Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll 

Introduced by Anne Brichto, co-owner of Addyman Books in Hay and Danielle Brewster and Ellie Wait, students at the Royal National College for the Blind in Hereford

Ellie and Danielle report on their first visit to Hay-on-Wye including tours of Hay Cinema Bookshop and Addyman Books.

 

ellie wait addymans2.jpg

Anne posted on her Instagram feed:

Here is the lovely Eleanor Wait (named after Eleanor Rigby) who came as part of a work experience from the Royal National College for the Blind in Hereford. She is partially sighted and I knew I had found a kindred spirit when I saw her playing with our puppet and then saying as she walked through the corridor upstairs “Oh I’m in Wonderland. I’m the white rabbit and I’ve just gone down the hole into a magical kingdom.” It turns out that the Alice books are some of her favourites too. I think Ellie will be spending a lot of time in Addyman’s in the future.

ellie wait at addymans

A Day in Hay (Ellie Wait)

I have heard that the town of Hay is a bibliophile’s paradise and that statement is not wrong. It was seemingly impossible not to stumble upon a quaint little book shop in which books were stacked floor to ceiling. There were two notable aspects of my day in Hay that I wanted to document and reflect on because to me, they were the most striking.

As a book worm, I have of course walked into a few bookshops in my time but never have I felt such a passion from the staff. When I visited the Addyman book shops during the afternoon, I felt as though the owners had a real sense of pride for their beautifully decorated shops. The carved bookshelves and thematic paintings on the wall gave their shops a real character, when you couple that with the wonderful conversations, I have no doubt that I will visit again.

The selection of books they had at Addyman’s was incredible. Everything from photography books, to travel writing, to young adult fiction could be found in what I can only describe as a treasure trove of literature.

The second aspect of my trip that struck me is that the bookshop’s themselves hold stories. In the morning we visited the Hay Cinema Bookshop which even highlighted its history in the name. The many book shelves were placed over two floors and were well organised. At times, I felt overwhelmed by the sheer number of books! The books ranged in age by hundreds of years but all were in good condition.  What I found most striking about the Hay Cinema Bookshop is that you could still see clues of the buildings previous purpose; including the slanted floor and ceiling which was navy blue with stars carefully painted on.

Both shops that I was lucky to receive a tour of interested me greatly and a return visit is definitely on the cards.

A Wonderful Day in Hay (Danielle Brewster)

Yesterday, we were taken off for an exciting trip to Hay-On-Wye. All morning I was very excited before we left.

After an enjoyable car journey, we parked and got out in to the town of Hay. I can only describe Hay as quaint and picturesque, everywhere I went, there was so much to look at, bookshops and quaint cafes, little thin paved streets.

Our first stop was the Hay Cinema Bookshop. We had a wonderful tour and saw shelves of books, old and new, well read and practically untouched. We found that the shop was once a cinema, but changed in to a bookshop due to Richard Booth, the ‘King of Hay’ who founded many of the shops. The building was very old, and entirely wooden, it was amazing to experience. All of the books in the shop were either from collections or from the main store in London.

One thing I noticed about Hay was that in many shops, there were books placed on the floor. That made my cane quite a hazard for the poor volumes. I understood why, though. The shelves were too full, and there’s not always much room for more shelving.

We also browsed a few more shops, just out curiosity and we found that most of them were holding all kinds of books, from different ages. I found a 1950s Famous Five book, a series I’ve always loved.

After a bite to eat, we headed straight to Addyman Books, which has three shops in town. I had a photo taken with three of the Poirot books, three versions of After the Funeral, or Funerals are Fatal [see Danielle’s earlier post on this book]. I was wearing my Harry Potter top, just to emphasise my love of books. We found out that part the staircase was made out of part of a ship, and some shelves were  from Transylvanian churches.

We found, also, that one the book keepers was a born and bred bookseller and has been one for 40 years. This clearly shows a passion for books.

We continued to look in bookshops and found that most of Hay’s shops all have much of the same quaint set up.

When I left yesterday, I was so happy. I’d spent so much time around books, exploring, walking along with my cane in one hand, and the other hand trailing carefully across row upon row of books. I’ll never forget my time in Hay, and one day I must go back.

**

Special thanks to Lesley Arrowsmith at Hay Cinema Bookshop and Anne Brichto at Addyman Books for showing Danielle and Ellie around the two bookshops.

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