Thursday, May 15 - Friday, May 23rd
Aerial view of Blenheim (Blenum) Palace just a 30 minute drive from Oxford and on our way to the Cotswolds. It sits at the edge of the cute cobble stone town of Woodstock.
View of the north entrance gate to the courtyard. Home of John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, military genius and very distant ancestor of Winston Churchill. He never lost a battle and defeated Louis XIV at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704, the first time he had been defeated in 40 years. It was a turning point in the long struggle between England and France. A thankful Queen Anne rewarded him with this nice home. Ten dukes of Marlborough later, it's as impressive as ever. On either side of the bridge here is the lake, and up the hill behind us is a towering monument to John Churchill.
North entrance gate. It is the largest home in England and the family still lives in the east wing. The 11th duke considers the 12th duke more of an error than an heir and has largely disowned him.
Inside the courtyard. The 2nd duke was a daughter, because there were no surviving sons, and she had none, so the 3rd duke was her sister's son. His name was Spencer of the same family as Diana, Princess of Wales.
South portico facing massive 2,000-acre yard designed by Lancelot "Capability" Brown which played a major part in the palace becoming a World Heritage Site in 1988. The park-like yard was created over ten years starting in 1764 by 1,000 men at a cost of 16,000 pounds to the 4th duke. He kept 187 rooms furnished and in use with 75 indoor servants. I can't imagine how many more it must have taken to keep up with the grounds, stables and outdoor maintenance. In 1817 the 5th duke had the Spencer family name changed back to Spencer-Churchill to honor their great military hero ancestor and he left the place nearly bankrupt. There is little known about the 6th duke, as he ordered all his papers destroyed upon his death. The 7th duke had to sell the contents of the magnificent library to make ends meet. The 8th duke continued to sell off priceless paintings and treasures to support maintenance and improvements to the palace and he married a rich American widow. He was sometimes thought to be crazy, but was actually a scientist and very practical. He communicated with Thomas Edison about ideas and put electricity, central heating and a telephone system of his own design in the palace. He also consulted on the electrification project for the city of London. He accomplished a lot, but was only duke for 9 years and died at age 48. The 8th duke's brother was Randolph, father of Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill who was born at Blenheim while his parents were visiting here.
Southeastern view. The 9th duke, Charles Spencer-Churchill, was a cousin and friend of Winston Churchill. Being land rich and cash poor, he made a marriage of convenience with Consuelo Vanderbilt from New York against her wishes. It was common practice at that time for wealthy American families to buy their way into titled families. Her mother locked her in her room with nothing but bread and water for several days, until she gave in and agreed to marry the duke. She produced two sons she dubbed the heir and the spare before the marriage fell apart. She published her ghost-written autobiography in 1953, "The Glitter and the Gold".
The dining hall with famous guests painted into the galleries on the walls all around.
Most of the ceilings in the rooms are gilded with gold leaf. The tapestry on the wall is one of a series of 10 Brussels tapestries picturing John Churchill's heroic military battles. The famous battle took place at Blindheim in Bavaria with 52,000 troops vs. 56,000. The cannons could be heard for 40 miles. 7,000 French deserted, 14,000 were taken prisoners, 33,000 on both sides were injured or killed.
We also went through the stables where there is an excellent exhibit on John Churchill's and Winston Churchill's military careers. There is also an exhibit on how the family, workers and community were effected by and contributed to the WWII efforts. The Palace was used as a convalescent hospital for wounded soldiers. After the 45-minute guided tour through the staterooms, we came out to this view of the Water Terraces on the west side of the palace.
Walking down to the next level with matching ponds and monuments, looking back at the palace. Walking even further down is a waterfront trail along the lake with an island that leads past the rose gardens and arboretum to the cascades.
The Italian Gardens on the east side of the palace.
The Village Blacksmith by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Dedicated to my wonderful hubby
Under a spreading chestnut tree, the village smithy stands.
The smith is a mighty man is he, with large and sinewy hands;
And the muscles of his brawny arms are strong as iron bands.
His hair is crisp and black and long, His face is like the tan:
His brow is wet with honest sweat, He earns whate'er he can,
And looks the whole world in the face, For he owes not any man.
Week in, week out, from morn till night, You can hear his bellows blow,
You can hear him swing his heavy sledge, With measured beat and slow,
Like a sexton ringing the village bell, when the evening sun is low.
