12 August 2007

Hay-on-Wye take 2

– or why you should always take a book with you, even when you go to the Town of Books.

Stupidly, we waited for the rain to die down.

Stupidly, we pottered about in the morning, instead of leaving as soon as we could.

So, stupidly, we found ourselves in the midst of the non-stop pouring rain – and the mayhem that it caused.

Stupidly, I hadn’t taken my camera with me, so all I can provide here is a couple of pictures that I got off Yahoo.com – so sorry... We had already been to Hay-on-Wye (see this post), it was going to be grey and rainy, we were going to be busy looking around bookshops all weekend, so no, I didn’t take my camera. Damn I regretted it!

Some scenes were quite spectacular: going through the deep puddles, water splashing by the sides of the car and soaking the windscreen in a huge curtain of water; a Mini going for it in what looked like a river but then its engine drowning and dying in a volute of white smoke in the cold 10 p.m. air...

Others quite amusing: Monsieur l’Anglais setting a trend by getting off the car and standing on the verge of the road to relieve himself; me NOT setting a trend at all by trying to hide between the driver’s door, the central reservation and Monsieur l’Anglais holding the huge golf umbrella, and NOT managing to relieve myself, so petrified was I, despite the ‘It’s OK, nobody’s looking’, the ‘I’m siiiiiinging in the rain, la la, la la la!’ and the ‘Come on, chérie, everyone’s going to think that you’re having a crap!’ (now that really helped, of course!!...NOT!)

And yet others quite miserable: abandoned cars, flooded cars, sorry drenched drivers walking by, on a mission – but which one? The closest town or shop was miles away, we were in the middle of the A40, about 15 miles away from Gloucester!

But we were lucky. Very lucky. At least we weren’t on the M5 or the M50. Those who were slept in their cars that night of 20th July 2007, a day to be remembered. Instead, we were on the glorious A40. We spent a very romantic 12 and a half hours in our little MG, sometimes a bit worried, sometimes laughing our heads off, sometimes annoyed, sometimes happy because I had taken a book with me (‘just in case’, as I always do – though Monsieur l’Anglais hadn’t wanted to listen to me and was bored stiff a lot of the time!), sometimes surprised that we had already been waiting on the same spot of tarmac for more than four hours, sometimes alarmed at the realisation that perhaps we would not make it to Hay-on-Wye for our anniversary...

But we did make it, and we were in a warm bed in a warm room at 1.45 a.m., 15 minutes after arriving at our little B&B in the centre of town. What a relief!

By 8.55 the next morning, we were up and ready for breakfast (they stopped serving at 9). We had only had a few nuts, a few dried apricots and a little water between 1 p.m. the previous day and 9 a.m. that day! Thank you Me, always ready for the unforeseeable – at least we hadn’t starved!

And then by 10 a.m., we were pushing the door of the first of the 20-odd bookshops we were to visit that day and the next.

Unfortunately, the bad weather continued, so we didn’t even get to go back to The Spot Where Monsieur l’Anglais Proposed. Getting to that spot would have meant going through mud and probably impassable paths, where the rain had lodged itself... I was gutted.

It was an interesting adventure. We will always remember our first anniversary. A rainy anniversary. Ah – a bit like our wedding...

No, I wouldn’t recommend planning anything around 20-22 July in future. It seems to always rain... We won’t any more. We’ll celebrate our anniversary a bit later from now on!

But here’s the remarkable collection of books we managed to buy and bring back from the Town of Books! (Recognise the kitchen counter?!)

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