Tag Archives: television

River of Dreams

I hope you have somehow recovered from the excitement of England winning the Cricket World Cup at Lords last Sunday. What a match! I cannot remember ever seeing an ending to a game like it. The Drama and tension was almost unbearable. But we got the job done by the skin of our teeth. I am not a massive Cricket fan. But that was quality.

It does seem we like to win World Cups in all of the men’s sports at the death with a heart stopping moment. Take Geoff Hurst’s third goal right as the whistle blew in 1966 with that famous commentary accompanying it. To win our first and so far only football World Cup. Not to mention the late drop goal by Johnny Wilkinson to win us the Rugby World Cup in 2003.

In England we really do like doing things the hard way. It was a great moment and I was pleased to witness it live on the television. I still do hope that I will get to see the football team win another World Cup. In my life time. Having missed the last victory by a mere ten years. While we are talking sport, congratulations to the ace Lewis Hamilton. Who won the British Grand Prix for a record sixth time last weekend.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I have had another busy and fun couple of weeks. When I was about to make my stand-up comedy debut. I tweeted a few comedians for some advice. One of the ones who came back to me was Al Murray. I have been a fan of his for ages. I saw him live at the Octagon Theatre in Yeovil. Around twelve years ago. I spotted that he was coming to the Wycombe Swan. I do still follow him on Twitter. So I knew that he normally runs a ticket competition via the social media site. On the day of the gig.

As it happened that day I was at home and free. Therefore, as I really wanted to see his latest show. I made sure I kept a very close eye on his Twitter. When he asked the question for the chance to win some tickets. I made sure I was the first person to reply with the correct answer. He then offered me some tickets for that evening. Which I gratefully accepted. My cunning plan had been a complete success.

Neil Quigley Stand Up Comedy
Neil Quigley Stand Up Comedy

Al Murray performs of course, as his alter ego The Pub Landlord. It is amazing how many people on his Twitter page fail miserably to make this distinction. They cannot seem to be able to see that he is playing a character on stage. I turned up at The Swan to collect my ticket left for me on the door. I got myself a pint of my favourite beer, Rebellion IPA. Which they now serve there. Then I took my seat.

Al starts the show as always pouring pints on stage, spilling them on the front row. Then hailing the ale and welcoming in the wine. It is a bit of fun, it gets the audience involved from the off. And sets up the pub feel to the gig. As basically the landlord is preaching with the bar as his lectern in his boozer. As ever, he is pretty brutal and does not pull any punches.

The first half was fantastic and very funny. At the interval I grabbed myself another pint. At the start of the second half. He gives you the chance to grab a quick picture of him on stage. He poses twice. The first is a wave and the second possibly a more Landlord like gesture. At this point he asked where the competition winners were. I put my hand up and suffered a bit of good-natured abuse for my trouble. All good fun! Totally accurate and completely deserved.

The second half was also brilliant. It is a topical show. This means Politics and Brexit feature. Al himself is a big fan of military history. This is a theme running through one of the routines. As he is such an expert. It was actually quite educational about many of the wars that the country has been involved in. It was also fairly amusing, how the “Landlord” dealt with having seen Bohemian Rhapsody. And what he may have learnt about Freddie Mercury from it.

He is a top quality, clever and funny comedian. I really enjoyed it. If your jaws ache on the way back from a comedy gig. You know, you have had a great time. As well as the intelligently written material. Al is also very good at interacting with and getting laughs from the audience. You cannot beat a night of live comedy. Laughter is good for the soul.

Al Murray

I went to one of the preview performances of the new version of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolored Dreamcoat” At the iconic London Palladium. It is a musical I have always loved. And I have seen it a few times in the past. The songs are all so catchy and so tempting to sing along to. There were also a couple of other reasons, why this production appealed to me. And why I wanted to see it.

Firstly it stars Sheridan Smith. Who I think is fantastic. I tried to see her in Funny Girl. When she was in that. But I managed to get tickets on a night. She was not on. I did manage to see her sing at Children in Need last year. But this was finally my chance to catch her on stage performing in a musical. Then there was also the chance to see Jason Donovan do his thing live to.

As I said it is a new version of the show. Obviously the songs and the story remain the same. But it is slightly re-imagined. Sheridan plays the Narrator. And is the star of the show. She is on the stage pretty much the entire time. And she really drives and leads the story. The set-up is that she is a teacher telling the story to her class. Who are there throughout, as the story unfolds. There are a few other twists and surprises to. But I do not want to give away any spoilers.