And children coming home from school, Look in at the open door;
They love to see the flaming forge, And hear the bellows roar,
And catch the burning sparks that fly, Like chaff from a threshing floor.
.He goes on Sunday to church, And sits among his boys;
He hears the parson pray and preach, he hears his daughter's voice,
Singing in the village choir, And it makes his heart rejoice.
It sounds to him like her mother's voice, Singing in Paradise!
He needs most think of her once more, how in the grave she lies:
And with his haul, rough hand he wipes, A tear out of his eyes.
Toiling,--rejoicing,--sorrowing, Onward through life he goes;
Each morning sees some task begin, Each evening sees it close.
Something attempted, something done, Has earned a night's repose.
Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend, For the lesson thou hast taught!
Thus at the flaming forge of life, Our fortunes must be wrought.
Thus on its sounding anvil's shaped, Each burning deed and thought.
What's better than a little poetry in the gardens? Well, maybe a little tea and crumpets would make it better.
This is a chestnut tree blossom up close.
This the Temple of Diana along the walking path to the rose gardens where Winston Churchill proposed to his future wife, Clementine, in 1908. A lovely name, Clementine is my mother's name. Winston said, "At Blenheim I made two decisions -- to be born and to marry. I am happily content with both." He was raised mostly by his grandmother at Blenheim, as his parents were busy with their social and political lives. They were married at St. Margaret's Church, a small church right next to and in the shadow of Westminster Abbey. He could have been buried at Westminster Abbey in London, but chose to be buried in the small churchyard just a mile south of Blenheim.
Capability Brown dammed the River Glyme to make the lake and hid the dam with the cascades.
Swan below the cascades.
We saw a few pheasants as we wandered the grounds.
This was one of the hundreds of priceless paintings in the palace. Queen Anne had 19 children. All but one died at birth and he died at age 11. When she died, she was 4'10" and weighed 280 pounds and was buried in a square coffin.
The Marlborough maze is the 2nd largest symbolic Yew hedge maze in the world and the only one of its size designed as a picture; It portrays the trappings of war of the first Duke and celebrates his famous victory at Blenheim. It took Dawn and I about 20 minutes to find our way through it.
Wisteria vines trained up on the round wall around the Pleasure Gardens. Inside are flower gardens, butterfly house, the maze and children's playground.
This little boy reminded me of my great-nephew, industriously working at removing all the chess pieces from the chess board.
These little miniature houses were surrounded by large metal sculptures of animals.
Unusual flower growing in the butterfly greenhouse. The UK has 59 native butterfly species. 5 have become extinct. 30 are very rare. Blenheim is working on conservation efforts to save them. From Blenheim we drove to the Cotswolds where we set up camp at Winchcombe Caravan Camp for two nights.
The next day we did a walk from the nearby little town of Winchcombe, using Dawn's book of country walks that she got from a friend.
There are well-marked public footpaths crisscrossing the whole country and landowners are required to keep them unblocked and accessible. It's awesome.
Sudeley Castle in far right center of this picture.
Baa, baa. Sheep, sheep, sheep everywhere.
I think we missed a corner.
But we eventually found our way back to the path.
I just love this beautiful country side.
I could do this every day. So peaceful and relaxing.
Every access to get over or through the fences is a little bit different.
A little closer view of Sudeley Castle.
The gate and gatekeepers apartments to Sudeley Castle. Dawn and I both thought this would be a cool place to live.
Back in Winchcombe on Vineyard Street. We had lunch at a little pub here. John had 3 sausages with potatoes and gravy. Dawn had chicken and mushrooms in wine sauce with garlic potatoes. I had a sweet potato, butternut squash and spinach pie with mashed potatoes, gravy and mushy peas. And of course, we had some ale and ciders, too.
When we got back to camp, I went on another hike by myself.
After huffing through some very thick woods and brush, I decided to walk back along the road. Every home and yard is just so pretty.
For supper we decided to take the public footpath into the little town of Alderton. Dawn said, "Eeww, sheep poo." But it was no problem for the farm boy.
This little platform even had a way to open it for your dog.
Then through the gate into the church yard and right through the cemetery and graves.
This is the Gardners Arms Pub with thatch roof. John and Dawn were happy with their meals, but I ordered something chili flavored and it was so hot I couldn't eat it. I love spicy stuff and I have never not eaten my meal, but about three bites did me in. I just ate the bread and drank my cider and water and was very glad to have it.
This sign was in the pub. I always thought the ale and cider was for stress relief.
