was sitting outside Kilvert's with friends, and drinking Brecon Brewery's new beer The Physicians of Myddfai - "with suitable herbs", which was very refreshing.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

First Day of the Festival

It's always a bit quiet on the first day of the Festival. It's Primary School Day on the Festival ground, so we see the coaches taking the children down there, while in town, the first Festival goers are starting to drift around and explore the bookshops.
There are various pop-up exhibitions in town. Where Chattels used to be, by the Buttermarket, is Out of the Blue Gallery, with art and driftwood sculpture - the driftwood used to be exhibited at Salem Chapel, where the Model Railway is now.
Just along from there, where the St David's Hospice shop used to be, there are ironwork fire-baskets and other similar things, very beautifully made. I think they were exhibiting their wares from a garden on Brecon Road last year - the oak leaf designs seem familiar.
Up at the castle, Billie Charity is exhibiting her photographs, along with Jasper Fforde (better known for his novels than his photos of amazing ceilings!) and Zoe's café, which opens tomorrow.
Down by the Festival site is The Orchard Canvas Village, with Fred's Yurts and Festivals under Canvas. They are having live music (I was given the poster by Toby Parker at last night's Baskerville Acoustic Session), from local musicians including Thomasin Tooey ('diddly-eye' traditional music on various flutes and whistles) , the Speed Gums (double bass and ukulele, if I recall correctly from their appearance at the Baskie), and more. There will also be fine dining under canvas at their pop-up restaurant. And massage!
There'll be more fine dining at the Marquee at the Fair in the Square over the weekend, in aid of the Refugee Community Kitchen and HOWLS. HOWLS have been asking for volunteers to help out. Meals there are £45 for a five course banquet.
And Jackie Morris will be the artist in residence at Booths Bookshop. She does gorgeous picture books, and has also done the book covers for Robin Hobb fantasy novels. Expect dragons and hawks and hares, and lots of gilding.

On the main Festival site, there will be a maquette of a proposed statue to the victims of war, to be erected at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. They have a website at, and are asking people to share their stories on Facebook and Twitter.

It's my day off tomorrow, so I'll be wandering round and seeing what else is going on round town and on the Festival site.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Manchester Bombing

I've been rather preoccupied over the last couple of days, with what's been happening in the city of my birth.
I'm a Mancunian - and I am so proud of the way the people of Manchester have come together after the terrible bomb blast at Manchester Arena.

So for a while my thoughts have been with the people of Manchester - but Hay Festival starts tomorrow, so I'll be back to blogging about Hay again then.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Book Art

Book art at the Cinema Bookshop - the theme is Shakespeare.
Next week, we're getting a new display for the Festival, on the theme of Dylan Thomas.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Hay Tap Orange Card

To be honest, I'd almost forgotten about this.
When Brecon Tap announced that they were in discussions to take over the running of Kilvert's in Hay (and make it their Hay Tap) they did some crowdfunding. I wasn't able to take part when they did this to start Brecon Tap, but the thought of being able to walk up the road to partake of their amazing pies (and the excellent beer) made me look at my finances and decide I could afford to help them out this time.
And then I forgot about it until I saw a friend, who had also put money into the scheme.
The idea was that participants would get a card, with 50% of the amount they had donated on it, to use at the bar of both Hay and Brecon Tap. My friend is a great fan of loyalty cards, and had emailed them to ask when the card would be available, and I met her when she was going up to collect it from behind the bar. Bless her, she had also mentioned that I hadn't got a card yet either, so I went up with her.
So we now have the Orange Card, and since we were there, and didn't have to do much in the afternoon, we decided to use our cards straight away. She had a coffee, and I had a half of the guest ale, which I think was called Thor Ale? and was a collaboration between women brewers. Spicy, and quite strong, and very tasty.

There are so many places where it's possible to get really good beer in Hay!

