Tag Archives: Grand National

Grand Event

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been busy and lots of fun. I have been to Liverpool for my now annual visit to the Aintree Grand National meeting. Which as ever was fantastic.

I arrived on the Thursday night, so I was rested and ready for the main day of madness. Which is Ladies Day on the Friday. Looking very sharp in my lucky suit. I made it to Aintree for around one. It is always such a colourful and spectacular day. You really do see some eye popping and amazing outfits.

Grand National 2018
Grand National 2018

I did not have any winners on the day. But I am still prepared to give the suit another chance at Royal Ascot later in the year. As it gets pretty crazy due to the amount of people there, me and my mates headed in to Liverpool City Centre before the last race. To get ahead of the game. Which worked perfectly, as we managed to walk right in to The Jacaranda, get a drink and find a table instantly.

It is a bar I like. It was one of the first places The Beatles played in their home city. It looks cool and always plays good music, so we stayed in there for quite a while. Then we went on to another bar. Where we had some cocktails and a dance. There was not actually a dance floor there. We just created our own. Well at least we cleared a space for ourselves anyway.

Grand National 2018
Grand National 2018

The day was rounded off how any good day out drinking should be with a burger from a fast food restaurant. Well it was actually a Five Guys one, therefore it was not that fast. But at least you can get your food custom made. I am not saying I may have had a few drinks but I spent far too long trying to throw and catch the free peanuts in my mouth. But I was pretty successful at it to be fair.

On the day of the Grand National itself. We went to a pub to watch all of the afternoons racing from Aintree. Including of course the big race. I won some money on Tiger Roll at Cheltenham. And I was very impressed with how he ran and jumped the fences. Therefore when I got home from there. I instantly put ten pounds on him to win the National at odds of 16-1.

Grand National 2018
Grand National 2018

I did have a couple more each way bets on the race. But they all did nothing. Though that did not matter much when Tiger Roll powered down the final straight and held on at the last to clinch it. It is always nice to pick the winner of this iconic event. It is not easy as mostly it is unpredictable and never goes to plan. I did buy a round of drinks to help celebrate my victory.

Grand National 2018
Grand National 2018

After the horse racing we went straight to a different pub to watch the Tottenham against Manchester City game. Let us just say you can always rely on Spurs to put the dampener on a great weekend. Though they are now the Champions and they deserved to beat us. As is becoming another small tradition now. My National Day ended with a Dominos Pizza. It was not the healthiest weekend I have had for a while. But it was the most fun.

I am already looking forward to returning again for next year. If you have never been to Liverpool, you should. It is a great place with lots of fun and interesting things to see and do. Plus during the National Weekend it is just one big party there.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I had to go for my first ever MRI Scan the other week. I have had lots of X-rays taken over the years for various things and had some Ultra Sound treatment on one of my knees as a child. But this was my maiden encounter with this particular piece of medical machinery.

I was told not to wear anything with any metal in. As if I did I could just wear my own clothes for it. Instead of those horrible backless hospital gowns. This did mean I had to quickly purchase a new pair of jogging trousers. But I felt that was money well spent to avoid any potentially awkward situations, while I was there.

I was having the MRI scan on my head. You walk in to the room and this contraption looks like it should live in the lair of a Bond villain. The two gentlemen who were doing it were great. They got me in to position. Which as far as I could tell involved putting on a neck brace and sealing my face with a plastic shield. The reason I am unclear on this is that I chose to close my eyes at this point. They then press a button which sends you in to the contraption.

You are allowed to request music to be played while they are doing it. I asked for Radio 2 but either they did not hear me or forgot, as I had no music playing in the end. They did give me a button to press if I wanted to stop it at any time. But all this did was make me view it as like a Bush Tucker Trial on I’m A Celebrity. So there was no way I was ever going to press it. As I was very determined to win all the stars to feed my camp mates. Fortunately it did not fill up with Cockroaches.

I am not going to lie it is not the most pleasant experience in the world. Plus with no music. I could hear every clunk and buzz the machine was making. I am pretty sure at one point it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. It was bearable and painless but at the same time I was pleased when it was all over. I felt I had achieved something, though.