Yew hedge across the street from the pub.
A few homes along the street as we walked back home.
Notice the thatched roofs and the fancy parts at the peaks.
Wisteria vines growing along the bottom edge of the roof.
Carefully picking our way through the poo on our way back to camp.
We spent Saturday and Sunday nights at a campground near Haltwhistle, a central location for Hadrian's Wall. We decided to hike to another little town for supper, but ended up taking a wrong turn somewhere and just had a very long, hot walk and never got supper. I don't think it's really necessary to say who looked at the map wrong and insisted on taking the wrong turn, so I'll just move on. After all, we did get a lot of worthwhile exercise and cold sandwiches for supper aren't so bad.
Coming back, we were wondering what these shriveled up things hanging on the barb wire fence were. John thought they might be testicles. Egads!
At last, our first view of Hadrian's wall at Cawfield's on Sunday. We did drive through Haworth on Saturday, as Dawn wanted to see the Bronte Parsonage, but there was some kind of 1940s celebration going on in town, men in WWII uniforms and women in old fashioned dresses with hats, mink stoles, etc. There were just mobs and mobs of people and absolutely no place to park, even for a car, let alone an RV, so we just had to skip it. The road out there through the moors was long and narrow and extremely winding with steep hills and signs for duck crossings and sheep crossings near the little villages, so it was an adventure just getting there.
Another one of those kissing gates to get through before we could hike up by the wall. Dawn wanted a picture, so we were happy to oblige her. I think she said something like, "You can make out as much as you want. I just don't want to have to take a picture of it every time." And her Dad said, "Well, I don't want to make out, unless there's a picture of it." I'm not quite sure what that means.
Our next stop where they quarried some of the stone from. The wall is up along that far ridge, so Dawn and I hiked up there. There were a couple of tour buses here. I think some of the people had hiked over from a nearby spot on the wall to get picked up here again.
Looking back down toward the quarry and parking lot. The wall was about 5 to 6 feet thick and 20 feet high. It was built about the year 122 and the Romans stayed for about 400 years. It stretches 73 miles coast to coast across the narrowest part of northern England, from Carlisle on the west coast to Newcastle on the east coast. It was built and defended by some 20,000 troops. At every mile of the wall a castle guarded the gate and two turrets stood between each castle. The Roman mile was slightly shorter than ours, so there were 17 forts, 80 mile castles, 158 turrets, and bridges over 4 rivers across the 73 miles. Kind of makes you wonder why we can't protect the Mexican border with all the modern technology we have. Hadrian's Wall National Trail is now 84 miles long. The parts we are looking at are near the two small villages of Once Brewed and Twice Brewed. I'm not sure if that refers to beer or tea?
These arrows were quite regular on hills, reminding people to get back in the left hand lane if they have been in the passing lane or perhaps have just forgotten which side of the road they are supposed to be driving on. John didn't seem to have any problem with that.
The ruins at Vindolanda are an active archaeological dig. Hadrian's Wall was the northern edge of the Roman Empire.
There are lots of signs around to explain what everything was.
This fort actually predates the wall by 40 years and there were several wooden forts built here first that didn't last long and had to be replaced. Here they built a wood tower next to a stone one to see how fast it deteriorates and settles compared to the stone.
Down the hill from the ruins is a very nice museum that shows how they lived with lots of artifacts they have dug up. I found the shoe exhibit very interesting. They have found over 4,000 shoes, lots of them in very good condition and only two that are a matched pair.
A small child's shoe. Amazing how well preserved they are. They also have the world famous Vindolanda Writing Tablets here, that have been voted the most important treasure in Britain by the British Museum. We also went to the excellent Roman Army Museum in Northumberland National Park with a couple good videos and an excellent demonstration of how the Roman army functioned.
A few miles away are the ruins of Housesteads Roman Fort, the longest and most intact section of the wall. It is the best preserved of all 16 forts on the wall and was occupied about 280 years by 800 auxiliary soldiers with a large civilian settlement on the hillside outside the fort. You can see the walls running away toward the trees in the distance. (Trivia just for my little brother, the commander's wife's name was Claudia Severa.)
After the Romans finally left, the nice cut stones were used over the years by locals to build churches, homes and other buildings.
Dawn and I are taking pictures of each other again. An interesting tidbit, Hadrian was the first Emporer to grow a beard.
