After my indifference towards Hereford, the Shire of Hereford turned it on. A lovely, lush county with productive looking farms and steeply wooded hill sides. I think Herefordshire is one of the lesser populated counties of England – I finally feel I can breathe. The drive to Hay-on-Wye was wonderful! It actually felt like there was some space between towns.
So, we’ve crossed the border into the land of dragons. Hay-on-Wye ticked may boxes for both of us. Not being an avid book reader, I had no idea of its significance in the world of second hand versions of those paper things with no moving pictures or sound that seem to take up half of S’s life. I do actually read – I have three books on the go at the moment. I treat them like TV series though and tend to “channel hop” between them. Because I channel hop my books, I have to go back and catch up with a story I haven’t read for a while. Like those ridiculous never ending US series, (24 and Lost spring to mind) that never seem to be able to finish, it’ll take me a year or so to get to the end of a book, if at all…
Hay is a little village clinging to a steep hillside with tight little lanes to explore. When I say explore, it’ll take you half an hour and you should probably like exploring second hand book shops. A random spaghetti of lanes on a steep incline always adds 10 architectural interest brownie points for me. Despite a large number of tourists at certain times of the year, the people of Hay have the time of day for you. People smile as they drive past, occasionally say hello on the street and are very chatty in shops. Being a sort of honorary Surrey boy for the last six or so years, I was taken aback when the first person smiled as they drove past. I thought, do I have a large bogey, are my flies open?
Huge fame and a book shop on ever corner. Surely Hay is just like any other tourist town. Strangely Hay doesn’t seem to have lost its way, it still feels real. So many towns that become known for something or just have a large number of tourists, seem to lose their usefulness and become parodies of themselves. When a town decides that the tourist Pound/Euro/Dollar is all important and the Touriste Shoppe takes over, they become annoying to wander around and are completely useless for the local inhabitants. Hay still has a post office, fruit & veg stores, a few butchers, chemists, convenience stores and a proper food market on Thursdays. You can imagine if Tesco, ASDA (UK Walmart), Morrison’s or Sainsbury’s decided to set up shop, there would be all out war. Worth noting that if you must shop in a supermarket, there is a small Co-op on the edge of town. They are ethical so that’s OK.
If you have a dog, bring him/her to Hay. There are water bowls outside shops, some shop keepers invite you in with the dog. One lady came out onto the street to say hello to Uller and admire her lovely ears. For the church-goers amongst you, Peter the campsite owner tells us the church curate is a dog and dogs are often in services! Well I never. Wales – funny place, but I like it.
Below is a collection of shots in an around Hay. Apologies for some of the arty non-postcard style tourist shots, but since seeing a documentary about about an American photographer called Eggleston, my photography has taken a different path. Don’t worry, there will still be plenty of pretty postcard stuff and S has also been contributing with some very decent pics.
AUSSIE DAD AND JAN
Hello again – waxing poetic eh? Please explain the “jugs” shot; my steam-driven computer couldn’t zoom in on the sign which presumably has the explanation (in the absence of buxom serving wench). I wonder what is Welsh for (wench)? Very pretty place.
ENGLISH MUM AND DAD
Is it just a Mum and Dad thing, because we didn’t understand the reference to “jugs” either?
S & D
Apologies that the Jugs photo isn’t clear – the blackboard on the wall lists jugs of beer etc that are available and is headed ‘Fantastic Jugs!’. That sort of thing appeals to D.
AUSSIE DAD AND JAN
Apparently Welsh (and other Gaelic) for “wench” is “wench”. Well at least now I know the origin of that useful word.
Well at last I’ve read the blog,thankyou david [for instructing me],love the phone box&I reminded me of the one in Bath!
This is very entertaining stuff – and I’m supposed to be working this afternoon.
BIG LITTLE BRO SIMO
Yes, it must be a parent thing… or perhaps a David and I thing? As soon as I saw the picture title ‘jugs’, I knew the blackboard would have some reference to how great they are in that establishment. While you’re travelling, could you try to get photos of some great tits (Parus major) too?