Time flies quickly when you have a lot to read! And since reading equals fun, it is very safe to say that time flies when you are having a great time. The summer craze continues and we are using every spare moment to update you on what is happening. Boy, we would need a Time Lord to stop the clock for few days so we can catch up! Well, time waits for no one (even the Time Lords) so we have to start typing faster if we ever want to dig ourselves out of this back log. Or maybe we should attend less events? Nah, that wouldn’t be fun at all!
Few days ago we have printed a photo review of Hay on Wye Literary Festival from 2013. For some strange reason, we never published our photographs last May but as we are reviewing the latest edition now, it seemed like a good idea to share few bits and bobs from our vast achieves. We have to admit that the blog generated a nice buzz online followed by lots of clicks, blog entries and even re-tweets. Thank you kindly people! You are simply the best! Do you still want more? No problem – Mal and Rita are kindly introducing the first official edition of Hay on Wye Alphabet!
If you’d like to read previous entries regarding Hay on Wye festival, please see the links below:
Hay on Wye Winter Festival 2013: https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2014/03/30/hay-on-wye-winter-festival/
Hay on Wye 2013 Photo Review: https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2014/07/24/hay-on-wye-2013-photo-review/
Baskerville Hall: https://cocamidemea.wordpress.com/2014/07/10/one-castle-a-day-the-baskerville-hall/
Everything you want to know about Hay on Wye 2014 from A to Z:
A for Arts – Hay on Wye is not only the town of books but also artists. Many acclaimed crafters are travelling to Hay several times a year to display their artworks. Art exhibitions are not part of the Literary Festival but How the Lights Get In Festival and are located in the high town around the town hall and the ruined castle. This year beautiful ceramic paintings, hand carved figurines and colourful printed posters has caught our eye. We wanted to grab a card or a leaflet from one of the exhibitors to tell you who made the ceramic works but we were told that the artist is not willing to speak to us and we were chased away from the stand. Great skills and no manners. Sad. No free advertising for you, sir!
B for The BBC – Earlier this year, Hay on Wye festival and the British Broadcasting Corporation announced a formation of a global partnership. The partnership is deigned to give the literary festival a grand coverage worldwide using BBC channels: radio channels, TV programs and online streaming. Many events were broadcasted live on BBC Radio 2,3,4,6, BBC Cymru, BBC Wales and BBC Hereford & Worcester. TATA stage shows could be seen online through BBC Website (Iplayer) and daily reports from the festival grounds were added to World News section on BBC one. BBC partnership has replaced a three year contract with SKY TV that came to an end in December 2013. BBC also had their own tent (called BBC stage) that was graced by appearances and performances from well known artists such as Cerys Matthews (ex Catatonia).
You can read about the partnership here:
BBC website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-mid-wales-27244052
Hay website: http://www.hayfestival.com/wales/bbc.aspx?skinid=2
D for Doctor Who – Meeting with Steven Moffat was probably the main reason why we decided to go to Hay Festival. It was our first time seeing him live and we will remember it for a long time. Mr Moffat is an incredibly funny man. He is all smiles, completely relaxed, genuinely open and not afraid to tell various stories from his life. You don’t have to like his writing (in our opinion he is one of the best writers on TV these days) but you have to respect him for his courtesy, sense of humor and dedication. Mr Moffatt talked to Alan Yentop and the audience was captivated. He spoke about his beginnings as a writer, his lucky breakthrough when BBC crew came to film a show at his local school where his father happened to be a head teacher, his failed marriage, American TV shows he produced and his long journey to become a successful writer on British TV.
The upcoming season 8 of Doctor Who was of course discussed in details. Mr Moffat was fighting bravely trying not to spoil anything. We have learnt about his desire to hire Peter Capaldi even before Matt Smith decided to leave, looking for the right actress to play Clara, taking over the position of head writer from Russell T Davies (and their constant email co-operation), thoughts on turning the Doctor into a woman and panic at the BBC when David Tennant became tired of his role (the producers wanted to cancel the show not believing that the Tenth Doctor could ever be replaced).
Mr Moffat also promised a new darker, more alien Doctor, shorter storylines and described his delight at working with the Doctor Who team again. In the end, he answered nearly 10 question from the audience and thanked all who came to see him. Rita left nearly 20 minutes before the end of the show as it was announced that Mr Moffatt would be signing Sherlock DVD’s and a line has started forming already.
