Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Nights at the Movies

I can go months without wanting to go to the cinema - and then two films I want to see come along in the same week.
The first was Peterloo - as a proud Mancunian, I had to go and see this. It's about the peaceful meeting in 1819 on St Peter's Field in Manchester that turned into a massacre. Over the years, I've done a bit of research into this important piece of Manchester history, and Mike Leigh got it right - the vicar gabbling the Riot Act while no-one could hear him, the disagreements between Henry 'Orator' Hunt and Sam Bamford (I've read his memoirs, too), even the removal of stones from the Field on the morning of the gathering. I was amused, though, when they talked about practicing drill and marching on Kersal Moor and the scene shifted to somewhere that most certainly was not Kersal Moor! Having said that, it would be impossible to film on Kersal Moor today, because it has been so much encroached on by more modern buildings (I used to live there).
There was another scene that had been filmed in Lincoln, in the square between the Cathedral and the Castle, at the top of Steep Hill - we recognised it (where the coach pulls up outside the newspaper office) straight away!
So, 'enjoyed' is probably the wrong word to use about such a grim tale, but I'd recommend the film to anyone who wants to know the history.

Then at the end of the week we went to see Bohemian Rhapsody.
The music was marvellous, of course, and the actor playing Freddie Mercury, Rami Malek, looked uncannily like the real Freddie - the actor playing Brian May could have been his twin, too. The Live Aid concert at Wembley was recreated extremely well, with original film of the crowd in the background of the modern actors - and when Freddie started to sing Bohemian Rhapsody on stage I was almost in tears, having seen what he was going through in his private life at the time. Again, a very good film, and I've been singing Queen songs all week!

The 7.30pm showing was fully booked when we got tickets, so we went to the 5pm showing, and went to Red Indigo for a very good curry afterwards, which made a perfect last evening before my Young Man had to go back to the Big City.

Monday, 19 November 2018

From Peterchurch to Orissa

Two local young people, with help from the North Weir Trust, recently travelled to Orissa in North East India to volunteer at a girls' school there. One of the ladies who founded the North Weir Trust died recently at the age of 100, but the Trust continues to give grants to local people for projects that will advance their education or extend their professional expertise through voluntary work.
Bella and Ludo took photos while they were there, which have been turned into a rather lovely calendar to raise funds for the school.
Calendars are £10, and are available from 18 Rabbit, The Old Electric Shop, the Globe and the Dorstone Front Room.

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Trip to Cardiff - Not Exactly Going to Plan....

When my Young Man got here, he wanted to re-watch some Peter Capaldi episodes of Doctor Who. We chose Heaven Sent and Hell Bent. The story begins and ends in a diner in Nevada, which turns out to be the Tardis that Me and Clara stole from Gallifrey, and which is now stuck in that form ("Awesome" says Clara).
"You know that's in Cardiff?" I said casually.
So we looked it up - it's called Eddie's Diner, on Mermaid Quay, and we planned a day out to go to see it (and have lunch there) and also visit a comic shop that I'd found near the railway station on a previous visit.
Online, we checked out the opening times, and the buses that go to the Bay, so we were prepared.

The trip down started on the T14 school/college bus, which only goes as far as Brecon, but we only had about ten minutes to wait for the T4 to take us on to Cardiff. We got off at the Castle, checked with the driver to find out which bus stop we needed to come back, and went for coffee at the Rendez-Vous in the Queen's Arcade.
Then we ambled round to Forbidden Planet and made a few purchases - I found Art Matters by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Chris Riddell, and part 5 of the Green Arrow story I've been slowly collecting - and I know I have too many books that I haven't read yet already!
Then we walked down towards the railway station, and this is where things started to go wrong.
I couldn't remember exactly where the comic shop had been, so after a couple of false starts we decided to get the bus to the Bay.
We got on the No 8. It clearly said "Cardiff Bay" on the destination display. After a while, though, we got a bit concerned. The part of Cardiff we were going through was an area of multicultural small shops, which was interesting but unfamiliar - and surely we should be at the Bay by now?
I went to ask the driver - who was going to Heath Hospital, in exactly the opposite direction to the Bay, but swore blind that he'd changed the destination display before we got on. All he could do was to drop us at the next bus stop, where we crossed the road to get the next bus back. We just managed to scrape together the right amount of change for the fare. So now we had to go all the way to the city centre, and then down to the Bay.
On the way, we passed a parade of shops which included the comic shop we'd been trying to find. It had closed down.
By the time we got to Mermaid Quay, it was almost 2pm.
The last bus back to Hay went from the Castle at 3.10pm.
We found the Diner on the map of Mermaid Quay, went round the corner - and it was closed.
By this time we were both ravenous, and had a quick scout round to find somewhere that could feed us fast. The Young Man suggested Wagamama - which was brilliant. We were served the chicken ramen in rich sauce with a pottery cup of green tea in record time, and gobbled it down. (I'll certainly try the one in Hereford now, for a more leisurely meal).
Then we dashed round the corner to the taxi rank - we were in no mood to try the buses again - to get back to the Castle.
It was only when we had sat down on the bus, certain in the knowledge that it was going in the right direction, that we felt able to relax.
By the time we got back to Hay Castle (after 3 changes of driver!) we were exhausted.

I don't think we will be going to Cardiff again for a long time.

Saturday, 17 November 2018

Remembrance Sunday

Here's the Remembrance procession heading up the hill from the Clock Tower, with Gareth Ratcliffe carrying the British Legion standard, George the Town Crier, Trudi Stedman the Mayor, Dawn Lewis, army cadets, veterans, and a lone piper. It was a very good turn out for the 100th Anniversary.
The procession was on the way to St Mary's for the Remembrance service, after which they came back to the town square to lay wreaths at the War Memorial.

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Planet Buffet

When the Young Man arrived on Saturday, we had quite a while to wait for the bus back to Hay. We normally find somewhere nice for lunch, and this time he didn't want to walk too far from the bus station.
We got as far as the old Odeon cinema beside the bus station, now the Freedom Church. On the end of the building is a round extension housing a Chinese restaurant called Planet Buffet.
It's been there for years, and I don't know why I've never been inside, because it was excellent.
The idea is that you pay a set price for the meal, and help yourself from an island in the middle of the restaurant where there are various kinds of rice and noodles, and all sorts of meats in sauces and vegetables. The Young Man went for a red Thai curry with noodles, and I had pork in a rich sauce. We each got a pot of very good green tea as well.
The steps up to the front door were a little bit difficult with the suitcase, but I'll certainly be going there again when I'm in Hereford.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Saturday Mini Bus

I went into Hereford yesterday to meet my Young Man from the station, and got to the bus stop in good time for the 20 to 10 bus. Which was a bit late. None of us in the queue were very worried about this, because there was a notice about a diversion around Talgarth and Bronllys for the next week or so, which would add a few extra minutes to the journey time.

When the bus finally turned up, we all laughed - it was a minibus!

The driver explained that there had been a breakdown of the usual bus, and the replacement bus wouldn't start - so to keep the service running, this had been the only bus available.
We squeezed in.

He also explained that the "free bus on a Saturday" idea had changed slightly. It was free in Wales, but once he crossed the border into England, he had to start charging the normal fare again. So I could get a free return ticket from the Hay bus stop, but the person who got on in Cusop had to pay full fare, and my Young Man had to pay full fare from Hereford Station back to Hay.

At Peterchurch a lady with a child in a buggy got on.
At Kingstone Church, the driver would only accept the first two people in the queue, but he was very apologetic about it.

On the bus, I was chatting to one of the ladies from the Stitch and Bitch group, who was going to catch the train to London. She said the bus was so full it reminded her of being in India!
In a seat near the back was a chap who used to go to the Wednesday evening music sessions at Baskerville Hall - he was going off to Mirfield for a few days' retreat, and hoping to create some new music while he was there.

The bus back to Hay was the normal size.

Friday, 9 November 2018

Remembrance 100th Anniversary

The Remembrance commemoration this year starts at the Clock Tower at 2.00pm on Sunday afternoon, with a piper playing while the parade forms up. At 2.30pm the parade will march to St Mary's Church for the service of commemoration, followed by a march back to the war memorial for wreath laying.
The British Legion are hoping for as many veterans as possible to join them this year, for part or all of the commemoration. After all, this year is special - being exactly one hundred years from when the guns fell silent at the end of the Great War.

Meanwhile, local churches have been making a special effort to mark the anniversary, too. The poppy curtains and wall hangings at Cusop Church are impressive, and will be there for the rest of the year.

