Everybody knows this feeling. This burning desire to go out and do something significant. It’s an urging thought in your head that says you should be somewhere else, maybe attending an event or a celebration, protesting an injustice or even meeting with your friends to discuss something important. Our personal compasses are never wrong. A Jedi would say this is the Force calling us towards our destiny. Others would recognize it as our intuition and advise we should never ignore it. Sometimes it’s very hard to follow the call. How would you explain the calling to your employer or family members? Would they understand? Perhaps they would call us crazy or laugh. Maybe it would be impossible for us to drop everything and go – there are family obligations, bills to pay, money difficulties and hundreds of other arrangements that keep us rooted in one place. Many times we desperately wanted to escape but we had no money, no spare time or means to get to that special spot. In those moments, we feel disappointed and depressed. Out there, a history is in the making but we cannot witness it. If we cannot contribute, we feel useless and powerless. We regard ourselves worse than others who managed to get there or follow their own calling.
Not being able to go, doesn’t mean that we should shut ourselves in a shell and ignore the world. There are many opportunities around us that we tend to overlook. We will give you an example of our calling. Every year, we have this huge urge to travel to Roskilde Festival in Denmark. This is not about a summer festival, drinking or partying until you drop. This is not about music, holidays or sightseeing. Roskilde is our place, this is our sacred ground, our home – we feel really strong about it. It’s been nearly a decade since we were there last time and we miss it. We miss building the stages, climbing walls, working long hours and sleeping in a tent. Our mission is to organize a big event, bring joy to thousand of participants and make sure everything will run smoothly.
Living in two different countries (Malta and UK), working full time and paying off mortgages, it is hard for us to go to the festival these days. When we were still in Poland, travelling to Denmark by bus was a real possibility – it was cheap and the trip would last about 15 hours. Right now, the only way to get there is by plane, you need to arrange holidays, somebody needs to take care of our cats etc. It’s a lot of trouble and in the end, we are staying home every year. For a long time we would feel bad about it, the calling yet again has been ignored. But then we started thinking. Is the calling truly about a certain place or maybe about doing something specific. We love organizing events, so instead of regretting not being able to go to Roskilde, maybe we should be working locally? After much brainstorming, we realized that each one of us has a special place close to us: Mal is attracted to Saint James Cavalier in Valetta and Rita loves spending her time in Wales. Eureka! Why not try to attend some local events and see if they need help? Malicia has successfully brought World Press Photo to Malta all by herself (with huge help from The Embassy of Netherlands and other sponsors) and Rita is making her name attending local events in West Midlands. Her favorite event is the Hay on Wye Literally festival that nearly feels like Roskilde, with books instead of rock music!
For the majority of the year, Hay on Wye has population of just 2000 people. When the festival starts at the end of May/beginning of June, the number of inhabitants jumps to 100.000! This tiny medieval village with narrow streets looks like New York City on 4th of July or Tokyo before the Obon festivities! Tourists are everywhere: hotels and hostels are full, private accommodations are reserved, camping spaces are taken and tents cover every inch of grass in 5 miles radius. People flock to attend workshops, meetings with internationally acclaimed authors and book signings. Big areas are filled to the last spot and tickets are sold out months in advance. Here, nobody is worrying about low literacy skills or statistics that nearly 15% of British teens are reading less than 1 book per year. The Kingdom of Hay is filled with books, second hand book stores, magazines, newspapers, leaflets and with every other written word format known to the mankind. Concerts, movie premieres, restaurants, street performances and arts and crafts displays offer additional attractions.
Last year, we have written a review of the Winter Festival and for some strange reason, we never published our review from the summer celebration. Now, it’s a good time to fix that mistake – dear readers, please take a look at nearly 40 excellent pictures taken by Mal and Rita.
Mukesh Kapila is a humanitarian, adviser to United Nations, World Health Organization and NATO. He is also one of the kindest and respectable people we have ever met. If you don’t know him, please read on. Mr Kapila was the first to discover about the genocide in Darfur and worked tirelessly to protect the victims and notify the world. It was his actions that made us aware of the unspeakable crimes committed in Sudan. His life has been endangered many times but threats didn’t stop him. Mr Kapila had to be taken out of Sudan as attempts on his life were made but he still works to make our world a better place. “Against a tide of evil” is a mix between a document and a memoir about his time in Sudan and his fight to uncover one of the worst genocides in human history.
Hay on Wye Literary Festival is usually accompanied by additional events like How the Lights get in Festival. The other festival simply known as The lights festival is a philosophy/arts and crafts extravaganza that brings a lot of interesting people to Hay. We have met some of the most unique tradesman and artisans and it would be a great shame if we didn’t include them here as well!
Hay Street Festival:
We have mentioned how beautiful the village is, but now you can now see for yourself!
Francesca’ s Restaurant
Based in the hear of the village, Francesca’s restaurant served one of the best meals we have had last year. Home made bread and meat balls with bolognese sauce was an instant hit.
