Asia, Australasia, Countries, Europe, Ireland, UK

Mothers-in-Law Day

It’s a problem worthy of United Nations arbitration so it probably shouldn’t be surprising that we honour both today with their own day, the United Nations Day and Mothers-in-Law Day.

With those esteemed institutions being deemed worthy of their own official day.

Now I wouldn’t for one minute begrudge Angela her day off today as she IS heading into Halloween, obviously her busiest time of the year.

In truth, I’ve always tried to keep a couple of steps ahead of Mother-in-Law, or Sir as she insists I call her.

The outlaw Angie

Mother and daughter: Angela and My Scary One, Sarah

And so we’d find ourselves living away from Chez Angela.

So she has needed to be a visitor to our billets on our adventures around these islands.

In Aberdeen, Liverpool, Edinburgh and Co. Wicklow in Ireland.

Greening it up: In Ireland

And that has allowed us the opportunity to show off the charms of some of our favourite places on these islands.

An inveterate traveller herself, she decamped to Australia with the family in her 20s.

And embarked on a round-the-world boat trip back to England.

Taking in New Zealand, Tahiti and the Panama Canal… and a lot of Pacific and Atlantic Ocean and all its choppiness.

Globetrotting Ma-in-Law

A horse a horse: My queendom for a horse

But she has also benefited from old Casey Jones (that’s the Father-in-Law).

And his love of train travel to span France, Germany, Italy, Portugal and much else of Western Europe.

One unexplored world and one I know she has long hoped to visit is the New World, the USA.

And it is my hope that we can get her out there to New York with her daughter, my very own Scary One.

And I know that she has got her own broom!

Have a Great Day Angela on this United Nations Day and Mothers-in-Law Day.

 

Countries, Culture, Music, UK

A Magical Mystery Tour of Liverpool

Relax, Holly Johnson’s kid brother Jay has got this one… welcome to A Magical Mystery Tour of Liverpool For Ever

The Magical Mystery Tour is Liverpool’s oldest Beatles tour, dating from 1983, just three years after John Lennon died.

Jay, as you would expect, is full of the witty Mersey repartee for which John and Paul, George and Ringo are famous.

We head out from the Albert Dock on the coach to Toxteth listening to rare renditions of John singing Lonnie Donegan and Gene Vincent.

Bingo, it’s Ringo

In my Liverpool home: And the Liver Birds

Jay points out Ringo’s house and the pub which he used for the cover of his debut solo album Sentimental Journey.

And he explains that Ringo’s mum would play the song on the piano.

Jay reminds us that the city’s airport is named after John Lennon.

And then points out the chip shop named after Ringo.

By George

We pass by all the Beatles boys’ homes, although we aren’t able to stop off at George’s because of Covid.

A two-bedroom house up an alleyway, social distancing was never an option for the youngest Beatle, nor was it for us.

The house in which John spent most of his young years, Auntie Mimi’s, was, in truth, more middle-class.

And Jay reflects on that as Working Class Hero belts out.

Dear John

A born raconteur, our guide also retells how John’s mum Julia, who had reconnected with the family just before her death was run over in a car crash.

And that some kind of justice arrived for the off-duty policeman who was acquitted at the time, when he later became a postman.

And was given Paul McCartney’s route and so became weighed down with the sackfuls of mail for Macca.

Let it be Paul

Strawberry Field: For Ever

Paul’s house is our last stop… it was to be his mother Mary’s forever but she only got to stay there a year before dying of cancer.

Poignantly Let It Be which was inspired by a dream he had of his mum visiting him plays out to the coach and we all join in.

Penny Lane, Strawberry Field and the church hall in Woolton Village where John and Paul first met are the most popular spots.

Before they went out to Hamburg to hone their act.

Jay points out the landmarks in the lyrics…

The Barber who shaves another customer is still there, under new ownership.

Penny for your thoughts

In my ears: Penny Lane

While the shelter in the middle of the roundabout is still there.

And Jay fills in how the Penny Lane area played a huge role in the Beatles’ young lives.

For John, Strawberry Field held particularly fond memories.