It was just a precautionary thing. I received the results a week or so later via my doctor. If you do ever have one, do not worry. They are fine but I would make sure the music is working, as that would make it a little more relaxing on reflection.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I spent last weekend with my oldest school friend and his wife. They live in Shropshire now. But came down to Buckinghamshire for a few days. We stayed together in a hotel in Beaconsfield. They arrived on the Friday evening. So we just had a lovely meal and a few drinks in a couple of the pubs round there. Places that I have now been visiting for over twenty years. It is a nice town and I do enjoy spending time there specially with good company.

When we got up on the Saturday. Despite having been going out in the place for years. I had never stayed there before, so I had no idea where to grab some breakfast. Luckily in easy walking distance from the hotel. We stumbled across an old style Tea Room. Which did a tasty one. It worked out well and set us up nicely for the day ahead.

Kinky Boots
Kinky Boots

The main reason they were down was that we were all going to see Kinky Boots in the West End. I had seen it before but it is one of his wife’s favourite films, so she wanted to see the musical. And it is so good I was more than happy to see it gain. We made a full day of it in London first, though. With me acting as a kind of expert tour guide.

I took them for a coffee outside the BBC for starters. We spotted Ricky Wilson heading in to Radio 2, as he was covering Zoe Ball’s Show that day. Then I took them both for a pint of Guinness in my favourite pub in London Waxy O’Connor’s. It was a nice day weather wise and the sun was out. Therefore next up it was a stroll and a cup of tea along the South Bank.

London South Bank
London South Bank

As with any good Theatre trip. We then went for a lovely pre-show meal. Nothing to fancy just a Bella Italia. But I have to say the food and especially the pudding was fantastic. It was Marathon weekend, so the place was full of runners loading up on pasta. Once dinner was over. It was time to head across the road for the main event.

Kinky Boots is on at the Adelphi Theatre on the Strand. We had some great seats in the third row. I did have my usual theatre red wine. And I can tell you that the Rioja there is acceptable. The show itself was again brilliant. It is so fast paced, colourful and extremely entertaining.

The whole cast are great but I must say I think Verity Rushworth is brilliant as Lauren. She really gets so much extra comedy out of her character. It is the musical that contains the most ordinary and then the most ridiculous stage outfits. Depending on what part you are playing. It is a great fun show and we all had an amazing night seeing it.

Kinky Boots
Kinky Boots

Tottenham Hotspur have now lost their last eight FA Cup Semi Finals in a row. Which is not a pleasing statistic. I really thought we stood a chance this year against Manchester United at Wembley. I thought it could finally be our year. It would have been a fitting way to end our one off season at the home of English football by winning some silverware there. Well in my opinion anyway.

But alas that was not to be. As we were beaten by Jose Mourinho’s men after taking an early lead in the game. It is possibly even more disappointing this year, I think. We are playing really well currently and have been pretty consistent in the League over the last three years. However we really do need to win some silverware soon, so that we have something to show for it and something to celebrate.

That said now is not the time to panic. The manager and the players are doing a great job. And you cannot win them all. Although I would have loved to have seen my team lift the cup this season. But I have seen them do that before. If this group could actually win a league title. That would actually be something I had not witnessed before and it would be amazing. To dare is to do, on-wards and up-wards.

Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur

While I was working at Ivel fm in Yeovil. I ended up featuring in a ITV West Country documentary presented by the great John Nettles. In this Podcast hear what happened when he came in to my studio and what happened when he interviewed me. Click on the link and hear it all via I-tunes. https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-neil-quigley-radio-show-podcast-ep12/id1236437663?i=1000409103344&mt=2

Neil Quigley meets John Nettles

As I was arriving at work the other day Bill Gates walked past me. You really do never know who you might see or bump in to. It can often be the most random and unexpected people. I am always a bit concerned about being cornered and then interrogated in a lift by Andrew Marr or Emily Maitlis. That is the beauty and the lottery of using the work lifts. You never know who you might be standing next to.

Neil Quigley Presenter
Neil Quigley Presenter

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

At The Races

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been pretty busy with some fun stuff happening. I am of an age where quite a few people I know are celebrating land mark birthday’s.

So a couple of Saturday’s ago I attended a party to mark such an occasion at a golf club just outside Maidenhead. It was actually on April 1st but it was after midday, so it was not just a big elaborate joke, it was a genuine do.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I had a lovely night catching up with friends, who I had not seen for a while. The birthday girl seemed to have a great night and really enjoy herself. Which is the main thing of course. I decided to drive but to be honest did not fancy drinking water or lemonade all night. So I compromised by having a few bottle’s of Becks Blue. Which believe it or not is a non-alcoholic lager. Which I would argue tastes better than actual Becks.