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Plastic Free Hay

There's a new group in town, dedicated to the reduction of single-use plastic in our lives. They've been going round the shops with leaflets, suggesting ways that we can reduce the use of plastic in our lives.

For instance, so many people carry bottled water around now - when it would be just as easy to carry a refillable bottle. Tap water is just as good as bottled water.

Or use a shopping bag that is not made of plastic - this idea has been around for years. The Co-op had an initiative a few years ago in which they gave every household in Hay a cotton bag - I still have mine.

Refuse takeaway cups, cutlery and straws unless they are compostable (when I was away for the weekend, I always refused the little plastic lids that they want to put on coffee cups these days). A little while ago, there was a visitor to town who wandered round with her own enamel coffee mug.

Avoid unnecessary packaging - I usually buy loose fruit and vegetables which can go straight into my cotton shopping bag, which can be washed easily. If it's something like mushrooms, I put them in a paper bag at the greengrocers. And I can choose exactly how much of anything that I want, instead of having a pre-packed amount - I might not be able to use it all, and wasting food is another global problem. And the local butchers keep the plastic they have to use to a minimum - no unnecessary plastic trays, for instance.
Shops that support the initiative will be getting stickers for their windows (and yes, I suppose they are plastic, but they're not single use - they'll last for ages).

I looked in the bag for my rubbish just now, and I have put 4 items in it this week - a butter wrapper, the cellophane from a cake, the plastic wrapping from some Welsh Dragon sausages from Gibbons, and the plastic seal from a tub of ice cream (the rest of the tub is cardboard, so will be going in the compost).

Plastic Free Hay has a Facebook page.

Sunday, 4 November 2018

The Isle is Full of Noises

This was the Shakespearean evening in St Mary's Church last night - and it was such a lot of fun!
The Three Inch Fools were the company, three men and a woman who played all the parts, with quick changes on stage, adding jackets and shawls to their basic shirts and breeches - and Prospero had his wizard's staff, of course. They were Alex Wingfield (playing Ferdinand and Caliban from the Tempest), Claire Parry (Ariel and Miranda), Eddie Mann (Jaques and the Duke in the Forest of Arden) and James Hyde (Prospero). They have a website at threeinchfools.com
They were also all accomplished musicians, playing a variety of instruments (including a musical saw!), starting the performance with The Rain it Raineth Every Day from Twelfth Night, which moved quickly into the storm from the Tempest (enacted with two umbrellas). From Prospero's Isle we moved to the Forest of Arden, and then back to the Tempest (I'm not sure who the slightly sinister herbalist with the pestle and mortar was - I didn't recognise the play his speech came from).
They were full of energy and enthusiasm, and very funny, and it was a wonderful evening's entertainment.
The church was full, and I'm told that Botany and Other Stories, who organised the evening, raised over £900 to maintain the churchyard with regard to greater bio-diversity.

Looking around the church, I noticed that the new heating system is in place, with big radiators along the walls, which means that the short side pews have been taken out.

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Another Floral Train

Now Hay has a floral train down by the bridge, I couldn't help noticing this example in Chester railway station:

Friday, 2 November 2018

More 'Bitching' than Stitching!

It was the First Thursday of the month yesterday, so time for Stitch and Bitch at the Swan, where we were greeted with the invitation to sign up for loyalty cards, which is a new initiative. The loyalty cards offer a 10% discount on drinks and food.
Françoise came along to chat with us. She's planning a new exhibition around the works of Colette and embroidery, so thought it would be a good idea to write a little bit about the local Stitch and Bitch group to go into her newspaper The Cabbage Leaf at the same time. She also brought along a reel of paper twine she has been trying to knit - it's very stiff, but she has a project in mind for it (not clothes, though - it's far too stiff for clothing). She also discovered the existence of circular knitting, as Tracy was knitting another Fair Isle jumper on circular needles.
On the whole, though, we did a lot of chatting (we don't really Bitch) and not a lot of craftwork. There were a few light hearted suggestions about changing the name of the group - Stitch and Witch was quite a popular idea, as we do have several Pagan leaning members, but nobody really liked Knit and Natter - too bland, and we're not a bland group!

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

A Certain Lack of Joined Up Thinking

Someone I know told me he'd overheard a conversation in Londis the other day.
The lady concerned was telling the ladies behind the counter that she'd had a phone call from Barclays Bank, asking why she was now using the Post Office instead of the bank....
Maybe the fact that Barclays closed the Hay branch just a couple of weeks before might have had something to do with it?

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

The End of the Model Railway Exhibition

Salem Chapel is now up for sale, which means that the Model Railway Exhibition in the old schoolroom of the chapel will have to move out.
So, on Saturday 3rd and 10th, from 11am to 3pm, they are having a Closing Down Sale.
It'll be sad to see it go, after they put so much hard work into it, but they're ready to call it a day.

Monday, 29 October 2018

Rhosgoch Tractor Run

A glimpse of the Rhosgoch Young Farmers' Tractor Run as they came round the Blue Boar corner. They were raising money for St Michael's Hospice this year.

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Colossal Critter

My camera is too weedy to have done this justice - so this picture was taken by Marva Jackson Lord.
It was just starting to go dark when the colossal critter arrived at the Clock Tower, and there were lights inside its body as the puppeteers walked up and down. They must have been freezing!
I was standing with Huw the poet, who pulled a winning ticket in the raffle - he was given a card to take to Green Ink Bookshop to claim his prize.

After a while I realised what the giant praying mantis reminded me of, with its impressively clacking mandibles and red eyes. It's the creature from the climax of Quatermass and the Pit! (which dates me terribly - but it's still a good film).

Saturday, 27 October 2018

Small Business Saturday

Welcome to Josh and Elen Green, who have just opened Green Ink Booksellers by the Buttermarket.

Friday, 26 October 2018

Campsite in the Woods

Over the last couple of years, a lot of work has been done on the footpath through the woods on the far side of the bridge from Hay. It's part of the Offa's Dyke Path, and the woodland it runs through is under new ownership. They've cleared a lot of undergrowth as well, and cut down some of the trees.

Now the owners, at The Start B&B just across the road from the woodland, want to turn the area into a camp site, with 9 "safari" tents, a café, shower and toilet block, and a tree house. They also want to create a new car park and turning area - at present it's not possible to get cars into the area, and until recently the only access was steps, which has now been turned into a ramp.

Alan Nicholls has been leafletting local houses with his objections to the scheme - this is how I found out about it. He is concerned about the impact on the wildlife on the site, and the difficulty of access (cars do tend to come down that hill to the bridge very fast). He's also concerned that this could be the 'thin edge of a wedge' - if planning approval was given for this camp site, it might encourage others to apply. In fact, there was an application some time ago on the other side of the road from the present site, more or less opposite the church across the river, which was turned down.

I have to admit I groaned when I saw the inclusion of a café in the plans - Hay is full of cafes, and only two minutes walk away. The toilets also worried me, until I saw on the plans that they will be composting toilets. The Community Garden, just up the hill on the other side of the road, has a composting toilet, which seems to work well. The "tree house" isn't what I'd call a treehouse, either - the plans are for a wooden hut on stilts with trees round it.

The consultation runs until 7th November, and the full details can be found online at Powys Planning Applications under the code 18/0688/FUL.

I've been reading the Ecology Report on the site, commissioned by Mr and Mrs Farnworth at The Start. It was carried out by an experienced ecologist called Stephen West, who looked for signs of all the species which need to be protected by law, such as bats, barn owls, badgers, dormice and crested newts.
The report says that no further trees are going to be cut down, and the lighting for the area is going to be low level, with no floodlights, and designed to have the minimum impact on nocturnal species.
The ecologist also laid out a plan of woodland management - the owners are intending to put up bird, bat and mammal boxes to encourage roosting and nesting, which would be monitored for two years after installation. He even considers that the woodland management could improve the conditions for dormice, by encouraging a shrub layer throughout the woodland for them to move through and feed on.
They will also be planting native species of trees and shrubs as screens around the camping sites, such as hazel, crab apple, oak, rowan and birch. They are also planning the proposed works so as not to damage any tree roots on the site, and they will be keeping dead wood features (dead tree trunks, for instance) which are important for insects.

Thursday, 25 October 2018

The Colossal Critter and an Isle Full of Noises

Despite good intentions, I haven't managed to make it to the Green exhibition at Hazy Daze, put on by Botany and Other Stories - and it closes this weekend!
For the occasion, the Colossal Critter is back - at six o'clock by the Clock Tower, and lit up!