It was here that he would climb a tree and ogle the girls from the orphanage.

And Auntie Mimi would warn that he would get hung for that.

All of which sparked him to use the line ‘Nothing to get hung about, Strawberry Fields Forever.’

Meanwhile in the Cavern

Club together: At the Cavern

Jay drops us back at the Cavern Club with the ticket providing free entry.

To listen to the tribute acts in the club where they and music’s finest have graced.

Looking back now, I say, well done Jay.

It really was A Magical Mystery Tour of Liverpool

America, Countries, Europe, Music, UK

Get Bach to The Beatles

There have been many candidates for the Fifth Beatle, George Martin, Eric Clapton, Billy Preston. But we want to Get Bach to The Beatles.

The book of Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach died on this day 171 years ago more than a hundred years before The Beatles formed in Liverpool.

Bach in Liverpool

A German composer, you say

But Paul McCartney credits the great Saxon (no, not the band but the state) for inspiring his work.

Merseysider Macca cites Bach in Blackbird while the trained ear will pick up a Bach piccolo trumpet on Penny Lane.

That Baroque sound is also unmistakable on the orchestral section in All You Need Is Love.

But it wasn’t just The Beatles who caught the Bach bug.

New York Bach

Simon and Bachfunkel

If it feels like Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water and American Tune are timeless.

Then it is because it has its roots 100 years before as Rhymin’ Simon tells us on a US chat show.

In the Liepziger’s four-part chorale O Sacred Head Now Wounded.

A Whiter Shade Of Pale sounds like the title of something Bach would rattle it out.

Californian Bach

The Bach Boys

Because it pretty much is and repackaged as Procul Horum’s Sixties classic.

While The Beach Boys’ melodies from California also borrow from Saxony’s finest.

You’ll hear it in their reworking of his Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring for Lady Linda.

Of course, a good toon is a good toon and we’re sure if Bach has done words he’d have found a rap rhyme to Toccata and Fugue in D minor.

Modern-day Bach

Baaa, Baaa, Baaa, Bach

Detroit’s favourite rapper Eminem sampled the great German in Brainless.

Only to be followed up (upBached) by Bonkers from Yonkers Lady Gaga and her Bad Romance and its harpsichord intro.

So Get Bach to The Beatles and a host of music royalty.

So think on it the next time you’re going to write a classic… dig out Johann Sebastian Bach.

 

 

America, Countries, Europe, Sport, UK

Water Unesco splash in Liverpool

The two Liver Bird cormorants have stood sentry over the Mersey for 110 years so why the Water Unesco splash in Liverpool now?

Unesco are threatening Liverpool with the removal of the World Heritage status it has held since 2004.

The UN cultural body do not like the Liverpool Waters Project and the Everton FC new stadium at Bramley Moore Dock one bit.

Liverpool history

Serious deterioration? The Mersey

They say those developments have resulted in “serious deterioration and irreversible loss of attributes.”

All of which sounds like a Kop-out to use a Liverpool football reference point which relates to Everton’s great rivals Liverpool FC.

I have history with the city of Liverpool having spent time down there working and the Son and Heir being born there.

The Three Graces

The Cunard Building

And whether Unesco pull their recommendations or not I will always flag up Scouse City.

Liverpool’s waterfront will, of course, be altered by the erection of Everton’s new ground.

But whether it will be enhanced or diminished by its construction depends on which side of the Mersey you’re perched on.

Although judging by the blueprint (and of course it’s blue) I’d say the new ground will be eye-catching rather than eyesore.

The Liver Building is but one pillar in the city’s Three Graces, the other iconic buildings, the Cunard Building and the Port of Liverpool Building.

Liverpool boasts too Albert to Dock, Walker Gallery, Chinatown and her favourite Sons, the Fab Four, The Beatles.

Liverpool’s boys

Scouse about us? The Beatles

It shouldn’t, of course, be forgotten that Liverpool has given us so much more great music too… and sport.

And as much as we’ll miss the neighbourly proximity that the Liverpool Reds and Blues share across Stanley Park a waterside stadium is special.

