Tuesday, 26 May 2015

"Hay you're part of it!"

Had the absolute pleasure of being asked to volunteer at the hay festival of literature last weekend, with RSPB Cymru. 

I had been for the day to hay the previous year, but this year I would be staying up there and working three days.

I was doing the black grouse whiskey raffle and selling RSPB pin badges for two days and then doing pond dipping, making bug hotels and mini beasts hunting with kids for one day.

The b&b I was staying in was super quaint and just run by one old dear, she cooked a mean veggie breakko too. 

There was an awesome print of a goshawk in the breakfast room so I knew I would feel at home.

Hay itself is genuinely one of the most beautiful towns I have ever visited, lush river, a cool castle, loads of book shops and curio shops, and all surrounded by stunning scenery. 

I was excited to try and walk a bit at least of the offa's dyke footpath, the ancient border between Wales and England. 

The festival itself although what's actually on is all a but highbrow for my working class taste, the way it's setup is amazing. It's like a little festival village, all under cover with walkways and art, food, cafes, bars and exhibition spaces so cleverly done. 

There is always something interesting going on and always a bit of celeb spotting to be done. This year I saw Leanne wood, Sarah Lancaster, mark Watson and Vanessa feltz all pass the stand. 

I got out for a few little walks in the evening along the river on the offa's dyke path and had a really memorable evening sat with a bottle of wine watching 20-30 bats catching bugs by the river. 

I also got to buy the new book by my fave author Neil gaiman, I'm a bit gutted I can't get to his talk this coming weekend up there though. 

I will definitely be heading back to hay soon for a weekend when the festival isn't on for a good explore. 

After the three days we had raised £1000 for the charity and signed up over 50 new members pretty awesome. Home feeling tired, but well being fully restored.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Few and Far Between

I have been reading a fantastic book by Charlie Elder, called Few and Far Between. I was lucky enough to stumble across his first book While Flocks Last in a Charity Shop, where he aimed to see every UK bird species on the red list before it was too late, which I loved.

I had been hotly anticipating the release of the follow up, where he would go in search of some of our rarest animals including: mammals, birds, insects, reptiles and even fish.

I am not one for pre-ordering when it comes to books or even usually buying them new, unless of course it's Neil Gaiman. However, I had been having a pretty shitty time and decided I would treat myself to a brand new book, at full price to accompany me on the commute.

I like Charlie am fascinated by what makes us seek out the rare and exotic, I am utterly fascinated by all wildlife. The book visits some remote places I can only dream about seeing and he gets to tick off some dream species for any naturalist. The book is really well written, funny, moving at times and utterly compelling.

I don't want to give too much away about what he sees, as some of you may want to read it yourselves, but I am absolutely fascinated by Seahorses and would bloody love to see them in the wild. Also, there is something about the Scottish Wildcat, it's like our last link in the UK to a bygone era where truly wild animals roamed our forests.

If you like me are passionate about nature and in particular wildlife, I cannot recommend it highly enough. The jacket his bloody lovely illustrations too, although the book has made me hope I get to see some of these species, more than anything it has made me want to visit more of the incredible places this country has to offer.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

120 Club bro

Due to unforeseen circumstances and not being one to air my dirty under crackers in the public domain, it has been decidedly quiet here of late.

But I'm back, do not fear.

At the weekend I had the absolute pleasure of working at Machynlleth Comedy Festival for a third year. Since my first it has always been hotly anticipated, as one of the best weekends of the year, not only for the festival, but just visiting the place massively improves my well-being. I absolutely whole heartedly love Mach.

So many fond memories, my proudest sporting achievement - being crowned Mach Vols Lawn Bowls Champ. Visiting the Dyfi Osprey Project. This year I hoped to add to not only the trophy cabinet, but also the memory bank.

I was tech'ing at the Leisure Centre in a 50 seat room, which was above the swimming pool and bloody boiling. Almost everyone I worked with and for was amazing. Highlights for me were Nick Helm, Brett Goldstein and Mike Bubbins. Also, a zombie Puppet show for over 50 kids and parents, whilst in a particularly fragile state.

I also despite the weather got out for a few short walks taking in my favourite views of the town and festival from above following the footsteps of our one true prince.

On the way home I was lucky enough to get to visit a place of almost mythical prowess to me, I was unsure I would ever get to see for myself, Ynys-hir. I think I managed one of my best hours birding to date at 30 species in an hour, with one or two anomalies on top. Also, I finally got my 120th life list tick, which had been alluding me for a while, seeing my first Pied Flycatcher! The reserve was amazing and the resident artist's work in the visitor's centre was also amazing.


To have such an amazing weekend, even with the weather being poor, getting to make new friends, also made up for the fact I didn't get to defend my Bowls crown due to the rain.