I’ll Be There For You

I have always been a Tottenham Hotspur fan. The first game I ever saw was a Spurs side play Wycombe Wanderers at their old Loakes Park ground in a testimonial match. My team won comfortably with a hat-trick from Paul Walsh. Although I of course remained a Spurs fan, after this trip to see the “Chairboys”. I decided to go and watch them more often, as they were based nearer to where I lived at the time.

At this point they were still in the Vauxhall Conference. And had a light blue home kit which weirdly is similar to the brand new Spurs third kit. Anyway I ended up watching the Wanderers regularly in my teens. In fact I was a season ticket holder there for a couple of seasons. I have always kept an eye on their results and still go and see them occasionally.

As it happens as well as my Dad and Mum both being season ticket holders. A friend of mine who I used to work with at Wembley is also a Wycombe fan. We went along to see them play Southend United a couple of weeks ago. They have actually had quite a decent start to the season and came from behind to win the game three-two in the last minute. I cannot fault the excitement factor they provided.

We did predictably bump into my parents after the game. There are two drummers amongst the Blues singing fans who provide a beat all through the game, although it does add to the atmosphere. I am not particularly a lover of it. But on the plus side they serve my favourite beer Rebellion at the ground. Therefore I would not rule out another trip there before the season is over.

Wycombe Wanderers

It was brilliant to be back at Mix 96 for the day the other Thursday. I was helping them with their coverage from The Bucks County Show. I have been involved in many of these big productions over the years normally on air from the showground myself. But this time I was in the studio pressing all the buttons for the legend that is Mr Nathan Cooper.

I have presented countless programmes from that studio, so it was great to be back in there once again. I felt very much at home. It was fun as ever to work with Nathan and the rest of the team there. This year it is the radio station’s twenty fifth-birthday. Richard Carr, who I used to work with there has just produced a documentary, that I am delighted to feature in.

Neil Quigley

He has released part one. Which I have seen and which is absolutely brilliant. He has also put out a version of the first song played on the station when it launched ABBA’s Dancing Queen with some current and former employees me included grooving along to it. That is epic! Next Saturday there is a Mix 96 Reunion which will also include the premier of Part two of the documentary. I am looking forward to this event. It will be great fun, I am sure.

Neil Quigley

I paid my first ever visit to the Regents Park Open Air Theatre to see their production of Evita. Firstly you will not find a nicer walk to any venue. Than the greenery and scenery you get when strolling to this one. Secondly when you arrive you will find a quality restaurant and a couple of decent bar areas at your disposal. I did my classic thing of a glass of red wine before the show with the same beverage ordered ready for the interval.

Regents Park Open Air Theatre

I was not sure what to expect. I did correctly guess that they would have very limited scenery options and that they would have to be a bit creative with their story telling. The stage itself was pretty basic and made up of lots of steps. All it had on it was Evita in huge letters. There were normal outside event seats fitted but you can also pay to sit on the grass banks to watch. I had a proper seat on the forth row with a perfect view of the stage.

I really enjoyed the show and thought it was brilliant. It had quite a dark and rustic feel to it, which I liked. The cast were fantastic. The costumes were on the whole pretty low-key and basic compared to the normal versions of this musical that I have seen. The lack of sets does not affect the story or your ability to follow and keep up with the narrative. There were some unexpected and you could possibly argue slightly odd interpretations of some parts of the story. But I liked it. And it was performed expertly.

The sound system is faultless. The music and singing so clear. You really could not fault it at all for entertainment. With it being outside they can really raise the pyrotechnic stakes compared to in a normal theatre, which they do. I have just about recovered from the huge explosion right at the start of the performance. They also use a lot of smoke and flares to add to the drama of this classic tale. Along with a clever use of the lighting. I would certainly go and see another show there next summer.


Regents Park Open Air Theatre

My mum has recently celebrated her 70th Birthday. I spent the day with her, which was lovely. We visited a local church, as she wanted to see the grave of one set of her grandparents. We then went for a nice leisurely walk. Before a snack at a chocolate cafe, as a reward for the exercise we had just done and to mark this huge occasion with some cake.

Neil Quigley

In the evening we opened a bottle of bubbles to toast her special day and ordered a huge Chinese Takeaway. We then finished the night by watching the first episode of the new series of QI. Which is fittingly titled Q. This was actually one that I was at the filming of as well, so we spent half the time trying to spot me in the audience. I hope my mum thoroughly enjoyed herself. She does seem to do alright in life. She seems to be out almost as much as I am. That is a pretty decent achievement.

London River Cruise
Mum

I am a horse racing fan and try to get to a lot of the big meetings. It is something I first did when I was living and working in Somerset. You cannot beat a nice day out at the races. Recently I have bought a few shares in a fairly young horse called Stage Star through the Owners Group. They have lots of horses with different trainers offering the chance to buy shares in them for a year at a time.

Stage Star and Neil Quigley

As well as sending you regular updates and videos of the horse. They organise open days at the stables and also at a place they own called Equiprep. This is where mainly the horses go to rest and relax when they are not in training, kind of like a little holiday place. But it is also somewhere they are conditioned and built up so they are sent back to the trainers ready and raring to go and in excellent condition.

I went to one of the Open Days there last Sunday. I got to see Stage Star paraded in the arena and in his stable. It was the first time that I had seen him in the flesh and he looked great. He will be kept there for a few months before he is returned to his trainer Paul Nicholls. He is only three years old and is not expected to run in a race until next year, probably not until the autumn. But I am really looking forward to seeing him develop and to see what he can do.

Stage Star

While at Equiprep we also got to look around the Paddocks where the horses spend the days playing and grazing. Everybody was so friendly. It was great to meet some fellow owners there. I learnt a lot about how horses are looked after, selected and trained. Plus quite a few simple facts about them, like for instance they use their necks for balance. As well as my horse I got to see many other wonderful horses a few of which I remember seeing race. It was a lovely and an interesting couple of hours. It is going to be an exciting involvement. I think.

Stage Star

Like most of my generation I am a fan of the iconic American comedy Friends. Comedy Central is pretty much the home of the show now, as they show it seemingly not stop during the day. For the last few years they have been running an event called “FriendsFest”. Up until now only in London and Manchester. But this year they have added a venue in Milton Keynes. I went along to it with my sister last week to have a look around.

The location for it was Willem Lake. Happily one thing they already have there is plenty of car parking places, as we were driving this made finding a space pretty easy. The whole event is mostly one big photo opportunity with your chance to recreate classic moments from the show. As you walk in you can have your picture taken in a photo frame dressed in known outfits from the show while holding famous quotes from it.

FriendsFest

Next to that you can recreate the floating heads at Monica’s door. They do of course have a replica Central Perk with the till area, the famous sofa and Phoebe’s performance area. They also offer you the chance to stage your own Ross and Rachel Vegas Wedding pictures in the appropriate outfits.