Try telling the fans of London club Fulham FC that their ground is unappealing.

Well-healed fans turn up at Craven Cottage by Thames-side boat while their signature tune is London Calling ‘we live by the river.’

San Fran Water Giants

Aw no, did it go in the water: San Fran

Or the San Francisco Giants faithful who also take to boats and wait in McCovey Cove, just a home run over the AT&T Park.

For the ball to come over so San Franciscans can snatch it for a collector’s piece.

The Arnos Vale Ground in Kingstown, Saint Vincent is home to the Windward Islands Cricket side.

And a towering six will have you swimming in the Caribbean to retrieve the ball.

It won’t come to that at Everton’s new ground and it leaves us asking Water Unesco splash in Liverpool.

 

 

 

 

 

 

America, Caribbean, Countries, Europe, Ireland

The summertime is coming

The summertime is coming and the trees are softly blooming. And the wild mountain Jim rolls around the blooming heather.

I’d rather be rolling around the blooming beach though I’ll settle for my front garden, North Berwick, until I get back out to the Caribbean.

But to mark the sun coming out, although I might jinx it, here’s some summer sizzlers to lift your Rainy Days and Songdays.

I remember that summer

And my summer girl in her autumn years

Summer in Dublin, Bagatelle: And this was the soundtrack of 1980 which is where he would always spend my summer.

I can’t remember the Liffey stinking like Hell but I was one of those young people looking so well on Grafton Street in Dublin.

Rock’n’roll never forgets, nor us, and singer Liam Reilly who was taken from us last year will always be a sound of our Dubliners summer.

It’s summer Irie

Irie Barbados: With Jevan and Donna

Money Well Spent, Biggie Irie: It’s the last day of Crop Over and I still have room for Bacchanal.

The Crop Over carnival, to be fair, lasts all summer and is the only thing Bajans devote their attentions to.

California, the best trip

Sloop John B, The Beach Boys: And it may have been the worst trip Brian Wilson ever went on.

But visiting SoCal, Southern California, and being entertained by the Boys, Snoop Dogg et al, was the best trip I’ve ever been on.

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes

Here comes the Sun, The Beatles: And The Beatles light up any summer.

Whether in Liverpool or Hamburg where I’ve followed in the Fab Four’s footsteps and I suggest you do the same.

Espana por favor

Going for a walk in Tenerife

Y Viva Espana, Sylvia: And Swede Sylvia’s song falls into the summer anthem category along again with Typically Tropical’s We’re Going To Barbados.

And, of course, it’s Britons and Irish go-to summer hotspot and ours too.

All of which brings us back to el hobby horse: why are the Canaries, off the coast of Africa not a special case.

After all those Tenerife trails won’t walk themselves.

So, seeing the summertime is coming then we should all blooming get out in the sun and sing and dance.

Countries, Europe, UK

Rainy Days and Songdays – Mersey mix

And to celebrate the test event nightclub gigs for 6,000 people in Liverpool the past weekend Rainy Days and Songdays gives you our Mersey mix.

Fab Four

Across the Universe, The Beatles:

And the original and the best sung dreamily by John Lennon.

I’m sure the weekend’s DJs could put some bass and drums beat on this.

But I’m happy enough with George’s tanpura and Ringo’s skins.

I dare say Stefanie Hempel can do Across the Universe on her ukulele.

On der Beatles tour in Hamburg too but this is one she prepared earlier

Of course no trip to Liverpool would be complete without a trip to The Beatles Story on Albert Dock.

And pictures outside the Cavern Club, Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields.

Of course there is no shortage of Beatles tours around the city but we’d recommend The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour of course.


We’ll never send you away: The Ferry

People around every corner

Gerry and the Pacemakers, Ferry Across the Mersey:

There are iconic river trips, and ones personal to me, and we’ll deffo return to this.

But a ferry across Liverpool’s River Mersey is certainly right up there.

It became a favourite attraction to show visitors in our time living in Liverpool.

While Gerry’s other anthem You’ll Never Walk Alone is for ever associated with football team Liverpool FC or the great Celtic in that other great British port city Glasgow.

