AN author who spent parts of her early life in Hay-on-Wye, Bridget Ashton, entertained an intrigued audience at the Royal British Legion Community Hub in Hay on Wednesday, May 29.

Bridget spoke about the third book in her trilogy of memoirs, ‘Hit the Road, Gals.’ A book that tells stories of Bridget and her friends’ travels through France, Spain, North Africa and Ireland whilst they were training to be teachers at Hereford College in the 1960s.

She was joined at the event by her old friends Tonie, Mary and Jenny who travelled with Bridget and relived these memories from Bridget’s memoir.

Bridget said: “It was really wonderful to see my friends. One came from Ireland, one came from near London and one came from Pembroke Dock. They all came along and relived their wild, youthful days.

“We had nice photographs of them when they were younger which they were holding.”

Bridget spoke about stories from her book with Tonie, Mary and Jenny, and with the help of her brother acted out memories from times they missed out on college work, with Bridget’s brother playing the role of their disgruntled college tutor.

“We’re all eighty or near enough, and thinking back to how we were wild, high spirited, youthful, optimistic, daring, we’d just get off out and do things. Even though we are the age we are now, we just still feel like we were that age,” said Bridget, “We laughed together and I remember how we would go out on the road, put our thumbs up and get in with all the lorry drivers and have so many adventures so the event was very nostalgic.

“To see my friends getting a bit emotional and bringing back memories they had perhaps forgotten was really nice as well.

“I was pleased to hold the talk in Hay because when we were in college in Hereford, Hay was the place we would always go to. We’d go to the Black Lion Pub and meet local people. Hay was a central place, boys would come from Ireland and up from London and we would do our musical things down by the warren and sleep in a barn.

“The point with the book is that all the stories are true, they really happened and nowadays people think you couldn’t possibly do what we used to, but we could and we did and we didn't have phones or anything. It was a freedom that young people don’t have these days.”

Bridget will be holding talk at Immrama Festival of Travel Writing in Lismore, County Waterford, Ireland.

Find an extract from Bridget’s book, ‘Hit the road, Gals’ here:

I walk out of Hereford at 5.30 in the morning, heading for Fishguard, where the ferry leaves from the south of Wales for Ireland. My route first passes Hay-on-Wye and then follows the line of the Brecon Beacons as far as Llandovery. It completely avoids the industrial towns and cities of South Wales and is dreamily green and beautiful. I hear in my mind the seductive voice of Elvis Presley. I too feel wild in the country, like the deer and the dove, in the land that I love. I am heading westerly, the direction from which our winds blow wild, to Carmarthen and Haverfordwest. There I turn north towards the port of Fishguard. At one point I am near Tonie’s home town of Pembroke Dock. I understand her deep sense of belonging to this lovely land.

Bridget’s books are available at Hay bookshops including Addyman’s, North Books, Booth’s and the Castle.  Find them at the Old Railway Garden Centre and any local bookshop.  Also on Amazon.