Hay on Wye

Published: Thursday 21st Aug 2014

Written by: Ginnie James

Wales does draw many people in and I was delighted when my oldest friend also made a permanent move to this wonderful country. We met when we were seven years old and haven’t been able to get away from each other since! With busy lives, and living about a 3 hour drive apart, we don’t always get the opportunity to meet up as often as we would like but a few weeks ago we spent a glorious day in Hay on Wye.

I must say that book or antique enthusiasts could spends days (and a lot of money if so inclined!) in this picturesque town. Hay is pretty much equidistant from where we both live and I can’t imagine why we have never thought to meet there before. We are both voracious readers (not that we agree on the same reading matter that is) and my friend is a published poet so the thought of spending a day browsing book shops filled us both with glee.

We were not disappointed. After a quick perusal of the craft centre by the main car park, and with me feeling a bit smug after purchasing some Christmas presents, we made our way down through the maze of streets to The Poetry Bookshop. I don’t pretend to understand or know a lot about poetry but while my friend made agonising decisions on which books she just absolutely had to have I lost myself in a world of medieval ballads.

The romance of the language is beautiful with such a mesmerising rhythm. With tummies rumbling, we just peeked through windows of some of the other fascinating bookshops on the way back up to find some lunch. The outrageously decorated shop Murder and Mayhem, dedicated to horror and crime fiction, and Rose’s Books, specialising in rare and out-of–print books we decided would have to wait for another visit to the town as we didn’t want to rush.

View of Hay-on-Wye from the castleAfter a lovely simple lunch at Oscars Bistro (with absolutely scrumptious cakes) we headed to the antiques market in the centre of the town. Made up of 2 floors of little rooms, filled to the brim with eclectic collections of items for sale this was another great opportunity for present buying and for marvelling at the tastes and fashions of past generations.

We did resist the temptation of trying on the most wonderful assortment of 60s hats but the rail of coats did capture my attention for quite a while! A few more bookshops and we ended back up at the castle. Even here in the gardens there are outdoor covered shelves with a completely random selection of books (50p paperback, £1 hardback – contribution to be put in the box in the wall) and we had a real giggle at the titles on offer. The view from the castle over the town to the countryside beyond is stunning and I’m afraid my photography skills don’t really do it justice.

My excuse is that it was so sunny I couldn’t really see what I was taking a picture of. I would recommend a visit to Hay-on-Wye without hesitation. Who else love this part of Wales? I’d love to hear about your experiences!

Ginnie James
Ginnie James



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