Lovely February

Hello again, how’s things with you? I am still trying to come to terms with reality again after my holiday. Although some people may well argue that has been a longstanding issue of mine. Nevertheless I am still sporting a slight sun tan. And I am trying to make the most out of the year so far. By that I mean I am experiencing as much as possible, while having a lot of fun along the way.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

There was a new David Bowie documentary shown on the BBC the other week. Which mostly focused on his early days. When he was still trying to make it in the music industry. A few days after this was on I found myself in a Cocktail Bar in Covent Garden. Which had just been given a new name and a total makeover inside.

It is called Blame Gloria. After a women who is alleged to have once owned a B&B in Covent Garden. With rumours and stories about her teaching David Bowie how to put on make up and of once dating Jimi Hendrix. Well I say alleged. As I think, it might be technically a character that has been invented to give the bar its theme. Although David Bowie did once dress up as a women to play a joke on his then band mates calling himself Gloria.

Anyway the place is actually pretty cool. They do a wide variety of Cocktails. A few of which I was familiar with. And many that I was not. Some of them are certainly originals. And their own special creations. The decor is very Bowie inspired. it is fair to say.

The music was brilliant. A really nice mix of sixties, seventies and eighties tunes. They also have a two for one happy hour between five and seven, every evening. Which may be worth keeping in mind if you happen to be in the area around that time. It is a chic venue with a relaxed atmosphere.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I popped in to see some friends on their daughter’s third birthday. I actually arrived there early. And they were still out somewhere. As it happened my mate’s wife’s Mum was there and let me in. When they arrived in the end. There was actually a small group of people there to welcome them home.

It was a little gathering. That I kind of gatecrashed. But it was nice to see all the birthday presents being opened and played with. I ended up helping with a little bit of painting. And laughing at my mate, as I watched him try to put together a big new toy that needed building.

There was also a birthday tea on offer. I thought it would be rude not to at least have some of the Peppa Pig Cake. Prior to that I did get stuck in to the cheese and biscuits. In the process discovering that you can get pickle with no bits in it. Who knew? I certainly did not. I had to ask what it was.

I think the star of the show enjoyed herself. Although when you asked her if she had, had a good day. She always answered no. But I am sure with a slight smile at least. It was a lovely afternoon. Which may have continued on slightly in to the night. As I stayed for a beer after the children had gone to bed. To catch up with the parents.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Last weekend I was at another family house party. This time it was a surprise sixtieth Birthday celebration for my Auntie. My two cousins had organised it with military precision. They had taken their mum out for the afternoon. Leaving one of their husbands alone to get the house ready. And cook the party food. Then to be there to let all the guests in ready for when the birthday girl returned home.

We were all told we had to be there before a certain time. Everyone was there when they should have been. When we got a message to say they were running a bit late. Therefore the party started a bit before it was meant to. As we all had a drink while we were waiting.

We got word on when they arrived, so were all silent in her living room waiting for her to walk in. When she did we treated her to a rendition of Happy Birthday. I can honestly say, I do not think she was expecting it. As she did look quite shocked.

The food was amazing. One of my cousins is a very good baker. So there were about six different sweet options of which I tried at least five. They were all delicious but it was a tough night for the waistline. Her sister then hosted a fun selection of different games throughout the evening. The first a straight forward game of bingo. Then a quiz that was based on the year my Aunt was born.

Next we each had to write a memory of her down. My cousin read them out. And my Auntie had to guess who had written it. She got mine straight away. When I was a young child, she took me, my mum and my sister to a fireworks night where she worked. I spent most of the night trying to hide. As I was terrified of all the loud bangs. For the record I am a little better with them now.

There was also a quiz about my Auntie’s life. And one where we had to decide if you she was older or younger than a list of certain people or things. And lastly a photo round for us to identify my Auntie in. I did very badly in all of the quizzes. It was a good laugh, though. I had a nice evening catching up with the family. Some of whom I had not seen for a while. Once again I think the Birthday lady enjoyed it.