Jason Donovan makes a brilliant cameo appearance as the Pharaoh. His costume, make up, style and all round performance is excellent. Jac Yarrow makes his West End debut as Joseph. His voice is quality and his stage presence is good. So I suspect we will see him in plenty more shows over the years. I really liked the quirkiness and in many ways more light-hearted approach to this classic tale.

Something happened during it. That I had never witnessed before. At the end of one of the numbers. The stage managers started to call the actors off stage. Then they came on to tell the remaining ones to get off. At which point the safety curtain came down. The show had been stopped.

Then there was an announcement saying that the performance had been suspended. Due to a technical fault. At first they were hoping to resolve it within five minutes. The audience were asked to stay in our seats. Which we duly did. In the end we were waiting for about twenty minutes. With many different rumours starting to go round the theatre.

Eventually the curtain went up again. And standing there were the show’s Director and Producer. They explained what had happened. The sound desk had gone dead. It took a while, but they got it fixed. They apologised and then thanked us for our patience. Before the performance resumed. Just before the point at which they had to stop it.

The show then continued as planned. At the interval I had another glass of the very drinkable Rioja. They serve at this great venue. I thought Sheridan Smith was fantastic. I felt that you could not take your eyes off her. She really does know how to hold and captivate an audience. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing. If you do fancy a fun and upbeat night out. Go and see this show. But be quick, as it is only on for a short time. Until the 8th September.

Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

Since I did some work with Regatta Radio. And got to watch rowing for the first time. Managing to meet a few rowers and learn a little bit about the sport. I do now try to get to the Henley Regatta, on at least one of the days, every year. I have over the years had a fun time there, seeing the racing from on the riverbank. And also from a boat going up and down the course. This year a friend of mine invited me to go along and enjoy it with him.

I was staying at his house. So I got the bus to Henley. And then just walked to his house. To drop off my stuff and get changed in to my suit. The traffic getting in and out of the place during Regatta week is a bit of a nightmare. But the queues were not too bad by the time I arrived. My mate Mike Sterling managed to get us tickets to enjoy all the action from Phyllis Court. This is a Private Members Club with grounds that back right on to the river.

We got there around two in the afternoon. We grabbed ourselves some meat and salad for lunch. And as luck would have it. They had Rebellion beer there. So I had a pint of that. We then made our way down to the river to watch the afternoon session of racing. We got a table to sit at and a jug of Pimms. To enjoy the rowing in the glorious sunshine. At that moment in time, I do not know if I could have been anymore English, if I had tried.

Henley Royal Regatta

It is exciting and yet very relaxing watching the crews row past you. At the end of the session we headed back to the lawn of the club. To have a hog roast and a glass of Champagne. Both of which were ace. We then went for a drink in one of the pubs in Henley. On the way we stopped briefly to see the grave stone of the legendary English singer Dusty Springfield. Who had spent her final years living in the town.

We ended the night in a nice Restaurant. As Mike was performing in there. It was good fun. He is a top live performer. I do enjoy it when he sings. It was a very sociable night. In fact, as we were talking to the owners for ages after the gig. We did not get back to his place until about 4.30am. Proving that I am very much still Rock n Roll. Well at least I am occasionally. Another wonderful day and night spent having fun with friends.

Mike Sterling and Neil Quigley

My mum wanted to go and visit the Tower of London. My sister also expressed an interest in coming along. The other Wednesday I took them both there for the day. My mum had been to see the amazing Poppy display there a few years ago. But she had not actually been inside the walls of the famous landmark. Since she was just a little girl. Coincidentally the last and only time I had visited it. I was just eight years old. My sister however had been there within the last ten years, so she became our designated expert on the place.

Tower Of London

We got off the tube at London Bridge Station. As my Mum had never walked across Tower Bridge. We ticked this off her list on the way to the Tower. I had sensibly pre-booked the tickets. So I picked them up from the group bookings window. Bypassing all the queues. As they say, you cannot buy experience. The guy on the ticket desk was very helpful as well, which was good. On entry we decided to go and see the Crown Jewels first. As at this point the queues were not too bad.

On the way in my sister stopped for a chat with the first ever female Yeoman Warder. Who she recognised from a documentary that she had seen. About five years ago. The jewels were stunning. The gold and precious stones within that building are exceptional.

