Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Winter Wayzgoose at Hay on Wye

Hay on Wye sits right on the border between England and Wales. It is an attractive old town nestling in the foothills of the Brecon Beacon mountain range. Its many book shops have helped make it the biggest secondhand book centre in the world - a dream destination for the bibliophile. 
Every book you could possibly want can be bought -  the unusual, the rare, and the collectable. Books of maps both new and antique, and exquisitely illustrated children's books. This small town boasts no fewer than 36 different bookshops.  

There are even cafes tucked away in several of the bookshops serving delicious homemade food.

 There are specialised food stores, 
and eclectic shops selling artefacts unique to Hay. 
 the story of books
"The Story of Books" is a fairly recent initiative opened to create a dynamic working museum that celebrates the ongoing tale of books in Hay on Wye. Through collaboration with experts and enthusiasts in the world of books, they make experiences where stories are told and books are made.
Last Saturday they hosted a Wayzgoose Printers Fair where private presses showed how they make their hand printed and hand bound books. 
Wayzgoose was traditionally an entertainment by a master printer for his workmen each year on St. Batholomew Day. It marked the traditional end of summer and the start of the season of working by candlelight. Later, the word came to refer to an annual outing and dinner for the staff of a printing works or the printers on a newspaper. Although traditionally held in August it has no fixed date these days.
In the late afternoon a launch was held of our youngest son's latest book showing his linocut prints at The Story of Books. This was done by the private press that printed it on handmade paper using a traditional press. 

Afterwards we were invited to join a candlelit Wayzgoose Supper held in the upper storey of the building where we were treated to a delicious variety of vegetable curries and glasses of wine. 

50 comments:

  1. Hello Rosemary, At college I was a letterpress printer. Many of the college buildings had student-run printing shops, and so the Wayzgoose tradition was firmly planted there. Students could show their work, and there were prizes awarded. Congratulations on your son getting his book featured--is there any chance that you can show us a few illustrations from it?
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - I am delighted to learn that you are well acquainted with the Wayzgoose tradition. I wasn't going to show his illustrations but you can have a look at the printers website here:-
      https://www.inclinepress.com/shop/magpies

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    2. Hi again, Wow, I like your son's illustrations. They have the quality of being both bold and charming at the same time. Some of the more organic cuts remind me of a combination of old-fashioned strap-work blended with a modernized Art Nouveau style. (If he really wanted to demonstrate the nature of magpies, he should have added a picture of my back storage room!)

      I hope that everyone takes a look at the link. --Jim

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    3. 😀 - it appears that several have.

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  2. I have heard about it once, the place is famous even over the borders. It must be a paradise to stroll around there, love those places.

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    1. That is very interesting to know that you have heard about Hay on Wye in your country.

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  3. WOW! We drove past Hay-on-Wye so many times when we lived in Taunton and would come up here to visit Mum and Dad. How I wish we'd had time to visit. Perhaps one day when we start going on holidays again. I love book shops and those lovely independent shops. I would never have thought you could still buy a brace of pheasant! Best, Jane :) x

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    1. It is a good spot to stay for a holiday especially if you enjoy walking and climbing, and there are lots of interesting little towns to visit in the area too.

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  4. Thank you for introducing us to Hay on Wye - I know I would absolutely love this town. It goes on the wish list now! What a wonderful experience to see your son's book printed in this beautiful way. Congratulations to him and I hope it is very popular. What a delightful word is Wayzgoose - I have to find a way to use it.

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    1. It is a lovely town to visit Patricia with so much going on - festivals, markets, etc it is really very lively.

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  5. I've been there many times, usually after a long day in the Black Mountains, and explored its bookshops. One of my cousins had a traditional printing press but was put out of business by the move towards digital technology, so I always hope that these kind of ventures can be successful.

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    1. That is such a pity that your cousin was put out of business. There seems to be a big resurgence in using them now, and though rather expensive, these limited edition books are extremely collectible. I know that they have several specialised fairs here and also in the States where there are many collectors.

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  6. What a wonderful place to visit. It sounds charming with all those fascinating book shops to look through. Congratulations to your son for having his book published. I went via your link and had a look at all his lovely linocut prints. 

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    1. Thank you Catherine - he is in the middle of doing a nursery rhyme book, but using rhymes that are more unusual.

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  7. Dear Rosemary,
    There is a very special lino cut in your son's new book. The magpie nest filled with eggs and jewelry. When I was very young I had been told the story of the magpie thieves collecting shiny objects. Many a time I wanted to climb a tree to look inside those enormous nests they build.

    I wish your son a lot of success in selling this very special book.

    We visited the bookstore in Hay on Wye when we traveled by Gypsy wagon through that area. We had to park the horse and wagon in a nearby pasture and walk to Hay on Wye. A charming gentleman stopped and took us to the bookstore AND THEN HE WAITED AND TOOK US BACK TO OUR GYPSY WAGON.

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    1. I do remember you saying that you once had a holiday in a gypsy wagon in Wales, but I did not realise that you had visited Hay on Wye. Over the last 20 years, although the town is still much the same, it has moved on with far more upmarket shops and has a more cosmopolitan vibe to it.

