Horses For Courses

It looks like we will still have another two more weeks at least under the current restrictions then. That will not massively affect me as I am still not going out much or doing too many things at the moment. That is just my own personal choice as I wanted to make sure that everyone close to me had received both of their jabs before I started mixing with too many people again. Things are now getting to the stage where that is almost the case.

I am still taking regular Covid tests so I know that I have not got it when I go to meet people. As it has been from the start it is just a case of doing what is right and what you feel comfortable doing to maintain some sort of work and life balance. Have I enjoyed the last eighteen months? Of course not like everyone else I have missed out on so many events and occasions. That I normally enjoy on an annual basis. Do I regret any of the decisions I made? No, I am happy I kept myself and my family as safe as possible throughout this situation.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

When things do fully reopen this virus is not suddenly going to have disappeared. There will be random outbreaks, we may still have to self-isolate on occasions. It may still cause us problems and in some cases heartbreak. But it is seemingly more under control than it was over a year ago. People who have now been vaccinated are I believe around 75% less likely to die from Covid if they catch it and also less likely to get the virus or transmit it. Over time that will make a huge difference as it will hopefully no longer be able to mutate at the rate that it was due to the level of transmissions. I am not a Scientist by the way, no way near clever enough for that! So I may have got that a bit wrong, but I think that is the general idea.

It is great that the vaccination is available to all adults now. As far as I can see the reason for the delay in reopening the United Kingdom was to get more people vaccinated. I had my second injection more than six weeks ago. Therefore I am wondering if I can get a booster in September. Just to be on the safe side. The scientists have done an amazing job in a relatively short space of time. However there are obviously lots of other very serious medical conditions that we have to focus on once again. Of course the country needs to be restriction free as soon as it is fully viable to do so.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I do appreciate I have talked quite a lot about the current situation but I could not just ignore it. As it has massively impacted what I have been up to during the last eighteen months. I am sure you noticed that there have been a lot less holiday specials from me for example. Last weekend I did actually go out to a restaurant to eat for the first time since February 2020. My now long suffering girlfriend was keen to go out for food and as she has been cooking pretty much every Saturday night for the last twelve months. It did only seem fair. Plus I found somewhere that was on the Coeliac UK accredited list, so I thought it would be safe for me to go there.

Neil Quigley

We booked a table at her local Prezzo. Originally the plan was to eat outside but it was raining so I had to be brave and sit at a table inside the place. It was all very well managed everyone was wearing their masks when moving about and all the tables were nicely spaced out. I instantly felt at ease and relaxed. As somebody who had not been out much I was not ready for people to be too close to me just yet under a roof. They offer a full Gluten Free menu in that pretty much everything on the menu can be served as the Gluten Free version. Therefore as this was my first restaurant visit since being diagnosed as Coeliac I had lots of options to choose from.

I think it was a combination of eating out for the first time in ages, the fact I had so much choice or possibly the glass of Malbec that I was enjoying. But I ordered a full three course meal. For starters I had Gluten Free Garlic Bread with Red Onions and Cheese. That was followed by Pasta Arrabiata Gluten Free style. Then as one of my many mottos is that a meal must be finished off with something sweet. I had a Gluten Free Black Currant and Prosecco Cheese Cake. The whole meal was really nice. The Staff were great even though the waitress managed to deliver us the main with no cutlery. She quickly resolved this issue when I got her attention.

I very much enjoyed it and felt safe and happy in the surroundings. It was only the third time we had actually eaten out together, so luckily I managed to remember all the correct table etiquette. When we got there the place was packed then about half way through our meal it was nearly empty. I used to be able to clear a pub just by being in one and talking. It would seem that “skill” is also transferrable to Italian restaurants. We were only out for a couple of hours but it was nice to have a change of scenery and drink someone else’s wine. I am sure I will not leave it that long to eat out again, all being well.

Neil Quigley

I have always drunk move than your average amount of tea. When I was still at school it was more controlled than it is now as we did not have tea breaks, so I could not have any during the day. Once I got my first full time job at seventeen my tea intake went through the roof. As a general rule I cannot leave the house in the morning unless I have had at least two cups of the stuff. I do consider myself a great tea maker owing mainly to the amount of cups that I have made in my life. I think I average about ten cups a day at the minute. For me it is a multi-purpose substance. It wakes me up in the morning plus I can happily drink it to relax before I go to bed.

A nice cup of tea

I spoke to a dietician last week. It was to do with my Coeliac Disease and offered by the NHS to make sure my Gluten Free diet is healthy and balanced. I have been trying to eat well for about ten years now and my general food intake does include a lot of fruit and vegetables. I have actually found my new restrictions to be even heathier. As I now tend to have less processed meat, no bread and less chocolate. One of the issues with Coeliac Disease is that it affects the body’s immune system and ability to absorb nutrients. I was diagnosed in February and being on a Gluten Free diet should correct these issues but it can take up to a year to start working after the diet change.

Generally as I suspected I was doing ok with what I was consuming. She did make a couple of good suggestions for other vegetables that could help with my condition. I do have quite a strict fitness regime. I run nine miles three times a week, do five miles on the exercise bike three times a week as well as doing weight lifting, Yoga and Pilates. Therefore if I do say so myself I am in reasonably good shape at the moment. However since I have been Gluten Free I have actually lost a bit of weight, so the dietician suggested that maybe I should try to consume a few more calories a week. That means I can have more chocolate and Gluten Free cake as far as I am concerned.

It is very important I eat lots of foods that have Iron and Calcium in them. They are nutrients Coeliac sufferers are often low in. That suits me perfectly as Steak and Cheese are both good sources of them. The other thing she did mention is that sometimes tea can affect the ability of the body to absorb these things. She did suggest that I might like to try to cut down on my tea intake. I do appreciate that it is good sound health advice and I will admit I know I should have less of it. But I have already lost Gluten therefore all standard bread and beer in the last six months so I am not ready to give up on my tea just yet I am afraid.