Tower Of London

Not to mention the history behind them. I was impressed by the fact that the current State Crown apparently contains Pearls, thought to be from Elizabeth I’s necklace. Just let that sink in for a second. How old they would be now. The security is rightly tight. You are basically viewing these items from within a vault. If you do go check out those doors on the way in and out. Thick does not even cover it.

After the Jewels we went to the White Tower. To see all the Armour. I am not saying that Henry VIII was may be trying to make some sort of statement about his inability to sire a son. But the size of the cod piece. On one of his sets of Armour on display is a thing of beauty. It also contains quite a few of the weapons from that era. And it is fair to say they were brutal. Everything from swords right up to muskets and very early pistols are there to see. In fact there is even an actual golden gun, near the end.

Tower Of London

Next up, we just made a short talk on the Ravens. Delivered at their cages. That was interesting and reconfirmed the legend. That if the Raven’s leave the Tower, then London will fall. Although we are safe, as all of the birds are born there. They are very territorial creatures. And are very well looked after. So basically those birds are not going anywhere.

We stopped for some sandwiches, cake and a nice cup of tea in the Cafe. It turns out sight-seeing and reminding yourself about English history is hungry and thirsty work. Once we were totally refreshed. We went on one of the guided tours. Taken by the Yeoman Warders. To become one of them, by the way. You have to have served in the Military for at least twenty-two years. And have reached the rank of at least Sergeant Major. So what I am saying is, that it is not an easy gig to get.

The tour was really interesting and I learnt quite a bit about the Tower and its history. It has had so many different uses over the years. And of course many well-known visitors. I am very much pro the Royal Family. As of course was our guide. He did make a good point. Last year the Royal Family brought two hundred and sixty-nine million pounds in to the country. Which then in turn goes to our Government. They then give the Queen. The annual Sovereign Grant of forty-five million pounds.

The tour finishes outside the Chapel. Where Ann Boleyn is thought to be buried. Which is still an active church. Used by the people who live within the Tower walls. There is a small community that live in the Tower. It sounds fun, but the place is locked at 7pm every night. Meaning if you are in you cannot get out and if you are out. You will not be able to get back in. Until it is reopened the following morning. On the plus side the Yeoman Warders do have their own pub onsite. So I know where I would be most nights. If I lived there.

Tower Of London

We walked around the walls overlooking what used to be the moat. And of course the Thames. At one point we noticed Tower Bridge was being raised. So we stopped to watch. Expecting it to be a big exciting boat coming through. Then up the river comes what is a small unimpressive vessel with a huge mask. I am not going to lie to you, it was slightly disappointing.

We then visited as many of the other Towers. That we could before the venue closed to the public. This included one, where one of the old kings lived. It was decorated how it was believed that he had it. We also looked around the Army Exhibition. Which contained a bust of both Hitler and Mussolini.

Tower Of London

There were a couple of interactive bits. One of which was a Soldiers back pack. The challenge was, if you could lift it up or not. I could just about lift it up. Which I was quite pleased about. Until you read that it is only a quarter of the weight. That actual Royal Marines carry on their backs. Total respect to them there.

It was a lovely day with my Mum and Sister. I really enjoyed looking around the Tower of London. And seeing things I had not seen since I was a kid. We stopped off for a KFC on the way home. As I know how to treat ladies properly. Everybody had a good time. So it was a total success. Another well-known place. That is certainly worth a visit.

Tower bridge

My sister has a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel called Keira. She is a lovely dog but is twelve years old now. So she is starting to feel her age a bit. To keep her joints moving and strong. She has to do these regular Hydro-therapy sessions. I went along to one of these with my sister last week.

Basically they have a treadmill. You can fill with water. The dog gets in. Then they fill the water up to her belly. Then she has to do several sets walking on the running machine under water. It is quite funny to see. It looks like quite a tough work out, though.

The dog is not a natural exerciser. And requires someone at one end with treats to encourage her to walk at the required pace. I am half thinking about getting someone to do this with cakes and chocolate for me. The next time I go to a gym. As I think that might improve my performance.

Dog Gym Work out

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

By Royal Appointments

I hope you enjoyed last Saturday. It was gorgeous. Sunny and warm. In fact it actually saw me getting my legs out and donning a pair of shorts. My rule is that I will only wear them if the temperature is above twenty five degrees Celsius. Unless I am playing sport. We have had quite a few pleasant days. They have just not been as hot. As I would have liked them to be in the main.