I have to confess as a younger man I could not see the point of beer with no alcohol, as that defied the whole object of drinking it. But when you are driving it gives the illusion of drinking beer. And possibly due to some sort of placebo type effect it makes you feel a little bit drunk, even though you are definitely not.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

There was also some live music provided by a great bloke called Steve Carroll. I had seen him perform many years ago at a pub in Eaton and remember him being brilliant. I can confirm that my memory was correct. This time he was joined by a female singer. It was just them and their guitars playing some belting songs. And fair play they played for two and an half hours non-stop.

The range of songs was so wide and varied. At one point they went seamlessly from Cotton Eyed Joe by Rednex straight in to 500 Miles by The Proclaimers. They were fantastic and had everyone up dancing and singing along. It was an entertaining evening and nice to be able to drive home from a party and not worry about having a hangover the next day.

Neil Quigley TV Radio & Live
Neil Quigley TV, Radio & Live

Since we spoke last The Boat Race has taken place. It is always a great spectacle and occasion. I do keep an eye out for it and try to watch it every year. After working for a few year’s at the Henley Regatta. I have learnt a little bit more about rowing. So I understand it a little bit better than I did previously.

The training and dedication required from the crew’s is amazing. Bearing in mind they are fitting this punishing regime around studying for some very impressive and tough qualifications. I think makes it even more of a wholesome event. One year I really must go to London, find a nice pub overlooking the Thames and see it. I think that would be good fun.

Henley Royal Regatta
Henley Royal Regatta

One big sporting event that I do always try to attend now is the Grand National Meeting at Aintree. Happily this year was no exception, so for the third year in a row I headed up to see my good mate Jeff Nolan on the Thursday before the big race on the Saturday.

To start to soak up some of the atmosphere already building up in the area. He lives right by the famous race course. So when I got there we headed out for a few drinks at a near by pub to catch up, see and meet up with some of the people who had been at the race course to enjoy day one of the festival.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Everyone dresses up and makes a big effort when they go. So there were some very smart people in the particular pub chain we were in that evening. Which you could argue was different to the norm. We only stayed for a few to make sure we kept our powder dry for the next day.

So it was back home for some nice food and to work on the latest episode of his Chasing 40 Podcast. And then as always tends to happen when we get together to listen to some classic and great music. The selection this time included a live performance by Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

We were up early the next morning to get ready for the big day ahead. It is now a tradition that we go to Aintree on the Friday for Ladies Day. So after a hearty breakfast to set us up nicely for the day. We head out to pick up the rest of his mates who are joining us.

Then it is time to get the suits on. This was a debut performance for a brand new suit, which due to a lack of time I ended up having to order online. Which much to my surprise actually fitted fine. I actually must know my own clothes measurements better than I thought I did.

Jeff Nolan and Neil Quigley
Jeff Nolan and Neil Quigley

The first stop was the local pub which was already full of men in suits and ladies in their best outfits. Shall we say starting to fuel themselves up for the day. Both with food and drink. Then we made our way to a pub which is right by the entrance to the famous sporting venue. This again is full of people drinking and having a good time. There is a fun and party atmosphere everywhere you go over the weekend.

Next it is time to head in to watch the racing. The place is huge with lots of different sections and bars for you to get refreshments and put bets on. For example there is a giant tent with big screens to see the races and a live band who come on and do a few songs in between the races. It is like a giant all day party.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

There was also a special area dedicated to Red Rum to mark the fortieth anniversary since the legendary horse’s third Grand National victory. There is a statue of him at the race course permanently and there was also an exhibition with photos and memorabilia from his glittering career. Which was amazing and fascinating.

Also for a bit of fun they had a photo opportunity where you could have your picture riding Red Rum over a fence at Aintree. Only an idiot would turn down this great and free opportunity. I jumped at the chance (pun intended) and you can see my picture below.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Sadly I only had one winner while I was there and that was a horse called Fox Norton, which came from behind to win an exciting race in the run in. Happily I was outside in the glorious sunshine to cheer it home.