The next project for Botany and Other Stories is happening at St Mary's Church on Saturday 3rd November at 7.30pm. It's called The Isle is Full of Noises, a line taken from Shakespeare's The Tempest. Theatre company Three Inch Fools have created a musical take on Shakespeare, with passages from the plays that are related to the natural world.
Tickets are £10 for adults, £5 for under 18 and toddlers free, from Hazy Daze, on the market on Thursday, or on the door at the church.
Proceeds from the performance will go to the maintenance and upkeep of the churchyard in a way that is sensitive to biodiversity.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

A Weekend Away at FantasyCon

I've been away for the weekend, in Chester, to attend FantasyCon. I didn't go to EasterCon this year, and I needed to spend some time with my Tribe - authors and academics and people who run small presses and publish magazines, and who can make obscure film, TV and book references safe in the knowledge that almost everyone in the room will understand them without any need to explain.
I had the most wonderful time, met some amazing people, and now I'm really, really tired. Everything went really smoothly over the weekend right up to the moment I got back to Hereford yesterday evening - when the T14 was half an hour late. In fairness, the traffic in Hereford was appalling, and the students who were waiting to go home didn't seem too concerned, so I assume they're used to delays of this sort. Half an hour after we all got on the bus, though, we'd still only got as far as Asda....
I'll be blogging in more detail (much more detail!) about the Con over on Morwenna's Tower, and I'll be back to talking about what's going on in Hay on Thursday.

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Music and Dancing at the Baskie

What a brilliant night!
Thomasin (with trumpet and also playing flute and Irish whistle and singing) came along with the Speedgums (double bass, banjo, ukulele and kazoo), and there was lots of collaboration, people getting up to dance, a massed kazoo chorus, Tom with his piano accordion getting everyone to join in, plus guitars, an autoharp, castanets, a clarinet-type instrument, spoons, melodion, a fiddle and harmonicas. The official session stopped at about 11pm, but the players just carried on!
(photo taken by Bob Evans, and shared on Facebook)

Monday, 15 October 2018

In Remembrance

Here's the new poppy by the war memorial.

To take this picture, I hopped across the trench that's being dug right round the Castle for their new utility cables. So far, it's gone all along the back lane, along the edge of the Square, and now it's heading up Castle Street to go into the Honesty Garden next to the door in the wall. I've been peering into the trench to see if there's anything of archaeological interest, but I haven't seen anything yet.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Wet and Windy

I feel sorry for the organisers of the Walking Festival this weekend. It was quite enough for me to go along the Riverside path a little way to take these pictures.
Here's the canoe landing stage, with the water coming right over into the car park.
And here's the view under Hay Bridge:

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Survey of Library Users

Tucked away on page 7 of the Brecon & Radnor Express this week is a small article about a survey of library users across Powys. The survey can be done online at https://customer.powys.gov.uk/libraries and on paper forms available at the libraries.
There are questions about online library services, and also the various benefits using the library service provides. The survey is only for this week, October 8th to 13th, so there's still time to take part. Users of the mobile library services will be surveyed over the rest of the month.
A library survey was last carried out by Powys County Council in 2015, when over 1,100 Powys residents took part.

Monday, 8 October 2018

Singing Together About a Cowboy

Huw Parsons invited me to do some more singing for his podcast - check out huwspodcast.wordpress.com for the finished result.
He took me over to Clyro Church, which has lovely acoustics, and I brought out the booklet the Wild West. I've sung one or two songs from it at the Baskie on Wednesday nights, and Huw particularly liked The Lone Cowboy, which I don't suppose has been sung many times since it was used on the BBC radio schools programme Singing Together in 1971. All the songs in the booklet were specially written for the BBC by Paul Townsend, with the music written by Michael Rose.
We sang one or two other songs while we were there, which was a lot of fun, but this is the one he chose for his podcast.

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Hay Walking Festival

The Festival is back, from Friday 12th October to Sunday 14th October, with a variety of walks, including walks with pack ponies! They have a website at www.haywalkingfestival.com where people can book in advance, and last minute tickets as well as information and advice will be available at the Tourist Information Office.
On Friday evening, at 7.30pm at the Swan, is a free event with three speakers talking about the journeys they've taken. Barry Pilton will be talking about walking the Pennine Way (he wrote the book One Man and His Bog about it in 1986); Pete Ward will be talking about cycling the Camino de Santiago, the famous pilgrimage route in Spain, and local dairy farmer Paul Richards took part in the Mongol Derby, racing on horseback across the Mongolian desert! I'm looking forward to going to that, though I don't think I'll manage to get to any of the walks.
Which is a pity.
Catherine Kramer is leading an eleven mile walk to Craswall Priory - I've done that once, and I was nearly weeping with exhaustion on the way back, and that was twenty years ago when I was a lot fitter! They're not all that strenuous, though!
Another walk goes to Mouse Castle Wood, which is a magical place, and others cover the landscape of On the Black Hill and the countryside around Snodhill Castle. Around Talgarth, walk leader Rob Yorke will be talking about the changing countryside, including farming practices, wildlife conservation, rewilding, public access, new crops like the daffodils that are grown locally for a cancer treatment, and food production for supermarkets.
There's a look at the industrial past of Cusop Dingle, and a visit to Talgarth's Witches Pool, and a hike out to Peterchurch with time for a drink at the Nag's Head before catching the Hay Ho bus back to Hay on the Sunday.
Kilvert is not neglected - there's a walk starting from Bredwardine Church, and local author Jasper Fforde will be leading a walk taking in the memorial of a local woman who died in a snowstorm in 1925 and Twm Tobacco's Grave.
In Hay itself, there's a bookshop tour and the Timbuktu Trail, celebrating the similarities and differences between Hay and twin town Timbuktu in Mali.

Saturday, 6 October 2018

Lots of Exhibitions at the Globe!

Well, I went to the Globe last night to see Thomasin's art and ceramics, and the photos from the WyeLocal calendar - but that wasn't all that was on display.
Downstairs in the café Cliff Hatton was exhibiting his cartoons, some on fishing, some topical, and some about Hay. He was having a bit of trouble with the display, having mistakenly thought that sticky fixers would be enough to keep his pictures on the wall - one or two had already come crashing down!
Also downstairs were some of Thomasin's ceramics, including a life sized bust, arranged around the edges of the room, which was set out for a private function later that evening. As I lingered to look at her oil paintings at the top of the stairs, she passed me cradling a small gondola she had made, with tourist couple seated amidships, taking photos with a little camera - the detail was impressive.
Around the main hall were more of Thomasin's paintings. Most were of landscapes, but I rather liked a still life with guitar, entitled Reasons to be Cheerful. I also treated myself to a CD of Thomasin's music. I haven't listened to it yet, but I have heard her perform some of her songs at the Baskie at the regular music sessions there. Her friends the Speedgums are thanked on the sleevenotes, (double bass and ukulele players) so I assume they're featured on the CD. I've got quite a collection now of CDs by musicians I know.
Up on the gallery was the WyeLocal exhibition, a thank you from the magazine to the photographers who had often been contributing to the competition for the calendar for several years. As well as the 12 pictures from the calendar other work by the photographers is on display, and some are for sale. I chatted to one lady (Claire Young?) who visits the area from her home in South Gloucestershire regularly because her family originally came from Carmarthenshire. She had a long drive home, but she said she really liked what she had seen of Hay, and wanted to come back.

Friday, 5 October 2018

Exhibition at the Globe

This evening, I'll be at the Globe for the start of an exhibition by Thomasin Toohie. Thomasin is a painter and ceramic artist as well as an accomplished musician, playing a variety of instruments - mostly Irish folk music.
She also teaches painting locally. I've never seen her paintings, but she says in WyeLocal, where she is featured as this month's Local Talent, that she likes painting in oils. She also sells her work through the Art Shop in Abergavenny and Rostra Gallery in Bath.

At the same time, WyeLocal is also organising an exhibition at the Globe, for the photographers who have contributed to their calendar this year. They have been producing a calendar of local landscapes since 2009, with photos by local photographers, six of whom will be exhibiting the images chosen for the calendar and other works. The calendar will also be on sale (it's really gorgeous this year).

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Sad to See Them Go

Walking through town this lunchtime, I passed the old Library. Parked to one side was a van, and workmen were loading it with the shelves that had been left inside when the Library closed.
Just round the corner, another van was parked outside Barclays Bank, where more workmen were dismantling the bank counter and loading up all the shelves and so on that were left inside.
I peered in - it was strange to see the room looking so big, without the counter across the middle of it.
The bank is now up for sale, but I don't know what's going to happen to the old Library building.