Neil Quigley

I have been really enjoying this current series of The Last Leg on Channel 4. They always have some great guests on and I like the whole atmosphere of it, it is fun yet at the same time does make a few decent points. I have seen Josh Widdicombe live a few times and I think he is really funny. I have also seen Adam Hills do his stand up and he is just such a likeable bloke who has a great rapport with the audience. Plus I once saw Alex Brooker drinking champagne with a load of mates in a bar I was in around Bond Street in London. I did not go and say hello to him but I was trying my best not to stare if I am honest.

I have been to see the show live. The three of them clearly all get on very well with each other. And compliment each other perfectly as they all seem to come at things from different angles giving them their own unique jokes. It just all seems to work. I like the way the programme kind of happened by accident. They were all thrown together to cover the Paralympics in 2012 and then from that it became this weekly topical comedy show. Let us not forget they are the ones who organised a big Tuba to follow Donald Trump around when he visited Scotland. That in itself is genius. It is worth a watch if you have never seen it.

Josh Widdicombe
Josh Widdicombe

Two of the horses that I have a small amount of shares in via Owners Group have run recently. Force Ten who I have visited at Champion Trainer Paul Nicholls stables in Somerset ran in a Hurdles race down at Newton Abbot. I went and saw his race course debut at Newbury Race Course in 2018. He is six years old and although he was looking good in training he has been finding it difficult to settle in his races. This has meant that on occasion he has been badly misbehaving in the Parade Ring or used all his energy up by being too pent up before the race has even started.

Neil Quigley and Paul Nicholls
Neil Quigley and Paul Nicholls

In his previous two runs he had set off at a rate of knots got himself to the front and then just run out of steam in the final stages and finished near the back. We have tried using a hood, blinkers and cheek pieces to calm him down. But none of these measures have made any difference. The plan for Newton Abbot was to get him to lead from the front and try to win that way. However once again he did not settle. He was in midfield for most of the way round then got up into fourth place with a few furlongs to go then seemingly almost stopped.

Due to the fact that it does not appear that he will take to racing. The decision has been made to retire him from the sport. This means he will be retrained to be a riding school or family horse. It is a shame as I did have high hopes for him but it was just not meant to be sadly. As ever the important thing is the animal’s welfare. And if he was not happy he needs to find something that he enjoys in life. He is now at the Owners Group’s facility called Equiprep turned out with other horses in a field waiting to be rehomed. You win some, you lose some I guess.

Force Ten

Another one of my horse’s called Proclaimer had his second race after a long lay-off recently to. He was off the track for six months as they feared he might have a problem with his back. Fortunately that was not the case and he was able to return to training. He is trained by Julie Camacho. She has been pleased with his work at home but sadly he has disappointed us a bit in his two runs since his enforced break. In his most recent effort he was in contention until the final three furlongs then rapidly fell away, which is not like him. I will just have to be patient and wait to see what we do with him next. I get a weekly update on all my horses and regular videos, so I am very much kept in the loop, which is great.

Proclaimer

The delayed European Championships have reached the Quarter Finals stage. There have already been a few shock results in the knock out rounds and some good teams have already gone. It was a shame that Wales got knocked out but then owing to the Christian Eriksen incident it was nice to see Denmark progress. He was one of my favourite players when he was at Spurs. When we were at our best under Pochettino everything went through him. I wish him a speedy recovery. I think the final winner of this competition is still quite hard to call but we will all know in a week’s time and then all pretend it was obvious from the start.

England are still in the competition after beating Germany two – nil at Wembley last Tuesday. That is the first time we have beaten them in a knock out tournament match for fifty five years, when we beat them in the World Cup Final in 1966 also at Wembley, so we were due a victory over them. As a Spurs fan it was great to see Captain Harry Kane get his goal. We play Ukraine in Rome tonight and if we can get through that both the Semi-Final and Final will be played at Wembley, which surely should give us an extra boost. I will be glued to the game later. Come on England!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

A quick reminder that you can listen to me every Saturday afternoon between 2pm – 4pm on Radio Ninesprings https://www.radioninesprings.co.uk/

Neil Quigley

Have fun and we will catch up again soon. Stay safe! Cheers Neil.

It’s Staying At Home

The big relaxation of the rules and the potential return to “normal” has been delayed by at least four weeks then. Disappointing and annoying though this is personally I would rather have the level of freedom we currently have rather than things opening up and then we potentially have to go back in to lockdown again. The vaccination programme does appear to be working well but while we still have people able to pass the infection around I understand the concerns over the situation escalating once again.

We can still meet up in groups of six people inside and up to thirty outside. In normal times how often during the year would you have many more than that in those situations weddings and parties aside of course. While not ideal it is enough to be getting along with I feel. You can still see your family and it is still just a case of being careful and sensible. I appreciate that I am lucky as I have already had both of my jabs, so I have that extra level of protection. However I am still extremely careful when I am out and about as that just feels like the right thing to do to me.

We just need to be a little bit more patient still, as a country we have done a decent job getting this thing under control compared to some of the others. One more big push then we will hopefully be where we need to be and we can start to do all the things we used to, possibly appreciating them more than we did before. The important thing is that we can meet up with and talk to people, see friends and family face to face, communicate with each other and help everybody to get through this together.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

A few weekends ago my girlfriend and I booked ourselves a couple of nights away at a converted barn near Faringdon in Oxfordshire. We both just fancied a bit of a change of scenery and the chance to discover somewhere new. When we arrived the weather was lovely so we thought it would be rude not to help out the local economy by finding a pub to have a drink at. The accommodation was next to a farm down a long drive and a fifty minute walk from the nearest watering hole so we decided to drive there.

We found a nice little place with space in their beer garden. I have only been inside a pub once since lockdown one. I will admit I am easing myself in gently so I am only mixing with strangers outside at the moment. It was a village establishment who were doing table service. This was the first time I have been to a pub since I have been Coeliac. I did enquire if they had gluten free beer surprisingly they did but sadly it was not one I really liked. This meant that I decided to reacquaint myself with Cider.

