For the last ten days, we have been enjoying the picturesque landscape of South Wales with a dash of the pulsating city life in London. On our maiden trip to South Wales, we wanted to get a slice of this picturesque country and its people and the description of Hay-on-Wye appeared to bring the perfect blend of these attributes.
Located within the Brecon Beacons National Park on the English-Welsh border, this small town of approx. 2,000 people contains over 20 bookstores that house an amazing collection of new, used and antique books on an “Amazonian” range of topics.
As a family of book lovers, we jumped at the opportunity to spend a day in a town 30 minutes from our home. The drive from Crickhowell to Hay-on-Wye was a visual treat encompassing snow-covered mountains and verdant green landscapes with grazing sheep and horses. Driving in Wales is quite the adventure. In addition to driving on a different side of the road, you are navigating narrow two-way roadways that have enough room to squeeze in a single car! Amusement parks, step aside. You can have your own thrills on the roadways of Wales.
As we parked the car and navigated the narrow lanes of the town, we were greeted with small stores selling an assortment of goods. Alas! Most of the storefronts appeared closed and our hearts sank as we thought that we chose the wrong day to visit. Stepping into the first open store, we discovered the world of The Addyman Annexe, described by the Antiquarian Book Review as the “jewel in the crown” of this small town.
If you are a book lover, you can understand the flutter in our hearts as we quickly eyeballed the selections here ….signed editions of Harry Potter books, the entire collections of PG Woodhouse, cookbooks on Welsh cookery, military collections that spanned every conflict anywhere in the world and more. The family spread out, lost to the world for several hours.
If it weren’t the fact that the stores were closing down between 1pm and 2pm for lunch, we would have never left. But with close to a dozen books purchased, off we went in search for a place to eat. Our discovery led us to the Granary, a family owned restaurant and cafe. The owner rushed to our table with a spot heater and stayed with us to ensure we were warm and that all the vegetarian food we had ordered was to our liking. Yes, everywhere we visited in town, we were bowled over by the friendliness of the people. Very similar to what we encounter in suburban New Jersey on the other end of the Atlantic….NOT.
After this delightful break, we were back at the bookstores for more, walking out at the end of the day with four very heavy bags, huge smiles and an immense sense of contentment.
Take a walk down this beautiful town with us through our photo essay below.