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Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales), May 18, 2008 | Go to article overview

Check out Tucek; PICK OF THE WEEK


Byline: BY NATHAN BEVAN

best festival

The Guardian Hay Festival@Hay-on-Wye, Brecon, Thursday to June 1

BEFORE you make up your mind about whether you'll be popping along to what that world-famous saxophone player (oh, and US President) Bill Clinton called "the Woodstock of the mind", take a look at these stats.

Population of Hay - 1,300 people. Number of bookshops - 39. Get your calculator out and you'll discover that's roughly one book shop for every 33 people.

But, for 10 days every year, 80,000 visitors from all over the world converge on this tiny Welsh market town.

So, in addition to the folk that already live there, that becomes an average of 2,085 people trying to get in each of these shops.

That sounds like a potential fire hazard, not to mention a physical impossibility.

Nevertheless, I doubt my warning will deter the likes of Jamie Oliver, Cherie Booth, Will Self, Salman Rushdie, Rob Brydon, Mark E Smith and another ex-US President, Jimmy Carter, from flagrantly disregarding both health and safety regulations and basic common sense to join in a carnival celebration of the written word.

There's also lots of music at this year's bash, which, for those of you not hip to a groove of any sort, is exactly the same as reading a book, except the words go in your ears and not your eyes.

Notable minstrels this year include ubiquitous boogie-woogie piano man Jools Holland and Saharan roots music super-group Tinariwen, who will be feeling quite at home should this infernal heatwave continue.

Info: 0870 9901299 or www.hayfestival.com

best day out

Dan-yr-Ogof Showcaves @ Abercrave

WELL, I say "Day Out", but technically I suppose you'll be inside, underground.

But if you're going to nit-pick then why don't you find yourself something to do instead of relying on me all the time. Maybe a semantics lecture would be more your cup of tea, you pedant!

Phew! Sorry, this hot weather is really making me tetchy. I apologise.

However, if you're like me and this sudden onslaught of sun is getting on your wick then why not do what I do: Find a dark, dank hole in the ground and see if you can get as far from the madding crowd, with their bare chests and terrible tattoos, as possible.

The award-winning show caves at Dan-yr-Ogof offer just such a great escape, with their unique world of mystery, discovery, exploration, fun and learning for all members of the family.

There are thousands of delicate straw stalactites and free-flowing waterfalls to punctuate your path through the caves, as well as an excavation site of 42 Bronze Age skeletons.

They've been there aeons and you haven't seen them yet? …

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