The Quest for Vinyls

Owning a vinyl record player used to be a future dream for us, something that we would get when, at some distant point in the future, we got a permanent living place. Well, in May we realised that we indeed had acquired such living conditions where a vinyl record player and vinyls could be owned and stored. Bear with me, we’re getting to the motorbike-related part soon. Following the purchase of the actual player, we swiftly bought a few key records as new pressings, New Model Army’s From Here, Enya’s Watermark, Killing Joke’s Pandemonium, Penfriend’s Exotic Monsters, The Sisters of Mercy’s Floodland and Mishima’s Ara i Res. I already had the vinyl for Winnerbäck’s Tänk om jag ångrar mig och sen ångrar mig igen as it was part of the collector’s pack that my ex-boyfriend gifted me 13 years ago. This made for a good start, but we needed more.

Vinyl player and Kallax storage shelf
Vinyl player and Kallax storage shelf

During the last year my partner and I have been listening to the Audible version of the Vinyl Detective series by Andrew Cartmel and this could very well have been the catalyst for the realisation of the purchase of our vinyl player, but more specifically it made me want to try out crate-digging for records. The Vinyl Detective’s cases are always a quest for one or several rare records and he travels around London going to record fairs and charity shops for crate-digging. In Sweden, flea markets – Loppis, in local lingo – have become very trendy and during summer they pop up in great numbers all over the country. In addition, the market for used vinyl is also rather good and there are several record shops dedicated almost exclusively to it. This is where the motorbike comes into the picture.

Dad helped me prep a special backpack for crate-digging, naturally large enough to fit one or several vinyls and with a sheet of plywood in for stability and strength. This backpack was then permanently stored in one of my panniers as, in Sweden, there can be flea markets in the most unexpected places. My first, and as it turned out, most economically successful crate-digging excursion was in and around Motala. With the help of friends, I could find several flea markets where they had vinyl – mostly it was old Swedish bands but I could find some others that I liked and I picked up a couple of Simon and Garfunkel records for only 40sek each (roughly 4 euros) that was on our wish-list, as well as Never mind the bollocks here’s the Sex Pistols and Deep Purple’s Made in Japan. These last two I acquired in an unconventional manner. I usually never haggle for prices, and it wasn’t my intention to do so this time either but as it happened the shop owner aked me if I found something. I bluntly told him that the records were in too poor condition and not worth what he was asking and that was how I accidentally negotiated the price down to 50sek for both, rather than 80 and it was only much later, when I deep cleaned them, I noticed that they actually play quite ok and were actually worth their initial price.

A typical loppis sells a bit of everything and might have a few crates of vinyls too
A typical loppis sells a bit of everything and might have a few crates of vinyls too

On a later occasion, I made a dedicated vinyl-tour to Uddevalla and Trollhättan and it was in Evolution records in Uddevalla I learned that vinyls don’t get their price based on their quality only, availability is a great part of it. Therefore, I had been able to buy great quality records with popular Swedish artists for only 10 sek (1 euro). This is also when I learned about Discogs, where you can see how much records are bought and sold for at the moment and learn about special editions, etc. I bought Winnerbäck’s live album Vi var där which was not cheap at all, as it was now sold out on vinyl and only available second hand (it was 400sek, i.e. 40 euros for a triple vinyl).

Parked outside Vinylskrubben in Trollhattan
Parked outside Vinylskrubben in Trollhattan

