Yeyyyy! So… we’re down from the mountains and heading north, right through Hay on Wye.
I’d been meaning to bring the kids here for years — it was supposed to be my birthday treat a couple of years ago, but then life and laundry got in the way and it seemed to slip from “next time” to “soon” to “one day”. But today, it was on the map and right in front of us.
My plan was simple:
- Arrive in Hay on Wye in bright sunshine.
- Immediately alight on a tiny, secret cellar full of incredibly rare, antique (not to say medieval) books bound in dragon hide with painted gold-leaf page trim and exquisite plates, containing all kinds of fiction and non-fiction from ancient medicine to evil fairy tales, all for a fiver.
- Serendipitously discover all my writing friends chatting together outside a café full of cakes and cream.
- Dine richly, mostly on cream, with lovely friends.
- Get teleported home without having to drive.
- Win lottery and buy a little castle-shaped house-library thing in which books will look beautiful.
Naturally, in practice, we bowled up at short notice without having organised to meet friends and we didn’t see a single cellar or dragon-hide book.
BUT it was sunny, there were lots of lovely book shops and booksellers, and the children did find a fabulously eclectic collection to take home. Plus, there was ice cream.
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen — chosen by my 7y/o because he likes small, blue books. I didn’t have a copy, haven’t read it (!) and didn’t have the heart to say no, so this was fine, and he’s convinced he’ll enjoy it. (Mum-face.)
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens — Eldest hasn’t read it and fancied a copy.
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness — Middlest made the “Oooh!” noise when he found this one, and I’m excited to read it too.
The Adventures of Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey — chosen by me (might do swapsies with Youngest, who looked proper envious).
The Battle of Britain July — October 1940 by Matthew Parker — chosen by Eldest as a present for his father.
The Elephant Man and Other Reminiscences by Sir Frederick Treves (1923, first edition?) — chosen by me to add to the family collection of old medical books. Treves was the physician caring for John Merrick so I’m hoping the man can write because this should be really interesting.
An eclectic little haul!
Hay itself was brilliant — full of people but not overly crowded, with great ice cream and beautiful little streets full of book stalls, crafted baskets, and music, all overlooked by a gorgeous little castle. It would have been lovely to stay longer, but we had people waiting for us in the north and it was time to go. I left peering back over my shoulder at Murder and Mayhem… and thinking we should come here more often.
Thanks to Hay on Wye Booksellers, Addyman Books @addymanbooks, and Clock Tower Books for the lovely haul!