Entertainment Connoisseur

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been predictably very busy but lots of fun. Two weeks ago today. My dad and I attended a Wine Tasting in London. It was a gift that I had bought him for Fathers Day. That just happened to be an experience for two. So therefore I joined him for it. Solely to aid his fun and enjoyment, of course.

It was run by the company Wine Cottage. Who supply a lot of the big London hotels and restaurants with all their exclusive wines. It was held at the luxurious Number 8 Northumberland Avenue. Which is a pretty classy venue, to say the least. We got there a little early, so we treated ourselves to a little drink in the bar. To get us warmed up for the main event. Like the total professionals that we are.

When it is time to get things underway. You are shown in to a stylish function room. Where you are welcomed at the door by the person hosting things. Who then shows you to your seat’s. There are several round tables of eight laid out. Already set at each place is a selection of glasses, cheeses and chocolates. Ready for the tasting. We were sat with two lovely married couples and two friends. We all had a nice chat before and after the event and also during any gaps in the proceedings.

Red Red Wine
Red Red Wine

It is all presented by Kam Zadeh. Who is the Managing Director and Wine Adviser of Wine Cottage. He was fantastic.  And gave basically a beginners guide to all the things you need to know about wine. And the wine making process in general. I found it really interesting. Plus I actually learnt quite a lot. His assistant then goes around and pours the drinks. While he is talking to the group. You get to try six drinks. A champagne, two white wines and three red wines. Each one has either an accompanying cheese or a chocolate to enjoy with it.

My dad and I both thoroughly enjoyed the couple of hours. That it lasted. All the wines and food were great. We met some top people. And I know a lot more about wine, than I did when I walked into that room. They even present you with a little certificate. To prove that you have attended. Sadly I am not quite a wine  connoisseur but I can assure you I only drink the right amount of red wine for a gentlemen.

Wine Certificate
Wine Certificate

I went along to see The Simon and Garfunkel Story at the Vaudeville Theatre in London. I am like pretty much the rest of the planet. A big fan of their music. The red wine there was perfectly acceptable by the way. And I did have to have two glasses of it. Just to make sure. The show was exactly as you would expect from the title. There was a full band on stage. Then the  two main performers. Sam O’ Hanlon who is Paul Simon and Charles Blyth who is Art Garfunkel then take centre stage.

It is more of a music tribute show than anything else. The cast take you through all of the duos classic back catalogue of songs. While using the video screens on stage and narration in between to tell their musical story. So unlike for example Buddy (The Buddy Holly Musical) it is not a play about their lives. It is just a fitting tribute to their music with a nod to both their personal and their professional relationship.

The cast are great. The two leads look and when they are singing sound like who they are supposed to be. It is all nicely presented. In a chronological order. Which leads you through all the aspects of their career.  Therefore if you are a fan of Simon and Garfunkel and their music. Then this show is definitely worth seeing.

The Simon & Garfunkel Story
The Simon & Garfunkel Story

I recently paid my first visit to the Waterloo East Theatre in London. To see a former colleague of mine from Wembley Stadium appear in the play called The Greater Game.

It is a true story about a group of footballers from Leyton Orient. Who all went and fought in the First World War together. And all ended up being involved in the Battle of the Somme.

Waterloo East Theatre
Waterloo East Theatre

It focuses on the then League club’s first team. Who all signed up together to help the country’s war effort. As you can imagine the whole thing is an emotional roller coaster. We follow them from the dressing room banter at home to their experiences on the front line at one of the bloodiest battles on record.

It really does bring home to you the helplessness and huge cost of wars. Both to the people who were doing the fighting and those who were left at home. It is I suppose quite laddish in many ways due to the football element. But so poignant and thought provoking at the same time. Especially when you remember all the characters in this piece are real people.

The cast are all excellent. As well as my mate Jack Harding, who I thought was fantastic. It also features Michael Greco, probably still best known for playing Beppe Di Marco in Eastenders. And James Phelps, who was in the Harry Potter films. The entire recent run of this play sold out, so I was very lucky to get a ticket. If it does return to the stage. I would certainly recommend that you do go and see it.

Jack Harding and Neil Quigley
Jack Harding and Neil Quigley

I am hoping this does not shatter too many illusions. But sometimes even during live television shows. Some sections will be recorded in advance. This can be for a number of different reasons. If you were watching Children In Need this year. You might have seen Sheridan Smith singing her latest single on it.

That performance was actually recorded the day before the event. In the Children In Need studio at Elstree. And I was lucky enough to be there, when it was. I have been a fan of her work for quite a while. In fact I did try to see her when she was starring in the musical Funny Girl in the West End. But she was not performing on the night. That I managed to get a ticket.

Funny Girl
Funny Girl

Seeing her live has been on my to do list for a while. It was great to finally see her in person. A group of us filled the front of the studio by the stage. She came on with her band. And then performed the song twice. Accompanied by the audience clapping and dancing around each time. When the director and producer were happy with what they had. She then left the studio, as did we.

Then on the night that was inserted in to the programme. If you did not know, you would not realise that she was not there on the night. Well unless you spotted me on camera dancing. As I was no where near the place on the actual night. It was lovely to see her looking and sounding so good. After her recent and well documented issues. But she is back with a new album. In a good place in her personal life now. And I suspect ready to come back and win more awards.