Just along from this is your chance to be in the title sequence on the sofa by the waterfall. They give you this in a seven second video with the music. Which to be honest is pretty cool. In another part you also have the chance to have your photo taken with the Umbrella’s and the Sofa. Again like the titles.

FriendsFest

Next your chance to shout “Pivot” as you pretend to take the Sofa up the stairs recreating that classic scene with Ross. You can have a go in Phoebe’s taxi and witness someone performing all her classic songs in the coffee shop. They show clips from Friends on the big screen. Plus you are never very far away from hearing the strains of The Rembrandts title tune.

Finally they have three complete replica sets for you to get pictures in. These are Joey and Chandlers place, Monica’s apartment and of course Ross’s flat. They have done a good job everything you saw in the show is on this set. It really does feel like you are hanging out in these rooms. It was a good fun day out. I have not taken that many pictures anywhere for a very long time. I had a big smile on my face pretty much the whole time I was there. Great fun!

FriendsFest

I went to see the latest touring version of The Rocky Horror Picture Show recently. The last time I saw it must have been at least sixteen years ago. Jonathan Wilkes was starring as Frank n Furter. I went to see it with Richard Carr when I was working at Mix 96. I remember enjoying it, so I am not sure why it has taken me a decade and an half to see it again.

It was on at the Wycombe Swan, as it was the previous time. One of the reasons I like this theatre at the moment is that they now serve my favourite beer Rebellion IPA. On arrival I had a pint and instantly ordered the same again ready for the interval. It is certainly one of the stranger musicals and I think even Richard O’Brien would also accept this. Few others have the audience participation and also the outfits that this one does.

Wycombe Swan

The cast included Joanne Clifton, Stephen Webb and Philip Franks. Joanne of course is a former winner of Strictly Comes Dancing and now an established stage musical performer. I thought she was ace in the role of Janet. She can dance like no other, sing and act, she has it all. Stephen Webb was brilliant as the corset wearing Transvestite Scientist. I bet that role is lots of fun to play. And Phillip Franks who is probably still best known for The Darling Buds of May was a spot on Narrator bantering with audience and sounding the part. The rest of the cast were fabulous to.

I had a great time and really enjoyed it. Plus I can confirm that I can still remember and perform perfectly every single move of the Time Warp. You never lose it! It is a crazy show and fair play to the many people who come dressed up as the characters. I will try not to leave it quite so long until I see this one again. It was another quality night out at the theatre.

Rocky Horror Show

I am off to see Tottenham play Crystal Palace this afternoon. I will be honest our season has not started quite as well as I would have liked. But that is what supporting a team is all about the highs and the lows pleasure and pain. We have not really got going properly yet despite draws away at Manchester City and Arsenal. I am pleased with the Champions League draw. I look forward once again to watching us play in this competition. They are always great nights.

Neil Quigley

Tomorrow I am going to Radio 2’s Festival in a Day at Hyde Park. I went last year and it was brilliant, so I am really looking forward to doing it again. Fingers crossed the weather is kind to us. I will tell you how it went next time we speak.

Radio 2 Hyde Park
Radio 2 Hyde Park

Have fun and we will catch up again in a couple of weeks. Cheers Neil.

Edinburgh Fringe 2019

It is no secret that I am a massive fan of comedy in all of its many forms. I have in the past done a little bit of stand up myself. This is something I still hope to do more of at some point in the future. It is great fun to do, if not a little bit terrifying. Having tried it I have huge admiration for anybody who gets up on stage and tells jokes. It is not as easy as many of the world’s comics make it look. But the buzz you get when it goes well is possibly unbeatable.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Last year I made my first ever visit to the famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival. I had such a brilliant time, that I headed up to the Scottish capital for a few days once again this August. The whole thing runs for around three weeks. I went for a long weekend, around the half way point. The city is totally rammed with people. As not only is it a great tourist attraction in its own right. But the Edinburgh Military Tattoo is also on. Not to mention the World’s biggest Arts event that I was in town for.

Therefore it does pay to have a great deal of patience and a decent sense of humour. Which I think is also a useful thing to possess when attending a comedy festival. The plan for my trip was to try to see as many shows as I possibly could. I decided to take the train this time, having flown previously. On the journey up there this did not quite go completely as I intended. I got the train from my home into Kings Cross in London, which went fine.

Somehow when at Kings Cross however I managed to get on the late running 10.30am train. Instead of the 11am departure that I had pre booked my seat on. In my defence there was nothing on the board at the platform but people said the train was going to Edinburgh. I had no idea previous train was late. I thought I was just getting on a little bit early. When I got to the seat printed on my ticket it did not match my journey. I thought at this point the train company had made the mistake, not me. It was not until we pulled away ten minutes before we were due to leave, that I realised I was on the wrong train.

Neil Quigley standing on the train to Edinburgh

The guard kindly let me stay on and complete my journey. But it did mean that I had no guaranteed seat now. I ended up standing by the toilets until we reached Darlington and a place became free. Not the ideal start to my Fringe experience. But in a way it was fitting that as I was going to a comedy festival, my travel plans were turning into a scene from a sitcom. That was the sort of thing that Mr Bean would probably do, as it happened the train I was now on was running late. So I arrived in Edinburgh about an hour later than I was supposed to anyway, despite accidentally catching an earlier train.

On arrival I walked straight to my accommodation. I never went to University so never got the chance to stay in student digs. Edinburgh is a massive place for study now. Therefore is full of such buildings. I figured I only needed somewhere basic to sleep, as I would be at gigs most of the time. I booked a room in some student flats. It was pretty simplistic but did have a bed, shower and a toilet. That was all I really needed. As I checked in at the front desk the member of staff I spoke to was also from Buckinghamshire, small world.

Before I went exploring I quickly nipped out to the local shop to get some emergency supplies for the room, two big bottles of water and a packet of Jaffa Cakes. Which I believe is what Bear Grylls packs in his survival back pack. The Edinburgh Fringe has a great website on which you can book tickets to all the shows. Pay for them on line and then pick them up from various box offices around the city. I had two shows organised for that evening. Which I grabbed the tickets for at a ticket outlet on the Royal Mile.

I just had time to have a quick Lasagne and chips at Pizza Express. Then I made my way to my first gig of the weekend. That was Paul McCaffrey and his current show “Lemon”. I had seen him do some new material at the Old Rope Comedy Club in London and had really enjoyed it. Therefore I was looking forward to seeing his full show. It was excellent. He is a very personable and likeable performer, who is very funny. Hilarious jokes and spot on observations. He was at one of the many Underbelly venues. It was the perfect start to this year’s Fringe fun!

Neil Quigley

There are lots of very different venues all over Edinburgh. A lot of the bigger ones have several rooms in the same place, different bar areas and food outlets. My favourite one of these is the Pleasance Courtyard. They always have amazing acts on and I like the feel and atmosphere of the place. It is somewhere that I would tend to hang out at if I had some time between the shows that I was seeing.

