Thursday, 2 June 2011

hay, Hay

or subtitled

A day of chance meetings and encounters in the borderlands.

that's what you call purple prose!

This week marks the beginning of the summer festival in Wales.

The Urdd Eisteddfod (pronounced -  irr th   eye steth vod  - or there abouts. As my Welsh teacher used to say, 'Roll your rrrs'.) is on in Swansea.

It's one of Europe's largest cultural youth festivals but not like Reading, Leeds or Glasto. It's a showcase of talent but all in the Wales language. It's a junior version of the National Eisteddfod which takes place in August. Children of all ages compete against one another in poetry, dance, song, writing, and art. They would have been practising their items for months.

This week also sees the annual Hay Festival in full swing. Set just outside the town and in the Brecon Beacons this festival attracts people from all over the world. The trick is to book talks well in advance and to plan your day like a military manoeuvre.

For the last three years I had worked at Hay. At Hay Fever to be precise. It's a section of the festival that provides children's activities. The last time I worked there, I came home covered in Modroc after spending the day making baby puffins. Oh, I feel a tutorial coming on!

Some of my memories of Hay are not good!

I returned on a whim after a chance conversation with a friend. We hadn't booked in for any talks - to be honest I hadn't heard of some of the speakers. We hadn't planned it like a military manoeuvre - no picnic basket full of goodies.

I'm not saying that the well trained soldiers from Sennybridge would ever carry a picnic basket!

We did prepare for the weather, taking several layers of clothes. Most of which we wore all day. Brrrr!

I saw lots of people I used to work with. Ha, ha!

The highlights?

Well, certainly this lady.

It's Judith Kerr! She wrote the Mog books. I loved those books and so did my children.

How I wish now I'd bought a book and joined the signing crowd.

We met up with old friends just before we were due to leave. Their little ones had a long list of autographs and had been celeb spotting for most of the day. As we were talking a gentleman rushed down the walkway.

'Wow!' we all said.

'He'll be coming back,' we said.

As we are all cowards we sent the bravest of us all to ask him to add to the list.

Yes, it's Dara O Briain with our darling, brave Anna. Thank you, Dara, for taking the time when you were obviously in a rush . He was a real gentle man.

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