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  • "Daily Diary of 2019 Magical History Tour by SHELLY TRENT "

          Monday, August 19, 2019
          The group of eager travelers met up at the JFK airport for our Beatles adventure. We were all decked out in Beatles shirts and buttons, ready for our trip to Beatle-fan heaven! Some of us even had Beatles luggage. Quick introductions were made as we gathered, and Charles provided everyone with a goody bag. Little did we know that we would all become fast friends over the next ten days! Charles corralled us through check-in, and we flew from JFK to London Heathrow, arriving just before 8:00 a.m. London time on Tuesday. The fun was about to begin.
          Tuesday, August 20, 2019
          Most of us did not sleep on the plane (too excited), so we were getting a sleepy start, running on adrenaline, as some of us had been awake for two days by this time! After gathering our luggage and visiting the loos (bathrooms, for those of you from "the states"), we met our coach bus for a tour around London with Rene van Haarlem, long-time tour guide and Beatles expert (below is a photo of our Guide Rene and our Host Charles taken later on in the week at the convention).

          It was a whirlwind but amazing first day, and we walked over 20,000 steps! We had perfect weather for our first Mad Day Out! Our first stop was Osterley Park, the location of Wings' "Band on the Run" album cover photo shoot. The park grounds were amazing, with a duck pond, mature trees, manicured lawns, and regal historic buildings. But the unique highlight was when our spirited tour group recreated the album cover pose in front of the exact same wall. Fans on the Run indeed!

          The weather couldn't be more perfect as our next stop was Chiswick House and Gardens, where the Beatles filmed the "Paperback Writer" and "Rain" promotional film clips. Following next was a walk along the Thames River to explore locations where the Beatles filmed "A Hard Day's Night" and "Help!" scenes, including The Turks Head Pub, the spot where Ringo mailed a letter, and the bridge over which Ringo walked during "Ringo's Theme" in AHDN. We passed Twickenham Studio on our walk, so we went to the gate. We snapped two photos of it before the gate was shut in our faces, darn it. We enjoyed lunch in the area before continuing on to London's historic panoramic sightseeing musts, including Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the House of Parliament and others.

          That evening, we visited the famed Troubadour for dinner and a live show with Beatles musicians.

          Wednesday, August 21, 2019
          After a good (hard day's) night's rest, we headed out for a full-day tour of London Beatles sites. First, we took the train at St. John's Woods Station to the most famous crosswalk in the world, Abbey Road! Traffic was quite busy despite our arriving after the morning rush, but we all took turns walking across the street taking photographs. Once we had our pictures as proof we had crossed in the footsteps of our heroes, we stood outside of Abbey Road Studios with our albums & shirts. We visited the gift shop next door to gather some souvenirs for the album's 50th anniversary

          We next walked to Paul's house on Cavendish Avenue, a home he has owned since the 1960s and still lives in part-time. Alas, we didn't see him, but we did snap a few photos of his house. We then walked to the original home of the Apple Boutique, which is no longer recognizable. There is a business there, so we were not able to go inside, but there is still wallpaper inside showing that Apple was once housed there, and a blue plaque on the brick outside. John's former home on Montagu Square was our next stop; Ringo also lived there for a time. We passed by the Radha Krishna Temple before heading into Soho to see MPL (Paul's offices in London), and Trident Studios where the Beatles recorded some tracks in 1968-69.

    Walking past the London Palladium, we could almost hear the screams of Beatlemania! This was where British Beatlemania started on Sunday, October 13, 1963, when the Beatles "topped the bill" for the weekly variety show. We passed by the original London offices of Brian Epstein, walked down Carnaby Street, and stopped for photos at the Bag O' Nails where Paul and Linda first met.

          We saw the Apple offices at 3 Savile Row, though we were not allowed to go up to the roof where the concert took place. We were, however, allowed to go inside the building, which is now an Abercrombie & Fitch. It is such a shame that the building is not a museum. Fortunately, the building does have cabinets of Beatles memorabilia in the entry hall. We got to see what was said to be John's office in the front room, though it is now filled with clothing. We walked through Piccadilly Circus on our way to our next stop, the Prince of Wales Theatre, where the Fabs played for the Queen at the Royal Command Performance on November 4, 1963.

    That evening was our only free night in London. Some of us went to London Hard Rock Café, and others dined at Bill Wyman's Rolling Stones-themed restaurant in Kensington, Sticky Fingers.