Monday, 1 October 2018

A Walk up Cusop Dingle

Some time ago, I was at a Cusop History Group meeting where a few of the members said they were going to be cutting back the trees around the lime kiln up Cusop Dingle. I rarely go up the Dingle any more, so this was a good excuse for a long walk.
I chose a lovely September afternoon, so warm that I took my coat off, and the leaves were just changing colour on the trees.
The Dingle gradually gets wilder and wilder as you go further up, though it's a fairly gentle gradient beside the Dulas Brook.
The end of the paved road goes past Brickyard Cottage, and then becomes a track across a field (with some curious cows and sheep in it). Gravel has been put down, which makes it look like a private driveway, but this is the pathway to get further up the Dingle.
This was the best photo I could manage of the lime kiln - I wasn't about to go scrambling about in the undergrowth, so I took it where the path rises to go past the top of the lime kiln:

Around the front it looks fairly well preserved, but the top had several quite sizable trees growing out of it, which have now been cut down to stumps. The hole in the top of the lime kiln has a mixture of branches and wire fencing on top to stop the unwary from falling down it.

On the way back down the Dingle, I stopped at a friend's house for tea (I'd been invited when their car passed me on the way up). They told me that most of the bedrock of the Dingle is sandstone (which I already knew - my ex-husband studied geology), but that there's a thin layer of limestone at a certain height up the hill, just about where this lime kiln, and several others in the area, are found. The lime may have been used in the nearby brick works, or spread on fields. The brick works didn't last very long - my friend said they had some of the bricks made there, and they were rubbish!

Sunday, 30 September 2018

More Scaffolding Than Castle!

Having covered the walls of the Castle with scaffolding, they're now building a roof over it, presumably so they can continue working during inclement weather over the winter. The original builders would be amazed!

Saturday, 29 September 2018

Small Business Saturday

It isn't ready to open yet, but there's a new bookshop taking shape next to the Buttermarket, where the St David's Hospice shop was last (the building also used to be Mark Westwood's bookshop before that):

Anne, at Addymans Books, was quite excited about the colour they've chosen to paint the shop. In the Farrow and Ball catalogue it's called "vardo", which is the Romany word for caravan. Traditionally, it seems, Romany caravans were painted in that shade.
This was fascinating for Anne, because Addymans' Books has bookshelves which are made out of decorated wood reclaimed from a Transylvanian church - and it's painted exactly the same shade. Maybe, she suggested, the church had been a Romany church?

This image of some of Addymans' shelving is from theculturetrip

Friday, 28 September 2018

Last Day for Last Bank

At 12 noon today, Barclays Bank closed its doors for the last time. It was the last of three banks in Hay to close, so now there are none. The cash machine was switched off even before that - and the queue was right to the door when I went in to leave some sweets from the fudge shop for the staff. The queue was still right to the door when I left - though Barclays claimed that they were closing the branch because nobody used it.
On my way back from the fudge shop, I met a young chap standing outside the old HSBC, looking lost. He asked me if there was a bank in town, at which I gave a hollow laugh and said he was in luck - there was one for at least another two hours! He told me that his local branch in Llandovery had closed, too.
What he actually wanted was a cash point, so I pointed him towards the Post Office, though I was told later that they've been having problems with the machine again.
I was also told that there had been a BBC reporter in town before I got to the bank, interviewing people about what they thought of it.

So I went down to the Co-op to use their cash machine for the very first time. I was pleased to see that I could check my balance on it, but the maximum you can take out seems to be £50.
On Monday, I'll have to find a different way to pay my Water bill - I've been paying it over the counter in Barclays for years.

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Favourite Children's Books at The Story of Books

For the month of October, artist Tessa Waite will be at The Story of Books in Castle Street every Thursday from 10am to 5pm to talk to people about their favourite children's books. She will be helping to create a blog around those memories, which will form an archive for people to share, and she will be creating her own mixed media picture books based on the books that people talk about to her.

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Goodbye to Boz Books

Boz Books was one of the first bookshops I ever went into when I first came to Hay, in 1991, and it had been there for a while then. Now Boz is packing up and going online from home, and he left this message behind in the window of the shop doorway:

Monday, 24 September 2018

Saturday Bus

On Saturday morning I went into Hereford to see my mum to the train.
The first bus of the day was the twenty to ten bus (no early bus unless it's a school day now), but the good news was that it was free!
About half a dozen people who had been staying in Hay got on the bus with all their luggage. Then there was a family with a pushchair and a carrycot, and a group of five girls from the Cathedral School all carrying hockey sticks. My mum was fascinated by the modern hockey sticks, which are very compact - the ones she used at school were shaped much more like an open J, and were wooden.
When the second pushchair came on board, there was a big re-arrangement of the luggage to accommodate it. Mum's partner ended up looking after the suitcase of an Austrian lady who had been staying with them in Belmont House (she was seated halfway up the bus), and I had a schoolgirl's backpack on my knee.
Mum was impressed that the driver got out of his cab to sort the luggage out and carry the pushchair ("That wouldn't happen in Cyprus," she said) and, later, how polite the schoolgirls were when they reclaimed their bags.

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Black and Tan

While mum was still here, we decided to go back to Kilverts to see if they had any more of those delicious steak pies.
They had just changed the menu, and the pie was now chicken and leek, which was almost as nice.
Mum's partner doesn't drink much any more, but that night he fancied a Murphy's, which they don't serve - so he asked for a Black and Tan instead.
The young man behind the bar had never heard of it, but when it was described to him he filled a pint glass, half with Guinness and half of Bass bitter.
Kevin was pleased with the taste, but headed off to the table where we were sitting muttering: "Fancy not knowing what a Black and Tan is!"
I pointed out that it's a very old fashioned drink (Kevin is nearly 70 after all). Probably he was the first person to ask for that drink in Kilverts this century!

Saturday, 22 September 2018

A Herefordshire Man

I missed the ceremony yesterday, when the statue of Herefordshire's only VC winner was unveiled at the main entrance to the Old Market shopping centre, where the pedestrian crossings are.
So I came along today to see it.
Corporal Lewis is slightly larger than life size, and is standing on a flat plinth which reads "A Herefordshire Man". He's carrying a letter from his parents in his hand, and wearing the VC on his jacket.
In fact, he was never presented with the medal in life, as he died three days after performing the actions that won him the medal, in another battle.

There is also a plaque on the ground in front of the statue:

Huge congratulations to Dawn Lewis, who wanted the statue, and worked so hard to achieve it.

Friday, 21 September 2018

Castle Gateway

The wooden castle gates have been taken away for conservation, and the workmen have now covered that side of the castle with scaffolding, too.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Going out for Meals

I've been going round to Belmont House for evening meals - the landlady gets on well with my mum and her partner, and has allowed them the use of the kitchen in the cottage where they're staying, beside the main house. That's worked very well, apart from the evening when the sausages (Hay Specials from Gibbons) set off the smoke alarm!

We've also been out to eat. It's difficult to find an Indian restaurant in the part of Cyprus where mum lives, so she was keen to go to Red Indigo, as long as she stuck to the fairly mild curries. She enjoyed it very much, and I now have a loyalty card - collect four stamps for meals at the restaurant (not takeaways) and the fifth meal, for two people, is half price.
We've also eaten at the Blue Boar (though mum wasn't terribly impressed with the selection of sweets, so she didn't indulge).

The best meal so far, though, was when the Young Man came to visit, and we decided to try out the new regime at Kilverts.
When we went in, the couple from La Fosse were there, having a meal. When mum first came to Hay, about ten years ago now, that's where she stayed, so we went over to say hello. They were eating the steak pie, and it looked so lovely that we all decided to have one.
It was gorgeous! The gravy was so delicious that we asked for spoons to finish it off. It also came with a selection of vegetables, and new potatoes. I'll certainly take visitors to eat there again.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Getting Used to the New Buses

My Young Man came up on Saturday, because he'd never met my mum before, and he was able to get away for a couple of days while she was in the UK.
He had a pleasant surprise when he got on the new T14 service at Hereford - it was free! On Saturdays and Sundays the T14 and T4 services are free, thanks to a subsidy from the Welsh Assembly and Tesco.

On the way home on Sunday, he got the Hay Ho bus, which is £6.00 single and £7.50 return. I went into Hereford with him to see him off. There was time for us to dash across to Morrisons so he could get a snack for the journey, and while I was there I got a small loaf - which made the bus driver laugh when I got back on the bus. "You've come all this way and that's all the shopping you got?" he said.

While I was at Hereford Station with the Young Man, I bought an advance ticket for a weekend away I'm planning. The train will leave Hereford at about half past ten, so I'll have to catch the early bus from Hay. Then I started worrying about the new timetable - they still run the school buses in the early morning, but there doesn't seem to be a replacement early bus for school holidays any more. I had to wait until I got home to check the timetable to make sure that I would be going on a school day (phew!).

