After spending three days writing my Dorian Gray book review, I decided I wanted to tell a story of my own.
Albeit not as extravagant a tale it is still something I want to share. 🙂
A relative had told me about the literary & arts festival in Hay-on-Wye, Wales, for some reason or another I didn’t end up going to the festival, but a couple of months later I saw some images of Hay-on-Wye that really piqued my interest.
Hay was about an hour and half in the car from my house, said google anyway, but I was unsure whether to go alone or drag my poor Souly along for the ride. But the decision was made for me when, as he is in the habit of doing, Souly suprised me for my 22nd Birthday!! 😀 So we went at the end of June, it was a nice, mild day, perfect for book shopping and it was quiet too. I was actually glad to have gone when it was quiet instead of having gone for the festival because it was easy to stroll up and down aisles and aisles of bookshelves.
Usually the other half rushes me out of any bookstore I set foot in, but because it was my birthday he was very sweet. He even helped me look for some books on my list!
He told me a few days before-hand and I got really over-excited like a kid at Christmas! I even printed the little map off the website and drew a path of where we going and which bookshops we would stop at and where we would have lunch, you know, like a normal grown adult. :’)
We avoided the motorway and the drive was fine, Hay is in the middle of nowhere land, we parked at the Hay Cinema Bookshop because it was free, and that was the first stop on the map anyway. Parking there is really cheap anyway.
Hay Cinema Bookshop is SO big! I think it’s one of the biggest in Hay, it is seriously like a maze, they even have a detailed map on every door entrance in the building. The literature section is very big, so we ended up in there for like an hour. I was mainly trying to pick up some books on my reading list so I was only looking at the literature, poetry and philosophy sections.
We went to around ten different bookstores, I only bought books in two however. :’)
I really liked Hay-on-Wye Booksellers, I picked up two beautiful (and ridiculously cheap) books: Treasure Island – Robert Louie Stevenson and Animal Farm & 1984 by George Orwell. Really nice decorative hardback copies, not too old but still lovely.
The other one I LOVED was Richard Booth’s bookstore. According to the Hay tourist website the legend goes:
On 1st April 1977 (All Fools’ Day) Richard Booth declared Hay an Independent Kingdom and proclaimed himself the King. In the years that followed, Hay has continued to flourish and thrive and is one of the most visited places in Wales. 2017 also celebrates the 30th anniversary of the first Hay Festival and 10 years since Hay twinned with Timbuktu in Mali. Long live the King! Long live the Kingdom of Books!
The book store is really wonderful! You could spend all day there, with designated reading areas and grand architecture it is a must-see, in my opinion. The literature section is vast and very well organised. It also has some rarer books especially from the decadent era, which as you may know, is my favourite! In this shop I bought; Meditations – Marcus Aurelius, Confessions of an English Opium Eater – Thomas De Quincey and Plato’s Trial and Death of Socrates.
All the while Souly never once rushed me out of a single shop! He just strolled around and there was plenty of seating everywhere, so he wasn’t forced to stand waiting for me. I always insist on carrying an enormous bag everywhere, because it’s loungefly hello kitty and it’s VERY cute, so poor Souly ended up dragging that around along with a stack of ‘maybe-pilers’.
Book shopping is definitely hard work but Hay has lots of lovely spots for a picnic, we were torn between the ancient castle or the famous Warren meadow. I read somewhere that there was a plan to turn the meadow into a caravan park, and the residents of Hay were so against this idea that they purchased the land together and now it is maintained as a beautiful picnic spot. We decided to go there and it was a short walk, but Souly was tired and insisted on driving, but there is parking right by the gate to the meadow, down a very bumpy road that makes you think “is this a road?” and also means you bump your head for a few yards. We walked for a couple of minutes over the meadow and along the river and sat by the river to picnic, it was really quiet and lovely.
We spent about five hours in Hay in total and honestly, I thought I was being quick. :’) I think this is a wonderful place and it is so unique, anyone who likes to read will love this place, it is a book lovers paradise! I would 100% recommend it to anyone, there are about 30 book stores and other shops selling vintage/ antique items.
I was hoping to go for my next birthday but I think Souly will need a year to recover. :’)