Viva Darbados – Day 1

As both of my readers may know, I have just got back (well, last week) from a trip to the city of Derby. This follows the previous years’ excursion to Macclesfield, and the year before that, to Skegness, both of which have been with my mate Chris, and this year was to be no exception.

Chris picked me up at 11AM sharp. The weather in Partypool was a little overcast, but dry. As we headed south, the weather changed and it would stay that way for the entire journey there.

Unlike previous years, we didn’t stop anywhere on the way down, as we had an extra day, so it was straight to Derby. To describe the journey as uneventful would have been an understatement. We arrived just before 3PM, and managed to get a parking space next to the hotel. the prices were very reasonable. £15.00 for 48 hours.

It was, of course, raining when we got there, and it wasn’t time to check in yet, so we headed to the first place to grab a drink, in this case it was a bottle of boke in the ‘Slug & Lettuce’.

So, a bottle of the ‘ard stuff later, the rain has stopped, so we had our first wander around. One thing became clear, Derby likes its abandoned buildings. Large swathes of the city centre appeared to be abandoned, or about to be demolished, and some of the shops that were opened were of a… shall we say… questionable nature.

As this was the first day of 4, we did a cursory glance around the charity shops. The first one happened to be a “Cats Protection”. Upon previous experiences, I know these are quite expensive, but at 50p a CD, it was acceptable. Nobody apparently wanted to serve me. Hmmm. Can’t be that used to havng customers. Eventually, a lady did servce me, and I left the establishment clutching a Nigel Kennedy Greatest Hits CD. No, I don’t know why either. I just felt like I had to start the trip somewhere.

We found what appeared to be the main shopping centre, namely “The Derbion”. This was a clean and spacious shopping centre. Your usual array of shops, and of course, there was the usual shopping centre collection of charity shops such as British Heart Foundation and Age UK.

The rain was continuing to fall lightly, so we headed back to the hotel to check in. The room was your standard Premier Inn affair, with the exception that the window didn’t open. Strange. I don’t think I’ve ever stayed in any hotel where this was the case.

By now, it’s an unwritten tradition what we watch Tipping Point. It just always happens to be on the telly when we get to wherever we’re going.

We spent about an hour or so in here while my phone battery charged. It’s reaching that age where it’s getting needier for a dose of electricity, and no, I’m not going to buy a new one until this one dies.

The rain had stopped, so it was time to explore the area in the search of… liquid refreshment. everal days earlier, I’d been exploring on Google Maps, and found a taproom just over the river from the hotel.

We walked in, only to be greeted with the sight of a laptop and papers strewn everywhere. Well, it didn’t look very open, and the guy behind the laptop had to check if they were actually serving today…. indeed they were closed. Apparently one of the contractors must have left the door open, as they were planning for a refurb. Gutted. The guy said that they’d be open at 3 the following day, so a return trip was planned. Instead, we went to “The Old Silk Mill”.

I liked this place. Pretty cosy, though it did seem to have an aroma of cooked fish about it. I can’t believe I got a pint of Madri when there were so many other exotic beers available. I didn’t see that they had Citra on draft until it was too late.

We had one or two in there, and then headed to “Ye Olde Dolphin Inne”. I really liked this place. It’s one of those places that were built when people were a lot shorter. Low ceilings, all the beers were pumped from a cask. the only thing out of place was the games machine. Sadly, I can’t remember the name of the beer I had (something like Screeching Owl), but it was exceptional. this was to become a regular for the next few days.

Two pints later, and we’d just excaped the rain. It was time to look for some food. There were a number of highly rated Indian Restaurants that appeared, so we picked one, seemingly at random…. The Spice Lounge.

This was certainly a good choice, as the food was excellent. Of course, I had the chicken vindaloo, and I enjoyed it immensely. If I had one critiscism about it, is that you don’t really get enough dips to go with your poppadoms. I think we’d finished 3 of the 4 dips between us, leaving only the white one, because nobody ever eats that stuff.

Overall, a very nice place, and I don’t think the prices were too bad either.

After we left The Spuice Lounge, we headed up the same road to see if we could find a nice pub to settle into for the rest of the night. We ended up in one called The Greyhound. Chris and I both agreed that this part of the city felt very much like York. and this place was no exception, it definitely felt like something you’d see there. The place was really nicely done out…. except for the toilets.

In the first draft of the blog, I put in a detailed description about them. Bog was, quite literally the operative word here Let’s just say some careful hovering was needed, and the rest I’ll leave up to your imagination. Instead, I’ll include a photo of the place itself.

The Greyhound had its last orders at half 10, so we drank up and completed the short walk to the hotel. One bottle of Peroni later, and that was me ready for bed. What excitement would await us the following day? One thing’s for sure, there won’t be as many photos of the inside of pubs as this one…

Day 3… Ta-Ta Treacletown

So, as mentioned in the last ramble, I managed to get a decent night’s sleep in the hotel, and finally surfaced about 9. We had already had a recommendation for food. I didn’t mention in the previous days’ blog, that Chris had stopped off at a chothes shop to pick up a cap, as he didn’t want to get any of his dozen hairs wet. We got chatting to the shop owners who had instantly picked up on our accents. I explained about our pin-on-a-map charity shop excursions, and he gave us a recommendation of an old cinema that had been converted into a large eatery place with lots of individual stalls to buy food from.

