I find the B&B easily, it's just across the river from the Cathedral and a short walk from the centre of Hereford. I'm shown to my quarters which is a cosy attic room. Nice. I dump most of my luggage and go straight back out to continue the journey to Hay-on-Wye where I have been invited to a book-signing and award ceremony given by Red House as part of the Hay Literary Festival.I decide to take the scenic route to Hay via Abergavenny and Brecon as I remember the roads being great to ride on a bike and I still have plenty of time to get there.
It was a fast road to Abergavenny and I soon found myself riding on a twisting road on the edge of the Brecon Beacons. I'd like to come back and ride through the Beacons when I have more time at a later date. I've driven in a car over the Beacons before years ago and it was quite spectacular, it would be great on a bike.
I miss my turning to Talgarth and end up in Brecon which wasn't planned but I need petrol so I fill up and then pick up the road to Hay, arriving there with about an hour before the book signing.
I had a quick pint at the Kilvert's Hotel, sitting in exactly the same spot that I sat in two years ago before collecting my own Red House Children's Book Award for illustrating 'Pigs Might Fly' written by Jonathan Emmett. Time flies let alone pigs...
Literally, (or should that be literary?) as I arrive at the Hay Festival site it's starts to rain...not hard but it's the first time I'd seen rain today. Riding into the site area it was obvious that Hay had seen rather a lot of rain that week. It took me a good 15 minutes to find somewhere to park the bike that wasn't too boggy and so it wouldn't disappear into the mud.I'm 15 minutes late for the book signing and find myself sat next to the illustrator Petr Horacek as a line of children and the occasional adult file past asking us to sign anything from autograph books to books we've actually illustrated, commemorative carrier bags, fans, bookmarks etc. A small boy knocks over my glass of lemonade which soaks the table and adds to the fun...and dampness. The heavens opened at this point and you could barely hear yourself speak as the rain lashed down onto the marquee we were in.
After the book-signing we were all shown to our particular 'named' tables (I was on Harry Potter). A meal of bangers & mash followed by speeches and the award ceremony itself. In short Derek Landy's 'Skullduggery Pleasant' published by Harper Collins was the overall winner. You can read a bit more about it here if you like.
Yes, I should have gone to the party afterwards but as it had just stopped raining I decided to take my chances and headed off back to Hereford whilst it was still dry and light.
Just time to go out for something to eat and a couple of pints in Hereford before turning in. A fairly early start tomorrow and I'm already looking forward to the ride to Amersham.