Neil Quigley

I sampled a pint of Thatchers Haze which for the record tasted great in the late afternoon sunshine. It was not until that point when I was sitting there enjoying my pint that I realised how much I had missed pubs and sitting outside having a refreshing beverage. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I instantly settled back into it. We only stayed for one before we headed back to the barn for dinner. For a change we both cooked the meal Lynda made a pasta dish from scratch and I cooked the two fillet steaks. Clearly equally sharing the task.

I must say I did do the steaks absolutely perfectly. I reckon that you could easily have served them in a five star restaurant. After we had eaten we ended up having a long video chat with my oldest friend and his wife. We met on our very first day at Primary School. We instantly became mates and have stayed in touch ever since. It was brilliant to see and talk to them both albeit on screen. It was just great to have a laugh and catch up with each other. I cannot wait until I get to see them both in person again, which hopefully will be fairly soon.

The next day as we had enjoyed it so much we decided to try another pub’s beer garden. The weather was nice and this one had been the one that the host of the property we were staying at had mentioned to us. It was right next to the river so after we had enjoyed a pint of this time a nice red berries fruit cider we went for a lovely walk along the river bank. I have always enjoyed walking next to a stretch of water. I do not know why, I guess I find it relaxing and peaceful.

Neil Quigley

We then went back to the barn for dinner. We decided to get an Indian food combination from one of the local supermarkets. The buying of which involved me testing half of the items with a special app I have on my phone to make sure that they were gluten free, so I could eat them. Happily we found more than enough options for a big feast, which may or may not have been washed down with a few glasses of red wine. Just in case you were in any doubt it was.

The next morning we had to come home. By now we had seemingly got a bit of a taste for pubs and being outside them. Therefore on the way back we decided to stop for lunch at one of my local ones. It was the venue where a former Prime Minister accidentally left one of his children in the toilet after a meal. I am not sure if the current one has been there or not yet but it is quite close to Chequers, so you never know. Anyway the sun was out once again so we found a nice table in their back garden. This was first time that I had attempted to eat out since having to become gluten free.

It did make it easier than before to decide what to have as there were only about three things on the menu that I could safely eat. I also have to be wary of cross contamination, which does rule out a few extra options. I had a very nice chicken, bacon and avocado salad. The Coeliac diet is quite a healthy one as it turns out. It was a perfect meal for the weather. They very kindly supplied a dressing with it. But I could not have it as I did not know exactly what was in it. As believe it or not some mustards and vinegars contain gluten. It is a minefield. It was nice to be eating out again and I look forward to getting more confident with the food ordering the more I do it.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I was planning a trip to America in September. I was going for a few nights in New York a place where I have never been followed by a few nights in Las Vegas, where I have been once about fifteen years ago. This week I decided to pull the plug on it. It is so difficult to say what the travel situation will be like by them. It is not on the United Kingdom’s green list currently. Nor are the United States welcoming visitors from Britain either.

Even if it was on the green list and they were accepting us by then. The process still requires a lot of additional things that you need to do to leave and return to the country. Therefore I decided to wait until everything opens up a bit more on both sides of the Atlantic. This is not me complaining by the way, I understand the global situation and I think I have made the right decision for me. I will visit both places at a later date. But I think we all have to be a bit flexible with our plans at the minute.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

There is a new series of Celebrity Goggle Box back on Channel 4. I am a late convert to this and the normal version of this show. I will admit before I started watching it I really could not see the point of watching people watching television. But it is actually quite funny. For the record I think I would be brilliant on this programme. I have lots to say and often talk through TV shows anyway.

A lot of the old favourite combinations are back like Shaun Ryder and Bez. They seem to live on a different planet to the rest of us. There are a couple of decent additions. Mel C is my favourite Spice Girl so it is great to see her on there with her brother. The surprise package for me is Jamie Carragher and Micah Richards. They seem to have a great laugh together, which is good to see.

Spice Girls

I do not watch a massive amount of television so another benefit of this show is that I can catch up with anything major that I have not seen, bits of films I will never see and snippets of programmes that I would never watch under normal circumstances. Like for example Naked Attraction. I was aware of it but never felt compelled to see it as it sounded horrendous. Having now seen a bit of it on Goggle Box I have not changed my mind. It is totally ridiculous!

How people can seriously think they will meet their future partner on it I do not know! What sort of person do you have to be to want to do that on TV? The first thing anybody sees is your privates. That said somebody I know who is a great laugh and a top bloke has been on it. I have never watched his episode and have no plans to. To add insult to injury I believe he may have been voted off it first. That is surely the ultimate walk of shame. We have clearly come a long way from Cilla and Blind Date to get to this!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Last Saturday the weather was brilliant so my girlfriend decided to throw an impromptu barbeque at her place. She invited a few people round. There were six of us in total. It started at around three o’clock with a few glasses of Strawberry Pimm’s. A text book way to kick off an occasion such as this I would say. We ate about half four with all the usual options available chicken, sausages and burgers. All gluten free as she is far too good to me. We then just continued to talk and have a few more drinks.

Barbeque

One of the invited guests was working so they did not get there until around six thirty. Due to the fact my girlfriend is such a considerate host she cooked more fresh food for the late arrival but pretty much did the same as she did earlier. Therefore barely two hours after our first sitting, we had another barbeque meal. Well you have to make the most of things at the moment. I was surprised and impressed at how much I managed to eat. I like my food but two decent meals that close together is unusual even for me.

Owing to a combination of the weather being so good, the fact we were having a good time and because we were so full of food that we could not really move. We ended up sitting outside and talking until gone ten o’clock. It felt like the most amount of fresh air that I had enjoyed for ages. That was my third barbeque in four weeks. I feel I am making up for lost time having missed out on lots of things over the last eighteen months. The sun just makes everything better as far as I am concerned.

Neil Quigley

It is Royal Ascot this week with the final day of the racing festival today. This is an event I normally go to at least on one of the days sometimes more. Obviously I could not go last year as nobody was allowed in. They are allowing reduced crowds of spectators in this year. I decided not to apply for tickets in the end. It is a great event. What makes it so are the people and the quality of the racing. I just felt it would not feel the same so I have decided to wait and hope that next year it can return to full capacity once again.

