Hay author Bridget Ashton has been listened to by 8,700 people in the podcast recorded in the series Cold War Conversations.  

Bridget said, “I am amazed.  Historian Ian Sanders interviewed me over the phone, and the podcast was relayed on 9 December 2023.  He asked me about the stories in my second 'Hay' book, Cold War, Warm Hearts, when I left Hereford College of Education in 1966 to travel behind the Iron Curtain.  I told how I wandered off when I was an adventurous young woman, aged 23, with just a rucksack on my back and a few pennies.  

"I travelled alone among the remote and unknown lands of Communism, hitchhiking and relying on the kindness of strangers to help me in remote places.  This was during the Cold War when Europe was divided by the Iron Curtain.  I tell of the dangers and pleasures, and how along the way I met the man with whom I fell in love.”  

Speaking about the podcast reaching out to 90 countries, Bridget said: “I am most surprised about the countries where people live who have listened to the podcast.  The largest numbers, with nearly 3000, are the UK and the USA.  But there are other substantial numbers, for example Australia with 619 and New Zealand with 134.  

"I find it fascinating to imagine someone in Somalia sitting listening to me, or Papua New Guinea, or Singapore.  I suppose famous people don’t think anything of it, but to me, little Bridget whose childhood was spent in Hay,  I am quite astonished.”

One of the most interesting responses has been from former nuclear submarine commander Robert Forsyth.  He wrote to Bridget: “I joined submarines as less spit and polish and more purposeful than surface ships. Good decision. So I can relate to you wishing not to follow the established path of 1960s women of teaching and marriage and children even though I am a man. I was also fascinated by your account of the lovely people we planned quite deliberately to wipe out with nuclear weapons; something I have very much come to regret and now campaign strongly for UK and more to give them up.”  

 The podcast numbers are still climbing, and Ian Sanders anticipates there will ultimately be around 10,000 listens before long. He said: "Bridget's story has really captured the imagination of our listeners with many kind comments, questions from our social media channels and book sales."  

 The episode is available to listen to by following the link: https://coldwarconversations.com/episode352/

 Bridget’s book, Cold War, Warm Hearts, published by The Book Guild, is illustrated with previously unpublished photographs, and costs £10.99.  It is available in North Books in Hay and all other local bookshops.  Also available on Amazon and as an ebook for £5.99.  

 Her first autobiographical book, Hay Before the Bookshops or the Beeman’s Family, was published in 2022.  Bridget’s next book, Hit the Road, Gals, is the final one in her Hay trilogy.  It will be launched in Hay during the book festival in May.