We went on the search for it, and also stumbled on an untapped vein of 5 or 6 independent charity shops. That was an unexpected bonus.

Thankfully, I did pick up a few CDs this time. I don’t think there was anything amazing in them, but I’ve yet to listen to them at the time of typing.

We found the eatery which called itself “Picturedrome”, and it was indeed large, and plenty of places to eat… It did seem a bit “hipsterish”, with plenty of laptops and beards flying about. It wasn’t exactly cheap either. Ihad a chuckle at a noodle bar called “Send Noods”.


So, it was time for the final hurrah. Naturally, one last trek around any charity shops I might have missed. My first concern was… had they restocked the Age UK I’d visited previously?

Yes. Yes, they had. the shelves were full. Of course, my next question was, could I still get the CDs for 50p? I was feeling confident. I was definitely going to get away with it two days in a row. I took my 11 CDs to the counter.

“That’ll be £11 please”. Gosh darn it. Never mind. It’s all for charidee, innit? As the weather was still nice, and we still had a little bit of time before we could set off, we had a walk around the surrounding area. I found a mural dedicated to those 108 steps, stuck to the side of a bridge.

It’s also the first time I can recall where I’ve walked over a bridge, but also been under a bridge at the same time…

Fascinating stuff. I also don’t know what it is with me seeing faces in things… first there was “Coke Bloke”, secondly, there was this one…

I’m not quite sure which one amuses me more. I feel that second one might be a little more intentional though.

And, doing things slightly out of order, because I can, and there was no other place for it, I also photographed these classy old fluorescent streetlights in the grounds of Macclesfield sorting office…


So, that was it for good old Macc. It’s a nice place. Plenty going for it. The next stop was Stockport. Again, this was more of a pin-in-the-map type thing. It was on the way home, and I have no recollection of where the idea came from. We probably passed it on the way down. I’d like to call this place ‘varied’. It’s bigger than I imagined it to be. There were a few charity shops we’d passed on the way down. I expected that to be it, but it turned out we were a good few miles from the town centre. Leaving Macclesfield and getting to Stockport town centre seemed an age, but in reality it only took 30 minutes, and that included an aborted stop in an Asda to get to the afore-mentioned charity shops.

First impressions were… not amazing. There was confusion on how to pay for parking – it looks like the shopping centre we were in was in the process of going “app only” for parking. A genuinely disgusting turn of events. If that’s the future, no wonder town centres are dying.

Anyway, rant over, thankfully, we found possibly the only pay machine tucked away in the corner. I deposited the cound, and we had two hours to explore the delights of Stockport.

Peering over the wall didn’t look promising.

Oh, would you look at that! It’s taken my collection of shopping centres during demolition up to three. Two in three days. Aren’t I lucky?

It took a while for things to get good when it came to shops. It seemed like you have that rank old precinct, but walk a couple of streets away, and it’a much nicer affair. Modern shops, a decent number of charity shops, and of course, a market hall.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a photo of the market hall, but it was much nicer than the one in Huddersfield. There was even a guy selling local bottles of beer. Reasonably priced too. I think I picked 4 up. I have, of course, drank them in the intervening time between me getting home and typing this, so I can’t remember what they were called, but they were very nice.

We even stumbled across a record shop. I knew we were limited on time, so I couldn’t spend much time as I wanted in there, but I almost jizzed my pantaloons at the sight of a “Loading Bay Records” copy of Ankie Bagger’s “Where Were You Last Night”, until it was pointed out that I already have it. A quick check of the databse, and it is, indeed in there. I certainly didn’t pay £2 for it though. Bugger. Or should that be Bagger? A-hahahaaaaa. Sorry, it’s getting late.

That pretty much would be the final stop. I nipped into the “Pound Bakery” for a sausage roll. It was not amazing. I also nipped into Holland and Barrett for some cough sweets that I liked, but it seems they don’t stock them anymore. Another thing discontinued is “Green Cola”, something released a few years back. It was not amazing. Either way, I picked a can of that up for 59p. I’ve yet to have it, it’s chilling in the fridge.

And that, as they say, is that.

The rainbow, pointing towards the pot of gold that is Teesside, assuming you don’t check the GPS location embeeded in the photo. Overall, an enjoyable few days away. The food was superb. the charity shops could have been better, but I was still happy with the little haul. the weather certainly could have been improved on. Unfortunately, the week after we went, the sun was cracking the pavements. At least it was back in sunny ol’ Hartlepool. Still, a little rain never hurt anybody.

Hopefully, I won’t leave it six months until I have something worth blogging about!

Day 2: The full day out

Well, it’s day 2, and if you’ve not seen this for a couple of days, it means I’ve struggled to think of a catchy title. Anyway, today was the fun day. The one where we had free rein to do anything, go anywhere. So, of course, that means.. Go to some places related to where I work, because everyone’s sad enough to do that… right?

