Welcome to our Early Bird programme. The full programme will be released at the end of March.
The author of Icebreaker, Down to the Sea in Ships, A Single Swallow and Running for the Hills leads a walk from Tretower Court through the Cwmdu Valley looking at stories in his Myths and Legends of the Brecon Beacons. A member of the Brecon Beacons National Park team will join the walk.
Suicide is the biggest cause of death in men under 50. Andy Bradley, founder of Frameworks 4 Change, recognised by the Observer and NESTA as one of Britain’s Most Radical Thinkers, talks about his own experience of depression and suicidality, and explores the role of shame. Sarah Stone is currently Executive Director for Wales for Samaritans. Luke Woodley is a British Army veteran who has pieced his life back together having developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after serving under the UN in Bosnia in 1993. Dr Roger Kingerlee is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist in the NHS and specialises in addressing male defence mechanisms, engaging male civilians and military veterans in care, and suicide prevention.
They discuss why men might be vulnerable and how communities might rise to the challenge of male suicide. Benna Waites, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, facilitates.
Imagine a future in which humans fundamentally reshape the natural world using nanotechnology, synthetic biology, de-extinction and climate engineering. Emerging technologies promise to give us the power to take over some of nature’s most basic operations. It is not just that we are exiting the Holocene and entering the Anthropocene; it is that we are leaving behind the time in which planetary change is just the unintended consequence of unbridled industrialism. The philosophy professor argues that a world designed by engineers and technicians means the birth of the planet’s first Synthetic Age. Chaired by Gabrielle Walker.
The Professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Oxford leads a walk through ancient woodland at Whitney-on-Wye talking about her acclaimed book, The Long, Long Life of Trees, a lyrical tribute to the diversity of trees, drawing on material from folklore, natural science, literature, cultural history, European art, ancient mythology and modern medicine to illuminate each tree’s central place in Western civilisation. Walk accompanied by naturalist and forester Tom Fairfield and Lydia Robbins.
The Great Storm of 1987 is etched firmly into the national memory. Everyone who was there that night remembers how hurricane-force winds struck southern Britain without warning, claiming 18 lives, uprooting more than 15 million trees and reshaping the landscape for future generations. Thirty years on, the discovery of an old photograph inspires the author to make a journey into that landscape. Weaving her own memories and personal experiences with those of fishermen and lighthouse keepers, rough sleepers and refugees, she creates a unique portrait of this extraordinary event and a moving exploration of legacy and loss. Chaired by Corisande Albert.
The Geopark expert for the Brecon Beacons National Park will be sharing some of the geological wonders of the park and the stories behind the landscape close to Hay.
AIDS. Ebola. Bird flu. SARS. These and other epidemics have wiped out millions of lives and cost the global economy billions of dollars. Experts predict that the next big epidemic is just around the corner. But are we prepared for it? And could we actually prevent it? Somewhere out there, a super virus is boiling up in the bloodstream of a bird, bat, monkey or pig, preparing to jump to a human being. This as-yet-undetected germ has the potential to kill more than 300 million people. That risk makes the threat posed by a ground war, a massive climate event, or even the dropping of a nuclear bomb on a major city pale in comparison. But there is hope. The doctor and Harvard instructor explains the science and the politics of combatting epidemics and tells the stories of the heroes who’ve succeeded in their fights to stop the spread of illness and death.
The astronomer subverts conventional astronomical thought by eschewing the classical naming of constellations and investigating Welsh and Celtic naming. Ancient peoples around the world placed their own myths and legends in the heavens, though these have tended to become lost behind the dominant use of classical cultural stories to name stars. In many cases it is a result of a literary culture displacing an oral culture. Griffiths has researched past use of Welsh heroes from the Mabinogion in the naming of constellations and his new book is both an interesting, provocative combination of a new perspective on Welsh mythology and an astronomy guidebook.
Following the publication of The Welsh and the Medieval World: Travel, Migration and Exile, Dr Kathryn Hurlock talks about medieval movement and travel through Wales and the Welsh Marches. Having published widely on crusading and pilgrimage, she looks at Welsh and Marcher engagement in religious travel in the area, their responses to it in literature and oral culture, and the ways in which they engaged with, and understood, the world (both the natural and the man-made) through which they passed. After the talk, Ron Shoesmith, archaeologist, will lead a guided walk around Craswall Priory, founded by Walter de Lacy in c1225, and belonging to the French Order of Grandmont.
