This time last year I was in Australia enjoying my first ever trip there visiting some relatives and doing a mini tour of some select areas of the country. What a difference a year makes back then I was able to travel to the other side of the world, now I am not even able to leave my house unless I have good reason to. I am not complaining by the way just highlighting the difference with the situations, while being very thankful that I even managed to get a holiday in last year. Mind you with the way the weather has been recently I really wish I was back there now enjoying some sunshine.
Things continue to move in the right direction. We just need to be a bit patient and hold our nerve still. The lockdown is working happily the number of deaths are decreasing. Less people are in hospital and the vaccines delivered are going up all the time. Both of my parents have had their first injections, which is excellent news. Neither of them had any side effects and as it happened they were both given different versions of the vaccine. I am thinking of getting all my older relatives to try out each of the companies that the United Kingdom is using, so I will know which one is the best by the time it is my turn.
It is too early for things to be eased yet sadly, but we are getting a lot closer to a return to some sort of normality. This month is so short we will be well into March before we know it. The Isle of Man has managed to get their Covid under control, so they are now back in the pubs and mask-less. That is the goal that I am aiming for. I would much rather wait until I could do that, than have to enjoy them with all the mask and social distancing requirements. Therefore I am well prepared to wait it out so we can get back to that position sooner in the long run.
I appreciate I am lucky in that this is not effecting me too much. I do not have any children to home school and I continue to work easily from home. But this will all be fine in the end. We will move beyond it. In the meantime keep in contact with as many people as you can either via the phone or video calls. Keep as fit as you are able. Plus laugh and joke around as much as you can. You will feel much better for it.
I would suggest focus on the things you can do rather than the things you cannot. If you do have children for example you will have spent more time with your child while they are growing up than lots of generations have appreciate it as much as you can. Even if they are really annoying you!
My dad has used the extra time he has had this last year to finally see the whole of “Game of Thrones” from start to finish. Other people I know have set themselves personal fitness goals to achieve. A few folks have started doing things that they have not done for years like knitting or baking. I have stepped up my exercise regime a little bit. And I have also done quite a bit of sorting out around the house. Not throwing stuff away just moving it to other places to be honest.
A mate of mine has more or less decorated his whole house, which would have probably taken him five years to do in normal times. I am going to try to do everything that I need to at home in the next few months. As when the world re-opens I plan on being away for weeks at a time. I have a list of places I need to visit and things that I need to do. I will make Judith Charmers look like an amateur traveller.
I was involved in surprising a good friend of mine for his fortieth birthday. For obvious reasons he could not have a big party this year and we could not physically meet up. His girlfriend got in contact with me at the start of the year telling me that she was planning to do a surprise Zoom gathering on the Saturday nearest his big day. She asked me if I would be able to do a short music quiz but include a round all about him. I of course said I yes I could. Who does not like the chance to stich up his mate for a laugh!
I did check who was going to be joining in before I started to write the questions. I first met Jeff over twenty years ago when we were both working at Mix 96 a radio station in Aylesbury. Therefore I did have quite a lot of material to draw on from over the years. I made the first round a straight music quiz to try to throw him off the scent. Then the next round was to be all about him but with multiple choice answers for added comedy effect.
On the night my mate’s fiance’ managed to send him upstairs while she let us all into the group chat. When we were all on screen she got him back down and sat him right in front of the computer. When he clocked our faces he did look generally shocked. So I do not think he had a clue. When he found out I had a quiz he suggested it would be about him. I tried to throw him off the master plan by doing the pop quiz round first. Although they were all questions I knew he would know the answer to straight away, which he did. Mind you I did tailor them all specially for him.
Then it comes to round two which is all about him. I did give him the right of reply after every answer to tell his side or on one occasion correct my memory of what actually happened in one situation. It was great fun. And it did prompt a lot of conversation about these things from his past. It only lasted about an hour then we let him get on with the rest of his evening doing what he thought he would be doing anyway just relaxing at home.
I would love in the future to do a proper “This Is Your Life” style night for a friend or family member. Including bringing out people and acquaintances from their past like Eamon Andrews and Michael Aspel used to do. Or maybe I will do something like that for my own fiftieth, which just for the record is a very very long way away. I am sure we will have a proper celebration for my mate Jeff when we are allowed to hopefully later on this year.
My girlfriend and I did another one of these online Cheese and Wine Tasting events. It was through the same company as last time “Love Cheese” who are basically just a wine and cheese shop based in York who started these live events at the start of Lockdown. And they do seem to have just grown and grown. This one was a red wine special. That is always my wine of choice. However Lynda prefers white. She was happy to broaden her horizons and give the red grape variety a go and I certainly was not going to say no to this option.