Seeing as we’re already here, the first stop was, of course, Macclesfield. Luckily, the hotel is a very small distance from the town centre. It’s situated next to something referred to as “The 108 Steps”, because, I assume there’s that many steps.

We didn’t take these, deciding it was too early in the morning for anything resembling excersise, so we just took the long way round.

And there we were. In the shops. What had started off as a lovely day weather-wise, was soon turning overcast and cold. Joy. Never mind, it was warm in the charity shops. The first step, however, was the indoor market. It took me seconds to stumble on a decent little stall called “Rockalittle Records”. Despite having a large amount of stock, I did feel a little guilty about only picking two out of the £1 box.

It didn’t take long for me to turn my attention to the charity shops. I found a large one down one of the side streets, namely an Age UK. We got in, and there were very few CDs on display, despite there being a large bookshelf for them to reside. I needn’t have worried, as the one of the ladies kept bringing out armfuls of CDs. I quickly amassed a small collection, but at £1 a pop, I had to keep it fairly modest. I took my haul to the counter. “That’ll be 4.50 please”. I couldn’t have got out of there quick enough. I was definitely going to come back here later when the stock had been replenished.

B+M was next door. That gave the opportunity to stock up on the essentials. Namely, some of these.

We stopped off at the market again to get some brekkers. I got a cup of tea and a sausage sarnie. We had a walk around the shops, but there wasn’t anything else that particularly stood out, apart from this particularly tacky display. Hope you enjoy your sponge cubes and cup of paper, kids!

Unfortunately, by now it was now absolutely heaving it down. We went down the 108 steps, somehow managing to avoid breaking our necks on the cobbles, and headed to the car. Next step was Buxton. It was probably about half an hour in the car, it became clear why this area of the country is called the Staffordshire Moorlands.

Now, as I mentioned, I occasionally talk to people from the Staffordshire area, as part of work. It was pretty interesting to see some of the places I’ve only talked to people from.

Of course, the shops were the next step. We had two hours. There was plenty of charity shops, in fact more than I was expecting. I picked up a few CDs. There was also a shop that sold American cans of pop, for roughly the price of normal ones, so I picked up two cans of cherry coke. The US stuff is much nicer than the British stuff. You could also tell you weren’t in Kansas anymore, as there was also a shop that sold pigeons ready for roasting. Never seen that before.

We left Buxton behind and headed off to Matlock. A place I hadn’t even really heard of, until this particular day.

The road between Buxton and Matlock is an especially picturesque one, with the road running through a valley, with a nice litte river running alongside the road. Unfortunately, neither my photographic skills nor the lighting did it justice…

If, like me, however, you like charity shops, you’ll love Matlock. There’s essentially a whole parade of shops dedicated to them. Beautiful. I wish I’d have got a photo of them. Just stick “Firs Parade” into Google Maps. You’ll see what I mean.

In fact, here’s a video of me in 40 years time reminiscing about the place.

On the way back, we stopped off in Bakewell. I didn’t even know we were so close to it until we actually drove through it. There was literally just enough time to stop off and grab some stuff from the original Bakewell tart shop. Sort of wish I’d got a photo… but I did get one that summed up the weather…

Yep, nice weather for ducks. As we headed back to the car, it started raining. Hoying it down. I got into the car, as I thought Chris was going to drive over to the pay point. Nope, he walked over, and came back completely sodden.

We accidentally went a different way back which took us through the town of Leek. In fact, according to Google Maps, it was quite the detour…

By this time, there wasn’t much to do in Leek, except to nip into Lidl and get some suff for the following morning.

And so, back to ol’ Treacletown. After Chris dried himself off a little, we headed back out on the way to discovering that other Indian, namely a place called Paprika, and of course, a few more of the nearby bars. Of course, it was back to the George and Dragon for a couple. A nice little place.

It was then onto the Jolly Sailor. A nice little pub that has a huge wall of random books. I’m not sure if any of them have ever been read since they were put up there, so we chose to pick out to film review books and have a flick through them. It took a while to get served though, even though I was the only one at the bar. Twice. Still, I liked it in there and I’d definitely go again…

Next was to the Indian. Paprika. Unfortunately, it took us longer to get there than originally intended because the GPS had broken on my phone, and we were completely heading in the wrong direction. Instead of walking what should have been about 100 yards, we walked half a mile. the walk, however, was well and truly worth it.

It takes a lot for me to absolutely, 100% recommend a place. I’ve reached the age now where I’m cynical about everything, but I will quite honestly say that this is, without doubt, one of the best curries I’ve ever had. Once again, there was the poppadom, with their own variation on the newly discovered “brown dip”.

I even asked them what it was, they just said it’s “their own chilli sauce”. I’m still none the wiser, and I’m gutted about it.