It was there I headed for my next gig. That was Alun Cochrane with his “Brave New Alun” show in the Cabaret Bar. I have been listening to a lot of the Frank Skinner podcasts recently. Alun is on with Frank, which is one of the reasons that I went and saw him. I was aware of him prior to his new association with Absolute Radio. His show was fantastic. The content was properly funny. And as it happens I agree with the way he views comedy and also the intricacy of the current climate. When you are telling jokes with no other thoughts or angle other than just simply trying to make people laugh.

After a pint and a Crepe filled with Lemon and Sugar I called an end to night one and returned to my student flat to get some sleep. Not sure I missed out not going to University. I was disappointed to see that there were not any parties to attend when I got back to where I was staying. I got a decent night’s sleep. In the morning my first job was to work out what shows I was going to see that day and to book all the tickets for them online.

Neil Quigley

The intention for my two full days there were to witness five shows a day. Before I left the flat on Friday morning I had all of that day’s gigs sorted. The first one started at midday. I had to grab breakfast on the way there, so I let the golden arches and Ronald the Clown take care of that for me. My first gig of day two was Michael Legge and his new show “The Idiot” on at the Stand Comedy Club. He was drawn to my attention by other comedians mentioning him on Twitter. Reading a few of his observations online convinced me to see him.

He was brilliant. He does have quite an angry and aggressive style of delivery but it’s all carefully constructed and very funny. At first I did not share his radical views on the many silent disco groups around. However as the weekend went on and I kept getting trapped in the middle of them. I quickly came round to his way of thinking. This one is possibly not for the faint hearted with some of the subjects that he mentions but I loved it.

Next it was a bit of a gear change as I headed off to The Pleasance Dome to see “Late Lunch with Biggins” I met and interviewed the legend that is Christopher Biggins, when I was working at Ivel fm in Somerset. Not long after he won I’m A Celebrity. He is such a nice and lovely person. His show at the Fringe this year is a kind of chat show. He is introduced on stage and starts off by telling a few jokes and a few stories from his long and varied career.

Then one by one he brings on his three guests. At the performance I was at these were the super talented impressionist Ronni Ancona, who was ace. Then we had one of the stars of The Tap Pack dance show. And finally a Scottish Chemistry teacher who is also a LGBT activist. Whose school does a lot of great work in that area. It was a really enjoyable and very funny show. Biggins knows and is friends with the whole of show business. He has some great anecdotes. I mean anyone who can name drop Frank Sinatra, gets my vote.

Biggins

In between shows I was just grabbing quick drinks and some food. If you want to maximise the amount of things you see, it is advisable to stick to a tight schedule. The next comedian I saw was the wonderful Hayley Ellis. The reason I went to see her is that she recently was the support act for Sarah Millican. And I spotted her recommendation. I was really pleased I caught her. She was fantastic. I thought she had a lovely manner and style about her, very likeable. Her show is called “Nobody Puts Hayley in the corner”

I would definitely recommend you go and see it if you can. It is real, honest and expertly put together. She is certainly somebody to keep an eye out for. I suspect and hope that you may hear about her more over the next couple of years. I thoroughly enjoyed her performance. I even got to slightly join in at one point, which I like. Plus there was a chance of sustaining an injury at the end. Which I suspect would of been a unique incident even for one of these no blame, no claim sort of places.

Show number four was to see a lovely comedian whose work I have been aware of for many years. We follow each other on Twitter. And have had occasional interaction on there. But up until this point I had not seen him perform live. He is Tony Cowards and his show is called “Stepdad Jokes”. He is a classic one liner comic and possibly the king of the puns. Add to that the fact that he is such a friendly and totally inclusive performer. It was a joyful experience.

I thoroughly enjoyed the show. It contains lots of not only very funny but very clever jokes. One of the other comedians mentioned this at a later date but there does seem to be a high number of Doctors in the Fringe Audiences. There were two at this gig for starters. They must love their comedy. I managed to have a very quick chat with him after the show, which was great. He gigs all over the country. If you get the chance do try and catch him.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

The final show on day two of my Fringe was one I did not think that I would get to see as her normal daily shows had sold out. Luckily for me she was doing a couple of extra weekend only performances. And I managed to get a ticket for one of those. I had seen this lady host a night at the Old Rope Comedy in London a few years ago. Her show in Edinburgh last year got excellent reviews. And this latest one was possibly going down even better. Maybe helped a bit by her winning appearance on the last series of the Dave TV Show Task Master.

I am taking about the hilarious Lou Sanders. Her latest show is called “Say Hello to Your New Step Mummy”. I got a front row seat to enjoy the action. It was totally brilliant. She is extremely funny and unique in her style and her material. I can guarantee you there are no other comedians doing jokes on some of the topics she covers. Personally I love the way she portrays herself on stage. The jokes and writing are very clever. It all just works. She is on the up and up at the minute. It comes to London at the Soho Theatre in a couple of months. Go and see it and have a bloody good laugh.

Neil Quigley

I rounded off the night in a bar listening to some live music. I caught the end of a band and then the first couple of songs of a guitar based trio. Both were ace and made a nice accompaniment to the final pint of Peroni that I was enjoying. After which it was then time to head off home to get some sleep. To be ready for another five show day on the Saturday. I was still a man on a mission.

As previously, I booked all my shows online and then collected the tickets when I reached the City Centre. The first thing I was going to see did not start until 12.30pm. Therefore I had slightly more time for brunch. So I found a really nice cafe near the Gilded Balloon area. Where I had scrambled egg on toast with bacon and a big pot of tea. This set me up nicely for the adventures ahead.

I decided to take a brief break from comedy and see a musical show. Being a fan of country music and a huge admirer of this lady. I went to see “The Dolly Parton Story”. It featured a guitarist and a female singer, unsurprisingly. There were pictures and a narration of her life story up on a big screen on the stage with the duo performing Dolly Parton songs, as the narrative progressed. It was nicely put together and very informative. I honestly learnt quite a lot of things that I did not know about her life and career.

The stars of the show were of course the two performers. They did a fantastic job doing those hugely well-known songs. I was a little bit concerned before it started as her songs are tough to sing. But the twenty-one year old singer nailed them brilliantly. I will let you in to a little secret “Coat of Many Colours” always makes me cry, it always has and I suspect it always will, every time I ever hear it. There was a nice feel to the show. It ended with us all up on our feet singing and dancing along to “9 to 5”. A perfectly performed show. It was a very enjoyable start to my final full day in Edinburgh.

The Dolly Parton Story

I have mentioned this before but I did a Stand Up Comedy course in Tring with Logan Murray, seven years ago now. One year before I did it, the man I went to see next did the same. He was a compere on the night I made my Tringe debut. Plus I have actually gigged with him on a couple of occasions. He always went down a storm. I went and saw him do his show last year. And I was really looking forward to seeing his latest offering this time around.

His name is Olaf Falafel. If you think that sounds familiar that might be because he won the Dave TV Channel Joke of the Fringe with his “I keep randomly shouting out Broccoli and Cauliflower, – I think I might have Florets” Which is from his show “Knitting with Maracas” He has featured in the top ten list for the last three years now, so you have to say he is consistent.