There is something almost magical seeing those amazing creatures thunder past right in front of you, specially when one of them is about to win you some money. It adds to the whole occasion and gives you a nice warm feeling inside. Or that could of course just have been the beer.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

With thousands of people there, it is to say the least a bit busy and the trains after can get a little bit crazy. So as the party continues on in Liverpool City Centre anyway. We left before the last race to get ahead of the crowds and save any queuing at the station. I have been going there for many years now so there are possibly not that many places that I have not been to at least once.

Our first stop was The Crack. Which was John Lennon’s local when he was home. Which gives it quite a cool vibe and you can see how he would have felt at ease there chilling with a pint. It is off the beaten track, so not a busy place. They have a jukebox. Which I was straight on, to choose some songs on as soon as we arrived there.

The Crack
The Crack

Then we headed off to The Jacaranda. Which is a cool bar where The Beatles used to do some early gigs around the same time they were also doing The Cavern. So like a lot of the bars around it has a musical history feel to it.

While we were there the whole pub was involved in an impromptu sing-a-long to The Smiths “This Charming Man”. This included a lot of Morrissey impressions from people up on the dance floor. I am pretty sure there were people filming it, so I would not be to surprised if a video of it made an appearance on You Tube at some point.

Our final destination was The Cavern Club. Which is not the original Cavern sadly that was just down the same road but knocked down years ago. There has been a new thing added to Mathew Street since my last visit and that is a statue of Cilla Black, which I saw as we walked to the Cavern. Now despite it not being the original venue they do still have great live bands there. And quite a few big names have played there over the year’s.

It has a really friendly feel to it and it is always a fun place to just hang out. We had a good old sing along to the band as the party continued. Earlier in the day a famous book maker firm was giving out some freebies including some sun glasses. Which I am modelling in the picture below. It was our last venue of the night. We then headed back to Jeff’s to get a pizza and reflect on another brilliant Ladies Day.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

We decided to go and watch the Grand National on Saturday in Liverpool. But before that there was one other sporting event I wanted to watch Totttenham were playing at home against Watford in the early kick off at twelve thirty. So we assembled the same squad as the day before in the pub to watch that.

It was a pretty straight forward win in the end. Keeping up Spurs great current run, which for the record I am very much enjoying. I have said before that I do not think Chelsea will slip up but if we can chase them all the way, finish second and win the FA cup. It will have been a brilliant and fitting season for what could be our last one at White Hart Lane.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

So then after a trip to the Bookies to get our bets on for the big race. We went to a big sports bar to watch the action. It was a brilliant Grand National this year I thought, for starters no horses were injured, which is always the main hope. It was an entertaining and interesting race seeing those equine athletes majestically float over those iconic fences. It had everything.

Congratulations to the winner One For Arthur and to you if you picked it and put some of your hard earned cash on it. I selected five horses this year and none of mine were ever really in it. So if you selected the winner you have my up most respect, well done. It is and always will be for me the greatest of all the horse races. I am already looking forward to next year’s.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

We found ourselves in the Cavern Pub after the race. Which is just across the street from The Cavern. It had a live three piece band performing. There are lots of signed pictures and guitars up on the walls from some of the famous people who have either visited of actually performed at The Cavern. From here me and Jeff went back to Aintree to meet his cousin James who had been at the Grand National itself. And who had backed the winner.

We stayed out with him to help him celebrate his triumph. Before it was time to call an end to what is always a brilliant weekend. The next day there was time for some breakfast, then it was time for me to catch the train back to Buckinghamshire. Great fun as always, in fact I have already booked up to go back and do it all again next year.

Neil Quigley Presenter
Neil Quigley Presenter

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

Barcelona

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really nice couple of weeks. Mine have been very busy with lots of fun things going on. The main thing in particular was a visit to a European city that I had never been to before. So as the United Kingdom was getting ready to remove itself from the European Union I was finally embracing a new area of it. For my fortieth some friends of mine clubbed together and got me a travel voucher, which I used towards a long weekend away in Barcelona. So that is where I was last weekend.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I flew out very early on the Friday morning from Luton airport. As I was only going for a couple of nights I decided I would only take hand luggage on the plane with me. This was the first time I had ever done this and ended up losing my deodorant and face wash at security control. As they contained over one hundred millilitres of liquid. Which is not allowed seemingly. I never even thought of that issue. To be fair to the good people of Barcelona I did replace those items as soon as I arrived in the city.