Vindaloo for the main again, with onion pilau, and of course, naan bread. It was faultless, absolutely faultless. It even had that little drizzle of melted butter over the top… Ghee whizz, it was superb. I’d say, in the dozens, if not hundreds of indian restaurants I’ve eaten in other the decades, I’d probably put this in the top 3. It also worked out at about £10 less than the first place. I was gutted, as I bought the first one the previous night, and Chris paid for this one. Typical. Even “Coke Bloke” had a long face over it…

One last stop in a place called “The Fountain”. I think the beers were taking hold at that point. We’d headed back to the Travelodge after this, and watched whichever episode of Family Guy was airing that night. I remember this, because I commented on the episode at about 2AM in the morning, two hours after the telly had gone off and we’d both been asleep.

Needless to say, I’d managed to get an infinitely better nights’ sleep than I had previously. even the trains didn’t wake me up. Almost time for day three and the journey home…

Day one in Treacletown

A couple of years ago, during the lockdown, I came up with the idea that when we were through it, I’d visit a few places that I’ve never been to, with the whole premise of raiding thr charity chops and trying a few nearby eateries and… drinkeries. Last year, I travelled to Skegness with Chris, and this time we headed off to Macclesfield.

As I type this, it’s 7:39AM. I’m laid in bed in a Travelodge listening to the traffic go by. Unfortunately, the traffic seems to consist of large trains, seeing as we’re probably less than 50 yards away from the main train line, the one that runs from here to Manchester. I’d ask Chris which one it is, but he’s snoring merrily away, and by the time I get this online, I’ll probably forget.

Anyhoo, on to yesterday. It started off with a trip to Huddersfield. It’s a place I’d been to several times. One place I remember with a great amount of fondness, was a little record shop known as “Vinyl Tap”. The top part of the shop was unassuming, and not really that interesting. It was all new stock. All stuff that was out of my price range, and also stuff that just didn’t appeal. There was one saving grace, however. A massive basement, that probably ran underneath three other stores, full of 7″s and 12’s, of all different genres. I remember my previous visit in 2016, I spent hours down there and came back with a fairly decent haul.

Sadly, on this visit, the record basement was no more. Instead of a welcoming staircase to heaven, there was instead, the velvet rope, draped across the stairs. I could have cried.

So, after about 2 minutes, aimlessly looking at CDs I was never going to buy, we left. Probably never to return, ever. Sad times

Of course, Huddersfield has more to offer than just one record shop. There were, of course the charity shops. And what a disappointment they all were.

Approximately 2 hours of walking around yielded 4 CDs, and most of those were from a branch of Barnados that had only just opened.

There was also the outdoor market. I don’t know whether Tuesday is “Flea Market” day, but it seemed like it. Not one shred of anything decent. Unless you like horse ornaments.

We then stumbled on what could only be described as a fire waiting to happen. It’s hard to put into words just how cramped this place was, stacked high with tables, chairs, cabinets. If it’s made of wood, it’s in there.

Of course, I had to stumble over a mercury vapour light. Should I have bought it? I certainly didn’t fancy lobbing at around, with no guarantee that it actually worked, so I passed on it.

One of the last few stops we made was to one of those local community / tourist places. Ended up picking a bottile of Carolina Reaper hot sauce. At the time of typing, I’ve yet to try it.

So, that was Huddersfield. It was getting a bit late in the afternoon, but there was still time to head somewhere else, and that place was Oldham.

Getting there was a piece of cake. Getting parked, not so. Eventually we settled on a car park that we’d passed twice. Luckily by that point, I’d discovered two charity shops, so we headed there. It was 15:32, and one of them, the RSPCA, closed at 15:30. Sure enough, the doors were already locked.

That’s definitely one of the worst thing about being a charity shop fan, having to put up with whatever opening hours the old dears beihind the counter can put up with.

The other one is an Oxfam. These are always hit and miss. Sometimes, they’re great and have reasonable prices, sometimes they just slap any old price on stuff.

It was raining at this point. Missing a charity shop by 2 mintes had also not lightened the mood. I was ready to put on par with Grimsby as the most depressing place I’d been to, but thankfully there was no smell of fish in the air.

We found another untapped vein of charity shops, adn I ended up with my biggest haul of the day. Only 9, however, but it was still more than before.

We did find a diamond in the rough, however. Tucked away in the top left corner of the “Tommyfield Market” was a lovely little micropub called the Cob & Coal. I didn’t get a photo of the place itself, but here’s a photo of the doorstop, as we both found it particularly amusing.

And that was Oldham. The rain had not relented the entire time we were there. Thankfully, this meant that there was no dust from the shopping centre they’re knocking down… and it also allowed me toadd to my ever growing collection of shopping centre demolition photos with…. two.


And the onto the final destination. Good old Macclesfield. Sally satnav showed us the way, and after making only one wrong turning, we’d reached our destination. I was quire surprised how small the town seemed. Seemed one minute we were in the country, the next second was the sight of the Travelodge, and our base for the next couple of days.

Even though it was raining, there was a decent view out of the window, both daytime and at night.