It was a good move as the queue grew to epic proportions in minutes. Armed with a DVD and Hay of Wye programme, Rita was probably the tenth person that came to the signing table. Just few word of advice dear readers from an old and grumpy event organizer. When you are standing in line, please mind the crowd behind you. Do not give the poor man 10 books to sign, one or two autographs are sufficient. Your entire collection doesn’t have to be signed! Do not demand a whole photo-shoot either – some fans were changing clothes and Mr Moffatt had to pose with the same people in different T shirts. Leave the children outside unless you wish to turn them into claustrophobics! Your three year old son is incredibly cute dressed as a Zygon or a Dalek, but he doesn’t know who Steven Moffat is yet and he is hungry, crying and simply wants to go home. Spare your fellow Whovians the headache. Say thank you’s! We were the only one to thank Mr Moffat for his time – he was truly touched. The man travelled from London and was going back on the same day!! And listen to the organizers, if they ask you to move, just do it. It was sad to hear Mr Moffatt commenting that he will need mental help after signing so many autographs.
On the bright side, we managed to exchange several words with him, our Polish accent was something different and it got Mr Moffat’s attention. He was kind enough to sign the DVD for us and the program for our dear friend, British writer Helen Stringer (a massive Doctor Who fan!) He even said that he has heard about her book “The last ghost”. Now that what we call a recommendation! We also had a second for a photo. What an exciting adventure!
Couple of links about Steven Moffat talk at Hay:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01zvt1g (including a video)
E for Exhibitors – Recruited from members of local commerce guilds in Wales, exhibitors play a very important role at the festival. They can be private businesses, schools, charities, tourist organizations or European Union foundations. All of them have strong ties to Wales and local communities. Exhibitors are not selling anything – their role is to inform, raise awareness, educate or display. We have spent a long time visiting their stands. At Visit Wales stall, Rita was asked to recite Dylan Thomas poem to celebrate his 100 birthday. Her take on “Do not go gentle into that good night” by Dylan Thomas can be seen on Visit Wales Instagram at: http://instagram.com/p/odifgbnRql/
We have also learnt a lot about the proposed construction of Tidal Lagoon Power in Swansea and we think this is a brilliant idea. The blue dragon you can see on the pictures was actually a mechanical fountain that explained how the tidal power could be harnessed and turned into electrical energy.
Full list of Exhibitors can be found here: http://www.hayfestival.com/wales/onsite-extras-exhibitors.aspx?skinid=2
Now, please excuse us but a little rant is in order. 2014 was our third time at the festival and so far, we have been really lucky not to encounter any unpleasantries. We have visited Bowie Gallery (one of the exhibitors) twice before and their service and attitude towards visitors have been perfect. We have no idea what happened this year but we will name and shame her. Sara Bowie, the owner of Hay on Wye based art gallery was kicking visitors out if they dared to take out a camera or a phone to take pictures. A German couple in front of us got cursed at. When we stepped in, we got threatened that police will be called. Apparently, Mrs Bowie is afraid that visitors are stealing ideas from the artists she represents. A polite request not to take any pictures or no photography sign would solve the problem straight away. Cursing is beyond anything we have ever see. As an artist, Rita would never wished to be associated with a gallery that treats prospective clients with such contempt. We would also like to point out that the gallery has a website and Facebook page where they display all artworks online! You don’t have to take pictures in the gallery to steal ideas, they are already on the Internet. Nothing, absolutely nothing excuse such behavior, especially Mrs Bowie’s pathetic defense that she “needs to make a living”. We shall not patronize her again. There are other galleries and art dealers in the area. A crying shame as so far we have been great supporters of Bowie Gallery.
F for Festival site – Hay on Wye Literary Festival is one of the biggest festivals of this kind in the world. It looks nearly like EXPO or International Fairs, if you ever been to one. If so, you will quickly recognize the layout: press stand on the left (sponsors, media partners), ticket office, white room and green room on the right, main stand in the middle. The main stand is also combined with Information Point so be prepared to stand in line to ask a question or find your way around. A detailed map of the festival ground is located just past the lobby, on the right hand side next to a gift shop. Turning left will allow you to reach play area for kids, turning right will take you to exhibitors area, food hall and the meeting tents.
G for Gates – Welcome to paradise! The entrance to the festival site is enormous. Before you even see the white tents with their never ending corridors and passages, you have to follow a long dirt road from the temporary bus terminal. The road is decorated with colorful flags, posters and ribbons. Each year, the festival starts at the end of May and sometimes you can see a 10 foot May pole located in a small ditch to the right. This year, we arrived with a group of other tourists from Clyro and as soon as our companions saw the flags, they reached for camera phones and started taking pictures. When in Rome, do as the Romans – Rita had a ball clicking away and photographed the entrance from every available angle. At the end of the road, you are welcomed by a huge billboard with HAY FESTIVAL written on it. Now, all you need to do is to walk through automatic doors into the main lobby.