Royal Ascot 2019

It has been a fantastic week of racing as it always is. It is a shame I think that the Queen has not been in attendance so far this week. That is always one of the highlights for me when she arrives. I have a huge amount of admiration for her personally and all that she has achieved. When I was at school the whole class wrote to her and we got a lovely letter back. I actually wrote to her myself with a bit of an update a couple of years ago, well we had not spoken for a while and I thought she might be curious how I was getting on. I did receive a reply from the palace again, which was very nice of them.

Royal Ascot
Royal Ascot

I do have shares in a couple of race horses and it would be great one day to see them race at one of the big events like Royal Ascot. One of the best things about it when everything is normal for me is when at the end of racing everyone gathers around the bandstand for a huge sing-a-along. It is very British and there is lots of flag waving. I find a glass of Pimm’s is the perfect accompaniment to these proceedings.

Band Stand

A group of my mates try to do an annual trip to Ascot for one of their October meetings. Obviously it was on hold last year. But it would be nice if we get to go this year. Fingers crossed we might, but unless you have a crystal ball it is very difficult to be completely sure what will be happening by then. I have not really seen any of them for the whole year and an half so what better place to meet up than there?

Ascot October 2019

The Euro 2020 football tournament is underway albeit a year late. England started with a great win against Croatia. The first time we have ever won an opening group game in the competition. Scotland were beaten two nil by Czech Republic in their opening game. Then last night England and Scotland played out a goalless draw. I thought Scotland were the better side on the night. Look England will still get through and a win in the last game means we will win the league. But the performance did not fill me with confidence. Wales have got four points from their first two games, so are in a similar position to us.

I have been watching all the England games and the odd match here and there. The teams that you would expect to be in the mix towards the end mostly seem to have got off to good start. England have the potential to be able to play all of their games at Wembley depending on where they finish in the group stage. Add to that the fact that the semi-finals and finals are both at the home of football. You have to think that if we could get to that stage it would help our chances. But it is too early to dream of that just yet. That old cliche’ still holds true I feel “let us just take one game at a time”.

Neil Quigley

A quick reminder that you can listen to me every Saturday afternoon between 2pm – 4pm on Radio Ninesprings https://www.radioninesprings.co.uk/

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Have fun and we will catch up again soon. Stay safe! Cheers Neil.

The One Where I went to the Zoo

Depending on what happens between now and then we are possibly just over two weeks away from the United Kingdom taking the next step along the roadmap. I am not totally sure how I feel about that if I am honest. I obviously would like things to return to as near normal as soon as they can but we have all made quite a lot of sacrifices over the last six months. I would like to make sure everything is all under control before we take the brakes fully off.

I have been closely following the science, the latest figures and the rules. Things do look in a much better place at the minute but as we have seen in other parts of the world that can change quickly. It does seem that the vaccination programme is having the desired effect. I have had both of my injections. It just makes sense to help to protect yourself and those around you. I take regular Covid tests so I know I do not have the virus when I am meeting up with family and friends.

It has of course been a testing time but we can do so much more now than we could even a month ago. This thing is not suddenly going to disappear sadly but as long as it can be managed so the NHS is not so overwhelmed and fewer people are dying from it. Then it will just be like living with the normal flu. I have been having my jab for that for the last fifteen years, which is why the latest vaccination for me just seems like almost normal practice. The weather has improved and so has our ability to socialise and interact with people.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I am starting to venture out a bit more again now to I will be honest mainly outdoor events and attractions. The first of these was the other week when I went to see a showing of the original Star Wars film at a “Drive In” movie held in the grounds of Knebworth House. It was the second time my girlfriend and I had been to one of these here. The first one was Back to Future last summer. I am still not sure if I am a fan of this way of watching a film or not. But as a massive fan of Star Wars I was not going to the miss the opportunity to see this masterpiece on a big screen!

Drive In

I have seen all of the episodes of these films several times. There is no other film franchise that I have watched as many times. As I am sure you can imagine I was extremely excited to watch one of my favourite movies in the dark in our own private booth or to put it another way the car. When you arrive they give you a speaker to put in the motor that is tuned to the channel the film audio will be on. Then they show you to your parking spot. We got there nice and early so that we got a good space. Like the actual cinema you can get food and drink. Just to prove how rock and roll I am I had a cup of tea.

Star Wars Exhibition
Star Wars Exhibition

When I discovered we were going to this I told Lynda that I would be wearing my Star Wars T-shirt and bringing my Lightsaber. I am not sure if she thought I was joking but that is exactly what I did. I really enjoyed it, it is still brilliant. Hopefully I was not too annoying when occasionally saying the lines along with the characters. This was the first time I had seen the new director’s cut where George Lucas has added in some new bits including Han Solo meeting Jabba the Hut in person, which I did not think added anything to the story. I thought it was more fun to see him for the first time in Return of The Jedi.

Neil Quigley

The thing I like about all of the Star War’s films is that there is so much going on in every scene, it has a nice gentle humour running through it and thanks to the music of John Williams it is instantly obvious who are the good guys and who the bad guys are! I am even happy to concede that the plot of all of them is more or less the same but I see that as a plus point rather than a negative. It shows that the struggle in life is real and often repetitive and people often make the same mistakes over and over again. It was a top night out watching a classic. I always get emotional when Han and Chewbacca reappear to complete the mission and always cheer when Luke destroys the Death Star!

Star Wars Exhibition
Star Wars Exhibition

The first Saturday after the last set of rules were relaxed. It was my girlfriend’s Mum’s birthday so she held a barbeque in the garden for her. It was at the point just before the weather started to improve. There were only six of us in total but we all sat outside in our coats and jumpers using the parasol on the table to keep the occasional light rain showers off us. At one point Lynda did find herself under an umbrella while cooking. That made it feel like a proper English event to be fair.

That was my fist barbeque of the year and the first since my Coeliac diagnosis. She very kindly had got gluten free burgers and sausages so I could have them, but it is the first such occasion I have been to where there were a few things that I could not eat. That is of course perfectly fine, however as somebody who used to eat and like trying everything it was a bit weird. It is just something I need to get used to and will always generally have to bring my own “special” food and beer to these gatherings in the future.

