And so to Wales, where every May the great and the good of the literary world descend on the tiny town of Hay-On-Wye for a week-long festival. My mum, brother and I have been a few times and always have a wonderful time, and this year was made even more special by the addition of The Boy and my brother's girlfriend to our party. Unfortunately the weather was pretty rubbish all week, but we still managed to enjoy ourselves.
We stayed in Talybont-On-Usk in the Brecon Beacons, in a stunning Georgian cottage. Lots of good food, wine-fuelled Scrabble matches and beautiful hikes in the surrounding countryside.
More important, however, was getting down to some serious book buying. Hay is not quite the book-lovers paradise it once was - when we started visiting the town about 8 years ago, there were close to 30 bookshops there, and there are now a 'mere' 15, including specialist shops for children's books, for crime books, and for poetry - but it's still pretty darned wonderful. By the end of the week, the four of us (me, mother, brother and Boy) had bought a total of 77 books between us, making a stack almost exactly the same height as me.
The Hay Literary Festival is a rather middle class experience, but nonetheless brilliant. At a large site, which this year was extremely muddy, a complex of tents and theatres is constructed (plus the obligatory bookshops, of course) and over the course of a week you can pick from hundreds of events. Our little party attended lectures on everything from 'Immortality in Fiction' to 'Mandela the Strategist', plus talks by fashion designer Julian McDonald, author Margaret Drabble, and Everyday Sexism founder Laura Bates, which left me both inspired and rage-filled, determined to continue and expand my feminist activism. Also on at the same time in the town is the 'Festival of Philosphy & Ideas', How The Light Gets In, which draws a generally younger and hipper crowd to the small festival site on the edge of the town centre. I was sad to miss a talk by Laurie Penny there, which took place the day before we arrived.
I think the highlight of The Boy's week might have been pretending to leap through the 'Stargate' (aka, a book sculpture). As I write he is busy photoshopping this picture to add Stargate-y special effects and I am busy rolling my eyes at what a nerd he is!