I was lucky enough to make two visits to Royal Ascot this year. I was there on the first and last day of the festival of horse racing. On the Tuesday I took my Dad there for the first time. We set off suited and booted. To get the train to the Berkshire course. This involved going into London first. To then get the tube to Waterloo. Just to alleviate any doubt wearing a three piece suit on the Underground is like you are in a Sauna. Which coincidentally is somewhere else people rarely talk to each other. And also avoid eye contact.

Royal Ascot 2019

We managed to get a seat on the busy train from Waterloo to Ascot. It might have been the best dressed train in the world. It is not every day. Everyone in a carriage is wearing at least a suit. If not as in many cases Top Hat and Tails. It is wrong to portray stereotypes of course. But everyone did seem to be very friendly and nice to each other. So there may be something in the way people dress. And the way they behave. At least in public, possibly before they have started drinking too much.

Sadly it was a bit of a wet and showery day. We were undecided if we should bring jackets or something to fend off the rain. In the end my Dad did not bring anything. I brought the world’s smallest umbrella. Which I got for three Euros when I was in Rome. It was all we had. So when it started raining as we arrived. I had to try to use it to keep the both of us dry. As we walked up the busy road to the entrance. With limited success. We got in to the Queen Anne Enclosure and happily the rain eased a little.

We grabbed a rather nice Chicken Burger for lunch. Got a couple of race cards to study. Then somehow managed to get ourselves a seat undercover at one of the outside bars. Where we treated ourselves to a glass of beer. Then it was time to take our place at the Parade Ring to watch the Queen arrive.

The Queen

She is a massive racing ran and she loves this meeting. She has not missed one single day of Royal Ascot since 1953. And to be fair to her that was because it was the day of her Coronation. Therefore she did have a slightly more pressing engagement that particular day.

I have said it before, I am a big fan of the Queen and the Royals. I think they are great ambassadors for the country. They bring in a lot of tourism from abroad. And they are well loved and respected all over the world. The Queen for me is an amazing lady. Always acting perfectly in every situation. I wish I could learn that skill. I have to admit I really enjoy watching her arrive. Normally on the first day a lot of the family come along to support her.

I got a really good position to see them all arrive. The Queen was no more than about five metres away from me. When she went past in her horse drawn carriage. Also in the procession and going right by me were Prince Andrew, Princess Anne, The Countess of Wessex, Prince Charles, Camilla Duchess of Cornwall, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie. Plus the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. I am totally convinced that Prince William waved at me as he went past

With the Queen in attendance and the Royal Standard flying on top of the stand. It was time to get the racing underway. I had a terrible day on the betting front. And did not have any winners. In any of the six races. My Dad however did have two winners. During the races we grabbed some Fish and Chips. They were tasty. The standard of food on offer was generally pretty good.

Royal Ascot 2019

After the racing had finished for the day. We had another drink at one of the many bars in the enclosure. We then went to a pub on the High Street in Ascot. For one more final drink. As we waited for our taxi home to arrive. It was a fun and enjoyable day. Despite the rain. The quality of the races was excellent. They were almost all close run things with exciting finishes. I then watched the next three days of the festival from home. And happily did rather better on the betting front.

The final day of Royal Ascot this year. I was back in another three piece suit. At the house of two very good friends. Getting ready to jump in a taxi and once again make my way to the world famous race course. Before we left, we had a glass of fizz to toast the day ahead. This time it was a dry and sunny day. Which does just put everyone in a much better mood.

Royal Ascot 2019

After a pretty decent walk from where our taxi dropped us off. We entered the Queen Anne Enclosure. As I had been there just a few days before I took our group on a short tour. To help them find their way around. Then we went and got ourselves a drink. Well it would have been rude not to.

I was back in the Parade Ring again to watch the Queen arrive. Then it was on to the day’s racing. I managed to pick the winner of the first and third race. So I was a bit more successful than my previous visit. A bit earlier in the week. We had a few drinks during the afternoon. It was all very sociable.

Royal Ascot 2019

We got talking to lots of different people from all over the country. At one point a very beautiful women. Who I can only presume must have been a little drunk. Stopped me to tell me what gorgeous blue eyes I had. As she walked past me. I will take that compliment all day long. And for the record I do have nice eyes.

At the end of racing everyday. They have a traditional sing-song at the Bandstand in the Queen Anne Enclosure. I made sure that I was down there right in the middle of it all. The band are the Band of the Coldstream Guards. And they are absolutely brilliant.