Children in Need itself was another huge success this year. Since it started it has now raised over one billion pounds for charity. Which is an amazing achievement. As ever there were some excellent and unusual collaborations. The team behind it have done another top job once again. Yet they still do not appear to have raised enough to get Pudsey’s eye fixed.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I managed to get myself along to a small and exclusive gig recently. Russell Brand this week has been performing a three show run of a new theatre show at The Old Vic in Bristol called “Russell Brand My Life by William Shakespeare”. The Friday before that very first show. The comedian decided to do a full rehearsal of the “play” at a secret venue in High Wycombe.

The day before this was due to happen I got hold of a ticket for it. There were about forty of us in this relatively small room. When the unmistakable figure of the actor and presenter walked in. It was a pretty informal affair. He had a chat to us all. Before explaining what he was doing. And a little bit about the show we were going to see.

He is naturally very funny, extremely cheeky and to be honest very self deprecating. The show is simply him telling his life story. Then linking each major part to a speech from a Shakespeare play. It is all very honest and upfront about the problems he has faced. And how he has dealt with them. The explanations he gives are of course very funny. Then he pauses to perform each one of these classic pieces of English literature, perfectly, with such poise and meaning.

It is worth seeing just for the way he performs these segments. He totally immerses himself in them and that really shows. He is such a good orator. And When he speaks he is mesmerising and some what hypnotic. You just cannot take your eyes off him. He does have a real presence about him. The whole show just works perfectly. And for me because he is such a great wordsmith the Shakespeare parts do fit in so naturally.

It went down a storm with forty odd people on a Friday afternoon in High Wycombe, so I suspect when he performed this in that theatre in Bristol. He probably took the roof off the place. At the end I did manage to grab a quick chat and a picture with him. He was great, such a nice friendly and welcoming person. I suspect this show may be back for more performances at some point in the not to distant future.

Neil Quigley & Russell Brand
Neil Quigley & Russell Brand

I was at Wembley for the last two England games. Therefore I got to say farewell and thank you to our record goal scorer Wayne Rooney during the game against USA. I was also at the game when he passed Bobby Charlton’s goals tally.

I was sitting behind the goal in to which he scored the penalty. To claim the title. He came on as sub against America and did not look out of place at all. That said it was good on the night to see a few new young England players making their debuts. We scored three good goals. It was a decent win.

Wayne Rooney
Wayne Rooney

This was actually my first time sampling an International game in the Club Wembley area. I really liked it. Before and after the game there are a couple of nice bars. Where you can get some drinks and food. While also enjoying some live music. Plus you do get a padded seat to sit on while watching the match. The bars are open for an hour after the final whistle. Which means you can relax in comfort as the crowds and queues to get home disappear.

I was back at the National Stadium again in Club Wembley, just a few days later. To watch England progress to the semi-finals of the UEFA  Nations League. After an exciting two-one victory over Croatia with a certain Harry Kane getting the winner with five minutes to go. It was a good afternoon. The atmosphere at the end of the match with Three Lions blasting out was brilliant.

England V Croatia
England V Croatia

I had a nice day out and catch up with my good friend Andy Holmes in London last weekend. In almost a very elaborate remake of the West Wing. We went on a sight seeing walk. While having a good old chat about everything and anything. We walked from Westminster to Marylebone via Buckingham Palace, Downing Street, The Globe theatre, Fleet Street and Leicester Square.

On our travels we managed to clock up a rather impressive fourteen kilometres. Powered only by a Subway and a cuppa. Until just before catching the train home. We had a nice meal in Zizzi’s, just off Baker Street. It was a relaxing afternoon. I like strolling around the capital because there is so much to look at. You do not realise how far it is that you are actually travelling.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

Simply The Best

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been busy and fun. I have to admit I have never really been in to Halloween. Even as a child I never dressed up or went trick or treating. It does not interest me in the slightest. And it never has. May be because I do not believe in ghosts or have never watched any horror films.

Every year I try to avoid it completely. By always going out for a meal at a local pub with the family. I am happy for others to enjoy it. But it is just not for me. It was a nice evening. It is good to actually sit down and eat together round a table. And talk to each other. Which you do not really do, if you meet up in a house. In the same way.

We went along to the Red Lion in Longwick. As it happened my dad’s cousin was doing the cooking. So it was nice to see him to. We went for a main and a pudding. As all of us have a very sweet tooth. I had a pint of the local Chiltern Brewery Ale. Which went down very well with my meal. By the time I arrived home all signs of Halloween had  disappeared. Therefore as far as I was concerned. It was yet another very successful night.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I did not end up going to any firework nights this year either. In the past working in radio. I have ended up attending, working and also organising a lot of them.

I have had some great times doing that. It was always hard work but lots of fun on the actual night. Plus there is something pleasing about leading the countdown to the start of the display. Which were mostly set to music and always spectacular.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley point’s the way on stage at the Mix 96 Fireworks.

