I have both lived in Wales and been a serious book lover for my 26 years. And yet today was the first time I ever managed to make it to the Hay on Wye festival. I know. It's shameful. So as my half term happily coincides with the festival, I determined that this week I would make it to the event, come hell or high water.
Well hell couldn't make it and the high waters were busy. I did however catch myself a horrible cold which has put me hopelessly behind in my report-writing/marking schedule. When I woke up this morning I was already making excuses in my head as to why I shouldn't go to Hay.
I should be marking.
I should be reporting.
I should be editing.
I should be cleaning my house.
I should be mowing my lawn.
I should be having no fun...
TBH (The Better Half) convinced me that I would be mad at myself for sabotaging my own enjoyment and sent me on my way. I bundled up some Kleenex, grabbed my sunglasses and set off.
This is where the "Numbers" part of my "Numbers Thursday" post comes into play... AA Route Planner told me that Hay on Wye was 58 minutes from my front step. Well...I'm really bad at following directions. It was 150 minutes later that I parked up in the Hay on Wye Festival car park. Like I said...really bad with directions! However, I didn't really mind the delay as I was listening to Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins on audio-book while I drove in circles around the beautiful Welsh countryside. Not a bad way to spend two and a half hours!
The Festival was amazing! I tried my hand at sculpting, watched a bunch of musicians, tried (very unsuccessfully) to learn to juggle, made a "journey stick", did some calligraphy and saw some bizarre magical acts performed with a bowler-hat and balloon animals. All of this was FREE! There are heaps and heaps of events that you can purchase tickets for but even more that you can enjoy gratis, should you happen to walk by at the right time!
I had myself a whole bunch of fun in the festival itself and got myself this little memento just for buying a copy of The Telegraph.
After having a good old wander around the tents and stalls, I caught the free shuttle-bus into Hay town. I've been to Hay on Wye during off-season before and I had a wonderful time. During festival week though, Hay transforms into a wonderland. I don't think I've ever seen so many people sat reading for pleasure in one place before! On lawns, on deck-chairs, perched on walls, hunkered on stools and, in one case, sat underneath a picnic table. People were pouring over their literary purchases with fervor under the hot June sun while dribbling ice-cream down their chins. It was a book-lover's paradise.
More numbers now. Hay on Wye: The Town of Books, has about a bazillion bookshops, as you might imagine. That's all very well... but what makes Hay exceptional is the fact that said bookshops offer such bargains! Look at what I bought today:
Eight books. This bag-full cost me just £15. Less than £2 per book! All new, not even second hand! Here's another picture so that you can see the titles!
I also picked up a Hay pen and badge for the wonderful Emma from Bookangel's Booktopia. Because I'm nice! Next year I think it would be awesome if some of the lovely book bloggers I've connected with could all pick a day in Hay where we all meet up and get to meet each other in this book-happy-paradise. That would be amazing.