The sweetest song: The Real Thing

Real Liverpool

You To Me Are Everything, The Real Thing: As important in their own way to Liverpool at their time in the Seventies as The Beatles were in the Sixties.

The Real Thing were the first all British black band to make it and in those days that was a challenge.

Of course good music has no colour and travels across the world and time.

And it is the soundtrack of the Whiskey Muhle in Söll in Austria.

The Fab Five

Power of Frankie

The Power of Love, Frankie Goes to Hollywood: And, of course the Eighties in Liverpool and across the UK belonged to Frankie.

I’ll leave the grinding of Relax to the Liverpool gay nightclub scene, great song though it is.

And the political zeitgeist theatricality of Two Tribes to the boxing Reagan and Chernenko (ask your parents).

It’s the Three Wise Men from the East on the video which gets me every time. It’s the camels you see.

That takes the Biscuit

Look into my eyes: Dickie Davies

Dickie Davies Eyes, Half Man Half Biscuit: Birkenhead, Liverpool’s wee brother across the Mersey.

And where the Ferry docks is colloquially known as the One-Eyed City.

Because it always has one eye on Liverpool.

But Birky on the Wirral punches above it’s weight (sometimes literally, it can be rough) with its musical output.

It spawned synth gods Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, The Teardrop Explodes and the wonderfully inventive alternative cult band Half Man Half Biscuit.

The Birkenhead quartet have given us some of the most unforgettable song titles in pop…

All I Want For Christmas Is A Dukla Prague Away Kit, Trumpton Riots, and my own fave, Dickie Davies Eyes.

Dickie Davies was an Eighties British TV sportscaster.

With a grey flash in his bouffant black hair and a manicured moustache not unlike my own at the time.

And different coloured eyes, like David Bowie had.

And I was giddy with excitement when I got the opportunity to interview him when I lived in Aberdeen.

HMHB were geniuses in channeling popular cultural reference points.

And celebrated Dickie in a pastiche of the Kim Carnes’ song of the tune, Bette Davis Eyes.

Of course I remember nothing of my interview with Dickie… I was too busy looking at Dickie’s Eyes.

Sit back and enjoy… Rainy Days and Songdays Mersey Mix

America, Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, UK

I’m listening – Seattle and other sitcom worlds

Frasier’s returning which means more Seattle.

And New York‘s finest, Friends while Will & Grace are with us already.

All of which means we get to peer into their sitcom worlds.

It’s no exaggeration to say that I chose Boston as my destination for my post-university summer because of Cheers.

Here’s to Cheers

Cheers, Boston: As is the way of such things there was a little less Boston than I’d have hoped for.

The exterior and the stairs are what you see on the show.

And there was an actual pub in Beacon Hill, near Boston Common, which was serving Beantown beerflies since 1969.

When the telly people turned it into the phenomenon it now is after launching it onto our screens in 1982.

What Cheers did was use Boston as the conversation to draw me and my pals out with one even working on a merch cart.

Mork calling Boulder

Rev it up for Boulder

Boulder, Colorado: And it would be as easy to pick out Mork’s planet Ork back in the day than it would have been Boulder.

The Coloradan town though is a must-visit for Mork & Mindy fans.

Boulder is everything you would imagine an artsy, outdoorsy Colorado town to be.

And check out the bluegrass music and the food tours.

Golden Girls’ Miami

Mexing it up in Miami

Golden Girls, Miami: Florida is, of course, the state where America’s golden oldies go to live out their retirement.

In a case of life imitating art the girls‘ Miami house was put up for sale for $3m at the turn of the Millennium.

I might have missed the boat then but as we approach our retirement years Miami is on our list…

I suppose I better share with my Golden Girl!

The Liver Birds

The Liver Boys: With my Al

The Liver Birds, Liverpool: The opening credits when you see Beryl and Sandra skipping with the Royal Liver Building as the backdrop sets the scene.

And without a doubt Liverpool, Liverpudlians and their humour mark this show as the pioneer of a new genre…. the Scousecom.

We’ve had Bread, Watching, Boys from the Blackstuff and Jim Royle. A lorra, lorra laughs!

