Sunday 22 January 2017

Second time lucky

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.

However despite all the doom and gloom of the trip, there was one redeeming thing about the day in the shape of a last-minute stop in a random bookshop. My travelling companion had spent many years searching for a particular book on mysticism but – knowing only that its cover was blue and somewhere within its pages was a reference to a person whose name they couldn't remember – they'd unsurprisingly not had much luck in finding it. Then we walked into the bookshop to avoid the rain and there the book was. I could no longer be grumpy with the person for being so clueless about books and their joy at finding the book made everything else okay.

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.

This second outlet, the Addyman Annexe on Castle Street, is smaller and more tidily organised but still occupies a ginormous space when compared to other independent bookshops. While stock in the two outlets is occasionally similar, there was definitely a difference as the brighter, larger rooms and what looked to be mostly new stock. We also loved the warmth in the voice of the gentleman bookseller who welcomed us in and politely answered my questions about the two branches.

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.

Addyman Books
39 Lion Street, Hay-on-Wye,
Powys, HR3 5AA, Wales
Tel: 01497 821136
Addyman Annexe,
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.

1 comment:

  1. I have mixed feelings about Hay-on-Wye too, though it is always worth a visit. Glad this worked out well...


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