After Udevalla, I made my way to the neighbouring town Trollhättan and the record shop Vinylskrubben. There, I found several albums that were on our wish-list, such as U2, Enya and Leonard Cohen. The record playing in the shop was Deep Purple and it was bloody good. I wasn’t familiar with that particular record, but I decided to ask if I could buy it when I had finished the crate-digging and was ready to pay. But there I learned a lesson, while I was happily flipping records and enjoying the music a guy just simply strolled in and asked to buy the record playing. Aaargh! After this it became my quest to find this record and, luckily, I was later able to find it. I bought, in total, 10 records on that trip, so the backpack was rather heavy on the return journey and I still had about 150km to go when my motorcycle just died. My first thought was that I was glad that I had chosen to include recovery in my insurance. It is actually dad who insists that I have recovery, as he thinks my bike is old and therefore unreliable and that he is too old to come and get me. Or perhaps that I’m old enough to take care of myself. Or all of those!  Anyway, on this occasion I didn’t need to use the recovery option, I could fix the problem quite easily myself. It was a cable that had come loose, probably when I was riding that amazing gravel road near Svanskog on my way down to Uddevalla. I was pretty pleased that I had all the tools with me to be able to unmount the fairings and access the battery and the cables so that I could fix it and continue swiftly. I thoroughly enjoyed some of my favourite small roads, slowly making my way towards home and halfway there I pulled in to a petrol station to fill up. It was by habit more than necessity, as I always used to fill up in Mellerud with a shade over 100km to go. This was when I became aware that the electrical problem was a bit bigger than just a loose cable. I had to do some more fixing and either Swedes don’t care to ask if someone needs help when they are taking apart their vehicle, or everyone around thought I knew what I was doing. Anyhow, no-one asked to help me and luckily, definitely more luck than skill, I got the bike going and didn’t even dare to turn it off again to replace the fairings but rather put it all together provisionally and rode without stopping straight home. A more thorough examination showed that there was a bit of rust on the battery connector and after scaping that off as well as some other cleaning and adjusting of cables, I nearly didn’t have any more motorbike-related problems.

I've pryed the middle pannel loose to access the battery
I’ve pried the middle pannel loose to access the battery

Another fantastic day trip I made was up to Östanbjörke near Sunne. It was a great day on many accounts as I had started off with visiting a friend on the way – not only was I treated to homemade raspberry crumble, I was also promised that I could come over next time I needed to change oil and he would help me open the plug so that I could empty the engine entirely of the old oil. Hurray! I shall make sure I bring the crumble on that occasion. At Östanbjörke vinyl and flea market, I made several lucky digs. Firstly, I found the Deep Purple record, Who do we think we are? that I lost out on at Vinylskrubben, and then I found an Enya maxi-single with a rare B-side that isn’t available on any album so there were a couple of treats for both me and Christopher. Unfortunately, I later found out that the Deep Purple record has a scratch that makes the needle jump in Tokyo Woman, but to be honest, if I had known I might had bought it anyway but perhaps haggled for the price?! After all, I paid 140sek for it (14 euro) and it was marked G+, which implies that the record should play well. While it is annoying that one of the best songs doesn’t play perfectly, this record had an unexpected perk. When I examined the record’s pressing codes on the run-out groove, I discovered that it had PORKY etched on the A-side and PURPLE PECKY on the B-side, which means that it is pressed by renowned mastering engineer George Peckham and these pressings are very good quality and highly regarded. To conclude this paragraph, I must also mention that on my way home I stopped in Sunne and had a big soft ice-cream in the harbour. Why? Life is too short for small ice-creams, that is why.

On my last crate-digging run, I found the first pressing of Magnus Uggla’s cover album Allting som ni gör kan jag göra bättre at Askers in Grums (translates as “Everything you do I can do better” reflecting the artist’s lack of humbleness). It contains a later banned version of Vem kan man lita på and, in addition, on the back of the sleeve there is a reproduction of the infamous artwork of Carl Johan de Geer which was banned (and all the printed posters burned by the police) in 1967 for violating the flag and being anti-Swedish. Such an iconic album by one of my favourite artists had to be included in my collection. I also found a very good edition of the Smurfs story album that I bought for my sister. When I was visiting, she complained that our brother had lent (or gave away, at least we never got it back) our Smurf record when we were kids, so I think it will make for a very unexpected Christmas present. It was great to finish on a high, and it was also great that this was the last day riding before flying home as I noticed that the right front fork was leaking oil from the seal, here we can probably blame the gravel riding. Another thing to deal with next summer – there will be a long list, I’m afraid.

