Once again I was organising the Hay Winter Festival 2018 stewards. The festival this year was held in the marquee in the cattle market. It was festively decorated and had a selection of stalls selling wreaths, art, drink, reading lights and of cause books by the authors giving the talks. The events were well received and the weather was quite kind. Also there was the Christmas lights ceremony, a food festival on Saturday and a vintage festival on Sunday. The events were rounded off by a community performance of the Messiah in St Mary’s church. If you are thinking of attending next year it will be on 28 November to 1 December 2019.
As part of our Brecon Beacons Ambassador scheme we visited Big Pit National Coal Museum at Blaenafon. When the mine closed over 100 years of coal mining came to an end. It was decided to preserve and share the experience of the Welsh miner in a museum. Real miners take you 90 metres underground in the same cage as they used though thankfully quite a bit slower. Oue guide Steve had worked in the mines for 35 years and as you can imagine had a few tall tales to tell . He made you feel like his first guests of the day and that he was really pleased to see you. Afterwards we went on a tour of the bath house. This facility is now a museum but still retains many of the major improvements of a miner’s life that it brought like showers , clean clothes and a canteen. It even has a water bottle fill station which is quite ironic considering our current move away from bottled water. So proves we can still learn from the past. Entry is free which is another bonus.
Part of the Brecon Beacons is a UNESCO Global Geopark. This is due to the significant geological formations that can be found there. As part of our Brecon Beacons Ambassador scheme the park geologist takes us up onto areas of the park that are full of these features but quite possibly not that well known as a tourist spot.
Cribarth Geotrail is a good example of this. There is a 3.25 mile walking trail that explores the rocky slopes of the spectacular hill rising above Craig-Y-Nos Country Park in the upper Swansea Valley (Cwm Tawe). The landscape has been carved by water and ice from the folded layers of sandstone and limestone. There are also remains of the quarrying and lime kilns which were such an important part of the 19c industrial landscape.
Aside from all the history there are of cause the views for miles around. To help you get the most from these areas and walks there are detailed leaflets to accompany the trail.
The Hay Literary Festival runs from the last bank holiday weekend in May for 10 days. I have been stewarding this event for over 20 years and look after the visitors to Oxfam Moot stage with my sister.
It has certainly grown over the years from a humble gathering of ladies in a caravan to the event of today greeting over 100,000 visitors to 7 main venues and numerous trade stands and the largest temporary bookshop.
In addition there is a special childrens programme and area for them to ‘make and take’ a treasured memory.
There is a large food hall showcasing local producers and various other places for food and refreshments. The town is just a short shuttlebus ride from the site or easily walkable if you prefer.
Hope to see you there!
Today I visited Blaernavon World Heritage Centre and Blaernavon Ironworks. The heritage centre is based in a converted school house and offers an insight into the industrial era and the production of iron ore that went on to be railway tracks and cannon balls. There are displays and presentations designed to bring this era to life.
A model of the ironworks shows how it looked at the height of its production period. A few of the buildings remain in which examples of the tools remain slowly rusting in the dusty old buildings.
The cottages on site have been staged with items that would have been relavent to different eras and give you an idea of what living there was like but without the pollution and heat the 6 large furnaces produced.