Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A Medieval Town of Books: Hay-on-Wye, Wales


After our back-to-back sabbaticals in Tokyo and at Oxford University, I've been busy offline, settling back home in Maine. During our year abroad, my professor husband researched an academic book, and I gathered material for two young adult novels. At the end of our UK sabbatical, we visited Hay-on-Wye, which hosts a literary festival and has more used bookstores than I've ever seen in one location.


The Richard Booth's Bookshop has three floors of books, ranging from rare to new, including a large children's and YA section shown above. It's the brown woodframe building in the opening photo.


We found the best antique book selection at Hay-on-Wye Booksellers in a Tudor style building that felt appropriately Shakespearean. I chose an antique book featuring animals for our kind friends who hosted our dog while we were abroad.


To distinguish themselves, some secondhand bookstores specialized by genre. Murder and Mayhem is devoted to mysteries, crime fiction, and horror.


After a day of book shopping, we stopped at Shepherds for delicious local ice cream.


On a sunnier day, we walked along the River Wye and admired the wild swans.


We also learned how to say weak bridge in Welsh: "pont wan." Luckily said pont was strong enough for foot traffic and small cars. There were more challenging hikes in the nearby Brecon Beacons.


After our country walk, we enjoyed a cream tea (scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream) at Llangoed Hall, Laura Ashley's former home (above). Even in my hiking clothes, I felt like a character in Downton Abbey.

Back in England, we visited Highclere Castle (at left), where Downton Abbey was filmed. The tour was fun, featuring the amazing library, but they don't allow indoor photography.

It was such an inspiring year abroad! My young adult novel set in the UK is now with my agent, who loves it. I'm currently working on a new YA novel set in Japan, which I will blog about later. I update more frequently on twitter.

More about our Wales vacation here:
Carew Castle & Coastal Cliffs in Pembrokeshire, Wales

7 comments:

Charlotte Agell said...

Thanks for taking us along!

Barrie said...

What a great year! Thank you for sharing these photos. Interestingly, "pont" is also bridge in French. :)

Sarah Laurence said...

Charlotte, thanks for visiting!

Barrie, true! English is such hybrid language.

Jenn Jilks said...

Obviously, you had a marvellous time!!!

thecuecard said...

Great tour & pics Sarah. Someday I got to get to Wales; the book shops look fabulous. The literary festival there interests me. Good luck with your writing.

troutbirder said...

I think I want to go to Wales for the first time. My reading of historical fiction reminds of a lot of conflict with the English though. And those old Celtic names were really hard to pronounce...:)

Donna said...

Oh my gosh, I love everything in this post!