Personally I prefer going to a big organised event, if I can. Although I think the really big displays seem to be in decline nowadays. When I was younger. I remember going to a few little family displays at my Nan and Gramps. With lots of my cousins there. The ladies would be in the kitchen making soup and Jacket Potatoes. And the men would be up the garden. Helping my Gramp set off the cheap rockets and traffic lights. That we had clubbed together to buy. And stored in a old biscuit tin.

I would normally just watch through the window or if I was feeling slightly braver from the door way. When I was a child. I was a bit scared of fireworks. I liked the pretty colours, just not the big bangs. I do remember once a rocket slightly misfired and a spark from it somehow managed to find its way into my Mum’s trainer. Which gave her a little burn. And did not help to ease my concerns about these multicoloured explosives.

I do enjoy going to displays and watching the fireworks. But then again if I do not go to any, like this year. I am perfectly fine with that to. The best display now seems to be in London on New Years Eve anyway. A couple of years ago I got to witness the whole thing. While I was standing on the roof of Broadcasting House. Which I must say was a brilliant and yet slightly surreal moment.

New Years Eve
New Years Eve

Last Thursday I took my mum, dad and sister to see the Tina Turner Musical. I had heard brilliant things about it. Since it had opened. So I was really looking forward to seeing it for myself. It is playing at the Aldwych Theatre in London. Which is a lovely venue situated just off The Strand. And for the record I can confirm that they do a perfectly adequate Merlot there. Which I sampled before the show and during the interval. Well that is all part of the theatre experience, right?

The show itself is amazing. We already know all the huge songs from her career. Therefore before it starts. You know the music is going to be great. It is a very fast moving production. A lot seems to happen to her in a very short space of time. And most of it is horrendous. I guess that in real life and real time. What she had to live through and deal with was even worse. When you consider how much they may have had to leave out.

Her life story is as amazing, as it is inspiring. It just shows what an incredible and strong women she is. Both parts of the show tug on all of your emotions. It really is a bit of a roller coaster ride. I must be honest I did not realise how much she was actually struggling before she properly launched her amazing solo career. It was a real fight to get to where she did. At times sadly, literally.

Tina The Musical
Tina The Musical

The cast were sensational and all brilliant. But special praise has to go to Jenny Fiztpatrick. Who was sublime as Tina. As I am sure you can imagine with it being her life story. She is always involved in the action. And by default has to carry the whole thing. Including belting out all of those huge classic hits. Which of course she does brilliantly. She has a truly sensational voice.  Plus she has all of the recognisable Turner mannerisms down to a tee.

I can totally see why it has been getting so many five star reviews. It is an excellent show. It is endorsed and supported by Tina herself. It is very dark and deals with a lot of issues and situations. But happily it is ultimately a success story. It finishes with a party style sing-a-long with the cast. Which is a fantastic way to end any theatre trip. If you can, I would say go and see it.

Tina The Musical
Tina The Musical

After the show we went for dinner at the wonderful Ivy Market Grill in Covent Garden. The staff and service are always top class. And the food is delicious. I personally think the place has a really nice atmosphere to.

While I was there I sampled a bottle of their 2011 Reserva Rioja. Which was very nice. My dad and I then finished the meal by having a Champagne Cocktail each. Which was a top way to round off a lovely afternoon/evening.

Cocktails
Cocktails

Tottenham Hotspur will be playing all their home games a Wembley until at least the end of December now. So I am going to have to wait till next year to see and sit in my season ticket seat for the first time. I am still getting to all the games at the national stadium. I was there to see us lose to Manchester City. We played well. But unfortunately one mistake and then one missed golden opportunity cost us a draw. Which I think we would have just about deserved. But alas it was not to be.

The pitch was not quite at its best having had three weeks worth of American Football games played on it. Including one the day before. After a very wet weekend. It was very bare and odd seeing the NFL pitch markings so clearly. I was lucky enough to play a charity match on the Wembley pitch a few years ago. At the end of the season. Just before the pitch was about to be relayed. I think it may have been in better condition for my match, than it was for the game against City.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I also went to the must win Champions League game against PSV Eindhoven. Which happily for Spurs we did. But for a long time it looked like it we would not. And it would just be one of those nights. It did not help much going one down in the second minute. Then we had lots of chances but they were not going in.  Finally Harry Kane managed to inspire us to two late goals and the three points.

That win keeps us in with a chance of making the next stage of the competition. If we basically win our last two games. One of which is an away trip to Barcelona. Fair play to the PSV fans. They were brill. They never stopped singing, bouncy and clapping all night. Mind you I did bump in to a few outside before the game. And I think that they were making the most of the London hospitality. The Dutch know how to enjoy themselves.

Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur

Last Saturday night I went to my cousin’s wife’s 40th Birthday Party. It was held at a pub in Towersey. Well it was in their function room. Which was a lovely little barn. It was a brilliant night. Great to catch up with some family members. Who I had not seen for a while. I do come from a pretty big family. And we do not get the chance to all meet up. That often nowadays. So it is always nice, when we do.

I was also pleased to discover that the pub served Rebellion IPA. Which is one of my favourite beers. That was a bit of a result. The disco was really good. Top music all night. Played at just the right volume for the size of the room. Which I know does not sound like a massive compliment. But that is an easy thing to get wrong. And this guy did not. He was spot on with it.

