Sunday, 5 June 2011

Making Hay (While the Sun Shines)








Although my blog name suggests I have three main passions (if one can count coffee as a passion?), there is a fourth love that doesn't appear - books. Now that I've graduated from the wonders of children's stories, with a brief skid over the surface of teen novels, before arriving at the 'classics' and literary fiction terminal, everything I've read has led on to a deep appreciation of writing.

Luckily, I got to indulge myself in all things literary-related at Hay Festival of Literature and Arts last week. From meeting beloved childhood authors, to watching debates, with the odd bit of vintage shopping alongside, it was a truly enjoyable (and inspiring) weekend. There is something about the DNA of this small Welsh town that means it would have to take more than cell replication to copy the atmosphere during festival season. Although the weather was inevitably foul, alternating between lowering skies and stroppy downpours, with only the slightest hint of sunshine, it was true that (excuse the saying) nothing was going to rain on this parade.

I was lucky enough to see several writers on the days we were there – alongside listening to Polly Toynbee (Guardian columnist and author in her own right) who chaired a fascinating debate on ‘The End of Ideas’ as part of HowTheLightGetsIn program. It was while sitting there, on the end of a row of mismatched benches; hemmed in on all sides by raised seating areas covered in cushions and interesting looking people; while listening to Peter Hacker talk eloquently about the UK’s education system that I felt I had arrived. It’s a clich├ęd expression, but by this point I was feeling very ‘at home’. The debate itself was so interesting I will be devoting a whole post to it at some point in the future, when I have more thinking time and less exam-related scientific facts and historical dates clogging up my brain.

The first ‘author’ event I attended was the delicious combination of David Almond and Patrick Ness. I implore everyone to read Ness’s ‘A Monster Calls’, which led to uncontrollable sobbing when I finished it. It’s the perfectly heartbreaking but utterly real story of a boy who has to face his mother’s terminal illness – with a little help from the mythological Green Man.

Together, Ness and Almond talked extensively about what it means to write, why stories are so important, and the process behind their respective books. I wholeheartedly agree with the idea that stories help us to make sense of the ways of this strange world we live in, and should therefore be an integral part of life. That’s why I felt so saddened by all the recent stories about the closure of libraries across the UK.

I felt a similar sense of awe when I saw the great Geraldine McCaughrean two days later. On my childhood bookshelf, alongside Roald Dahl, Margaret Mahy and Eva Ibbotsen, there was Ms McCaughrean. She is the author of such titles as ‘Peter Pan in Scarlet’ and ‘The White Darkness’. One of the best things about festivals such as Hay is the chance to spend a minute or two (okay, maybe thirty seconds if it’s a long queue) talking to the authors whose words you have read and cherished. McCaughrean seemed genuinely pleased to hear that both my mum and I valued her absolutely incredible use of description and imagery in her work – which is often rare in today’s book market. I loved hearing her describe how she heard words and phrases, as one might “hear music”.

Finally, the author we got up extremely early to see, Owen Sheers. His novel ‘Resistance’ is one of those books where you’re not sure whether to race through the pages at a speed of a hundred knots to find out what will happen, or to eke out the chapters slowly in order to fully enjoy the writing and story. Set in an alternative World War II, where the German army are occupying Britain, it details the events in a very remote Welsh valley. I read it while recovering from surgery; and hearing Sheers talk about the characters and plot took me straight back to days full of snow falling outside the house, while I lay in front of a continually burning fire. ‘Resistance’ is a must read on all accounts, and is being released as a film in autumn.

Although I have talked about individual authors, it was the overall feel of Hay that made it so magical. This is a town in which shelves of second hand photography books housed in a castle can rub shoulders with a circus and a shop selling everything from war medals to velvet hats. The crowds were drawn together by a mutual love of thoughts, ideas and the written word. Oh, and talking once more of my blog title, I did have some excellent mocha coffees – thanks to the wonderfully named ‘Bean and Gone’ Coffee Co.

If you want to see pictures of what I wore on my first day at Hay, you can see Jill’s post here. In a moment of serendipity, we ran into each other on a street corner – but you can read the whole story on her blog.

