Liverpool, the Beatles, Strawberry Fields (Forever), Penny Lane, the Cavern Club and the Beautiful River Mersey  

Posted by Heidi

It had already been an eventful day:  breakfast at the wonderful MacDonald Bath Spa Hotel, Prince Charles's Highgrove, Anne Hathaway's Cottage and William Shakespeare's Stratford-Upon-Avon.  Since a visit to Liverpool was on the itinerary, along with a mention of the Beatles, I knew that we would be seeing it, but it wasn't something I had anticipated with much pleasure.  I thought of Liverpool as being a rather ordinary, somewhat industrial city, and not anything that interested me.  Boy, was I wrong!  The red gate above denotes the famed Strawberry Fields neighborhood, the one that is mentioned in the song.  I love the Beatles's music, but I am not fanatical, so I was surprised at how much I enjoyed seeing this.  It is smack dab in the middle of a typical 1950-60's neighborhood.  We walked there from the coach, but most of my photos of this part of Liverpool were taken through the coach window.

This barber shop is the very one mentioned in the song Penny Lane.  "In Penny Lane there is a barber showing photogaphs . . . "  I doubt this is the same barber and he is not showing photos that I can see, but we were told that it is all pretty much the same as it was then.  Both Paul and John lived in this part of Liverpool and they wrote about the things they saw every day as they walked to school.  The next verse starts thusly:  On the corner is a banker with a motorcar.  We saw that bank, as well, though I did not photo it.  I don't know why not-it was very round and very interesting.

We drove around this part of Liverpool for a while.  I liked this bow window so I "took" it home with me.  Again, this is in the approximate area of where Paul McCartney and John Lennon grew up.  There were brightly colored garbage bins in every yard, including one for recycling.  That would have made an interesting photo, also, by golly.  Perhaps I was distracted by the thought of going to Penny Lane.

The truth is, we were on Penny Lane itself for most of our time in the coach.  We did get out to photo this.  It seemed a more popular attraction than the Strawberry Fields gate for some reason I cannot fathom.  Somewhere between the two was the school they went to --I didn't photo that either.  I must have been half asleep.

We then turned toward the water which took us through Chinatown.  This colorful structure is the Chinatown Gate on Nelson Street.  It is very beautiful.

I loved these Chinese lantern light posts.

I also appreciated these fish/whale/dolphin (couldn't tell from inside the coach nor from my photo) light posts which appeared as we drew closer to the water.  The statue is of Prince Albert at St. Georges Hall on Lime, Merseyside--don't quote me but I believe that is a part of Liverpool (we were certainly in Liverpool when I took this photo) and refers to the part of town near the River Mersey.  (Oh, my, it pays to have a wordsmith defining these things, does it not?)

Some spectacular building on Dale Street, as per the street sign on said spectacular building.

Love these carved faces!  It would be a treat to pass by them every day.

Love this building with the beautiful blue, curved roof!

I was entranced by all of the white stone buildings. The one with the tower and the bird statue on top is called the Royal Liver Building.  It, along with the Cunard building and the Port of Liverpool building, are along the waterfront and form the Liverpool's The Graces.  Of course I did not know that at the time--I just hoped that I would be able to get back there on foot to do more exploring.  (I did!)

We were finally released from the coach and were headed somewhere special.  (The pub sign reads:  The William Gladstone Traditional Free House.  He, according to Wikipedia, was a "British Liberal Politician".  Makes sense though I confess, this is a much more flattering picture of him than the ones I have seen online.  I suppose it is all of a piece.) But, back to that special place!

We had a 60ish woman with us on the tour who just about died with happiness when we got inside The Cavern Club.  And it was her birthday, too!  Yep, she was one pretty happy gal, despite the four flights of stairs one has to manage to get down to where the Fab Four played.

Mary, kicking her heels, killing time with her bud John, whilst waiting to get into the club.

Incidentally, there were tons of great photos op all around us.  Next door there is a Beatles hotel with statues of them hanging from every corner, etc. etc.  All I can say is, mea culpa.  I *did* make sure to get the John Lennon photo for my brother, a one time big Beatles fan.  And there was the daughter thing, too.  She looked awfully cute standing there next to Mr. Lennon.

The club is located in a warehouse cellar and is very narrow with low ceilings.  It is long and a bit dark, but it has a great vibe.  Of course, this is where the Beatles were discovered by Brian Epstein back when Pete Best was still at the drumsticks.  Are the above their original instruments?  I think so, but don't quote me.

Sorry for the fuzzy photo but it was just too dark in this part of the cavern.

There was a section packed full of Beatle souvenir fodder and this wonderful phone booth.  Is it the one from the movie Help?  Mary seemed to think so.  (But don't quote me.)

