Archive for 2015

Rambling women

July 4, 2015 4 Comments
Rambling women

Hay-on-Wye on a sleepy summer Monday outside Festival time is a fine place to be. True, you have an acute feeling of being one of a dwindling number of ageing middle class readers as you wander from second-hand bookshop to second-hand bookshop. But serendipity, so painfully missing from an Amazon search, is a subtle and […]

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The beautiful librarians are dead: academic librarians and the crisis in public libraries

June 28, 2015 6 Comments
The beautiful librarians are dead: academic librarians and the crisis in public libraries

An adapted version of a talk given to Welsh academic librarians at the WHELF Gregynog Colloquium on 15 June 2015. The city of Kingston upon Hull is famous for its poets, among them Andrew Marvell in the seventeenth century, and Douglas Dunn and Philip Larkin in the twentieth. Hull’s best known contemporary poet is Sean […]

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The value of being open

June 18, 2015 0 Comments
The value of being open

The adapted text of a response to the award of an honorary doctorate by the Open University in a graduation ceremony held in the Wales Millennium Centre on 12 June 2015. Annwyl gyfeillion, rhaid imi ddweud ar y cychwyn ei bod hi’n anrhydedd anhygoel imi dderbyn y radd hon heddiw. I mi mae’r Brifysgol Agored […]

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Wales Coast Path, day 27: Pendine to Amroth

June 13, 2015 0 Comments
Wales Coast Path, day 27: Pendine to Amroth

10:50am. A bus stop on the coast road in Amroth. The Silcox Coaches bus, ten minutes late, trundles round the corner from the hill into the village. Its driver, a middle-aged woman whose accent doesn’t sound local, brakes reluctantly for us. Our first crime is to stand on the wrong side of the road. Which […]

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Wales Coast Path, day 26: Laugharne to Pendine

June 8, 2015 2 Comments
Wales Coast Path, day 26: Laugharne to Pendine

The castle walls glow in the morning sun. Below, the shoreline car park is almost full, with a small market selling bric-à-brac and small plants. But within minutes the four of us are on our own, on the path round Sir John’s Hill. This is an old trail, but the local marketing experts have rebadged […]

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Wales Coast Path, day 24: Llansteffan to St Clears

May 30, 2015 2 Comments
Wales Coast Path, day 24: Llansteffan to St Clears

A cloudy, cool morning, but the beach car park at Llansteffan is already filling with dogs and children and older citizens tying up the laces of their walking books. Flying in the face of commercial self-interest, the Beach Shop and Tea Room won’t be open for another hour, so C, J and I set off […]

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Goya and the Philippines junta: power mocked

May 24, 2015 0 Comments
Goya and the Philippines junta: power mocked

The town of Castres has several claims to fame. At its centre handsome rows of old tanners’ and weavers’ houses overhang the river Agout. It was where the socialist leader and peacemaker Jean Jaurès was born in 1859. It has a flourishing ‘Top 14’ rugby side. And it contains the Goya Museum, which specialises in […]

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Woad and French museology

May 16, 2015 0 Comments
Woad and French museology

Magrin is the name of an ordinary enough village not very far east of Toulouse. Just outside it is a low conical hill. On top of the hill are the ruins of a château, built in the middle ages and rebuilt in the Renaissance. And in the château is the world’s only comprehensive museum of […]

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Wales Coast Path, day 35: Neyland to Herbranston

May 4, 2015 1 Comment
Wales Coast Path, day 35: Neyland to Herbranston

On their way home C and H drop me in Neyland, for a solo walk to Herbranston. Neyland’s a modest and workaday town, considering that its effective founder was a megalomaniac. Isambard Kingdom Brunel chose it as the coastal terminal for his South Wales Railway, but it failed to grow into the great port and […]

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Wales Coast Path, day 36: Herbranston to Dale

May 4, 2015 1 Comment
Wales Coast Path, day 36: Herbranston to Dale

After a coffee in the Yacht Club we catch the rackety mid-morning minibus from Dale to Hebranston, two villages and two long creeks away. The few other passengers seem to be fellow-walkers. Our driver’s an abstracted, taciturn man with a flat silver earring and an ability to negotiate the one-track lanes at speed with one […]

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