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.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Council Meeting - Parking, Woodland Group and Persimmon

The parking of cars seemed to be a theme running through the meeting on Monday.
On the Gliss, two owners of abandoned cars there are expected to remove them soon, leaving one with its wheels stacked up behind it.
Meanwhile, two camper vans have been seen down there, staying overnight. This was considered to be more of an issue than residents parking overnight, and it was suggested that the signs down there should be changed from "No overnight parking" to "No overnight camping".
Down at the Sports Pavilion, a rota has been worked out that all the sports clubs seem to be happy with, for charging for parking in their car park over the Festival. However, a letter has been received by the Town Council by a lady who lives in the Harley Almshouses. She has been parking her car in the sports pavilion car park, and wonders where she will be able to park in future. The councillors were clear that they couldn't make exceptions for parking there - if she was allowed to park, then other residents of the Almshouses and Brecon Road would want to have the same rights, and there would be no room for the actual users of the sports facilities. So she will have to park on Brecon Road in future.
At the other end of town, the lady who lives in the house just on the edge of the parking zone by the Globe will be disappointed too. The councillors decided that they couldn't take action to extend the parking zone to cover her. Partly this was because the parking scheme was supposed to be a pilot scheme run by the County Council. They seem to have forgotten this, and allowed it to run for about three years, but it is up to them to evaluate whether the scheme has been successful or not, and what boundaries to put on it. They also pointed out that extending the scheme down Newport Road would involve getting the agreement of the residents down the road, to be included in it.
Up at Black Lion Green, there used to be parking for residents at the top of the Green in the field at the end, which had been made into a car parking area. However, this is now closed, along with the business it was attached to, so the residents there no longer have parking spaces near their houses.
And at the Council Chambers, it was agreed that the parking spaces should be for the use of Nigel the Town Clerk and the new Admin Assistant, whoever that might be (two candidates have come forward, and will be interviewed shortly). There have been complaints from the Catholic Church across the road that people using the Council Chambers have been parking there.
And finally, on parking, the Hay Fair will be arriving on Hay Car Park shortly, to find things moved around quite considerably from where they were last year, due to the building of the new school. There should be a plan on parking for the Fair, so councillors were going to check on this.

There was good news on the shipping container that the Town Council wants to buy for the use of the Woodland Group (that shed by the Sports Pavilion has still not been cleared out). It's going to be cheaper than they thought - at around £2,000. However, there isn't enough room for it to be put by the electricity substation where they thought it could be sited. So now they are considering the other end of the Riverside Path, at the Gliss, or even under the bridge, though there is some uncertainty about how it could be moved there. It would, of course, be green, to blend in with the surroundings as much as possible.

At the Warren end of the Path, Persimmon have been causing problems again. They have been cutting trees down without permission, and have been working at times that they agreed no work should be done. The agreement was that they should work from 8am to 6pm on weekdays, 8am to 1pm on Saturday, and do no work on Sundays - but residents overlooking the site have reported work going on (and the radio blaring out) on Sundays. The councillors agreed to invite the managers of the Persimmon site to a Council meeting to discuss this, and other issues such as the entrance they made into the site that they were supposed to stop using.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

May Council Meeting - Councillors, Crime and a Bench

Congratulations to Trudy Stedman, our new mayor, and to Alan Powell, this year's deputy mayor. Other councillors were decidedly thin on the ground, though. Gareth Ratcliffe attended in the audience, as he has decided to concentrate on being the county councillor for Hay this time. He thinks that he will be better able to fight Hay's corner if he does this.
There are six town councillor vacancies, and adverts will be going out soon to ask people to come forward to fill the places. Another member of the audience on Monday was Richard Greatrex, who has been involved with the fight to save Hay Library as part of HOWLS, and he said that he would be willing to step forward. He commented that the Town Council still has a problem with communicating what they are doing to the general public - maybe more people would be willing to take part if they knew what the Town Council is involved in, and what they have done for Hay! He added that decent photos on the website would be a start - which prompted a story of a recent incident in which Steve Like (40 years a town councillor) and Alan Powell (I think) were reported as being suspicious individuals when they were doing some measuring up on council business - the person reporting them had no idea who they were.
Another idea would be to get younger people involved, such as pupils from Gwernyfed School - they wouldn't have voting rights, but would be able to take part in the debates, and it would give them an idea of what local democracy is all about.

PC Lee was at the table, to give his crime report. He said there had been 119 calls to the police since the last time he was there - two or three involved cannabis, and there were four burglaries including Clyro Garage and tools being stolen from a local farm. He mentioned that any information about drug use locally can be given over the phone anonymously by dialling 101.
There was one case of fraud in which someone pretending to be from BT phoned a lady up, managed to persuade her to let them get into her computer, and got her to send money to Morocco!
Other activity of interest to the police included seven traffic collisions, and kids messing about in Hay Castle and causing some damage at Clyro School. He said it would be a lot better if there was a youth club - he would know where the kids were, and the kids would have something to do instead of hanging around and getting into trouble.
The Town Plan does include plans for a new youth club, and the new owners of the Rose and Crown have apparently offered their back room, with pool table, (not the bar) for youngsters on quiet nights.
One person was also banned from all the local pubs - and has since moved out of the area.
It is also Stop Rogue Traders Week - PC Lee had signs, and there was a photo opportunity! Trudy wore the mayoral chain for the first time to pose with PC Lee, Alan Powell and the signs.
Speedwatch seems to be going well, and is being expanded to Newport Street, Brecon Road and Gypsy Castle Lane.
PC Lee also asked if anyone locally would like to set up a Neighbourhood Watch Scheme. He is also available to talk to any local groups which would like to hear him, about scams and how to avoid them.

