I hope you had a nice Christmas whatever you managed to do. I had a lovely quiet and relaxing one with my parents. I cooked us a nice fry up to start the day off in the correct way in the morning. We then all had a cup of tea while we were exchanging cards and presents in the Living Room. I was very lucky getting the new books by both Paddy McGuinness and Rob Beckett. I also got some other fun items like socks, a new Spurs clock and a notepad. I am a lists man and like to write lots of “to do” lists and then I take great pleasure in crossing out the items when I have completed those tasks.
On Christmas Day we had a nice afternoon listening to music and having a few beers. We ate dinner fairly late at around half past four. We all helped with the preparation and the cooking of the meal so it really was a team effort. There were of course a couple of glasses of pre-dinner Prosecco before we opened a very nice bottle of red to accompany our food. Due to it being my first gluten free festive dinner I did have to miss out on a few items this year like a Yorkshire pudding but I more than made up for that by having my own special cheesecake for dessert.
We then watched some television together including the Christmas Strictly Come Dancing Special which was good fun, it was a cool and interesting mix of people taking part in it, just what we needed some colour and accidental comedy. This was followed by the new version of Blankety Bank with Bradley Walsh. The format is of course still silly and amusing in equal measure. As you would expect he did a great job hosting the programme bearing in mind he is following in the footsteps of Terry Wogan, Les Dawson and Paul O’Grady who had all put their own unique stamp on it. We clearly had the taste for game shows at that point as we also saw The Wheel with Michael McIntyre.
I always tend to have quite an early night on Christmas Day I do not know if that is due to all the excitement or possibly the alcohol and food consumed but one thing is for sure I always sleep well on that night. Boxing Day was very low key I just relaxed at home and then watched some sport on the television in the end. Until the evening when I decided to open some wine that I had been given and to listen to some music. Somehow I got a little bit carried away with it all as I did not actually get to bed until 2am in the end but I had a great time and listened to a lot of classic tunes.
Lynda and I did not see each over Christmas but that was because a while ago we had booked ourselves a two night stay at a hotel in Oxford for the extra Bank Holiday nights. We wanted to go away together post main festive season but did not really want to travel too far so that is why we picked the location we did. It was then just a case of deciding where to stay. It was while we were looking for hotels in the city that we stumbled across the Malmaison. It is a luxury hotel but built in an old prison building where they have kept a lot of the original features of the place and made it into a kind of themed venue. It looks equally stunning and yet imposing from the outside.
We booked a double cell room. The rooms have been created by knocking three of the original cells together. They are jail themed from the carpets to the items of furniture but they are classy and nice. They do have a cell style door on the front for a bit of fun. We were staying in A wing on the fourth floor. They have very cleverly kept the old original walkways so it does feel like you are in a prison albeit a very nice one. It reminded me a bit of the set for the old TV comedy Porridge as happily my experience with the insides of any prisons is limited.
We arrived and checked in then went up to see our room. It is a fun place to stay which I guess is a bit odd when you consider what it used to be. We were both quite surprised to learn that it was still an operational prison right up until 1996. In the room we had a cup of tea and gave each other our Christmas presents. I got some brilliant cuff links with headphones and a DJ Deck on them and the new book by Barrack Obama and Bruce Springsteen. Next we decided to head downstairs and explore the place. We managed to find the bar. They just happened to have a very extensive Cocktail menu so we thought it would have been rude not to try a few so we did.
We managed to book a table at the restaurant there. The food was very good, we had a lovely meal. I would certainly recommend eating there if you get the chance. As we were on “holiday” we returned to the bar area for a few more drinks after we had eaten then retired to our cell for the night just before lights out of course. We had the foresight to include breakfast in our stay and the common sense to book our slot for 10.30am so we did get to have a bit of a lie in and some time to ease into the day a little. Breakfast was again in the restaurant where we ate the previous night and it was very nice.
In the hotel they have still kept one of the cells in its original state so we went and found that. It was certainly a lot smaller and a lot less luxurious than the new rooms that they have created. Next we took a stroll around Oxford. It is a city that does have a lot of stunning buildings to enjoy. The walk lasted about ninety minutes although we did stop for a cup of tea in a Coffee Shop while we were out. It was then back to the hotel to relax for a bit. I had a bath which was very relaxing while watching Tottenham play which was as ever a lot less relaxing. We had booked a table for dinner at the local Cote but still went for some early evening Cocktails in the hotel bar again.
We had a nice meal at Cote. I like it there as they have a good gluten free menu plus they are accredited with Coeliac UK, which means I can relax and be confident that it is safe for me to eat there. The food is always decent. I had a fantastic fillet steak and a very nice prawn starter, then I finished the meal off with a winter berries Pavlova. We returned to the hotel and had a few final drinks before we went to bed. The next morning we got up and had our breakfast before leaving jail and returning to our homes. It was a lovely couple of nights away and a nice extension to our Christmas period. It was a quirky and different place to stay, I am glad we got to experience it.
As we embark on a brand new year I am looking forward to any new adventures and opportunities that will hopefully come my way in the next twelve months. There are no personal changes that I feel I need to make this January plus if I did I would normally address them as they arose rather than waiting. Like everyone I would just like to be healthy and happy while enjoying fun times with lots of laughter. I do not have any particular big plans but I do have a rather nice holiday booked for a week’s time which will make a very nice start to 2022.
Last night we had a little gathering at Lynda’s to see in the New Year in style. We had a few drinks, some amazing food and played a few games to say goodbye to 2021 and welcome in 2022. I had a brilliant time it was good fun. Happy New Year! I hope you achieve all that you want to in the next year and I wish you all the best. There is still a little bit of uncertainty about how things in some areas will pan out but I am sure everything will look a lot better by the middle of the year and we will finally be pushing through the unusual times of the last two years.
My team Tottenham Hotspur are as ever flattering to deceive, we have had some good home wins and performances but even the great Antonio Conte has not quite managed to get us firing on all cylinders away as yet. I have no doubt given time he will. It has been an old saying for years when it comes to supporting teams but it really is the hope that kills you. They win a few games and have a few matches in hand so as a fan you start to get a little bit carried away and then you are brought crashing back down to earth with a draw away to ten men Southampton.
We have been removed from the Europa Conference now for not being able to play our final group game. But I am totally fine with that and always thought the competition was more of a hindrance then a benefit. Spurs are in the Semi-Final of the league cup against Chelsea and we can also still go for FA Cup glory. We are not going to win the league obviously but if we could pick up a long overdue trophy of any kind that would be a really good season. Come on you Spurs!
I was delighted this week when one of my horses Stage Star won a huge race at Newbury. It was a Grade 1 event which is the highest category in racing terms. It is a massive achievement for Owner’s Group and the horse looks like he might be something a bit special with a lot of luck of course. Thanks to the champion trainer Paul Nicholls for getting him ready for it and to the jockey Harry Cobden who rode him perfectly on the day. I was screaming and shouting the house down during the latter part of the race a brilliant moment to enjoy and savour.
A quick reminder that you can listen to me every Saturday afternoon between 2pm – 4pm on Radio Ninesprings https://www.radioninesprings.co.uk/
Happy New Year! Have fun and we will catch up again soon. Stay safe! Cheers Neil.