They say a week is a long time in politics, but a month at home during March seemed even longer to me. Despite finding a bargain trip to Florida, Karen would not countenance another trip between trips especially as she had accepted a placement at a school until Easter. So instead I occupied myself with various chores and booking other trips that I was allowed to.
We decided to extend our planned trip to Dubrovnik over Easter with a pre trip on our way to the airport via Liverpool. Now to my mind it seemed entirely sensible as instead of driving all the way back from Liverpool we would instead divert down the M11 to Stansted. No one else I spoke to understood my logic and so again I was left wondering why I was right and everyone else was wrong…
Our drive to Liverpool started on Friday 12th April and we left about 9.15am expecting the journey (according to the Sat Nav to take about 4 ½ hours). Initially we made good time and stopped at a Starbucks just past Kettering for a break.
Then the problems started on the roads ahead of us and the Sat Nav automatically rerouted us around them. The trouble was it took us through the centre of Stoke where every roundabout had at least a ¾ mile queue before them and there were lots of them. The journey took just over 6 hours and I was pretty fed up when we eventually arrived at a dingy looking Premier Inn at the airport. Fortunately the inside was much better than the outside. It did amuse me that the receptionist put on a comedic strong Scouse accent to greet us (well I assumed she did).
After a quick cuppa we decided to head the 7 miles into Liverpool Centre. This took us another 70 minutes. Every single road in seemed to have roadworks and of course the longer we took the more we hit the rush hour traffic. By then I was ready to go home. From what we could initially see Liverpool looked a dark dingy place and in parts a real dump. We were not impressed with our first impressions. We eventually found the car park we were looking for and ended up grabbing a burger in a 5 Guys.
Then we walked to Mathew Street and found the Cavern Club where we had tickets to see the Cavern Beatles appear later on. After posing for a couple of pictures with the statues of John Lennon and Cilla Black (cannot believe she was really that tall in real life) we went into a Wetherspoons before the show. Karen was not impressed with some of the clientele but I found it amusing people watching all dolled up for their evening out. By the time we left Wetherspoons, Mathew Street was by now in full blast like a bad night on the Prince of Wales Road in Norwich. Clubs with loud music blaring and people drinking on the street. Apparently the street had been beautified. I would have dreaded to have seen it beforehand.
The Cavern Club was much as how I expected it to be. It is a shame that it is not the actual one but a replica using many of the actual bricks and design. The actual one was filled in and made into a ventilation shaft for a never to be completed underground train system. The stage in the Live Lounge part is apparently just 25 feet away from the old stage. The atmosphere inside was good but presumably all from people visiting from outside of Liverpool unlike the original days.
Once inside the Live Lounge we were lucky to grab a couple of very uncomfortable stools for the night on a raised platform to the side near the bar, otherwise it would have been standing room only. The warm up act was a solo guy doing some very good covers and along with some very dodgy ones.
Soon and to no fanfare the Cavern Beatles appeared on the tiny stage. My first impression was to just laugh, actually that was my second impression as well. In fact if our two boys had been there as well they would not have been able to contain themselves. Each of the band members did have a reasonable likeness to the early 60’s Beatles (albeit the wigs probably helped). It was just that both John & Paul (especially Paul) looked like they would have done if they had eaten too many pies in-between songs. It was quite off putting.
However once they started playing they were terrific. They sounded exactly like the released records. Ironically The Beatles last played in the Cavern Club in 1963 so most of the songs would never have actually been performed here (or more precisely very close to here). Also by the time The Beatles broke into the big time, their live sound was never that great due to the sound systems and the amount of screaming. Nevertheless the performance we heard was really really good. They literally played all the hits through the years and as the sound bounced off the low ceilings everyone and I mean everyone was singing loudly along. They ended with Hey Jude which left everyone wanting more.
The journey back was uneventful and quick as we went home singing Beatles songs in the car, but annoyed by having to pay a ludicrous £9 car parking fee.
The next morning, we went into the buffet breakfast to fill up for the day. We decided to catch the bus in which was quick and efficient. After a quick Starbucks for Karen we arrived early for our booked free walking tour. It was very cold but bright whilst we were waiting for it to start, not helped by me forgetting to bring a coat for this part of the trip. Good job I did bring my emergency Gillet for which I was grateful.
There were 40 other people who were also there for the walking tour. Our guide John Maguire (according to his own website blurb - Liverpool’s brightest young playwright) was very entertaining and as ever on these tours did a very good job. We learnt much about the history and very revitalisation of Liverpool as a City and were taken to places we would have missed. The tour lasted 2 ½ hours and we ended up at the Pierhead near the Liver Buildings. For instance we never knew that Tommy Steele was a sculptor and that when he made the Eleanor Rigby statue he hid inside it some ‘lucky’ items which is why you should rub her head.
After the tour we warmed up in the Museum of Liverpool cafe and had a sausage roll each with a drink. We then went to the John & Yoko special exhibition which proved that they both had a surreal approach to what constituted ‘art’. I liked looking at the original hand written lyrics to songs like ‘Happy Xmas - War is over’, the rest was just - pah…
Karen then wanted to go back to the National Museum to see the Leonardo Da Vinci drawing exhibition. It was a long walk to see some old small drawings. The rest of the museum was full of paintings that would be better in a skip and utilising the space for the homeless.
By now we were both knackered and so walking back to the bus station went into a Pizza Express for a hot meal and a rest. Our bus pulled into the station as we arrived and so we hopped on. It was a relaxing ride back although we missed our stop but the kind driver stopped directly outside the hotel instead. Back in our room we opened a bottle of Cava we had purchased and drunk it chilling on the bed watching TV.