Neil Quigley Presenter
Neil Quigley Presenter

I had a great time seeing my friend Mike Sterling the other day. He has most recently been on tour with Evita. Which he was brilliant in by the way. He also appeared in the West End for many years. So knows his way around London. Which is where we met. Mind you I chose the meeting point. Which is why we started the proceedings off with a few pints of Guinness in Waxy O’Connors. I have said it before and I will say it again. It is my favourite pub in the capital.

We then decided to get some food. We chose to have a stroll around to Piccadilly. And got ourselves a table at The Terrace. It is a nice and classy place. They had a full jazz band playing. While we were eating. I had the Chilli Calamari for starters, a T-bone steak with Red Wine sauce for my main and cheesecake for dessert. The meals there were excellent. As was the Italian wine. We had on Mike’s suggestion.

Our final stop was at the Phoenix Theatre Bar. It used to be called the Wentworth Club. It was somewhere Mike used to visit quite a lot when he was starring in Phantom of the Opera and Les Mis in the West End. I had been there a few times before. But never this late in the evening.

In a back room they occasionally do musical singalongs. There is a piano with a pianist. And you can go up and sing any song from any musical that you wish to. The standard was pretty high for the hour or so that we were in there. I really like the place. It has a very show business and arty feel to it. I would definitely go again. Had a quality time catching up with a good friend.

Mike Sterling and Neil Quigley
Mike Sterling and Neil Quigley

I managed to get some last minute tickets to see Ricky Gervias do a warm up show for his upcoming tour “Super Nature” in Aylesbury at the Waterside Theatre. I went with Andy Holmes. I also watched one of the very early warm up gigs for his last massive tour “Humanity” in London. That went on to become a huge success. If you are a user of Netflix. It is still available on there.

This new show he is working on at the moment has already been signed up by Netflix again. I am a big fan of his and have been since the days of The Office. Which was even more relevant at the time for me. As I was working in a small Sales office. With a few possible David Brent’s. I have seen all his television comedies. I will be honest I have not seen all his movies. But that is more down to my lack of ability to watch films, than anything else.

The show in Buckinghamshire was brilliant. I saw him on the second night of two that he did. Bearing in mind this was just a warm up gig. He sold out the theatre both nights. A lot of comedians would give their right arm to sell out an one thousand seat venue for a proper show. Let alone just a warm up one.

He does seem to have a lot of fans in England. He has never changed his stand up style. He has a lectern with some beer on it. And walks around the stage with a one of those head mics on. He had a support act with him called Sean McLoughlin. It was the first time I had seen him. I was very impressed. I thought he was great. I think he may be worth keeping an eye out for.

Ricky Gervais was funny as always. He has a unique way of attacking any subject and making it funny but not seem awkward. Which is not always as easy as it sounds. The finished version of this show. I have no doubt will be hilarious. Much of it I guess follows the same chain of thought of his previous stand up specials. And when he finishes the tour. May be he can do a series of TED Talks about the subtlety of offence. Another fun evening out at one of my favourite theatre’s.

Aylesbury Waterside Theatre
Aylesbury Waterside Theatre

I also managed to get myself a ticket last week to go and see one of the preview performances of the brand new Only Fools and Horses Musical. Well I say preview. It was the full actual show performed to a sold out paying audience. But they have not had their official opening press night as yet. I will be honest I had mixed emotions about seeing it.

I am a massive fan of the television series. I can still happily re-watch any of the episodes. And I guarantee it will make me laugh and in many instances cry. I really wanted to see the show, though. But I was worried that it would be odd not seeing the actors you instantly associate with those roles not playing them.

Only Fools and Horses Musical

It is on at the fantastic Theatre Royal in Haymarket. Where for this particular show. They do serve Del Boy Pina Coladas in the bars. Although slightly disappointingly I did not see anyone order one. It starts with a song. Which makes a lot of sense for a musical. But all through the opening number. I was just waiting to get a glimpse of Del and Rodney. They obviously do appear during it.

As do pretty much all the regular characters from the classic television show. It is actually quite good fun spotting them all as they walk out. The thing to remember I think is, it is very much a stand alone musical. But with many classic lines, sketches and moments from the timeless sitcom in it.