While I wasn’t able to go on a proper holiday last summer, this continuous quest for vinyls filled my summer in Sweden with fantastic excursions and when it was time to fly home I had a rather heavy backpack that I jauntily carried on one shoulder trying to pretend that it wasn’t heavy at all – the well-tested trick to not get checked by the Ryanair staff.

PS. in these videos you can see how I deep-cleaned the dirty Sex Pistols record and Deep Purple’s Made in Japan with wood glue. It effectively removes all ingrained dirt that has accumulated in the grooves. It is easier than you would first think so don’t be afraid to try it!





First Horizons Unlimited travellers meet in Sweden

Last weekend in June 2018, Horizons Unlimited hosted the very first travellers meet in Sweden and I was happy to take part. Ironically, it was hosted by a German, Kai-Uwe Och and the venue was owned by a German couple – does it take Germans to appreciate the Swedish countryside, I wonder?

It was a small meet with a shade over 15 people attending, many Swedes as expected but some people from central Europe had made their way up to Dalarna and Finnskogen near Orsa. The atmosphere was excellent, everyone was humble and, regardless of experience and skills, their main focus was to listen and learn from others, just the kind of low key event I enjoy participating in. Together, we enjoyed ride outs, both on gravel and tarmac, and in the evening we cooked food on the campfire and enjoyed old school presentations. For inspirational travel stories, we were treated to photos and stories from Canada and Iceland.

In addition, I talked about WIMA and Pikilily. As the audience was only men, apart from myself and another woman, I was happily surprised that people were so interested in hearing about WIMA and the presentation went on for longer than I had expected due to all the questions.

Lastly, there was a tyre workshop where I got to develop my skills in changing the innertube. As I previously always have had tubeless tyres, before getting my GS a couple of weeks prior to this, it was welcome practice before my summer travelling.

The weekend was a success and I certainly hope that we can see a continuation of this event!

Sweden – at last, and now I’m stuck here

Travelling up to Sweden was lovely and I just took things as they came. Since I felt like it, I stayed one day longer in the south of eastern Germany, I had no ferry booking – I just bought a ticket before riding on to it. The price was just the same as if I would have booked early. Also, this ferry doesn’t require that one books a cabin, which saves me a lot of money since a cabin is really expensive for a solo traveller and I’m happy to sleep on the floor if it saves me money.

I just stopped to have some tea and nibbles from my top case and look who are coming to greet me!
I just stopped to have some tea and nibbles from my top case and look who are coming to greet me!

Entering Sweden, the weather was at its best. I rode up to visit Carola, our national president for WIMA Sweden. She was offering breakfast and I had information to pass on from the Presidents’ meeting in Hungary. We had a long, leisurely breakfast that continued until lunchtime. Then I rode north to see friends in Jönköping. At this point, it was nice to park the bike andnot touch it for a few days. Onwards from there, I rode to Gothenburg, where I was to spend a couple of days riding the good old roads with friends. It was nice to do “social riding” and honestly I was more interested in the coffee and chat than in the riding itself. Sweden has such beautiful countryside and the summer cafés are absolute gems. We had homemade cake at Grovare Lamm och Handel, you have to know where to find these places and in Sweden these cafes make for riding destinations for motorbikers.

Having fika - the Swedish concept when you meet for coffee at Grovare Lamm och Handel. Strictly speaking we were not meeting here, Anne was leading the way since this area is her stomping ground. Photo Courtesy: Ela
Having fika – the Swedish concept when you meet for coffee at Grovare Lamm och Handel. Strictly speaking we were not meeting here, Anne was leading the way since this area is her stomping ground. Photo Courtesy: Ela

Be aware - there might be gravel. Photo Courtesy: Ela
Be aware – there might be gravel. Photo Courtesy: Ela

The last leg, for this time, was up towards Karlstad and my home. The countryside where I come from is called Segerstad, which literally translates as “the town of victory”. When I arrive here on my bike it does truly feel like a victory, every time. Especially the last 5 years, when I have travelled either all the way from Spain, or like this year, from England via Wales and Hungary. Someone pointed out that it wasn’t the nearest way. Who wants to take the nearest way? Well, actually returning to England I do. A direct ferry would be brilliant.

Segerstad - I made it, what a Victory
Segerstad – I made it, what a Victory

Today, I’ve had a busy day, finding out information on the internet. I have tried to sort things out according to new possible plans and mainly I have found out how not the way I want things are going to happen. First of all, I have change a university course in Japanese to Spanish and investigated the time frame of the validity of my motorbike insurance abroad. Since I don’t know where I’m going to live during next year and it is likely to be too cold to return the bike to Sweden later on. Besides I need the wheels. I honestly can’t think of storing my bike away another winter. It is just too sad. As it stands, my insurance days abroad will run out in the end of February so I’ll need to have a solid plan by then. As for the Spanish course, I am now accepted but then the next problem needs to be solved – we’ll be in Scotland camping for the first bit of the course and the 4G net isn’t all that developed – will I be able to find good enough internet for the first couple of seminars?

My home town Karlstad - on my way home from the garage I did some sight seeing.The woman who stands statue is "the Sun" of Karlstad, a waitress at a cafe who had a very sunny temper. Therefore the sun is the logo of the town but unfortunately it doesn't mean that the weather is always sunny
My home town Karlstad – on my way home from the garage I did some sightseeing.The woman who stands as a statue is “the Sun” of Karlstad, a waitress at a cafe who had a very sunny temprament. Therefore the sun is the logo of the town but unfortunately it doesn’t mean that the weather is always sunny

Well, to be able to get to Scotland I must first get from Sweden to the British Isles. So, I have tried to book myself and my bike on a freight ferry for a swift return but without success. Therefore, I will, again, have to make the rather epic journey down to Hook of Holland. It seems like the best option is a ferry from Gothenburg to Fredrikshavn and then onwards, 1000k ride to the next ferry. It will take me a few days longer and cost me a lot more. I hope to be able to meet up with some friends along the way to make the trip more exciting.

Lately, I have been meditating on the idea of changing my bike for a lighter one, perhaps smaller, since we are increasingly riding small mountain roads and the Versys is rather heavy and the weight distribution isn’t brilliant. However, it is amazing when it comes to carrying large amounts of luggage and super comfy to ride far, albeit not fast due to the vibrations. Maybe I should make up my mind and decide to keep it – and then order that aftermarket central stand I so dearly want.

The chain and the suspension - how it works according to Kjell. If only I had a central stand I would be much more able to look after my chain, or so I believe. Courtesy: Ela
The chain and the suspension – how it works according to Kjell. If only I had a central stand I would be much more able to look after my chain, or so I believe. Courtesy: Ela

Well, regarding the bike I have more urgent matters. Getting an appointment at the garage here in town proved difficult. I had expected this, that was why I wanted to get the clutch cable sorted in Hungary and had the service booked in England before leaving. The local Kawasaki mechanic is on vacation and the others don’t want to touch my bike since they are busy with their brands. The bits have been ordered but there is no guarantee that there will be time to do the work when the mechanic comes back. I might have to pack them in my panniers. Knowing this doesn’t encourage me to spend dear money on ferry tickets either. Really, I should learn how to do stuff myself. Therefore, I spent some time googling for basic mechanic workshops and this resulted in a booking for Christopher and myself at the Oval Motorcycle Centre in London at the end of November. I’m cross with myself for not finding this course while based in London. To make the journey worthwhile, we are combining it with the play No Man’s Land with Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart – this will be like seeing Magneto and Charles Xavier or Gandalf and Captain Picard together, or both. I’m going to be emotional. In fact, I am, just thinking about it.