we continue to explore the world together, our next project is trail riding. There are lots of little trails around where we live, this is literally just around the corner. It’s lovely to get out a bit – I know I can’t spend all my time with my nose in my books – although the master’s course takes up a lot of my free time.
I met Christopher at an English language book swap in Madrid and who would have thought back then that one day we’d have our own bookshelf together. He wasn’t a biker then, only politely interested in bikes: and it would take a few years before he got onto the pillion seat; and a few more years still before he got his own license; and now, celebrating 12 years of awesomeness together we got ourselves matching boots.
Who would have thought that I would ever get matching boots with anyone?
It is only January but there is spring in the air and we’ve been out exploring on the bike. In the summer, we hope to ride some new trails together and we’d better start practicing. I’m rubbish at trail riding, but now when we’ve got properly protected ankles I hope to be a bit braver.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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!