Opened in 2013, Window Gallery is owned by two artists and residents of Hay, sculptor Jemm Stiff and his partner, painter Menna Angharad. Both Jem and Menna are graduate of University of Wales Institute Cardiff and hold MA degrees in fine art. They have been exhibiting their work to much acclaim in Wales, London, France and several other European cities. The couple are happy parents to daughter Lilli who soon might be an artist herself as she is already showing interest in drawing and sculpting.
Member of Fair Trade Movement, Presence Artisanias is a Polish-British company (run by Spencer Watkins and his partner Aneta) that imports hand made jewellery from Africa, Timbuktu, Asia and other exotic places. They are visiting Hay every year and you will have no problem locating their stand as they are always located on Castle Street, near the entrance to Food Market. We wish that the company had a proper website as the owners are incredibly nice and helpful but at least you can add them on Facebook. Their items are of highest quality and buying from them helps artists to earn money from their crafts. Fashion can be charitable as well!
Official Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/timbuktubazaar
You can also contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling Spencer’s mobile at 07835 410981
If you believe the legends, Eighteen Rabbit was a fabled King of Mayan City of Copan and patron of artists and craft guilds. The name has been taken on by a group of British tourists who traveled to Honduras for holidays. Tempted by clear blue skies, beautiful beaches and luxurious hotels, they quickly discovered another face of paradise. Local people lived in poverty without schools, public transport and any hope for a better tomorrow. The only jobs available was banana plantation or clothing industry making cheap outfits for Western clothing magnates. This is where the 18th Rabbit was born. A fair trade company and independent retailer, the Rabbit specializes now in gifts, jewellery, home ware and apparel made by excellent Honduras artisans. As they say, they cannot change the world overnight, but at least they help people of Honduras (and many others as well) to find their way to vast European markets without the middle men. Believe us, they have some sensationally unique items!
1066 creations owner, Simon Jameson is a Renaissance man: he sings, paints, sculpts, makes murals and prints. His stand behind Hay Castle looked like a medieval sculpting guild drawing huge crowds. Simon makes stone sculptures for house and garden specializing in gargoyles, green men, trolls, serpents and dragon sculptures. You can purchase hand made tiles from him as well. Simon travels far and wide and you can meet him at summer fair shows all over the UK.
Official website: http://www.1066creations.co.uk
Roo The Leather Carver
If anybody would tell Roo, that his small leather making business will gain him national recognition and pictures in popular tabloid press (with the Queen Elizabeth herself!), he would have laughed. Taken as a simple hobby, Roo’s leather making passion soon involved his entire family, including his nephew Martyn Walkden, a master carver in his own right! We have met the entire family and those people have fantastic skills! Their belts, bags, pouches and archery accessories should be introduced in Hollywood – at least some blockbusters would be historically correct!
Official website: http://www.leathercarver.co.uk
Bounty of Midgard
John Game is a specialist in fossils, gemstones and minerals. He is the owner of a small business called Bounty of Midgard and visits many local fairs and arts festivals around the country. Rita hell in love with his selection of gemstones and bought several agates for her own abstract artworks. If you’d like to contact him (and maybe book him for your event), please contact him at 07445 282899.
House of de Lytton
Suzie Litton-Wood is a mistress of needlework. An accomplished tailor, bridal dressmaker and costume designer, she can easily re-create any garment from any historical period. She makes her costumes with traditional methods, entirely by hand and using authentic fabrics as far as it is possible of course. House of de Lytton’s creations were used in numerous theatrical and film productions, historical events and festivals.
The Hudnalls Apiaries are located in the Forest of Wye and Wye Valley – a designated areas of outstanding natural beauty. This is a small family business that collects pure natural honey along the Welsh Marches – from Chepstow to Brecon. We had a longer talk with Doug Isles, the owner of the business about safe ways of collecting the honey and reasons why the bees keep dying. You can contact the owners through their Facebook profile, as their website www. hudnallaspiaries.co.uk seems to be down at this moment. Doug and his crew are visiting farmers markets all over the UK and will take part in BBC Good Food show in NEC Area in Birmingham in 2015.
Located just two minutes away from the Hay Castle, the 18th century guest house named Tinto House is a hidden gem. If you don’t know its exact location, you can miss is easily just walking down the main street! We have discovered it by an accident and we fell in love with this stylish building and large, beautiful gardens. Each year, Tinto House opens up Bella’s Cafe especially for the festivals guests. The cafe serves delicious cakes and drinks made by local chefs. You have to try their cheesecake with fresh cherries and elderflower drink – it is a masterpiece! And if you want to rest from big crowds and noise, the gardens will be the best place to do so.
Tinto House receives rave reviews from tourists and it gets fully booked months before the festival. Be quick!
Official website: http://www.tinto-house.co.uk
Trip Advisor website: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g190755-d196417-Reviews-or20-Tinto_House_B_B-Hay_on_Wye_Powys_Wales.html
We thought it will be a short review! Nearly 3.000 words and 60 pictures! Hay on Wye is an interesting place and there is always something here left to discover.
Will we see you in Hay AD 2015? We surely hope so!
Take care and come back soon. Doctor Who fans will not be disappointed!
Rita and Malicia Dabrowicz