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

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, 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.
Fran├žoise, 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.