I have been attending Hay Festival for many years yet I did not go last year
I was going to hear poet Jeremy Hooker read on the Usk born metaphysical poet Henry Vaughan and Author Richard Fortey read or his latest book “The Wood for the Trees”
I decided to go to Hay early so I could walk up to Hay Bluff. I last walked up Hay Bluff when I walked part of Offa’s Dyke 2009. I had no mobile phone back then or a camera to capture the Bluff. It was a wonderful serene feeling to be walking the spine of Offa’s Dyke and looking East to neat folded green fields of England and West to wild rugged Wales.
Left Hay car park 9 15am after walking through 5 kissing gates I realised I had left my water in the boot of the car but this meadow distracted me for a while.
Then the steep climb up towards Hay Bluff. I could hear a bird of Prey above me and the sky larks below, a wren scurried about and rabbits were darting from hedgerows. I looked back and could see the Victorian town of Hay in the distance.
I came to the kissing bridge and could hear a brook trickling away beyond the brambles this added to my thirst.
I could see the brook but could not reach to have a drink. The sun was beating down and it was only 10am and my throat was dry.
I came across a couple who were tending to their small holding. I made pleasantries and said how stupid I was to leave my water in the car. They looked at me blankly.
Up and up I walked but was very uncomfortable due to my thirst.
Then came to a farm house sorry reader I forgot the name but I will always remember the farmer. I saw him get out of his land drover. He wore a cap that did not fit him properly because his hair was too bushy and his cap looked on odd on his head. He had blond hair grey streaks. His face was country healthy living red.
I looked like a right sweaty betty I am Celt and Celt in colouring too. The sun and I do not get on. I wiped my face in my man size hankie and in a husky voice I said
“Morning sorry to bother you, I am on my way up to Hay Bluff. I have foolishly left my water bottle in my car. Please can I have a cup of water”
“No you cannot I only got spring water you are not having that”
I offered to pay he said nope. I said there is nowt queer than folk.
He began to shout at me and I turned and faced him and through gritted teeth I said “You have already offended me do not offend me any further” I felt tears prick my eyes but still I continued upwards. Up a mucky lane which was laden with butter cups and ragged robin and I could hear the brook teasing me. I was a mile away from the Bluff but my throat was like sand paper and I was sweating profusely so I decided to walk back.
On my way down I saw a group of Ramblers I told them my story. From this came a fountain of compassion and water.
At the Hay festival the community of Hay become involved by using their lawns or back gardens as tea shops for charity. As I walked back I saw the many gazebos, marquees and beautifully laid tables. I called at the Parkinson charity tea event. The service was excellent. You cannot beat a pot of tea when you are hot and thirsty.
Back at the festival I sat in a deck chair listened to the many voices and different accents. Smell of coffee and spicy food tinkled my nostrils and I people watched.
The Cube is small yet ideal for poetry readings. Bob Wicher, Elizabeth Siberry and the wonderful Jeremy Hooker did not let us down in their knowledge of the metaphysical poet. Henry Vaughan who was famous for the Silex Scintillans.
By now I was pleasantly tired from the walk and very relaxed because of the atmosphere of Hay. I was ready for home but I had. Palaeontologist, natural historian Robert Fortey to listen to. His book “The Wood for the Trees” was nestling in my back pack. Robert Fortey was a wonderful reader and so knowledgable. I have loved hedgerows, trees, country lanes and meadows since I was a small child.