The Retirees go Abroad –  2 Nights three days in Liverpool

Since returning to Nottingham we have taken it easy. David and Veronica have arranged to visit friends Anne and Dave in Preston and before too long Kerry has planned another trip – this time to Liverpool. Now Liverpool is not very far away provided that there is no road work on the M6, and no delays at the Manchester Airport turnoff. Of course we encountered both. Fortunately the hot weather has finished (we decided to fit a new air con pump to the car and so the weather goes from sub-tropical heat and humidity to chilling gale force winds).

On arriving at Liverpool we have some fun and games finding our apartment so David and Veronica head off for Lime Street Station and a train to Preston while we try to find our apartment. Soon we work out that it is a doorway off the mall with reception on the 1st floor. Tidy apartment but there was little natural air flow and the apartment was somewhat stifling. After dumping the suitcase we head off for Albert docks the restored dock area of Liverpool. We quickly spotted some pretty startling buildings and some canal boats. The weather was treating us kindly. Although there was a strong breeze it was delightful in the sun.

We found the tourist information centre by accident. I wanted a hot dog and Kerry was not prepared to wait while one attendant tried to serve too many people. That brought us to the Tuk tuks and that in turn lead us to the Tour Centre. We learned that Liverpool was celebrating 175 years of Cunard history with a visit from the QM2 (RMS Queen Mary 2) and there would be all sorts of entertainment food and people including 2000+ from the ship wanting the attractions of Liverpool. This made us decide very quickly to take the 4.00pm Magical Mystery Tour of the history of the Beatles with free entry to the Cavern Club at the end of the tour. Perfect we will do the tour and have dinner at the Cavern club and walk home.

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The tour started on a bus with the guide proclaiming a connection to the lead singer of Frankie Goes to Hollywood – he is his brother. So he says this makes him well qualified to guide the tour. We will see.

Throughout the tour we had music by the Beatles of course and the groups that inspired them and a track by Frankie Goes to Hollywood. So it was a swinging time. First we hear about the unfortunate Pete Best and how Ringo got the gig, Ringo’s life growing up and see the derelict housing estate in which he grew up (still preserved whilst people fight about one of them – Ringo’s house.).

Next is Penny Lane. The Beatles wrote about where they lived and came from so Penny Lane is a story of the community the different occupations and buildings.

After Penny Lane we visit the house where George grew up. He was the youngest Beatle and probably from the poorest background. His house still exists but it is one of a number of unremarkable house down an alley called Arnold Grove fronted by a car repair shop. By the way “Unadopted” on the street sign means the Council did not have responsibility to maintain any of the services. That has changed to day but it shows the impoverished circumstances from which George became famous.

 

From there we went to the hall where the Beatles first started to perform as the Beatles and the graveyard containing the grave of Eleanor Rigby. Down the road we stop at the gate of Strawberry Fields which in the early sixties was a girls’ orphanage which John used to visit to spy on the girls from a tree. The orphanage has closed now of course but the song reminds us of the boyhood adventures for John.

We move to John’s house where he lived with his Aunt. It now has a blue plaque as John has died and it is deemed to be a significant site. Paul’s house is nearby as the crow flies and has been bought by the National Trust and can be visited by appointment. It is said that Paul returns there each year for Xmas to remember his mother Mary.

On the way back to the city now we pass the art school in Hope St attended by Paul and John which Paul has purchased and established a trust to run the school for future students. Nearby is the Liverpool Philharmonic, the Anglican Cathedral and the RC Cathedral.

As promised we were dropped at the Cavern Club and given free admission. It is 3 stories below Matthew St and it is where the Beatles played 274 times before stardom. The Club continues to promote new talent and of course the Mersey sound. The night we were there a Kinks tribute band was playing so for £10 each we stayed for the entertainment and entertained we were.

Although after midnight we had no trouble walking back to our apartment and sleep.

The next morning we ventured off to see the QM2. It was only 10 minutes walk away and we became celebrities posing for the Liverpool Echo taking a selfy in front of the ship. We also met David Fawkner one of the official artists for the Festival doing a water colour of the ship. David spoke freely about his life in the Merchant Marines before trying his hand late in life at maritime drawing and painting. He said he had some little success and mainly did it for his own enjoyment. He allowed us a photo and told us of his family connection with Australia. The Fawkner’s were one of the early settlers in Melbourne (which I remembered from my grade 6 Social Studies) and later Harry Hawker (another of the Fawkner family he said) returned to the UK to work as chief design engineer at Sopwith and when that company failed and the owners reformed to design the Hurricane for the Brits during WW2, they named it and the company after Harry – Hawker Hurricane by Hawker De Havilland.

We continued our walk and some days later we followed the QM2 out to sea and watched the fireworks farewell.

 

We saw the three Graces – three buildings of note one of which was once the Cunard HQ and visited the food festival the antiques festival and the Museum of Liverpool.

It was a full on 3 days and we finished by picking up David and Veronica and driving them back to Long Eaton through the Derby Dales.

