I’ve recently professed my love for Liverpool in this post. It’s no secret that I love my music, but it may come as a surprise to you that I’m not exactly The Beatles’ biggest fan. My sister, on the other hand, has always had a soft spot for them. Younger than be me by 18 months, Amy Rayner is a singer-songwriter and professional musician based in Edinburgh. We have both been musical from a very young age, with my training going on to be professional theatre, and hers reflecting popular music. One of her jobs is singing in a wedding band, where a large repertoire is required to fill the dance floor and impress the guests of all ages.
Amy decided she wanted to visit me in humble little Preston for the weekend, and we set about making a plan for what she wanted to see in the North West of England. I’ve taken Amy shopping in Manchester before, and she wanted to see somewhere new. Liverpool seemed like a great choice, with a decent city centre and plenty of culture. As soon as I suggested a Beatles tour, Amy was totally up for it. After snooping through Trip Advisor, we agreed the Magical Mystery Tour was the best option, as it finished in the world-famous Cavern Club. The Beatles I can give or take, but I’m a huge Cilla Black fan and couldn’t wait to see the places that had been such a big part of her career.
We booked a tour slot for 2pm, as I wanted to give Amy the chance to see the city centre before we headed to the docks where the tour began. Planning on eating out, I knew straight away that I wanted to take Amy to Bakchich, the wonderful Lebanese restaurant I mentioned in my last Liverpool post. Although we arrived before 12pm, the kitchen were gracious enough to let us choose from the daytime menu instead of the breakfast one. Amy chose the Chicken Shawarma Platter and I once again opted for the Lebanese Moussakka, as I couldn’t stop thinking about it since last time! It may have been a strange choice for brunch, but I wanted Amy to try something more exciting than Wetherspoons. Not that I’m bashing Wetherspoons. I genuinely love a good Wetherspoons.
Both suitably stuffed, we headed down to the city centre for a browse through the shops. There’s a huge Forever 21 in Liverpool which I’m always excited about, as it has a rare Forever 21 Plus section. Sadly, it seems they have sent the most boring and basic items from the range to this store. There was nothing exciting, inspiring, or unique, which is a shame as I was overwhelmed with choice when I visited the London store in February. Looking at their website, they are not short of stylish and affordable choices. Such a pity!
Anyhoo, it was an absolutely gorgeous day with blue skies and bright sunshine, so we enjoyed the walk down to the docks. I can’t wait to go back in summer, as the docks were alive with history, music, restaurants and cocktail bars, and I could imagine relaxing on one of the decks with an ice cold drink in my hand, people-watching the evening away. We found the area we needed to meet for the tour, and sat and admired the scenery for a bit.
It wasn’t hard to find our tour bus, it’s not exactly subtle.
We were given a cute ticket to join the tour. We could exchange this at the end of the tour for a limited edition souvenir postcard of an original Cavern Club poster from the 1960’s, something for Amy to put on her wall.
I’m not going to lie, even I got excited when greeted with the atmosphere on the bus. There were people from America, Canada, Europe and beyond, and you could tell this was a really special day for them. The guide was both informative and funny, and very very Scouse! Using music and anecdotes, we were taken to all the inspiring and historic spots that linked Liverpool to John, Paul, George and Ringo.
Obviously we were being massive tourists, but it was worth it to see how much Amy was enjoying it. It was definitely more interesting than an afternoon of shopping, plus the high street is never that inspiring for a plus-size shopper anyway (especially when your sister is a size 10 and has limitless options!).
There were stops at John, Paul and George’s childhood homes, and sadder stories about their childhood traumas. Still, the whole tour was very well thought out and there were clever links to many other artists of the time, as well as more current events with the surviving members. Even as a ‘not quite fan’ of The Beatles, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The coach did begin to get a little too hot, and I could feel my fatigue taking control towards the end of the tour. Still, I was ready to stretch my legs properly after almost two hours on the coach. We finally ended up back in the city centre, and were directed towards the infamous Cavern Club. I was particularly excited after seeing this venue so heavily featured in the stunning ITV Biopic ‘Cilla’ starring Sheridan Smith. We were greeted with the casual statue of John Lennon opposite the modern entrance to the club, and further down the street outside the original entrance was the very recently erected statue of Cilla Black.
Heading inside the Cavern Club, it became clear that we couldn’t stay too long. It was absolutely packed (I’m not surprised, there’s live music on all day and plenty to see) but because it was such a hot day outside, the rooms seemed almost unbearably hot and humid. Still, we managed to see every corner the club had to offer, and plenty of historical memorabilia. It is now Amy’s goal to get a gig at the Cavern Club, so watch this space!
Gasping for air, we made our way outside and vowed to go for a coffee to clear our heads and put a spring back in our step.
All in all, it was a lovely day. It was great to spend time with my sister in such unusual surroundings, and I’m surprised at how much I enjoyed an afternoon revolving around The Beatles. I would thoroughly recommend the tour, and Liverpool as a whole is my new favourite city. I can’t wait for more adventures there, and hopefully improve my Scouse accent (which is pretty terrible at the moment)!