The songs for me all work. There are some very familiar ones. Which you will recognise from its previous incarnation. And some new ones written especially for this project. For me they are in the same style the show always had. It has a story to it of course. Which is kind of a mixture quite a few of the different things. That happened to the Trotters on our screens. The cast are all fantastic. Each one of them have got the character of the person they are playing to a tee. While still making the roles in this their own. The wardrobe and sets are brilliant.

The whole feel to it is quite nostalgic. It bought back a lot of great memories for me of sitting at home and laughing my head off at the television. It was an idea that the writer of Only Fools and Horses John Sullivan was working on before he sadly died. It was finished by his son Jim and the excellent Paul Whitehouse. Who plays Granddad faultlessly. And some of the additional songs  were co-written by Chas Hodges from Chas & Dave.

I really enjoyed it. And if you are a fan of Only Fools and Horses. It is certainly worth seeing, As you would expect from a project initiated by the shows creator. Nothing is missing from it. If I am completely honest. The only slight issue I still had was trying to come to terms with the fact Del, Rodney, Trigger and Boycie were not being played by David Jason, Nicholas Lyndhurst, Roger Lloyd-Pack and John Challis.

That is not a slight on the amazing cast. That is just my issue. As all those actors for me are so part of the DNA of those characters. This is of course something the production can do nothing about. It is a lovely warm overview of a great British Institution. That is played out in front of your eyes. And with that great writing. It is of course very funny. Lovely Jubbly!

Only Fools and Horses Musical

Tottenham Hotspur have been doing alright recently. Quietly going about our business and winning our Premier League matches. I have been at Wembley to see us beat, Watford, Newcastle and Leicester.

All of which have been tough games. Not made any easier by the fact we are still without Harry Kane and Dele Alli. I am enjoying things at the minute. But we will just see how the next few weeks go. I am not going to lie the match day experience is more fun when you win.

Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur

The quality Radio 4 Extra weekly topical news comedy programme Newsjack has returned for a new series. Once again I will be busy writing jokes for it.

I will also be doing my own weekly news comedy podcast for the next five weeks. Which you can find on my You Tube channel or on Apple Podcasts.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Busy few weeks coming up. I am finally getting round to seeing the musical Blood Brothers. I know I am very late to the party on this one. But have heard nothing but great things about it.

And of course next Wednesday it is the BRIT Awards. Which is always a fun and interesting night. Plus I am going to my first ever immersive theatre performance.

School of Rock
School of Rock

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

St Lucia

Hi there, how are you? Long time no speak. Well for me it has been a bit longer than usual. In updating you on what I have been up to. On here at least. The reason for that is I have just managed to finally do something that I have wanted to do for years. I am a massive fan of the festive period. And I enjoy starting the New Year with my family near by. However January can seem a bit long and cold in the United Kingdom. So I have for a while fancied some Winter sun to kick start the year. And happily I have now achieved this dream.

St Lucia

I have just returned from a fantastic holiday in St Lucia. It started the night before the flight. As it was an early departure from Gatwick. I decided to stay at the Premier Inn at the airport. So I would have no morning travel issues or stress. And could literally just stroll across the road to the waiting plane. The hotel was full of fellow travellers. I had a very nice steak and a glass of red wine. Before getting an early night ready for my alarm call in the morning.

I was flying with Virgin Atlantic. For the first time. It was all very well organised and civilised. Their staff were helpful and lovely. The food on board seemed fine to me. And the entertainment system kept me amused. During the long nine hour flight. Through a combination of a Derren Brown Special, Family Guy and the Big Bang Theory. Plus a bit of Bruce Springsteen. Due to the four hour time difference. We landed there at 1.30pm St Lucian time.

Once I was through customs and had collected my luggage. I found the airport transfer supplied by my hotel. The driver took me on the five minute trip to the resort. I have never stayed anywhere closer to the airport. I am also happy to report that owing to the direction of their run way and the small amount of flights. That the planes caused no disruption at all, while I was there. I had opted for the Concierge package. So when I arrived at the hotel that afternoon. Mine was already waiting for me with a rum cocktail. Which was a lovely welcome.

ST Lucia

Once I had checked in. She then showed me to my room. Which had an Ocean View from the balcony. Which was brilliant. There was a Swan made out of towels on the bed, flowers all over the bathroom and a fully stocked fridge. Not to mention some welcome chocolate and fruit. I was already thinking I am really going to like this place. It was also sunny and about twenty-eight degrees. Which made it all even better, as far as I was concerned.