We dropped our stuff off. Chris has a cup of tea and I watched The Chase. We then went in search of food. Naturally, we went for an Indian. Of course, before that, we made a stop into a nearby pub, the George and Dragon. What a lovely little place. Not sure if it had just been done out,, but it was absolutely spotless. The drinks were nice… I went for a Dizzy Blonde, and Chris had a pint of something called Unicorn. It was decent. And the bogs were spotless. Not often you can say that about many pubs. they even had genuine brand-name hand soap.

After a couple of these were necked, we went onto the Indian. Now, we ended up going to a different one than we originally planned, a place called Lazeez. It was over the road from the George and Dragon, and seeing as the weather was still ‘inclement’, we ended up here because it was closer. The food itself was absolutely lovely. There was some sauce that came with the poppadoms. Now, anyone who knows me will know that I could quite happily bathe in the red sauce that you usually get. This time, it was like a brown sauce. No idea what it was, but it was beautiful.

I went for a vindaloo, naturally. Ended up getting loads. Only downside was that the beer wasnt great., it tasted like it had been in the pump for a while. If you go here, It’s probably an idea to get a bottle, but that was genuinely the only downside to what was otherwise a decent place. 7.5 out of 10.

So, the night was getting on. We went to a place for one more drink, namely Alfred’s. They had Beavertown Neck Oil on. Its lovely stuff. Expensive, but worth it. I ended up trying to teach some of the intricacies of Pokémon Go, but I don’t think he could have been any less interested!

So, back to the Travelodge. Thankfully the rain had stopped at that point. A couple of episodes of Family Guy later, and time for sleep. Turns out that the bed seemed slightly smaller than a normal single bed, and it felt like I was going to keep falling out. The trains going past didn’t help. Chris later explained that the rail appeared to have a loose fishplate, which was causing the “Th’dunk” sound every time anything ran over it. So, I’d say it was a below average sleep. Not terrible, but not great either.

And so, onto the main event… day two!

A veritable smorgasbord of East Coast misery (Day 3)

Sunday morning came, and it was time to say goodbye to the quaint little B+B that had been our home for the previous two days. Micl/Mike was there to see us off (and to waft the credit card reader under our noses), we had a brief chat, mainly about Seaton Carew and John Darwin.

And with that, we left. We put the bags in the car, but left it there,, as it was still a bit early to set off. And of course, Chris had to make sure there was no beer circulation, as he’d be the one driving.

There were still a couple of places we hadn’t visited, such as the shopping centre. There wasn’t much there, except for a Home Bargains, and a beer shop. I stocked up on crap from Home Bargains, and beer from the… Er, beer shop. Naturally.

I think it must have been about 11am at this point. As we left the beer shop, we both caught sight of the drunkest “woman” I think we’d ever seen. Clearly still worse for wear from the night before, she was staggering about, trying to hols onto, what I can only assume is her long-suffering boyfriend, whilst clutching onto a McDonald’s cup. I genuinely felt sorry for the bloke, as she exits the shopping centre, and throws the cup to the ground. The boyfriend, admitting defeat, picks the cup up, and deposits it into a nearby bin.

Stay Classy, Skeggy.

We popped into a nearby cafe to grab a bit of breakfast, whilst recapping the events of the weekend, and where to go on our way home. I wanted to go the Humber Bridge way, as I’ve never been over it (except in Euro Trck simulator 2) and then stop off at Beverley, a place I’d heard of, but never been to. Never even looked at it on Google Maps. It shall be a surprise.

We waved goodbye to Skeggy, and typed Humber Bridge into Googley Maps. Apparently it was about an hour from where we were, and I’m not sure which way we went, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the most direct route. We must have hit every twisty road going. At one point, the maps gave up, went off, came back on, and said “Do a U-turn.” You know what? Nah, we’ll just keep going, how’s about that?

So, Sally Sat-Nav was silenced, and eventually, the roads opened out into proper A-roads, and a few miles away, we could see the towering structure of the Humber bridge

It’s certainly impressive as you go over it.

I hope the photo was worth it, as it cost me £1.50 for the toll.

Beverley was a short ride away, and before we knew it, we were parked up. I tried to befriend one of the nearby resident, but he didn’ t want anything to do with me.

I must say, I have to give a full 9/10 to this place. I liked it a lot. It reminded me a lot of Thirsk, but bigger. Just as quaint though, with its market square and knitted characters on the pillar boxes…

Of course, there were charity shops, but to be honest, even I was getting a little burned out with them. I didn’t keep a tally on how many we went through, but I’m certain it must have been a record. It was approaching 4PM at this point… The time when everything closes on a Sunday, so I made one last stop into an Oxfam. The last CD I purchased turned out to be the best!

Yeah, Neil Sedaka. I know. I only bought it for the one song though, “Bad Blood”. A jolly little 70s tune, which reached number 1 in America, but failed to chart over here. Has Elton John on the backing vocals so I’m surprised it didn’t do well over here.

I have this actual album on LP, but was very surprised to see a CD release of it, so snapped it up. Definitely paid over the odds at £1.99 but I’ll probably never see a copy again.

