Visit to Hay

This past weekend I was lucky enough to make my first visit to Hay-on-Wye, thanks to my very lovely mother-in-law.  She is also a bookworm and had passed through the area a year or two ago, after which she’d said that she’d like to treat me to a visit at some point.  Well, that ‘point’ was this weekend and it was well worth the wait.

The drive over from Warwickshire was beautiful in itself, but nothing could have prepared for the excitement of arriving in a town totally dedicated to books.  It was initially quite strange to get used to a new way of browsing as there are very few new books on sale anywhere, so you have to approach the shops with a more relaxed mindset.  Yes, you might stumble across something you’d been looking for recently (this happened to me with the enchanting ‘Fly, Chick, Fly!’, by Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross, for example), but the real joy is to be found in just losing yourself amongst the seemingly endless shelves of books, glorious books.

My first thrill was discovering the final book in the Narnia series with the ‘right’ cover – I found the other six among my loft treasures and ever since have been searching for this one to complete the set.  I found it in Richard Booth’s Bookshop, which was such a magical place.  Wooden panelling and floorboards, spacious shelves, quiet but not intimidatingly silent.  It reminded me of the libraries I studied in at university, but with far more interesting books 😉

Richard Booth's Bookshop

Richard Booth’s Bookshop

However, the two shops that made me want to cartwheel with glee were Rose’s Books

Rose's Books

Rose’s Books

which sells rare and out-of-print books and the Children’s Bookshop, which has an absolutely vast range of children’s books.  Both shops were staffed by very knowledgable book enthusiasts and at the Children’s Bookshop, I was even allowed to go down into the storeroom to try and locate a Joel Stewart book that I was keen to get my hands on (unfortunately it was nowhere to be found).  My VERY patient mother-in-law tolerated me oohing and ahhing over the delights that both shops held and I could easily have spent a whole day – nay, week – in each one.  As the books are so precious (I got a copy of ‘Little Lord Fauntleroy’ by Frances Hodgson Burnett that was over one hundred years old), it was easier to be visiting without C and H.

All the books in the the above shops are in immaculate condition, so although they are secondhand you shouldn’t necessarily expect to be coming away with sacks full of cheap books.  I had to leave behind a mint condition ‘Happy Families’ book (‘Master Salt, the sailor’s son’) as I just couldn’t justify spending £14 on it, but I know it will be cheap at that price for someone else.

If anyone needed convincing about the pleasure of perusing a well-stocked bookshop, or the sheer joy of handling physical books (and I say that as someone who loves her Kindle) then a visit to Hay would be the prescription.  There’s also something wonderful about secondhand books and knowing that others have enjoyed them before you and that the stories will continue to live on long after us as well.

My next mission is to go to Hay during the world-renowned festival, which just sounds totally amazing.  On a side note, should you wish to make a trip, I can highly recommend the B&B that we stayed at – Mulberry Cottage.  Hay has many nice places to eat, is well-populated with antiques stores and has lots of other interesting, quirky little shops as well.  Along with the stunning countryside in which it’s situated, you couldn’t really ask for much more.

I will definitely be going back to Hay once the boys’ preferences have moved on and they’re ready for longer books, but fingers crossed I’ll be able to go back before that as well.

Here is my haul from this weekend – I can’t wait to get stuck in!







  1. Roses’s Books sounds magical! What a perfect shop 🙂 xxxxx

  2. Sounds like you had a great time 🙂

  3. Oh, I am salivating at the thought of such a place. Bookshops are such a rare commodity these days, that to visit a town full of them would be my dream. I loved the pictures you posted and the books you bought. How amazing. I must make a trip some time, though I fear it might be alone as, while Holly loves reading, she’s not into bookshops much (bizarrely).

  4. We camped near there around the royal wedding and I was in seventh heaven! I found Ladybird books from my childhood which meant I could share the version of ‘The Princess and Pea’ and ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ which I Ioved so much. I could have spent hours browsing but the sun was shining and the children’s interest lasted for just a few of the many shops. I’d love to go back for the Hay-on-Wye Festival but I think perhaps another visit without the crowds is in order too!

    1. Sounds like a brilliant idea – much as love them, I think the weekend would have been different with C and H along for the ride…
      I’m really pleased you found some of the Ladybird books you loved when you were little. I’ve had such an amazing time going through all my childhood books and I’m pleased to say there were a number of my old Ladybird books in there, which brought back such great memories.

  5. […] chatted about the idea before, but what finally sealed the deal was finding this book on my visit to Hay a few weeks […]

  6. […] up ‘Baby Duck and the New Eyeglasses’ (by Amy Hest, illustrated by Jill Barton) on my visit to Hay earlier this year so he was already familiar with it, but it gently deals with a few of the […]

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