I read about this at the excellent Roman Army Museum that we stopped at first. They had a sponge on a stick on exhibit there, but they had a picture here of how their toilets were. Notice in the guys hand there is a small sponge fastened to a handle. When you were finished "cleaning" yourself, you just dropped it in the basin of water, so it could rinse off for the next guy. Or, if you preferred, you could bring your own sponge.
After all that hiking in the ruins, we stopped at the nearby Milecastle Inn for supper. I had pheasant, John had lamb and Dawn had venison, all very good. John had an ale, Dawn had a cider and I had a dandelion and burdock soda with ginger extract, which was also very good.
It was decorated all over inside with horse brasses, brass plaques used for decoration of horse harness gear, especially for shire or parade horses. They became popular in the 1800s and remain a collector's item.
England has lots of stone circles and about 70% of them are here in Cumbria. Since we skipped Stonehenge, we decided to stop here at Castlerigg Stone Circle, one of the best and oldest in Britain. It is 90 feet across and 5,000 years old with 38 stones mysteriously laid out on a line between the two tallest peaks on the horizon. Ancient people filled this clearing in spring to celebrate fertility, in late summer to commemorate harvest and to celebrate the winter solstice. Part of it lines up to mark where the sun rises on May Day. Do you remember making May baskets as a kid and taking them to somebody's house, leaving them on the doorstep, ringing the doorbell and running away, so they couldn't catch you and give you a kiss? Boy, am I old!
Monday we found a place in Windermere in the Lake District to park, and walked about a mile to Dove Cottage, home of William Wordsworth for nine years. This view is just next door to his cottage. He was born and grew up in this area, graduated from Cambridge, traveled Europe with a friend and came back here to live with his sister and later his wife and children.
Dawn walking in the gardens in the rain behind Dove Cottage. They give you a nice little tour through the home with some history and there is a very nice museum next door. Then you can enjoy the gardens at your leisure. Dove Cottage was turned into a museum in 1891. The emotional highs of Wordsworth and his poet friends weren't all natural. They got stoned on opium and wrote poetry.
Just a nice view walking back to the RV. We stopped at a service center off the motorway and picked up some sandwiches and salads at the Marks and Spencers for tomorrow. Their service centers, what we might call rest areas, are wonderful. They have gas stations, a Burger King or McDonalds, a small grocery store with deli stuff, a coffee shop similar to Starbucks, a tourist shop with t-shirts and stuff and maybe a few other things. Then we went to check in at the Windermere Caravan Camp. At this campground we saw a guy moving his pull trailer with a remote control to get it lined up where he wanted in on his campsite. We had never seen that before. I don't know if they have remotes like that in the U.S. or not.
After we set up camp we again headed down the local footpath to the nearest pub in the village of Stavely for supper.
These pictures make me think of a poem by Robert Frost, The Mending Wall, with the famous line..."Good fences make good neighbors." Many of the fences were built in the late 1700s.
These cows were kind of giving us the eye as we wandered through their territory, but I'm sure they are used to trespassers on their way from the caravan camp to the pub.
It was definitely sheep shearing time with the wool falling off in clumps and scattered all over the ground. But I guess they don't do so much shearing anymore, as the wool isn't worth much.
We walked by an Eagle and Child Pub with a nice patio setting across the road on the river, but opted to eat here at the Duke William Pub. John and I both had the lamb roast dinner with Yorkshire pudding. Dawn had a sausage dinner. She had the toffee pudding for desert and I had the treacle pudding. So rich, but so yummy. Here pudding usually just means desert in general, except for Yorkshire pudding which is a kind of biscuit covered with gravy. However, a biscuit to the English is a cookie. The deserts Dawn and I had are similar in texture to a moist cake, like banana cake and you have your choice of ice cream, clotted cream or warm custard served over it. The warm custard over the moist cake is divine!
Just across the street from the pub was this 1589 belfry which was added to the 1388 St. Margaret's Church. All that remains now is the cemetery and the belfry with a plaque to those who fought in the South Africa campaign in 1900. When I came out of the restroom, John and Dawn were visiting with an old man just outside the pub. He was telling them that he had served in this area during WWII and thought it was lovely. He told himself that he would come back to live here when he retired. He said he was lucky enough to marry a lady who was willing to come with him and live here and now she is buried in this cemetery right next door to the pub.
Just a pretty place we walked by as we were leaving town.
A little footpath sign and a climb over place.
A couple interesting looking sheep. Hope they don't mind us intruding on their turf.