Sunday, 16 September 2018

New Hours for the Library

When the Library moved from it's original building to the school, the Hay-on-Wye Library Supporters (HOWLS) continued to work behind the scenes to improve the service. Nobody was really happy with the situation of the library only being open for 12 and a half hours a week, with no evenings.
So negotiations have been going on to improve matters.

From 1st October, the library will enter a trial period of new opening hours:

Mondays and Thursday 10am to 12.30 and 1.30-3pm; Fridays 1.30-6pm and Saturdays 10am-12.30pm

The next meeting of HOWLS will be on Wednesday 17th October, venue to be decided.

Friday, 14 September 2018

Shopping in Brecon

My mum has come to visit, with a long list of things she wants to buy to take back to Cyprus with her. So this morning we set off to Brecon on the new T14 bus.
The 39 used to change drivers at Bishops Meadow, where Stagecoach have a little office, and today the driver changed there on both the outward and the return journey.
On the way back, the new timetable I'd printed out said that the T14 back to Hay would stop at Stand 2 at the Brecon Interchange. When a TrawsCymru bus stopped at Stand 1 at the right time, I went to ask, and that turned out to be the Hay bus, even though it had no number showing. The new timetable was also in Stand 1.

I hadn't realised how long it had been since I last went shopping in Brecon - I spent half the time wandering round saying "I don't remember a coffee shop there," or "Didn't there used to be a charity shop there?"
For instance, I thought I'd take mum to lunch at Giglio's, by Bethel Square - only to find it's now The Dutchess. I have no idea when it changed, but it's very elegant in shades of pink and grey, with bone china tea cups, and it was very busy.
I'd also remembered a garden shop by the church which had seeds in the corner room - which is now a solicitors' office.
Despite my confusion, mum did find quite a bit of what she wanted as we wandered round - it was a good job I'd taken a big bag!

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Hay Castle Renovations

What a lot of scaffolding! This will be what Hay Castle looks like for the next few months.

Monday, 10 September 2018

Tai Chi Classes

The summer holidays are over, and Tai Chi classes have started again at the Masonic Hall. I go to the Friday sessions, from 5.30 - 6.30pm and there is another class on Tuesdays from 6pm to 7pm.
Because there were only a few of us at the first session, Peter told us a bit about the history of the Chen style of Tai Chi that he teaches.
The main thing that Peter emphasises is to do the exercises regularly, for the best health benefits - I could feel the difference after a summer without the regular classes, even though I'd been trying to practice on my own.
What we're working up to is the form, a sequence of movements - on Fridays we practice the 19 form, which was cut down from the original Laojia form of 74 movements to make it easier to teach, and it's cut down again to individual exercises called silk reeling. You need to move around a bit to do the form, which involves quite a bit of stepping and turning, but the exercises can be done in quite a small space, and don't need any special equipment. For yoga you at least need a mat, but tai chi doesn't even need that!
And it's not just for health and to improve the posture - it's also a martial art. Even the 19 form that we do has a couple of punches thrown into the mix.

Sunday, 9 September 2018

h.Art Week

There are quite a few exhibitions on around Hay this week as part of h.Art Week. Some of them are going on for longer than the week, of course.
They include the Eugene Fisk retrospective at Brook Street Pottery, upstairs. The exhibition includes sketch books, and some of Eugene's books are on sale, including Only Connect, the book he created from his sketches of refugees at Open Days organised by Hay, Brecon and Talgarth Sanctuary for Refugees.
On Friday, I went to the opening night of Sarah Putt's exhibition at the Old Electric Shop. There are some very good portraits there, as well as embroideries and still lives, and sculptures - her work can also be seen in various shop windows around town, for instance her Map Man at the map shop on Castle Street. It was a very good launch party, with lots of local support and some interesting nibbles coming round on trays.
Also in Hay for h.Art is the Carol Peace exhibition at The Table, with a flamboyant sculpture of a figure waving a huge scarf in the window, with drawings and paintings, and larger sculptures in the secret garden [Edited to add] The secret garden is down Brook Street, past the Bookshop Cinema. It's a gorgeous garden, and refreshments are also available.
The Drawing Room has Dry Brush, Wet Brush, with the artist's inspiration taken from Zen scrolls and poetry.
Just up Cusop Dingle, Tim Rawlings is exhibiting his bronze sculptures at the Old Stables, and demonstrating techniques such as lost wax casting and patination.
And at The River Café in Glasbury Polly James is exhibiting her charcoal and pencil drawings of wildlife.
Other studios and exhibitions are open all over Herefordshire, with groups of exhibitions in Hereford, Kington, Leominster, Ledbury and Ross-on-Wye, as well as scattered exhibitions around the countryside.

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Change of Venue for Stitch and Bitch

The new management of Kilverts have said that they don't want to use their little back room for meetings any more, and they want to expand their restaurant trade, so there was no room there for Stitch and Bitch to meet any more.
So on Thursday night (SnB meets on the first Thursday of every month, from 6pm to 8pm), we were back in the Swan. The Swan is now under different management from when we were there before, and they welcomed us into the room by the front door which is used for meetings. There was a good turn out, too; eleven of us were there, with a variety of projects on the go including knitting, crochet, sewing a collage picture and embellishing a piece of batik cloth with a picture of a figure on it.
I tried the Swan Gold bitter from the bar, from the Swan brewery, which was very nice. They also serve Butty Bach. The dining tables have been taken out of the front bar, and replaced with comfy seats and sofas, and I'm sure they've put new carpets down since I was last there.
I think we'll be making that our regular venue in the future.

Another group moving to the Swan is the Science Club. They bring in a lecturer about once a month to talk about scientific topics in terms a layperson can understand, and their next meeting is on Tuesday 25th September, at 7pm. I think the topic is nuclear power.

Friday, 7 September 2018

Botany and other Stories in the Buttermarket

Here's an update on the festivities which are being organised alongside the Green exhibition at Hazy Days. The exhibition starts on 12th September, and runs until the 3rd November, but tomorrow, Saturday, things are happening in the Buttermarket from 11am to 3pm.
The weather forecast isn't brilliant, so the proposed picnic by the bridge has been cancelled. However, the Colossal Critter will be walking around the town, and at about 1pm it will lead the way to a musical and botanical promenade by the river from the Buttermarket.
The Buttermarket will have stalls, with nothing to sell, but things to win. There will be puppets, plants from Primrose Farm, flowers, a gardening display, natural dyes by Annie Frasier, artistic activities, and traditional and Welsh songs from Elspeth-miri Funnell and Catherine Hughes. All that, and Mister Mint!

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Kilvert's Opening and Three Tuns Wedding

Kilvert's is now under new management, and they celebrated by having a big party in the garden. I went along early on, just for a while. There was a band setting up, which I was told later was pretty good, mainly doing covers of well known songs, and they were followed by a young band who my informant thought was really good.
Unhappily, there have been a fair few complaints about the late night noise on the Community Facebook page - especially as the opening party was followed, the next night, by someone's 21st birthday bash.

Meanwhile, over at the Three Tuns, there will be no food on Sunday 9th September, because the couple there are getting married!

Monday, 3 September 2018

Dial-a-Ride Coffee Morning

I went up to Cusop Village Hall for the Dial-a-Ride Coffee Morning and jumble sale on Saturday morning - and came away with a few good bargains - and a nice cup of tea included in the entrance price.

I also picked up a leaflet about the new "Bank Bus" which Dial-a-Ride will be running for members. This has been funded up until March next year by the Rotary Club, for all the people who need to use a bank when there is no longer one left in Hay.
It will go once a month (I believe the first one was already fully booked), and the next one is on Friday 28th September, followed by Friday 26th October, 7th December, 25th January, 22nd February and 29th March. Bookings are only being taken one month in advance.

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Goodbye 39, Hello T14

And thanks to Gareth Ratcliffe's Facebook page, without which I would never have known about this until I turned up 10 minutes late for the new bus to Hereford!

So, from tomorrow, the 39 between Brecon and Hereford is no more. It is being replaced by the T14, which will go all the way from Hereford to Cardiff, via Merthyr Tydfil. Because of this, the times of buses are changing slightly, and unfortunately the timetable on Gareth's Facebook page is a bit too blurry for me to read easily. I'm hoping to get a proper timetable in the next week.

I think it's probably a change for the better, but it would have been nice to have had a little more warning!