And that pretty much concludes the trip. We headed back to the car (unfortunately my feline friend had long gone by this point), and completely guessed at the route home. Turns out we went a but further south than we needed to, but it took us through a couple of picturesque little villages, so all was not lost.

We somehow ended up going through the outskirts of York… Not sure how we ended there, and it was here that I learned that Chris does like a little bit of road rage! Not quite sure if it was the actual other drivers, or my choice of music after three days. I suspect a little from column A, a little from column B…

Thankfully for Chris, the journey ended shortly after. I was home, and the rest of the night was spent watching snooker and cataloguing CDs…. A process that took roughly a week, and the main reason you’re reading all of this long after it happened!

Of course, the big (and final) question is, where to next? I doubt anyone has reached this far after three days, but feel free to leave a comment….

A veritable smorgasbord of East Coast misery (Day 2)

And so, onto a nice, sunny day 2. It was time to explore some of what Skegness had to offer.

The first stop would be the pier. As I mentioned yesterday, the B+B we stayed in was really close to the seafront. A single street away, in fact.

The scooter rally thing was in full swing by the time we got there, and a huge long row of scooters were parked along the front. I probably should have got a photo, but scooters don’t really interest me that much. instead, I got a photo of this amusingly named hotel…

I wonder if they had beef curtains… Ahem.

Onto the pier itself next. It’s funny, I live about a mile from the sea, yet I still chose to fill my phone up with pictures of exactly the same sea…

On the way back, I noticed this sign on the floor…

I said to Chris “I like the way that they put the ice cream sign on the floor so the dogs could read it”…

“Oh yeah, good idea that”, he replied. I don’t think he was really listening. I just shook my head.

Time for some breakfast next, and we went to the lesser known cousin of Harry Ramsden for some chips.

A bit pricey, but I guess that’s what you pay for in a seaside resort.

Of course, a trip to any seaside resort wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the arcades. It’s nice to see just how many of them had error messages on the screen…

I was not disappointed.



We also picked up some candy rock. Haven’t had any of that for years. Must admit I’m a bit partial to the old Aniseed flavour myself.

Time to hit the fine charity shops of Skeggy, then. The first one we went into was the Butterfly Hospice shop. I was quite amazed to find an actual decent pile of records. Every single one of them from the 80s / 90s, and unfortunately, every single one priced out of my range. The lady told another customer that a relative donated them, so they looked them up to see what they’re worth and priced them accordingly. NO, charity shops. NO. Stop doing this. If I wanted to pay whet something was worth, then I’d just get them off ebay / Discogs. Anyway, rant over.

Turns out there were more charity shops there than I’d imagined. None of them could change a tenner, meaning I was picking up maybe a quid’s worth of CDs and then having to pay with card. Wonder how much they got charged for that.

That was that for the charity shops in Skegness. Of course, there were other shops, including this one that seemed to just sell animals made out of resin

And that was that. We went back to the car, and headed to the nearby town of Boston. It’s about 25 miles south of Skeggy, but I’d been informed that it was possibly a good place for charity shops.

Despite it only being 25 miles, the fact that it’s all just one twisty road made it feel like 50. I don’t think my choice of music helped either. I’d exhausted the “good” songs on the way there (My Spotify favourites list), so I went through the Top 40. I can quite categorically say that today’s music is shocking. Luckily, Lincolnshire is very flat, so there were no cliffs for Chris to drive off.

We endured another brutal one-way system, and got parked up. Time for another two hours of charity shop mayhem.

While there was no shortage of CDs, three was a shortage of things to carry them in. Now that carrier bags actually have some monetary value, charity shops have stopped giving them out, and cleverly, I forgot to bring one, therefore most of the day was spent swapping CDs between us, Chris would hold onto the horde while I ferreted through the shelves of whichever charity shop we were in.

There was quite a considerable collection picked up from the last shop we were in (the name escapes me), only to find out they didn’t do carrier bags either. Aaargh, I could have screamed. Thankfully, the lovely lady behind the counter had a rummage (oo-er) and picked out one. It was the most effeminate looking bag you could have imagined (not quite as bad as the Guisborough bag), but it held CDs and was sturdy enough, so problem solved.

It was going onto 4PM at this point, and things were starting to close. We headed over to the “Boston Stump”, a huge spire. I don’t think anyone knows why it was called a stump, as there’s nothing stumpy about it.

There was one last stop, a clothes shop, as Chris wanted to pick up a shirt, and we arrived back at the car with about 15 minutes to spare.

We drove back a slightly longer, but more picturesque way. It added about 10 miles onto the journey, but it was better than the flat scenery of the journey there.

We arrived back probably about 5PM. Enough time for a bit of a sit down, and decide which eating establishment we were going to sully with our presence. Just along from the Indian restaurant we attended last night, was… Another Indian restaurant. This one was slightly cheaper, and arguably the nicest of the two, and the nicest naan bread I’ve had since the trip to Blackpool many, many years ago. The curry was nice and the beer was cold too. 10 points all round. If I had any complaints, it was a tad slow, but it was packed, and as the old saying goes “Good things come to those who wait”…

Onto the pubs. Now, it was still pretty busy thanks to the mod weekend that was continuing, so the majority of places were once again packed out. We even gave the Tipsy Cow a miss. We wanted to explore some of Skegness’s culture. there was only one place for it. And yes, I’m having to rely on Google Streetview for this one.

