Sunday, 28 October 2012

Morning in Morningside

I went to Edinburgh earlier this month to visit some friends - the same couple who run the beautifully decorated highland cottage from my first ever blog post. Their flat is in a Victorian tenement building, in the upmarket Morningside area, and I think the buildings are sandstone - or something orangey coloured - which gives the place a nice glow.

The little touches like the runner, the scarf and the flowers liberated from a neighbour's garden are sweet. But what I really like is the combination of white, wood and windows, to make an open, airy, but somehow honest space. Very simple, almost stark, but sitting around that table playing scrabble or eating a hearty bean casserole, it's cosy and warm. And in the fresh autumnal morning sunshine, tea and toast feels very cleansing.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

70s record player

vintage record player
Every home should have a record player. Don’t get me wrong, opening my Spotify account might be the best thing I’ve ever done, as I’m a huge fan of endless, easy, perfect digital music. But sometimes, that’s not what you want.

This is especially true of old music, the kind that was originally played on record players in bedrooms and living rooms. You’re hearing it exactly as the original fans did, and every little pop and crackle, tinny drumbeat or fuzzy vocal just adds to the character of the music. There’s no shuffle button, no playlists or greatest hits, you have to commit to one album, a purposefully assembled set of songs.

my vintage record playerSimilarly, my dad’s told me horror stories of having to save up for weeks and weeks to get the album you were desperate for, or going round to a friend’s house just to hear a song. Then there was the time he saved up for absolutely ages to get the record player, but the speakers were separate and he had to save up all over again, and just listen to his music on headphones. No wonder it feels like music used to mean more.

My record collection is pretty big now; over 100 at last count. As a huge Beatles fan I’m particularly proud of the early mono albums, and we’re going through a bit of a Bob Dylan phase at the moment too. I’ve also got some nice novelty items like coloured vinyl and octagonal sleeves; my dad trawls the charity shops of North Wales for me, so it all depends on his luck.

The player itself is obviously quite big, so coupled with the collection in four old record boxes, it takes up loads of room (despite actually containing less music than my iPod) and we’re on the lookout for a G-plan style unit that will hold it all. The player is a Ferguson, and it looks pretty 70s to me with its wood veneer, mock leather top and special arm that drops a new record onto the turntable after you’ve listened to one side.

I think we most use our old record player when we’re getting ready to go out, when friends are round, and those lovely lazy Sunday afternoons. But my favourite is getting in from a night out at 3am, having one last drink or a cup of tea sat around the hypnotically spinning record, and it feels like those wise voices from the past are being sung right there in the room, just for you. I’m usually drunk and emotional at this point.