I had a pleasant flight there with Easy Jet. They looked after me well and were all happy and friendly. When I landed in Barcelona I decided to take the train to my hotel. I will be honest it did take me a little while to firstly find the train station there and secondly work out roughly where I needed to get off. I took the train in to the centre and then I used their Metro network to get nearer to the hotel. I was impressed by the fact that on the underground trains there is full 3G available. This proved very useful when I got a bit lost and had to re-check my route. As I could do that while still sat on a Metro train.

Barcelona
Barcelona

My hotel was situated in the Gothic Quarter of the City. It was just off La Rambla, which is a very vibrant and busy street with lots of places to eat and drink. The street off it where the hotel was where I was staying, was very easy to find as the start of it was between a Mcdonald’s and a KFC. Two places which I am very familiar with. So it made the place I was staying very easy to find.

When I arrived it was bucketing it down with rain. But even so after I had  checked in to the hotel. I thought I should still try and do some exploring and sight-seeing. The architecture and style of some of the buildings is breath taking and I took a look inside a few of them that were open to the public. In fact not long in to my walk I stumbled across a statue showing St George standing over the dragon. I have not done any research on this, so I have no idea why they have a tribute to our patron saint on display, may be he was actually Catalonian.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

The rain then got the better of me for a moment, so I went in to a coffee shop to sample the local tea. I am not saying that it was not very good or up to my normal standard but that was the last time I attempted a tea until I got home. After sheltering for a bit I headed back out in to the wet and continued looking at the great Cathedral’s and regal state buildings. As well as the very narrow and populated old streets.

I was trying to stay out of bars and restaurants for as long as possible, as I did not want to start drinking to early. But the rain was not easing and I was getting wetter and wetter. So I gave in and found a lovely little bar to stay dry in. I had my first glass of Spanish red wine. With my motto for the weekend being to try new local things only. I had a stuffed peppers dish followed by a green raspberry cheesecake. All of which was fantastic and which may or may not have been washed down with a second glass of red.

Barcelona
Barcelona

When I left there the rain had become so heavy it was practically biblical, so I decided it was not worth trying to see anymore of my surroundings. So I made the executive plan to just visit a few bars close to my hotel for the evening. They were all very nice and friendly and thankfully for me with my terrible language skills. They all seemed to speak English or in some cases have English staff.

The atmosphere was relaxed and I got chatting to many different people from all over the world during the course of the night. It did seem that there were quite a few Americans visiting, which I do not know why but that surprised me a bit. I then headed back to the hotel at a reasonable time, as the next morning I was going to go and do the thing I wanted to do most while I was there.

Barcelona
Barcelona

I am a big football fan. I have been lucky enough to visit a lot of big stadiums over the years. I spent some time working at Wembley Stadium. So as I was in Barcelona for the weekend. There was one place that I had to visit. The stadium with the biggest capacity in the whole of Europe. I am of course talking about the Nou Camp, the home of the epic Barcelona Football Club.

I was way too excited for a man of my age as I got off the Metro Train, walked down towards the ground and got my first glimpse of it from the outside. It does look pretty old and basic as you approach it. But then when you get a bit closer and see the colours and massive pictures of the star players on it, it looks very impressive.

Nou Camp
Nou Camp

I arrived and got my ticket for the Tour Experience after a slight scare, as at first the machine was not working so I could not get one. But happily it was swiftly fixed and I was heading towards the entrance with my ticket in my hand and a big smile on my face,

The first thing they do is take a welcome photo against a green screen, which they let you see at the end, against a selection of different back drops. There are several other photo opportunities as you move through the tour, which I will tell you about later.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Then you head through to the Barcelona FC museum. That is just sensational. They have so much memorabilia on display including some ridiculously old and original shirts. They also have a signed Maradona shirt, the boots Ronald Koeman wore when he scored that winning free kick at the old Wembley in the European Cup Final in 1992 and a shirt and pair of boots belonging to Lionel Messi.

And then the trophy cabinets are immense. They seem to hold every trophy the club has ever won. Including the trophy’s they currently hold. And their five Champions League Trophy’s. I have done the Tottenham Hotspur tour and it puts our trophy room to shame, that is for sure.

