Many, many years ago, I went on a day trip to Hay-on-Wye. For reasons that no longer matter, it was an awful day of rain and disappointments and left me with no interest in ever returning. And yes, I am aware of what a shock confession that must be coming from someone like me.
This one moment of success is pretty much all I've kept with me of that first visit to Hay-on-Wye, and even then I had no idea of the name or location of the bookshop, all I could remember was a remarkable blue front room.
Which meant it was quite a surprise to recognise Addyman Books the moment I stepped inside when I finally agreed to return to the town a few weeks ago.
The visit was spur of the moment when I discovered the Welsh bookshop I'd planned to go to was closed for the day, which is probably a good thing because it meant there was no time to let my previous unhappy memories cloud my excitement at visiting the town of books.
So we (my boyfriend and I, not the travelling companion of yesteryear) arrived in Hay and began to wander. The unplanned nature of our visit meant we had no real idea of where we would go, with a guest blog post about the town the closest I'd got to any proper research.*
The wandering was fun, and introduced us to *lots* of lovely bookshops for me to tell you about in time, but that moment of recognition inside the blue room at Addyman Books really was quite a surprise.
A bad memory and a lot of time means I can't tell you if the bookshop is any different now to in years gone by, but the striking blue front room is certainly still the same. There's also much more to the bookshop than I remember, as it stretches back and up into a maze of rooms filled with everything from general fiction to sci-fi, women's books, old Penguins, a cubby dedicated to vampires and even that section on mysticism.
There are also all manner of details and nooks and crannies, as well as a selection of comfy chairs. Visitors could easily lose an afternoon to this bookshop, and that's before they remember all the other gems to be found in Hay – not forgetting a second branch of Addyman's a short walk away.
Whatever your taste in bookshop both are worth a visit.
Our purchase came from the annexe: Mars, a new view of the red planet by Giles Sparrow. It's a massive picture book packed with information and at less than half price I felt it was particularly good value.
Our visit to Hay-on-Wye was only meant to be for an hour or so, but the excitement of this and other finds meant it was dark by the time we'd reached the annexe, and closing time before we escaped the town. More importantly, this visit reminded me how one bad incident should not be held against anyone or thing. I'm all about second chances and Hay-on-Wye has definitely won me round.
39 Lion Street, Hay-on-Wye,
Powys, HR3 5AA, Wales
Tel: 01497 821136
27 Castle Street, Hay-on-Wye,
Powys, HR3 5DF, Wales
Tel: 01497 821600
* Yes, I am aware letting someone else write a guest post hardly counts as a lot of research on my part but the blog is very good and it was very helpful in giving us somewhere to aim for.