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!

 

 

 

 

 

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My hygge home

It’s official! I now live in an adorable, old house surrounded by beams in a quite little town just outside of Oxford overlooking spires, pretty old houses and at night the cutest of sunsets.

Moving from a London Kensington flat was not an easy decision for us, moving from a city that had everything. Parks, coffee shops on every corner, jobs and friends to somewhere alien and new.

The decision came after Jon’s contract ended at the Natural History Museum in London. Even though I had been offered a wonderful job at Kew Gardens, we decided that the only real reason we were staying in London was to be in London!

But, truth be told, since both of us had more or less done everything we wanted in London and Jon’s contract had come to an end we decided it was time to move elsewhere (with good train links back of course)!

Where to go?

The big question we had to ask ourselves, was where do we go? We seriously discussed Norway as an option and also Australia, but because my Norwegian isn’t good enough and Jon has already used his work holiday visa in Aus we decided (for now at least) to save up and live in the idyllic county of Oxfordshire!

Firstly, can I just say how shocked I was at what you can get for your money outside of London! I feel like a princess in a castle (I suspect I literally could be if we moved to Scotland or Wales). It’s been incredible and I haven’t missed London much at all, and it isn’t like it’s difficult to go back.

My home

Having a home is so important and I feel you can be at home anywhere as long as you’re made to feel welcome, relaxed and at ease. Well, that is exactly what we felt moving into our new home. It’s big, bright airy and full of character. So I’m going to share a few of my hygge home comforts with you!

Candles

If you go back through my blogs, you’ll see I’ve dedicated an entire blog to candles!

Woodwick candles and Green & Black Easter eggs!Candles are incredible and no home should be without them! Here I’ve got our Green & Blacks Easter eggs (gifted by Jon’s lovely Mum) with my Wood-wick candle that crackles like an open fire and smells like fresh ocean air! It’s blissful!

Fairy lights & Fluffy Blankets

img_7621As I type this, I’m sat snuggled under my pink Zara Mohair blanket watching Jon play on his PS4 with the fairy lights glittering away in the background.  I find fairy lights so soothing and relaxing. They bring a small amount of happiness to a home that wouldn’t be there otherwise, so why would you want to be without? I even have cute little fairy lights round the top of the bookshelves in our hallway, LED of course as I wouldn’t want to burn the books!

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Wooden beams with fairy lights and a Lego dinosaur!

Pictures

 

So many homes don’t have pictures hanging on the walls and I don’t understand why! Blank walls are for conference rooms and swimming pools, not homes! There is nothing more sterile than a vastly empty wall. Even though we’ve only been in a matter of days, I’ve already insisted we hang our pictures up and here is a small selection for you to see the difference a picture can make!

img_7611At the top we have Jon’s map on the left and a picture of Milly on the right. To the left of the map we have a feature opening which is entirely glass and almost a picture of the hallway in its own right. You can also see the next picture (Wrendale Hamster) which we have next to the stairs in our hallway!

 

It’s really not expensive to get pictures for your home. You can get personal ones like we have on our side table, or of our dog Milly, or more fun and general ones like the map or hamster. The Wrendale hamster is actually a birthday card from my parents that I had framed and the map Jon got in a charity shop for £6. I really think they look great and work well with the characterful home we’ve found ourselves in.

Kitchen

It’s true, the kitchen is the heart of the home. Without a decent kitchen you really don’t have a home and therefore it’s essential, I think, to have a warm welcoming kitchen for you after a day at work.

I always make sure there is some nice bread in the bread bin and some homemade goodies for Jon in the cake tin!

On my cook-book rack I like to keep fun books such as this Pride and Prejudice themed cook book, once belonged to Jon’s Grandma. I do however use it when cooking as it’s a great way to stop your book getting dirty and covered in oils and sauce!

Since I share my home with someone who loves to cook, Jon has a lot of say about where things go in the kitchen. If it were up to me I wouldn’t have all the oils out, but he likes them there so it’s where they stay! I do still get to squish my Wrendale tea coffee and sugar pots, and a spice rack into the scene!

The little things

This is something I’ve written a blog on before. The little things are what really make a house a home. These could be gifts from loved ones, funny photos or memories in handmade cushions or even just those little touches you like!

I personally love glitter, magical things and anything that takes me away from reality somewhere I can relax and dream! Here are two little touches I’ve picked from our new home to share with you.

img_7618The first picture is of a cluster of mushrooms made by Jon’s dad, these are really sweet and special to us different ways. To me they remind me of my Grandad as he used to turn wood in a similar way. But for Jon they are a solid connection to his Dad which is really special and sweet. I just love how they sit on the old beams. It’s as if this little bit of wood was made to hold them!

Whilst this is, theoretically, a Christmas decoration. I like to keep it up throughout the year. It’s a beautiful reminder of history and the past. These balls made from paper used to be all over people’s houses at Christmas time in the 1920’s and I think should come back into fashion! My Mum bought me this in 2017 for our London flat and I just love all the detail and golden edges. It’s so sweet!

If you have a new home and want some inspiration, feel free to get in touch above it visit me on Instagram @lucyblackall. X


I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my new hygge home! Please follow me to keep up-to-date with my blog and future posts! X