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Hay-on-Wye: Town of Books and much more

Hay-on-Wye, Booth's Bookshop

It was a gloomy day in Wales yesterday. I could hear the rain drops hitting my windows with a great force. The wind sounded like a wounded giant dog howling endlessly. It made me think back about when and why I moved to the Welsh countryside…

Hay-on-Wye: Sheep on the field

Hay-on-Wye: Sheep on the field

Well, I decided to move to Hay-on-Wye a few years ago. The main reason was that I needed a change of scenery, the English town I had lived in was nice but a bit boring. I wanted to live in a magical place, a bit further from my workplace and memories of a broken heart. I learnt how to read when I was 3 years old, since then books have become my dearest friends. Give me a day off and a good book to read and I will not bother you till I finish it. No place seemed more suitable for m to live in than Hay-on-wye (Y Gelli Gandryll in Welsh), a small town with the population less than 2,000, which is beautifully situated in the Brecon Beacons National Park. It is called “the town of books”, which translates into heaven for bookworms (both human and insects)…

Hay-on-Wye, Cinema Bookshop

Hay-on-Wye, Cinema Bookshop

Hay-on-Wye Booksellers

Hay-on-Wye Booksellers

I first heard of Hay because of its famous festival which brings hundreds of visitors every year. It all started with Richard Booth, and Booth’s bookshop is still the largest one in Hay. I used to come to Hay from time to time to enjoy being surrounded by books. If you also love reading and browsing through hundreds of books, fancy sitting on the sofa and inhaling the written words, Hay-on-Wye is a perfect place to visit. It can literally take hours to wander around the town and check out all the bookshops. There are a few big ones which look more like libraries, but there are also smaller ones which often specialise in certain areas. I suggest bringing the list of authors or titles you are interested in as you can get lost and overwhelmed quite easily.

Hay-on-Wye, Booth's Bookshop

Hay-on-Wye, Booth’s Bookshop

Booth's bookshop - don't worry if you are too short

Booth’s bookshop – don’t worry if you are too short

Hay-on-Wye, Booth's Bookshop

Hay-on-Wye, Booth’s Bookshop

You can also find a few so-called honesty bookshops. They are basically the shelves full of books situated outside and therefore “open” 24/7. You usually pay 50p for a paperback and £1 for a hardcover book using the money boxes.

Honesty bookshop in Hay-on-Wye

Honesty bookshop in Hay-on-Wye

What makes me love Hay even more is that it has its unique character not only due to the bookshops. There are also many other shops worth a visit. You can browse through antiques, local products, fair trade items and handmade stuff, etc. It is so refreshing to see original products not only from big chain shops, windows displays full of things often forgotten in other places. I must admit that I have spent quite a bit of money on footwear here (nice pair of red shoes recently…), it is not very expensive but very comfortable and often with a funky finish.

Hay-on-Wye

Hay-on-Wye

 

Hay-on-Wye Booksellers - bigger inside that you would expect

Hay-on-Wye Booksellers – bigger inside that you would expect

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