The birthday girl seemed to enjoy herself. She took lots of photos. And using one of the many apps you can get nowadays. She made a montage of them all. Which was set to music. She posted it on her Facebook page. For us all to see. Which I think is a brilliant idea. I might have to steal that idea for my next party. Which will not be for at least another eight years, I think.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

The other week I had my final day working for the BBC. There were a few of us leaving on the same day. So we went out for a few drinks and some food.

We actually found a pretty new and fairly cool bar. It is just along the road from the BT Tower. It describes itself as an US Dive Bar.

BBC
BBC

It serves American beer and Philadelphia style food. We had booked a table in there. And I must say the food and service was really good. I would certainly go back there again. It is not a very big place. So it can get quite cosy in there, quite quickly. Buy I really liked it. It is called Passyunk Avenue. I think it has only been open for about a month. But it is worth checking out. Specially if you like traditional style greasy American cuisine.

From there we moved on to a more traditional English Pub. Which was one of our normal go to “work” pubs. It was ace to see everyone who managed to pop along for a drink. I have had a great couple of years working there. It was fun, interesting and exciting. But now it is time to move on to my next big adventure.

BBC
BBC

For Father’s Day this year. I bought my dad a Red Wine tasting experience for two people. Today me and him are heading up to a posh hotel in London to partake in this. I am really looking forward to it.

As well as sampling the wines. We also get to enjoy some accompanying cheese and chocolate. It sounds like a perfect couple of hours to me. I will tell you what it was like next time we speak.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

Magical Mystery Tour

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been predictably busy and fun. The other weekend I went up to Liverpool. To see my mate who lives there. This is not unusual, as I normally go and see him two to three times a year. More often than not these visits tend include a football match or a day at the races.

This time however there was no event as such. Although there was a certain exhibition I wanted to see while I was there. Which I will tell you more about later. As ever, I let the train take the strain to make my way up to the North West. I arrived about half past six. And as is the tradition. He met me at his local train station. Then we headed to the nearest pub to have a few drinks and catch up.

As someone who goes out drinking in London and therefore is used to the premium prices you pay for this privilege. I still find it very odd that I can order two pints for under four pounds in the particular bar we go to. Anyway after a few very reasonably priced beers. We went back to his place to have some food. Before enjoying a lovely cup of tea. While listening to some top quality music. Before bed.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

The next morning he had decided to take me to a very nice cafe for breakfast. It was in an area of Liverpool. That perfectly lent itself to his very own Beatles inspired Magical Mystery Tour. Which I loved by the way. The first stop was the Church Hall. Where Paul met a certain John for the first time. It was also where the band use to play and rehearse in the very early days.

We then quickly nipped across the road to the Church Yard. To see the grave stone of Eleanor Rigby. From there it was on to the gates of Strawberry Fields. The park is actually closed at the moment. But it is being refurbished and it is expected to re-open in a few years. I think it is brilliant that they are doing that. Another nice tribute and nod to the band. And its two main song writers.

Strawberry Fields
Strawberry Fields

Next I was driven down Penny Lane. While my mate was pointing out all the things that are mentioned in the song. Fair play I must say the description of it in the song is very accurate. I mean talk about writing about what you know about. I must also add that during this personally guided tour. That I was being treated to. All the relevant songs were playing in the car at the relevant times.

He then took me to see John Lennon’s child hood house. Which was actually pretty big and on quite a main busy road. We then went to see where Paul McCartney grew up. Which was on a council housing estate. It is hard to comprehend the huge songs that were written in that little house in Merseyside. And then from there what they both went on to achieve in their careers.

Sir Paul McCartney's place
Sir Paul McCartney’s place

That brought to a close the Beatles VIP Tour. It finished with a really tasty breakfast in a lovely little cafe. I had poached egg on toast with spinach and mushrooms. Which was delicious. Next on the agenda was kind of the main reason for my visit. To see a new free exhibition at the Museum of Liverpool.

The museum is at The Albert Docks. We had a quick walk around there. I have been there many times before. It is always busy and bustling there. With some nice restaurants and shops. And of course it is famously the place that This Morning used to come from. Before it moved to London.

Albert Docks
Albert Docks

The exhibition called Double Fantasy did keep on with the Beatles theme of the day. As it is all about John Lennon and Yoko Ono. It tells the story of both of their lives, how they met, how they worked and lived together. It also features lots of personal possessions. Like the outfits they got married in, a pair of John’s glasses, original hand written lyrics and lots more.

It is fascinating. I certainly learnt a lot about the pair of them. That I did not know. He was a very unique and special individual. There are some great photo opportunity’s. Including your chance to join their famous “Bed In” for peace. I found it really interesting. It did also highlight issues they had. That I was not aware of. For example at one point the authorities wanted them out of America. And made it very hard for them to get VISA’s.

Give Peace A Chance
Give Peace A Chance

If you can. This is an exhibition well worth seeing. It is on in Liverpool until April next year. Then it may well move around the country or even around the world. It is of course such a tragic shame how and when John Lennon died.