We had a great time just sitting around drinking, eating and chatting. It was nice to be around people and hear laughter again. It felt good. The time flew by and it was gone eight o’clock before we realised it. Human beings are basically pack animals so we like being in groups and seeing each other’s faces and reactions. We have all been a bit starved of this during the last fifteen months now. I do feel like I am catching up on lost time so plan to get to as many barbeques as I can this year to make up for it.

Neil Quigley

Last Saturday Lynda and I went to Whipsnade Zoo. I had not been there for a couple of years. It is mostly outside and always a nice way of spending some time. Therefore it seemed like a good location to reacclimatise to being around random people again. When we got there the car park seemed very busy which did unsettle me a little bit. Then as you would expect the walk way and the entrance were quite crowded but we had our masks on as requested anywhere inside. We sorted out our tickets and went in.

Neil Quigley

It was still quite crowded at this point but everybody is outside and generally not that close to each other. Once we had been there a while it was then easier to pick ourselves a route round to see the animals where there were not too many people. There is plenty of space there to keep in your own groups. We managed to find some of the Rhinos out in their field. Every time I tried to take a picture of them they tended to face away from me, which became a running theme with my photography throughout our visit.

Rhinos

Next we spotted one sleeping Tiger in his enclosure. They really are just like house cats in that they sleep all day and just ignore you. It was then off to the Elephant house to see a selection of them and to enjoy their rather distinctive smell. We then ticked off the Camels, Wilder Beasts and the Flamingos. I remembered those pink birds being bigger and was actually surprised by how small they were. I then took my best picture of the day when I actually managed to get two Giraffes looking at the camera.

Giraffes

We were at the Zoo for about three hours and also saw a Bear, a Wolverine (who looked nothing like Hugh Jackman) but who was deceptively fast and two Otters fighting over a pair of children’s pink sunglasses. Somehow while they were fighting one of them actually flicked them on their face and they were wearing them for about ten seconds but we could not get a picture quick enough. Lastly we saw the Lions. We had to come back to them as there was a queue to get into their viewing area and I refuse to queue for anything!

Anyway predictably when we did get to see them they were all lying down. Then one of them started roaring. A loud and terrifying noise when you are looking right at it. She did this for about five minutes before getting up and walking inside. I imagine saying “that is your lot; you have had the show, now go away”. While we were at the Lions Lynda managed to get a picture of one of them pulling such a good face I will be using it to reply to certain social media comments for at least the next year. It was a lovely afternoon out, helped by the sunshine. You cannot beat a nice Zoo visit.

Lion

I did go to another barbeque on Bank Holiday Monday. See I told you I was going to go to loads of them this year. It was a party for Lynda’s cousin this time, she was celebrating her birthday. It was a Mexican themed do so we turned up wearing giant Sombreros. This was as it turns out a useful headwear selection for someone who has no hair on his head, while he is sitting out in glorious sunshine. The chef at this one very kindly cooked me my own special gluten free meat and I of course brought my own drink with me.

It was a fun afternoon chatting, eating and drinking in the sun. Three of my favourite things while enjoying my preferred weather option. To keep with the theme there was a Pinata. The birthday girl got to play with that if that is the right word. I thought basically you had to destroy them with a stick, but this one had more of a school summer fete appeal to it as you had to pull ribbons from the bottom of it but only one of them would release the trap door and the sweets inside. The only disappointment was that I did not get chance to have a go at it.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I have watched the Friends Reunion. Like everyone in my age group I went through a stage of being a massive fan of the show. I think that I have seen almost every single episode. I have always followed the cast since it ended to see what they have been up to. I even went and watched the play Matthew Perry wrote and starred in when it came to London. A few years ago I went to Friends Fest in Milton Keynes. That was good and I got some brilliant pictures from it.

The End Of Longing
The End Of Longing

I enjoyed the special it was clever how it started with them one by one returning to the set as we later discovered in the order that they were cast. I learnt a few little behind the scenes things that I did not know. It was nice to see them all back together. They clearly do have a special bond and connection having been through what they all went through together. When the programme suddenly took off it does sound like it really was a roller coaster ride.

It was also nice to hear from the writers and how they decided to pursue the Monica and Chandler relationship after the reaction it got from the studio audience. When they got together for what at the time was meant to be just a one off. Until they realised what the public wanted was for them to get together. There were some pretty decent guest appearances to including Lady Gaga appearing to do a duet of Smelly Cat with Phoebe.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

They all seemed to find it quite emotional looking back on it all. They were basically all unknowns when it launched, now they are all big stars. It was a fun and easy watch. Did we learn anything ground breaking not really however it was certainly a decent tribute to an extremely well put together television comedy!

It has aged and bits of it are of course a bit dated now but there are some great lines and situations in it as there are in all comedy classics. I personally think they are right not to make any new episodes and just leave it there frozen in time for us to enjoy re-watching when we need a laugh.

Neil Quigley

The Premier League football season ended then with Spurs beating Leicester City. It was probably the most animated that I had been watching a game all season. There was not much riding on it except for one thing which was the chance to finish above Arsenal. Overall the season has been disappointing but to fall below them on the last day would have been hard to take.

Luckily we won the game despite still not being totally at our best and with a great late swansong from Gareth Bale. We have qualified for the Europa Conference league but I will be honest I am not sure exactly what it is or why it has been created.

Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur

Domestic football is finished for the summer so I am now all about the National Team. The Euro 2020 Championships start a year late this Friday. The tournament is being played all over Europe for the first time rather than all in just one country. That was the plan before Covid became a thing as it happens. That means England will get to play all of their group stage matches at Wembley. It will also be the venue for the semi-finals and final of the competition. That hopefully should give us an advantage as it almost did back in 1996.

