26th of March 2010 - 29th of March 2010
Liverpool - Sunderland
score: 3-0 (3' min Torres 1-0, 32' min Johnson 2-0, 60' min Torres 3-0)
The last Liverpool trip we did two years ago, we'd enjoyed ourselves that much, that The Dutch Mackems decided to do another Liverpool trip. The plan was to do Everton-away this time, but this fixture was scheduled for Boxing day. Impossible to get tickets for that. So Anfield again. The Dutch Mackems in Party had also changed. Pep and Guppio stayed in Hillegom, but Sven joined the party. Six Lads travelled to lovely Liverpool.
Friday the 26th of March
The flight was an early one, so first stop was a cup of coffee at Schiphol airport. That's where the coincidences started. In the same queue as Nilis and Peur were Aad "the Chemist" and his wife Hanneke. They were on their way to London to visit "Zoepen" Stef and his wife Claire. It's a small world. The coffee landed safely in our stomachs and so did the sausage-rolls for five of the six in the group. The plane departed right on time and we arrived early at John Lennon Airport. We'd decided to stay at the same great guesthouse as two years ago. This was the former home of Stu Sutcliffe, an early Beatles bassplayer. This time we didn't classify the rooms by weight (or had Frido lost some?) Nilis, Peur and Nick were in one room and Drew, Sven and Frido in the other.
After checking in we had a quick pint in Stu's Hotelbar and plan what to do next. The idea was to go to Penny Lane and find a pub there for a change of scenery, but they told us at the Hotel that this was not a good idea. There's no pubs at Penny Lane, so we asked the taxi driver to drop us off in an area with various pubs. But we needed a cash-machine first. Nick asked the Lads to put every month a specific amount on a special account so he could get every day around 300 GBPounds from this account for food and drinks. This sounded like a good plan, but only if it works. And it didn't. Nick's card was refused at al machines. What to do now? Get back to the hotel for an early bedtime? No way. Nick phoned Lenneke with the account details of the other Lads and she had to transfer the money in parts to all different accounts, so all the other Lads could get some money. This worked and whe we get back home we have to make a spread-sheet to check if everything was correctly debited.
Time for a nice pint in a pub. But we have to look descent. Peur had one strange different colour of hair in his moustache. So he had to get rid of this before entering the pub. After this we were smart enough to enter. Well, this was a pub, and not that bad, but we thought it could be better. After one or two pints we decided to find a different pub. This next pub was a bit better, but still not what we were looking for. What were we looking for? Well, the Cavern ofcourse. So TAXI! Off to the Cavern. In the Cavern it felt like coming home. A nice cold pint in the basement and there was a bloke with a guitar on stage playing Beatle songs. Nick wanted to hear Eleanor Rigby, but did not yell for it. Until the bloke mentioned that he thought Eleanor Rigby was one of the worst songs the Beatles had written. This was something Nick didn't agree with and he joined the conversation. In the end the singer replied to Nick that he had to get to the front of the stage, sit on the floor with his hands underneath his bottom. So Nick did. A couple of pints later we left in search of an Indian restaurant. We had a great meal two years ago, so we were trying to find the same restaurant again. After a short stroll we found an Indian, but this was not the one we had two years ago. We went inside, what was the chance that it would be disappointing? Well, it didn't. We had a great spicy meal again and all the plates finished empty. Even Drew loved it, he decided not to have a spicy meal this time and that felt much better. He finished his last bit of Coke and felt sorry for that small bit of naan-bread that was left. He had that last bit, but this was excactly a spicy bit of Onion Kulcha Naan. He was furious. Well, back to the taxi-stand again and we took a taxi back to the hotel for a last drink in Stu's Hotelbar. Then it was off to bed. The next day was supposed to be a very special day, so we needed our rest....
