For a tourist, a day of horizontal rain and unseasonable cold do not make a good start for a day out in Leamington. Much head-nodding appreciation of the town’s Georgian architecture, pump rooms, parks and attractive stretch of river are duly foregone, then, in favour of a heads-down, hoods-up stomp around the town centre.
The delights of Leamington appear to be many: on the one hand, most of the ugly shops (your mobile phone shops, your Top Shops) are all tucked away in the shopping centre, leaving the main streets for some homeware stores, the odd designer outlet, some classy-looking coffee shops and, to my delight, some excellent charity shops. The old faithful are here (two Oxfams; Imperial Cancer Research) plus an odd local shop (Myton Hospices), and there’s an excellent mixed bag of things here.
Now, this being a first post, it’s as well to set out my stall: my main interests tend to be the books and records section. Despite my record player costing £17 off of eBay, it’s a pile of junk, in essence, although it looks very nice. This rarely stops me buying something I want, however, so I have a significant stash awaiting the day that I can afford a USB record player.
CDs of course have their place, as do the shelves of tat (if I see another rice bowl I might just… buy it), and I’ll always have shufty at the stripy shirts and jackets. My regular companion is mostly interested in frocks, or so it seems.
So: Leamington. The big draw is an excellent Oxfam bookshop. We spied vinyl versions of Leonard Cohen’s Songs of Love & Hate here, as well as UB40’s Signing Off, replete with actual UB40 form styled front cover. In books, I had to put down a Neil Gaiman (Neverwhere) otherwise I may have bought an entire shelf-full from the American Authors section – many Updikes, Mailers and Fitzgeralds.
Elsewhere, we found baskets of wool, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, a purple frock worth having,and a random Nick Hornby (The Complete Polysyllabic Spree – I don’t know if I’m alone in that my favourite Hornby is 31 Songs, entirely non-fictional. If this is like that but with books, then I should be chuffed). Overall, a damp but very much productive afternoon.
Find: Royal Leamington Spa on Google Maps
Transport: Leamington Spa Rail Station on Chiltern Railways
Consume with: double macchiato, Caffe Nero, Regent Street
Visit: Royal Pump Rooms
Overall rating: four Daniel Bedingfields