    London was terrific but we were eager to get to Liverpool. Many agreed that crossing Abbey Road, on the year of the 50th Anniversary, was one of the highlights.

          Thursday, August 22, 2019
          We boarded our coach for a two-hour ride to Henley-on-Thames, singing songs along the way with talented guitarists on board. We stopped to visit George's amazing home, his "Crackerbox Palace," Friar Park. Only the front gate and a gatehouse could be seen, but it was a thrill for all of us just to stand at the entrance. Lunch was "on our own," but several of us ate at the Angel, where George used to play and have a pint. Across the street is the church where Dusty Springfield is buried. The small town was so quaint and charming, so it's no wonder that George chose it for his home

          Then, we were off to Liverpool! We still had a bit of a ride in front of us, so Rene provided us with many stories and tidbits of information in preparation for our visit, along with a trivia quiz. Arriving in Liverpool, we checked into the Adelphi Britannia Hotel early evening and got our tickets and wristbands for the week's events. After settling in a bit and freshening up from our long ride, we met Charles for a city orientation and leisurely walk to familiarize ourselves with the sites, and have some dinner with our new friends.
          Friday, August 23, 2019
          And yet ANOTHER DAY of blue suburban skies! Today was FABulous! We started the morning at Liverpool's Pier Head and took photos in front of the large statues of the Beatles. The bronze statues depict the Beatles in suits, overcoats, and Beatle boots, not unlike the "Live at the BBC" album cover.

          These statues have become a must-take photo op for anyone visiting Liverpool. Long forgotten are the more generic Beatle statues that stand in the Cavern Walks on Mathew Street.

          We boarded the Ferry 'Cross the Mersey to view both shores of Liverpool. It was the best weather possible, and, of course, the ferry music soundtrack was from our beloved Gerry and the Pacemakers!

          David Bedford was our tour guide for the day. He is the author of several books about Liverpool and the Beatles, and had so many wonderful stories to share. We went by coach to Hulme Hall in Port Sunlight, where Ringo played with the Beatles for the first time on August 18, 1962, and even took a photo on the same stage where they played that historic show. I know other tour groups had visited Hulme Hall on past tours, but we may have been the first allowed to take photos sitting on the stage itself.

          We drove past the home Paul purchased for his father, Rembrandts, in a posh neighborhood on our way to Penny Lane, where we saw the barber shop, the bank, the roundabout & the shelter. It wasn't raining, so we didn't see a banker in a Mac.

          Then, it was off to St. Peter's Church, where fate happened at the fête - John met Paul. We saw the grave of Eleanor Rigby and then entered the hall where Paul auditioned for John by playing "Twenty-Flight Rock." One of our tour members, Arlene, took her photo on THE SPOT where it happened! One of the original Quarrymen, Colin Hanton, was visiting while we were there.

          We stopped at the gate of Strawberry Fields for photos and then were treated to a spectacular visit INSIDE the new Strawberry Field job training building. It is not yet open to the public, and our group was the FIRST to ever "Step Inside, Love." We quietly walked the grounds, remembering that John had been there as a boy. Our group "came together" to sing "Strawberry Fields Forever," while the promotions director filmed us. She said they would potentially use the video clip of us on their website! HOW COOL IS THAT? We were able to be the first ever to shop in the Strawberry Field gift store, and shop we did!

    That evening, we attended an incredible concert by The Fab Four, a Beatles tribute band at Grand Central Hall. It is clear why they are recognized as one of the greatest soundalike & lookalike acts in the world. The capacity crowd loved every note.

          Saturday, August 24, 2019
          For those who wanted to get up early, after breakfast, Rene led another walking tour around Liverpool covering the locations not previously visited. In the afternoon, we took a bus to the Casbah Coffee Club for the 60th anniversary of its opening! There was a stage set up outside, and bands were playing inside as well. Our group toured the basement of the house where they lived, and where The Beatles played. The Best brothers were present for the celebration, and Pete was there to take photos and sign autographs for everyone. He was in great spirits, and signed for hours longer than was planned. This was where it all started!

          Great bands played inside and out all day, including an all-female group from Japan (pictured with our tour-member Brian Nolan), and Brazilian favorites, Clube Big Beatles.

