Thoughts on the wild, the weird, and the romantic from author Joy Nash

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Joy Nash is a USA Today Bestselling Author and RITA Award Finalist applauded by Booklist for her "tart wit, superbly crafted characters, and sexy, magic-steeped plots."

» Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Into the books: Day 8, Long Meg and her Daughters, and Liverpool and The Beatles Experience

***no Book Link today!***

Today we headed south on the longest one-day drive of our vacation. Taking the A69 west, we hooked up with the M6 at Carlisle. Our first detour from the main road came at Penrith, with a jaunt into the countryside to see a circle of standing stones known as Long Meg and her Daughters.

The road to the circle is a country lane barely wide enough for a car to travel down. If you meet someone going in the opposite direction, either you or he has to back up to the nearest lay-by to allow the other to pass! But I do love standing stones and stone circles, especially the ones off the beaten trail. Long Meg and her Daughters are in the middle of a cow pasture. The place was deserted when we got there. Well, deserted of people, anyway. The cows and the large, dark puddles they like to leave behind were very much in evidence! Here's a pic of me between two of the Daughters, with Long Meg directly behind me. Oh, yeah, and a cow:

This stone circle is the third largest in England, over 300 feet in diameter. There are supposed to be 59 stones, though legend has it no one can count them twice and come up with the same number! Long Meg herself is twelve foot high and a different type of stone from the others. There are spiral markings on the face of the stone, which was erected some 3000-4000 years ago. No one knows much about the ancient people who erected the stone circles in Britain. Local legend speculates that Long Meg and her Daughters were a coven of witches out celebrating in the night. A holy man came along and said a prayer that turned them into stone. Party pooper! Here's a close up pic of Long Meg, where you can see the spirals someone cut into the stone some 4000 years ago. Boggles the mind, doesn't it?

We got back on the highway and headed south. Our next detour was to Liverpool's Albert Docks. I wanted to see an exhibit called The Beatles Story Experience, an award-winning living history exhibit. It's located in the basement of a renovated warehouse district that houses museums, restaurants and shops nestled in the center of Liverpool's busy seaport. The show was a bit on the expensive side, but it was worth every pence! Each person got their own headset, so you could wander and listen at your own pace to narratives tracing the Beatles' history from the first meeting of John and Paul at a village fair, through Beatlemania, Ed Sullivan and the British Invasion, to the big break-up and beyond, including poignant reminders of John Lennon's death and a display honoring Paul McCartney's current work with a Liverpool school for artists.

It took over two hours to walk through all the exhibits and listen to all the commentary. No rush - you move at your own pace and can linger as long as you like in any of the exhibits. Here's a pic of my favorite room, a mock up of the Cavern Club in Liverpool, where the Beatles got their start. You can sit in the audience and listen to a recording of "Twist and Shout" and imagine you were there. Here's a pic:

After that, back in the mini-van (or "people-mover" as they call it in the UK) - on to Wales!

Tomorrow: Caerleon, Wales, aka Isca Silurnam - site of The Grail King


Joy Nash


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