He was still so relatively young. We have all been robbed of at least twenty years of amazing songs. And I would also guess some thoughtful quotes and observations about the world in which we live.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I had some drinks in London after work the other night. We started off in the BBC Club for one. This is a bar actually located in Wogan House for staff. A place to relax in and grab some food, if required. I however decided to eat at Byron. Which is my burger place of choice when I am in London. And in need of a fairly quick meal. I think I have tried everything on their menu. And it is all good!

Next up was a pub on the Marylebone High Street. That is always a pretty classy place to hang out. There are some decent bars and restaurants in that area. That do offer a good selection of drinks. Specially, if you like me, do enjoy trying different ales. It was a fun night. There is something in having a few drinks straight from work that somehow makes, what you are drinking taste even better.

Blues Brothers
Blues Brothers

It was nice to see Tottenham continue where they had left off before the International Break with a win at West Ham United. Our next league game is against Manchester City on Monday Night. I am off to see that game at Wembley.

The way the table is currently poised, if we could somehow beat them. It would really put us back into the mix to be challenging for the top spot. But I would definitely take a draw and a share of the points in this one. Let us just gloss over the whole Champions League thing at the moment.

The London Stadium
The London Stadium

For the first time this series I managed to watch the whole of Strictly Come Dancing on Saturday. It is still a very entertaining show. All the dances were really good, I thought. A lot of praise needs to go to the professional dancers. For not only coming up with brilliant routines every week. But for also teaching them to their celebrity’s in under five days. They must have the patience of saint’s.

There are a couple of really good celebrity dancers this year. But then everybody else appears to be at more or less the same level. Which makes it a very exciting competition. Meaning it is extremely hard to predict. Who will leave the show every week. Ashley Roberts and Faye Tozer are for me the best two dancers. I like Danny John-Jules. For a man of his age. He is quite the mover.

I also think Joe Sugg is very good. I will be honest I had no idea at all who he was when the show started. But he seems like a really nice and decent chap. He could do well in the competition, I think. It was Vick Hope who was voted out last week. She was maybe a little bit unlucky to go. Although once you are at the bottom of the leader board. You will be up against it. If you end up in the dance off.

I like Seann Walsh. Not the best dancer, but his performances are I think quite watchable. I think he could well be the next to go mind. Since the shall we say incident between him and his partner. Things and the atmosphere just seem a bit odd around them both. And the other cast members. It all just seems awkward. I am looking forward to the Halloween Special tonight. It will be another cracker for sure.

Evita
Evita

I had another fantastic night seeing the brilliant Evita at the Swan Theatre in High Wycombe. It stars Lucy O’Byrne, Glenn Carter and my mate Mike Sterling. It is a spectacular version of a classic old school musical. The staging is perfect. It is basically a touring West End production. It is that good.

It was wonderful to catch up with Mike both before and after the performance. He is brilliant in this show. It was opening night in High Wycombe, so I gate crashed the cast drinks for one with him after. He has been full on busy recently.

As well as the current tour. He has also performed in Swansea with the Moody Blues and in Sweden with some musicians who played with ABBA. Which is pretty cool to say the least. Great to spend time with him as always.

Mike Sterling and Neil Quigley
Mike Sterling and Neil Quigley

I have mixed views about the upcoming Only Fools and Horses Musical. I cannot really imagine anybody else playing Del and Rodney. Other than Sir David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst. That will just seem really weird.

However the fact that the additional sketches are written by John Sullivan’s son and Paul Whitehouse. Does give me hope that it will not tarnish the show. And it will be a nice homage to it. Plus some of the completed songs have been co-written by Chas Hodges. So they will be good. Despite my reservations. I will definitely have to go and see it. When it opens next February in London.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

As I have said before spending some time working at Broadcasting House. Can often mean seeing a few familiar faces around.

Recently I have found myself in a lift with Ian Wright and Evan Davis. Also in a studio with Danny Baker and Kirsty Gallacher. Plus I have seen Tom Daley, Scott Mills and Matt Forde just walk past me.

BBC
BBC

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

Messi Time

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been busy and fun. As a season ticket holder at Tottenham Hotspur. I managed to get myself along to the Champions League game against Barcelona at Wembley Stadium. It was a match I had been looking forward to since the draw was made.

Unfortunately going in to it we had a few injuries to key players. But I still felt we could give them a good game. Although we were a goal down inside the first two minutes. Thanks to some genius from the legend that is Lionel Messi. And possibly a little bit of poor decision making from the otherwise excellent Hugo Lloris.

Tottenham v Barcelona
Tottenham v Barcelona

It was a very exciting game to be at. The place was full and the atmosphere was great. Well it was at least for the first few minutes. Then it did go a bit quiet when they scored. Spurs put in a battling performance. There were two moments. When we pulled goals back. That I did think might see us grab a draw or even the win.

Even if we had managed that. Although we played well. We would not really of deserved it. Barcelona were by far the better team. It was an honour to get to see Lionel Messi play in person. He is still, I think the best player in the world. And Yes I have seen Ronaldo play to. He struts around like he owns the place. Always finds space. He can pass, dribble and shoot better than anyone.

