A Shopping Guide to Hay-on-Wye
Last weekend we spent a glorious few days in Hay-on-Wye. Being a family of book lovers, a trip there has been pretty high up the list for quite some time. This is a town where books are absolutely the centre of attention closely followed behind with great places to eat, antiques and vintage stores and the great outdoors on the doorstep courtesy of the glorious Brecon Beacons - so all my favourite things wrapped up in one place. And most definitely dangerous for my bank balance..... ahem. I've considered going to the Literary Festival often, but after our last festival experience (where the cars were being towed out of the mud by tractors), I've very much been put off doing another. Obviously I know a literary festival is something quite different from a music festival, but still those memories of three days in wellies with blistered feet, mud splattered everywhere and also someone trying to break into our tent will never leave me and I've avoided doing another one. After our weekend in Hay I'm certainly reconsidering the festival camping experience as I'm sure it will be a lot more civilised.
I thought I'd compile a little guide to the shops that I loved in Hay and there are lots of brilliant stores that I haven't photographed. The florist and the deli on Lion St are both excellent and we bought from both. The vintage store, Bain and Murrin was fantastic, mostly clothing and a nice selection of homeware downstairs including some furniture and stunning Welsh tapestry blankets. And I loved the fair trade store Eighteen Rabbit which sold some adults and kids clothing, homeware, ethical books and accessories. They also had a great selection of independent magazines too. The Castle Greengrocer (above) is brilliant and we stocked up with our fresh fruit and vegetables there. But the shops below were my very favourites to visit in the town, and I have to begin with the bookstores, obviously. Although a special mention must go to all the honesty box bookshops too - dotted around the town, these are a joy to spot and browse at. Without a doubt a memory I'll treasure in Hay was wandering down an alleyway that had bookshelves separated by a large green sofa only to be greeted by a super friendly black cat who wrapped itself around me as I perused the shelves. I'm pretty sure if I'd sat down on the sofa he'd have curled up next to me and I'm kicking myself for not doing it.
Addyman Books on Lion Street - Paradise found Addyman Books. Lots of little rooms, nooks and crannies stuffed with titles from all genres. Harry disappeared into 'The Bat Cave' and came out with a huge pile of titles (he's currently obsessed with Twilight and Buffy the Vampire Slayer) before finding himself a cosy spot by the window to begin reading, allowing me to wander around for a while with my camera. There are piles of books everywhere, a small childrens' section full of vintage Ladybird books and a quirky room dedicated to classic Penguin and Pan titles. We made a fair few purchases in here before moving across the road to Addyman's sister store, Murder and Mayhem.
Murder and Mayhem, Lion St - a bookshop dedicated to crime and horror. And probably the best shopfront I've ever seen anywhere! It's as quirky inside as it is outside with chalk body outlines on the floor and colourful artwork on the wall to represent different sections. With a huge collection of vintage titles alongside mainstream publications, this is every crime fiction fans' dream store. I was delighted with the range of vintage Agatha Christie titles and again, a few purchases were made here.
The Old Electric Shop, Broad Street - Sigh. Everything I want in a shop and more. A stunning collection of vintage furniture, decorative items and clothing sits happily alongside the beautiful styling of new homeware and accessories. I've been dreaming of coming here for several years! The vegetarian/vegan cafe serves a simple menu of lovely grub, much of it locally sourced and seasonally influenced alongside a Sunday brunch offering. I had the wild mushrooms on bruschetta and it was utterly delicious. Harry recommends the vegan chocolate and banana cake. Everything in the cafe is for sale, so every chair and table can be yours if you want to take it home after lunch and of course, it never looks the same each time you visit. In the main image you'll see the hanging planters and my eye was constantly drawn to that big metal one on chains. How I wanted that planter and I toyed with buying it over and over the entire weekend we were in Hay. But logic won over as I know I haven't anywhere to put it, so I was sensible and let it go. We did however choose a rug for the living room (which we needed) and some more beeswax candles.
Days Household Goods, Castle St, opposite the greengrocer - a new kid to the Hay shopping scene as it's only been there a year. A great general store utilising old Post Office shelving filled with enamelware, their own home brand of candles, Melin Tregwynt blankets and cushions, Cornishware, artwork and vintage inspired lighting. They also sold some beautiful planters made of brass with a pastel pink lining, so one of those came home with me.
The Alley - High Town, next to Eve's coffee shop - a lovely little outdoors area dedicated to vintage garden finds, outdoor plants and inside, a whole range of hanging planters, houseplants and quirky vintage pieces for the home. It's a pretty little gem near the market where there is also a flea market every Saturday. One stall was selling some lovely vintage Kilims as well as fair trade shopping baskets and bolga baskets.
We returned from Hay with twenty two books but it could have been a whole lot more. We'll definitely be heading back there soon as it's truly a special place and I'm certainly hoping to go back during the festival period. x