A singer joins them for about forty-five minutes. It is just classic song after classic song with the whole of Ascot joining in. It is so much fun and a real feel good part of the day. At the end of the last song on the last day. There was ticker tape everywhere. It looked amazing. This is always one of my highlights of the day at Royal Ascot.

Royal Ascot 2019

After I had finished my Pimms that accompanied my partying around the bandstand. I got another beer and rejoined my friends. We then discovered an open air disco on the course. And spent a good hour or so dancing there. I can confirm I have definitely still got all of the moves. The DJ was playing some top tunes.

As we were leaving the race course. We randomly saw the former footballer Andy Cole. We were on our way to another pub again in Ascot. To have a final drink to celebrate a fun and very enjoyable day. We met a few more new “friends” in there. Before getting a taxi home. It is such a epic event. You get to dress up, see some great racing, do a bit of partying and have a few drinks. What is not to like? I will be going there again next year, for sure. And I cannot wait.

Royal Ascot 2019

In a piece of genius timing. The day after my second visit to Royal Ascot. A good friend of mine had organised a game of Foot Golf. For his birthday over in Milton Keynes. Happily it did not start until early afternoon. And I managed to get a lift over there. So I did not have to drive. I had played the game once before. At a course near to the famous Pinewood Studios. I had been rubbish on my debut. And I was hoping to put in a better performance this time round.

There were eight of us in total. So we split up into two groups of four. I have always considered myself a pretty decent footballer. And have played for some good teams and been fairly successful within them. But I do seem to really struggle with Foot Golf. I was terrible at it once again. In fact we had one hole. Where we all had to use our weakest foot. And unbelievably this was the hole that I did the best on. The only one I won. So may be I am actually left footed. And have been using the wrong foot during my “career”.

Despite me being awful at it. It was a good laugh. And great fun. The birthday boy won overall in the end, very fittingly. Afterwards we got a bite to eat and had a drink in the club house. Which was a perfect way to round off the afternoon. I would certainly play another game of it at some point in the future. Purely on the basis that I cannot get any worse at it. Mind you I am still better at that, than I am at actual golf.

Foot Golf

I was lucky enough to get to see the new Gloria Estefan musical “On Your Feet” the day before its Press Night. It has been a massive hit on Broadway for the last few years. She and her husband Emilio are very involved in the production. In fact it was their idea to do it in the first place. It features so many of her amazing back catalogue of hits. I have been a fan of her music for years and remember listening to it quite a bit as a teenager.

The show is all about Gloria and Emilio’s lives. Both of their families were immigrants from Cuba. Trying to make their way in America. In a way they came from almost identical backgrounds. It tells the story of how they met. And how they managed to take their Cuban Sound and conquer not just America but the world with their music. Gloria had the songs, the voice and the stage presence. While Emilio was a great producer and businessman.

They make a great partnership in life and in work. Which causes a bit of friction with Gloria’s family at times. It is a real life story, so it does include the terrible bus crash. That she was badly injured in. But it is basically an inspiring and uplifting tale. Showing how love, hard work and desire to succeed can make your dreams come true. The cast are excellent. The band and overall sound are spot on. And the dancers are stunning, as are their routines.

As I said earlier the whole thing is carried along nicely by the great songs. You do not win twenty-six Grammy’s for nothing. At the end the whole audience were up on their feet swaying their hips and all joining in. The rhythm is gonna get you. And there is nothing you can do about it. A powerful and uplifting show. Where the good guys, all win in the end. Worth seeing if you want to learn about the Estefan’s while enjoying a bit of the Cuban Beat.

On Your Feet

Last Sunday it was the latest Tringe Festival Roving Comedy Night. I have been lucky enough to perform at this event in 2012 and 2017. It is so much fun. This year I was there to watch and support the new class of 2019. All make their stand up debuts in Tring. Just like I had done seven years ago. It is always a brilliant night. And this one did not disappoint.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I was in The Castle. I like to try a different pub every time I go and see it. The stage was set up in the beer garden. The way it works is, the Roving Comedians go around four pubs in groups of three. They have a professional comedian with them. Who then headlines their mini show. The “Rovers” get five minutes each and the Pro’s get ten minutes. The compere at The Castle was the brill Joe Jacobs, who I had previously seen perform at The Musical Comedy Awards up in London. A couple of months ago.

