Hay Festival Dates

Good to see that the world famous Hay Festival is back with face-to-face events and interviews from 26 May to 5 June.  The pandemic forced them on line last year, but this did mean that those of us who can’t get to visit the festival, at least had the opportunity to enjoy the sessions. Subscribing to the Hay Player makes it possible to re-visit hundreds of events – well worth the £15.00 annual fee. More on Hay over the next few weeks.

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Support a small publisher

Small publishers have found the last 18 months or so particularly gruelling, none more so than Holland Park Press run by the wonderful Bernadette & Arnold Jansen op de Haar. The company publishes literary fiction and poetry, with special emphasis on bringing the work of Dutch authors to the English language market.

Earlier this year they launched a campaign to ‘Adopt a Book & Rescue a Small Publisher’ with some success, but not sufficient to maintain their business.

Sadly the desire to keep publishing has placed a heavy toll on them and they’ve now had to to move out of their premises BUT they still plan to keep HPP going. They have a great selection of books in English & Dutch and some in ebook format, so the site is well worth purusing. There’s also a blog, magazine articles and, if you live in the Stroud area, you’ll find them at the Shambles market on 12 & 13 November (more dates on their website).

It would be a great loss to see HPP go, so while Bernadette & Arnold are still fighting we can all help them.

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Life on high starts way down below

Just completed ‘An Astronauts Guide to Life on Earth’ by Chris Hadfield (Pan Books 2015).

This is an enthralling account of Hadfield’s professional life from his early days training with Canadian Forces flying jet fighters, through some 300 pages of fascinating facts on his journey to becoming an astronaut aboard the Space Shuttle and finally station commander on the ISS. The latter illustrates perfectly his journey from a cramped launch capsule, to a busy schedule on the Space Station, ending with a crash back to earth in a hot box on the end of a parachute canopy.

If anyone has the notion that it’s all about posing in NASA coveralls and being feted by the media, forget it. In fact forget anything you might assume about training for space – no wonder so few make the grade. While space travel may sound glamorous, it’s only a small part of an astronauts life, the rest is graft.

The book is extremely readable and, having seen him running the BBC TV series ‘Astronauts: Have you got what it takes?’, it comes as no surprise just how incredibly difficult it is to qualify. Hadfield wins with his down-to-earth (!) descriptions and his endeavours to impress upon every reader that it really is tough up there.

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