Wicked weekends

I am so thrilled the U.K. has bank holidays, it’s an opportunity for those of us who work full time to take a few days holiday without having to dip into our precious holiday funds from work. Here are my tips on making the most of these times and what you can get up to on our next long weekend!

What did I do?

Friday / Saturday

Over the first of our May bank holidays I literally did not stop. I had my lovely friend Lauren to stay (I met Lauren at University, when we went to watch Downton Abbey in the common room and hit it off!) Friday night which was wonderful. I got to show her our new flat, chill out, have a catch up and then end the night by watching hilarious YouTube videos.

The next day we went exploring the area and ended up in the most adorable, chocolate box / postcard village you have ever imagined in your life! Minster Lovell. We had previously searched places to visit close by and Minster Lovell came up as a suggestion due to its beautiful 15th century ruined Manor House and church.

We loved the little village so much! It reminded us of Cranford / Lark Rise to Candleford (books / BBC drama). When we were there we went to the local pub for a yummy cool drink which was much deserved!

On the way back we went on to Oxford where I accidentally (on purpose) introduced Lauren to the most adorable range of purses. These purses are in the design of bookshelves / books / shops and all sorts! They’re sold in a cute independent store where she treated herself to the cutest purse (I will be returning next payday to get myself one)!

Sunday

On Sunday Jon and I headed off early to Lyme Regis as I had never been and desperately wanted to go fossil hunting! This was a pretty long day as the drive down was a little over two and a half hours (same back), so it is quite a commitment to do, but totally worth it when we live in such a beautiful country.

Due to the hot weather the beach was completely packed, so we ended up clambering across rocks bare foot, squelching through the clay and sand looking for fossils on the way to a secluded section of beach. Totally worth it! We pitched up, had a dip, read some of our books and ate the picnic Jon had made. It was wonderful!

We had a good few hours at the beach before having a little mooch round the town, where Jon of course found a bookshop, then we headed off home and slept soundly till morning when it was (thankfully) BANK HOLIDAY MONDAY!

Monday

This was a great day, as it is usually a day we have to work, so we spent it together exploring Oxfordshire and its nature reserves! We decided to stay closer to home because it isn’t often you find yourself in a situation where you can do anything you want and more often than not people tend to go further afield in search, whereas I love to explore my doorstep!

We went to a nature reserve about 40 minutes drive from us called Foxholes.

Foxholes is a beautiful forest / woodland with fields, a river and little pathways running through it owned by BBOWT.

We did admittedly get lost, but with a compass, maps and Jon we got back to our little blue beetle in no time and went for a lovely late lunch in Burford at the Priory.

Rounding up

When it comes to it I think that it’s vital to make the most of our free time together. People, me included, spend so much time on our phones, computers and watching tv now that we just don’t switch off enough, leading us to feel tired, down and stressed. For this very reason it’s so important that we clock off even if for a day or so and spend it exploring our magical world, reading its books and enjoying its natural beauty!

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Book shops

I recently got back from a weekend trip to Hay-On-Wye, the country’s capital for bookshops. Our journey down to Hay was wet windy and took about three hours. However it was most certainly worth it. For this blog I have picked my top bookshops (or places to get books). There are so many more to see and so many more events over the year that I wanted to just give a brief overview of what it is like to visit Hay on a typical weekend away visit.

Where to stay?
Image result for the swan hay on wyeI was lucky enough to get us a room in the lucrative Swan Hotel based on the high street only a stones throw from the Main Street. The hotel is wonderful and elegant. It is on the pricy side of Hay, so if you’re looking to spoil someone (just like I was) it’s perfect. However if you’re on a really tight budget there are some other amazing options throughout the little town.

IMG_7715The Cinema Book Shop

Almost opposite the hotel is the old Cinema Book Shop which is over three floors worth of books both old and new. There is also a specialist section full of antique books, maps and much more. This was the first bookshop Jon and I went in once we arrived in Hay and by gosh, we stayed there a while! Jon was in his element and we ended up getting some incredible books, one of which was on ‘rare vegetables’ which made me laugh so much we bought it. I almost wish I had bought this book called ‘The Girl who was took good looking’ purely for the title, but I decided against it and settled with a photo.

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Two other books that caught my eye were The book of Asparagus and A book about potatoes because they seemed so random. There was also a book on rare vegetables was so funny (not particularly photogenic) but we I ended up buying it as the content was just so astonishing to me. It has artichoke, aubergine and even types of potato in it that we can get in pretty much any supermarket nowadays.

 

The Castle Bookshop at Hay

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The next stop on our bookshop-crawl through Hay, was to the outdoor bookshop overlooked by the most beautiful ruin castle. The thing about this bookshop is its honest. You can browse at your own leisure, take a seat on the lawn and read and then if you so wish purchase a book for £1 in the honesty letterbox by the steps leading up to the beautiful castle. Here I got a really cute little book about ‘ponies and horses’ detailing the ins and outs of ponies and horses over the world. I then spent the evening with Jon (as he read James Bond books) telling him random horse facts which I think drove him slowly mad as his laughter turned into eye rolling and ‘oh dears’. It’s little books like this that I love. As much as I find new literature and old classics dreamy and wonderful, it’s the books that are lost and forgotten that can be the most special.

Richard Booth’s Bookshop

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Hay-On-Wye has the most incredible collection of books, a cafe and a cinema to boot! There are sections fo kids, collectors, mythical believers, scientists, literature-lovers, zombie enthusiasts, gardeners, hygge-lovers and much more. The bookshop is spread across three levels (cellar, ground floor and first floor). Upstairs there are walls of literature, home comforts, Scandinavian books and all sorts of religious and mythical books. So, there is really something for everyone, you don’t really need to be an in-depth book-worm to feel comfortable here as there is really an area for everyone.  Whilst Jon spends the better half of an hour rummaging about the literature upstairs, I had a chance to sit down and read some wonderful books on Norway.

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One of the best books I found was in the ‘home / crafts’ section and it was called Living in Norway by Elisabeth Holte, Solvi Dos Santos and Knut Faldbakken.

The book is an eclectic mix of over 250 images of interior and exterior shots of Norway giving the reader a real sense of design, culture and heritage. My favourite bit about the book is the lack of ‘people’ and the fact there are so many museum style photos, or Insta-worthy photos throughout. It’s an adult picture book of Norway with some beautiful written text explaining the style / history and culture of the people.

After our exhausting mooch intertwining ourselves through bookshelves, we went for a much deserved coffee in Richard Booths is incredible coffee shop. When there we were amazed at the really lovely selection of homemade goodies from cakes to warm lunches and both opted for a cosy salad.

Addyman books 

image2-2The most instagramable bookshop in the town award has to go to this gem. This is a bookshop that has been created by someone artistic and with a real thought of the type of customers they want to bring to the shop. Jon ended up buying so many books here we went away with a free tote bag and a discount!

We loved this bookshop so much we ended up going back there again on Sunday. We were the only customers in the shop from 10am Sunday for a good hour or so, I found at the top of the stairs a beautifully decorated loft space converted into Shackleton’s hut from one of his expeditions. It was wonderful because the whole ‘hut’ was full of polar books, snow books, exploration books and of course Shackleton books too. Addyman’s is so wonderfully planned out, it just makes you want to feel at home. It’s also refreshing to a find a bookshop allowing you to feel honest and trusted. So many shops have sadly fallen victim to theft that they just case everything and cover the place in cameras, which makes for quite an uncomfortable setting if I do say so. This is certainly not something you feel in Addyman!

So when it comes down to it, if you love books, reading and culture Hay is somewhere you should (if you have not already) visit!