Derry life

Writing on the wall: In Derry

Derry Girls, Derry, Northern Ireland: And like The Liver Birds, Derry is very much a key cast member.

Set in Derry around The Troubles in the Eighties, this coming of age sitcom has been embraced beyond the city.

And isn’t it great to see Old Derry’s Walls boasting a mural of schoolgirls and not political symbols for a change.

America, Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, Music, UK

Rainydays and Songdays – the American musical

Give my regards to Broadway, Remember me to Herald Square, Tell all the gang at Forty-Second Street, that I will soon be there.

Because it’s come to my notice that they’re making a movie out of Hamilton for release next year and we’ve been binge-watching musicals during lockdown.

I’m taking a Yankee Doodle Dandy dander through the American musical with a stop-off in London’s West End and Dublin’s Theatreland too.

Come all: Come From Away. www.broadway.com

Away, away, away, away

Come From Away: Which is all visitors coming into North America anyway.

These ones, of course, were the 38 planeloads who had to land in the small Newfoundland town of Dander after 9/11.

And found out a lot more about each other as I did when I saw it in Denver.

We all come from far away and have become friends over the years at IPW, the American Travel Fair, who bring the best of Broadway to whichever town is in town.

And here’s one from the show worth coming for…. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=p8JI70eXjG8.

Peak form? Wicked. https://www.wickedthemusical.co.uk/

Wicked stuff

And this one cones to you from Dublin and New York and Oz.

Which is, of course, the thing about musicals, they transform you to other lands.

Dublin was where Disney on Broadway invited us to take in Wicked.

But if you can’t get to the show this will warm your heart up… https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=HEnQY_66GZc

She’s all heart: The Carole King Musical. www.broadwaydirect.com

King of London City

Beautiful – The Carole King Musical: I felt the earth move when I caught the story of the greatest female songwriter of all time in London.

And that was just from my kids holding an unsanctioned party back in Greystones in Co. Wicklow in Ireland.

And our next-door neighbour texting us to tell us they had called the Gardai

Didn’t stop me throwing shapes though. It could wait until I got home before I threw my weight around!

And Carole.., What a natural woman!

All you need is…, Las Vegas. www.cirquedesoleil.com

LOVE, LOVE, LOVE

The Beatles LOVE: And this being Cirque de Soleil you just know it will be an interactive experience.

With trapeze artists and dancers twirling about… Vegas, baby!

All to the background of Liverpool‘s finest, the Fab Four.

And you’ll be lucky and see a guy in the sky with diamonds (or sequins at least).

Of course, the best musical is the one about a half-Scottish New Yorker who made good and led his country to great things.

This is my pick from the various productions out there.

America, Canada, Countries, Culture, Europe, Ireland, Music, UK

Lennon’s revolution… 80 years a working class hero

Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans – John Lennon

We could pick any number to define our times as we mark John Lennon’s 8Oth birthday this week. Suffice to say his was a life lived.., and how.

We’ll never know for sure how he would have spent the last 40 years since his murder outside the Dakota Building in NY.

Blue for you. www.johnlennon.com

But it would be safe to assume he would have been at the forefront of all the great struggles of our day.

The Fall of the Wall, Apartheid, Black Lives Matter, Freedom from Covid.

Lennon bestrode his world, leaving his imprint, and still does.

And as his adopted New York celebrated his legacy by turning the Empire State Building blue, here are four Lennon cities.

Liverpool Lou Lennon

Liverpool 4

Oh Liverpool Lou, lovely Liverpool Lou, why don’t you behave like other girls do?

And we have Yoko Ono to thank for knowing this, that John would sing this song, his Mum’s fave, around the house.

John’s statue stands alongside his pals on the Liverpool waterfront near the Beatles Story museum.

Lennon is everywhere in his home city and the under-threat Cavern Club is a good first stop while let someone else do the work for you on their Magical Mystery tour.

Growing up in Hamburg

I didn’t grow up in Liverpool, I grew up in Hamburg.

Not that John was dissing his home city, it was just that he was giving an honest reply to a reporter.