This outfit has a very tenuous link with Hay festival, as I wore the long cardigan (a birthday present) on my second day there. Unfortunately, this was the day when it was very rainy indeed, meaning that said cardigan spent much of the day being held up to avoid being dragged in puddles. Here I layered it over shorts and a grey top – both charity shopped (along with the bag) – all kept in place with a second hand belt. My legs do not have some strange disease I may add, but the brown floral tights that looked great in the flesh did not translate well in front of the lens. The beautiful Office shoes were a birthday present too, along with the vintage sunglasses. The hat and faux-pearls were my great-grandma’s.

The blog has been eerily quiet of late, as a result not only of exams, but also a delightful camping trip – full of roasting marshmallows and jumping in the cold, welsh sea. I have only two more weeks of school left, and then I can blog to my heart’s content.

40 comments:

Amanda said...

I think this is my favorite outfit of yours!

-Amanda
http://www.amandasphotogarden.blogspot.com

alexandratherese said...

Really thoughtful post about Hay, Roz. I'm so glad you enjoyed it it sounds wonderful. Following the coverage on various blogs, websites, the radio and twitter I felt like I was there. My favourite quote from the festival was "Only at Hay-on-Wye would a talk on fonts be so popular it has to move venues twice." There is something so honest and uplifting about that sentence, and I can imagine that it is a very positive and friendly festival. I definitely want to go next year now - talks on books, the arts + vintage shopping opportunities sound like my kind of festival! And apparently Hay is a lovely little town with loads of second hand bookshops and the like. On a different note, your hat is fantastic!

Alexandra xx

Kate said...

Brilliant post, it sounds like a brilliant and really interesting festival!
Love your outfit! Incredible bag!
www.styleisalwaysfashionable.blogspot.com

E is for Eleanor said...

I would love to go to the Hay festival, it's just so incredibly interesting. Sounds like you saw some fantastic writers. x

The Foolish Aesthete said...

The Hay Festival sounds utterly magical! I am in heaven in second-hand bookshops with worn books lovingly fingered by readers past. (That bookshop in a castle sounds divine.) We try to support independent booksellers in every city we visit. It is so sad that so many of them are shutting down in favor of the mass market bookstores (with so much commercial junk in them). Anyway, you look lovely and I adore that bucket bag! xxx

Caitlin Rose said...

Well Roz you look lovely in these photos. And your town sounds amazing, just my idea of a perfect place. I love when people from all different places are just thrown together. I'm glad your weekend was inspiring, mine was less so, but this post has definitely picked me up a bit!

xx

Caitlin Rose

Hope Adela Pasztor said...

hahaha i was wondering if your legs were ok! love the laidback 70's vibe of your outfit! it reminds me of annie hall! =)

http://pinkchampagnefashion.blogspot.com/

Ruta, Look Ugly in a Photograph said...

It's obvious you love to read just because of the way you write. You write beautifully. Your writing just flows!

Gorgeous outfit! So beautiful. Once again, that last photo looks like it's from an editorial...they all do actually.

The Fancy Teacup said...

I can never get enough of books. The world would be so gray without grand libraries and book festivals. You look so demure and pretty. Love the satchel and your darling tights.

www.TheFancyTeacup.com

Monroe Steele said...

Stunning photos...they look editorial and that purse is amazing..looks like you had an awesome time! Visit me soon.

xoxo Monroe

Fashion Steele NYC

Catherine said...

haha, well now I feel stupid for thinking those were strange shadows on your legs! great writing and pictures. We can really tell that you have a passion for writing and reading through this post (and of course fashion and photography, but those were made clear a long time ago!). I've probably told you this a million times before, but I love SO MUCH the fact that most of your clothes are second-hand...this is one of the few blogs I can read without feeling extremely superficial and whatnot.

The Thriftaholic (Leilani) said...

I adore the way the colour palette of your outfit reflects your lush surroundings. The first two photos also remind me of old fairy tales (like Hansel & Gretel) and enchanted forests.

The Hay festival sounds marvelous, unfortunately I missed the literary festival here in Chicago this weekend. I always have a novel in my purse and majored in print journalism in college-- what are you currently reading? I'm in the middle of a nonfiction novel about the life of a French race car driver.

the nyanzi report said...

wonderful post and pictures to accompany it.

Gracie said...

Oh these photos are just so beautiful, I haven't seen your blog in a while and the photography was good before but it's becoming brilliant! Love the running shot and the first shot! And the grass shot!

sacramento said...

You are a fantastic and thoughtful write Roz: in touch with yourself, and in love with words and beauty.
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lipstick and porcelain said...

