…and Strawberry Fields Forever
Original 2008 article updated to show 2014 time table and prices.
(See bottom of the page).
Seriously. I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday treat (at least not one I could write about here 😉 ).
My lady and I drove to the city that I’ve fallen in love with all over again, through Hunt’s Cross, which held so many fond childhood memories, past the John Lennon Airport with it’s huge sign aptly subtitled “above us only sky” and on to Speke.
To be specific – Speke Hall – set in its beautifully manicured gardens on the banks of the Mersey.
But today we hadn’t come to partake of this magnificent Tudor mansion’s historical charms. We were a mere stone’s throw from the place that was the birth of the Mersey Sound and we were here to take a magical mystery tour to Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields and to the childhood homes of two of the twentieth century’s most prolific songwriters, name of John and Paul.
We needn’t have arrived early for our Beatles tour – but I’m glad we did. The tours were running late due to technical problems, so we had time for a nosh in Speke Hall’s restaurant. Nothing posh, but bloody good – and precisely what you’d have been eating in Liverpool during olden times.
Hey Laa.. Giz a Wet Nellie
The main course choices were Scouse Pie and Pan Haggerty. Being veggies we chose the latter and it was the nicest cheese, onion and potato pie I’ve tasted.
The Wet Nelly was a new one to me, a citrus sweet northern version of one of the traditional English bread-based puddings. Hmm delicious. And all washed down with a bottle of Curiosity Cola. Give the National Trust their due… when they take you back in time, they do it in style.
Fully sated we boarded the mini bus to John Lennon’s former home, Mendips, on Menlove Avenue, where an extremely knowledgeable custodian gave us a full and frank potted history of when John met Paul, and how they used to practise their faltering early compositions in the tiny front room. The house had been restored to its former glory after being donated to the trust by Yoko Ono in 2003. When it first opened to the public, Paul McCartney had apparently told the custodian they used to practice singing in the front inner porch because of the fantastic acoustics. We each of us today took the opportunity to follow suit.
Chris meets a “Beatle”
Now then… Did I mention Sir Paul?
Next stop was the McCartney’s childhood home, 20 Forthlin Road, a couple of miles away in a less salubrious area of Allerton. And having joked en-route about expecting Sir Paul to have a nice cup of tea ready for us, I alighted from the mini bus to be greeted by… Paul McCartney!
Okay, after rubbing my eyes and taking a long hard look, I realised it wasn’t actually Sir Paul himself – but I tell you, had John Halliday not been gainfully employed as custodian of 20 Forthlin Road, he could make a very good living as a Beatle look-alike. No only that, he had the same mannerisms and even sounded like his multi-millionaire alter ego.
and Jayne sits on the “Throne”
The former factory worker informed me he still couldn’t believe his luck being paid to live the house of his childhood hero and spend his days talking Beatle talk.
The framed photographs taken by Paul’s younger brother Mike McCartney, vouched for the authenticity of the trust’s restoration program.
Jayne even got to sit upon the former Beatle’s throne, having missed the sign for the new visitor’s toilet on the next outhouse along. When she emerged, to the surprise of one elderly lady queueing for the real toilet, Jayne told her she hoped she hadn’t flushed away any historical …erm …deposits, the poor lady couldn’t stop laughing at the thought and almost wet herself on the spot! She was still giggling as we all got back on the mini bus for the return trip.
It was a lovely day. It brought back fond memories of the time I was an Executioner, tinged with a little regret that I never actually met the Beatles when I played the Cavern, the Iron Door and other landmark venues back in the sixties. Although I didn’t appreciate the significance at the time, I am so glad I lived through that area. Jayne, bless her, missed it of course. She was knocking out a beat with a rattle on the side of her pram in Hyton whilst I was a mile or two down the road rattling the Cavern’s foundations with my bass guitar.
A combined tour of ‘Mendips’ and 20 Forthlin Road, Liverpool costs £22 per adult (£9 for NT members) and children go for £7
Book your tour online now and enjoy the unique experience of a visit to the childhood homes of John Lennon and Sir Paul McCartney. This is your only opportunity to see inside the places where the Beatles met, composed and rehearsed many of their earliest songs.
Imagine walking through the back door into the kitchen where John’s Aunt Mimi would have cooked him his tea, or standing in the spot where Lennon and McCartney composed ‘I Saw Her Standing There’.
Join our custodians on a fascinating trip down memory lane, and take a moment to reflect on these incredible individuals. Visiting the Beatles’ childhood homes in Liverpool is an absolute must for fans of any ages. The tours provide a real insight into Lennon and McCartney’s humble beginnings.
Tickets for tours during 2014 can be purchased via our online booking system or over the phone on 0151 427 7231.
It really is a great day out!