I put my shorts on and then went for a look around the place. It was an all inclusive hotel. That sat on eighty five acres of land. It had its own private beach area. There were two pools and a water park on the family side and two adult pools on the adult only side. Which is where I was staying. It is called Harmony. The resort itself is called Coconut Bay. I also had a walk down the beach that first afternoon. To check out my surroundings and try to get my bearings of the place. That was to be my home for the next ten nights.

St Lucia

They have a main eating area where you can get Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner in a buffet style. With a huge selection of different food options at every meal time. They also have four restaurants. Where you can eat in the evening, if you book. Luckily as part of my deal. I had a reservation made for me each night at one of these eateries. So I got to enjoy a three course meal with waiter/waitress service. Every night that I was there. The food was to a very high standard. I had some delicious meals.

In case you needed a snack during the day. They also had a Jerk Food Tree House and a burger place called Flip Flops. There were bars all over the place. Including a swim up bar, a sports bay, lobby bar, pool bar and a lounge bar. There was even a bar by the sunbathing area on the beach. Where ever you were it was easy to order yourself a drink. All the bars were under the all inclusive deal. You could order anything you liked beer, cocktails, wine or shorts. They made some really tasty cocktails. Many of which I had never heard of or never tried before.

St Lucia

It was so relaxing. The weather was amazing. The staff were great. Fun friendly and helpful. I made the most of sunbathing on the beach and by the pool. Most of the other guests were American, Canadian and also British. I met and got talking to some lovely and fascinating people. The atmosphere of the whole place was perfect. I tried out all the bars and restaurants on offer. In one of the adult pools. There was a big hot tub. Which I found was a great place to be in as the sun went down. It was also a decent place to chat to and meet people in, strangely. We had conversations in there about every subject you can imagine.

There was nightly entertainment. Either poolside or at one of the various bars. This included a Caribbean Night, a Country Hoe Down Night, Karaoke, Jazz and lots of different live bands playing at all the various stages. They have there. Then in the lounge bar every night. There were sing-a-longs around a piano, solo performers and always a disco until 1am. When the bars all closed. Which after a whole day of drink on tap anytime you want it. Was more than late enough for me.

St Lucia

While I was lying on the beach one day. I noticed they were doing some horse rides along it. I am a big fan of horse racing. However I had never been on a horse before. I therefore decided this was the place and now was the time to put this right. I booked up for the ride for later in the week. I had been keen to at least experience being on a horse for a while. But the opportunity had never arisen. Until then.

St Lucia

The guy taking the tour met me in the hotel reception. After literally signing my life away. He led me to where the horses were tied. Just stopping to collect a towel along the way. I did explain to him that I had not ridden before. But he was confident I would be fine. After I had my helmet on. I was introduced to my horse Big Orange. They appear to have a Ronseal approach to naming their animals. It is exactly, as it says on the tin. Luckily there were steps available to get on the horse.

I somehow managed to swing my leg over to get in the saddle. Which was a bit harder than I thought it would be. Once I was on board. He showed me how to hold the reins. Then how to sit in the saddle and how to position my feet in the stirrups. It is fair to say I was not the most natural rider. I was not overly confident. My plan was simply not to fall off.

We set off down the beach. The guide had to keep reminding me how to hold the reins correctly, control the horse and make him move forward. I was going too slow at one point. He told me not to worry, as he would not run. Unless I got to far behind him. Hearing this news. I managed to get my horse to go a bit faster and close up the gap.

St Lucia

I had just about got things under control on the flat beach. When suddenly we had to walk up a bank up in to a woodland area. That raised my heart rate a little. But I stayed in the saddle. We then got to the half way point. And stopped for a bit, so the horses could have a snack. We then made our way back. Which of course included us having to go back down that bank. As we came to the final stretch on the way back. I was starting to feel a bit more at ease. And almost in control.

We got back. And after a few pictures. It was time for me to get off Big Orange. It is very fair to say there was no Frankie Dettori flying dismount. The step was back out. And I just about managed to swing my leg over again. It was a really enjoyable experience. I would like to go horse riding again at some point in the future. It was good fun. No way I want to do any obstacles yet though. All jump jockeys must be mad. I will stick to just watching the races.