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Hazy Daze Turns Green

The Hazy Daze shop, by the clock tower, will be hosting a new exhibition until the 4th November. It's called Green, and is being put on by Françoise Verger and Pierre Moulinier, who recently held the party in Bear Street at the garage that Françoise has had converted into an art studio. They are doing this under the title of Botany and Other Stories, which they are setting up as a charitable foundation to support learning about nature. The exhibition will be a history of the colour green, via botanical illustrations, books and other items, and it opens on Wednesday 12th September.

As part of the opening of the exhibition, on 8th September, there will be a giant puppet - The Colossal Critter - which will lead the way from the Butter Market to a picnic at the picnic area by the bridge.
They are also launching a free publication called The Cabbage Leaf - which they explain is the French nickname for low quality newspapers!
The newsletter will be put out unpredictably, with all sorts of contributors, and will be trilingual in English, Welsh and French.

[Edited to correct the opening times]

Friday, 31 August 2018


I missed this in the market yesterday - but the results of the survey are pretty clear from the picture I found on Twitter this morning:

Edited to add:

In answer to the comment below, here's a better picture, from the Hay on Wye Community Notice Board on Facebook (which has begun a rather lively discussion!):

Thursday, 30 August 2018

Criminal Damage

Setting out for work this morning, I noticed that two of the stone slabs that top the wall beside the pavement had been disturbed. They're cemented down, so they can't have been easy to move. Then I realised that only one of the slabs was there - I turned round, and saw that the back window of a white car parked in front of the houses was completely smashed in, with rubble lying in the road.
Then the lady from the house across the way shouted me over, and told me that she'd noticed the damage when she went out to walk her dog at around 7am, and she had called the police.
The slab going through the car window must have made quite a noise, but I hadn't heard anything, and nor had any of the other neighbours.
By the time I came home for lunch, the car was gone, the remaining slab had been straightened up and put back in its place, and the rubble on the road had been swept away.

This is not the sort of thing that usually happens in Hay!

Edited to add:

I've just been helping the police with their enquiries, as a young PC came to the door to ask if I'd seen or heard anything. Sadly, I couldn't be of much help. He went off to knock on other doors.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Meet the Town Council

Hay Town Council are holding a Drop In Session at the Swan Hotel on Thursday 13th September between 7pm and 9pm. So if you want to find out what they do, the issues affecting the town and how they spend the precept, this is a good chance.

What with one thing and another, I haven't been to many Council meetings this year, but I have been looking at the fifth Hay Town Council Newsletter, which is an insert in the WyeLocal magazine.
They start with good news - they applied to Natural Resources Wales back in April for funding for a project called Shared Spaces, and they have just found out they've been granted £10,000! The funding will be used in the Miles Without Stiles project to make local footpaths more accessible, and to provide portable ramps for shops, create wooden sculptures, install interpretation boards, plant native trees, wildflowers and bulbs, and install electric car charging points! They're also setting up a new Low Carbon Energy Steering Group to look at ways of reducing Hay's carbon footprint.
Anyone interested in getting involved, or who would like to know more, should contact Nick Burdekin at haytownclerk@hotmail.co.uk

Miles Without Stiles has already been improving the footpaths locally, resurfacing and extending the riverside path onto the Warren, for instance. They've also put a new bridge in the Cae Mawr field by the car park. This was funded by the Brecon Beacons National Park, who will also be replacing stiles and kissing gates around the field over the next few months.

Another new project is Hay in Bloom. In addition to the little train under Hay Bridge, the Steering Group has plans for more floral structures on the roads leading into Hay. They have also entered Hay in a national competition run by Cultivation Street. Hidden away on their website is a way to vote for your favourite project, and Hay's train is on there. My neighbour is a keen gardener, and wants to be more involved next year. This is also something people can contact the Town Clerk about.

In the absence of volunteers, a new Town Councillor has been co-opted. He's James Prothero, who recently moved to Hay all the way from Three Cocks. The mayor this year is Trudy Stedman, and the Deputy Mayor is Josie Pearson.

Monday, 27 August 2018

What I Did on my Holidays

So, I've just spent a week in London, chilling out with my Young Man and doing some exploring.
We visited the Horniman Museum (once associated with the Order of the Golden Dawn). We looked for locations mentioned in the Rivers of London series of books (about the magical division of the Met Police) in Soho, where we sat at the 'Peter Grant' table in Patisserie Valerie (where he's being seduced by Simone in Moon Over Soho), Russell Square (where the Folly, the HQ of the magical police is) and Covent Garden (where Peter Grant first takes a witness statement from a ghost).
We visited several gorgeous Victorian pubs - the fish and chips at the Salisbury was particularly good, but they have been doing it since 1860!
We went up the River Thames on a City Clipper river bus.
We visited the Mithraeum, which is free, and absolutely brilliant for anyone interested in Romans. I've wanted to visit it since I read Eagle of the Ninth as a child (Marcus Flavius Aquila was a worshipper of Mithras). For a long time it was in the Museum of London - the altar stone still is - but the rest of it has been restored to the original location where it was found in the 1950s, 7 metres beneath the present ground level, under a big office block near Cannon Street Station.
We took long bus rides through places like Greenwich, Elephant and Castle, around Paddington and Waterloo - and found a back street where part of Remembrance of the Daleks (the Sylvester McCoy story with Ace) was filmed. I have stood where Daleks were blown up!
And we had time for a pleasant Sunday lunch and afternoon in the garden with the Young Man's family.

I'll be writing more about my holidays, for anyone who's interested, over on my other blog, Morwenna's Tower (on the side bar).

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Back from Holidays

I'd only got off the bus half an hour before, and I knew I was back in the strange world that is Hay when a young woman wearing a rabbit mask rode by my house on a horse, followed by three other young women carrying bunches of flowers, and also wearing animal masks.
I think it was part of the Kingdom Project.

I had a wonderful holiday in the Great Metropolis - pictures to follow later.

Thursday, 16 August 2018

The Kingdom Project

I'll be away for a few days, so there won't be any updates on the blog for a little while.

Which means that I'll miss the Kingdom Project event on Saturday 25th August.
The idea is for an arts project that will help to boost the local economy, and this first event is a fund raiser to get the ball rolling.
So the afternoon sessions start at 2pm at St Mary's Church, with a film installation called Biograph I, followed by live theatre by Pickled Image called Coulrophobia. Tickets are £15.

Then at 6.30pm the Old Electric Shop opens its doors, for Max Reinhardt from Radio 3's Late Junction (they do World Music) followed by Sheema Mukherjee, the Original Sitar girl, both of whom will be joined at the end of the evening by Rita Ray to make Syncrosystem. Tickets are £18.

And at the Globe from 6pm, there will be a second film installation by Jaime Jackson, Biograph II, followed by Footdragger, Rita Ray before she heads off to the Old Electric Shop (she's from Global Beats on the BBC World Service), then Don Letts from BBC Radio 6 Music, and Tom Ravenscroft, also from Radio 6. Tickets are £20.

They have a website at www.kingdomproject.co.uk, and can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Art Exhibitions

This is really one exhibition on two different sites, being work by an artist called William Mills (who died in 1997).
At The Table is Life and Landscape, from the 1980s and 90s, and at The Drawing Room there's Line and Form from the 1950s to 80s.
Not really my glass of tea - a bit too abstract for me - but there were some enthusiastic art lovers admiring the way he had put the paint on the canvas while I was there.

Monday, 13 August 2018

Cusop History Group AGM

I was at Cusop Village Hall on Friday evening for the Cusop History Group AGM.
There was a tent erected to the side of the main hall, over the picnic tables, which were being used to display lots of old maps of the area.

When the meeting started, Sue Hodgetts (last seen leading a parade of suffragettes) gave an overview of what had happened last year, and suggested that there should be no membership fee for the coming year because there's quite a bit of money in the bank account. This led to a discussion about whether it would be better to continue to collect a membership fee, so the Group could save up to fund a project such as a small dig at Cusop Castle. As no project is planned at present, though, the suggestion was that the committee should discuss the issue again and come back to the membership later. Talks will continue to cost around £3 each.
There was one large expenditure, of £150, last year, to have several maps encapsulated (I presume this is a means of preserving them) by HARC.
The Group presently has 53 members, though not all of them come to meetings. There were 21 people at the AGM. One of the members comes from Utah, but has family connections that they have been researching in the area. They found the Group via social media, which was also the route by which a pretty little prayer book came back to Cusop. It turned up in a charity shop in Devon, with the name L.G. Wheeler, Cusop Rectory in it - and research found that L.G. Wheeler was the vicar's wife in the late 1930s and into the war years. It's now part of the History Group Library.

Cusop Church is hosting a mini museum for the area, and there are several displays planned for it. There are also plans to cut back the undergrowth around the lime kiln up Cusop Dingle, which should be interesting. I will have to plan a walk up there sometime soon!

