Our fifth Hay has come to an end and I am struggling with my re-entry to normal life, as I do every year. I wistfully look to Twitter and Facebook, see I’ve missed Alan Bennett and long to be back. I’ll get over it by tomorrow, but tonight I’m feeling bereft.
Each time we come to Hay, I have a worry it won’t quite meet expectations. Each time I leave thinking I needn’t have worried. This year was no exception. As usual, we camped at the fabulous Wye Meadow campsite, opposite the festival site. Run by four siblings, it has excellent facilities, and a warm welcome. We’re gutted that the Brown family who’ve looked after us so well are giving it up next year, but are hoping someone well else will take it on. After last year’s mudfest, I’m glad their last year has been sunny.
I went to some great talks and loved blogging about them. Sitting in the press room was a fascinating experience as I watched the real journalists rushing in and out to events. Boy they work hard – onsite for hours running from one talk to another, chasing interviews and then filing copy. I found it a challenge taking notes, writing up, self editing and grappling with wifi to get my articles out and I was only posting once or twice a day. They were writing several, often having to mug up on writers they knew nothing about. Extremely impressive.
I always come with my three kids, who are total bookworms. They love Hay because everyone reads and authors are huge celebrities. Beth had to go early because she’s doing GCSEs but she enjoyed Sarah J Maas, Simon Singh, and discovering a spooky antique shop in Hay-on-Wye. Claire had wondered whether it would be so good this year, and then discovered a whole load of new authors she can’t wait to read. Jonathan found a new favourite writer – Frank Cottrell-Boyce – enjoyed writing his first blog about the talk and was thrilled when Cottrell-Boyce retweeted it. It was fun camping with our friends Zoe and Mati, hearing about each other’s events, chatting over hot chocolate, watching the sunset, and the stars rise above us on a cold clear night.
For once (and despite David Mitchell predicting it in ‘The Bone Clocks’) it didn’t rain. It was a little chilly on occasion, but a revelation to be able to sit in the courtyards enjoying the sunshine. Simon Armitage walked passed me at the entrance. Simon Armitage! (Only a poet could make me swoon). I met Simon Singh, Frank Cottrell-Boyce, Non Pratt, Louise O’Neill who were all lovely. I didn’t manage to interview Jessie Burton, but really enjoyed my conversation with Chris Woods, whose insights into war reporting were fascinating.
I’ve been following Making Hay for a while now, so I’ve really appreciated having the chance to blog this year, and enjoyed the reviews of my fellow bloggers. I highly recommend it as a way of catching up on the experience. And if you’re heading to Hay yourself, it looks like the weather’s holding, and there are still plenty of goodies to come. Hope you have a blast.
See you next year.