Hay-on-Wye I used to think was a pop-up town made of books specially for the famous festival, but actually it appears to be made of books all the time. Also not a town but a kingdom, with bookseller Richard Booth the crowned head, and laws like Ban the Kindle! which is perhaps understandable in a place where every building from cafe to garden shed hosts its own bookshop. I specially liked the Crime & Mystery specialist shop, with corpse outlined on the pavement outside and Arthur Conan Doyle characters musing on the stairs. And when you're booked out, there's lovely Wye Valley river trails to follow as summer solstice teases us with occasional sightings of blue among the fifty shades of grey.
On the subject of that elusive golden orb, Andy Burns and his team from the Herschel Museum of Astronomy were out & about in Bath Abbey precinct inviting passers-by to enjoy a bit of solstice sun-gazing. Did you know the sun has an eleven year cycle of building up magnesium activity which is then released as a vast plasmic sun-spot? Nor me. Sadly, and unsurprisingly really, this is the quietest the sun has been for about 130 years so no sunspots today.
Shakespearean activity, however, has been building up visibly as we near July's pledge of "a national celebration of Shakespeare to coincide with the London Olympics." Bristol Shakespeare Festival was launched last night with balloons speeches and sonnets, appropriately in The Shakespeare Tavern beside the docks. "This year it's about pushing the festival further and bringing the plays to life in different ways" said artistic director Emma Henry. I'm very proud that PlayText, the Living Bard, a text-speak version of two well-known dramas by me and Alison Clink, is one of those different ways, sited in one of the further pushes: viz, Colston Hall on July 7th. Lots of other great reworkings there too - dance, photographs, and a randomly-reciting robotic cat... and it's all free!