Sunday, 19 September 2021

Timbuktu Latest News

 Good news for women in Timbuktu was reported in the Brecon and Radnor Express this week - 44 of them have been trained to recognise Covid-19, and have been given the task of spreading information about the pandemic.  There have also been radio broadcasts encouraging girls to return to school, and encouraging girls and women to re-engage with local health clinics.

This was made possible by a grant from the Welsh Government's Wales for Africa Scheme, which was made to Hay2Timbuktu.  Hay2Timbuktu has already been involved in training girls in healthcare in the past.

Four health clinics and forty eight families have been helped by the grant, which has also been used to buy water containers, soap, disinfectant and protective equipment.

Saturday, 18 September 2021

PAVO Volunteers Awards

 There's a big piece in the Brecon and Radnor Express this week about the PAVO Volunteer of the Year Awards.

I was very pleased to see that there is now an award in honour of Rev. Ian Charlesworth, who died suddenly last year and who was, among his many interests, chair of PAVO.  This is the Ian Charlesworth Calon Award, which was won by the Rhayader Carnival Committee, aka The Misfits, which over the pandemic has been organising virtual carnival events which could be carried out at home.  The award was presented, over Zoom, by Rev. Charlesworth's widow Catriona.

Another winner I was pleased to see was Grow For Talgarth, winning the Environment Award this year for their gardens around Talgarth.  I very much enjoyed sitting out in one of their gardens on the day I had to go to the doctor's surgery in Talgarth.  They have also won a Gold Award from Wales in Bloom, and the All Wales Award in the Large Village category.

Friday, 17 September 2021

New Treasurer Needed - and New Drivers

 HOWLS are looking for a new Treasurer, as the present Treasurer, Nigel, and his wife Rose are moving out of Hay (not very far - they're going to Llangors).

The finances for the Hay-on-Wye Library Supporters are not very complex - he says himself that its not an arduous job, and he's organised it in such a way that it will be easy for a new person to take over.

Meanwhile, Dial-a-Ride are still looking for more volunteer drivers - there's quite a lot of demand for their services!

Thursday, 16 September 2021

Longtown Castles Project

 As I don't have any new gossip to report, I thought it would be nice to share an article I found in the May/June issue of British Archaeology magazine.

A community archaeology project took place around Longtown Castle - or more accurately, both Longtown Castles - in the summers of 2016 and 2017, in a project run by Herefordshire Archaeology.  More than 130 volunteers worked on those digs.

I knew about the stone keep on top of a motte, with bailey earthworks - it's pretty obvious when you visit Longtown - but I didn't know that there was another motte at Ponthendre, only about half a mile distant.  The project was set up to find out more about the relationship between the two castles.

They discovered that the motte at Ponthendre had not been finished, and had never been occupied.  Longtown Castle itself, however, had been built in the remains of a Roman auxiliary fort.  Previously it had been thought that there was no Roman presence in Longtown.  

The ramparts were larger than would have been expected for a Roman fort, though, and the conclusion was that the ramparts had been made stronger by Harold Godwinson's army when they invaded Wales.  Prince Gruffydd ap Llywelyn had sacked Hereford in 1055, and this was a retaliatory invasion.  The defences at Hereford were also strengthened.

It is thought that the motte at Ponthendre was built by Walter de Lacy, who was granted the lordship of Longtown after the Norman Conquest of England, to defend the border against the Welsh.  As the motte at Ponthendre was never finished, it is thought that de Lacy preferred to use the castle that became his main stronghold, at Longtown, as his headquarters in the area, and it was around this castle that the de Lacys laid out burgage plots to encourage the growth of  their "Longe Town of Ewyas Lacy".

There is a new book out from Logaston Press detailing the excavations and the findings.  It is The March of Ewyas: the Story of Longtown Castle & the de Lacy Dynasty, by Martin Cook and Neil Kidd.

Saturday, 11 September 2021

Small Business Saturday


The shop was closed when I took the picture this morning, so I couldn't talk to anyone about it, but this is a brand new guitar shop, near the Clock Tower where CommuniKate mobile phones used to be.
[Edited to add]  I've just seen on the Hay Community page on Facebook that the shop is called Wye Fret!

Friday, 10 September 2021

Costumes for the Castle

 The costume project for Hay Castle has been somewhat delayed due to the pandemic, but yesterday there was an introductory meeting in the room above the cafe at Booths Bookshop for all the volunteer stitchers.

The idea is that, when the Castle is open to the public, there will be a selection of medieval costumes from around the era of Matilda de Breos for children and adults to try on.  As I was involved in 13thC re-enactment, as part of the group Drudion, portraying 13thC Welsh mercenaries, I was there to talk a bit about the clothes and how they would have been worn, and it was great fun!

The group are going to make ten different costumes, from a child king and queen to adult king and queen, with a knight, an archer, and a laundrywoman, and a young Matilda de Breos.  The Castle has been gifted some gorgeous fabric - a variety of colours of Welsh flannel, and some opulent brocades for the upper classes to wear.  There's also some lovely blue wool which was intended to be a coat, but will be perfect for the adult knight's tunic.  They've got a good variety of linen for undergarments as well.  They've even got a small grant from the Ashley family (of Laura Ashley), so they can buy a few accessories, such as crowns for the kings and queens!

They've also got some very experienced seamstresses as volunteers.  I talked to a couple of ladies who are involved in English Civil War re-enactment - one lady has been in the Sealed Knot since 1984, and her whole family are involved.  She had brought along some pattern books for seventeenth century fashions to show around.  Emily, in charge of the project, had managed to get hold of a copy of The Medieval Tailor's Assistant, an invaluable book on medieval fashion and how to make it, and another lady brought her own copy along too.  So there's lots of expertise there.

They are going to be meeting on Saturday 11th and 25th September, and 9th October, from 2pm to 6pm, with the possibility of spreading out from the room above the cafe into the cafe itself, which is still closed.  After that, they'll see how much they've done and if they need to do any further sessions to finish off.  They're also getting guest speakers like Mari Fforde, who is going to talk to them about Matilda de Breos and her life.

The costumes are not going to be completely authentic - Emily was a bit worried about clothes that have to be taken on and off over the head, because of the risk of spreading disease, so they are going to be slit up the back, with ties, so people can get them on by diving their arms into the sleeves.

Tuesday, 7 September 2021

An Interesting Way of Recycling

 The newest edition of The Cabbage Leaf is out, and they have a great idea for recycling - the magazine is designed to be turned into bookmarks!

In this edition, they choose nine books, which they found in Hay, on environmental issues. 

"The books give an overall picture of the crucial issues our world is facing and alert the reader to the harmful effects of our way of life."

The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf, sub-titled The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt, The Lost Hero of Science is among the titles chosen.  He was an extraordinary man, an explorer, geographer, naturalist and writer in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and one of the first to explain how forests influence the climate.

Rape of the Fair Country by Alexander Cordell is a book that a friend of mine used to re-read every year - it describes the communities of Blaenavon and Nantyglo in South Wales during the height of the Industrial Revolution.

There's also a French graphic novel (it has also been translated into English) called Climate Changed/Saison Brune by Phillipe Squarzoni, and a collection of the writings of Rachel Carson called Lost Woods (she was the author of the famous Silent Spring).

There are also absolutely beautiful botanical drawings by Fran├žoise Verger, one of the creators of The Cabbage Leaf.