I love Hay on Wye – such a colourful old, market town full of winding narrow streets and shops filled with books, gorgeous ethnic clothing and beautiful things for the home. The pubs are traditional and welcoming with real fires which my friend Anne and I were very glad of on this cold and wintry day!
We just fancied a day out and I planned to find a Grimms Fairytales in one of the bookshops – apart from that we just wanted to look at lovely handmade things of which there are boatloads in nearly every shop in Hay – each with the maker’s own special style and feel which is right up our street.
Here are some pictures of the town and some of the goodies I bought which include:-
1. several Unison pastels in yellows and greens2. a pair of the lushest handmade felt booties which – when I slipped my feet into them in the shop (The Great English Outdoors) felt like coming home. The shop has a massive open fire and there are kilim cushions, poufees and woven Welsh blankets to buy as well as natural skincare products and art cards made by local artists. These are size 5-6 by Glerups of Denmark and have a sewn leather sole!
3 Some handmade essential oil soap
4 3 gorgeous locally painted and printed cards (see top photo) – one of a fox and hares in stark and beautiful black and white by artist Nicky Beaumont of Tavistock and a lone horse and still life in gouache I believe from Jean Miller. I love both of their styles!
5 and last but not least my first ever bunch of real mistletoe! I cannot get over how fab it looks simply hung from the top of my mirror! Perfect Christmas dressing don’t you think?Here’s another shot!I realise after studying the mistletoe when I got it home that I have been drawing it all wrong! Didn’t realise that and so now my Christmas wreath watercolour is botanically incorrect!
Onto the town. Enjoy a browse around low slung buildings – not a high rise in sight for miles. Enjoy old stone walls and lichen covered slate tiles, archways, beautifully decorated bay shop fronts and more – this is Hay!
- One of the many higgledy-piggledy courts and corners that you find in hay – it was put together before town planners existed and is all the more charming for it I think.
I liked the wonky drainpipe and the stone walls plus the colour blue of the worn window frame.
This is a little corner tucked away just behind the high street…with cobblestones on the floor
The chimney stacks belong to the castle in Hay
A little enclave of artisanal shops selling quilting, flowers, books and other handmade items – so gorgeous
It took me a while to realise that 2 of these cutie patouties are real dogs and one is a statue – can you guess which is which?
We chatted to Colette who is the floral artist and owner at Dandelion Wishes – an incredibly atmospheric florists. I was blown away by her elegant and wistful ivy and birch wreaths and the smell of freshly cut flowers. Her use of bark and berries in her work is simply magical.
Hay on Wye is world renowned as a book selling town and you will often see bookshops like this open sided one which are un-manned and simply have an honesty box for you to pop your payment into once you have selected your books!
Just to give you a sense of place Hay is in Powys in Wales and is on gently undulating plains . It is known as the “town of books” due to inordinate number of independent bookshops there.
Nearly every shop window we passed surpassed the next with its gorgeous and unique Christmas displays…
We had lunch in The Blue Boar. A fabulous old pub with low-slung ceilings and two log fires and a welcoming bar which allows dogs. We had a delicious lunch and met several doggies including a young chocolate lab, a very old and gentle border terrier and two cheeky westies! I love pubs that allow dogs.
After two Pimms and half an our or so by a warm fire I was a lovely rosy red colour and nearly fell ofver the last step as we hit the cold air again outside!
Talking of steps – there are some lovely ones I took today – Well we had a fab day as it was quite quiet – no hoards of tourists as is usually the case in Summer and for the book festival. We finally headed home after getting some lovely things. Anne bought a book on bee-keeping and a beautiful labradorite ring and my last purchase was the Unison pastels (I convinced myself I needed them as I am low in the yellow/green department:)
I would recommend Hay on Wye to anyone at anytime of year. It is a step out of the usual type of town high street and into a slower and richer world of nature-inspired makings.