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Choir in England & Scotland Day 1

Days #3 & 4: Gretna Green – Love on the Border

After an exceptional concert in Perth on Tuesday night, the choir had two days of travel before our next scheduled concert in Chester, England on Friday. We would use the time to enjoy two leisure days of travel and sightseeing throughout Scotland and England.

We set out on a three-hour, 145-mile drive to a local holiday destination, known as England’s Lake District. Our first stop was just on the Scottish border before entering England. We visited a well-known destination known among the locals as Gretna Green.

At some point, English law decreed that a person must be 21 years of age to get married, however, the nearby country of Scotland had an altogether different position. Scotland did not want to stand in the way of love and allowed people to marry at a much younger age than England. Entrepreneurial minds saw a great opportunity to exploit this difference in law and created a business of marrying young English couples just over the border. In many ways, Gretna Green is very similar to our Las Vegas, as far as quick weddings are concerned. In fact, more than six weddings were scheduled on the day that we were there!  Amusingly, while visiting it became quite evident that staging wedding reenactments in front of tourists were part of the guide’s schtick. We had two couples within the choir, with surrogate parents, who agreed to be actors for this exercise.  Gretna Green was lively and wildly entertaining, so we decide to stay there for lunch.

From the border we visited the Lake District, a community famous for its scenic natural setting of lakes, forests and mountains. The Lake District, also known as simply the Lakes or Lakeland, has served as a great inspiration to many artists and poets. Prior to our arriving at our hotel, we stopped in Grasmere, a village known for being the home of the famous English poet, William Wordsworth. Our evening came to an end upon checking into our very Victorian-styled hotel in the Lake District. We dined together as a group before retiring for bed. During the dinner, as has been the case on many of our tours, someone within our group had a birthday. Of course, we couldn’t allow an opportunity to let our voices pass by, so we managed to all sang Happy Birthday!

The next day, everyone was excited because our next stop was in Liverpool, famous for many reasons, but most notably because it was the home of the Beatles.  While there, we walked around the Liverpool waterfront area, that eerily felt like Baltimore’s Harborplace. We had a great group lunch where everyone had what we assumed to be an ordinary hamburger and chips (fries), but to our surprise, it would give even the best American burger, a run for its money. While in the restaurant, the inspiration hit and we decided to sing a Beatles tune, which was well received by all in the establishment.

Properly inspired, the next stop was the Beatles Museum. Although most of the students were too young to truly appreciate the Beatles prior to this tour, I believe the museum was so engaging that it assisted them in gleaning a greater appreciation of the Beatles and their impact on the world!

Liverpool was full of surprises. Next up on the museum circuit was the International Slavery Museum. This museum’s perspective gave a world-view of the inhumane slavery commodity that touched much of Western Europe, Africa, South America, and of course the North America. Our guide added this stop on the tour thinking that there may be interest as African Americans and our country’s history with the slave trade.

Did I mention that Beatles and International Slavery museums were in the same building? And that wasn’t all. Within the same building was an exhibition dedicated to the Titanic tragedy. Before meeting its end with the iceberg, the ship had departed from Liverpool.

After the tours, we traveled another hour to Chester, England where we stayed for two nights and prepared for our Chester Cathedral concert on Friday afternoon.

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