Live Tonight on BBC iPlayer: Dan and Peter Snow + Neil Gaiman

Dan and Peter Snow

If you’ve been following the Hay Festival on social media but can’t get there, you van still enjoy the experience live on the BBC iPlayer.  BBC Arts Online has been broadcasting selected live streams of some of the events at this year’s festival as they did for the first time last year. The on-line broadcasts can be watched on the BBC Arts site where they’ll remain for 30 days.  Here’s tonight’s schedule:

At 7pm this evening Dan & Peter Snow discuss the Battle of Waterloo and tell the story of Napoleon’s 100 Days Campaign, from his Elba escape to his Waterloo defeat.  Then at 8.30pm Neil Gaiman talks to Claire Armitstead.  The prolific creator of books, comics, films and songs talks about his work and pays tribute to his friend Terry Pratchett, who died in March.

  1.  LIVE 19:00: Dan & Peter Snow
  2. LIVE 20:30: Neil Gaiman talks to Claire Armitstead

The Rain in Hay…Brightened by The Two Johnnies


Normal Hay service was resumed this morning, as the heavens opened and a cold northerly wind blew us down the hill from our base in Craswall. Our morning brightened as we attended ‘The Two Johnnies do Emma’, a.k.a John Crace of The Guardian’s Digested Read (& latterly their parliamentary sketch writer) and ‘Superprof’ John Sutherland, master of the classics.

Despite not having read Emma until a week or so ago, Crace skilfully applied his ‘digested’ approach to the novel, to the obvious delight of most of the audience (more of that later), while Sutherland pondered the obtuse such as ‘what were the toilet arrangements in Emma’; ‘why doesn’t Emma want to be married’ and ‘was Mr Knightley a Paedophile?’ He later concludes that there are several hints in the novel regarding toilet arrangements, Emma has witnessed her older sister bearing 5 children in 6 years and dreads the same fate for herself – and, thankfully, Mr Knightley only has honourable intentions, phew!

John Crace then ventured into the afterlife of the classics, digesting Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D James, cleverly weaving in the titles of Austen’s other novels before concluding that often, ‘a classic novel is not in want of a sequel’ – he was then reprimanded by an audience member for ‘ruining Emma’ for her – but then, we are all entitled to our opinion, it’s just made me want to read Emma again, after an absence of some 25 years.

Dr Phil Hammond: How to Get the Best from the NHS


I’m comforted by the good Doctor shaking my hand on the way into Llwyfan Cymru, saying “You look well”. The night before, I was reminded of my upcoming 60th birthday when a question was asked of Jack Dee’s Help Desk about how (or more correctly who) to harvest a stool sample, as the NHS write to all of us approaching the big birthday, screening for bowel cancer.

The entertaining and informative session focussed on how we can fix the NHS. By taking responsibility for our own well-being, Dr Phil reckoned that over 70% of visits to the GP can be avoided.

I’m a T2 diabetic, and have successfully managed my condition by diet and exercise. Dr Phil illustrated his point by using CLANGERS as an acronym to assist people in living a healthy way:

C to Connect with people and don’t live in isolation to others;

L to Learn new things and continually challenge yourself;

A to be Active;

N to Notice the world around you and savour the moment;

G to Give Back, do something nice for someone, smile, volunteer;

E to Eat well;

R to Relax, take time out to chill; and

S to Sleep, getting 6-8 hours of good quality sleep is fundamental.

“Every day you don’t need to use the NHS, someone else benefits”.

An Afternoon with Pam Ayres


From the moment that Pam Ayres walked onto the Tata stage, she captivated her audience with humour, wit, facial expressions and a perfect sense of timing. Her introductory piece was a poem about the arrival of a letter from the pension office and it was the start of a series of hilarious poetry and stories which had the audience in an uproar, I have seen Pam Ayres on television but her impeccable delivery of her material and the twinkle in her eye can only be appreciated in a live show.

What was unexpected for me, was the sensitivity with which she described things such as the departure of her son for university and the arrival of her grandson into her family.

Most people know that her husband features in some of her material (not always in a positive way) and I think that he must have a forgiving nature as they have had a long marriage.

This session was one of my highlights of Hay Festival this year because I laughed so hard that my stomach ached for hours afterwards and it is wonderful to witness a true craftswoman practice her art.

Coastlines, The story of our shore by Patrick Barkham

Photograph by Martin Godwin.

Photograph by Martin Godwin.

A couple of years ago, I was sitting in the Reindeer in Norwich with Patrick when he spoke of his next writing project. The idea was to celebrate the 50th anniversary of “Enterprise Neptune”, the National Trust initiative to “ the most precious portions of coast from rampaging tourism and industry”.

To date, some 742 miles of the total 3,000 coastline of England, Wales and Northern Ireland is now owned by the National Trust. Patrick’s book isn’t a travelogue, but a collection of stories about our relationships with the Coast forged by our childhood memories (building sand castles, inclement British summers), the romance of the sea (weekends in Brighton being cited in divorce cases) and the role that the Coast plays in providing a living and a defence in wartime.

Don’t expect a glossy coffee table book with loads of colour pictures, but a series of stories which paint a picture of how the Coast shapes our lives.

Hay Festival Tweets of the Day – Thursday 28 May

 Chuffed to have  as my walk on music today at but gutted that I missed the opportunity to see them last night

 Up next at : The Dark Net. I get a shot of rum every time 4chan is mentioned.

 Where else do you get to have a chat with Greg Rusedski’s wife and Bill Oddie?!

 Today at I had the surreal experience of chasing my piano as it slid a foot across the floor mid-Mendelssohn, live on

Five years of Hay Making


Pic by by Zoe Broughton


By Virginia

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.

beth (2)

Pic by Claire Cole

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.