He scored two great goals and hit the same post twice. It was a great pleasure to see him play. That Barcelona side has a lot of very good players. But he still looks head and shoulders above of all them. It is possibly the first time I have seen my team lose. And not been too disappointed. We gave it our all. And we were just beaten by a better team.

Neil Quigley and Lionel Messi
Neil Quigley and Lionel Messi

A few Friday’s ago some mates and I made our now annual visit to the Ascot Racing Beer Festival. It is just a good excuse to all meet up, have a laugh and watch some racing. Oh and have a few drinks. Well it is a beer festival. So it would be rude not to. We decided to go a bit crazy. And spend an extra five pounds each for the King Edward VII Enclosure.

One of my friend’s took responsibility for buying the tickets. I then sensibly checked out the dress code requirements. And sent them to the Whats App Group. That we had set up for this event. This is how seriously we were taking it. We had to wear a shirt with a collar, tie, and a Jacket. I suggested we should all wear suits. Which to be fair, everyone did.

On the day. We met up outside the race course. As the friend who bought the tickets, still had them. When I arrived I noticed that he was not wearing a tie. Almost straight away I asked him if he had one with him. He said no. Then claimed it was not a requirement of the stand we were going in to. I however said otherwise.

Ascot Beer Festival
Ascot Beer Festival

Anyway as we go to walk into the King Edward. He is stopped and told he cannot go in without a tie. The gentlemen informs him that he can buy one downstairs. He then heads off to find himself some neck wear. With us being the great friends we are. We went straight into the enclosure to all get a beer.

We then get a message from him saying the cheapest tie he can find is sixty five pounds. We offer to forfeit the great views and private bars we have. To spend the day downstairs with him. He feels bad, so he goes out in to the High Street to find a tie. But he still cannot find one.

Then he comes back in to the racecourse and finds another shop in the grounds. Where he buys a tie for fifteen pounds. He must have been gone about twenty minutes. He then comes and joins us in the stands for the rest of the day. The moral of this story is always make sure you read all Whats App messages properly.

King Edward VII Enclosure
King Edward VII Enclosure

We had a great afternoon, chatting, catching up and laughing. They also had my favourite locally brewed pint there. Which is Rebellion IPA. They are based in Marlow. So it had not had that far to travel to Ascot. It was lovely as ever. I also sampled a pint of the very local Windsor & Eaton Brewery’s Champions Day Ale. Which was also very agreeable.

I think everyone had at least one winner during the day. We had a great view of the whole course and the finishing line. From where we were up in the King Edward VII Enclosure. Once the racing was over. We then went to a pub in Ascot for a few more drinks. Luckily they had a barbecue there selling cheeseburgers and hot dogs. We had somehow neglected to get any food during the afternoon. So it was a much needed snack.

It was a brilliant day spent with good friends. We have already made plans to do the same thing next year. Hopefully my mate will make sure he wears his newly purchased tie to. We then got a taxi home. Stopping off in High Wycombe to get some more food.

I was not sure what I fancied. Then I spotted a new Chinese Take-Away. I just grabbed some Chilli Beef and some Dim Sum. The food was great, although I ate it using just my fingers. It was not till I had finished. That I noticed they had put a plastic knife and fork in the bottom of the bag. But on the plus side I will know that next time.

Ascot Beer Festival
Ascot Beer Festival

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of attending my cousin’s wedding. The ceremony was in a local church in Monks Risborough. In fact, it was the church associated with my Primary School. Therefore for me, being in there waiting for her to arrive. It bought back memories of concerts, Harvest Festivals. And the time I played a Monk in a play there.

I did have plenty of time to do this. As she was about fifteen minutes late arriving at the church. Her husband to be, was cool about it. And took it all in his stride. Plus to be fair, he had already predicted that should would almost certainly not be on time.

It was a really lovely service. My dad gave a reading towards the end. Which he did flawlessly. It really was a job well done. And I was very proud. I did give him a little bit of coaching. When he first started rehearsing it. Therefore I think I should get some of the credit for his performance.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

With the marriage ceremony completed. It was then off to the Reception. Which was being held in Burnham Beeches. They had laid on a mini bus to take us there and back. We each had a little snack goody bag to enjoy on the way there. Keeping our energy levels up until the Wedding Breakfast later on. It was Champagne on arrival. Credit to the waiting staff. They were very proficient at topping up glasses. My planned one glass of fizz turned in to being two.

We had some photos taken. Then it was time to sit down for food. The meal was great. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Once the deserts had been tidied away it was time for the speeches. My cousin sadly lost her dad a few years ago.

Her Mum gave her away in the church. And her Sister in effect gave the Father of Bride speech. Although she very much did make it her own. It was an exceptional speech and performance. Pitched I felt perfectly for the occasion. Plus it was very funny. I rate myself as a bit of a public speaker. But I am not sure I would have wanted to follow that.

The Happy Couple
The Happy Couple

That task fell to the Groom. Who did a splendid job. Before passing the baton on to the Best Man. He did a fantastic job to. Nothing was missing . It was a text book speech with all the key elements in there. After the speeches it was time for a few more group photos. While the room was reset for the evening do and disco.

I must admit that is probably the most I have danced for a while. But rest assured I still have all the moves. I am more than match fit and ready if Strictly Come Dancing come calling.

