I had a busy half term week, spending time with my children and some friends, and a glorious couple of days at the Hay Festival, so no time for blogging. I didn’t make it to Hay last year; with both my daughters doing important exams, I just felt I couldn’t be away from home at such a crucial time. So it was especially sweet to go back this year. I went for two days, staying overnight in a tent – I am NOT a camper! – at the official Hay campsite, which I felt was preferable to a B&B miles away. It was an experience. Perhaps the coldest night of my life. Hay on Wye is in quite an exposed position, with a cool breeze, even though the sun shined the whole time. Night time temperatures dropped to around 5 degrees, so it was not comfy, even beneath the many layers I had packed. The good value and the proximity to the festival site made it worthwhile though. I’m not sure what it would have been like if it had been raining.
I saw some really interesting presentations, very little on the fiction front this year, strangely. To be honest, I don’t think I picked the best days with regard to the programme of events. My fantasy is to spend the whole week there, to dip in and out, participate in some of the off-site events, perhaps do some of the walks in the area, but that will have to wait until I am free of the tyranny of the the school calendar! It’s also not cheap: drinks and meals on the site are expensive, so if you could self-cater somehow and take packed lunches it would be much more manageable.
Below are some of my photos from the event. If you’ve never been I highly recommend it. If travelling to Hay is not possible, you can watch many of the events on the Hay Player, which is very reasonable at £15 a year and gives you access to a huge back catalogue of events too.
On the few occasions when I have met famous people I have not been very good at it! They say you should never meet your heroes. This time I managed to mumble a few words of conversation in the brief encounter to get my book signed.
BBC correspondent Lyse Doucet gives the Christopher Hitchens memorial lecture, covering the future of journalism and the concept to truth in reference to AI. A panel of historians discusses how we represent history, particularly in reference to Britain’s stately homes, with the CEO of the National Trust.
And of course, the obligatory book haul – another of the expenses at Hay! I believe I was quite restrained…
As usual, Hay 2023 was inspiring, fascinating, at times controversial and always stimulating.