Lennon and the boys (five of them then, with Stuart Sutcliffe on board and with Pete Best instead of Ringo Starr) lived in Hamburg between 1960-62.

And Stefanie Hempel’s Beatles Tour Das Original will take you all over their favourite haunts.

John was his favourite and she had his poster above her bed.

She will take you to the St Pauli door where he posed for a shot later used for the Rock ‘n’ Roll covers album and much, much more.

John’s New York

If I’d lived in Roman times, I’d have lived in Rome. Where else? Today America is the Roman Empire and New York is Rome itself

While we all know that John died in NY let’s dwell on his life in the Big Apple.

John loved its vibe, its people, its energy and put it down in song on New York City off the album Some Time in New York City.

Dakota Building and the Strawberry Fields memorial where the music never stops are obviously on the itinerary.

For the rest, check out this video.

The Lennon wall in Prague

The Lennon Wall, Prague

What to make of it when you’re told that the Lennon Wall in Prague now has ‘Fuck Trump’ messages on it?

It put off my Czech guide who remembers the wall well from the days when it was an organic centrepoint of protest against the Communist.

‘Appen though John would approve.

And let’s not let Amsterdam and Montreal lie

Of course, this is where John and Yoko had their Bed-ins for Peace.

At the Hilton Hotel in Amsterdam and the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal.

And I hope that John would approve as I find myself compiling my thoughts here bolt upright in my bed.

While waiting to get back out there travelling again.

Countries, Culture, Music, UK

Britannia? Yacht to try these UK sites instead

You know when you live somewhere but never visit that famous site, like me and the Royal Yacht Britannia in Edinburgh.

It can’t be because I take a stand against lavish palaces or ostentatious wealth… I love Rome and the Vatican.

Comfort is the watchword

So, I’ll need to get myself along and see how the other half live.

One would like tea for two

Heck, who am I kidding? It’s how I like to live when our killjoy leaders aren’t closing down all the borders.

But for now, and in the spirit of the Which survey of the best of the top 50 most-visited attraction I give you…

My entirely scientific and undeniably definitive five UK attractions.

Cottage industry

Anyone know a poem? Burns Cottage

Alloway, Ayrshire: Well, if it was good enough for Wordsworth and Shelley and Muhammad Ali to visit!

Robert Burns’ home village in Ayrshire, the centre point of which is the cottage in which he was born in the 18th century, is a truly spiritual place.

Check out the statues of Tam O Shanter, Souter Johnny, Burns’ father’s grave, the statue of a mouse and Brig o’ Doon.

Robin reliant

Boy and the Hood: Nottingham

The Robin Hood Experience, Nottingham: It takes an outlaw to know an outlaw.

You’ll immerse yourself in Sherwood Forest in an un prepossessing building near Nottingham Castle and get a chance too to twang your arrow.

While actors dressed in costumes of those heroes of legend interact with you.

Chocs away

The best bar none for chocolates

Cadbury World, Birmingham: And you thought Willie Wonka was an invention, you Willie Wonka.

You can take a cart through the history of cocoa in this chocolate heaven in Bournville (yes, really), Birmingham.

On your tour, you’ll see how chocolate is made and best of all are sent away with a handful of bars.

Daddy’s Little Girl took two handfuls.

Churchillian speech

Mapping out a day out… in the War Rooms

The Churchill War Rooms, London: And deep within the vaults in Whitehall in the heart of London, Winston and his pals waged the Second World War.

You can see his bedroom, the map room, the decoders.

And when we found all the other sites were closing up for the day they let us in. Well, we were on the right side!

Get back!

Fab Four in Liverpool

The Beatles Story, Liverpool: If The Beatles had been American then they’d have turned their home city into a visitors’ attraction.

Which may seem like a step too far although it does work in Graceland because it is outside of Memphis.

Yes, it’s great to have the museum down by Albert Dock in Liverpool, the bus tour, Penny Lane and the Eleanor Rigby statue.

But the idea that the Cavern Club should be in danger of closure because of financial troubles is a local and national disgrace.

Over to you Paul McCartney… don’t let it be!