Our fourth day in England was our most relaxing. Unlike the days we spent walking all over London, we spent this day on the Magical Mystery Tour bus and at the Choral Evensong at the Liverpool Cathedral.
We started off by strolling around the walking district that is the city center. We found the beautiful Williamson Square and checked out a few of the local shops. Then we head off to o8 Place, where we would board the Magical Mystery Tour bus.
The Magical Mystery Tour was so fun! We started off by traveling out of the center of Liverpool to a suburb where the Fab Four grew up. The first childhood home we stopped by was George’s. A short walk from where the bus stopped took us to 12 Arnold Grove, where George lived until he was 7. Apparently, families had to apply for new homes at this time (late 1930s and 1940s) in Liverpool, and the Harrison family had been waiting to transfer to a larger home to fit their growing family.
Next we headed to the Woolton Parish Church, where the tour guide pointed out several spots important in the Beatles’ history. First, the church itself, where John was playing with his band at a community bazaar. Next to the church is the graveyard where a gravestone with the name Eleanor Rigby stands. Finally, the Woolton Parish House. That’s where Paul was introduced to John by a mutual friend. Probably the most important introduction in Beatles history.
The next stop was the home where John Lennon lived with his aunt and uncle, 251 Menlove Ave, which Lennon called Mendips. Even though the National Trust was not interested in purchasing Lennon’s home, even though they had snapped up Paul’s. Yoko Ono bought it and then donated it to them. Just a fact you can file and forget.
Speaking of Paul’s childhood home, that was the next stop in the tour: 20 Forthlin Rd. Lennon’s aunt and uncle hoped that he would be more interested in school than he was, so they did not encourage his musical talent. That means that John and Paul spent most of their creative afternoons at Paul’s house: Most of the early Beatles hits were composed in the basement of 20 Forthlin Rd.
When they were of school age, Paul and George took the same bus line to school in the city center. That bus line went through a roundabout at Penny Lane. The many times they went through that intersection, it wasn’t anything special. But the Beatles immortalized a nondescript intersection and now it’s famous.
The last few stops on the tour were a bit different from the first. We seemed to barely stop as the tour guide vaguely pointed out pointed down two side roads where Ringo lived when he was young and then the building featured on the front of Starr’s album Sentimental Journey. Then we drove past the school the boys went to, the Liverpool Institute for boys, the two Liverpool Cathedrals, both the Catholic and Anglican, then headed back to the city center where we were dropped off near Matthew Street and the famous Cavern Club, where we picked the free gift you get for going on the tour, a post card.
We really enjoyed the tour. The tour guide played relevant Beatles tunes when he wasn’t talking. The bus wasn’t very comfortable, but I heard the guide tell another member of the tour that their main bus was in the shop. The tour was just the right length, at two hours, and I especially liked that we had the chance several times to get out of the bus and take pictures. If you like the Beatles and are planning a trip to Liverpool, you shouldn’t miss the Magical Mystery Tour.
Once the tour was over, we were a little hungry, so we got snacks at a stand, and then headed towards the Liverpool Cathedral. We made it in time for the Choral Evensong, and we were glad we trudged through the rain and hail!
We arrived just a few minutes early, enough time to hear the organist play Bach “O mensch bewein dein sunde gross” (BWV 622). The Liverpool Cathedral is home to the largest pipe organ in the UK, and it was beautiful, especially when it accompanied the men and boys choir. Heavenly music in a heavenly setting. We listened to a humorous yet convicting sermon by an “over-carried vicar” who asked us if we were getting carried away by religion and wearing our religion on our sleeves, like a badge of honor, or whether we were getting carried away by the savior of the world, by the man who, despite being free from all sin, descended into hell to take our place. After the service was over, we sat and enjoyed more organ music while letting the message sink in. This time, the organist played Bach’s “Vor Deinen Thron tret ich” (BWV 668).
The next intersection down the hill from the cathedral is almost as magnificent as the cathedral: The Chinese Imperial Arch. We took three fun pictures, then headed through the gate in the direction of the docks, where we took some more beautiful pictures of the stormy sea, Liverpool, and the Royal Liver Building. Finally, we followed our little map book right up to a very interesting statue, whose very name makes me giggle: Super Lamb Banana. Go ahead, take a look at this picture first, so you know what I’m talking about.
Apparently, the Super Lamb Banana symbolizes Liverpool’s greatest export (lambs) and its greatest import (bananas), while also warning against the dangers of genetically modified food.
We finished off our last full day in England by heading back to the hotel, and each taking a bath in the large tub, writing postcards, and watching some good English soccer. We also ordered room service, which we have never done before. Rob had been hankering to try some shepherd’s pie, a traditional Yorkshire dish (Yorkshire is in northern England, just like Liverpool), and the only place we had been able to find one was on the room service menu. The kids menu. (That made is nice on our wallets!) The shepherd’s pie was delicious! Worth every penny.
With our tummies and our minds full, our heads hit the pillow, ready to rise before the sun to catch our bus back to London-town.