Wedding Fun
Wedding Fun

They also had one of those photo booths there. You know the ones where they have a bit of dressing up box. And you can go in and take silly photos. I ended going in there five times with different people during the evening. It was good fun. I am looking forward to seeing some of the pictures.

I had a really lovely day. Talking to lots of relatives. I had not seen for a while. Having a bit of a boogie. Taking funny photos. But mainly of course celebrating the special day of a beautiful couple. Who I wish a very healthy and happy life together. Congratulations to the both of them. Thanks for letting me share your big day with you. We left just before midnight, so I did not turn in to a Pumpkin.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

There is quite often something unusual or interesting happening outside my place of work. Which I must confess, I like. As I walked out the door to head home the other evening. There was a full orchestra and large choir performing the classic song from Mary Poppins. That is “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”

It sounded brilliant. And I must confess it did put a spring in to my step. And make me smile, as I went past them. I enjoyed it so much I would now like that to happen every time I leave to go home. It was in my head for the next two days. I could not stop singing it!

BBC
BBC

People of Buckinghamshire and surrounding areas. This is your last reminder that the brilliant Evita comes to the Wycome Swan from the 23rd October for a week. My good friend. The super talented Mike Sterling is playing Juan Peron in it. I went and saw it a few months ago in Great Malvern. It is a sensational production of a classic musical.

I am going to the opening night on the Tuesday. I am looking forward to seeing the show once again. Plus catching up with Mike. As I said if you can get yourself a ticket to see this then do. You will not be disappointed.

Evita
Evita

Lee Ryan was voted off of Strictly Come Dancing last week. It was a shame to see him go. He is a nice bloke and good fun.

I did a gig with him in Yeovil once. During his solo career. After he had performed he stayed around for the rest of the night drinking and chatting to the audience.

Neil Quigley Presenter
Neil Quigley Presenter

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

By Royal Appointment

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been busy and fun. It was my Mum’s birthday at the start of September. Her present this year was a day out with me in London including a visit to Buckingham Palace. Over the years I have been up to the front of the Royal house to admire it and watch the changing of the guards several times. The first time I would have been about seven, I think.

For many years now the Palace has been opened up to the public when the Royal Family are away on their summer break. Having a nose around the place is something I had been meaning to do for a while. So when discussing what my mother would like to do for her birthday this year. The suggestion to do the tour there was made. I booked the tickets and we went along to do it the other week.

Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace

There were three parts to the option that I purchased. The first was a look around the Queen’s Gallery. In this display area they put on a different exhibition every year. Which features various items from the Royal Collection. This is made up of the many gifts the family has received over the years. As well as items purchased by some of the Kings and Queens from the past.

The theme for this year’s exhibition in the Queen’s Gallery was the Splendours of the Indian Subcontinent. This included manuscripts, paintings, diamond encrusted jewellery and some very elaborate weaponry.  Some of the items on display are amazing to look at. And impossible to put a price on. Interesting pieces from world history. It makes you think how talented people were back in the 1600’s or so to create these amazing things. Using the tools and the technology that they had at their disposal.

The second part of our Royal Day out included a nice look round the Royal Mews. Where the horses, carriages and some other modes of transport are looked after. Luckily as we arrived a free guided tour was about to start, so we jumped on the back of that. It was great to learn about the history and the current workings of the Mews. They were the idea of Queen Victoria. Who was actually the first Royal to use Buckingham Palace as her official residence.

There were a couple of horses in the stables. Including one of the famous Windsor Grey’s. Which are the horses that always pull the carriage that the Queen is in. Talking of which they do have lots of the carriages on display. Including the one our current Queen went to her Coronation in. The one Princess Diana went to her Wedding in. And the one used by both William and Harry after their big day’s.

Royal Mews
Royal Mews

They do look spectacular and amazing close up. There is a new one that is a few years old and has only been used a handful of times. It has wheels on it designed by a Formula One engineer. And features wood from HMS Victory inside the cabin.

Once the tour ended we were free to have a look around ourselves. They give you the chance to dress up as one of the Queen’s footmen for a photo. Which I did. There is one of the official cars on display. The family always have a car ready to go. And a chauffeur on duty. Should they require to have to go anywhere.

Royal Neil
Royal Neil

The last part of the experience was the thing I was looking forward to most. The chance to actually step foot inside Buckingham Palace. They give you the opportunity to visit the State Rooms. You get an audio guide. Which tells you some information about every one of the fifteen rooms you get to visit. These include Dining Rooms, Ball Rooms and Drawing rooms. All of which are sensational. The look and feel of the place is amazing.

You do get a sense of the occasions and the importance of the people who would have graced these rooms at big state events. There are also a few secret doors and passages from the private living quarters. So the Royals can appear in certain places and not have to see their guests until they want to. The furniture is brilliant. Including of course a couple of rooms that do include thrones.

Another room we got to see was the one where the Investitures take place. This is what it is called when people visit the Palace to receive their honour from a member of the Royal Family. Having visited the place. I now know exactly where to sit and to walk to get my OBE or Knighthood from the Queen. In the future when I get one. Plus of course I will be familiar with the surroundings there. Which should help with any nerves on the big day.