You then get to head out in to the stands, it was nice to finally be inside this great home of football. From there you can make your way down to the press room and on to a replica of the away dressing room. The whole tour includes lots of great pictures and interactive video displays as you walk round.

Next they give you chance to walk out that famous tunnel. Which does actually have its very own elaborate chapel. You walk up some steps to get pitch side. Where you can take some photos and sit in both the home and away dug outs. The pitch looked amazing, although they did appear to have a bit of a problem with pigeons there bizarrely. Next up it is the corporate areas and then the press box. Which I have to say offered a great view of the pitch.

Barcelona
Barcelona

Heading down from there, they give you chance to have your picture taken with a replica of the Champions League Trophy with the Nou Camp in the background. I have got my picture and it is brilliant. I also have a picture of me celebrating with the team after the 2011 Wembley win, one with the current team and one of me and Lionel Messi with our arms round each other.

The tour was brilliant. I would definitely recommend it if you are a football fan. It is a spectacular and historic stadium that has been graced by many of the world’s greatest players at some point or another.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Now happily the weather on my second day was much better, the rain had stopped and the sun was out. So after I left the Nou Camp I headed back to my hotel to drop off all the pictures from my tour. I then decided to head out for a walk to try and find the Barcelona beach. I mean the city really does have everything.

To get to the beach I had to walk past the port. Which had some of the most amazing Yachts I had even seen moored there. It would appear there is obviously money about. It was a nice stroll and being as in my head I was on holiday I treated myself to an ice-cream.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I eventually found the beach. It is fair to say the sea was a bit lively and was actually full of surfers catching some waves. I found myself a beach side cafe overlooking the sea. Where I treated myself to a glass of Sangria and some Tapas. Both of which I thoroughly enjoyed, while listening to the sound of the waves in the background. I returned to the hotel to get changed before heading out for a traditional Spanish meal.

So I found a nice restaurant in which I tried my first ever Paella. I never take pictures of my food but for this big occasion I made an exception. It was lovely and accompanied by a glass of red wine. I then hit a few more different bars in the area for the rest of the evening. Like in England the clocks also go forward, so technically I lost an hour when I was there.

Barcelona Paella
Barcelona Paella

On my final day I did the typical tourist thing of taking a City Bus Tour, which lasted about an hour and an half and was very interesting and educational. They really do have some stunning looking buildings. Much like London there are old style ones mixed in with brand new ones. They also have a huge aquarium which I visited.

It has a part of it where you walk through a special tunnel with different species including Sharks swimming alongside and above you. It was fascinating and the closest I have been to a  shark. All to soon it was time to come home late on the Sunday. Again another lovely flight with Easy Jet led by a funny and amusing cabin manager. All in all it was a great weekend in a city that I would be happy to visit again in the future.

Barcelona
Barcelona

Next weekend I am looking forward to my annual trip up to Liverpool for the Grand National Meeting at Aintree. I always have a great time when I visit the place. But there is always something special about these four days.

We normally just go to the course for Ladies Day on the Friday but there is talk of possibly making it on the day of the big race to. Either way the atmosphere in what is always a party city is electric. It will be a lot of fun. I will tell you all about it next time we speak.

Grand National Weekend
Grand National Weekend

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

Sporting Theatre

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been very busy with lots of fun things going on. So the last time we spoke. If you remember I was going off to see The Gadget Show Live at the Birmingham NEC. It had been quite a while since I had been there. I think the previous time I was there. It was to see a Best Disco In Town concert featuring The Real Thing, George McCrae, KC and The Sunshine Band and a few other random acts from the seventies and eighties perform. For the record it was a good gig.

This visit was however a little bit different. For starters I got the train there this time. I was pretty impressed how quick and easy it was to get from the station to the entrance of the exhibition. I am sure my last visit by car meant a long walk from the car park to get in. Although I am not really hugely in to the latest tools and gadgets. I have to confess it was a pretty impressive site with the amount of pop up stalls and demonstration areas in front of us. When we strolled in to the place.

The Gadget Show Live
The Gadget Show Live

One of the first things we did was queue up to experience the latest in home entertainment sound and vision innovations. A few of the best technology companies in the world had teamed up to create a special mini theatre. In which to show case a brand new home surround sound system called Dolby Atmos. This new set up works with more speakers than any other previous Dolby system, including two that you fit to the ceiling.

