I would like the Hay Festival to marry me. Is that awkward?

Yesterday was the king of days. It was the super supreme of Saturdays. If the days of the week were Harry Potter actors, yesterday would’ve been the guy who played Neville Longbottom. In that three-piece suit. Yes?

Yesterday my love and I went to the Hay Festival, and I decided it’s my favourite place to be. If you weren’t reading along this time last year, Hay-on-Wye is a tiny village on the Welsh border that, at some sensible point, decided to give itself up to bookshops and antiques. During the Hay Festival, authors, politicians, journalists, comedians and other good sorts come together in a tent to give talks and be charming. We saw Hilary Mantel last year, and fell in love. This year we’d arranged for Henry to spend the day with his grandparents, and had tickets to see Eric Schmidt (CEO of Google) and Caitlin Moran (feminist journalist and author). And we weren’t going to waste a MINUTE.

The drive to Hay-on-Wye is lovely enough, especially in beaming sunshine. The sky was endless and the country lanes bright green and yellow. We ate Pringles in undignified fistfuls, listened to Stephen Fry reading Harry Potter, and had actual conversations that didn’t have to be broken off every two minutes to stop Henry licking his shoe. Before and after our talks – which were excellent – we sat in deckchairs in the pavilion, reading newspapers and sunning ourselves, and ate lovely food with friends. Sadly, during our newspaper session, a chap from Visit Wales came over to ask whether he could use a photo of us in their promotional material. We said yes, because he was nice, but I know full well what my Newspaper Concentration Face looks like (a dog’s bottom with a grudge against society) and it wouldn’t encourage anyone at all to come to Wales. Oh well, his look-out.

In between, we managed to get into Hay itself and have a poke around. First stop was a desperate hunt for emergency flip-flops: the shoes with proper soles I’d bought – to be kind to my pelvis – were eating my feet, and you can’t appreciate antiques properly on your knees. Luckily we found some, and enjoyed a couple of hours wandering into rickety little bookshops and fiddling with old sea-chests. We found a map shop and coveted 400-year-old paintings of Berkshire (ONE DAY). We sat listening to live bands on the top of the castle mound eating popcorn, and Tim found a piece of monster corn in the bag that was almost too big for his mouth. Truly, honestly, it couldn’t have been better.

I love it because it’s just for us. Because we love it together, totally separate from work and babies and the life life life that marches on around us. Because the time we get to feed our brains and open our eyes is unbelievably precious in an ocean of nappies and normality. Because, in short, we both know how to appreciate a really massive piece of popcorn under a sunny sky.

Same time next year, yes? Maybe next time, when I have the option of bending over, we’ll camp.







9 thoughts on “I would like the Hay Festival to marry me. Is that awkward?

  1. oh it sounds like heaven itself. that gorgeous sunshine, england in full green splendor, antiques and books and buntings…divine. also, your top is fantastic.

    • Oh, it was just wonderful! I love little villages, and villages specialising in second-hand books are the best of all 🙂
      Also, thank you! It’s now one of the only tops that still fit, so it’s getting a lot of wear at the moment!

  2. Hi Rachel,
    It is really nice that you both have similar taste in this, so you can getaway and have a fun filled but equally enriching day out. Such beautiful pictures and such picturesque location. Nice tucked away place, almost hidden. Lucky you!

    • Hiya!
      Yes, we’re lucky we both love it – especially as his interests tend to be more technological and mine more artsy. So lovely to do things together – it doesn’t happen as often as we’d like!

  3. Debbie and I went to Hay for a late birthday treat for me back in March this year. We stayed a few days, at the Swan at Hay hotel (http://www.swanathay.co.uk/). As you say Hay on Wye is wonderful. Next year I think it would be good to be there for the Festival itself. It was wonderful roaming the many book shops. We even spent time in the one Tim is pictured sitting in above. Of course, several books were purchased during our stay 🙂 yet to be read …

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