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Episode 17 : Two Hops One Trip

It’s been a while since my last proper Hop but I have been
on a few without my camera so I decided I would make up
for my lack of Hoppage by doing a Multi-Hop!
Which really meant going to two towns in a day and hoping
the fruits of such a massive undertaking and huge petrol bill
would yield good finds. I did find some nice vinyl, not quite as
much as I have done on previous trips however it was an exciting
experiment to hit two towns in one go, Towcester and Milton Keynes
never knew what hit ‘em!

Starting off in Northampton I visit World Compassion first as it is
on my way out of town.

I find a few Elvis albums on the first stop - something of a record,
along with a 12” single which, like the tag line for the Woman In Black movie is "deeply scary" yes, its Jermaine Jackson and
Pia Zadora together!

When I got to Towcester I pop into the Willen Hospice shop after picking
up my 2 sausage rolls for £1.25 and a tomato soup from the bakers next door.

Not exactly heaving with records yet someone had just donated
a pile of kids vinyl, unfortunately the albums were all scratched to hell.

The singles however were great, including a set of 5 unused flexi-disc
birthday cards all in beautiful condition with delightful artwork from 1977
as well as some charming Folk Songs EPs.

The nearby RSPCA shop is in a blink and you’d miss it back alley

They are so used to folk like me coming in pestering them
for records that they keep them out the back so you have
to actually ask for them. I am OK with this arrangement and
was happy with the one single I did find which was probably
ignored by everyone else who had been through the box though
quite why anyone would name a label Titanic is beyond me,
it was surely doomed.

I cut through the park on my way to pick up some lunch
and noticed the swings had seen better days and actual swings.

The nettles make the park benches look pretty uncomfortable too!

I land in Milton Keynes and headed to one of my more fruitful
haunts in town, the Age Concern shop where I nearly always
find something.

I was not to be disappointed as there was a bounty of football
vinyl booty as well as some curious folk and 60’s pop albums.

Heading back to my car I had to walk through the shopping
complex known as The Agora, it was once a roller skating rink
and then an indoor car boot and fruit machine arcade, now I’m
not quite sure what it is but it certainly has pants!

Inside The Agora I discover poor old Bob The Builder is struggling
to find employment like eveyone else.

The Re-Use Centre on the Kiln Farm Estate gets all sorts of
odds and ends and err, crap.

Not exactly rubbish but nowhere near as popular as they used
to be De La Soul clog the boxes with their Daisy Age 12” singles.

Whilst in another box I saw this curious twist on a best of album.

Away from the industrial estate and off to the retail estate
I find this Community Shop which looks to be pretty popular.

Clutching this weird looking sleeve (but not to my bosom)
I head for the till…

Seems I somewhat under estimated quite how popular this
place is as I could hardly move for folk!

There is usually something to be found in here, for example I once found
a copy of the Red Dirt album here, mind you that was a few years ago…

No such luck today but there were plenty of cheap DVDs including this
2 x disc Quadrophenia, I left the pile of unloved Madonna discs though.

On the last leg of my Hop I stop off in Newport Pagnell,
home of Aston Martin cars and yes, that is my shadow
lurking in the corner of the shot.

It seems I may have landed in some alternate universe where
Val Doonican albums are valued at £3 so I don’t hang about long.

Another town another Age Concern, this one does have some nice vinyl.

Alongside albums by Stray and The Ventures I found this Kinky LP.

My final vinyl shop stop over the road had some nice things tucked away.

Hidden amongst the pants and pots and railway mags I found 3 albums.

A scarce soundtrack from a 1967 movie starring Yul Brynner and ELP’s
debut on pink Island along with a Lemon Pipers LP all good for a £1 each.

Coming back to Northampton however I pass a shop who’d had
his windows smashed in but I doubt it was because he had no records!

episode 16 : Towcester & MK

This turned out to be an unexpected Hop as I only went
into town to do some shopping but one thing led to another
and before I knew it I was Hopping again, it must be in my blood,
sorry! I was on my way to Milton Keynes when I stopped off in
Towcester, a pretty town quite near to Silverstone
(home of the British GP) on the A5 Watling Street. It’s in desperate
need of a bypass as it has a lot of heavy traffic rumbling past its old
buildings, it does however have a few charity shops which I naturally
gravitated towards.

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First stop was Age UK formally Age Concern,
I have had some good finds here on previous visits.

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Despite a fine selection of common discs I was taken by
the book on top which was basically arty pictures of things
that folk have collected, now who would have thought anyone
would be interested in that kind of thing?!

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Next door to that shop is my favourite sweet shop, I have
been a regular customer of their homemade goodies for some time.

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Despite the tempting display of confectionary I am still 
waiting for him to get his delivery of my favourite treats
- the old bloke who makes them is in his 80’s and is getting
a bit behind with the demand for his delicious sweets,
c’mon old fella, pull yer finger out!

