Having written a few blogs about how artists have transformed areas in towns that have been run down, or have increased tourism, it was interesting to hear about Hay on Wye. Our daughter read about the book festival there and in her usual manner researched the town. After she told us about what it had to offer, we booked our first Airbnb and set off for a few days.
Although google maps said it should take about two and a half hours, I don't think it allowed for all the winding roads and it certainly took a lot longer. After settling in to the house we had booked, we set off to walk into town for something to eat, following the instructions left by the homeowner. This proved to be a walk through a wooded area near the river and a little longer than we expected. It was interesting that someone had taken the time to spray any dog poo, not picked up with orange spray.
The town consisted of small streets with lots of quaint shops and we looked forward to going into them when they were open the next day.
Waking up to a bright morning, we soon set off to walk into town, avoiding any orange landmarks. The shops were all individually decorated; many to focus on the books they were selling. One of the more impressive shop fronts was for Murder and Mayhem, although the shop was a little smaller than we would have liked.
Inside the shops, as well as hundreds of books, many were decorated to illustrate the theme or themes of the books. Every where you walked there were shops with a wide variety of specialist books. Even small alleyways were utilised and filled with bookshelves. You would need to spend a day in each shop to see everything they had to offer. From an artist's point of view, there were lots of fascinating small details to see, such as a stairway bannisters made from old bike parts.
There were also lots of antique shops and several art galleries. Some of these had local scenes or work by more well known artists. There was a wide range of artwork although some of it was very pricey.
We were surprised by how many people were visiting the town and it certainly had found a unique way to market itself. There was something for everyone, from the collector wanting a specialist book to people who just liked reading. Our daughter bought several books, although I think she just picked the heaviest ones, as we finished up carrying them at times. I looked for art books but in this case didn't find what I was looking for. Sue eventually decided on a couple of books and found a unique card come poetry book for a birthday present.
A fascinating town that is well worth a visit.