For anyone currently suffering any kind of over-heating, herewith some cooling images of frosted ferns. These photos were taken a few Decembers ago during a sudden frigid spell in Hay-on-Wye, widely known as the book capitol of the world. We’d planned a long weekend there – a brief trip out of Shropshire and into Powys. It was only an hour or so’s drive. Up to the moment we set off, we’d had mild winter weather, but even as we stopped for a cup of tea half way in scenic Eardisland, we could feel the bank of cold, cold air closing in.
And so it proved to be three nights of cold comfort. On one of them the central heating system in our inn failed altogether. In between times a gale blew through the place as no one thought to shut the doors. Nor thought to light the log burning stove in the bar while we ate our evening meal. Street wandering could only be undertaken in small doses. Or at least that was our excuse for popping into Eve’s for regular rescue infusions of hot chocolate. Thank goodness, too, for Hay’s many hostelries that were far more welcoming than ours and for Richard Booth’s bookshop with its big squidgy sofas to camp out in.
Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: hot or cold
The bad news is he doesn’t seem to have left much room for the pressies. And already he looks to have had a tot too many of the Christmas spirits.
Happy Holidays Everyone
Time Square #24
This photo was taken last December when we spent a few days in the England-Wales border town of Hay-on-Wye. I was standing in the main car park as the landscape lit up. It was very very cold, a prelude to the big snow that happened soon afterwards. Thankfully it waited till we had made it home before it descended. Travelling on rural Hereford and Shropshire byways under two feet of snow would not have been a good experience.
Hay is a tiny town on the banks of the majestic River Wye, but though small it has a world-wide reputation, both for the number of its second hand book shops and now as the home of a famous annual literary festival to which I have yet to take myself. Anyway, here’s a glimpse of the book shop that started it all, a place where one may spend many many hours. It also has a very excellent cafe and a cinema. So much bliss under one roof.
Time Square #14
When we left Hay-on-Wye on Friday morning we headed west into the hill country above the Wye valley. The lane wound up narrowly from Clyro to Painscastle, the hedgerows bathed in high-definition sunlight. But there were also rafts of ice – here and there, where the road dipped into shadow. It was exciting to see – real ice, even if it was swiftly turning to slush.
We were taking a somewhat round-about route to our immediate destination – the Erwood Art Gallery whose leaflet says it is the biggest privately owned gallery of contemporary art and craft in Wales. It is also in an isolated spot in the woods above the Wye, and to add to its interest is housed in three Victorian railway carriages left over from the days when the train came this way. Into my mind’s eye puffs a doughty steam engine pulling a long tail of carriages. I imagine rattling along the wide river valley, hills and farms and sheep pasture all around. And think: it’s a crying shame this loss of Britain’s most scenic railways – killed in the ‘60s by the wretched Dr. ‘Let them drive cars’ Beeching, he with his most undiscriminating axe that has done so much to promote the slow misery of dying rural communities, and the clogged up byways of our small island.
But enough ranting. It’s too fine a day. When we reach the moorland tops of The Begwns, and before our descent to Erwood, we stop to admire the view. And that’s when I come across the frosted bracken…
Black & White Sunday: texture
We’ve just returned for a two-day trip to Hay-on-Wye, the second hand book capital of Great Britain, if not the universe. This ancient, tiny town stands on the banks of the mighty River Wye, on the Welsh side of the Wales-England border and, astonishingly for so small a settlement, has 23 book shops. Some are small and specialist – catering for poetry enthusiasts, natural historians and sleuthers of good murder mysteries; others are labyrinthine emporia, the size of college libraries – where all topics are covered. Many sell new books too and also, since the advent of the famous annual Hay Literary Festival, have upped their game from being the fusty, dusty places I remember from years ago, and transformed themselves into smart bookish resorts where you can curl up in a big leather armchair and spend the whole day reading. Richard Booth’s Bookshop even has its own cinema and very popular cafe. Treats all round then.
This photo was taken through the window of Mostly Maps and I think it covers all Paula’s word prompts for her December pick a word. Here we have the portrayal of a young woman by a non-human mannequin. She has the most sagacious looks too, clad in the re-worked remains of old ordnance survey maps. There are more remains reflected behind her – the dark silhouette of Hay Castle ruins. And then, here and there, are small stellar bursts from street and Christmas lights. Tarrah!
Now please visit Paula to see her and other bloggers’ cunning interpretations:
Thursday’s Special: pick a word in December
P.S. There will doubtless be more about Hay and our meanderings along the Wye in upcoming posts