Saturday, September 15, 2018

Retracing George Harrison, a fan's account - If you know where you are going, these roads will take you there

(Olivia Anne Morris Fuchs attended this year's International Beatleweek in Liverpool and visited Henley-on-Thames and the Bhaktivedanta Manor. This is her account along with videos and pictures she sent along. Thanks, Olivia!)

Every Beatles Fan I've ever met dreams of going to Liverpool, UK, and attending International Beatleweek. I was so fortunate as to do that in 2017; however, the reason I planned that trip did not come to fruition until 2018. So, I planned Liverpool #2 for 2018. 

First stop was a brief tour of London proper; then, a train into Henley on Thames, and George's Friar Park. George used to walk down the hill from Friar Park to the Row Barge Inn to enjoy a pint and to jam into the night with friends. It is a lovely little 16th century pub in a special little village. Now, it is a bed and breakfast run by Cath and Joe Miller who welcome you like family. (Save yourself money by booking directly with them at The Row Barge Inn, West Street, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, RG9 2ED. Their dinner is wonderful and their Full English Breakfast is as good as I found any place in my travels.

Up the hill from The Row Barge Inn, an easy walk, is the entrance to George's Friar Park. The Friar Park gates are so lovely as to merit a trip on their own. Friar Park still is an active part of Henley-on-Thames. Each trip I made up to Friar Park found someone coming or going. It still is beautifully maintained and lovely to see. The folks at Henley-on-Thames are very protective of Friar Park and those who still count it home, Olivia and Dhani. Having said that, apparently Cath and Joe had done a good job of letting the locals know I was coming to stay for a bit. Every place I went in the village, I was greeted with "you must be the American Girl who loves George," and my name, and a story. That was just lovely.

Sacha Wingard maintains a flat fee London Cab service; he has become my friend. He met me at Heathrow, and had to wait for me for two hours to clear customs. We visited spots in London I asked to see again; then, he delivered me to the train to Henley-on-Thames. The next day, Sacha fetched me from The Row Barge Inn to take me to Bhaktivedanta Manor, the Krishna Temple in Aldenham. Later, we went
back to London; next day he dropped me at the airport for my flight to Manchester. You may find him on Facebook. No amount of praise is sufficient for Sacha. He will make your travels easy; now knows my favorite "George" spots; he is so reasonable; and you will feel so safe while in his company. He's the real deal.

Sacha had saved a few gifts from his last trip to Bhaktivedanta Manor for me, and had mentioned when he was there that I'd be visiting in August. The Communications Director of Bhaktivedanta Manor, Radha Mohan das, greeted me upon arrival and welcomed me to join him on a private tour. We visited the
private quarters of the founder, His Divine Grace Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, a very special friend of George over the years. You may recall that before he died, Prabhupada removed the ring from his hand and gave it to his closest Krishna confidants to deliver to George. George wore it the rest of his days. When Dhani helped me select my own ring to commemorate that one, he confirmed that he has the ring still, and loves it, as well. 

Radha Mohan das took me on a special tour of the memorial garden at Bhaktivedanta Manor which had been made to honor George for his gift to the Krishnas of the Temple, itself. It is lovely. Radha Mohan das pointed out special spots where George had spent special time, or meditated. There were a couple of
spots where George and Radha Mohan das had interacted. Then, I was stunned when Radha Mohan das sang some of George's songs to me at the appropriate spots in George's Garden. I was so in the moment that I didn't focus carefully on the videos. But you still should enjoy them. 

After an additional couple of days to tour in London, I flew to Manchester and took the train to Liverpool. Then, I enjoyed all International Beatleweek has to offer. That was a separate joy. If you are a Beatles fan, you should make this a reality for yourself. It is an expense you can manage in many different ways. And, if you need a "consultation," let me know. It really is a place of Peace & Love. 

George taught us All Things Must Pass. But, he also showed us that if we want Here Comes the SunI have more stories, photos, and videos on my Facebook profile, here, and would welcome you as a friend, if you ask. 

Olivia Anne Morris Fuchs

(FYI, Olivia tells us there is a Facebook group called The Friar Park Fan Club about the history of Friar Park.)

(Olivia also recommends "Chasing Rhinos With the Swami, Volume 1," which includes memories of George Harrison.) 

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