Bishops Visit – Arrival in Long Eaton

Our first Australian a visitors arrive today. Doug and Nerida have been friends for over twenty five years and we have done trips down the Volga, up the coast of Norway and through Paris with them but this is the first time we have lived together and travelled. They are flying into Manchester International Airport and we have driven over to collect them. Their arrival is on time and Manchester is much easier to navigate than Heathrow.

After greetings and the short walk to the car, we decide to avoid the motorway on the return journey and by the time we get into Long Eaton it is already dark but their journey through the

villages of the Peaks District gives them a taste of what is to come including unexpected users of the road.

Conscious of the effect of jet lag, we don’t plan much for the next day. Our neighbours John and Pam have told us that Shardlow (a nearby village) has had a glorious history during the great industrial canal era. I don’t need any more than that to make me curious as to what it looks like today.

So I looked on Wikipedia to find the history of the village and it says: “An important late 18th century river port for the trans-shipment of goods to and from the River Trent to the Trent and Mersey Canal, during its heyday from the 1770s to the 1840s it became referred to as “Rural Rotterdam” and “Little Liverpool”. Today Shardlow is considered Britain’s most complete surviving example of a canal village, with over 50 Grade II listed buildings and a large number of surviving public houses within the designated Shardlow Wharf Conservation Area.”

The trip over to Shardlow took little more than 10 minutes and we did not find anything of the past glory. It is cute in some ways but nothing of a “Rural Rotterdam” remains. The most interesting bit was the canal house caught between the canal and the lock

 

The next day we showed them around Long Eaton and then a trip was into Nottingham to the caves under the city.

“Nottingham sits upon a soft sandstone ridge which can easily be dug with simple hand tools to create artificial cave dwellings. Indeed Nottingham was once known as Tigguo Cobauc meaning Place of Caves and was referred to as such by the Bishop of Sherborne Asser in The Life of King Alfred (893AD). The caves here are some of the oldest remaining in the city, with pottery finds dating them to 1270-1300, and were inhabited from at least the 17th century until 1845 when the St. Mary’s Inclosure Act banned the renting of cellars and caves as homes for the poor. None of the caves are natural, they were all cut into the sandstone for use as houses, cellars and place of work by the inhabitants of the city.

As of 2014 more than 500 caves in the city have been catalogued, including 100 that were only rediscovered in the last four years. Construction of the Broadmarsh Shopping Centre began in the late 1960s, but the opening up of the caves to vandals and plans to fill them in with concrete caused a public outcry. A detailed study by The Nottingham Historical Arts Society led to the caves being scheduled as an ancient monument and the development plans were subsequently changed to preserve most of the caves. The caves were cleared by volunteers from the 2418 Sherwood Squadron Air Training Corps and Rushcliffe School and opened to public tours by the Friends of Nottingham Museum in 1978.”(source Wikipedia)

After visiting the caves we took a walk through part of the city and stumbled onto the city square set up as a Christmas wonderland.

The Retirees go Abroad – Bakewell Derbyshire

 

We have been fortunate over the years to have good neighbours and the same has happened here in Long Eaton. John and Pam are a retired couple who have lived their whole lives in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire and know the area well. So when they suggested we go to Bakewell Markets we jumped at the chance.

Bakewell is a small market town and civil parish in the Derbyshire Dales district of Derbyshire, England, well known for the local confection Bakewell Pudding. It is located on the River Wye, about thirteen miles (21 km) southwest of Sheffield, 31 miles (50 km) southeast of Manchester, and 21 miles (34 km) north of Derby; nearby towns include Matlock to the south east, Chesterfield to the east and Buxton to the west northwest. The town is close to Chatsworth House and Haddon Hall.

We drove in Thistle guided by Tommy winding in and out of country lanes. John commented he had never travelled to Bakewell in the direction guided by Tommy so he guided us home. You have to wonder what goes on in a GPS sometimes because John’s directions were far more straight forward.

Anyway we had a pleasant drive and visited a “chocolate box” village. When parking John and Pam were surprised at how close we were to the village (we had made an early start). When it came time to go home the car park was full and where we had parked 7 or 8 rows from the Cattle Hall cars were now parked 30 or more rows from the Cattle Hall.

After walking past the cattle sales we crossed a small stone bridge and I got very excited to see a good size trout in the crystal clear water. We proceeded further to cross a second larger stone bridge beside a weir. As we crossed Kerry noticed that there were hundreds of padlocks of various kinds and sizes attached to the rails on the bridge. These are known as “love locks” attached over water to represent eternal love between lovers. However I was more interested in a grey crane wading in the river and tens of these trout lazing in the current all around two kilos in size. John identified them as brown trout and very delicious.

We proceeded on into the market stalls which crawled through the village. Everything from farm products to craft and some “antiques”. We stopped for a cup of coffee and purchased Bakewell Puddings to sample. Very sweet and greasy.

After about 1 hour we had seen the markets and the village had a cup of coffee and it was time to go home. So we wound through the markets where a very Muslim looking vendor charmed Kerry to purchase some new bath towels. John was greatly amused saying that this chap was a fixture at the markets and was always putting on a show to make a sale.

Anyway I hope you enjoy the pictures.