My Sourdough Journey: Chapter Four – Moving to Hay-on-Wye

Travelling on public transport from Hay-on-Wye, back to Leominster, was quite an experience. It was agreed before I left work that morning, though, that as of the following night I could stay temporarily at Alex’s mom’s place until other accommodation was finalized. I left the bakery at minutes to 10 a.m. and arrived at the bus stop to find that the bus to Hereford was a two hourly service and I had just missed one! The next one wasn’t due till noon or thereabouts. It was a nice, summery day, yes, but all I really wanted now was to sleep.

Okay, I thought, I may as well make the best of things. I decided to explore the essentially touristy town centre which was scattered about in a fairly small area around me. I randomly chose one of the narrow streets, being careful to maintain my bearings, and wandered down it, meandering among the hoards of shorts and t-shirt clad visitors. The Hay Festival had only recently concluded and the town was still bursting at the seams with visitors. (At this stage, gentle reader, I had no true appreciation of the Hay Festival, knowing very little about it, but I will endeavour to enlighten you anon.)

I passed some nice little shops with more than enough to attract tourists: colourful clothes and bags and shoes; pubs and eating places – there was Hay Deli, totally my kind of health food shop, Shepherds Ice Cream Parlour – I couldn’t wait to try their sheeps’ milk ice cream, especially since I’ve been doing the blood type diet for a while and sheeps’ milk is highly recommended for my blood group. There were meat shops that did local, organic produce, like meat, of course, but also cheeses and milk and cute little jars of locally made jams and jellies and chutneys. It was Thursday morning, so there was also the famous Thursday Hay Market, with outdoor stalls of more local produce clustered everywhere, giving the town even more of a holiday feel to it. And then there were bookshops. Everywhere. In the same way that Jamaica is said to have more churches per square mile than anywhere in the world, I think it would be a fair assessment to say that Hay-on-Wye probably has more bookshops per square mile than any other place in the world. (This gentle reader is not a hard fact; it’s merely my assessment)

I had a good little wander around, making mental notes of the places I would certainly return to visit. Then when it was nearly time for my bus, I returned to the bus stop. There were a few people waiting, always a good sign. We boarded the bus when it arrived and I settled at my window seat to enjoy the view. It was a long bus ride: a circuitous journey through several villages, picking up passengers along the way, like a mop swishing from end to end of a room, taking every care not to miss any section out. The journey was so long, almost an hour, that I inevitably fell asleep at points, sometimes waking suddenly in fear that I might have missed my stop. But each time I awoke, we were still winding our way through the countryside, and the sun was still beaming through the window, luring me to sleep again.

We finally arrived at Hereford and I went to the train station, not far away. Again, I had a wait, about three quarters of an hour, because I had just missed a train. I was decidedly grouchy at this stage and ‘had a go’ at the ticket seller. My demand to know why I had to pay all of £6 for such a poor service (gentle reader, a wait of nearly one hour for the next train is in my estimation indeed poor service) was met with a blank stare. I paid the money, snatched the ticket off the counter’s turnstile and went off in a huff to the designated platform.

Finally, the train pulled into the station; we were soon off again; and half an hour later, I was in Leominster. I’d got a second wind of wakefulness by now so I didn’t go to bed when I arrived at Vergers House. Instead, I had a bath, made some dinner; and when Lisa and Rachel arrived home, we spent a pleasant evening catching up on the day’s events.

I went to bed at about 6 p.m., and Lisa and I were up once more at 2:00 a.m., or as we say in Jamaica, ‘before day morning’. As on the previous day, we set off at 2:40 a.m., arriving at the bakery just before 3:30 a.m. My shift passed quickly and pleasantly. Not like at the factory style bakery where I worked one summer when I was a student. There, the mindless packing and shifting and sliding of boxes made five minutes feel like an hour and I would spend each shift glancing up at the clock, willing the time away and wondering if I would ever maintain my sanity.

I left the bakery on time to catch the 10:00 a.m. bus to Hereford. I got my train to Leominster; and this time, I went to bed on arrival at Vergers House. I refreshed myself with a good few hours sleep and got up mid afternoon. Later that evening, at about 7:00 p.m., Lisa drove me for the final time to Hay, and to Sue’s, Alex’s mum’s, house. Her house was about 15 minutes walking distance from the bakery. So that night, I had a much shorter commute to work. It was quite pleasant walking through the now quiet, deserted streets of Hay, the tall shop buildings and hotels towering on either side of me.

Things felt a little bit creepy, however, when I turned onto Forest Road and entered the deep, black shadows of the towering trees that lined each side of the road. The trees were so thick in some places that they obscured the bright moonlight, and stepping into those very black patches felt like stepping into a different world, an alien place of ghouls and goblins. I started repeating some of the Psalms I knew, and I remembered my grandmother who used to make me and my sister read Psalms 27 by the dim candlelight at her dining table in Trelawny, Jamaica:

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the light of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident. . .”

And so I walked briskly on.

Me and my sister, Pat, when we were little girls

Me and my sister, Pat, when we were little girls

I was soon out in the moonlight again. I crossed a few more black, shadowy patches of road, and then I was there at the bakery. It was a fairly busy night, and before I knew it, the sun had risen on Saturday morning. And so ended my first week at the bakery. I enjoyed myself immensely but I was looking forward to the weekend-my first weekend as an official resident of Hay-on-Wye.

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