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  8. Congrats to your son! I've never heard of either the word or the concept of "wayzgoose" before, but you have educated me now!

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  9. Love Hay on Wye, have been there several times.

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    1. It is rather like a rabbit warren inside where you could easily get lost with several floors.

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  11. Ah, my favourite town. We visit regularly and trade there in the summer too, so have lots of friends there. I know the shop you were in VERY well as until she "retired" it was a very popular shop with unusual, desirable and quirky collectables.

    Well done to your son and his new book and I hope that this day helped to really launch it on the world. I had not heard of the term Wayzgoose before - fascinating piece of our history.

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    1. My son remembers the shop from previous visits, and said the same as you, that it was full of very interesting things to buy.
      I find wayzgoose a particularly lovely word, it really conjures up times long past.

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  12. That sounds very interesting. Last time I was in Hay was a few years ago and some of the locals were bemoaning the fact that there were fewer bookshops. Second hand books just don't sell as well as they used to. This new initiative sounds like an attempt to tackle that problem - so good on them.

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    1. I was last in Hay a few years ago too, and was really surprised at just how lively and cosmopolitan it is now. I think that you would see a change - you would think that everything would be down at heel with this wretched brexit business, but Hay was certainly thriving and people were very busy spending money.

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  13. I remember visiting Hay on Wye - a delightful town. I love the look of those Brussels sprouts still on the stem. Your son's work is wonderful.

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    1. Thank you Susan - that is the best way to buy sprouts as they stay much fresher when bought on the stem.

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  14. What a quaint place is Hay with so many books shops, one could get lost in there for weeks.
    Congratulations to your youngest son, hope he sell many books.

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    1. It is a lovely little town, and you are right it is somewhere that you could return to time after time as there are so many quaint alleyways and little streets to explore and shops too.

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  15. My daughter would go nuts here being a real bookworm :-) Looks like a beautiful and interesting place to visit .

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    1. Yes, I am sure that she would love it - it is a really lively and interesting place, both to stay and to visit.

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  16. What a great word wayzgoose is. I'd love to drop it into a conversation sometime. My cousin in Wales recommended that we visit Hay on Wye when we were there a few years ago, but we ran out of time. A good reason for a return visit. Congratulations to your son. I visited the link and admired his linocuts.

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    1. It is a shame that you could not fit in a visit to Hay but now you must definitely return! Glad you enjoyed the link and thank you.

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  17. Great to see. Books have always been a massive inspiration to me and the best ones we like live within each of us forever. Long live paper books and great storytelling.

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    1. Hear, hear, Bob - I had thought at first that with the advent of the Kindle etc books might go into decline, but luckily that has proved to be wrong. People still like to have a proper book in their hands after all.

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  18. Dear Rosemary, You show us these wonderful little towns with fascinating places to see .... but it is all so far away! Oh well, I will just have to come and visit again.
    I love the shop fronts with their displays both inside and outside. But that is just a taste of all that is contained within!
    Congratulations to your son. His work is beautiful.

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    1. Dear Betty - thank you so much for your kind comment. Yes, do come back and visit again.

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  19. I can almost smell the bookshop...a treat that is quickly disappearing in the U.S. You have so many quaint and beautiful places near you...I am envious and at the same time happy that you share them with us. Happy Holidays Rosemary

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    1. I am happy that you enjoyed seeing Hay on Wye Janey, I will pop over and see where your travels have taken you to now. Hope you enjoy the coming festive season.

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  20. Dearest Rosemary,
    Wow, that is a very unique and special place to go for all book lovers! Sadly, as Janey already mentioned here above, here in the U.S. it is a rare sight. Back in The Netherlands, at a one hour drive we always wood go to a very large, special book store and find gifts for nieces and nephews but I doubt if any of them got the reading bug like we had our entire life.
    Your son has done some very special work and I love the one with the jewelry in the magpie's nest!
    My late first husband had a magpie as a pet when he was a boy and also Pieter has had one and Dad told us stories about one.
    The combination of food and books in such a place is the BEST!
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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    1. Dear Mariette - I thought that our bookshops would decline here too with the advent of buying on the internet and with Kindles etc, but it is not so. Here we still enjoy proper books and also browsing amongst them. May be it is an historic thing from when we were young which our youngsters have now inherited. There were certainly lots of youngsters in the shops in Hay.
      We have lots of magpies coming into our garden, I think that there are more of them than ever there were previously.
      I have a framed print of the magpie nest hanging on our upstairs landing.

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    2. Dearest Rosemary,
      That is coincidence that you too fell for that magpie nest print!
      Here in the Southeast there are no magpies, miss them though.
      It is a blessing to have youngsters interested in the bookstores and may it stay that way for generations to come!
      Anyone that is an avid reader is way ahead of those that don't read. Mastering a language comes from reading and writing it, apart from speaking it too.
      Hugs,
      Mariette

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  21. Good morning dear rosemary,
    Lovely photo´s from a wonder place to be!!! Have a wonderful weekend ahead.

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    1. Lovely to hear from you Marijke - hope all is well with you.

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