Almost back to camp. My cohorts are waiting patiently, or maybe not so patiently, for the designated photographer to catch up.
Tuesday morning we stopped to visit the Beatrix Potter home at Hawkshead. The royalties from her first book in 1905, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, bought Hill Top Farm here. She loved gardening and farming. In her will she left 14 farms, a total of 4,000 acres, to the National Trust. She kept a diary throughout her youth written in secret code. She died in 1943 and the code was not broken untill 1958. While we were in the parking lot someone clutched and killed their car and John said to the attendant, "I thought I was the only one who did that." He said, "Oh no, we all do it, what with all the hills, curves and narrow roads." John said, "But I keep killing it in the roundabouts." He said, "Now that's just showing off!" Gotta love those Brits.
A few cute signs as we walked around the quaint little shops in town. We had a quick lunch here in Hawkshead.
The sign over the very short door in this house said, "Bend or Bump".
Next we stopped to tour Wray Castle. Not really a castle, it was built in 1843 by a retired surgeon from Liverpool with his wife's fortune from the liquor business. In 1862 he wanted to bury his wife at the newly built church on the grounds. He was initially refused as the ground had not yet been consecrated. When he threatened to give the church to Dissenters in his will the Church of England hastily changed its mind. It was inherited by his nephew whose cousin became vicar of the church. To protect the countryside from damaging development, they formed the National Trust to buy and preserve places of natural beauty and historic interest for the nation along with others, including Beatrix Potter's father. The Potter family spent a summer holiday here in 1882 when Beatrix was 16. The Castle, church and 60 acres of Windermere shoreline have been in the National Trust since 1929, but has only recently been opened to the public. It was used as a youth hostel for a while and a training college for Merchant Navy radio officers. As it is completely empty of furnishings, they have fixed up several rooms as play areas for children and one room just has a huge pool table in it.
View from the patio of the castle looking down toward Lake Windermere. They have lots of walking trails on the property.
We walked down one of them to the lake and the Princess of the Lake was just bringing a load of people across from the resort on the other side of the lake.
This was a rare sight, to meet someone who actually tried to pull over and make room for us. The locals usually just zoom by, even bigger trucks and such. I guess they are just used to these narrow roads. We had pizza in Windermere for supper.
Wednesday we moved on and set up camp for three nights at a caravan park right next to Delamere Forest. I grew up in the small town of DeLamere, North Dakota, so I had fun walking around taking pictures of all the signs. The town next to ours when I grew up was Wyndmere, so almost like the town we were in yesterday.
Our first day we took a bus to here in Chester and then caught the train into Liverpool.
Thursday we drove in through a very long, winding tunnel under the river and Friday we took the train from the Delamere Forest Station directly into Liverpool.
Just hanging out with John Lennon in front of the Cavern Pub across the street from the Cavern Club, the most famous club in the world.
Hanging out in the Cavern Club listening to the live music, which they have pretty much every day from noon or 2 PM to way past midnight, often Beatles cover bands. There are archways of tables and seating on either side of this main archway where the stage is ...
and a long hallway to a large back room with a big stage and dance floor where a large screen film plays with programs about the Beatles and Beatles tribute bands, like The Repeatles and The Beatlettes (a girl's band). The Cavern opened in 1957 as a Jazz Club and also featured skiffle groups (American-inspired rockabilly/folk). In August the Quarrymen, led by John Lennon, made their first debut. The skiffle craze was short-lived and most groups developed into Rock 'n Roll bands. The Cavern didn't open to the beat groups until 1960. The first advertised beat night featured Rory Storm and the Hurricanes with Ringo on the drums. The Beatles made their first appearance at lunch time on Feb. 9, 1961 and their last was Aug. 3, 1963. In that year and a half they appeared here 292 times and became the city's premier "Rock Combo". The lunch time sessions were very popular and people would queue the length of the street. That's when Brian Epstein first saw them and soon became their manager. Lots of very famous and successful rock and roll bands played here, but it was the Beatles who made it famous worldwide. The club was forced to close in 1973 when the warehouse above it was demolished. In the early 80s the site was excavated with the famous archways still intact and it was rebuilt on 75% of the original site, using many of the original bricks and reopened in 1984. Sir Paul has since played here. I saw a book titled "The Best of Cellars" in there tiny gift shop.