So the over all sound can be both subtle and clear. While seemingly coming from all corners of the room. And of course above us to. They showed us some clips on the giant screen to highlight this point. The best one in my opinion was the opening title sequence from the last Mission Impossible film. Featuring Tom Cruise clinging to a plane as it takes off. Fair play that did look and sound absolutely brilliant.

Neil Quigley Presenter
Neil Quigley Presenter

From looking around the rest of The Gadget Show. I can tell you that any mobile phone technology is still huge business. There were lots of suppliers offering that type of thing. Mostly extra battery packs. Which as an I-Phone user I was slightly tempted by. The other two main most popular items on display were Segway’s of varying kinds and about fifty different types, sizes and styles of drones. And 3D virtual gaming seems like the future in that genre.

The bit I enjoyed the most was their own version of Robot Wars. They had a ring just like the old television show. Work benches in view, so you could see the teams building and repairing them. Plus they did have battles taking place between them with full commentary. Seeing that up close you get to see how brutal those battles are. I mean they compete in a completely covered in perspex box. With the Robots controlled by the teams from the safety of the outside. The fights were surprisingly exciting to watch.

The Gadget Show Live
The Gadget Show Live

I had a fantastic day in London the other week. Which involved seeing a recording of the new series of Tonight at The London Palladium. The first one was shown on television last Wednesday. And the one I was at will be shown this coming Wednesday 20th April. I was again brilliantly looked after by the team there. They gave me some great seats to watch the action from. So feel free to play the game of “can you spot me in the audience?”. While you are watching it.

The whole series is hosted by Bradley Walsh. Who is brilliant at it and did a fantastic job. The warm up man, as he is at so many of the shows that I am at was the excellent Andy Collins. He always does a top job getting the crowd involved and entertaining us all between breaks in the action. When they are setting up things on the stage. Also making an appearance on the night was the lovely Joe Pasquale.

Tonight at the London Palladium
Tonight at the London Palladium

The last time I saw him was when I made a cameo appearance in my friend Ben Langley’s Ha Ha Holmes at The Waterside Theatre in Aylesbury. I was dressed in a Beaver costume. And basically my antics caused him to crack up laughing on stage. Which was a very nice moment for me. He did tell me later that when I did a particular thing while on stage. That he was chuckling so much. He thought he might wet himself. It was really good to see him again. He was very funny as always in his little bit of the show.

The episode I was at also featured performances from Diversity. Who just seem to get better and better every time I see them. Their bit was absolutely stunning. The cast of the Kinky Boots musical. Who gave us a glimpse as to why the show had just won at the recent Olivier Awards. The force behind the music and songs for that show Cyndi Lauper not only introduced them on stage but also sang for us later on to. There was a thrilling children’s toy inspired variety act from China on the bill. Plus there were a couple of other special guests and surprises. That I will not spoil for you. I will just let you discover them for yourself.

Tonight at the London Palladium
Tonight at the London Palladium

It was another great evening spent at a brilliant venue in the heart of central London. I did also manage to squeeze in a lovely two course meal before the show. I have a very sweet tooth. So I always like to finish my dinner with a dessert. I couldn’t decide what I fancied. So I noticed that on the menu. They offered a five mini shot glass option. Where you could have five different types of puddings.

The person I was with was happy to give this option a try with me. So that is what we ordered. It was brilliant. There was much more of each dish than I expected. It was also great value for money and less than two of the normal desserts. If you get the opportunity I would say go on and give this option a try, at least once. If you see it on the menu of where you are eating. I was in an Italian themed chain restaurant. If that helps at all.

Grand National Weekend
Grand National Weekend

Last weekend saw one of the annual highlights of my year. As I made the trip up to Liverpool to enjoy the Grand National racing festival. I travelled up on the train on the Thursday afternoon. Before meeting my friend Jeff Nolan. Who lives near to the famous Aintree course. In a local pub for a couple of welcome drinks.

It was full of well dressed race goers. Who had been enjoying the first day’s racing. I do spend a lot of my time in London nowadays and I must admit the second I arrived in to Liverpool city centre. People generally did seem friendlier and much more talkative. Which I did like.