St Lucia

The only other tour that I did while I was there was a sailing and snorkelling excursion. It was towards the end of my holiday. As I realised I had not left the resort. And should probably at least try to see a bit of the island. While I was there. It began with a short twelve minute drive to a near by fishing village. Where we caught the boat. It was then an hour trip around the coast.

The hotel I was staying at was on the Atlantic Ocean side. Which currently has a really big issue with seaweed. Meaning it is tough to paddle and swim in the sea there. We were however heading to Caribbean Sea. Which has no such problems.

On the boat ride there. We sailed past the Pitons. Which are two Volcanic Mountains near the town of Soufriere. They have been a world heritage site since 2004. And they do look spectacular. Our first stop was the white sands of Sugar Beach. They have a marine conservation site. Which was the first Snorkelling area on the tour.

St Lucia

I had never snorkelled before. As it turns out I am not very good at it. I struggled with the flippers. The mask I could use alright, But I had some issues with the tube you breathe through. The main one being the amount of salty sea water I kept drinking through it.

I managed to do it for a bit. And did see a few colourful tropical fish. But I did not make it as far as some people and see as much as I could have. It does mean though I can say I have swam in the Caribbean Sea. It was lovely and warm plus so clear and blue.

We then had a twenty minute boat ride to our next stop. A little bit further round the coast. I decided not to Snorkel this time .As I really could not take in anymore sea water. So I just chilled out on the boat. And watched everybody else. Next it was back to a port. From where we were then driven back to the hotel. It was nice to get out and see some of St Lucia. The towns, houses, plantations and countryside. I am glad I ventured out. And saw what I did.

St Lucia

There was a Spa where I was staying. I thought I would treat myself to a full body massage. I had one years ago and found it very relaxing so I decided I was due another one. They are a bit odd and awkward. As you are fully naked for it. But you are under towels and blankets. So the key bits of you are not on display. Shall we say.

It was really nice. The lady doing it was very good. She seemed to have very strong fingers and thumbs. I will give her that. Because it was right by the sea. You could hear the waves lapping the shore during it. Which I found made it even more relaxing. They even do you fingers and toes. It was fifty minutes long. I enjoyed it. Although this one was a holiday treat. I think I might to to have them a little bit more regularly during the next year. It really helped my muscles.

St Lucia

I was invited to the Managers Cocktail Party. There were drinks and finger food on offer. I got to meet and have a quick chat with the man himself. Which was nice. While I was there I also won a prize in the free draw, they did. I bagged myself $100 of resort credit. While it is all inclusive. Any Tours or Spa treatments get added on to your room for payment. When you check out. Therefore this was a very useful bonus. That I was happy to acquire.

On my last day I was all packed and just having a final beer. Before it was time to head to the airport. When I got a text message from my airline Virgin Atlantic. Telling me that my flight had been cancelled. And that I would now be flying home the following morning. To cut a long story short. This meant I ended up staying an extra night. Then heading to the airport early the following morning. Which as I am sure you can imagine was terrible.

St Lucia

On the plane journey back to England. I watched the Star Wars Han Solo Story. I must admit I only normally watch the official episodes. Despite being a huge fan of the franchise. That said I am a big fan of the character. Which made me want to check it out.

I liked it. That may have been because it featured Tie Fighters, Chewbacca, the Millennium Falcon and lots of nods to and plot explanations for the original film Star Wars. Which is actually technically episode four. Anyway I am glad I watched it. I thought it was pretty good.

Star Wars Exhibition
Star Wars Exhibition

I had an absolutely wonderful time staying in a Harmony Concierge Ocean View Room at the Coconut Resort and Spa in St Lucia. The place just has everything you need, right there for you. The staff are great. I even got to watch all the Tottenham Hotspur games in their Sports Bar.

I would very much like to thank the marvellous Paula at Red Route Travel for suggesting and then booking this trip for me. Excellent, friendly and professional service, Not least when advising me what to do when my flight home was then cancelled. I am tanned, relaxed and now ready for 2019. Bring it on!

St Lucia

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