Sunday, October 4, 2015

Wales Part 1

Ah, we saved the best for last. Paul and I didn't want to be rushed or have any commitments while visiting Wales and family. Yep, you heard me right. Family.
Let me back up a bit. My parents and my brother Chris were all born in the U.K. (if I didn't mention that already). My mum and Chris were born in N. Wales and my mum often spoke of her childhood growing up on the coast of the Irish Sea, in the little beach resort Rhyl. As you can see, it's not far from Liverpool. Another reason I understand why my parents were SOOO excited when the Beatles came to the U.S.

Notice the double LL in Rhyll? This is the only map I've seen with that. My mum spelled it w/one L.
She had very fond memories of the times during the summer spent with her Auntie Gwen and cousin Howard. My grandmother would rent out my mum's room in the summer to tourists and that's when my mum would go stay with her aunt. I got in touch with Howard recently and explained that Paul & I were making a trip to the U.K. and would LOVE to meet him. Well, needless to say..we DID and what an absolute TREAT! I can't tell you how nice, kind, generous and inviting Howard and his whole family were. That's all an understatement! We had such an amazing time. So much so, that we'd love to go back soon and possibly bring my sister Wendy.

There were a lot of laughter and tears. Did I mention this trip was emotional for me? All the years growing up I would hear stories from my parents and grandparents, and to see it and experience it all close up? I was a mess LOL. I was a good mess though (not to be mistaken for a hot mess).  Even the Beatles experience I was a mess because there was and never will be a band that I loved as much.

So, when we left Liverpool we rented a car for the rest of our adventure. We asked for a Ford Focus sized car and they brought out a MERCEDES!!! I was in shock and love! First time and probably the only time I'll ever get to drive one.

I kept trying to remind myself and Paul that we weren't sitting on the "wrong" side of the car or driving on the "wrong" side of the road, just different! LOL.

Sweet car.
Now all the cars in England and Wales are compact. We only saw maybe two full size SUV's the whole time we were there. Could be because the roads are so narrow and many have stone walls or bushes on either side. Here's a couple of examples...

Riding in Michael's car.

We drove to Chirk where Uncle Howard lives.

What a truly delightful man. I wish we could have visited longer.

He told me I look just like my mum :)

Howard's son Michael.

Michael and Howard drove us up to Rhyl and I got to see the house my mum talked about on so many occasions. She lived in a little cottage on Garnet Avenue.

Her street.
She lived in a duplex.

Now, my mum would tell us stories of her going down to the beach as a little girl and she would collect seashells. She would then make them into necklaces and bracelets to sell to the tourists. Uncle Howard and Michael were kind enough to take us to the beach my mum talked about so often.

As we walked along the shore, like my mum did 80 or so years ago, we too collected shells and stones to take home and cherish.

The little boardwalk. Candy floss? Crisps?
An amusement park along the shore.
Some scenery...

There are literally sheep EVERYWHERE. Someone told me there are more sheep in Wales than people. I believe them.

The first day we arrived in Wales, Uncle Howard asked us what we thought of motorbike racing (we call it motorcycle racing in the U.S.). Well we really have no opinion one way or another. Come to find out, that weekend was only 1 out of 2 when they have this HUGE motorbike race! And, would we like to go? Well sure. So Uncle Howard was thrilled. I did not know that this side of my family loved an adrenaline rush LOL! Before motorbike racing they flew planes! I got a chance to meet Uncle Howards' other son Philip. He has 3, Michael, Philip, and Paul. We also met Philip's wife Leslie, their son Marcus and daughter Holly. Also, Michaels' son Damien and daughter Tanya.
So back to the races. WOW!! What fun we had!!

Philip, Marcus, Leslie and I.
What a sweetheart!! I do wish we lived closer!



Now the bikes are going a lot faster than they look in these videos, because we're sitting in front of a bend. The bikers had to slow down because of that but Paul walked up to the top of the hill on the left with Michael and Philip, and said by the time they get up over that hill, they're going 180 mph! This was a preliminary race we watched. The real race was the next day.
All the men have raced and here's a pic of Michael in a race...

Michael in a race 2013

Well, I have to go help our friends decorate for our annual Halloween party and we're late! I will post part 2 this week.

As always....

Friday, September 25, 2015

England Trip Part IV

Liverpool!! Oh my! We arrived by train and were taken by shuttle to the "Hard Days Night" hotel. I can't possibly describe the awesomeness of it in a blog post. I'm serious!! As we walked by the hotel, the stone statues of the Fabulous 4 on the second level caught my eye first...

And then, a DOORMAN!!! Can you believe it? I could first LOL.

He was a nice chap. I should've gotten Paul to take my picture with him. Damn!
Then we entered the hotel and I was blown away as I tried so hard not to let my jaw hit the floor! In front of the reception desk and providing light, were some Beatles sheet music draping from the ceiling in front of some lights. I tried to take a picture but it didn't turn out too well.

To be honest, most of my pictures didn't do justice to the things I was trying to capture. But, oh well. Onward...
The elevator was a delight. A wrought iron spiral encased the glass lift. (They call them lifts in England). The the walls of the staircase outside the lift were covered with Beatles photos..

That's Paul walking down the stairs.

Me & Paul, oh yeah! LOL
Here's a couple of pictures of our room. Everything was musical, right down to the shampoo!
Notice on each side of the leather headboard, the digital boxes? Those controlled everything from the lights to the tv!!!!!
Cool designs everywhere!
Yes, this is our tv!
I told you, everything musical right down to the shampoo!
Needless to say, I was in heaven in my Beatles atmosphere. I wish we had stayed a bit longer than 2 days.
We walked around and found an outdoor mall. I was looking for a sporting goods store to get Jennifer her Manchester United Soccer jersey she asked for. You don't want to say that too loud in Liverpool hehe. Everything here was LFC. I did find it though in this mall.

We tend to find shops with our names on them..

We walked down to Albert Docks. I remember my dad mentioned it on quite a few occasions.

While there on the docks, we saw several restaurants and cafes. We ate lunch at the only place that had Welsh Rarebit!

My mom used to make this for me when I was a little girl. It's essentially cheese on toast.
Sorry I didn't take time to edit the photos. Really didn't need that orange poll right there! 

Notice on the chain railing, those are padlocks hanging from the chain.

I was fascinated by the little padlocks and wishing I had one to put on there.
I also took time looking at them, wondering how far some of the owners traveled from.
The Magical Mystery Tour, is coming to take you away, coming to take you away....

John and Paul were told to write songs about their childhood. John wrote Strawberry Fields Forever. A tidbit of information I never knew regarding this song is when John Lennon was a little boy, he was raised by his aunt and uncle. From the bus driver: After school he would go out the back of his house, climb the fence and run down the alley where the fence to Strawberry Field was. There was an orphanage there and John would peek through the fence at the girls. His aunt would yell him to stop and say, they're going to hang you ya know? Online version:  John's aunt Mimi did not like John going to Strawberry Fields, as it was basically an orphanage and she thought they would lead John astray. John liked going there because having lost his father and later his mother he felt a kinship to the lads. When John and his aunt would argue about his going he would often reply, "What are they going to do, hang me?" Thus the line "Nothing to get hung about."

Paul wrote Penny Lane.

On the corner is a banker with a motorcar...
In Penny Lane there is a barber showing photographs.
Please understand I'm taking photos of the bank and barber shop while in a moving bus.
In the window of a gift shop, made of jelly beans.
Display inside The Beatles Museum
Not sure why, but I also get emotional when I hear Beatles music. You can just imagine how I was in the Museum. It was SO fun though!! I think Paul enjoyed it too although Liverpool was on my bucket list...not "our" list :)

The rest are pictures of architecture etc.

A pub we stopped at before heading back to the hotel.
Another thing we noticed, whenever you ordered a drink, it came in the manufacturers glass. 

I love the different colored doors. Makes it easy not to forget which one is yours when you come home from a pub.
Ok ya'll. That's all for now. As always...