          That evening, we went to the Philharmonic Hall for the concert by the band Pepperland, who played all of Abbey Road. They were the warm-up act and served as back-up for headliner Mark McGann, star of the film "John & Yoko: A Love Story." Mark performed a set of classic Lennon solo songs followed by a raucous encore of some of John's most rockin' Beatles' tunes. We had great seats right down front! It was a reunion of sorts for actor/singer/music Mark McGann and our leader, Charles, who had met years before when Mark McGann made his first Liverpool Convention appearance (pictured with film co-star Kim Miyori).

          Sunday, August 25, 2019
          Today was convention day in the Adelphi Hotel. There were huge ballrooms full of books, CDs, DVDs, records, jewelry, shirts, autographs and endless memorabilia. Speakers, writers and musicians lined the halls. Some of our group stayed throughout the day to hear the programs and search through merchandise while others had some time on their own to do some independent (non-Beatle) shopping or exploring of Liverpool centre. The convention and all the great music continued until midnight. In years gone by, numerous Beatles' relatives and associates would be very prevalent and accessible at the conventions. It was common to rub elbows with Allan Williams, Bob Wooler, Sam Leach, John's Uncle Charlie, Ringo's Dad Harry, Alf Bicknell and so many other dignitaries. Sadly, most have passed away. Fortunately, some are still with us. We got to meet some of the Quarrymen, Beatles artist Shannon, and, of, course, John's sister Julia Baird. But sometimes there are those who go unrecognized. One such person was the wife of the late Jackie Lomax (on the right, in the red dress). Lomax was an Apple recording artist ("Sour Milk Sea") and a friend of George's. Also visiting the convention was Sam Leach's brother-in-law, Gordon. Pictured on the left is one of our tour members, "lovely" Rita, who is a yearly vendor at the convention with her home-made Beatles items. She is pictured here with two sisters who are perennial conventioneers.

          Monday, August 26, 2019
          Today, we visited the childhood homes of both John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Mendips and Forthlin Road. We saw where the magic happened when they got together to practice and write songs.

    During the afternoon, "Good Ol' Freda" (the Beatles' Secretary) Kelly was doing a DVD signing in the Hard Day's Night boutique store on the corner of Mathew Street. She was surprised by former Ringo producer Mark Hudson, who professed his love for her in all his colorful glory.

          Later that evening, we went to the nearby Shankly Hotel for a rooftop concert spectacular! There were three areas of live music. On the main rooftop, Ringo producer Mark Hudson was the middle act, and he once again told the crowd that Freda was his second wife. The evening ended with an incredible recreation of The Beatles roof-top concert by the Cavern Beatles. The weather was mild and the evening was perfect.

          Tuesday, August 27, 2019
          Today was designated "museum day," and there's no problem filling an entire day with this (as well as last last-minute shopping). We skipped the historic museums such as the Tate and the Slavery Museum and even the British Music Exhibit at the Cunard Building, and instead visited the most important of the locations for fans: the Beatles Story exhibition (which added the Beatles new pinball museum for fans to play in the cafe area) and the Liverpool Museum at the docks (which housed a very touching, very classy and very Yoko-endorsed John & Yoko "Double Fantasy" exhibit).

          It was the new "Magical Beatles Museum" on Mathew Street which got the most attention. Understated but packed with memorabilia never seen anywhere in the world, it is undoubtedly the best new attraction in all of Liverpool. Our host, Charles, proclaimed it the best museum he's ever been to! In a very private event at the Museum, Roag Best interviewed his brother Pete for a small, private audience.

          Sometime while we were museum-going, Julia Baird was being interviewed for television - right in front of our hotel. Also, our youngest tour-member, Billy Food, a musician, was having the time of his life performing both at the Cavern Pub and also on the Cavern Club stage.

    In the evening, we went to the Cavern Club to see the Overtures. They played a long set of sixties music, covering many of the bands who played the famed Cavern Club through the years. The Overtures have become BeatleWeek favorites, and the Cavern audience loved every song. Needless to say, we all took endless photos all vacation long, and it was no different on our last night in Liverpool. Pictured on the left is the author of this report, Shelly Trent, alongside the statue of John on Mathew Street across from the Cavern Club. At the right is our tour-host Charles, but it's far from the only picture of him at the Cavern.

          Wednesday, August 28, 2019
          And in the end . . . We must say goodbye to our new friends and fly home. Some of us made plans on the plane to return next year!

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