Hooray For Charity Shops

Originally the best girlfriend ever suggested to head for Arlesford (Essex village of the year) for the traditional weekend trip north, but the weather turned nasty just minutes after we were on our way, so we ended up much closer to home in a small Essex coastal town famous for its salt.  Maldon has everything she craves for on a Saturday afternoon: a bit of shopping in the organic shop, a cutesy flower shop, an unbelievable venue that sells everything apart from pinking shears and for communal elation one of the best pubs in Essex, the Blue Boar. So while her highness was busy exploring the floral improvements that our house could incorporate, I spotted a basket full of vinyl in one of the charity shop. 5 minute later I walked out, elated. Not only did I get two of the best electronica albums of the eighties, I also purchased two excellently preserved ‘Deutsche Grammophon’ LPs with recordings by Karajan and Boehm. Price? 2 pounds for the four of them. As soon as I got home I gave them a spin on my Ortofon studded Pro-Ject and wasn’t disappointed: these bargains sounded magnificent, with the 2 classical recordings specifically giving the Klipsch Horns loads of dynamic to work with. 2 Hours of music for 2 pounds. I have to accompany the best girlfriend ever more to her little shopping trips.

2 Pounds worth of music

In praise of the Star Inn.

In a remote corner of Essex, where very few Londoners ever dare to traipse, is a small village called Steeple (no, not Steeple view or Steeple Bumstead). Located on the northern rim of the Dengie Peninsula, Steeple features a rather beautiful church, a caravan park and two pubs. Wap bang in the centre of the village is the Star Inn, a little pub that has already seen a few centuries of drinking. Now run as a free house, it features four regularly changing guest ales and the usual stable of fizzy beers. It keeps a well maintained wood burner, has pub nosh and a rather mellow atmosphere. Its regulars are a gentle and friendly bunch and the land lord keeps the more boisterous weekend crowd well under control. It also features what looks like a HD based multi media centre in which the Landlord conjures up an impressive array of perfect pub tracks (you name it, he plays it).

It is, in other words, a shining example of rural hospitality, the perfect pub.