I will be watching all the games and supporting the team. I like Gareth Southgate. I used to see him around quite a lot when I was at Wembley and he was always very personable. I wish him all the best. The squad selection is a bit of a surprise with a lot being made of the four right backs but they can all play in different positions. For me the bigger surprise is the lack of experienced midfielders, great to give youth a chance but I wonder if he could have used a spot for a player with more tournament game time. That said I am fully behind the manager and the squad. Fingers crossed for a good showing and some much needed excitement. Come on England!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

A quick reminder that you can listen to me every Saturday afternoon between 2pm – 4pm on Radio Ninesprings https://www.radioninesprings.co.uk/

Neil Quigley

Have fun and we will catch up again soon. Stay safe! Cheers Neil.

Ear We Go

We have arrived at the next point on the roadmap then and the rules have again been relaxed in regards to who we can see and the places we can go. Everything seems to either be a roadmap or a traffic light as the United Kingdom starts to reopen after the latest and possibly longest of the three lockdowns. As I generally live in my own world anyway I have not actually found it that tough, I appreciate I am very lucky in that respect. It has been an opportunity to reflect on things and think about what I want to achieve moving forward. Happily it is still world domination!

I am taking the approach of easing myself back into things gently and I have not been to any hospitality style venues as yet. I am planning to catch up with some friends soon most likely at one of our houses. Part of that is I am actually quite busy at the minute and have a set routine that no longer has any pub time built in. I think it is fair for people to start going out and doing things in their own time when they feel comfortable doing so. If you want to take advantage of the new freedom now great, if not no drama, return to it when you feel you are ready to.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I have actually ordered one of the Lateral Flow Covid Test kits. They are free and you test yourself twice a week to make sure you are not carrying the virus even if you do not have any of the symptoms. As I am going to be coming into contact with more people it makes sense to me anyway to be able to protect the people close to me and give myself and them peace of mind when I see them. One thing I will say though is that every time you take the test it is still an ordeal. It does not get any easier or less intrusive the more you do it. But I still think it is worth it personally.

I had my second Covid Vaccination about a week ago now. I am team Astra Zeneca. I had no real side effects other than a bit of a sore arm for a day where the needle went in and I did feel slightly more tired than normal for a couple of days, a small price to pay for something that should give you protection from a virus that could kill you. I am an asthmatic and have Coeliac Disease that puts me in the high risk category, which is why I got both my jabs so soon. I am not as old as you think I am. Tony Hadley also had his second jab at the same place as me on the same day. It was quite the showbiz day down there by all accounts.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I have had a bit of a health related service over the last couple of weeks. As well as becoming fully vaccinated against Covid I had a hospital appointment to have my ears looked at. I have this issue with them which means they get quite clogged up on a regular basis. Normally I have this simple procedure every six months but due the pandemic I had two appointments cancelled meaning it was nearly eighteen months since they had been dealt with.

The build up means I have trouble hearing so I either cannot hear people so they think I am ignoring them or my television is so loud it makes the whole of the house shake. It does sometimes cause a bit of Tinnitus for a short period of time to. The way it is dealt with is by using a tiny vacuum cleaner device that sucks all the debris out. It has a little camera on the end, which is attached to a big screen so the nurse can see where she is working. As I am squeamish I do not watch it as I am happy to rely on the health professional’s skill in this area.

It does make a huge difference when I have it done. I can hear so much more clearly and it does improve my balance, which also sufferers with the more stuffed up my ears get. It looks like they are back on track with this service so I will not have to wait so long next time thankfully. I have been having this done regularly now for the last five years. It is actually quite relaxing when it is being done. It does make a bit of a buzzing noise so it does feel a little bit like there is a friendly Bee in your ear. I can confirm though the ears are once again in tip top condition. (Who said that?)

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

The next part of my body to be looked at was my teeth. I was very overdue a check up and luckily my Dentist had started doing them again. I managed to book an appointment but the way it was done was obviously a bit different this time. The form that you usually fill out in the reception area needed to be completed online prior to my arrival. Then when I was outside the surgery I had to sign in online and wait across the street to be called in when they were ready for me, while trying not to look too suspicious. I wish I had dressed as a spy with a big brown jacket and dark glasses but sadly I didn’t.

After a short wait a hand appeared round the door and welcomed me in. I had to go straight into the dentist’s chair. It was weirdly nice to see her again and have a chat. My teeth were fine no need for any fillings or worse, which is always good. She did take some X-rays which were more uncomfortable than I remember. The only issue I have is receding gums I presume they must share the same genes as my hair. There is not much that can be done for them other than me not trying to brush so hard. That feels like it goes against everything that I was a taught as a kid. It was the final part of my body MOT although I have a feeling my eyes will need looking at again soon.

Neil Quigley

The other weekend I watched yet another film. That has been one of the big things for me during this last year. I think I have seen more films during the last twelve months than I have in the last ten years. The latest one was a continuation of my mission to catch up with the back catalogue of Quentin Tarantino. I seem to get on alright with his movies. I think he might have an attention span as bad as mine by the way his films tend to jump around a bit. As well as tell the story of about four different characters. Then of course there are the set pieces he does and the often quotable lines that they include.

My girlfriend and I watched “Inglourious Basterds”. It was originally released in 2009 so I am still a bit behind with the latest releases. It stars Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz and Diane Kruger. It is set during the Second World War and it is pretty gory so I spent a lot of it with my hands over my face or looking away from the screen. There are elements of truth about it combined with complete fantasy brutal in places but still gripping and exciting. It maintained my interest all the way through, which is no mean feat! I enjoyed it, if that is the right word for a film about this subject. It was thought provoking and a sad reminder of what humans are capable of doing to each other.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I have mentioned before that I have had some involvement in quiz show development for television. Some of which have made it on to our screens and many of which sadly have not. It is tough trying to basically find new ways of reinventing the wheel as a quiz where you ask questions is pretty much the same however you dress it up with quirks. Recently I watched a bit of the new Channel 4 quiz show with Tom Allen called “Quizness”. Firstly I feel I need to say that I like Tom and think he is great but the actual idea behind the programme was not for me. I found it tough to get in to.