Having been for a good look around the house. I would love to go to one of their dinner party’s. A lovely meal followed by a nice brandy with some good conversation in one of the drawing or music rooms. Would be an ideal evening out for me. Specially if Her Majesty then lent me a carriage and some horses to get home.

The tour ends in the Garden. So you get to walk out down the rear steps and see the area where the Royal Garden Parties are held. To get out you then get to walk around some of the garden to. It is so  picturesque and huge.

Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace

There are lakes, orchards, flower beds and I suspect nice areas for barbecues. It would certainly be a pleasant space to go for a morning walk. The only thing is the exit from the garden. Does put you miles away from where you started. And a fair way from any underground stations.

It was a lovely day out. I found it fascinating looking around the Palace. I could see myself living there. But there is no way that can happen. I still would like to get invited back there for some sort of official occasion with some Royals in attendance. Just in case anyone from the House of Windsor stumbles across this.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I have had a little bit of a break from the theatre over the summer. Mainly as I was busy swanning off around America. Then having a laugh in Edinburgh. One show that I have been wanting to see for a while is Everybody’s Talking About Jamie. The music for which was composed by Dan Gillespie Sells. The lead singer with the band The Feeling. Who I think are brilliant. That was the initial appeal of it for me.

Add to that the amazing reviews the show has had. Plus the amount of theatre awards it has won since it opened in the West End in June 2017. Everything I heard about it was positive. It is such a modern and progressive musical. Set in Sheffield within the last ten years. Based on a real life story. That was actually featured in a television documentary.

Everbody's Talking About Jamie
Everbody’s Talking About Jamie

Finally I went to the Apollo Theatre on Shaftesbury Avenue to see it. All I can say is everybody was right about it. It grabs you right from the start. The songs are catchy and brill. The story line is honest and real. The cast are all excellent. It is such a well performed and slick show.

It is quite a long show with a running time of two hours and forty minutes including the interval. But when you reach the half way point. You can’t believe it has arrived so quickly. Time flying by is of course a good sign that it is an entertaining and enjoyable show. It is also a bit of an emotional roller coaster. In many ways it is, I suspect quite an accurate representation of school and home life in the area.

I also like the fact that a lot of the actors who performed in the first version of it that opened in Sheffield moved with it. And got to be in the West End version. It also featured a familiar face from the world of Soap Opera. Shobna Gulati is in it and needless to say she is great.

This is another show that is worth seeing if you can. There is some choice language in it, so it is not suitable for children. That said it is all in context and what you would expect to hear for real in the scenarios that they are re-creating. See it if you can.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I had to venture up to Manchester recently for a meeting at Media City. I got an early morning train from Buckinghamshire to the rainy city. They have a really good tram network there. You can get one from Piccadilly Station straight to Media City. I quite enjoyed the journey there via the various Quays.

I got there a little bit early, so I had time to have a little bit of a walk around. The place does exactly what it says on the tin. As the area contains BBC television and Radio Studios. ITV have some studios and facilities there. In fact Coronation Street is now filmed at newly built studios and sets there. They even offer you tours of the famous cobbled streets. Sadly I did not have the chance or time to do that while I was there.

Media City
Media City

Several independent radio and television companies have facilities there as well. There are also quite a few bars and restaurants in the area. Well media professionals and creatives need to be fed and of course watered. Just like everybody else.

I bet they would be quite good places for Celebrity spotting specially if you are a soap fan. I had a meeting in one of the BBC buildings there. It was in the Sports Personality of The Year meeting room, as it happened.

When I had finished I did plan to do some more investigating in the area. But it was tipping it down with rain. So I just decided to get the tram back to  the station, have a quick bite to eat and then get the next train home. I have had a few decent nights out in Manchester over the years. I have not had one for a while. May be I need to try and put that right soon.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Things have not been going that well for my team Tottenham. I went to my first game of the season at Wembley. To see Liverpool beat us. The best bits were trying the Vegetarian Burger. Which was curried beetroot and parsnip in a green bun.

Then randomly sitting next to someone who was a couple of years below me at school. The match itself was not so good. Let us just leave it at that.

Tottenham Hotspurs
Tottenham Hotspurs

Then of course came defeat in injury time away to Inter Milan. That was not ideal either. I have my ticket and I am looking forward to the Tottenham v Barcelona game at Wembley Stadium this week. It will be good seeing Messi in action. It was a relief to return to winning ways at Brighton in the Premier League last weekend.

I made my first ever visit to MK Dons Stadium in Milton Keynes to see Spurs play Watford in the Carabao Cup. It is a nice ground. But it was a bit weird watching my team there, as the home side. Plus it is a little harder to get to than Wembley. Parking the car is a nightmare. At least Tottenham won, albeit on penalties. Still in the cup though!

Stadium MK
Stadium MK

I had a brilliant time at my mate’s surprise Birthday Meal. His wife had arranged it all. He had absolutely no idea. We met in a pub. And as he was not expecting me to be there.

I was actually standing right behind him for about five minutes before he noticed me. It was good fun. Although I did have to leave early as I had a very early alarm call the next day. But that’s show business.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

Neil Quigley Presenter