Where were you in1966?
Most of Bridget Ashton’s friends, in their early twenties, were settling down with jobs and/or husbands…
She, on the other hand, was wandering the highways and byways of Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia, behind the Iron Curtain.
Travelling in these countries with virtually no money was not only a problem but also an opportunity. It enabled a rare, and deep insight into the lives and experience of ‘ordinary’ people.
Here’s your opportunity to walk with her. In the context of the current crisis in Eastern Europe, it offers a powerful insight into the lived experience which lies behind it.
Recounting her tales with the freshness of a young person’s vision, she has created an appealing tale of these beautiful and troubled countries, where most of the time, she was welcomed with open arms..
“Bridget Ashton's travel writing is utterly authentic and restlessly curious. She is an intrepid, 'unquiet' woman adventurer, exploring in the grand tradition of Celia Fiennes and Freya Stark. Her memoir of life in post-war Soviet Europe is a vivid reminder of how much Europe has changed; and how much it has not."
Max Adams, author of Unquiet Women, In the Land of Giants and The Wisdom of Trees
Bridget Ashton has written a vivid memoir of her time crossing the Iron Curtain in the1960s. Based on her diaries and letters, and enlivened by her fresh, contemporary photographs, it shows how this fundamental barrier was never completely closed. The people Ashton encounters in the East freely show her their humanity, even as they are sometimes forced to contend with inhumane regimes. A life-affirming book.
Timothy Phillips, author of The Curtain and the Wall, 2022
Cold War, Warm Hearts transports us back half a century, to an era when a trilingual peasant woman wondered whether England also had a moon, and a young man could recall his childhood friend being carried away on a Nazi cattle truck. Through innocent student eyes, Bridget Ashton evokes the world she discovered as she hitch-hiked across the Iron Curtain, determinedly criss-crossing Eastern Europe and the Balkans on an extraordinary journey that uncovers boundless hospitality but also tensions that are no less relevant today.
Fiona Hall, author and Member of the European Parliament 2004 - 2014
Much as we all love Hay-on-Wye’s bookshops, what was life like in Hay before they arrived?
Bridget Ashton, a well-respected local history author, lived here as a child. In this compelling account, she sets out to recall, from the perspective of her girlhood self, what Hay was like in the 1940s and 50s: with trains, a half-ruined castle, and a cinema - (we all know what happened to that!)
‘The Beeman’s family’ lived in Market Street, off Castle Square.
How did they come to be here?
What was family life like in those frugal times?
This is the framework for a profound evocation of rural childhood in the post-war years.
“I loved this vivid description of life in post war Britain of the 1940s and 50s.
We see it through the eyes of the author from her earliest memories until she finishes Primary school and from the pages of her mother’s diaries.
Family life, play and friendships, school and church, and the people and events of a small Welsh border town are all brought back to life for us.
It’s a gem.”
Over 2011 to 2018, with GMDT (Greater Morpeth Development Trust) and some of the books funded by the Heritage Lottery fund, Bridget has written seven books covering different aspects of Morpeth's illustrious if at times somewhat murky past.
Morpeth has had its full share of medieval history - a Royal market charter, the kings' wars, child birth at the castle, a hated king, the illegal hunting and killing of deer in the king's forest, a wicked sheriff and a child marriage...it is all there.
Together her books will stand the test of time as enduring social records of life in the town perhaps not widely known or written about in the way Bridget has done.
From 1978 to 1989, people in Northumberland and from across the North East battled against the government’s plans to put up to three nuclear power stations at Druridge Bay. The full story was summarised in the Druridge Bay Campaign’s first publication, Generating Pressure.
From 1989 onwards, campaigners took on Ready Mixed Concrete and Nuclear Electric. RMC was removing sand from the beach by the lorry load. King Canute and shareholder pressure was used against them. At the same time, petitions, actions, and government lobbying continued for the land prepared for nuclear power stations to be returned to local ownership. Power at Bay tells how both aims succeeded in 1996.
Tide Lines is an inspiring collection of poetry and art by local and nationally renowned writers and artists, that celebrates Druridge Bay.
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