I am a big quiz fan and enjoy answering the questions while playing along at home. I sadly lost interest in this one during the first round. It might be quite a fun quiz to play but it is really hard and confusing to watch in my opinion. Many people will like it and that is fine and good. I happen not to which is also fine. We cannot all like the same things and we are all entitled to our own opinions. But this one was not really for me!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I had a Zoom chat recently with one of the producers of a potential new television show. They are looking to film a pilot episode of it and wanted to see if I might like to be involved. It seems like a fun idea so I said I would be happy go along and take part. I cannot say any more about it at this stage as it is still in the development process but they explained the concept to me and I think it could well have a place on one of the big main TV channels. I am still waiting for confirmation of the filming date but I will let you know more when I am able to.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

The Premier League football season ends tomorrow. It has obviously been a strange competition this year. Only a handful of games have had any fans in attendance with most of the matches having been played behind closed doors. Manchester City I think fully deserved the title. They have been the best team by a mile. It has been an odd season for my team Tottenham Hotspur.

Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur

We started off really well with some great results and playing attacking football. We were at the top of the league in December. Then we started dropping points and playing a more defensive style of football. We went out of the Europa League and dropped away from the top four. At which point we sacked our manager Jose Mourinho. We then lost the League Cup final to Manchester City.

We really flattered to deceive I feel. Even though a lot of Spurs fans seem to disagree I think we have a very strong squad. One that I felt should have been strong enough to claim a Champions League place. The issues were I think behind the scenes and for whatever reason the manager was not getting the best out of everyone. It looks as if Harry Kane will still finish as the League’s top scorer which is a great achievement for a fantastic player playing in a very inconsistent side.

There have been some reports this week that Harry wants to leave the club at the end of the season. If there is some truth in this I must say I cannot really blame him. He is in his prime and wants to be able to compete for silverware. No Spurs fan would begrudge him that. I mean he has been a great servant to us. However he does seem like an actual fan of the club. He could possibly become the clubs all time top scorer in the next three seasons. I wonder if he might be with us still in August. I hope so but will understand if he is not.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I have renewed my season ticket for next season. Obviously I do not know if that means I will be able to go to every home game. That will depend on any capacity restrictions that might be in place still. One thing I do know is that I will go there and support which ever eleven players have been selected to play, the same way I always have done in the past. Win, lose or draw as long as they have tried their best and worked hard during the match I will clap them off the pitch.

A lot of supporters seem to think their side should win every game and the players should be perfect every week. They are human and this is the real world so that is not possible. The expectations that some fans seem to have now are unbelievable and will only lead to them being upset and disappointed. Live for the moment, believe in the players and the club, enjoy the good times and deal with the bad times. I will be as optimistic as ever that we will win something next year. Come on you Spurs!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

It was the final edition of “Quigger’s Plays Pop” last Tuesday night. The forty-fourth episode of my little online Pop Quiz that I started during the first lockdown as a bit of fun to try to entertain and cheer people up. It then returned for lockdown two for a few weeks before I brought it back one more time for the latest and longest lockdown. Ten months of music based fun can still be found on my Facebook page.

It was great fun but I am pleased it has come to an end as that means people can go out and socialise with real people once again. When the country fully reopens properly I do plan on hiring a venue and doing an actual real life version of it. Where I can do the quiz and then we can all have a drink together afterwards. Here is the final Quigger’s Plays Pop in case you missed it. https://www.facebook.com/796795590/videos/10165049508260591/

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley


A quick reminder that you can listen to me every Saturday afternoon between 2pm – 4pm on Radio Ninesprings https://www.radioninesprings.co.uk/

Neil Quigley Presenter
Neil Quigley Presenter

Have fun and we will catch up again soon. Stay safe! Cheers Neil.

May Be Getting Better

We are just over two weeks away from the next potential easing of restrictions; I have still only taken a slight advantage of the previous relaxation of the rules so far. I am perfectly happy to slowly return to doing things when they become more accessible and less controlled. The situation in the United Kingdom appears to be improving nicely as all the key numbers have dropped significantly during this latest lockdown. The vaccination programme so far seems to be delivering excellent results in our fight against this horrible virus.

It is impressive how many people have received the injection. Both my sister and girlfriend have now had their first jab, which is great. I am expecting my second one by the end of this month. The big test will be of course when we all start mixing inside once again. There have been some test events to decide the best way of achieving this and work out the risks. If everybody is honest and considerate with each other by isolating with any symptoms then taking a test when it is required, we can keep it under control, which has always been the aim of the game.

I am optimistic that we can still have a great summer within Britain. Personally I am looking forward to a lot of barbeques to see family and friends. The situation in some other countries is still a little bit of a concern as regards to new variants appearing, which could hinder the progress that we have made. That will make travel overseas a potential risk but if people are careful and follow any quarantine rules, hopefully it will all be fine. Meaning we can look ahead to a more normal winter this year. I still think the key is to concentrate on what we can do rather on what we cannot.

Neil Quigley

I must confess just for ease I have been avoiding shops for most of the last twelve months and buying pretty much everything online. The other week I just needed a couple of extra things for the Bank Holiday Weekend so I ventured out to one of my local Supermarkets. I only needed four items so I grabbed them very quickly. There were only two tills open and I always pick the wrong one, which was the case once again.

One of the cashiers had a problem with her till and the manager was there looking at it, so I joined the other queue behind a gentlemen who was doing his weekly shop and had a trolley full. I was minding my own business while socially distanced from him patiently waiting for him to finish. Then all of a sudden I got splashed in the face and head with something. I looked up to see the cashier had dropped a can of lager and it had exploded everywhere! I laughed and shook my head then realised she was completely soaked.

Therefore she had to mop herself up then wipe down every single item he had bought which had also been covered. The till next door had been fixed and two more customers served before it was at last my turn to pay. To add insult to injury from this issue the lager was not even gluten free so I could not even lick my lips. Mind you luckily for me when it landed on me I had my mouth shut for a change!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I have just got a new mobile phone this week. I have been with O2 for over twenty years mainly because it feels like it would be a pain to change provider and they have never done anything to annoy me. Out of the blue I got a call from a member of their loyalty team who said they were rewarding me for my long term commitment to them with a special deal on a new phone and contract. Owing to last year’s iPad incident where I accidentally cancelled my phone contract and had to buy a sim only deal to get myself back in the telephone game, I thought I would just buy my next phone outright.

