Tag Archives: South Wales

A Bibliophile’s Paradise In A Picturesque Welsh Town – Hay-on-Wye

By Lakshmi:

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.

The NY Times, A Physician, And Christian Bale – All Point to Pembrokeshire, Wales

By Lakshmi:

Authors, travelers and adventurers have waxed eloquence about the beauty of Pembrokeshire, Wales.  Is it our new home in Wales or is it the beauty of the rugged coastline that keeps pulling me towards stories about Pembrokeshire?

A few months ago, the NY Times travel section had this to say about walking the Welsh coastline.  “…….I could no longer resist. Particularly alluring was the Pembrokeshire Coast Path in southern Wales, with those cliffs tumbling down to heaving seas.”  The recommendation was to slow walk and take a multi-day walking adventure.  A casual conversation with a doctor who had studied in Wales ended with a passionate urge to visit Pembrokeshire.  And then, of course, came the discovery that one of our favorite actors Christian Bale was from there!

With a day at our disposal and armed with maps of the area, we decided to make the 2.5 hr drive from our home to Pembrokeshire.  Our target for the day was to head to St. Davids, Britain’s smallest city, and take one of many recommended hikes.

After a quick lunch at the visitor center, off we headed in the direction on the map.  After feeling utterly lost a couple of times, we discovered the path that would take us from the town to St. Davids Head.  I could write volumes of prose on the oohs and aahs that echoed as we took each twist and turn on the journey, but this is a perfect example of where a picture is worth a thousand words.   Take a look at the beauty that greeted us and you will know why returning back to Pembrokeshire and doing all the walks recommended below by The Guardian has propelled this destination to the top of our list!

http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/2012/jul/11/top-10-pembrokeshire-walks

Tintern Abbey – a Romantic Spot, a Poet’s Inspiration and a Driver’s Challenge!

By Lakshmi:  

We had a long weekend ahead of us and browsing through the Lonely Planet book for Wales landed me on a page mentioning one of Britain’s most romantic spots – Tintern Abbey.   The Abbey was a monastery founded by the Cistercian monks in 1136 as a perfect spot to practice their principles of obedience, poverty, chastity, silence, prayer, and work.  The ruins of their place of worship and dedication inspired William Wordsworth to compose his famous poem, “Lines Written a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey.”  Given the proximity of Chepstow to our home town of Abergavenny (a 35 minute drive), the decision was made to venture out to this spot the very next day.

Of course, the best laid plans rarely work and soon after embarking on our journey, we missed an exit on a roundabout.  Soon, we were thrust from the highways to narrow lane roads barely wide enough to accommodate a single car, leave alone two lanes of traffic.  Thus began our adventure….we navigated through residential areas, tree-lined spaces, farmland and oncoming traffic to finally reach the haunting ruins of the Abbey.

As we parked the car, purchased our tickets and approached the Abbey, all that built-in stress quickly evaporated.  Nestled amongst the mountains in a town on the banks of the river Wye, the ruins formed a stunning backdrop against the azure clouds and green landscapes that surrounded us.  The grassy land on which the spectacular ruins stood provided the perfect backdrop to contemplate on life, love, prayer, beauty and more.

Take a walk with us through this photo journey and tell us if this does strike you as one of the most romantic spots the UK could offer.

You can find out all about visiting Tintern Abbey including directions, entry fees and more at

http://cadw.wales.gov.uk/daysout/tinternabbey/?lang=en