“Oh, Smithers! Let’s go slumming!”

We walked through the door. The bloke behind the glass cabinet / fishbowl asked us to sign in. Chris did the honours our names and the town we were from… “Remember to spell ‘Artlepool with a H”, I quipped wisely. Crickets chirped. The guy inside the fishbowl stared blankly. Well, I laughed.

Unfortunately, the Bingo was on. Now, I’m from such an upbringing to know that nothing, and I mean NOTHING interrupts bingo. We got a drink from the bar, and it felt like 120 sets of eyes were glaring at us. Chris went to the bog, came back and gestured there was another room to the side where there was no bingo! Hurrah! this room has even less atmosphere than the bingo room. There was a completely empty bar, the optics had been stripped clean. It didn’t look like anyone had stepped foot in there for a decade. At this point, I spied another room. Something with a bit more atmosphere. There was a games room! Praise the lord. 80s music, the sound of other people talking, and it looked like there was a darts match going on.

As we were in a games room, I suggested going to the bar, and asking if they had any dominoes. It was a bit tongue-in-cheek if I’m honest, but Chris did the honours, and I was a little more than surprised came back with a set. The games commenced. In the first couple of games, Chris laid a 5-2…. and I also laid a 5-2. Wait, what? Yeah, it turned out these particular dominoes had some duplicates. By the time we’d weeded them out, we were playing with a set of 21 dominoes…. and call be paranoid, but I’m sure that Chris memorised some of these, because he absolutely trounced me. Maybe he was seeing the reflection in my glasses? I will never know. We need a rematch with a full deck.

While this was going on, I was keeping my wonky eye on the pool tables. I’d not played for an exceedingly long time (6 months), so I was itching for a game. A group of teenagers had been hogging the tables for most of the night, but seeing as it must have been their first ever night out (they’d never had Jaegerbombs!), they lost interest in the pool table pretty quickly. I inserted my 3 20p pieces (that’s inflation for you!), and racked the balls up. I went to retrieve the white from the other end of the table, aaaaand nothing. Not only did the dominoes not have a full deck, the pool table didn’t have a cue ball. What type of insanity was this? Chris asked the guy behind the bar. “Oh, I’ve already given the white out”, basically saying we were shit-out-of-luck. Naaaaah, not having that. I went over and commandeered the cue ball off the other table, which was also now sitting vacant.

Halfway through the first match, the barman produced a cueball… Apparently, he’d given it to the people on the snooker table, thinking they wanted to play pool. Oh well, not that it matters. I lost the first rack of 2022, after potting the 8-ball in a particularly elaborate, yet unintended trickshot. Not only did I lose at dominoes, was I now going to lose at Pool?

No, I didn’t. The next two racks were convincingly wrapped up, and I ended up winning 2-1 before the 20p supply ran dry.

And that, as they say, was that. Time was pushing on by this point, and the afore-mentioned vindaloo and beer was giving me acid, so we headed back.

We walked back through the main room where the bingo had been held. The sound of clattering balls and 89 old ladies sinulatenously shouting “Fuck!” had been replaced by an Elvis “impersonator” in the loosest sense of the word. The spirit of Phoenix Nights is still alive and well.

This concluded our final night, and yes, once again, I couldn’t help but take a photo of the SOX lighting…

And while Skegness was over, there was still the journey home to enjoy. Would there be more charity shops?

Well, what do you think….?

A veritable smorgasbord of East Coast misery (Day 1)

A couple of years ago, during the height of what I affectionately call, the Panny-D (admittedly, not a name I invented myself), I came up with the idea of going to a random town, spending a couple of days there, and ultimately raiding the nearby charity shops. I thought it would end up no more than a drunken thought at the height of an insanely depressing time. A couple of months ago, I spoke to Chris about the idea… and he bloody loved it. He also thought it would be great to visit some… er, “lesser known towns”, and explore the sights, sounds, and almost certainly, smells of these different places. A plan was concocted, and before I knew it, we were booked up and winging our way down to the lovely fishing village of Skegness.

So, Friday came, I packed the essentials (a memory card full of music and a couple of T shirts), and off we went. Of course, just going to Skegness would have been a bit of a wasted journey without other stops, so on the way down, I chose a couple of other places, namely Scunthorpe and Grimsby. Chris almost forgot about the Scunthorpe bit, but luckily I reminded him about it with only 0.9 miles to go before the turn off. This would turn out to be the best move of the day. More on Grimsby later.

I had plotted a few places to look at in Scunny, (well, two car parks and a charity shop). Turns out the first car park apparently must have been an NHS one or something because it was closed. Luckily, the second one was open, and even better, it was free for two hours. That couldn’t have worked out any better.