It's so cool to actually be here. Their fan club secretary, "Good Ol' Freda" (movie), said she was a fan just like everybody else and they all thought they would become famous. They thought they would probably even make a record and probably get a number one hit. What actually happened was way beyond anything any of them could ever have imagined. When we rode home on the train I started visiting with an older couple sitting across from me. He said he never thought much of The Beatles, never trusted Paul. He saw them lots of times at small venue halls and parks when there were about 100 people there. He said his cousin Lester was at Hume Hall one time doing some guitar licks when Paul and John walked over and asked him what he was doing because it sounded good to them. The next thing he knew they were using them in "Love Me Do". He never got a thank you or saw a dime. But he said no one had any idea at that time that they were going to be such a big deal.
On our way back to Delamere forest, we stopped at the Delamere Fortune Palace Restaurant for supper and had a really nice dining experience. They opened our chopsticks, placed our napkins in our laps, brought one course at a time on warming plates in the center of the table, so we could share and sample. We had a delicious sweet corn and chicken soup, then appetizers with egg rolls, ribs, chicken drummies and little wonton-type things, then our main entrees and deserts. It felt like we were in a really fancy place and the food was delicious and not expensive at all. They get my vote for the best place we dined.
Thursday morning we caught the train into Liverpool and toured John Lennon's childhood home, Mendips, where he grew up with his Aunt and Uncle. It was common practice to give one's home a name. When John's Aunt Mimi no longer lived here, John would bring Yoko by and they would sit out front in the car and he would tell her about his childhood growing up here. Yoko bought John's home and gave it to the National Trust.
John's bike leaning against the house. We were taken around back to enter the same way John and his friends did, so they wouldn't track up the house. On the other side of the trees in the backyard is Strawberry Field, where John used to sneak off to play when he was a kid. His Aunt did not approve of his friends, those scousers from down the hill, or rock and roll. John failed his exams and she didn't know how he was ever going to make a living.
Then our bus took us over to tour Paul's house, about a mile down the hill, in a less affluent working class neighborhood. Both were very good tours, interesting and entertaining. Paul came from a very musical family. His father played piano and they had family sing-alongs. His younger brother had a skiffle band and his Aunt and Uncle were on the pop charts. Paul was a lefty and learned to play the guitar backwards. When he met John, John didn't even know how to play all the chords on the guitar, because his Mom had taught him on a banjo. Paul tuned his guitar for him and played it right-handed and John was very impressed. Paul told him about George, but John said he was too young (14) until he heard him play. Paul's Mom died when he was 14 and John's Mom died when he was 18 and just getting to know her again. Paul bought his old high school and turned it into the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA), locally known as Fame after the American TV show.
We had lunch at the World Buffet in the Liverpool One Mall. The red brick Albert Docks area has been completely revamped and is full of restaurants and shops, the Beatles Story Museum and the Merseyside Maritime Museum and International Slavery Museum. It is 7 acres of enclosed water built in 1852. We went to the Maritime and Slavery Museums all afternoon and then for a little walk along the Mersey River waterfront.
Elvis, right? No this is Billy Fury, one of the most famous stars of British Rock and Roll. He was born in Liverpool in 1940 and died at age 42. His record sales were on a par with Elvis and the Beatles. I don't remember ever hearing of him. Then we caught the train back to Delamere Forest.
Friday morning Dawn brought her bags with and we got off here at Lime Street Station. She checked her bags into the Lord Nelson Hotel about a five minute walk from the station. Then we just walked a bit to see some of the sights on our way back to the Albert Docks area.
Across the street this fountain is another monument to Lord Wellington and behind it is St. George's Hall.
Next to it is the beautiful round library reading room and the Walker Art Museum. Every year in August they have a week-long Beatles celebration centered at the nearby Adelphi Hotel and the bar-lined Mathew Street downtown where the Cavern Club is. They have 74 Beatles tribute bands booked at 22 different venues so far for this year's celebration and that's just the Beatles bands. There will be lots of other bands, too. This is one serious party town!
Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King (Catholic). Our bus tour guide told us it was voted number 6 in the top ten ugliest buildings in the world. That seems harsh, but it does kind of look like a space ship. Because of its look and the Irish community, locals call it "Paddy's Wigwam". The original plan in the 1930s was to build the second largest cathedral in the world rivaling the Vatican. It was to take 200 years to build, but by the time the enormous crypt was finished construction was halted by WWII. Liverpool was badly decimated during WWII and no government funds came their way to help them recover, so in the 1960s it was still trying to recover. The plans were scaled back and this smaller version was completed in 1967 over the humongous concrete crypt. It is just a small part of the "greatest building never built". It has 3,000 seats around a white marble altar with a stylized crown of thorns suspended over the altar. Spinning off from there are 13 smaller chapels. We walked straight down the street from here to the Liverpool Cathedral (Anglican).