Hi Roz,

I've only recently started blogging and reading blogs, and can honestly say that yours is one of the most inspiring I have come across. It's such a relief to see someone combining style and fashion with truly fantastic, stimulating writing (sorry if that sounds patronising, it's not meant to be!). Anyway, just wanted to say I'll be following your blog from now on. You seem to have really found your niche, and a brilliant outlet for what is evidently an incredibly sharp and creative mind. xxx

http://lipstickandporcelain.blogspot.com

Dylana Suarez said...

This is too too gorgeous!

xoxo,

colormenana.blogspot.com

Jessica said...

Great outfit, love the shorts bag and glasses :)

http://chicgeekblogger.blogspot.com/

Please take a minute to look at my vintage boutique;

http://bitsforboffins.bigcartel.com/

Pearl Westwood said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful time. I adore this outfit you look like a glam explorer. Good luck for the rest of your exams x

San said...

Okay, Hay Festival is definitely on my MUST-EXPERIENCE-list. As always wonderful pictures and fabulous outfit. I especially like the second and the last shot.

Have a great week.

Libby said...

I want to go to Hay. I think perhaps I will have to read some books that aren't by dead people first though.

Stephanie Hoff Clayton said...

you write so well, and you make me want to go to the hay festival!
the light and shadows in these photos add a strong element to the clothes you're wearing. i can feel the sun's warmth!
-Style Odyssey xo

Penny Dreadful said...

I love Hay, but I've never been to the festival. My problem is that I read too many dead authors - bring back Charlotte Bronte for a talk and I'll be there like a shot! x

Pull Your Socks Up! said...

What a lovely way to spend a weekend - not just a mere hour or so in the company of fellow bookworms, but a whole two days engaged in unshamed book worship! I must read Resistance - it sounds un-put-downable. I love your shorts and I do think the tights look lovely:).

Amelia Grace said...

You are so beautiful! I love your outfit, especially your hat. I don't think I've commented on your blog before, but I look forward to your posts every week. Your an amazing writer and inspire me so much. :)

L'age moyen said...

Love the autumn greens (hat and shorts) in the midst of spring green. You look remarkably well in high-wasted clothes. I love high waists, of course, I wore them the first time around ('70s), and still prefer the feel now. I just have to be careful I don't look like I haven't evolved in ... how many years? You write like a reader - which means extremely well.

Shannon Distel Scanlan said...

Love the outfit, you look lovely. The Literature and Arts festival sounds wonderful. Good luck finishing your school term. http://livelylibrarian.blogspot.com/

Claudia said...

awesome pictures, like the long cardi

xx claudia
www.peacockfeathergirl.blogspot.com

Amy (London, UK) said...

That's a pretty smokin' look on you gal! Those earthy hues flatter you completely!

Amy xxx
http://thevirtualstylist.blogspot.com/

Je ne sais quoi said...

i really like your blog.
great pictures.
check out mine.

hope you will follow me :)
xoxo

valncami said...

cute tights! and lovely photos as always!

hope you'll come visit us again soon!
xo, camilla & valerie
abutterflybyday.blogspot.com

Fashion Tales.... said...

Always good to read your blog. Beautiful photos,(love the printed legs) and sounds like such an amazing time, books are essentials! -xxoo ;)

Madison

styleeast said...

Hay sounds so wonderful and inspiring, I really want to go! It's great you go to see all those writers. Really like your outfit here too, it's suitably 'literary' I think! The movement and angles in the last shot are really nice, more excellent photography from your Mum?! xx

Vanessa, Take only Memories said...

These photos are gorgeous! Love the oversized shorts!

Juno said...

OUTSTANDING photos! Love everything about the look...your bag is divine! I totally understand your love for books and writing! I share the same passion! Have I ever said to you that I love your blog???

Great kisses!
ArtisticByFashion

Viktoria said...

Wonderful pictures, wonderful outfit :)

http://fashiondanslacuisine.blogspot.com/

Joanna said...

The photos are so pretty!

http://ieatyogurtforbreakfast.blogspot.com/

♥Run With Fashion♥ said...

ohhhh maaan!!
Loooove your photos!!!
It's like right out of fashion mag!!! <3333
I loove everything you are wearing! <333
Looove the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th pic! Really beautiful :D
-Eliza

BobbieAustin27 said...

love your outfit! you look beautiful
very J. Crew spring 2011
amazing post!

www.bobbieaustinscloset.blogspot.com

kittenhood said...

excellent pictures! love this set!