Various people who have been doing local research were invited to talk about what they have discovered so far by Denise, who has been co-ordinating the efforts. She was also the lady who organised the wonderful trip to the Ashmolean Museum in January. There is a shared group for research - for things that aren't quite ready for general publication, but may be useful for other researchers to look at - on the Cusop History Group shared drive.
The chap researching Victoria Terrace was very enthusiastic about what fun it is to find out things that you'd never expected, such as how exotic some 19th century names in the census are. There are also various projects which could be sub-divided, if anyone was willing to take on parts of them, such as the project involving Cusop Church - just who were the three people in the graves beyond the chancel, for instance? It seems that the more people look into local history, the more there is to be discovered. I had no idea that the original porch to Cusop Church had also been the belfry, for instance, with two 17th century bells, that were eventually sold for scrap. The porch to Llanigon Church is still set up with the bells in it. At Cusop, they now have a "little shed" on the roof for the bell.
Another project is looking at the geology of Cusop Dingle, and also the contents of the Cusop Parish Chest, including parish magazines that go back to 1909! They're trying to get a complete run of magazines together to deposit at HARC, the Archives in Herefordshire, which already has some of them.

On Friday 14th September, at 7pm, there will be another opportunity to find out about the research projects members of the group are carrying out. Entry is free.

Friday 21st - Sunday 23rd September is Hay History Weekend, and there are several events planned at the Parish Hall, including a talk about the Mid Wales Mental Hospital at Talgarth, now sadly decayed. It once, briefly, housed Rudolf Hess!

Other events over the coming year include a talk about Artists and Writers in the Llanthony Valley from 1730 to the present (there have been quite a few!), a talk about Gwernyfed estate, and Great War and Home Front Stories and Poems at Cusop Church in December.

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Party on Bear Street

I've been to a lovely party.
Françoise, the lovely French lady who lives in Hay with her husband Pierre, needed a space to do her art. She has had training as a botanic artist - she was kind enough to show me her portfolio, and it's very good. She also created a calendar last year, with the help of children from Hay School, to raise money for the school - I think it's still available in Pughs, and it doubles as a postcard and bookmark when it's no longer being used as a calendar.
So she bought a garage in Bear Street, and has been renovating it as a studio. Now it's finished, and to celebrate she invited all her neighbours on Bear Street, as well as people who have been selling the calendar (like the ladies from Pugh's) and me.
The studio was packed - and people were also going upstairs to see what she'd done with the space up there, very carefully because it's a narrow and steep staircase. There were nibbles, including some yummy little cakes, and prosecco, and cider and soft drinks - and a lot of good conversation. I ended up chatting to a chap who I first met when I arrived in Hay 27 years ago! It doesn't seem that long!

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Small Business Saturday

A new shop has just opened where Tom's Records used to be. The stock is a mix of vintage items, with a strong commitment to beekeeping and anything bee related - the lady in charge is planning to extend her range of products. There isn't a sign yet, but the shop will be called Philosophie.

And down in Backfold, Haystacks is moving - a grand total of 12 yards! The record/music shop is moving out of the modern lock up shop opposite the Sandwich Cellar and antique shop, just round the corner to the lower floor of the building at the entrance to Hay Castle, which some people still remember as Five Star (from when Richard Booth had military books in there). Haystacks still has a few books, left behind by George Greenway, who closed his doors recently to head for Portugal and a well earned retirement in the sun. However, once those books are gone, the shelves will be filled with CDs.

Friday, 10 August 2018

Sunday Parades

I was working on the Sunday of the World War One Commemoration weekend, so I wasn't able to get to any of the events - but I did manage to see the aircraft that did the flypast during the ceremony at the War Memorial. There was a First World War German biplane, and a Spitfire.
I was also able to see the parade as they went round the corner at the Blue Boar. Leading the parade was the Swansea Pipe Band, with a group of soldiers dressed in red jackets and pith helmets, as in the film Zulu, followed by modern soldiers, the First World War re-enactors, including an officer on a horse and a waggon drawn by two horses, and a large group of veterans and British Legion, carrying flags, and the suffragettes near the rear.
It was very impressive.
In the square, the Surrey Police Band were there, along with the Talgarth Male Voice Choir and a couple of other choirs, and the lady who sang the solos at the Saturday concert. Wreaths and roses were laid at the War Memorial, and Kelvyn Jenkins managed to get up there too, with help, and in spite of the pain of his trapped nerve that had laid him low. Kelvyn is the reason that the whole thing happened, thanks to his hard work, and his many contacts in the musical and re-enactment worlds.

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

The Story of Books Exhibition

I was a bit late for the start of the concert at Cartref, and on the way I noticed the door to 20, Castle Street was open. I'd been meaning to have a look at their new exhibition, so I went in there instead.
The shop is currently celebrating two war poets: Edward Thomas from the First World War, and Keith Douglas from the Second World War - they were responsible for the play Unicorns, Almost about Keith Douglas's life, which was put on during Hay Festival.
So they have a small amount of books for sale, but the real focus of the shop is the exhibition space. This is upstairs, and over the week they've been concentrating on a different aspect of how a book is made. On the Saturday, they had illustrations from The Collected Poems of Edward Thomas published by the Folio Society, showing the different choices of colours, and they're also having displays on marbling paper, and book binding through the week.

Here I am, looking round the exhibition - Emma Balch took the photo.

They also have a display of cardboard books by Hay Cartoneras. Emma and Oliver Balch spent some time in South America, and this is a South American idea which grew out of an economic crisis, a love of cardboard, a commitment to making literature accessible, and an interest in the artistic and literary potential of artisanal book-making (the handout says!). They're planning to run workshops on making the cardboard books, and will be showing films about the project.

They'll also be doing more things connected to Unicorns, Almost throughout August, including the return of the Blind Bookworms to Hay - they provided the jazz music before the performances of the play in May - the design of the set, local connections to Keith Douglas, and letterpress printing.

They've got plans for the future, too - an exhibition of wordless picture books in the autumn, and a Winter Wayzgoose.

Monday, 6 August 2018

March of the Suffragettes

The First World War period was not only notable for the terrible slaughter in the trenches (and elsewhere around the world) - it was also the period when women were campaigning for the vote. At the same time, they were stepping into the jobs that the men had formerly done at home, before they were called up.
So the First World War commemoration included suffragettes. Here they are, marching through town:

A moment later I had joined them, as I was also dressed as a suffragette (any excuse to wear a costume!), chanting "Deeds Not Words" and "No surrender till we win!"
A little later, one of the ladies shouted "We will fight them on the beaches!", to the reply; "No, I think that was later!"
As we passed below the wall at the end of the Honesty Garden, one of the leading suffragettes had an altercation with the Red Cross post re-enactor there, who told us we should join up and become Land Girls.
Further round town, the Recruiting Sergeant was trying to get a group of boy scouts to join up, and he was berated for turning innocent lads into soldiers. He told us to be on our way, as he was on the King's business. Here there was also a re-enactor dressed as a policeman (I'm pretty sure he and his wife were at the History Day at Hereford, too), who arrested the suffragette and dragged her away!
Later, they re-appeared, handcuffed together:

There was a little while before the concert at Cartref started (the Surrey Police Band were playing, with a soloist who sang old favourites like Keep the Home Fires Burning and Abide With Me), so some of the ladies went for tea at Eves and I went home for lunch.

Sunday, 5 August 2018

World War One Commemoration Weekend

A rare Maxim machine gun on display at the re-enactment camp on Cae Mawr field. I went down there a couple of times during the day and was most impressed with the attention to detail, and the knowledge of the re-enactors. When I was a Medieval re-enactor, it was easy to use a bit of creative license on the costumes, but the World War One uniforms have to be spot on. I felt sorry for them as the day got hotter, in those thick wool jackets. They did some drill in their shirt sleeves.
Also on the field was a First World War First Aid Station (with Wenches in Trenches!), with several nurses, and a modern First Aid Station next to it, showing how medical personnel work today.

There was also a tent for the doctor who came to the Parish Hall last year, who was showing the various medical instruments that were used during the First World War.

There were several horses, too - and a waggon.

Meanwhile, there was a Recruiting Sergeant in town, and in the Honesty Gardens there were a couple more tents with re-enactors, including a Land Army Girl and a Red Cross dog (here shown relaxing in the shade):

Saturday, 4 August 2018

Small Business Saturday

The Bean Box - good coffee in a garden by the river, just by the bridge.