Along the way we passed The Philharmonic Pub across the street from the Philharmonic Concert Hall. It is so ornate inside, be sure to check it out if you're ever here, including the fabulous marble in the men's room, or so I am told.
A little further down the street is this interesting sculpture that looks like the luggage has just been unloaded from a ship or train onto a loading dock. Names of all kinds of famous Liverpudlians are on the luggage, such as Paul McCartney on one of the guitars.
Liverpool Cathedral begun in 1904 and completed in 1973 designed by the same man who designed the classic red telephone box. Liverpool has the only Anglican Cathedral designed by a Catholic and the only Catholic Cathedral designed by an Anglican.
The world's largest Chinese Arch is the entrance to China Town in Liverpool.
Right next to it is The Blackie Community Art Center. It is a former Congregational Church built in 1841 and was once so covered with coal soot that it appeared to be black, thus the name.
We grabbed a quick lunch at the Tate Art Museum and headed over to the Liverpool Museum where we spent most of the afternoon. This is a view from inside the museum.
Ship in dry dock next to the museum.
Walking back along the shops at Albert docks, the candy shop had this mosaic of The Beatles made out of jelly beans in their window. We picked up a few souvenirs and hurried off to catch our bus tour. They have "Eight Days a Week Tours" and I saw an "Ate Days a Week Bistro". The Beatles are a money making machine for this town.
These tours used to be done in an old psychedelically painted bus, but now they have a nice new bus. Our tour guide was in the NBC movie about John Lennon, "In His Life". He played the part of Paul's friend. Our guide told us that just a couple years ago, when Paul was almost 70 years old, he did an outdoor concert in Liverpool with a crowd of 100,000 and the show got started about an hour and a half late. He played and played one song after another. He finally stopped and took off his jacket and said, "Right, that's me costume change." He played and played some more and stopped for a drink and said, "That's me break then." He played 47 songs straight until 1:30 in the morning. When he quit there were 100,000 people with no way to get home, because the public transit system shuts down at 11:00 PM. He said he walked home 8 and a half miles. When Paul was a young boy, the choir master at the Liverpool cathedral told him his voice wasn't good enough. He came back and did a concert at the cathedral in recent years. When he saw the choir master he said, "Remember me? What do you think now? Done alright for myself don't you think?" He said, "Thanks to me. If I hadn't turned you down you wouldn't worked so hard." When Paul met the Queen, she said, "I have some Beatles albums." He said, "I have some Queen albums, too."
This is where George grew up. The street has been blocked off, to keep the taxi tours and mobs of people from hanging around, so we had to walk over from a block away. It looks very much like the place where Ringo grew up. An old neighbor of Ringo's, a lady in her 90s named Margaret, still lives in Ringo's place and lets taxi tours into her home where her walls are covered with pictures of The Beatles and she tells stories about them. There is a video on You Tube showing her entertaining the fans in her living room. His neighborhood was scheduled for demolition, but a fight to save his home has halted those plans.
We went by Penny Lane, Eleanor Rigby's grave site, schools they went to, places they performed and here, Strawberry Field. It surrounds a Victorian Mansion that was at one time a Salvation Army Home and an Orphanage.
The Hard Day's Night Hotel is just around the corner from the Cavern Club with statues of each of the Fab Four adorning the front of the building high above. 110 rooms each with a different original Beatles portrait. I bought a t-shirt at a little shop on the corner, one of many Beatles shops around town.
We had supper at Byron's Proper Hamburger and dropped Dawn at her hotel before we caught the train back to Delamere Forest, because "She's got a ticket to ride. She's got a ticket to ride, ride, ride. She's got a ticket to ride, but she don't care..." In fact she said that we were in Liverpool more days than there are Beatles left alive. I get the distinct feeling that she wasn't getting into it as much as I was.
When we got back to Delamere Forest, I went for a quick hike into the forest before dark, as I hadn't had a chance to yet and we were leaving in the morning. We have to get back on "The Long and Winding Road" that is our life, also known as "The Magical Mystery Tour".
I'm sending you "All My Loving" and "I'll Follow the Sun".
Enough Beatles stuff already!
More blogs in a few days,