Hay Festival 2024

A last-minute decision and booking took us to Hay-on-Wye for the second May Bank Holiday weekend.

Before going into town, we walked up Hay Bluff, one of our favourite hill walks. You can ascend and descend the 677m in about an hour.

Hay-on-Wye is renowned for having lots of bookshops. When I first went there about 25 years ago, there were over 30 bookshops! There are fewer now and the town has become a tourist destination, with events going on around the year. This weekend there were two festivals: the Hay Festival and HowTheLightGetsIn Festival. For the following day, we managed to get tickets for the Hay Festival even though most had sold out.

Our single night was at Buzzards Nest. It’s about 30 minutes from Hay-on-Wye. We were staying in a shed on, what turned out to be, quite a bit of land!

The place is owned by Philippa and Clive. Clive told us the story of how he was a builder, amongst other things, before a life-changing event prompted them to move to Wales. The property and surrounding land were mostly derelict, and they had much work to do. They now have yoga retreats and other events. Next to our comfortable and warm shed was a compost loo. There were other environmental initiatives, such as growing food and various schemes to minimise the use of water.

On Sunday, we left Buzzards Nest and returned to town. We’d planned to do another short walk before the talk we’d booked at the Hay Festival, but it was raining. We went to some more bookshops before going to the talk by Caroline Lucas, the only Green Party Member of Parliament in the UK.

We were surprised to see that Brenda Hale was interviewing Caroline Lucas. Lady Hale was the President of the Supreme Court when it ruled that it was unlawful of Prime Minister Boris Johnson to suspend Parliament. She’s known for her brooches, especially after she wore a spider brooch when announcing the Parliament verdict. She said she was unaware of the song Boris the Spider (by The Who) which features the line, “He’s come to a sticky end”!

Caroline Lucas was promoting her new book, Another England: How to Reclaim Our National Story. One of the things the book is about is how the political right had shaped the narrative about England, such as during the Brexit referendum. She said the right conjured up images about England through stories — which are more powerful than the facts the political left leant towards. She wanted to create another narrative of what it means to be English.

We bought the book afterwards but didn’t stick around for it to be signed since there was a long queue. I’m looking forward to reading the book.

Leave a Reply