I ended up sitting on the front row for what was a sold out show. It is fair to say his comedy is very surreal and involves a large amount of audience interaction. I got asked a few questions, which I replied to admirably. Then I finished up being one of five people on stage with him near the end. Fame at last!

I am claiming that moment as my Edinburgh Fringe debut. Although it basically just involved me firing a cork gun. If you want to know why, you will just have to go and see the show for yourself. He is of course extremely funny and weirdly amusing. He writes clever and ridiculous jokes in equal measure. Bizarre and unexpected things happen. There is a loose narrative. But none of that really matters just submerge yourself in the madness and have a damn good old laugh. On top of all that he is a really nice bloke. Well done on your award mate, bravo!

Olaf Falafel
Olaf Falafel

I then took a couple of hours break from seeing shows, as I had a very important matter to attend to. I had to find a pub that was showing the Manchester City against Tottenham Hotspur game on television. Handily I managed to find one nearby that fulfilled this need. Blimey what a game! City were all over us, we sneaked a few goals to level it up. And thanks to VAR we somehow got a point from that match. I did not have time to analyse it much as I had to go and grab a quick bite to eat before going to see my next gig.

It was back to the Pleasance Dome for this one to see Seann Walsh. If you are not familiar with his comedy you may well know him from his appearance on the last series of Strictly Come Dancing. This does feature heavily in this new show which is called “After This One I am Going Home. It focuses on a weekend last Autumn where a silly and stupid mistake caused his world to pretty much fall apart. Granted it sounds pretty bleak but it is a very funny and honest show. Detailing how things in his life lead him to that moment and more shockingly in many ways what has happened to him since.

It is quite a raw and emotional show featuring some insights into his career and life, his love and clear passion for comedy and also some very good impressions. His time on Strictly does appear to have may be subtly altered some of the usual demographic at his gigs. This act is a work of theatre as much as a straight forward stand up show. As with lots comics he makes very good points about the world and life in a funny and amusing way. It is an extremely entertaining show. That will totally make you laugh, as you would expect from a man of his calibre.

Pleasance
Pleasance Courtyard

Next it was a brisk ten minute walk back to my favourite venue the Pleasance Courtyard to see someone who has become a bit of a cult figure in Edinburgh. His show this year is celebrating his tenth year at the festival. I had seen him take part in a comedy shorts show the previous year. But this was the first time I was to see one of his full shows in person. He is Marcel Lucont and his show is called “No Dix”

He is a very suave and sophisticated “Frenchman”. Who appears on stage drinking Red Wine and this time backed by a three piece Jazz Band. He sings a few parody songs, does some monologues over the music and talks to the audience quite a bit. Plus at this particular gig he expertly dealt with a latecomer creating a delightfully funny chat with him very much having the upper hand.

As it was an anniversary show at the end he was taking requests for previous routines that he had done in his time appearing here. I very much enjoyed his show. It was not the kind of thing I would normally go and see. But he had me laughing all the way through it. He maybe reminded me of how I act after a few glasses of a decent Red Wine.

Edinburgh Fringe
Edinburgh Fringe

The final show of my Edinburgh Fringe for this year took me back to my childhood. From a very early age I had been a big fan of this star. I have fond memories watching them on television as a kid. I am now of course an adult, which is why a show at quarter to midnight called “Basil Brush Unleashed” seemed far to good to miss. It was on at one of the Underbelly Venue’s. I was actually quite excited as I made my way in. I managed to get a seat four rows from the front with a great view of the stage.

Like the Biggin’s show it was set up as a kind of variety chat show. It features some fun and spoof videos. Which were played on the huge screen on stage. Basil appeared to a massive roar at the start. He then introduced his new “Mr”, who happens to be former Britain’s Got Talent finalist Martin Cable -Reid. He appeared on that show as Kevin Cruise. But now is back being a version at least, of himself as Basil’s partner in crime.

Somebody I used to work with is very good friends with him. In fact I believe he is a godparent to her children. He was brilliant and played his role perfectly. As it was the late night show there was lots of silly messing about. And of course some things and words that you would not normally expect Basil to say. That just made them even funnier. The guest was the wonderful musical comedian Vikki Stone. There are a few parts involving audience participation. The last of which predictably does not end well for “Mr Martin”.

I thought it was hilarious and amazing to finally see Basil live. Boom Boom! He gives us his own tribute to a well-known singer for the finale. There is no way that you cannot leave this show in anything other than a good mood. It was then time to head back for my final night as a student. And to finish off those Jaffa Cakes.

Basil Brush

The next morning I got up, packed and then headed for a full English breakfast at the cafe I went to the day before. I am very much your if it ain’t broke don’t fix it kind of guy. I then had a nice walk around the grounds of Edinburgh Castle followed by a quick visit to a few gift shops. Before it was time to get on the correct train and sit in my reserved seat for the journey back to London.

I had a brilliant time at the Festival. I managed to see twelve shows in total in the three days that I was there. Which I was pretty pleased with. It is a wonderful City. That always has lots of things going on. I am already looking forward to returning once again for next year’s Fringe.

Neil Quigley

Have fun and we will catch up again in a couple of weeks. Cheers Neil.

Relative Superstar

As a man who likes to keep busy and do lots of fun things. I try not to underestimate the simple and joyful things in life. Like for example a lunch time catch up with a good friend, where you have some great food and a good old fashioned conversation. To get fully up to speed with each others lives.

I managed to do this a few weeks ago now with the wonderful Danny Cox. Not an easy thing to achieve, as it turns out. We had been trying to sort something out for ages. But we had struggled to find a date that we could both do. Danny is one of the hardest working people in radio. And I keep myself pretty busy to. Therefore it was a meeting I had been looking forward to for a while.

We went for a lovely three course pub lunch at The Chequers at Weston On The Green. The food was fantastic. It is a decent, what I would call proper country pub. We had a good couple of hours there just chatting and eating. There are some people in life that you trust. They are the ones who can give you a bit of a nudge to do the things you know you should really be doing anyway, regarding projects and general things that you are working on. He is very much one of those people for me.

Not only did I have an entertaining time in the company of possibly one of the nicest people you could meet. I also came away feeling a lot more motivated to get things I may have been putting off done. May be he should devise a short “TED Talk” to take on the road, to fully harness his powers. Danny was just about to do four days of hosting the main arena at BBC Countryfile Live, when I saw him. I am honesty not sure where he finds the energy from for all the different things that he does.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Despite my love of musical theatre I am slightly ashamed to say that there are still some well-known shows. That have been running for a long time. That I have not seen yet. One of these was Jesus Christ Superstar. There is currently a new version of it on in London. So on the assistance of my sister I booked tickets to go and watch it.

It is playing at the Barbican Theatre. I had not been there before. I went to see the show with my sister. We got front row seats. When we sat down the whole stage was hidden by a cover. So we could not judge where the stage was. At this point I was a bit concerned that I would be staring up and not getting a good view. As it happens when the plastic safety curtain went up and down, we had a perfect view of all the action.

