Notes, thoughts and jottings from the desk of Calum C. Milne
The Llangoed Guide to Hay-on-Wye
8th May 2017
Hay-on-Wye will once again take it's place at the centre of the literary universe at the end of this month - so what better time to provide readers with my own personal take on this absolute gem of a market town.
First the wonderful Literary Festival - this year promises quite a line-up including US senator Bernie Sanders, actor and writer Stephen Fry, show producer and writer Steven Moffat and screenwriter Jimmy McGovern. Just keep in mind that Hay will be full-to-bursting so staying with us makes even more sense!
Outside of Festival time, Hay has a character and charm that make it a very easy place to spend time. The bustling Market is every Thursday, where you'll find a great selection of food stalls, homeware, clothes and gifts, whist there is a smaller Sunday market in the newly renovated Hay Cheese Market. You will struggle to find any of the shops that characterise most UK towns - instead expect to browse an eclectic mix of truly independent shops and secondhand boutiques. And here I can't resist mentioning The End at 20 Castle Street which bursts with 1950s textiles, antique furniture and curiosities.
But of course Hay is best known for its bookshops - and with over 30 to choose from a little inside knowledge may help. Probably the best known is Richard Booth where it's very easy to loose track of time given that it has most genres and subjects, all housed in a wonderfully creaky wooden building that also has a cinema and cafe. The Children's Bookshop, just a mile outside Hay, has a selection guaranteed to inspire your little ones - and induce a high level of nostalgia in grown-ups. Boz Books specialises in Charles Dickens and 19th century literature, whilst Murder & Mayhem immerses you in the world of detective fiction, true crime and horror in the most bizarre and outrageously decorated bookshop in Hay.
After all that browsing you will probably need a walk, so if the weather is fine, take a picnic and head for The Warren, with it's pretty meadow and river beach - also ideal for wild swimming so I'm told! Once back from your picnic head up the steps at Hay Castle to enjoy one of the best views in Hay, explore the grounds and visit the Honesty Bookshop.
Finally, just to show you that Hay has hardly changed in the last century, have a look at hay-then-and-now.
Summer escape anyone?
Have a great week.