There is a possibility that BT will deliver a new bench opposite the Cinema Bookshop, and take away the old one which was installed incorrectly when they brought it back after installing the new BT green boxes. Though there was some doubt about whether they would get the job done before Hay Festival. Councillors want to put a brass plaque on the new bench to commemorate Arnold Wesker - they have the plaque, and there were comments about attaching a sign to the existing, far too low, bench if BT don't do the work, which would say "Temporary bench due to BT incompetence". If BT don't come up with the new bench, Hay Castle have said that they have a bench they are willing to give.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

The London Welsh Male Voice Rugby Choir - in Hay

There will be a special concert at St Mary's Church on Saturday 13th May, at 7pm.
The London Welsh Male Voice Rugby Choir will be singing, supported by the Black Lion Singers.
The concert is in memory of Betty Weir, who died last year. She was half of the North Weir Trust, a charity which gives grants to local people who wish to advance their education or extend their professional expertise through voluntary work. It's been giving grants for twenty five years now, and Vera North, the other half of the partnership, is still involved.
When Betty died, it was decided to put on a special event to raise money for the North Weir Trust, and this is the result.
Roger Beetham, from the B&B at the back of Hay Cinema Bookshop, has been singing with the choir since 2005, when it toured New Zealand with the British and Irish Lions. The choir also sang at the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympics - so they're used to big crowds!
Tickets are £12, and are available from Roger and Dawn Beetham on 01497 820408, Eric Pugh on The Pavement, and Jackson and Gill Opticians in Backfold.
There will be a bar serving wine and soft drinks.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Congratulations to Gareth Ratcliffe

The results of the council elections are in, and Gareth Ratcliffe has been re-elected as the County Councillor for Hay, with 71% of the votes cast. This time, he was running as a Lib Dem - last time he was a Conservative. His opponent in the election was Rob Golesworthy, who was running as a Conservative.
For the rest of Powys, Llangors now has a Green councillor, Emily Durrant - the first Green county councillor in Powys. Talgarth and Glasbury remain Lib Dem, with William Powell and James Gibson-Watt holding their seats.

So there are now 30 Independents in the County Council - the biggest group, but down 18 from last time (though some just changed from being Independent to joining a party). The next biggest group is the Conservatives, with 19 (up 9 from last time), followed by the Lib Dems with 14 (up 4 from last time), 7 Labour (up 1), with 2 Plaid Cymru and one Green (both new parties to the County Council).

Friday, 5 May 2017

Springfield Arts

I happened to be in Hay Wholefoods when a lady was there leaving some leaflets, so out of curiosity I took one.
It made me laugh - because the arts courses she is advertising are based at Springfield, Crickadarn, near Erwood. Years ago, when I and my husband were homeless for a time, we lived at Springfield with the friends who lived there then, in a shed in the field. (We both had jobs, and money in the bank, but it was impossible to find somewhere in the area to live!)
I imagine it's changed quite a bit since we were there, and the courses look interesting: Mapuche weaving from Southern Chile, painting with cold wax, printing leaves onto silk and paper, felting, Wabi Sabi (which seems to be creating an artists book from prints) and landscape painting techniques. The cheapest course, one day of weaving, is £75, and the most expensive, the cold wax and landscape techniques over two days, are £275.
It's a beautiful place to do art - I remember embroidering on a frame in the middle of a meadow full of flowers one summer there - and there are lovely walks in every direction, too.
They have a website at

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Stitch and Bitch

As it's the First Thursday of the month, a good number of knitting and stitching ladies turned up at the Three Tuns earlier this evening. There were reports from Wonderwool - maybe not the bargains to be had that there were in previous years, but some gorgeous wool on offer all the same.
One lady showed photos of her daughter's wedding, which I think was the first wedding to be held in Booths Bookshop - they had overflow seating in the cinema, so the guests could watch everything on the big screen!
Kitty brought her jumper which needed a bit of TLC, provided by Tracy - something had gone horribly wrong with the sleeves, but it's back on track now. She had intended to go on to the Greenpeace meeting at the Globe, but stayed to chat instead.
Another lady was only there because her book club had cancelled their meeting, with her incredibly elaborate jumper which she's been knitting for over a year now, incorporating all her husband's favourite animals in the design.
And Tracy regaled us with stories of her recent holiday in Ireland - including Newgrange and Knowth. She wants to go back and see more of the country.
There was much discussion of what's on at Hay Festival this year - Sharon has bought tickets to several events for her helpers who come to the camp site at Llanigon, and the campsite has sponsored an event, too. Kitty works in the press office over the Festival, and has also started introducing a few events - she says she normally sleeps for a couple of days when it's all over!
The next First Thursday will be in the middle of Hay Festival, so we probably won't be meeting at the Three Tuns (it would be unfair to expect them to reserve a table for us on the busiest week of the year) - but we might take our knitting down to the Festival site instead!

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Polling Day

Don't forget to vote in the local elections tomorrow, down at the Bowling Club.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Book Art

The book art is starting to come out of the windows around town today, but here's another example of what was on display.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Local Democracy in Trouble

According to the advert in this month's WyeLocal, there won't be any elections for the positions of town councillors this year. In fact, only five people have put their names forward to be councillors this time. As the council needs eleven members to be at full strength, this is rather worrying. The only thing they can do to fill the vacant seats is to co-opt members - just over half the council!
Being a town councillor is a huge amount of work now, all done voluntarily, and if no-one wants to come forward, I'm not sure how it will all be done.
Local elections are on Thursday, at the Bowling Club, and there is still the County Councillor to vote for.