So, charity shops, then. There were a few. I have absolutely no recollection of which ones we visited, but I do know the first one didn’t stock CDs. Oh no. Thankfully, this wasn’t the one I’d plotted on ye olde Googles, and I did pick up “5 for a quid” from one further down the road… this was a struggle, as it would appear some old folks’ home had just had a clear out of the ex-residents’ rooms, or something, as there were 8 shelves of absolute tat.

Of course, the next shop would be this charity shop that I’d located on Google maps, it looked huge, and normally, that’s a good sign. Off we went, and, I quickly began to doubt my map reading skills.. At some point, we’d ended up in the middle of some housing estate. That clearly wasn’t right. I even confirmed that it was open via the googles, so there was absolutely no way it had closed down. Absolutely no way at all. Google wouldn’t lie to me, would it?.

Turns out it had closed down.

Well not quite. It had just moved location, and by pure chance, we stumbled upon where it was now located. I don’t think I’ve ever been so disappointed in a collection of CDs in all of my entire career of trawling the shops. Ugh. I came out with ONE Paul Young CD and at the time, I wasn’t entirely convinced I didn’t have it in the collection. Of course, I could have checked the database, but I don’t think I could have faced the pain of spending an hour looking for this place, only to come out with nothing. Chris almost bought a knitted psyduck from another shop on the way down. I think this is his first foray into the world of pokemon

Overall, I enjoyed Scunthorpe. It probably would have been better if I didn’t send us on a wild goose chase looking for a shop that no longer existed, but in my defence, The Internets told me it was open.

Our 2 hours parking was completed with 18 minutes to spare, and off we popped to Grimsby…. oh my. A small part of me (read: ALL of me) wished we’d just plopped a couple of quid in the Scunny parking meter and spent a bit more time there. Grimsby is the land that time forgot. In fact, not just time. I think EVERYTHING forgot Grimsby..

Unsurprisingly, My first interest was a charity shop we’d passed on the way in. Chris stopped in a nearby car park to get some water, and I walked along. It became apparent that one of the myths I’d heard about Grimsby was entirely true. It really does smell of fish. And the charity shop was an absolute blow-out, as I hasn’t read the sign correctly…it was simply just a furniture shop, and didn’t sell CDs. Bah

We attempted to get into the town centre. Now, I can’t claim to know much about town planning and traffic management, but my word. Whoever designed the road layout and traffic light system in Grimsby, needs chopping up and feeding to the ample seagulls. It’s HORRIBLE.

Luckily, the town centre is incredibly picturesque.

By sheer luck, we found a carpark, and abandoned the car.

I’m not too sure what to say without coming across overly offensive, but….wow. The smell of fish was soon overpowered by the smell of weed. The few charity shops I raided weren’t even that good. there was a pretty little shopping precinct… thing, and a church of some description. Chris mentioned that he’s like to come back and visit this place…. Sights, sounds and smells of the fishing industry? Yeah, you’re going back there on your own, mate.

I did get a flashback of home, as there was an Indoor market that was almost completely deserted…

One thing that I did see, was some baby pigeons. Not very often you see those, which is just as well, as they were ugly little feckers

That was about it for Grimsby. Charity shops raided, the local “sights, sounds and smells” were successfully “endured”, it was time to make our way to Skeggy.

We got there at about 5PM. The guy from the B+B introduced himself to me and Chris. He was called Mike, and his wife, whom I never got the chance to meet, was called Yvonne. He asked us if we’re here for the scooter weekend. “Hartlepool”, replied Chris, presumably mis-hearing the question. At least it wasn’t me making an awkward faux pas for once. Turns out there was a scooter/mod rally thing on this particular weekend. Every hotel / B+B had scooters parked outside, and every band was playing The Jam.

The B+B was lovely. Completely spotless, and just a tiny walk from the local facilities… And by that, I mean the charity shops, Indian restaurants, and more importantly, the pubs. I only got one particularly bad photo of the outside of the place…

We dumped our stuff in the room, and fired up Google Maps one more time, and aimed it to the first Indian that didn’t have a shocking rating, and that place was called “Saffron”. Unlike the earlier incident, the technology didn’t fail us and we ended up walking there without incident.

A vindaloo and a pint later, we tried to find a nice quiet pub. That was a bit tricky, seeing as it was the afore-mentioned “Mod weekend”, and just a sunny weekend in general. We had a pint in the Wetherspoons whose name escapes me. The Red Lion? We soon decided that this was shit. After all, it was a Spoons. Time to look for somewhere else.

There was a strange deserted spot between the bars and the seafront. Seemed very eerie. Luckily that meant there as a small place called “The Tipsy Cow” that happened to be very quiet. Ideal!

A couple of pints later, we headed out for a walk along the seafront. It was your typical seaside resort, even at 10pm. Loud music, garish lights….

Speaking of lights, I was in streetlight heaven. The majority of the streets were lit by SOX (low pressure sodium) lighting. It must have been decades since I’d witnessed a scene like this, and seeing as this light source has been phased out, it’ll probably be the last time too.

That pretty much concluded Day 1. We spent an hour or two watching Chris Morris clips on YouTube, and then it’ll be Day 2.