Our first morning in Hay was a perfect day for browsing the bookshops.It was cold and had stopped raining at last.The view from our room was of the street . The streets were very Quaint.. After a good breakfast in The Bear B+B we had a wander around the town . Murder and mayhem was the first bookstore we went into. It is a quirky little shop .. a dead body outline on the floor and you get the feeling Poe would have enjoyed it here if he got Dr' Who's time machine and paid a visit.The outside of the store had a lurking black dog painted on The shop is very cool. Every murder mystery that you would ever want to own is right here within it's walls. Everything is well laid out and the staff are helpful and are full of info about all the good books that you might not have heard of before.. some real hidden gems on these shelfs.
We spent quite a while in here as I do love mysteries , Kev wandered around looking at the gothic decor... mini coffin anyone?? Blackbird??? As I said Poe would have loved this..
Next shop that we paid a visit to was The Cinema ... Or rather the bookshop that had previously been a cinema... This was huge... A few floors of books .. It was extensive.. We spent a couple of hours in here too but you would really need days.. In my dream world it would be heaven to be closed in here at night with a flask of something hot and access to all the books. I would be pulling some books from each genre and finding somewhere to bunk down for the night so I could dig in to all these wonderful books. I should say that even though there are always lots of people here it is so quiet you could hear a gnat sneeze. All these book lovers in one place quietly shuffling between the stacks, excusing ourselves as we walk into each other coming around corners with our arms stacked so high with our hauls that we just miss colliding with each other.
The next bookshop I do not remember the name but was very homey.I found my Harry Potter's here. This shop was many floors too. If it had previously been a house I would not be surprised due to the way the shop was laid out. All rooms on each floor had different themes.Romance , Cookery etc.. I would recommend not going into this shop looking for anything particular as you can find some great books new and old here.
There was a great secondhand bookstore called The Sensible Bookshop. It had like a small labyrinth of books downstairs.. I found some good childrens books here and bags made out of european newspapers. They were very cool and I love them too much to use.
There is a caricature artist in the town called Brian Platt he did a cariture of me.. I disturbed the poor mans lunch but he still got up and drew me... This wonderful artist has drawn maps of the town. I got one. It is like a cartoon picture showing just about every wonderful building in the town, every bookstore, hotel, shop, the castle etc.
Booth's bookshop was our first shop to visit on day 2. This building is wonderful inside, the outside was a little off putting when we visited two years ago as it was being re-done so I can't wait to see what it looks like next time I visit. There are hundreds of thousands of books in this store.
Inside is vast, in a homey way, if that makes sense. The staff are incredibly helpful and friendly here. I had a list of books I was looking for and they were great at helping me find them and recommending the best stores to find certain books. You can browse here for as long as you like and it is very peaceful , and the books are laid out in a way that are easy to find what you are looking for.
Their was a christmas market in the town while we were there, just down from the castle. Handmade crafts and pictures were for sale alongside homemade baking and presserves.I picked up some book inspired greeting cards there, candles and jams.
After a long morning walking around town we went to The Old Stables Tea Rooms ..(kev's favourite..mine too)
There is a great menu here with tasty filling lunches and the most delicious cakes. The presentation here is wonderful and cakes are brought out looking like pieces of art and the portions are generous and all at a fair price.
This was to be our favourite place to eat for the duration of our stay . Whenever we had as many books as we could carry we dropped them off at our B and B next door then came here.
It has won many awards and all of them well deserved as the food and staff make this a worthwhile place to visit.They can also be found on facebook.
Oue Visit to the castle was lots of fun. When you enter from the front you arrive at the honesty bookshop . All the books are outside you can wander around and if you find anything you like you post the money through a letterbox..
There are large steps up to the castle which are steep but when you get to the top the view over the town is breathtaking. If you are there on a clear day you cans see for miles.
We entered the castle and there was a mixed range of prints, pictures and books and more touristy things like Hay bumper stickers(we got one) and postcards etc. You could wander around the castle for as long as you like without anyone bothering you but again the staff were helpful if you did require help.
Addymans bookstore we called into on the way back down the street and it has some beautiful books in there. Again a huge range of books covering every subject imaginable. Friendly staff too which always helps. That was one fo the things I really enjoyed about this town. The staff loved books as much as I did and when you started one of them talking about books well you could have stayed all day chatting.
Personally I prefer Hay when it is not the book festival time of year. If you want to browse peacefully and get help from staff then coming when the festival is not on may be for you. Of course if you want to hear some great authurs speak and get some books signed then you will enoy that alot.
Our last few days were spent browsing the other bookshops.. I believe there was about 38 bookstores in the town when I was there. I am unsure if there are more or less now but one thing is for sure if you love books like I do then Hay- On-Wye on the Wales English border is for you.