The other week I mentioned that my one passion was music; well, my other passion happens to be books, I’m either spending my free time listening to music, or reading books.
There is a place called Hay-on-Wye, its close to where I live, its full of book shops, and every year it holds a literary and arts festival. You’d think it would be my favourite place, but until this year I had never been there before! 😮
Living close-by I initially planned to visit nearly everyday, but unfortunately my brother injured his back, and needed lifts everywhere, so I didn’t visit Hay as much as I hoped. With regards to my brother, it was nice to finally return the favour, after the many years that he helped me when I couldn’t drive.
I went to Hay twice in the end.
For my first visit I saw Graham Norton, he’s just released his debut novel called Holding, and yes I’ve already read it. I really enjoyed the book and would recommend it. If you’re expecting it to be funny, it’s not, it’s actually a bit of a murder mystery and there are many at cliff hangers. One night while reading the book, I thought I’d read one chapter, I then looked at the clock and realised it was like 2am and I’d read half the book!
Graham’s talk was interesting, he discussed his book, and he talked about his career. He was exactly like you see him on TV, relaxed and funny. The audience asked questions at the end there were many questions about guests he’s had on his show, such as; ‘Who’s been the sexiest guest?’ – By the way I did not ask that, I didn’t ask any questions, as you will understand in a moment.
I was lucky enough to have my book signed by Graham after his talk. Although I didn’t feel nervous approaching him, I just couldn’t think of anything interesting to say, and when I eventually made it to the front of the queue all I said was; ‘How are you?’ which was kind of stupid. But he was really nice, and you will be pleased to know he was in good health.
While I was at Graham’s book signing I also met the historian Lucy Worsley who was also really lovely, I came away with a book signing from her too so it was a very good day!
Due to those family commitments I returned to Hay the following week to see a talk by Professor Noel Fitzpatrick.
Noel’s inspiring talk was on the subject of, The Reformation of Global Health in Man and Animals. I have recently written an article about Noel’s charity The Humanimal Trust, if you want to know more.
Noel is extremely passionate about this topic and I was glad to see so many people there to listen to him. I was also interested to learn about parts of his childhood and the veterinary practices he’d had over the years.
The questions at the end of Noel’s talk were very different compared with Graham Norton’s. Graham’s questions were mainly celeb based which would result in a hilarious story, the atmosphere in the tent with Graham was light and friendly like being with an old friend.
In the same tent, a week later, Noel’s questions were much more personal, some seemed to centre around his wellbeing, making sure he took care of himself, as he so busy with his work (again it wasn’t me). But although there was much laughter during Noel’s talk, it was clear that the audience had huge admiration and warmth for Noel, like a supporting family.
The Hay Festival was amazing to see, with its deck-chairs laid out for you to relax in and read a book, and people of all ages and from all over the world, casually strolling around just enjoying the day.
I also popped to the town which is full of tiny independent shops and loads of books shops. One book shop in particular was like something from Harry Potter, small from the front but huge on the inside with wide oak floor boards, old wooden shelving, and over three storeys tall. I was in heaven!
Overall I had an incredible time at Hay, I feel incredibly lucky to have seen two brilliant talks, and to have such an amazing place on my doorstep.
I would definitely recommend everyone to visit the Hay Festival one day, especially if you love books of any kind you will really enjoy it. 🙂