Saturday the 27th of March
After a good rest we woke up a little bit nervous. When we arrived for breakfast we all were talking about one thing only: the Beatles. This Saturday was "Beatles day". Around 9.30 AM an 8-seater arrived at the guesthouse. The man who stepped inside to pick us up was Tim Hemmings from Pool of Life tours. Nick had contacted Tim for a unique Beatles tour. Two years ago we did the Magical Mystery Tour in a bus, and we thought that this tour was good, but today was going to be even more special. All six of us got in the 8-seater and after a short stop to pick up a couple from Scunthorpe fun could start. Tim really enjoyed our company. A group of Dutch Lads who had more than average interest in music. Tim told us that he had a brother who was a guitar-player and that he was in a band that had a hit in 1987/1988. This brother was in a band called the La's and the hit was "There she goes". A great story of course, but to make sure we had to check wikipedia....
The first stop was in the city center. We stopped in front of a cards and gift shop. But this was the exact location where Beatles manager Brian Epstein had his record store. From there we walked passed the statue of Eleanor Rigby into Matthew Street. In Matthew Street there was a pub called Grapes, close to the Cavern. The story is that the Beatles were in Grapes before and after their Cavern gigs. There were a lot of those great stories and Tim took his time to explain everything well and answer questions. After that we went back in the car and drove to the former schools of John, Paul and George. We ended up in an old and poor looking area. That was were Ringo's home was. It was completely boarded up. From his house we crossed the road and saw a tall building called the Empress. Nilis' was sharp as a razor and recognised this as the cover of Ringo's 1970's solo-album Sentimental Journey. And when we walked into the street behind this building we ended up at the later home of Ringo's parents.
Back in the car again we drove towards Penny Lane. Tim told us everything and showed us all the things that are in the song. "The barber showing photographs", "on the corner is a banker" (where we had to use the cash machine of course), "Behind he shelter in the middle of the roundabout" everything was still there. The next stop was George's home and after that we arrived at Strawberry Field. But the highlights still had to come. The first highlight was a stop at the home of John's aunt Mimi named Mendips. The house was donated to the National Trust by Yoko, and was available for tours. During the Magical Mystery Tour it was just a short stop with the bus, but this time we were allowed to go inside! Tim took a surprise out of his pocket: the original plate that had been on the door with the number of the house. Another great story was behind this. Tim told us that his parents were also owners of Mendips for a short period. And that's how he got the number. Inside the house everything looked like a step back into the late 50's. John's bedroom was designed like it should have looked like back then. The man who did the tour inside Mendips was a guy who also looks after the house. He's got his own room inside and lives there. It was great to be inside. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take photo's inside because of the National Trust.
At the next stop we again were told not to take photographs inside. Another National Trust building: The home of the McCartney's. This was also done by a guy that looks after the house. He even looked a bit like Paul. Before we left the house Peur could not resist and played "Let it be" on the piano that was inside the living room.
From Paul's home we had to do a bit of driving. So time for a short Beatles quiz in the car. The 8-seater stopped near a church. It was St. Peter's Woolton Parish Church. The early years of the Beatles history. On Saturday the 6th of July 1957 there was a band playing on a fair called the Quarrymen with John Lennon (who was 16 years old) as bandleader. Paul just walked around and a friend of John and Paul introduced the two to each other. John asked Paul to play some guitar and John was impressed. Three months later Paul was asked to join the band. Historical ground it was we walked upon! We walked to the other side of the church and came to a graveyard. Tim asked us to have a good look at the gravestones. And we noticed the grave of Eleanor Rigby. We saw the dates and it proved that Eleanor Rigby was just a fictive person. But they must have read the name on this stone. We had to get back to the car, another highlight was on the agenda: The Casbah Coffee Club.
