Never had I been to South Wales, never had I been camping and never had I been to the Hay Festival…
By the end of the week I was sleeping under the stars, drinking Chai tea and taking a great interest in philosophical matters and environmental sustainability. Hay-on-Wye, as Bill Clinton described it is, “A Woodstock of the mind”. If you want my advice, book your tickets for next year NOW!
Day 1 - The adventure starts here. First job on arrival is assisting as Mark Bailey and Terry Jones curate and create the i-D pop-up gallery in Mark and his wife Sally’s beautiful Welsh home. Time flies and I’m yet to put up the tent, is this an appropriate moment to mention I have never camped before? Tent erect, I realise I am not in Hay to have early nights so I head to ‘The Cabaret Futura Party’ at The Globe where Richard Strange brings some of his favourite acts to town!
Day 2 – Starts with Justine Picardie discussing her new book, ‘Coco Chanel, The Legend and The Life’. After the talk I head to Clyro to the i-D pop-up where I meet Maria Gimlik who’s helping out at the exhibition. We show some avid i-D fanatics around and also introduce a few people to the magazine for the first time. On the walk back to town I spot a campsite, I have to go and explore. Louise “Blue” Carver, founder of the Blue Bell Tents, is behind the place. These tents are the business, you can camp in a luxurious spacious tent, as Louise explains, “There’s a certain magic in creating a luxurious camp for people that is temporary and will not be there in two days’ time.” As night falls, I spend another evening at The Globe and catch the fantastic folk trio Bard followed by the Gifford Circus band Pirouette. To close the evening is a breathtaking performance from French singer/ songwriter Camille O’Sullivan. What a fantastic place!
Day 3 – A very fun day; busy at the gallery, busy in town and in the evening I attend the George and Larry Lamb talk and am lucky enough to meet them (and photograph them) afterwards. After this I meet one of my new friends, Kate, in the street and we head down to Richard Booth’s Book Shop. Her mum Val Harris is screening a film called Nigel in Transition. When Kate shouts my invite across the street the man behind me in the queue for the cash machine says “Only in Hay”.
Day 4 - Destination? The Starlight Tent where Dylan Jones talks to Terry and Tricia Jones (i-D’s founders), celebrated journalist Richard Buckley and one-time i-D Fashion Editor Caryn Franklin about the recently published Taschen tome, i-D Covers 1980 – 2010. All questions are answered and Terry supplies plenty of visual stimulation with his iPad 2 (thanks to our friends at ustwo for the lessons there), showing his favourite i-D covers throughout the talk. Then we all head to the River Cafe where chef and owner Charlie cooks up a delicious feast of antipasti and plate after plate of pasta, all supported by Diesel (who also dressed the brilliant staff).
Day 5 - After a day at the i-D pop-up gallery I run to catch the beginning of Richard E. Grant talking to Peter Godwin. It’s the perfect combination of outstanding public speaking, stage presence and intellectual, cultural awareness. It’s my last night to soak up the Hay atmosphere so I drop by The Globe to meet some of my new friends. We meet in the beautiful Globe outdoor tea room for a night of interesting conversation with wonderful people.
Day 6 - The day starts with dismantling the tent. I’m sad to be leaving Hay but happy I’ve been, the experience has taught me so much and I’ve finally camped! When I arrive home in London I’m continuously asked what it was like. The only answer I can give is go and find out. One of the best weeks of my life.
Head here for more on our Hay Festival fun!