I was thinking about looking for a new phone when the guy rang me, how do they do these things, have they got a sixth sense, or am I that predictable? Anyway he was really nice, helpful and friendly. I had a very long chat with him. In the end he did offer me a decent deal on a new mobile contract which included a brand new phone with a very reasonable discount on it. It was the first time as a loyal customer of that company that they had ever called with such an offer. Therefore I took the deal and the new handset arrived a few days later. As I use the brand of phone that pretty much self-destructs after two years, I did need to get a new one!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

My girlfriend and I had a couple of nights away just prior to the last Bank Holiday Weekend. We booked an Airbnb Shepherds Hut just outside Trowbridge. It was a very cosy straightforward little place. That was basically situated at the bottom of a vegetable garden at the back of a row of cottages. It was nicely furnished and heated by a log burner. I was briefly in the Cubs but never became a Scout. I put myself in charge of keeping the fire burning. You would not believe the pride and satisfaction I felt when I managed to get it going from scratch on day two. I just sat there staring at the flame smiling at my excellent work.

The Rumple Hut

There was one other thing that attracted us to this place for a little two night break and that was it came with a log fired hot tub. The hosts were great and very kindly made sure it was heated up so we could use it both the days we were there. We did not get there until after seven on the first night, so by the time we had eaten we did not venture outside to the hot tub until after nine. It was nicely lit and so peaceful. It was a bit chilly getting in and out of it at that time but we offset that issue by enjoying a couple of glasses of Champagne while we were in there.

Neil Quigley

We then enjoyed another outside soak the following afternoon once again accompanied by some fizz. It is so relaxing and invigorating to be at one with nature, while in the bath. The Rumple Hut to give it its rightful name also had a projector. On our final evening we set it up and using my girlfriend’s lap top we watched Star Wars “The Rise of Skywalker”, the final instalment in the epic series of movies. I am a huge fan of the franchise, so had already seen it the day that it came out in the cinema. She had only seen the first three original films but agreed to give the last one a go.

We set it up on one of the big white walls of the hut and I must say it looked and sounded really good. I enjoyed seeing the movie again. I do not watch that many films but I can happily watch any of the Star Wars films over and over again. There are some nice twists and turns as it wraps things up and tries to answer all the outstanding issues from the whole of the story, which is no mean feat. Plus it is great albeit very briefly to see nearly all of the main original characters make at least a small appearance in it. It was a cool way to spend our final night in the Wiltshire countryside before we headed home.

Star Wars Exhibition
Star Wars Exhibition

It was of course May the Fourth Star Wars Day in the week. As a fan I do always celebrate and mark this occasion. I currently own a Star Wars T-shirt and a child’s Lightsaber. I used to have a big box of the original Star Wars figures and toys including the Millennium Falcon. I sold it all at a car boot sale about a year before they made the first of the final three films, which I will admit with hindsight, was very bad timing. I went to a Star Wars Exhibition at the O2 Arena about five years ago, which was brilliant. May the force be with you!

Star Wars Exhibition
Star Wars Exhibition

I had a great Bank Holiday Weekend relaxing while having a few drinks and enjoying some delicious gluten free food. As ever I was spoilt. We had two nights of steak firstly with potato salad then with pesto pasta the next night. A lovely prawn risotto dish with a bit of a homemade Chinese feast to round things off on the Sunday. All of this food was of course made by Lynda, who is an excellent cook. But I did contribute towards the pudding. I made a banana with whipped cream topped with hundreds and thousands. Do not knock it until you have tried it, tasted great I will have you know.

Neil Quigley

We also watched the most recent Russell Howard Netflix special called Recalibrate. I really like him and have seen him live quite a few times. In fact I saw him do a very early small work in progress gig for this very show at the brilliant Bill Murray Pub in Islington. From that I could tell that this was a much more angry and frustrated Russell than normal. That was clearly how he needed to pitch this show to make it work. The finished performance was hilarious there is one bit where he talks about what his Nan said at his Grandads funeral that made me cry with laughter. Well worth seeing if you simply need a good old fashioned laugh and we all need that sometimes.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I have just about recovered from the disappointment of Spurs losing the Carabao Cup Final at Wembley to Manchester City. They are a brilliant side, but I do not think we really went for it enough, we sat back a lot, when I would have liked to see us attack a bit more. That said it is no disgrace to lose to them. Since that defeat we bounced back beating Sheffield United four nil with Gareth Bale scoring a hat-trick. We started that game with the closest to the team I would like to have seen start for the last four months.

We still have no idea who our manager will be next season. All of the ones I really want already have jobs that I suspect they will not be leaving to come to us. Ryan Mason is doing a great job under the circumstances. We have just four games remaining starting with a trip to Leeds United today. Even if we win all of these matches there is only a very slim chance that we will qualify for the Champions League. If we fail to achieve that then it will be harder to attract new players and tougher to keep the players we have. I think depending on how the season pans out there could be quite a lot of changes at the club during the summer.

Neil Quigley

My weekly Pop Quiz has celebrated its first birthday. I marked the big occasion by presenting a special hour long version of it. I just added a few extra rounds some of which were there when it all began during lockdown one last April. I have had a lot of fun doing the quiz and trying to keep people entertained and amused when they were unable to leave their house or socialise with other people.

It has given me chance to chat and catch up with a few people which has been great. I have decided though as things will open up further in a few weeks I am going to do the final one of Tuesday 18th May. That means there are just two weeks left for you to get involved. Here is a link to the anniversary edition of “Quigger’s Play Pop” in case you missed it. https://www.facebook.com/796795590/videos/10164966924145591/

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

A quick reminder that you can listen to me every Saturday afternoon between 2pm – 4pm on Radio Ninesprings https://www.radioninesprings.co.uk/

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Have fun and we will catch up again soon. Stay safe! Cheers Neil.

Neil Quigley Presenter