I returned from my first trip to London on May 26, 1975, and almost immediately after we got off the plane, JoAnn, Linda, Evy and I began planning for our next assault on the UK. There was no question about it, I knew I had to go back. It took a little more than a year to make it happen, but back we went on Friday, September 26, 1976, and stayed until October 18. We rented a flat in the same building we'd stayed in before, and it was great to come back to our home.
Right from the start, this trip was more exciting than the last because I wasn't such a tourist. Not having been detained upon arrival at the airport (read the post entitled "Across The Universe") allowed me to feel much more at ease on British soil, and generally speaking I had no trouble at all getting around our old neighborhood. It was great to revisit our favorite museums and locations around town, as well as some of our fave restaurants (we did have a few of those, despite the fact that British food can often be quite bizarre by American standards). However, nothing made us happier than to once again stand in front of Paul's house on Cavendish Avenue and hope for an opportunity to say hello.
We already knew he was still out on the tail end of the "Wings Over The World" tour and had finished the last of the European shows the day after we landed. There would be a break in the schedule until October 19, when he would return to the stage for three final concerts at what was then known as the Empire Pool, next to Wembly Stadium - practically in his own backyard. We had tried to arrange our travel so that we would still be in London during those final shows and maybe even get tickets, but timing was not on our side and unfortunately, we couldn't make it happen. We went to Paul's house that very first night to "check things out", and as usual after much discussion ("You ring the bell." "No, you ring the bell." "No, you're better at it than me…"), it seemed my finger was the only one with the ability to ring the doorbell on the gate. Through the small speaker in the brass intercom plate, we heard a voice we recognized. It was Rose, a lovely woman who had been Paul's housekeeper for decades (sadly, she passed away last year). She was kind enough to let us know that Paul wasn't home at the moment, however if we were staying until the 18th of October (I had managed to mention that along the way), we'd likely be seeing him toward the end of our trip (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). She was giving us big clues which were not lost on us, so off we went - confident in the knowledge that we'd likely have an "encounter" before our flight home!
We decided to branch out a little farther in our excursions this time, so not only did we continue to explore London, we made a quick weekend detour to France. I was the only one who didn't turn a little green on the ferry across the channel (the "Chunnel" didn't exist then), but we finally made it to the other side and arrived in Dieppe without anyone losing their lunch. We stayed with Noel, a Beatle lover and friend of Evy's, who very sweetly became our merciless tour guide. Because we had so little time in Paris, he was determined to show us EVERYTHING that the city of lights had to offer. At one point I think we stopped for about five minutes, then on we went. Because of Noel's efforts on that wonderful, whirlwind day in Paris, we actually saw just about all you possibly could.
Noel and his wife, Sylvie, opened their home to us and made us feel like part of their family. They made our brief trip to France a special memory I've cherished ever since.