I really enjoyed it. Obviously I was aware of the story, so I knew the ending already. It was a very slick and busy performance with a great cast. There was plenty of action at all times on the stage. I must say it was a very impressive spectacle. Ricardo Afonso was exceptional as Judas, as was Robert Tripolino as Jesus. We were so close we could see all the expressions, nuances and special effects perfectly. There was absolutely nothing missing from it.

The performance received a well deserved standing ovation at the end. It is a quite a brutal and raw version but well worth seeing. The venue itself was really good. I would happily go back there and see something else in the future. It was yet another successful night out at the theatre. Just in case you were wondering the Rioja they serve there is also totally acceptable.

Jesus Christ Superstore

Last weekend I went to visit my oldest friend from school. We met on the first day of primary school and have been mates ever since. He and his wife live right on the English and Welsh border around the Shropshire area. They have a beautiful house right in the heart of the countryside with stunning views. I always enjoy going up there to see them.

I got the train up there on the Friday afternoon and my mate picked me up from their local station. We then went for a walk across the fields, by the river, under a viaduct to one of their local pubs. As the weather was nice we sat outside for a few drinks and a bite to eat. We were joined by their neighbours. We then all returned to the house for a few more drinks. Not too bad for what was meant to be a quiet night.

The reason we were planning an easy Friday was that the main point of my visit was to attend my friend’s wife’s father’s birthday party on the Saturday. That said when we woke up, we all felt fine. My mate is great with his hands. He has built himself a Summer House. That he has recently furnished with a new inflatable Hot Tub. He had said I could try it out when I was up. So I took my swim shorts. And we had a cheeky pre-breakfast soak. I must say it was fantastic, so relaxing.

The party was over towards Manchester way. Early afternoon we headed over there to help set up the hall. My mate was going to do the music himself. So he had bought a pair of speakers, an amp and a little mixer. He already had a laptop. I suggested a great programme he should get. On which you can set up a playlist and then it will auto mix all the songs for you. Therefore you can basically start it running and leave it to do its own thing. He had also purchased a few disco lights to.

I helped him get it all set up. He had done a good job assembling the kit, with just a few little tweaks from me. We had it all sounding and looking great. When it came to the party it all worked a treat. There were people up and dancing most of the night, which in a way is a bit depressing, if like me you are a DJ. I would argue a good one always adds something to a night. But the back to back music mix worked as expected at this party.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I had a brilliant night there seeing people I had not seen for a while including catching up with my mate’s son. The man whose “do” it was is known for his loud and sometimes Hawaiian shirts. So a few of us myself included tried to wear shirts to fit in with this theme, all in his honour. I think the birthday boy enjoyed himself. Which is always the main thing on these occasions.

We stayed at a local Premier Inn. That was only about five minutes away from the party venue. Annoyingly the taxi we had booked was nearly an hour late picking us up, which was not ideal. But what can you do? These things happen. The following morning we all met up for breakfast. To watch the birthday man open his cards, helped by his Granddaughter. I went for the pancakes, maple syrup and bacon.
Which were excellent and made a nice change to the obvious fry up option.

Then we went back to my friend’s house. We visited the cafe where his wife works. I had their tasty Banana and Toffee milkshake. That evening we had a quick Barbecue. That was washed down with some lovely red wine. That my mate had got given a few years ago for his fortieth birthday. He wanted to share it with me, which was really nice of him. We ended the day back in his hot tub just chilling and listening to music. Living the dream!

Neil Quigley

A wonderful weekend. Time spent talking to people close to you is always time well spent in life. I got the train home Monday feeling relaxed and refreshed. Frank Skinner has been one of my favourite comedians for many years. On the journey home I caught up with some of the podcasts from his Absolute Radio show. That kept me nicely entertained and made me smile quite a lot to.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

The Premier League Season is now well and truly underway, I have a season ticket for Tottenham Hotspur. Therefore I was there for our first game against Aston Villa. It was great to be back in the Stadium. I was excited and apprehensive, as I walked down the High Road to get to the game. The pre-match pint and food seemed to help a little with this. In the bar before the game I had a good chat to Tottenham legend Paul Allen. We both agreed it was a fixture we had to win.

I was in my seat nice and early ready for the kick off. It did not all go entirely to plan. We were one goal down inside the first ten minutes. The first half performance was the worst I have seen from the team in a very long time. Shaky at the back with no cutting edge in attack. For me the moment that changed the game in our favour was when Christian Eriksen came on as a sub.

Tottenham Hotspur

I have been a big supporter of his for many years. I think he is a really important player for us. For me he conducts everything and pulls all the strings. We look much more fluid when he plays. It does look like he might leave the club, which was probably why he was not in the starting line up. Personally I hope he stays with us. But if he wants to go, fine. I definitely do not want any players at White Hart Lane who do not want to be there or whose heart is not in it. As that is no good for anyone.

Aston Villa played well. I was delighted with the win though. We really needed all the points from this one. To be competitive in the league this year I do believe you cannot afford to lose many points at home. We are away at Manchester City this weekend, which will be tough to say the least. I am looking forward to the rest of the season, which will be full of ups and downs, jubilation and disappointment. But that is what football is all about. And I would not have that any other way.

White Hart Lane

It was great to have a catch up with Mix 96 legend Nathan Cooper earlier this week. He is a force of nature. He somehow manages to look a bit younger every time I see him.

I am really looking forward to working with him on a radio show later this month. It will be good fun. A nice way to mark twenty odd years since we first met. Neither of us of course look old enough.

Neil Quigley

I am up in Edinburgh at the Fringe Festival this weekend. Which I am really looking forward to. I had a great time there last year. I will tell you how it was and who I saw when we speak next.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Have fun and we will catch up again in a couple of weeks. Cheers Neil.

Empire Strikers Back

The new Premier League Football season starts next weekend. I am as always looking forward to it. It has been nice to have a bit of a rest from it. But now I am ready to go again. When I was seven years old I was so desperate to play for a football team. I begged my dad to get a bloke he knew to let me join the under ten side that he ran, which he did. They were my local team called Risborough Rangers.

After training with them for a while I made my debut while I was still just eight years old. I kept moving up the age groups with the same team. So I spent my entire time in kid’s football, playing a year above my actual age group. Apart from a two year hiatus I took when the family moved to London for a bit. I played for every age group from under ten to under sixteen. We had a decent team and reached a few cup finals.

When I was fifteen I went to play for Wycombe Wanderers Lions Under sixteen’s. Remember I was playing a year above, therefore could play another year in that age group. It was a nice set up. We had our own team tracksuits to wear to games. And a couple of the players were already training with the Youth Team. There were, as you would imagine some very good players in the squad. So my game time was sometimes limited there.

At the end of the season I had a trial game for the Wycombe Youth team. But I sadly did not get selected. Undeterred I went and had a trial with the Aylesbury United Youth team, which happily I did get selected for. I had a brilliant time playing for them for two years. It was a very professional set up. And we got to play our home matches where the first team played at Buckingham Road.