Friday, 3 August 2018

Hay In Bloom

Alan Powell and friends have been busy, preparing Hay for the judges in the Towns in Bloom competition. They've made this lovely little train and put it by the side of the old railway line, next to the bridge.

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

The Story of Books Exhibition

Painting is going on at 20 Castle Street, where a new exhibition is being set up by The Story of Books. I'm looking forward to going along on 4th August, when they open - which is also the day that the First World War re-enactors will be in town, to commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War (doing an encampment is much easier in August than it is in November!).

Monday, 30 July 2018

Toilets for Timbuktu

Some good news from Hay2Timbuktu, as seen in this month's WyeLocal!
They have been collecting funds to build new toilet blocks at three high schools in Timbuktu, and have reached the target!
Work will be carried out over the schools' summer break, and next term the girls will be able to go to the toilet in privacy, and will not have to miss school at "that time of the month" as they had to before.
Meanwhile the Medics for Timbuktu have been supporting two girls going through midwifery training, and there is a bursary project which helps girls to stay in school as well. The present project finishes this summer but they think that they will be able to get funding for two more years to help girls at Alkaya Yehia and Fondogoumo schools, and to develop the project in Alpha Daouna school.
One of the teachers involved in the project, Ali Sidi, who teaches English at Alkaya Yehia, has secured a place on a teacher training course at Bamako University to further his English studies - and he's also just got married (his fiancée is a midwife).

Saturday, 28 July 2018

Small Business Saturday

The windows of the shop which used to be La Maison have been made opaque, and the space will now be used as the CO2 Architects' office.

Friday, 27 July 2018

Three Tuns Opens

I've just come back from a swift half at the Three Tuns (they have Wye Valley, Doombar and Butty Bach on the hand pumps). The place is pleasantly full, and I saw quite a few of my neighbours in there.
It's nice to see the place open again, and I hope the new owners do well.
They won't be doing food for a couple of weeks, but when they do, it'll be Italian. The new sign advertises Cask Ales, Fine Wine and Italian Cuisine.

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Life on a Different Border

I've been away for a few days visiting friends.
They used to run the re-enactment group I belonged to, but their dream was always to have a farm in Scotland.
Last year, they made the dream a reality, and this was the first time I'd had the chance to go up and visit them.
The journey took 9 hours - I had to set off at crack of dawn on the first bus. It was the last scheduled run of the school buses, and the schools had already broken up for the summer holidays, so I practically had it to myself, and got to chat to the Gurkha bus driver. When I said I was going to Scotland, he said he had enjoyed visiting Edinburgh with the army, and liked it during Festival season - but as the weather this year was so nice, he was planning to spend time on beaches around Wales for the summer holidays, a few days at a time.
When I got off the train at Galashiels, my lift for the rest of the way (a bright orange landrover) was waiting for me, and he took me first to the local pub that they frequent (local meaning within about 10 miles of their house - they really have gone for remoteness!) The Foxy Blonde beer was much appreciated after the long journey!
Then we followed the river up the valley, and further up, and through a small flock of chickens that scattered in front of us like an old film cliché (we managed not to hit any of them), and a bit further, until we arrived at the 90 acre hill farm they share with 27 sheep, 11 horses, 7 dogs and 3 pigs.
Within five minutes of me arriving, the pigs had got into the utility room.... and the caravan they had been going to put me in was out of bounds because wasps were building a nest in the electrics box. It was that sort of a holiday.

But I had great fun. They took me to Melrose Abbey, where the mummified heart of Robert the Bruce was buried, and I enjoyed playing at being an archaeologist again. The ruins are impressive; there's a good little museum, and look out for the bagpiping pig!

Oxford Sandy and Black pig and bagpiping pig

Melrose town is lovely too, and they have a shop there which is like a mixture of Shepherds Ice Cream and the Fudge Shop in Hay. The peach melba ice cream from Orkney was lovely. The town is also close to Trimontium Roman Fort, and Abbotsford, the home of Sir Walter Scott - maybe I'll manage to see those next time!

On the second day they took me to see a neighbour of theirs, a retired potter. That's to say, he's retired from selling his pottery, but he hasn't retired from making it, so his house and garden are full of wizards, goblins, sheep, Highland cows, castles with lots of round turrets.... and his art work covers every inch of the walls inside the house. Some German visitors told him that he was very like a children's character in Swedish picture books, Pettson, who has a cat called Findus. While we were chatting, he showed us how to make pottery mice.

So I had a magical time - but the train journey back nearly wiped me out, so I'm only just getting back to normal now.

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

No Fishing!

I don't normally take a lot of interest in fishing, but I couldn't miss the sign in Golesworthy's window. The fisheries along the Wye are stopping the sale of day licenses for fishing until further notice, because of the hot weather and low level of the Wye.

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Three Tuns Grand Opening

This evening I picked my way across the road, where Welsh Water are digging it up (traffic lights are controlling the flow along Broad Street), to where a new signboard has gone up outside the Three Tuns.
They are having their Grand Opening on Friday 27th July, from 5pm, and are also advertising Sunday roast dinners, and Italian food from 20th August. They also mention gin cocktails!

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Plastic Free Hay

New local group Plastic Free Hay will have a stall on the Market on Thursday, to give advice about reducing the use of plastic. They have quite snazzy cloth bags, too.

Monday, 16 July 2018

Commemorating the First World War

There's a weekend of events planned for the 4th and 5th of August in Hay, with First World War living history groups, exhibitions, a parade, choirs and military band -but preparations are starting now, with posters going up in shop windows around town. Each one shows a different First World War soldier from Hay, and says a little about his life, and how and where he died - like the man who had been a policeman in Hay, with a wife and three children, who joined up as a private, was promoted to Lance Corporal, and died in the trenches.

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Walking to Llowes

I thought I'd take advantage of the fine day to walk along the Wye Valley Walk to Llowes.
I thought that would probably be my limit for comfort, and I was right.
It's an easy path to follow. You go out of Hay across the bridge and up the hill, and then take the path along the top edge of the field on the left hand side, just above the Community Garden. This takes you down, across somebody's orchard, and over a little wooden bridge to a track to the house opposite the Warren. The path follows the riverbank from there, and it was glorious, with crops on one side (wheat and rape and potatoes) and the overgrown riverbank on the other.
There is one area that had signs up from the farmer, warning dog walkers to keep the dogs to the path as they had put poison down on the river bank to kill moles - and it would also kill dogs.
The path got a little overgrown as I got further from Hay, but still easily passable, and in places a path had been cut through the wheat along the edge of the field.
Eventually, the path meets the main road. For a while the path is down the hill from the road, but then it goes up to a layby and the rest of the way to Llowes is along the footpath by the side of the road. There's another loop of the path that crosses the road and climbs the hillside, for views of the Wye valley, but I wasn't feeling quite that energetic.

There isn't much at Llowes. The church of St Meilog's was almost completely rebuilt in 1855 - the lower part of the tower is older, but that's about it. This was an ancient Christian site, the original small monastery being founded by St. Meilog himself in the 6th century. He was a son of Caw, a chieftain in the North of Britain who was mentioned in the early legends of King Arthur, and a brother of St. Gildas, who wrote one of the main sources for the history of the period, his Complaining Book.
The name Llowes may mean a retreat or a refuge, and it's only a shortish walk to the next Celtic monastery along the Wye, which was at Glasbury.
In the 13th century an anchorite lived there, in a cell by the church. His name was Wechelen, a contemporary of Matilda de Braose, who built Hay Castle, and a friend of Giraldus Cambrensis, who wrote about him.
The church was open, and inside there is a very simple early font, along with the 1855 font, and a rather fine Celtic cross from the 12th century, carved in low relief on a slab of stone. This used to stand outside, and was moved into the church in 1956 by the Ministry of Works. It weighs three and a half tons, apparently!

There used to be a pub restaurant called the Radnor Arms, just across the main road from the church. It is now the Serenbach camp site. It's a very pretty village, which used to have a Dairy and a Post Office, going by the names of the cottages, but there are no shops there now, and although there is a bus stop, buses are infrequent. Even the church isn't often used for services, though it's obviously well looked after. It's part of a group including Clyro, Glasbury, Cwmbach, Bronydd, Bettws, Felindre, Three Cocks Ffynnon Gynydd and Ciltwrch - quite a lot for one vicar to handle! The next service is on 5th August!

I had intended to come back to Hay by a smaller footpath, which seemed to cut across the meander of the Wye as a shortcut, but I couldn't find it where it was supposed to cross a potato field, and I couldn't see any way through the hedge where I thought it should run, so I kept to the Wye Valley Walk on the way back.
I rewarded myself by heading for Kilverts for a pint of Wadworths 6X, which went down very well!