The Emigrants (statue), Albert Dock, Liverpool
A bronze sculpture by Mark De Graffenried, 2001. This statue of a young family commemorates migration from Liverpool to the new world. It was given to the people of Liverpool by the Mormon Church as a tribute to the many families from all over Europe who embarked on a brave and pioneering voyage from Liverpool to start a new life in America. The child stepping forward at the front symbolises migration to the unknown world, whilst the child playing with a crab at the back indicates a deep association with the sea.

After dinner, we went with our new friends from the tour group to this statue of The Emigrants.  As far as I know, all of my ancestors were already in the U.S. when they were introduced to and became members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints (Mormons), but I suppose there might be one or two who came after they were baptized in England. It will be fun doing the research to find out.  BTW, this is not my photo--I have a few photos my friend sent to me of all of us with the statue, but I can't find them.  It makes me sad because this was a highlight of the trip.

Afterwards, the others went back to the hotel and Mary and I headed out to see if we could find those gorgeous buildings.  We did, just as the sun was setting, bathing the Three Graces in its ambient glow.  Above is a view of the Port of Liverpool building with the Royal Liver building behind it.  It has twin clock towers and each is topped with a Liver bird, the city symbol since 1207.  It was orignally spelled "leaver" and is pronounced closer to that than to "liver".  The bird is made to look like a cormorant but I think it looks much more like a phoenix.  Either way, the liver bird is a mythical creature.

And here is the River Mersey.  I love the way the light shines in the streetlamp.  It almost looks like a drop of water.

As lovely as is the Royal Liver building, I was most enchanted by the Port of Liverpool building.

 I enlarged this photo in order to identify the UFO in the top right corner of this photo.  Then I made it even larger.  I still couldn't tell what it was.  A balloon?  A flying helmet from a coat of armor?  A balloon in the shape of a helmet?  And then I looked at the original version as seen above.  It's a bird, gol' darn it.  A bird!  Most likely a liver bird from the looks of it.

We spent quite a while here with the sun-coated building on one side of us and the sun-coated Mersey on the other.  We longed to enter.  Noting that there was a car or two out front, we figured it was open.

Then we took more note of the gate through which we were peering.  I don't know what the initials stand for, but, once upon a time, HB were my initials.  And there were two of us (my twin and I, whose first name also starts with an H and whose maiden name, coincidentally, also starts with a B), though I doubt we were as lovely as these two mermaids.  My daughter and I pressed a bit experimentally against the gate, but is stood firm.

Then I got distracted by the wonderful carvings on the building.  Love the ship in the wreath.  After a while, we noticed that there was a place where we could just walk around the fence.  So we did.

Once inside, there was a plaque with the names of those of the staff who died during the first world war.  So many!  How devastated the people of Liverpool must have been.

Then we pushed open the big inner doors and saw this.  The words around the upper gallery read:  Those who do business in great waters, these see the world.  (At least I think so--I can't be sure since my photo didn't capture the whole thing.)  It was about this point that we heard voices.  We realized someone was having a meeting.  We were just discussing the merits of lingering to take more photos (those columns and walls are made of marble, people!) as opposed to leaving when a man appeared and we were told that we were not allowed in the building.  (Than why were the doors unlocked?  And preceded with such inviting steps?)  Also, we were told that we were not allowed to take photos.  I thought about opening up my camera and unspooling the film to puddle on the floor in a gesture of supreme self-sacrifice, but I was using a digital camera and felt certain that the ping of my tiny photo card would not be sufficiently dramatic despite the excellent acoustics of the building.  So we left.

Idly, we wondered if photos outside the building were also not allowed (we had no such problems with Belfast City Hall in Northern Ireland) as we continued to snap photos.  The column topped by the nearly nekkid young man reads:  Pro Patria (for your country) 1914-1918 1939-1945 which is clearly another war memorial.  I don't know who the young man might be (Mercury? Ares?  Mars?), but I love the anchor just below his feet and the viking ship with its double prow curled like a pair of flexed arms.

There were other statues of young men wearing even less but I didn't feel right about taking their photos.

Mary wanted to go on the ferris wheel that was reminiscent of the London Eye, which we did not get to in time before it closed.  So, we hastily took a few more photos (this statue is of Edward VII)  . . .

 . . . and got back to the ferris wheel about five minutes after it closed.  So sad!  Next time:  Windermere Lake, the Lake District and tea at High Yewdale, a farm once owned by Beatrix Potter.

This entry was posted on Thursday, November 12, 2015 at Thursday, November 12, 2015 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

1 wise, witty and wonderful comments

Another wonderful tour in words and photos! Thanks for sharing your travels, Heidi.

November 13, 2015 at 6:10 AM

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