Chez WW in England

Chez WW in England

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Hay-on-Wye, Wales

06 February 2011


I am an avid reader and years ago I read an article about a tiny town in Wales that was filled with book stores. It sounded like heaven. It became one of the many places that I just had to visit. Skip ahead a few years and we are living in England. The “Town of Books”, Hay-on Wye, is just a hour and a half drive away.

On a rainy and gusty Saturday we headed off to Wales in Mini Me Millie. I had just bought a fancy sat nav and we also had a print out of google maps directions. It was the first time using the sat nav and we found it comforting that it had chosen the same route as google maps. The drive consisted of a quick trip on the M5 before we turned off onto the M50. That part of the drive was wonderful. After we left the M50, it all went downhill. We were soon driving on the “B” roads. The “B” roads strike fear into my heart and I am sure I have lost years off of said heart. The speed limit is 60 miles. 60 miles on roads were you see signs that tell you that the road is narrowing up ahead and that oncoming vehicles will be in the middle of the road. At this point I am wondering how narrow the roads can possibly get since there is barely enough room for two cars as it is. The roads are very narrow and often closed in on both sides by brick walls. 180 degree turns are very popular on these roads and without fail there will be a car coming towards you whilst you are making said crazy turn on said narrow road with no shoulders and surrounded by brick walls. The locals whip through these roads like the wind. We managed to do 25 miles per hour. The drive that was supposed to take an hour and a half turned out to be a two hour drive with many breath holding moments. The scenery on the drive was beautiful. But, like all roads in England it is impossible to pull over, jump out and take some pictures because there are no sides of the road.

We finally reached Hay-on-Wye and were a little surprised. I had expected to see signs letting us know that we were entering Wales. Nothing. Of course, I could have missed seeing a sign while I was covering my eyes with the map. Hay-on-Wye is a tiny town on the Welsh border of just over a thousand people. There is huge car park for all the visitors. Given our early start there were only a few cars there.







The town has some honesty bookstores where you just put your money in a box. It reminded me so much of buying pototoes on the side of the road on Prince Edward Island.



Hay Castle is home to Hay Castle Books as well as Richard Booth, King of Independentant Hay. It was Richard Booth who, back in the 1960s, opened a bookshop in Hay-on-Wye. The town’s love affair with books grew and grew.






After four bookstores it was time to go back to the car and drop off our bag of books. The car park was starting to fill up.




There are tiny alleys everywhere that are stuffed with outdoor book stalls.







Hay-on-Wye is a wonderful market town of books. We were only able to do half of the stores on our first trip. I look forward to more visits, not just for the bookstores but all the other unique shops there. If you are in the area it is worth a stop. Be prepared to spend the day and bring a carrier bag for all the books you will be bringing home.

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