Cottage Holiday without kids – Hay-on-Wye is my tip!
Cottage break without kids – Hay on Wye is my tip!
You get to the point where you realise that you are barely seeing your husband and when you do you are both too tired to talk and collapse in front of a box-set instead. The only way to truly catch up is to take time out and that means away from the little people in your life. We love them dearly but a little bit of time to reconnect and not have that early wake-up call would be nice.
The planning process
Once the grandparents are roped in for babysitting duties the planning can begin. All of a sudden you have a precious weekend and you really want to make it special. I started thinking about all of the European cities that I’d like to visit but started to dread the stress of catching a flight and having to hang around in airports unless they have really good duty free shops! I just wanted this week to be the opposite of normal life and not to be rushing around. Hay-on-Wye came to mind as somewhere I’ve always wanted to take my husband. I went as a child and still remember being fascinated by the second-hand book shops. The town known by locals as ‘Hay’ lies in the Brecon Beacons National Park. It is just on the Welsh side of the border with Herefordshire.
Now the cottage
The most important decision is the cottage and our base for the weekend. For family holidays we normally choose a rural holiday cottage but for this weekend without kids I choose a quaint terrace cottage within walking distance of Hay. This was the best decision because we could stroll in to the town within 5 minutes.
The weekend cottage break started in the perfect way by wandering into Hay and having a delicious breakfast in the famous http://www.boothbooks.co.uk/cafe.htm . It is a renowned, 3-floor emporium for new and used books, in a striking tiled building with a cafe and cinema. The restaurant is stylish, the food top notch and the service fantastic. We just happened to find ourselves back there the next day.
Shopping in Hay
The next part of the plan was to leave the husband perusing the book shop whilst I go and check out the rest of the shops in Hay. I forgot to mention that I’m a kindle lover! The shops range from antiques, clothing, delis, hardware and not forgetting the bookshops. I would recommend ‘Flow’ the clothing shop which has brands like https://www.seasaltcornwall.co.uk/ and a beautiful gift shop where I started my Christmas shopping. Also http://number-two.co.uk/ for clothing brands like www.joules.com/Joules/Clothing. They also have a lovely homeware and gift department downstairs.
Not forgetting the books!
When we visited there were a staggering 26 bookshops to visit ranging from ‘Murder and Mayhem’ to ‘Mostly Maps’ which are fascinating to visit. My husband came away with a hefty 15 books (where are we going to store them?!). Hay is famous for its https://www.hayfestival.com which will be taking place from the 25th May to 4th June 2017. For ten days 85,000 people visit from all over the world to join a carnival celebration of ideas and stories.
Further afield from Hay
Once we had our fix of Hay we decided it was time to dust our walking boots off and head further afield in the beautiful countryside. We did get a bit distracted en-route by the http://www.wyevalleycanoes.co.uk/river-cafe.html .
The café is nestled on the banks of the River Wye, 4 miles west of Hay. They also hire out kayaks, canoes and bikes. The café with its decking overlooking the river is an idyllic location and the café has a lovely feel to it inside. The quality of the food is superb with locally sourced produce. We had a lazy cooked breakfast whilst reading the papers – very chilled.
Lovely walks around Hay
We managed to squeeze in two lovely walks over the weekend which at least compensated for all of the eating.
The first walk was a 5-mile walk starting in a lovely town with Georgian houses called Crickhowell. The walk starts in the town centre and you head off to climb Crug Hywell nicknamed Table Mountain. There is a 1481 foot (451 m) summit with an Iron Age fort (no wonder my husband chose this one!) and a fantastic view point and we did have a clear day. The walk follows country lanes, farm tracks (where we got a bit lost!) and moorland paths. The return is along a pretty wooded valley. The bonus of this walk is that it ends back in the town and we discovered a lovely little café for tea and cake called ‘Latte da’. To finish the day off nicely I found a lovely small department store http://www.nichollsonline.co.uk/. They had a lovely selection of women’s clothing and shoes including brands like Orla Kiely, Lily and Me (which was newly discovered by me!) and Weird Fish. I must admit coming away with a few purchases.
Walk no 2. Craig y Cilau
The second walk was a 5.5 mile walk from Craig y Cilau which is a dramatic limestone escarpment overlooking the Usk valley. This walk covered a range of different landscapes ranging from field paths, quiet lanes, woodland and a part of the Monmouthshire and Brecon canal. The hardest part, which made us feel very unfit, was the scramble up to the escarpment. We were taking the old path that wagons loaded with limestone would have used to lower the limestone down into the valley to be taken via the tramway and finally along the canal. The view at the top of the escarpment was well worth the huffing and puffing to get there. However, the weather changed very quickly and torrential rain came down and guess what, this was the day that we hadn’t come out with any waterproofs! Thankfully we found the funny side of this and returned to the car soaking wet. This walk must be repeated on a clear day because the views from the escarpment would be breath-taking. Restaurants in Hay After a good day of walking and a quick pit stop at the cottage it was time to try out the restaurants. I had done a bit of research at home before going and had a couple of places in mind from reviews but that completely changed when we got some excellent recommendations from locals. We were recommended a place called ‘St John’s’ which I did not come across in my searching at home. We were luckily enough to get the last table on a Friday night (they only open Friday and Saturday nights) which meant not eating until 9:30! For anyone who knows me that was a very long wait but it was well and truly worth it. The restaurant has been described to be like a pop-up restaurant. It is in a very small building, a part of St John’s Chapel. The food was innovative and truly a unique find. We were also recommended a pub restaurant for dinner called the ‘The Old Black Lion’. Again, this was an excellent meal with fresh local produce and the service was excellent too. Can anyone else recommend a great holiday cottage location for a kid free weekend?