Neil Quigley in Liverpool
Neil Quigley in Liverpool

That evening bizarrely we ended up watching a documentary about Evil Knievel. He is someone I was obviously aware of. And I did have a toy version of him on a motorbike when I was a child. Which I do remember making ramps for. So it could jump over my matchbox car collection. However I have to confess I did not really recall his full back story and many of the world record and stunt attempts that he made.

It was interesting to see how he seemed to change as a person as he became more well known. Also it reminded me how many times he failed and hurt himself. It was nice in the end though to see him when he retired. Still putting on the famous jump suit and acting as more of an ambassador for good and safety. Sort of the American version of the English Green Cross Code man.

Neil Quigley in Car
Neil Quigley in Car

Friday was Ladies Day. The actual day we were going to the famous sporting venue. We started the day properly, as you should with some sausage and bacon sandwiches. Then it was time to get the suits on and head back to the local to meet everyone else. The place was already a hive of activity. Full of smart people. Also out to enjoy all the day had to offer.

After a few drinks. We then walked down towards Aintree itself to enjoy a drink in a pub that is at the entrance of the course. Which has recently changed its name to the Coral Arms. It then suddenly empties out very quickly. As everyone makes their way inside. Ready for the first race of the day.

Grand National Weekend
Grand National Weekend

The place is packed out with people. All just having a good time everywhere you look. They have several massive temporary tents installed specially for the meeting. In them there are bars, giant television screens to keep an eye on all the action and also live music.

After the racing has ended bands such as The Feeling perform on stage there. We of course made sure we headed outside to watch the races. It is an amazing sight seeing that many top class horses thunder by you. On the way to the winning post.

Grand National Weekend
Grand National Weekend

I had a couple of small winners on the day. I do like going down to the course side bookies to try and get the best odds on the horses. I want to back. It is all good fun and never feel guilty when you win. As I am yet to meet a poor book keeper. They always win in the end. After the races had finished we headed back in to the centre of Liverpool to continue the party.

Grand National Weekend
Grand National Weekend

The first place we went to was a lovely little pub hidden away down a side street called the Crack. Which is where John Lennon regularly used to drink when he still lived there. It has an area called the War Room. Which just has one big table in it and is surrounded completely by glass panels. So that was quite a cool place to have a pint. Specially as Lennon would have sat there at some point.

The Crack
The Crack

We visited a few other places including The Jacaranda. Which is another famous pub in the city. Where George Harrison used to drink. And it is also somewhere The Beatles played a lot when they were starting out. It is a pretty cool and chilled place with a jukebox in the corner.

It has been decked out like it was back in the 1960’s. I thought I had been to most of the bars on offer. But the two I have highlighted were places I was enjoying for the first time. And I have been going there for years. That is the great thing about the place. There are always new places to discover.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

On Grand National Day itself. I watched the iconic race from a sports pub on the outskirts of Liverpool. It is always a great occasion and an intriguing race to enjoy. It was great to see two talented exceptional female jockeys Katie Walsh and Nina Carberry riding in it. It is always nice to when all of the horses and jockeys are safe at the end of it. I did not manage to pick the winner this year though.

Grand National Weekend
Grand National Weekend

But I did have the fourth place horse “Gilgamboa” as an each way bet at 66-1. So I did at least get some money back from the race. Jeff had the winner and was celebrating his victory like he was the trainer or the owner of it. I like the way the jockey David Mullins younger brother seemed to be crying for joy for about the next hour or so after the race.

Grand National Weekend
Grand National Weekend

The day after the National before I came home. We took a walk up to Aintree. To have a look at the areas of the course that we could see from outside. Famously the race crosses the Melling Road. On race day it is lined with sand. So the horses can go over it without damaging themselves and so it is a similar feel to the grass on the rest of the course.

The day after the sand had been cleared away and the road re-opened. So Jeff and I were standing on the Melling Road and looking down to the first fence. Which from our vantage point looked massive and terrifying. With that final look at one of the most iconic sporting venues in the world. It was time to head home. Another successful weekend. I am already looking forward to going back there for next year’s event.

Grand National Weekend
Grand National Weekend

In other news the mighty Tottenham Hotspur are still battling hard to the end and trying to win as many points as possible. To stay in touch with the outright Premier League leaders Leicester. Who I really still can’t see slipping up. Mind you. if you had asked me at the start of the season. If I would have settled for second place and Champions League qualification. It would have been a resounding yes from me. Still enjoying it and proud of them.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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