Trip to Liverpool, London didn't let us down

My senior year in college, as part of a January "short term" group trip to France and England, we traveled by bus to Wales to read William Wordsworth's "Tintern Abbey" at Tintern Abbey.

I'm not a huge fan of poetry in general or Wordsworth in particular, but the memory of that day has stayed with me.

Last week I had a similar experience - this time, set to catchy tunes.

Dan and I took Ainsley to Liverpool and London to see the stomping grounds of her favorite band, The Beatles.

We enjoyed Sunday afternoon tea at Blakes Restaurant at the Hard Day's Night Hotel, then hopped on the Magical Mystery Tour bus Monday morning.

Our tour guide, Dale, explained to us that since we all knew The Beatles were a great band (or we wouldn't be on the tour), he was going to help us see Liverpool through their eyes. And that he did.

One of our stops was at Penny Lane, of course, where we learned that most of the places in that song are actually along Smithdown Place, on the bus route the boys used to take when they were teens.

We saw the shop of the barber who showed photographs "of every head he's had the pleasure to know" and "the shelter in the middle of a roundabout" where the pretty nurse sold poppies from a tray. We even got a peak at the famed "blue suburban skies" - which doesn't always happen in cloudy Liverpool, Dale told us.

We saw the childhood homes of Richard Starkey (Ringo Starr) and John Lennon, the grammar schools they attended and Strawberry Field. The highlight of the tour for Ainsley was visiting Paul McCartney's home, seeing the window of the room where he "Woke up, fell out of bed" and then walking the very route he sings about in "A Day in the Life" - "Found my coat and grabbed my hat/Made the bus in seconds flat."

The tour ended at The Cavern Club, the spot where The Beatles played 292 times between February 1961 and August 1963. The site has a long history and the club has been rebuilt since those days, but live music is still played there seven days a week. It was a thrill for Ainsley to have her picture taken on the same stage (sort of) where her favorite group had entertained thousands of fans. She was out-of-her-mind excited most of the trip.

We were fortunate enough to have time to return to Strawberry Field before we left Liverpool. I listened to John Lennon's "Imagine" while sitting in front of the piano he used to compose and record the song, and then "Strawberry Fields Forever" while walking through the site's beautiful garden.

In London, our Beatles walk took us past locations such as MPL Communications (McCartney's music publishing company), the famous Abbey Road Crossing and the site of the band's famous rooftop concert on Jan. 30, 1969. Standing in front of 3 Savile Row (now the offices of Abercrombie & Fitch), I could just imagine the band up there playing "Get Back" as the London bobbies made their way up the stairs and onto the rooftop. (I certainly watched enough footage of the concert at the Beatles exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last summer!)

I've loved England for many reasons (Jane Austen and Shakespeare at the top of the list) since my first trip there 35 years ago. Now I can add the Beatles to the list. These are places I'll remember, all my life.

- Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean. This column first was published April 6, 2023.

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Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean