06/28/13
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Wales

I woke up at 11 am on Jun 28, 2013.  Ivan was already using the internet.  We packed everything up.  I brought the luggage down while Ivan went to grab lunch at Tesco Express.

We left the hotel and headed for the car park.  Ivan started driving us to Wales at 12:20 pm. 

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It was another overcast, gloomy day in Liverpool.

Ivan, Lil Dave and I ate our lunch in the car.

Lil Dave read his book Monkey Flies the World while I worked on the blog.

Our car went into a tunnel and we were underwater for a few minutes.  Very cool.  It started raining when we reached Wales. 

Ivan called his Uncle Alan to let him know that we were about 45 minutes away from his place.  He lives on a farm in Anglesey with his wife Carol. 

Ivan met Uncle Alan and we followed him to his house since it’s not listed on the GPS.

Alan came to our car to say hello.  Ivan’s highlight of visiting Uncle Alan & Aunt Carol’s farm was riding on the tractor.  He thought the field was huge as a kid, but now it seemed really small.  It was still a decent size, but as a kid things seem so much bigger than they actually are.. probably since we’re much smaller.

We went inside the house and sat in the living room with Uncle Alan and Aunt Carol.  Uncle Alan has a strong scouse (Liverpool) accent.  Aunt Carol has an accent, but not the same kind of Liverpool accent.  I do realize now that Ivan’s dad Ken does still have a bit of his Liverpool accent still.

Aunt Carol made us tea and brought out a plate of lemon cake and carrot cake.  The cakes tasted lovely with the tea.  We talked about Las Vegas, travelling and the farm. 

Uncle Alan and Aunt Carol have the two cutest white golden retrievers. 

Cute white Golden Retrievers

Ivan asked if we could play with them in the back garden.  Aunt Carol said it was fine, but they’ll jump on you.  That’s fine.  One of the dogs kept jumping on me.  I just made sure she didn’t knock me down.  The dogs looked similar except one had more golden hair and a kinder face.  The dogs went mental when we came to play with them.  But, their excitement died down quickly and then they were really calm and didn’t seem to want to play anymore.

Ivan playing with Elsa

Ivan kept throwing balls and toys at Elsa and she would grab it, but go inside with it.  Holly seemed hungry and didn’t want to play.  Both of the dogs are so very sweet and love being petted. 

Ivan and I went outside to check out the animals with Uncle Alan.  He showed us the chickens, ducks, cows, bulls, guinea fowls and two animals that looked like ostriches. 

Animals on the farm

We couldn’t see the pigs since it’s too muddy.  We even got a chance to see guinea fowl baby chicks.  So cute!

Guinea fowl baby chicks

Uncle Alan told us about Cemaes and Bull Bay.  Ivan’s Dad Ken said that his family would visit Bull Bay for their holiday.

Ivan told Uncle Alan and Aunt Carol that we would be back in an hour.  Ivan drove us to Cemaes and we walked around the sleepy little village which was really, really quiet. 

Me & Lil Dave at Cemaes Harbor

Ivan, Lil Dave and I walked along Cemaes Harbor.

It was off to Bull Bay next.  Bull Bay was another cute little sleepy village.  Ivan and I needed the loo, but the public restroom was locked already. 

Ivan said we should go to the pub for a drink.  We went to the pub inside The Bull Bay Hotel.  We used the toilet and then we drank our whiskey. 

Ivan drove us back to Uncle Alan & Aunt Carol’s farm.  I changed my shirt since we were going to a nice restaurant soon.  It was the same restaurant that they took Ivan’s parents to when they visited last year. 

We followed Uncle Alan in our car to Tre-Ysgawen Hall Country House shortly before 7:30 pm.  Ivan thought about staying here, but it was expensive.  It’s a beautiful place,

Uncle Alan and Aunt Carol went inside Noelle’s Bar and we followed them.  It reminded me and Ivan of our friend Noelle in Las Vegas. 

One of the staff brought over drinks for Uncle Alan and Aunt Carol without them ordering since they’re regulars.  Ivan asked Aunt Carol what she got and she said a sherry.  Ivan ordered us two sherries.  The sherry was good, but probably not something I’d order often.

Aunt Carol told us that the hotel used to be run by a family.  It was taken over by a millionaire widow.  She bought it in memory of her late daughter who was named Noelle.  She says that the money raised from the hotel pays the staff and then the rest goes to charity.  Uncle Alan says she bought it just to have a place to stay.  It would be nice to be that rich. 

A waiter brought us menus.  It was a 5 course meal.  Uncle Alan said the portions weren’t that big.  For some reason, I knew we would probably be stuffed at the end of the meal.

A waitress let us know that our table was ready.  We went into Noelle’s Restaurant for dinner.

Noelle's Restaurant

Everybody got a green vegetable soup to start off with.  Next, Ivan and I shared a seared smoked salmon salad with asparagus and a poached egg and a fried mackerel fillet with a seared scallop.  Both appetizers were really tasty.

Our main courses came out next. 

Chicken on risotto

Ivan and I shared the spicy chicken with vegetable risotto and a pesto Panko crusted salmon.  Both dishes were good, but not amazing.

Our smiley waitress brought everybody a small shot glass filled with lovely strawberry sorbet. 

Dessert was up next.  Ivan and I got an almond panna cotta with chocolate ice cream and a lemon tart. 

Lemon tart for dessert

The lemon tart was delicious.  There was too much cream on top of the panna cotta, so it was pretty sweet.  I took out the cream and mixed the chocolate ice cream with the almond panna cotta and it tasted alright.

We went to The Library for tea and sweets. 

The Library

Ivan and I were so stuffed from dinner.  We still managed to have tea and share two macarons.  I don’t think I could ever say no to a macaron since they’re usually so yummy. 

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We chatted for awhile in the beautiful library. 

Everybody went outside.  Ivan and I thanked Uncle Alan and Aunt Carol for dinner and we also said good-bye.  They told us that we could always come stay with them in their caravan which actually has heating in it.  It was the big caravan that we saw earlier today on the farm.  It was a lovely spending time with them chatting and having a great meal together.  It’s always nice to meet more of Ivan’s family.

Ivan drove us to Caernarfon which was 25 minutes away.  We checked in to Abel’s House Bed & Breakfast.  Our room has nice country décor.  We all used the internet for awhile before it was time for bed.

06/27/13
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Beatles Day

I woke up at 10 am on June 27, 2013.  Ivan and Lil Dave were already awake.  We used the internet in the room.  I worked on the blog.

It was a gloomy overcast day with some rain.

Ivan and I walked to the store to pick up our food for lunch.  We ate our lunch in the bar.

At 12:30 pm, we were picked up by a taxi for The Beatles Fab Four Taxi Tour.  Our guide was a man named Alan.

It was raining out which was a bit depressing since pictures usually don’t look good when it’s rainy and overcast. 

Alan drove us to many places around Liverpool that related to The Beatles.  Our first stop was the registry office where John Lennon and Cynthia Powell got married.  Brian Epstein kept it a secret from the press since he thought it would affect the Beatles popularity.

John Lennon sign

We stopped by where the hospital where John Lennon was born which is now a student residence hall.

We made an unofficial stop to take a picture with a Beatles themed Lamb Banana.

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Brian Epstein was secretly gay since it was illegal to be gay during those times.  Brian let John and Cynthia stay at his flat for their honeymoon.  They actually stayed for four months.  At this apartment, John wrote Do You Wanna Know a Secret? which referred to his secret marriage and about Brian being gay.

Another stop was the The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA) school where John Lennon attended art school.  Paul McCartney contributed money to renovate this school.  We took pictures of the guitar cases which had the names of The Beatles on it including Stu Sutcliffe.

Me & Ivan in front of the cases

Alan told us about the different places and buildings that we passed.  It’s always great to learn about a city to get a feel about the place.

A great stop was Penny Lane. 

Us at Penny Lane

Alan told us that some of the businesses are red herrings to try to draw the tourists in when their business wasn’t actually written about in the song.  We passed by the fish shop that referred to “four fish and finger pie”.  Ivan and I got out with Alan and went inside Penny Lane Barber Shop.  It was called Bioletti’s back when The Beatles got their haircuts there.  We got to sit in a chair and take a picture with a Penny Lane sign. 

Me & Penny Lane

Very strange.

We stopped at Paul, John, George and Ringo’s childhood homes. 

Another cool stop was at Strawberry Fields. 

Ivan and I at Strawberry Fields

An orphanage was located at Strawberry Fields.  John Lennon would go here and hang out with the kids since he lived nearby at his Aunt Mimi’s house.  The kids told the owners of the orphanage that they were sad when John left and they wanted to go home with him.  So, two tough guys went to talk to Aunt Mimi saying that John wasn’t welcome back.  Aunt Mimi was really mean and told John Lennon that he couldn’t go or he would be hung.  Wow, that’s harsh!  That’s where the lyric “there’s nothing to get hung about” came from. 

We stopped at George Harrison’s childhood house.  He would get tons of fan mail delivered to his house.  Girls would come and hop in the garden and steal George’s dad’s underwear and socks thinking it was actually George’s.  George eventually bought his parent’s a new house to avoid being bothered by the fans.

Our final stop had us stopping at Eleanor Rigby’s grave. 

Eleanor Rigby gravestone

We also saw a grave with a Tommy McKenzie and also listed Martha.  Father McKenzie is used in the song Eleanor Rigby.  Martha is used in the song Martha My Dear.  The Beatles seemed to borrow from things they saw or events from their lives. 

We walked across the road to where John Lennon and Paul McCartney first met. 

Paul McCartney & John Lennon first meeting spot

I took a picture of the sign and then we went inside the taxi since it was raining.

Alan told us about the meeting.  Ivan Vaughn who was a part-time member of John Lennon’s band The Quarrymen thought that Paul should meet John since he was a good guitarist. 

They met during a festival where The Quarrymen were performing.  Paul and John were informally introduced.  John said that I heard you can play, Why don’t you play something for us.  Paul borrowed John’s guitar.  He said it wasn’t in tune since John was playing it as a banjo for the skiffle band.  Paul played the guitar upside down since he was left handed.  He put it in tune and then played two songs.  Everybody was blown away by what they heard.  They asked him to join The Quarrymen.  Paul was a bit shy and said he had to go help with his dad’s surprise party which was actually the truth.   Alan believes that this awesome moment changed music.. since it was the start of a beautiful friendship that went on to make wonderful music.  But, even if this meeting didn’t happen.. it might have happened another way.

It was great to hear about their first meeting.  I really have no clue how The Beatles were started after that.  I know I can Google it and read all about it.  I just felt like I was left hanging.  Not really a complaint.. just like how you feel at a book that leaves you hanging on purpose, just so that you tune in to the next book.

Alan drove us around Liverpool for 3 hours.  He was very passionate and knowledgeable about The Beatles and his city of Liverpool.  We could definitely listen to more of Alan’s Beatles stories.  It was all very interesting.  I can’t remember the last time I was so excited to see where I was headed to next on a tour. 

The Beatles Fab Four Taxi Tour is a definite MUST for any Beatles fans.  It’s great to see the sights of Liverpool relating to The Beatles and to learn more about the Beatles lives and their song lyrics.

Ivan and I walked to The Albert Dock to find a place for dinner.  We walked inside Gusto and it was really busy.  We didn’t think it would be since it was so quiet outside.  The wait was 30 minutes – Ivan put his name down for the waiting list.

We walked further down the row of restaurants to see if there was a better restaurant.  We found the Indian restaurant Spice Lounge.  Ivan thought we should go since he was already hungry.  There was a 5-10 minute wait and it turned out to be only a five minute wait.

Rapti Salmon at Spice Lounge

Ivan and I shared Rapti Salmon and Murgh Tikka Karara (Chicken Tikka) for our starters.  The chicken was tough, but still tasted good.  The salmon was delectable.

Our main courses were Prawn Gulnaar and Tarka Dal with rice and a roti.  It was another wonderful Indian meal.

We got a cab to The Cavern Club since it was showering out and we were running late.

John Lennon and Ivan are just chillin'

It was really crowded already and it was 9:30 pm with the show scheduled to start at 10 pm.

The Cavern Club is in the basement with lots of bricks everywhere.  This is the location where The Beatles played early in their career.  It’s not the same exact club since they had to re-build it because of construction work.

Ivan managed to find a seat and then I found one that was free.  I went to the loo and came back and people were standing right in front of us.  They didn’t even care that they were blocking our view.  Nobody wants a view of heads and shoulders when all they really want is to see the band on the stage.  Ivan kept moving my chair forward thinking they would move over.  But, not only were they rude, they were stupid as well. 

The Beatles tribute band came on.  It was four guys who were wearing bowl cut wigs and wore black turtleneck shirts, black jeans and black boots. 

It was really warm down in The Cavern Club.   Ivan and I got strawberry lime ciders which helped cool us down a bit.

I ended up standing in front of the rude people.  There was a woman named Jackie who has muscular dystrophy and she danced crazily right in the front of the band. 

The music was really good.  The guy who played Paul wasn’t the best singer, he couldn’t hit the high notes. 

The Beatles tribute band

The Beatles band played Help!, Please, Please Me, If I Fell, No Reply, Can’t Buy Me Love, Yellow Submarine, Eight Days a Week, Norwegian Wood, Do You Wanna Know a Secret? and more in two sets. 

