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]