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Round the corner and onto the main road is the Willen Hospice shop

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Nothing but grubby old Wham on offer today, I did once pick up
an unplayed copy of #9 Bread Street in here, about 5 years ago…

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A better selection of DVD’s were available including Sonic Youth
and Pixies best of’s - reasonably priced at £2.50 a go.

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My last stop in Towcester was here at the RSPCA shop tucked
away in a blink-and-you’d-miss-it side alley. They refuse to put
records on the shop floor as "they look untidy" so I put in a polite
request to see the vinyl out the back.

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A box is duly pulled from behind the door but they all turn out to be
classical, I suppose even this Japanese album of Mozart is quite rare
but I am ignorant to the genre so jump back in my car and head to MK.

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Stony Stratford is a lovely old town I lived in for several years
and is where I started my first Hop a few years ago. It has been
in the news lately as a local Councillor has been trying to ban smoking
in the town centre, it has been enforced in New York so you never know,
it may happen in Stony too!

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I saw plenty of folk who had no intention of stubbing it out
just yet, like this brave chap who was really enjoying his lovely fag.

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I only stopped by a couple of shops in the High Street,
there are 3 others but they were very poorly stocked with vinyl.

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This old Folk compilation on Topic was a nice find, it features
tracks like Poor Paddy Works On The Railway rather than Down Under

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Out of all the shops I visit on my travels it is this RSPCA in which
I always seem to find something, and I was not to be disappointed today.

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Nothing really rare but such a great haul of childrens EPs and
even some Ska comps and soundtracks - a bargain £2.60 for the lot!

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I spotted another blatant smoker on my way back to the car, puff it
up love as your time is running out if Councillor Bartlett gets his way.

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Out of town and up to the industrial estate at the top of
the road are two furniture warehouses, both offer plenty of
stuff to root around in but the bike rack seems to anticipate
more cyclists than probably ever turn up.

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There is no shortage of boxes here…

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This album by Canadian singer/songwriter R. Dean Taylor on
Tamla was the pick of the bunch, it doesn’t have his big hit
There’s A Ghost In My House
on it though, but still a nice find.

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Literally around the corner is yet another second-hand warehouse

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Amongst the sleeveless singles I found this one with it’s original
cover, I had not seen it before and it will make a fine addition to
my collection of space related records.

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Despite what the sign says this shop does sell vinyl

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However their stock has been reduced to a couple of sad and to be
honest rather overpriced albums - ah well, onto my last stop of the Hop

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The Community Shop near our old studio in Crownhill
provided the best yield of my afternoon out and about.

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The manager did me a good deal on this selection of railways
EPs and a lovely motorbike GP single I had never seen before,
a fine afternoon hopping and I was still yet to do my shopping.

episode 15 : Exeter, Devon

For this Hop I trawled the city of Exeter way down in South Devon,
I had not been here for years and this was just a one off visit for
the day. I did manage to squeeze in several shops in the morning
and spent the afternoon at the seaside before the long drive home
back to Northampton. Driving round and round the city centre in
search of a parking space was my first task but I eventually gave up
and succumbed to the dreaded multi-story car park.

Thankfully round the corner was a whole row of charity shops,
my initial thought was how do people decide which one is deserving
of their donation, I was about to find out.

The RSPCA was my first stop, I was quite taken by their
dog-heavy window display.

There was little in the way of vinyl delights but I did find this
CD which looked scarily awful.

Next door was equally poor but at least they had some records,
it seems folks found it so hard to choose which shop to donate
to here that they just didn’t bother as most of their stock was
pretty grim.

I took time out to have a hearty large breakfast here, friendly staff
clean tables & fresh food - no complaints and I got stuffed for £3.99

On the main road through the centre I found a few more shops
and got the strangest feeling I was being watched outside this one.

Cheap vinyl but nothing to tempt me, even a quite reasonably priced
K-Tel rack all wrapped up and ready to go at £1.99 didn’t sway me,
perhaps am I getting too fussy?!

A few doors along however and I come across a slightly overpriced album selection.

This Bowie album was scratched to hell, had no inner sleeve
or poster was priced at an eye-watering £15 - someone must
have told them "that David Bowie record is worth quite a bit y’know"

On my last stop for this Hop I discover a treasure trove of
records out the back, including a very un-PC single featuring
Susan Hampshire as well as a few nice original 60’s and 70’s albums.

I managed to find my car park afterwards and was delighted
by it’s neon lit stairwell, I am obviously easily pleased today.

Driving to the coast I passed this roadsign warning me to look out for tanks!

No tanks in sight at nearby Ladram Bay on the Jurassic coastline
and to be honest not much in the way of sunshine either, but plenty
of interesting looking rock pools which as a Cancerian I find myself
quite at home at, down amongst the molluscs.

So you can imagine my delight in finding a crab, I do remember
finding ones as big as my fist when I was a lad, but then I guess
I used to have smaller fists!

All in all an enjoyable Hop down south and quite a few unexpected
bargains too on the vinyl front but I didn’t get that much of a tan.

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