Best Record Shop
Rooster Records in Exeter had a bewilderingly huge range of stock, including loads and loads of really good records. For 'bewilderingly huge', read 'lots, like most record shops used to have, but very few new ones have, as to acquire that much stock requires massive investment which is not very sensible when you're starting out in any kind of retail, let alone a branch that most people think is a retrogressive fad'. Yes, they had loads and loads of great records - so many, in fact, that I got bored. Because for the first time in my adulthood I'm pretty certain I won't be buying any of them, so what's the point in wanting them? And it's the wanting them that makes seeing them in a shop interesting, isn't it? But it is an excellent record shop.
Smugglers Records in Deal has some good quality stock too, as well as some great beers, but is much more on the new record shop side of things when it comes to quantity. It also, on my visit, hosted more than one of those crushing 'Bloody 'ell, is that album really worth that much nowadays? I used to 'ave that. I 'ad all their stuff on original pressings with the gatefolds and everything' bores that will be banned from the Blues Night store for their first offence. But it appears the guy there has higher standards of customer service/tolerance than yours truly.
'If I could live anywhere else in England outside London, it would have to be Totnes, in Devon,' said a cool and well-travelled youngish teacher I was talking to instead of doing some marking about a year ago. We were back at school after the summer holidays, (which I won't be the week after next, ha-ha) and she was already wanderlusting. 'There's a real comfy Lordship-Lane middle-classness to it, they've got their own currency like Brixton, but there's a great mad old hippy thing there, too.'
'Sounds awful,' I said, but I was actually intrigued enough to quiz my geogra-knowledgeable friend about it.
'You're right, it is awful. And it's way past its best,' he said. 'But it's probably better than it was when my father-in-law lived there in a wigwam about twenty-five years ago.'
So I expected Totnes's record shops to be a capitalistic inspiration of badly-categorised, optimistically-graded, blim-burned discs of peripheral interest to any more conventional enthusiast. But I was massively wrong. Totnes is a brilliant town, and there are several places with some really good records for sale, but the very best I've visited so far, Drift, is wonderfully organised and uncluttered, full of really interesting new vinyl, and does excellent coffee. I take my purple and black jester's hat off to them.
Worst Tip for a Stop-Off
'I've just got back from Torquay, and they have loads of places like this there,' said an Italian man who had just started a 'Vinyl Cafe' (for want of a briefer phrase) in London.
'Really?' I was doubtful. 'It's like, er, a thing there?'
'Oh yeah. Those guys really love it. Really expensive sound systems, a very simple drink menu, great music.'
I probably looked impressed and annoyed simultaneously - this was MY business plan. But I made a very definite mental note to visit Torquay at some point on our family travels. It was only much later that I realised he had probably said Tokyo.
Nevertheless, we did stop in Torquay on Saturday morning, having struggled with some similarly inaccurate insider info. The new Devon resident of the last blog had shown me a phone pic of beautiful Maidencombe beach, its cliffs of the deep red sandstone, the water looking tropical. No Filter, he told me.
He didn't tell me that, at the end of a long and winding singletrack lane down from the main road, the car park he had promised had a totally unnecessary 6ft height restriction arch. After performing a 217-point turn in my 9ft vehicle, I didn't get out of first gear on the way back up. I could have watched the fuel needle dropping, but would surely have hit the bank.
His photo mightn't've had a filter, but the car park certainly did.