H for How the Lights Get In Festival – Literary Festival is not the only event taking place in Hay on Wye. How the Lights Get in Festival (abbreviated to HTLGIF or simply known as The Lights) is an accompanying fiesta taking place in the same heart of the village. Street performances, exhibitions, arts and crafts venue, food market, film premieres, drama screenings, academic discussions and other shows are meant to entertain those visitors who are tired of books and reading. The festival offers free tickets and huge discounts for food and drinks. Highly recommended!
I for Independent Kingdom of Hay – Independent Kingdom of Hay has two meanings:
1. The whole village has been declared as independent kingdom on April the 1st 1977 by Welsh writer, bookseller, scholar and artist, Richard Booth. In the early 70’s, the economical crisis has been very harsh for Wales, especially affecting small communities as Hay. Businesses were closing, young people were leaving – Hay needed a radical change and some fresh ideas. Booth’s vision for a financial success were old books. He used his savings to purchase and renovate an old fire station where he opened the first second hand bookstore filling the shelves with books imported from libraries closed in America. He convinced his friends to open few additional stores and Hay started advertising itself as “the town of books”. Richard crowded himself as King of Hay in front of journalists, naming his own horse as Prime Minister and issuing passports to Hay inhabitants. This comedy act was a big worldwide hit – some media were truly convinced that a town in the middle of Wales decided to separate itself from the Crown! Tourists and book lovers fell in love with Hay on Wye. Nearly ten years later, the popular literary festival has been born and today Hay on Wye is an established brand in the literary world. Richard Booth still lives in the city and has been awarded MBE for his contribution to economy, readership and local promotion. Since 2000, Hay also has its own House of Lords and is visited by 500.000 people a year. Oh we nearly forgot. By royal decree, Kindles and other ebook readers, are banned in Hay On Wye. Electronic book readers – you have been warned!,
2. Independent Kingdom of Hay is also a book store run by the King of Hay and the royal Booths family.
Official website: http://www.richardkingofhay.com/
Richard Booth’s Bookshop and Cafe on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/richardboothsbookshop
King of Hay on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-King-of-Hay/683799078353942
K for Kids – Visiting the festival with kids is kind of a tradition at Hay. This is a family orientated event and you can find various attraction for your children. A mini festival called Hay Fever has been created especially for them. Parents can choose between book readings, workshops (like making a wooden stool), interactive games, meetings with writers, historians and scientists and many other. Kids can play in special designated areas, lounge in front of the bookstore or roll in hay if they please. This year they could also roll in mud. You may not believe us, but kids were actually queuing to do it at Mess tent (what an appropriate name). Parents were not impressed, we have to add.
L for Little Rumba – Little Rumba is a well known Welsh band that has been performing and recording for quite some time now. They gave a fantastic street show in a performance tent called The Square, located right in the front of the castle and next to the entrance to food market. We were just passing by but when we heard the music, we had to stop and listen! The band is a true rock and roll act – they have skills, passion and a lot of stage charisma. The band consists of Pete Mustill (vocalist and guitarist), Hugh Colvin (saxophonist), John Hymas (violin, viola and accordion) and a female bassist Jacqui Savage
Little Rumba has been joined on scene by a singer extraordinaire – Lori Campbell. This girl has a powerful voice and she can use it very well. If you are looking for a local rock/ fold/blue grass band with Latin influences, look no further. Little Rumba could easily win the next edition of Britain’s Got Talent.
M for Market – There would be riots in the streets if the ever popular Castle Street food market has been cancelled. Located in its traditional place (Hay castle walled garden), it served hot food from 10:00 am until 18:00 o’clock each day from Friday, May 23th till Sunday, June the 1st. Home made burgers, vegetarian chilli con carne with Italian herbs, whole baked tomatoes with mozzarella and red onions, cupcakes, soups, wraps, tortillas, cheeses from all over the world (we bought Argentinian goat milk cheese!), English favorite fish and chips (with a twist), ice-creams with kiwi and lychee bites, sweet bread, vegan ratatouille, local ales and drinks – we could go on forever. We are getting hungry just thinking about the market. The prices are wonderful – you can buy full healthy dinner for two under 10 pounds. Brilliant!
N for Napier, James – James Napier is a successful sculptor and author of The Abandoned Soldier sculpture. The resin figure has been modelled after Lance Corporal Daniel Twiddy and has been unveiled in 2007 during the BBC documentary “Power to the People”. The sculpture doesn’t have a permanent display location and has been housed in many different places including Cardiff and Exeter castles. The soldier’s head has been touring Wales since March 2014 and was displayed at Hay Festival under the title ”The Abandoned Soldier – Do you see what I see?”
Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Abandoned_Soldier
James Napier: http://drawpaintsculpt.com/tutors/james-napier-3/
P for Poet for Hire (Tim Siddall) – We have to admit, this is something we haven’t seen so far. Young lad sitting on a folding chair in front of an old typing machine, wearing sunglasses and a tie in world’s ugliest shade of neon pink. Poet for hire will write anything you ask him to, for a fair price of course. He encouraged us to commission him to write a poem about the town, but we declined. He was quite popular with tourists and he seemed to genuinely entertain them with his writing, but we cannot tell you if it was good of bad. A novelty none the less, maybe worth checking him out if he’s in Hay next year.
Q for Queues – Patience my young padawan! You have to have patience at Hay. You will be queuing everywhere: waiting for your food, trying to use a loo, buying books, having your book signed, entering the stages etc. Queues are a normal state of things at the festival and there is even an official guide to queuing! Enjoy your time and bring comfortable shoes.
R for Rain – You don’t need a map to know that Hay on Wye lies on the banks of River Wye. Usually, the river is not causing a lot of troubles, but this year, it decided to seriously misbehave. Heavy rainfalls seven days before the festival started on May 26th, turned the entire village into large bog. The river flooded camping sites and fields that are normally used for visitor car parks. This forced the organizers to look for parking spaces outside of the village. The main car park has been moved to Clyro (about 2 miles away from Hay on Wye) near the Baskerville Hall hotel. Coach buses were also hired to transport tourists from Clyro into town or straight to the festival sites. Whole day parking ticket was priced at 5 pounds and the bus fares were one pound per person. We were not complaining – the buses were running according to schedule, drivers knew their way around (even shortcuts in cases when the main road has been blocked by wrongly parked car) and we had a chance to see the beautiful and word renowned hotel that once belonged to The Baskerville Family. Unfortunately the rain would not go away and the foul weather continued during our visit as well. The festival ground was soggy and dirty despite every effort from the maintenance team. Wellingtons were in high demand and we have seen people paying nearly 40 quid for a single pair!
S for Superstore – the main festival bookshop is located between Telegraph Stage (main media partner of the festival) and Llwyfan Cymru (Wales Stage). It is the only place where visitors can purchase books, maps, DVD’s and official merchandise. The bookstore is commonly known as “Superstore” . It is used for book signings as well and detailed author schedules are displayed among the shelves. If you want to be on featured on the TV, it is a place to go. BBC cameras are constantly present!
T for TATA tent – Tata tent is the biggest meeting tent/stage at the festival and the most prestigious one. It is reserved for the most prominent guests: best selling authors, world famous comedians (Stephen Fry), Oscar of BAFTA awarded actors/actresses (Dame Julie Dench), the most popular TV presenters – you get the picture. It has capacity of over 1600 visitors and it usually sells out quite quickly. This year, we had a pleasure to see an award winning script writer, “Doctor Who” head wr
iter/producer and the creator of “Sherlock” – Steven Moffat. Tata tent is named after Tata Corporation, one of the corporate sponsors of Hay on Wye festival.
TATA on Hay: http://www.tata.com/hayfestival/tata_involvement.html
TATA official website: http://www.tata.com/default
W for Writing on the wall – this original art project has been created by artist Candy Chang in New Orleans. She has used an abandoned house in French Quarter, turned its walls into huge blackboards and wrote chalk epitaphs celebrating the lives of people who passed away. The project was entitled “Before I die” and Chang encouraged others to add their own memories to her own. Today, it is a global public art movement inviting people to reflect on their lives and goals. Hay on Wye black board has been made by St. Richard’s Hospice.
Candy Chang official website: candychang.com
Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/candychangcandychang
Before I Die Official page: http://beforeidie.cc/
Before I Die on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BeforeIDieWall
We hope you have enjoyed this alphabetic review of Hay Festival Anno Domini 2014. We would like to thank several people who proved to be a real source of information and made our visit a true success. First of all, a big thank you to Peter Florence, the founder and director of Hay Literary Festival – thank you for your time and reading our letter. We still hope for a response!
Rita would like to especially thank Mat Roberts for his kindness and assistance. she hopes to return the favor. Greetings to Mat’s lovely daughter and his team – you are a real stars.
We would like to pass our sincere greetings to Lyndy Cooke and the Telegraph Crew. Thank you for everything!
Have a lovely day,
Rita and Malicia Dabrowicz