If you’ve been reading my blog for a while now you’ll know that I attended the Hay Festival at Hay-on-Wye last year. I’ll put a link to that post here. Whilst I was there I signed up to volunteer as a steward for the following year’s festival with my mum. I knew it was something that would be completely out of my comfort zone and because I wanted to kick anxiety’s butt I put my name down anyway.
We got an email in January from the steward team asking if we were still interested, and of course, I still wanted to help out. To complete the process we had to do a form online and await further instructions via email. Moving on to the big event, the Hay Festival spans from 25th May – 4th June. Because it was our first time volunteering mum and I opted to work for a few days so we could get a taster of the festival atmosphere and in case it wasn’t our cup of tea. I almost forgot to mention that is the Hay Festival’s 30 anniversary this year, so made our time volunteering there even more special.
|You have to have a photo by the ‘Hay’ sign|
As we don’t live near to the festival site we had to get up at the crack of dawn on the first day and drive for two hours to arrive for our introduction. We set off at around 7am, I was not ready. With plenty of time to spare we made it to Hay and had a little while to wander around the site and explore. Mum and I decided to get some photos by the Hay sign before it got too busy with festival goers. It was only 10 in the morning and already it was boiling; both of the full days that we worked had some of the hottest weather of the year and when you’re inside big tents with hundreds of other people, it can get pretty stuffy!
After our induction, we were ready to start our stewarding and could choose wherever we wanted to go to help. The first two days of the festival are primarily for school children who can attend the event for free. Thursday was for primary schools and Friday, secondary. This meant that our first experience was a couple of morning sessions for the primary school children attending sessions hosted by children’s authors. I was thrown in at the deep end and was asked to ‘run’ around with the microphone in the second half of the talks so that the children could ask the authors questions. Mum and I both agreed that the authors were absolutely captivating and really had the children’s’ attention in the palm of their hands. They are definitely worth a look for those with young children who you want to encourage to read more often, or even just those who love books already. The first author was Ali Sparkes who discussed her book ‘Thunderstruck’ about two friends who were struck by lightning and Guy Bass who introduced his series of books about ‘Spynosaur’ a spy dinosaur.
Once you’ve completed a set of morning sessions you get given a meal token which you can use in the staff canteen for lunch on that day, the same applies for dinner and breakfast tokens. The kitchen staff were happy to cater for me, which was amazing and I got some delicious meals such as a vegetable chilli and a mixed veg stir fry.
The first day was pretty hectic as mum and I crammed in as many sessions to steward on as we could, which meant by the end of the day we were almost on our knees in exhaustion – but hey we got to see Eddie Izzard doing stand up in the evening!
Of course, we needed somewhere to stay for the few days that we were in Hay, we chose the lovely Rosedale Retreat B&B, a lucky find considering the popularity of the event and its impact on the availability of vacancies in the town.
Once we had completed two fulls days of volunteering, mum and I had a chance to explore the town of Hay in its entirety. As it is known as the town of books I had to go into every possible bookshop I could find of course!
I returned to Addyman Books where I visited last year on my first trip to Hay-on-Wye. There I met the lovely Anne who owns the shop, who also has a love of all things Alice related. She showed me her collection of ‘Alice’ books last year and I promised her when I returned that I would give her a copy of my dissertation which, you guessed it, is on Alice in Wonderland. I was so thrilled to find out that I had obtained a 2:1 the day before, which felt like such an apt achievement considering where I was at the time. So I celebrated the student way – with cheap wine and doughnuts!
Naturally, I had to buy some books whilst I was there, I bought four editions of Alice from Addyman Books and two from the festival itself.
Until next time,
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