As it happened the first Allied Counties League match we played was away against Wycombe Wanderers. They played in Beaconsfield. As I was new to the squad. And one of the younger members of it. I will be honest I really did not expect to start that game. But fair play to the manager Bob Rayner, he picked me. I nearly scored in a goalless draw. Which having not been selected by Wycombe, would have been a very sweet moment. Especially as I knew their goalkeeper from my time with the Wycombe Lions.

During my time with the Ducks. We reached the final of the Berks and Bucks Cup. I scored quite a few goals. I had county trials for the Buckinghamshire Team. But I was played out of position at left back. And did not get in the squad. We also played against the first team in a training match. It included the great Cliff Hercules. The big centre half Matt Hayward was also playing. He ended up volleying the ball into my face from point blank range, giving me a nice split lip. Happy days!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I did play one pre-season friendly for the Aylesbury United reserves away at Enfield. But sadly things did not work out there. So I ended up back at Risborough Rangers. Playing for the reserves and then for a short spell the first team. A few weekends ago Risborough Rangers were playing Aylesbury United in a pre-season friendly. I thought it would be a good opportunity to relive the past a bit. And see both of them in action.

The manager of Aylesbury United is Ben Williams. And their longest serving and most senior player is Greg Williams. I went to Aylesbury College with both of them. Therefore this also seemed like a great chance to catch up with them. All three of us did play together a few times for the College team. When I was playing for the Aylesbury Youth Team. Greg was playing for Thame United’s so I played against him a few times back then to.

I also knew the new Risborough manager Mark Eaton. As I used to speak to him regularly when I was at Mix 96. And he was the boss of Aylesbury FC. Plus there were lots of familiar faces from over the years at the game. Including my old Aylesbury boss Bob Rayner. He also managed Risborough for many years to. The game itself was a reasonable watch. The Ducks won 4-1. Showing why they are the team that play at the higher level. I wish them both the very best of luck for the coming season.

I did get to see Ben Williams for a bit after the game. It was lovely to catch up. And find out what had been happening, since we last saw each other. I had a lovely long chat with Greg Williams to. He has had an amazing career. I mean for starters he is my age and is still going. He is just twenty games short of five hundred appearances for the Ducks. It was brilliant to see him. They are both top people. I hope they both achieve their personal goal’s over the next nine months.

Risborough Rangers v Aylesbury United

To get myself in the mood for the new Premier League Season I did the brand new Tour at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium recently. As as season ticket holder I have obviously already been to the place a fair few times. But I wanted to see the bits I would not get to see on a match day. You need to book your tour in advance. Then on arrival you check in for it at the Club Superstore. Therefore if you get there early, you can have a browse round, while you wait.

It starts with a welcome video to wet your appetite. Then you head off behind the scenes to the first stop the VIP hospitality entrance. It is a guided tour with knowledgeable and friendly guides leading it. I learnt a lot about the new home of the Spurs. We then went to level nine, to a hospitality area, which is basically a huge bar with great views of the whole stadium.

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

We were then taken to level four. To an amazing room with leather booths. Where people have food and drink. Before they get to sit in the comfiest seats. I have ever seen in a football ground. Amazingly they are even heated for those cold January nights. Needless to say my season ticket seat does not have this feature. Mind you I am not Alan Sugar or Adele.

Next up it was the bit I wanted to see most, the player’s area. First it was the Mixed Zone. Where the players and manager will do all the television interviews. Then the massive but very plain away dressing room. It all still has that lovely new smell to it, everywhere you go. The home team have a big warm up room. And a special Ice Bath area for after matches. That they have to be in for six minutes at a temperature of thirteen celsius. Rather them than me.

Tottenham Hotspur

The Spurs dressing room itself is amazing. Every player has their name in lights above their place. I had to have a picture sat in of course Harry Kane’s and Lucas Moura’s spaces.

They pump in the air from inside the stadium, so that the players are used to it by the time they head out to play. So they can already smell the atmosphere and the grass.

Tottenham Hotspur

We then took a break from being players to pop in to the Tunnel Restaurant. Which does what it says on the tin. There is food and drink in there. You have great seats behind the bench to watch the game. Plus there is a massive window into the tunnel, so you can see the players and they can see you.

We then got to walk out of the tunnel to pitch side. That was a nice moment. The pitch has just been relayed and looks perfect. I had to of course sit in Mauricio Ponchettino’s seat in the dug out. And just pretend for a brief moment that I was the manager of Tottenham Hotspur. We had plenty of time to take in this area and grab lots of photos there.

Tottenham Hotspur

Then it was the Press Conference Room. Which I have to say is nicer that the one at Wembley Stadium. The seats for the journalists there are ace. I took my dad along with me for the tour. We had a picture taken up on the stage. And I think we both look quite at home in the hot seat.

Tottenham Hotspur

I thoroughly enjoyed having a look behind the scenes of my football club. It truly is a fantastic stadium. I have now decided that if I ever win the Lotto. I will be getting myself some seats in those top quality hospitality areas. The season starts at home against Aston Villa next Saturday. I will now be able to picture in my head where the players are and what they are up to before and after the game. Come on you Spurs!

Tottenham Hotspur

I paid my first ever visit to the Wyndham’s Theatre in London’s West End last week to see the play The Starry Messenger. It is a comedy drama about real life, the universe and everything else in between. It stars Matthew Broderick. (Who of course was the lead in one of the most memorable films from my childhood “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”.) And Elizabeth McGovern. Both of whom are brilliant. As are the rest of the cast.

It is a very clever three set play. That looks at how our lives can be connected by random chance. While showing that we all have our own challenges and issues to address. All set against the back drop of the infinite wonder of the Universe. It is very real but also very funny with a lot of laugh out loud moments. You get, understand and feel for all the characters.

It is actually quite a long play in duration. But it is so well written and performed. That you do not feel it drags and are actually surprised it comes to the interval and end of the show, so quickly. It is a perfect piece of traditional theatre. With a slight modern day twist. It is only
on for another week. So you will need to be quick, if you want to see it.

The Starry Messenger

It is not a secret that I do not watch many films. I have to really want to see them. I average about one trip to the cinema a year. Therefore for me to see a film once is an achievement. But to actually want to see one again or even multiple times is almost unheard of with the exception of one franchise. I am a massive Star Wars fan. I can watch these films over and over again, especially the original three films.

Over the last few weeks on a Sunday afternoon ITV 1 have been showing those original three films. As a kid I had all the figures to play with including a Millennium Falcon. And last Christmas while buying a Lightsaber as a gift for a friend of mines son. I also bought myself one. Even as a man in his forties. I still think that I want to be a Jedi, when I grow up.

Star Wars Exhibition
Star Wars Exhibition

It is quite scary how many of the lines I can remember from these films. I can sill deliver them seconds before they do on screen. As I get older you can see new things and angles on the plot and acting.