We were thinking about staying for the hippie songs that they promised for the third set.  But, it was too warm down there for us to stay.

06/26/13
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Beach City

On June 26, 2013, Ivan and I woke up at 8:45 am.  We went downstairs for the free breakfast.

Ivan and I each had cereal, poached eggs and baked beans.  Lil Dave had bananas on toast.

Packed everything up and checked out. 

Ivan drove us to the amusement park Pleasure Beach.  Ivan said it’s the #1 attraction in England.

Lil Dave went off to Nickelodeon Land to go play and ride a few rides.

Some rides we passed on since the rollercoaster looked kind of tame.  Ivan is a big fan of rollercoasters.  I’m glad that the lines weren’t very long since it was a pretty quiet day at the park.

View of Pleasure Beach from The Big One

We went on Infusion, Wallace & Gromit Thrill-O-Matic, The Big One, Grand National and Wild Mouse.  We waited in line for Valhalla, but the ride had technical problems and wouldn’t be up for awhile. 

I was happy that I got to take a picture with Spongebob!

Spongebob and me

Ivan and I thought it was really weird that the park didn’t have any signs directing you to other rides.  We only saw one set of toilets which was called Loos.

It’s a fun place, but the rides don’t compare to Six Flags in California.  America has much better rollercoaster rides compared to England.

At 1 pm, Ivan drove us to Yorkshire Fisheries for lunch.  Ivan and I each got the King cod this time which is the bigger fish portion.  Ivan got fries with his that we planned on sharing.  Lil Dave got some fries to have with his banana sandwich. 

Ivan's ready to eat lots of fish!

The fish was once again wonderful.  Ivan decided to get mushy peas which is exactly what it sounds like.. peas all mushed up.  We dipped our fries in the tasty mushy peas.  We were so full and happy.

Ivan and I walked to The Blackpool Tower to see The Afternoon Tea Dance in The Blackpool Tower Ballroom.  The tea dance is dancing in the afternoon with tea, sandwiches, cakes and biscuits – of course, you don’t drink tea or eat while you’re dancing.  Imagine trying to dance while you’re sipping on your tea.. that would be hard, but challenging.

It is free to enter upstairs and watch the tea dancing. 

Beautiful artwork on the ceiling

The ballroom was lovely with beautiful architecture.

The organist plays songs right on the stage.

Organist on the stage

We saw lots of dancers doing the Foxtrot, Waltz, The Charleston and more.  It was fun to see the people dance.  Some were really quite good and a few were trying, but not really that good. 

Tea dance at The Blackpool Tower Ballroom

It made think that Life is like dancing… Some are flawless at it, while others have to try really hard to make it work.

Ivan started driving us toward Liverpool.  I was really tired for some reason and took a long nap.  Lil Dave kept Ivan company while he was driving.

It took us an hour and 15 minutes to arrive in Liverpool from Blackpool.

We drove to The Claremont Bar. 

The Claremont Bar in Liverpool

This pub is where Ivan’s dad Ken grew up.  Ivan’s never been, so we had to make a visit.  Neal, Ivan’s brother, said it wasn’t located in a nice area.  But, it looked fine to us.

Ivan and I went inside and checked it all out.  Ivan ordered us a mixed fruits cider to share. 

The Claremont Bar

Ivan tried to imagine his dad and his uncles at the bar helping out their mum.  We finished our cider and then walked back to the car.

Ivan drove us to the Radisson Blu Hotel.  The first room we got was like walking into a sauna. Ivan did read the bad reviews saying that some of the rooms were incredibly hot.  The air-conditioning didn’t really work – it just seemed to circulate the air in the room.  The windows didn’t open, so you couldn’t let any cool air in at all.  Ivan went down to the front desk to get a new room.

Ivan opened the door to the new room and it was so much cooler.  I’m glad that got sorted out.  I don’t think I could have slept in the hot room.

I worked on the blog while Ivan used the internet.

We walked to the Indian restaurant Spice City for dinner.  Ivan and I love Indian food.  There’s always so much selection on the menu in an Indian restaurant. 

We started off with poppadums with the lovely chutneys.  I wasn’t that big a fan of their mint chutney.

Chicken shishlik at Spice City

Ivan and I shared a vegetable and cheese stuffed pepper, chicken shishlik and Fish Balti Jalfrezi.  Lil Dave got a banana dal and a banana shihlik.  The food was simply delicious.

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