Like last time they sent us the food and drink in advance all labelled up with the correct numbers ready for the live tasting. The service is good and it is all presented very nicely. You get a leaflet with details of the cheese and wine that you will be trying. I do not wish to offend anybody but I noticed one of the wines was from Crete. I have had some great holidays there but I was not at all impressed with their wine, so I had already decided this would be the worse one. I was totally right it was but that is just my opinion of course.
The tasting is hosted live on Facebook by the couple who own the shop. It is all very laid back and relaxed. They are on their sofa in the living room. They talk a bit at the start highlighting how it all works and saying hello to everyone watching. They then take you through the cheese and wine pairings one by one. Overall it was all really nice with the exception of the wine I already mentioned and the last one of the cheeses. It was a blue cheese which although not my favourite type I do not normally mind it. This one was so bad though it was like taking part in the eating trial on “I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here.”
I only had a very tiny bit of that, which in the circumstances was quite brave. My girlfriend had tried it first and I saw the face she made and her reaction to it. Yet I still decided to put it in my mouth. I must say the rest of the wine and cheese was alright. Not everyone can like everything that is the fun of the tasting. We finished all the wine and all but that last piece of cheese. It was a fun night at home. At the end of it although you only have a glass of each one, we both felt a bit tipsy. I think that is perfectly acceptable for a big Saturday night in though.
I view myself as pretty average in the kitchen. I can cook most things to a decent standard but I am never going to win Master Chef. That said I do think I do a nice steak. It is all about the preparation firstly you need a decent cut of meat. Then you have to season it correctly prior to frying. I like to get the pan nice and hot to sear it each side for about a minute.
Then reduce the temperature to a medium heat and depending on its size cook both sides for between four and six minutes depending how you like it done. Leave it to rest for five minutes and there you go. Think of me as one of the “Un-hairy non-bikers” not as my apron says the “Queen of Tarts” I borrowed it from my girlfriend honest!
I have watched such a small amount of films during my life mainly because I am not that interested in them. My girlfriend enjoys films. We cannot go out anywhere at the minute so she is on a mission to find “Neil Friendly” films and try to convince me to watch them. She managed to get me to watch “Coming to America” last weekend. I had seen quite a few of the Eddie Murphy movies around that time but not that one.
It was alright, some good scenes in it. Obviously I was already aware of the balcony scene. But having now seen the opening sequence to it I am not against becoming an African Prince if the opportunity ever arises. The sequel “Coming to America 2” is out next month. I have a feeling I am going to end up watching that to you know.
Quigger’s Plays Pop my weekly Pop Quiz is continuing on Tuesday nights at 8.30pm on my Facebook page for the foreseeable future. It is simply meant as a bit of light hearted fun every week. It does not really matter if you know much about the subject or not. I just mess around a bit ask a few questions and have a laugh. Here is the most recent episode to get you in the mood and ready for the next one.
It has been another roller coaster of a couple of weeks supporting Tottenham. It was a relief to return to winning ways in the Premier League after three defeats in a row last weekend. The first time that had happened since back in 2012 believe it or not. Later today we face Manchester City who seem to be on fire at the minute and are looking unstoppable. We did beat them at home last November but they do appear to have clicked in to gear since then. I just hope we play well and put in a decent performance.
We are now out of the FA Cup after a crazy five – four defeat after extra time away at Everton. It was a strange game filled with lots of defensive errors from both sides. I felt the game could have gone either way in the end. But you cannot really expect to concede five goals and win a football match. I am now supporting Everton in the rest of the competition and would love to see them go on and win it.
It is Valentine’s Day tomorrow if you celebrate or take part in it in anyway. I think it is fair to say that you should not need a special occasion to show your feelings for your other half. That said this is the first one that I have been with my girlfriend for, so I have got a card and present. I am not an idiot! In fact this is only the second time in my life I think that I have actually been seeing someone over “Valentines”.
Last year for example I was out for a meal on my own in Melbourne in Australia. I had not realised what day it was so could not work out why I was finding it so hard to get a table at a restaurant. It was not until I was sat down eating that it dawned on me that everyone else in the place was in a couple. After dinner I went for a drink in a bar and found a group of friends who were all single and having an anti Valentine’s night, so I gate crashed their night and had a couple of drinks with them.
The only time I think I have been out for a meal on Valentine’s Day was when I was twenty-one. The girl I was dating’s birthday was on February 14th. Therefore I took her out for a two for one kind of celebration meal. She was my first proper girlfriend so I was hoping to impress her. I bought her some earing’s which I gave her in a little jewellery box. It was not until I presented it to her during dinner and the entire place stopped to stare at us did I realise what this gesture could look like. I think I may have very quickly sung happy birthday to her. Anyway however you mark it this year, have a good one!
You can listen to me every Saturday afternoon between 2pm – 4pm on Radio Ninesprings https://www.radioninesprings.co.uk/
Have fun and we will catch up again soon. Stay safe! Cheers Neil.