A conversation about bees. Jukes is the author of A Honeybee Heart has Five Openings, an insightful and inspiring account of a novice beekeeper’s year of keeping honeybees in Oxford. Fowler and Benbow’s Letters to a Beekeeper is the story of how, over the course of a year. Alys, the Guardian gardening writer, learns how to keep bees; and Steve, the urban beekeeper, learns how to plant a pollinator-friendly garden.
Climate change and poaching are not the only culprits behind so many animals facing extinction. The campaigning CEO of Compassion in World Farming argues that the impact of consumer demand for cheap meat is equally devastating and it is vital that we confront this problem if we are to stand a chance of reducing its effect on the world around us. He talks to Matt Stadlen.
Where is the seahorse in our brain? What is a sesame seed doing in our knee? Come and find out through this illustrated talk on the mysteries of anatomical terminology. Cecilia Brassett is a University Clinical Anatomist; Emily Evans is a medical illustrator who is also a senior demonstrator of anatomy; Isla Fay is Human Anatomy Technical Coordinator in the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience.
Comedian, writer and performer Ruby Wax, with some help from monk Gelong Thubten and neuroscientist Ash Ranpura, has delved deeply into what it means to be human in an age obsessed with the latest technology. She now provides a manual to upgrade our minds so that they don’t get left behind. In this event Ruby, Ash and Thubten talk about brains, bodies and mindfulness.
In this lavishly illustrated talk, Miles presents his latest book, St Petersburg –Three Centuries of Murderous Desire, an epic tale of massacre, madness and murder played out against the splendour of a city risen from the frozen marshlands on the western edge of Russia – a city created to be a daring new capital of an old country.
Joseph Banks accompanied Captain Cook on his first voyage round the world from 1768-1771. A gifted and wealthy young naturalist, Banks collected exotic flora from Madeira, Brazil, Tierra del Fuego, the Society Islands, New Zealand, Australia and Java, bringing back over 1,300 species that had never been seen or studied by Europeans. On his return, Banks commissioned more than 700 superlative engravings between 1772-1784. Known collectively as Banks’ Florilegium, they are some of the most precise and exquisite examples of botanical illustration ever created. Studholme introduces a selection of the images and explains the process of producing them.
Professor Littlemore and Dr Turner are co-investigators on the project ‘Death before Birth’. This examines how people who have experienced miscarriage, termination for foetal anomaly, and stillbirth, reach decisions concerning what happens to their babies after death, how their perceptions of the law impact on their decision-making, and how they communicate their experiences and choices to those there to support them. The project will also be examining the existing guidance on what happens to babies after they have died, investigating how it is interpreted in practice by professionals and the extent to which it takes account of the views, experiences and needs of the bereaved. Jeannette and Sarah will be talking about the ways in which people who have experienced pregnancy loss, and those who support, use language to make sense of and communicate their feelings about their loss.
A brief tour of lightning research, from generating powerful lightning bolts in Europe’s only university-based lightning laboratory, to the role of new materials in protecting commercial aircraft in flight from direct strikes, and to whether increased lightning due to global warming affects tree mortality in the tropics. Mitchard will bring us lots of exciting images and videos, from exploding piggy banks to the Nigerian rainforest, live Tesla coil demonstrations with music and the appearance of a tree struck nine times that survived.
Walking from Capel-y-Ffin chapel, the cultural historian talks about Try the Wilderness First: Eric Gill and David Jones at Capel-y-Ffin, looking at the landscape as inspiration for the artistic community based here. A member of the Brecon Beacons National Park team will join the walk.
It is easy to assume that plants don’t do much; and many expressions for inactivity involve plant metaphors – such as the ‘couch potato’. However, plants, including potatoes, are as busy as the rest of us assessing their surroundings and changing their activity accordingly. Dame Ottoline Leyser is Professor of Plant Development and Director of the Sainsbury Laboratory.
In the Arctic, White, a marine conservationist, shimmies under the ice with an Inuit elder to hunt for mussels in the dark cavities left behind at low tide; in China, he races the Silver Dragon, a 25-foot tidal bore that crashes 80 miles up the Qiantang River; in Chile and Scotland, he investigates the growth of tidal power generation; and in Panama and Venice, he delves into how the threat of sea level rise is changing human culture – the very old and very new. Tides combines lyrical prose, colourful adventure travel and provocative scientific inquiry into the elemental, mysterious paradox that keeps our planet’s waters in constant motion.