Friday, 19 May 2017

The Battle of Painscastle

I was stopped the other day by someone who knows of my interest in re-enactment and local history - she wanted to know more about the Battle of Painscastle, which is not far from Hay.
It's not one of the better known battles of medieval history, but it was disastrous for the Welsh.
In 1195, Matilda de Braos's forces caused a "great slaughter" of the Welsh defenders when she took Painscastle - she also built Hay Castle, and her husband William was lord of nearby Huntington.
In 1198, Prince Gwenwynwyn ap Owain of Powys brought up his army to besiege the castle and bring it back under Welsh control, and on 13th August 1198, after mediation had failed, an English army arrived to break the siege, and the justiciar of England, Geoffrey fitz Peter, took the decision to meet Prince Gwenwynwyn in pitched battle.
It was a slaughter. The Welsh forces broke almost straight away and an estimated 3,000 men died - with hardly a man lost on the English side. It was said that the River Bachawy ran red with the blood of the slain. It was one of the biggest massacres in Welsh history, and several of the Welsh princes who accompanied Gwenwynwyn were killed.
After that, the castle passed back and forth between Welsh and English lords, and the earthworks are still impressive. The castle was last in use when it was re-fortified against Owain Glyndwr in around 1400.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Lonesome Stampede

Local band Lonesome Stampede have made an album, and they're launching it at the Globe on Saturday night. The event starts at 8pm, till 11pm, and then they're having an After Party at the Rose and Crown from 11pm until 2am, with DJ Ben and Max's.
So I imagine there'll be a bit of a crowd moving from one venue to the other down Broad Street at about 11pm.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Hay Library on BBC Wales

If you type Mid Wales into the "Local News" box, there's a short story about how matters stand for Hay Library at the moment.
I was quite surprised, this morning, to get a phone call from a nice chap at BBC Wales, who was looking for background information from people who were involved in the campaign to keep the Library open. The press release from HOWLS only went out yesterday, so it was a good job I'd read it on the Facebook page!
I may not have done much for the Publicity Sub-Committee so far - but at least I've now talked to the BBC!

Monday, 15 May 2017

HOWLing at Tomatitos

HOWLS (the Hay-on-Wye Library Supporters group) will be meeting at Tomatitos on Wednesday at 7pm.
They will be taking stock of the situation so far, and making arrangements for activities over the Festival period.
Everyone welcome!

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Small Business Sunday

The shop facing Kilvert's Hotel, Underwhere (which sells underwear) will be closing down soon, though they say their shop in Leominster will still remain open.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Council Meeting- Fair, Cemetery, Street Lights, Future Events and County Councillor's Report

An update on the situation in the car park for Hay Fair, seen on Gareth Ratcliffe's Facebook page - after a site visit from all interested parties, it was decided that the Fair would have to set up in its usual position, due to the slope of the car park - they need the flat ground at the bottom. So the recycling bins will be moved and reduced in number to fit everything in, just over the period of the Fair, and the bins will also be emptied more frequently over that period.

And back in the Council Chamber, the councillors were discussing the proposed extension to the cemetery. Rob Golesworthy had been in discussion with the land owner for a while, and reported failure at the last council meeting, but Derek is fairly new to the council, and seems to know local farmers, so he said that he would re-open negotiations. There is £100,000 available from the County Council for extending the cemetery, but it's only on offer for 5 years, and we've already had 18 months of that time. There are already plans drawn up showing how much land is needed - and the money on offer also has to cover things like maintenance and providing access to the new area as well as just buying the land.

Hay has been trialing new LED street lights, which shine with a more white light than the old lights, and use much less electricity. However, there are some problems to be ironed out, as the letter from a resident of Cae Pound pointed out. They now have this bright white light shining directly into their bedroom all night. Now that Gareth is aware of it, he can get in touch with the relevant office in the County Council and arrange for shielding to be put up round the light. It was also mentioned that the Brecon Beacons is a Dark Skies location, for astronomy tourism, and street lights should also be shielded from shining upwards, and causing that glow that obscures the stars.

There are a couple of special events coming up in Hay in the near future. The first will be a conference on Post-Brexit Britain, this June, I think, and next August there will be a Festival celebrating Richard Booth. The organiser of this second event, Georgie Cook, wants to come to talk to the Town Council about it.

Gareth gave his County Councillor's report from the audience, starting by thanking Rob Golesworthy for running a good campaign for election. He is still waiting to see how the changes in the composition of the County Council will work out - the largest group (though smaller than it was) is still the Independents, followed by the Conservatives, and there will have to be some sort of cross-party co-operation to get a working majority. Gareth mentioned that one County Councillor, standing for re-election, got a grand total of 17 votes, and came fourth in his ward!
However, Gareth has already raised the matter of the shorter hours and changed rules at the recycling centres round the county, which are causing a lot of anger - vans and double axle trailers are no longer permitted, even when it is domestic waste, as the recycling centres say they have had problems with small businesses pretending to be ordinary members of the public to dump their waste. And there have been long queues on the days that the recycling centres are actually open.