Tag Archives: Wales1

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.

A Visual Journey To A Welsh Coal Mine

South Wales was the center of coal mining during the Industrial Revolution, with Cardiff becoming the largest coal exporting port in the world.  We recently had a chance to visit the Gulbenkian Prize winning Big Pit National Coal Museum located in Blaenavon and made our first descent into what was once one of the largest working coal mines.  While photography is prohibited in the mines, we give you a visual tour through what we could capture.  The informative tours offered here let you have some fun (you get to gear up like the miners and test their equipment) and provides some not so fun facts (little children got killed working here, horses never saw daylight and  more).  To learn more about visiting Big Pit, please visit their excellent website at http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/en/bigpit/

The entrance
The entrance

An introduction to the mine and its history
An introduction to the mine and its history

A site map of the area
A site map of the area

A site map of the coal mine
A site map of the coal mine

A look at the mine from outside
A look at the mine from outside

The trains that transported the coal
The trains that transported the coal

More transportation from the past
More transportation from the past

Taking a pipe down was dangerous and required a public apology
Taking a pipe down was dangerous and required a public apology

This is one way to keep miners safe from poisonous gases
This is one way miners were kept safe from poisonous gases

All dressed to descend
All dressed to descend

The Beauty Of South Wales In Pictures – On Cloudy, Clear, Rainy And Snowy Days

Our first visit to Wales was timed for Spring, a time which turned out to coincide with unexpected cold weather.  Yet, the pristine beauty of this country was hard to miss.  We experienced this landscape across the filters of clouds, sun, rain and snow.

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