Rory Best, brother of ex-Beatles drummer Pete Best was already waiting for us outside. He still lived in this house above the Casbah Club. Mother Mona Best had won the Grand National's jackpot in the late 50's, and decided to buy this house. She decided to make a club in the basement where young people could meet. The club was boarded up for 40 years. Luckily they only closed it and did not change it. Everything looked exactly like it did in the late 50's. This was the very early start of the Beatles where they started as the Quarrymen. They were also the last band to play there before they closed in June 1962. The Beatles saw the Casbah Club as their second home. They were allowed to do their first gigs in there, but they needed to help with the decorations and painting before it could open the doors for the public. Everything was still there. You coluld almost smell the atmosphere. It was a basement with a very low ceiling. Most of us could not stand up straight. There were a lot of photo's of past gigs there and it was very crowded. unbelievable, you must have felt stuck like a pig in a pen. There were also a lot of collections on the walls with hand written notes. We really loved it. Rory wanted to smoke a fag and walked outside with Tim, Peur, Sven and Frido. Drew, Nilis and Nick stayed inside to watch more memorabilia. Until they heared on top of the stairs a roaring dog. The dog of the house had heard us as well. We started to run and the dog was coming after us. Drew yelled "don't run, if you run he will keep chasing us" while he was running past Nilis and Nick. We quickly ran to to exit and shouted "MR. BEST, DOGS, MR. BEST, where mr. Best laughed and chucked the dog. No problem at all, but we were really scared for a minute... This was also the end of a great and unforgettable tour. Almost seven hours were gone, and we really enjoyed every single minute.
It was already the end of the afternoon and Jon and Pottsy had arrived in Liverpool. We met in a pub, and there were more Sunderland supporters in this pub. We had a great afternoon and evening and even created a "Sunderland area" inside the pub. Some of the Lads wanted to do a karaoke, so we switched pubs. This was not a great pub we ended up in, but there was a lot of singing. After that it was chaos all over. Or was it the booze? The group was just too big. Before we knew it we were in an Irish pub where the lights were on and the beerpumps didn't work. This was also a sign for us to call it a day. After all great experiences of this day we ended up feeling satisfied in our hotel beds. What a brilliant day!
Sunday the 28th of March
Matchday! Today was just about football. At least, that was what we thought. But when we woke up we saw that the road in front of the guesthouse was closed with fences and red and white tape. There was a marathon going on and it was directly passed the guesthouse. We decided to get outside for a look. Pottsy wasn't feeling well. He stayed out last night when we decided to get to the hotel, and it payed off. After a few runners we decided to get inside again for some pints in the hotel bar. Pottsy also went inside, but refused the pints. The taxi took us to an Irish pub in the city centre (O'Neill's). We could watch football on the tv-screens there and prepare for the match. After that we had two taxi's to Anfield, a burger and find our seats inside the ground. Our row of seats was right next to the Liverpool supporters. Just separated from the home fans with a banner from 3 seats wide. The sun came out, would this turn out into a lovely day? But Fernando Torres decided not to. With an incredible goal from outside the area he scored a spectaculair in the first couple of minutes. This was going to be a hard match. Before half time we were already 2-0 down and after the break Torres scored another. Sunderland simply did not reply and another huge disappointing 3-0 final score.
Jon had to get back home straight after the match. We didn't want the result to spoil our evening so we searched for the Midlands pub. This was an old fashioned pub where they serve good pints and you can also have a conversation. But the killing days before today arrived soon and we decided to get to the hotel early. We could have some pints in the hotel bar and everyone could decide themself when to call it a day. Before midnight all of us were in bed. This can also be a very good feeling.
Monday the 29th of March
Shopping-morning! We asked the taxi to drop us off at a special Beatles store. Nilis really wanted to go in there. He bought two great numbered limited edition framed-in photo's of Astrid Kirchherr. She was the oficial Beatles photographer of the early days and also the girlfriend of Stu Sutcliffe. After that we had a stop at the Beatles Hotel and after that it was up to everyone where to go. CD's, DVD's, Games, we simply loaded our bags full of it. Everyone had to check if it still fitted in the hand luggage and then it was off to John Lennon airport for the flight back to Amsterdam. Nilis had an extra challenge. The frames didn't fit in the hand luggage, so he had to check-in the bag and keep the frames as hand luggage. But these were frames with glass and the stewardess told Nilis that she would take care of them (with a wink). There were no problems at all and all the stories of the bad service at budget air-lines were really exagerrated.
Tired, but with another great experience in our minds we arrived in Hillegom. Even more Beatle-minded than before we left...
(written by Nick)