Like for example I am pretty sure I was not aware of the tension between Princess Leia and Hans Solo. when I was a kid. Plus I had forgotten how many times she had kissed Luke Skywalker. Before they discovered they were sister and brother.

Star Wars Exhibition
Star Wars Exhibition

None of these things effect my enjoyment of them. Neither does the fact that each of the trilogy is jut basically the same story told in a slightly different way. It is escapism and entertainment, as far as I am concerned.

The other thing from my childhood that I can happily see over and over again is “Only Fools and Horses”. I am now starting to think my general philosophy in life is a combination of Del Boy and Yoda. As you can imagine I am really looking forward to the latest Star Wars film due out in December. This will constitute a rare trip to the cinema for me.

Star Wars Exhibition
Star Wars Exhibition

I have been back once again doing some work for the BBC. There is never a dull moment there. Louise Redknapp was serenading me with her brand new single outside the building one evening.

Laura Whitmore was being lovely and smiley as ever, when there for her Sunday morning Five Live Show. You never know who you might see, bump in to or end up in a lift with. Which really does add to the fun of being around the place.

BBC
BBC

Have fun and we will catch up again in a couple of weeks. Cheers Neil.

River of Dreams

I hope you have somehow recovered from the excitement of England winning the Cricket World Cup at Lords last Sunday. What a match! I cannot remember ever seeing an ending to a game like it. The Drama and tension was almost unbearable. But we got the job done by the skin of our teeth. I am not a massive Cricket fan. But that was quality.

It does seem we like to win World Cups in all of the men’s sports at the death with a heart stopping moment. Take Geoff Hurst’s third goal right as the whistle blew in 1966 with that famous commentary accompanying it. To win our first and so far only football World Cup. Not to mention the late drop goal by Johnny Wilkinson to win us the Rugby World Cup in 2003.

In England we really do like doing things the hard way. It was a great moment and I was pleased to witness it live on the television. I still do hope that I will get to see the football team win another World Cup. In my life time. Having missed the last victory by a mere ten years. While we are talking sport, congratulations to the ace Lewis Hamilton. Who won the British Grand Prix for a record sixth time last weekend.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I have had another busy and fun couple of weeks. When I was about to make my stand-up comedy debut. I tweeted a few comedians for some advice. One of the ones who came back to me was Al Murray. I have been a fan of his for ages. I saw him live at the Octagon Theatre in Yeovil. Around twelve years ago. I spotted that he was coming to the Wycombe Swan. I do still follow him on Twitter. So I knew that he normally runs a ticket competition via the social media site. On the day of the gig.

As it happened that day I was at home and free. Therefore, as I really wanted to see his latest show. I made sure I kept a very close eye on his Twitter. When he asked the question for the chance to win some tickets. I made sure I was the first person to reply with the correct answer. He then offered me some tickets for that evening. Which I gratefully accepted. My cunning plan had been a complete success.

Neil Quigley Stand Up Comedy
Neil Quigley Stand Up Comedy

Al Murray performs of course, as his alter ego The Pub Landlord. It is amazing how many people on his Twitter page fail miserably to make this distinction. They cannot seem to be able to see that he is playing a character on stage. I turned up at The Swan to collect my ticket left for me on the door. I got myself a pint of my favourite beer, Rebellion IPA. Which they now serve there. Then I took my seat.

Al starts the show as always pouring pints on stage, spilling them on the front row. Then hailing the ale and welcoming in the wine. It is a bit of fun, it gets the audience involved from the off. And sets up the pub feel to the gig. As basically the landlord is preaching with the bar as his lectern in his boozer. As ever, he is pretty brutal and does not pull any punches.

The first half was fantastic and very funny. At the interval I grabbed myself another pint. At the start of the second half. He gives you the chance to grab a quick picture of him on stage. He poses twice. The first is a wave and the second possibly a more Landlord like gesture. At this point he asked where the competition winners were. I put my hand up and suffered a bit of good-natured abuse for my trouble. All good fun! Totally accurate and completely deserved.

The second half was also brilliant. It is a topical show. This means Politics and Brexit feature. Al himself is a big fan of military history. This is a theme running through one of the routines. As he is such an expert. It was actually quite educational about many of the wars that the country has been involved in. It was also fairly amusing, how the “Landlord” dealt with having seen Bohemian Rhapsody. And what he may have learnt about Freddie Mercury from it.

He is a top quality, clever and funny comedian. I really enjoyed it. If your jaws ache on the way back from a comedy gig. You know, you have had a great time. As well as the intelligently written material. Al is also very good at interacting with and getting laughs from the audience. You cannot beat a night of live comedy. Laughter is good for the soul.

Al Murray

I went to one of the preview performances of the new version of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolored Dreamcoat” At the iconic London Palladium. It is a musical I have always loved. And I have seen it a few times in the past. The songs are all so catchy and so tempting to sing along to. There were also a couple of other reasons, why this production appealed to me. And why I wanted to see it.

Firstly it stars Sheridan Smith. Who I think is fantastic. I tried to see her in Funny Girl. When she was in that. But I managed to get tickets on a night. She was not on. I did manage to see her sing at Children in Need last year. But this was finally my chance to catch her on stage performing in a musical. Then there was also the chance to see Jason Donovan do his thing live to.

As I said it is a new version of the show. Obviously the songs and the story remain the same. But it is slightly re-imagined. Sheridan plays the Narrator. And is the star of the show. She is on the stage pretty much the entire time. And she really drives and leads the story. The set-up is that she is a teacher telling the story to her class. Who are there throughout, as the story unfolds. There are a few other twists and surprises to. But I do not want to give away any spoilers.

Jason Donovan makes a brilliant cameo appearance as the Pharaoh. His costume, make up, style and all round performance is excellent. Jac Yarrow makes his West End debut as Joseph. His voice is quality and his stage presence is good. So I suspect we will see him in plenty more shows over the years. I really liked the quirkiness and in many ways more light-hearted approach to this classic tale.

Something happened during it. That I had never witnessed before. At the end of one of the numbers. The stage managers started to call the actors off stage. Then they came on to tell the remaining ones to get off. At which point the safety curtain came down. The show had been stopped.

Then there was an announcement saying that the performance had been suspended. Due to a technical fault. At first they were hoping to resolve it within five minutes. The audience were asked to stay in our seats. Which we duly did. In the end we were waiting for about twenty minutes. With many different rumours starting to go round the theatre.

Eventually the curtain went up again. And standing there were the show’s Director and Producer. They explained what had happened. The sound desk had gone dead. It took a while, but they got it fixed. They apologised and then thanked us for our patience. Before the performance resumed. Just before the point at which they had to stop it.

The show then continued as planned. At the interval I had another glass of the very drinkable Rioja. They serve at this great venue. I thought Sheridan Smith was fantastic. I felt that you could not take your eyes off her. She really does know how to hold and captivate an audience. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing. If you do fancy a fun and upbeat night out. Go and see this show. But be quick, as it is only on for a short time. Until the 8th September.

Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Since I did some work with Regatta Radio. And got to watch rowing for the first time. Managing to meet a few rowers and learn a little bit about the sport. I do now try to get to the Henley Regatta, on at least one of the days, every year. I have over the years had a fun time there, seeing the racing from on the riverbank. And also from a boat going up and down the course. This year a friend of mine invited me to go along and enjoy it with him.

I was staying at his house. So I got the bus to Henley. And then just walked to his house. To drop off my stuff and get changed in to my suit. The traffic getting in and out of the place during Regatta week is a bit of a nightmare. But the queues were not too bad by the time I arrived. My mate Mike Sterling managed to get us tickets to enjoy all the action from Phyllis Court. This is a Private Members Club with grounds that back right on to the river.

We got there around two in the afternoon. We grabbed ourselves some meat and salad for lunch. And as luck would have it. They had Rebellion beer there. So I had a pint of that. We then made our way down to the river to watch the afternoon session of racing. We got a table to sit at and a jug of Pimms. To enjoy the rowing in the glorious sunshine. At that moment in time, I do not know if I could have been anymore English, if I had tried.

Henley Royal Regatta

It is exciting and yet very relaxing watching the crews row past you. At the end of the session we headed back to the lawn of the club. To have a hog roast and a glass of Champagne. Both of which were ace. We then went for a drink in one of the pubs in Henley. On the way we stopped briefly to see the grave stone of the legendary English singer Dusty Springfield. Who had spent her final years living in the town.

We ended the night in a nice Restaurant. As Mike was performing in there. It was good fun. He is a top live performer. I do enjoy it when he sings. It was a very sociable night. In fact, as we were talking to the owners for ages after the gig. We did not get back to his place until about 4.30am. Proving that I am very much still Rock n Roll. Well at least I am occasionally. Another wonderful day and night spent having fun with friends.

Mike Sterling and Neil Quigley

My mum wanted to go and visit the Tower of London. My sister also expressed an interest in coming along. The other Wednesday I took them both there for the day. My mum had been to see the amazing Poppy display there a few years ago. But she had not actually been inside the walls of the famous landmark. Since she was just a little girl. Coincidentally the last and only time I had visited it. I was just eight years old. My sister however had been there within the last ten years, so she became our designated expert on the place.

Tower Of London

We got off the tube at London Bridge Station. As my Mum had never walked across Tower Bridge. We ticked this off her list on the way to the Tower. I had sensibly pre-booked the tickets. So I picked them up from the group bookings window. Bypassing all the queues. As they say, you cannot buy experience. The guy on the ticket desk was very helpful as well, which was good. On entry we decided to go and see the Crown Jewels first. As at this point the queues were not too bad.

On the way in my sister stopped for a chat with the first ever female Yeoman Warder. Who she recognised from a documentary that she had seen. About five years ago. The jewels were stunning. The gold and precious stones within that building are exceptional.

Tower Of London

Not to mention the history behind them. I was impressed by the fact that the current State Crown apparently contains Pearls, thought to be from Elizabeth I’s necklace. Just let that sink in for a second. How old they would be now. The security is rightly tight. You are basically viewing these items from within a vault. If you do go check out those doors on the way in and out. Thick does not even cover it.

After the Jewels we went to the White Tower. To see all the Armour. I am not saying that Henry VIII was may be trying to make some sort of statement about his inability to sire a son. But the size of the cod piece. On one of his sets of Armour on display is a thing of beauty. It also contains quite a few of the weapons from that era. And it is fair to say they were brutal. Everything from swords right up to muskets and very early pistols are there to see. In fact there is even an actual golden gun, near the end.

Tower Of London

Next up, we just made a short talk on the Ravens. Delivered at their cages. That was interesting and reconfirmed the legend. That if the Raven’s leave the Tower, then London will fall. Although we are safe, as all of the birds are born there. They are very territorial creatures. And are very well looked after. So basically those birds are not going anywhere.

We stopped for some sandwiches, cake and a nice cup of tea in the Cafe. It turns out sight-seeing and reminding yourself about English history is hungry and thirsty work. Once we were totally refreshed. We went on one of the guided tours. Taken by the Yeoman Warders. To become one of them, by the way. You have to have served in the Military for at least twenty-two years. And have reached the rank of at least Sergeant Major. So what I am saying is, that it is not an easy gig to get.

The tour was really interesting and I learnt quite a bit about the Tower and its history. It has had so many different uses over the years. And of course many well-known visitors. I am very much pro the Royal Family. As of course was our guide. He did make a good point. Last year the Royal Family brought two hundred and sixty-nine million pounds in to the country. Which then in turn goes to our Government. They then give the Queen. The annual Sovereign Grant of forty-five million pounds.

The tour finishes outside the Chapel. Where Ann Boleyn is thought to be buried. Which is still an active church. Used by the people who live within the Tower walls. There is a small community that live in the Tower. It sounds fun, but the place is locked at 7pm every night. Meaning if you are in you cannot get out and if you are out. You will not be able to get back in. Until it is reopened the following morning. On the plus side the Yeoman Warders do have their own pub onsite. So I know where I would be most nights. If I lived there.

Tower Of London

We walked around the walls overlooking what used to be the moat. And of course the Thames. At one point we noticed Tower Bridge was being raised. So we stopped to watch. Expecting it to be a big exciting boat coming through. Then up the river comes what is a small unimpressive vessel with a huge mask. I am not going to lie to you, it was slightly disappointing.

We then visited as many of the other Towers. That we could before the venue closed to the public. This included one, where one of the old kings lived. It was decorated how it was believed that he had it. We also looked around the Army Exhibition. Which contained a bust of both Hitler and Mussolini.

Tower Of London

There were a couple of interactive bits. One of which was a Soldiers back pack. The challenge was, if you could lift it up or not. I could just about lift it up. Which I was quite pleased about. Until you read that it is only a quarter of the weight. That actual Royal Marines carry on their backs. Total respect to them there.

It was a lovely day with my Mum and Sister. I really enjoyed looking around the Tower of London. And seeing things I had not seen since I was a kid. We stopped off for a KFC on the way home. As I know how to treat ladies properly. Everybody had a good time. So it was a total success. Another well-known place. That is certainly worth a visit.

Tower bridge

My sister has a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel called Keira. She is a lovely dog but is twelve years old now. So she is starting to feel her age a bit. To keep her joints moving and strong. She has to do these regular Hydro-therapy sessions. I went along to one of these with my sister last week.

Basically they have a treadmill. You can fill with water. The dog gets in. Then they fill the water up to her belly. Then she has to do several sets walking on the running machine under water. It is quite funny to see. It looks like quite a tough work out, though.

The dog is not a natural exerciser. And requires someone at one end with treats to encourage her to walk at the required pace. I am half thinking about getting someone to do this with cakes and chocolate for me. The next time I go to a gym. As I think that might improve my performance.

Dog Gym Work out

Have fun and we will catch up again in a couple of weeks. Cheers Neil.

Neil Quigley Presenter