Joe Jacobs opened the night, warmed up the crowd, introduced the three trainee comedians, who were all great. Then he welcomed to the stage the first headliner of the night. The always hilarious Silky. He has been involved with this pretty much since it started. He is always quality. After my debut in 2012. I gave him a lift back to his hotel. I have been harassing him whenever he appears at this event, ever since.


There is a short break before the set up is repeated. The next lot of first timers and the second headliner. Who was the fantastic Jayde Adams. The professional comedian with the next batch of Tring new bees was the wonderful Rich Wilson. Who is always a top quality act. I have seen him a couple of times before and he has always made me laugh.

Lastly we had two more of the Rovers. Before the last headliner of the night. The very funny Ben Norris. Who closed the show with a brilliant set. Well done to all the Roving Comedy performers. You were all brilliant. And I hope you enjoyed it, half as much as I did when I did it. You smashed it! It was another very enjoyable gig.

Ben Norris

Afterwards I went to The Kings Arms to gatecrash the after show party. As I know from my time’s doing it. This is the place where we all end up. I managed to have a quick chat with the lovely Silky. He had been performing at Glastonbury and had driven up specially to be part of things in Tring. He is brilliant bloke and a very funny man. So do try and see him live, if you get the chance.

I also managed to grab a quick word with the man who puts the whole Tringe Festival together. The fantastic Ben Moorhouse. It was great to see and talk to so many other “Roving Comedy” comics. From all of the different years. That it has been running. We all have a common bound and shared experience.

Lastly I got to speak to my comedy guru and teacher the resplendent Logan Murray. Every comedian who makes their stand up comedy debut on the Roving Comedy Night. As part of the process attends an eight week comedy master class with Logan.

And not only is he stupidly funny. He is also such a nice and lovely person. It was brill to catch up with him briefly. He seemed rightly proud of his latest batch of students. Who he had now set free out in to the world of comedy. A fantastic night. I look forward to going to see it again next year.

Logan Murray
Logan Murray

It was also the Glastonbury Festival last weekend. I was there back in 2007 when The Killers last headlined the Pyramid Stage. I camped there for three days in the the backstage area with VIP access. And I must say it was brilliant. This year I had to make do with watching all the action from the comfort of my own house. And with the use of a clean toilet, anytime I wanted it. It was tough but I survived it.

Neil Quigley at Glastonbury
Neil Quigley at Glastonbury

I did watch The Killers set. And I thought they were fantastic. I mean they are from Las Vegas, so they should know how to put on a show. Brandon Flowers is a great front man. You cannot take your eyes off him and he really sustains the audiences attention. I think he might have pretended to the rest of the band that they were not going to dress up for it. And then at the last minute went out and got himself a stand out suit. But lets face it, nine times out of ten, the singer will be wearing the most elaborate clothes.

Their guests on stage were a bit random. Jimmy Carr made a brief cameo sweeping the stage. They were then joined by the Pet Shop Boys for a couple of songs. I can only imagine the pop duo had not seen the weather forecast. As they turned up in winter coats and a hat. Then they were replaced by Johnny Marr. To finish things off. I thought they closed the Saturday night perfectly. A lot of their big songs work really well in this kind of arena.

School of Rock
School of Rock

I also caught Liam Gallagher’s performance. That man definitely has the swagger to own that stage on such an occasion. He did a mixture of his own songs alongside a few classic Oasis anthems. It did amuse me. When he did Rock N Rock Star. And then straight after it started moaning that he was cold. As someone had advised him not to wear his Parker. Living the dream. Rock excess is not dead! Excellent set from him. Looked and sounded the part. Completely as expected.

The artist I was most excited about seeing perform this year was the lovely Kylie Minogue. I really did wish I was in that cow field in Pilton to watch her fill the legends slot. This pain was eased slightly by the fact that I got to see her play at Radio 2’s Festival in a Day at Hyde Park last September. She was sensational that day.


I thought she was totally amazing. Her choice of songs were perfect. To reflect her thirty years in the business. She has during that time released at lot of very good pop songs. Songs we all know and love. And can sing along to. I thought she looked stunning in each of the outfits she wore. However four outfit changes in a hour set at the biggest festival in the country. Is possibly a little bit over the top.

She was clearly enjoying herself. Which was fantastic to see. She was meant to headline Glastonbury back in 2005. But unfortunately she had to pull out when she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Happily as we now know that story ended well. And she got to appear on the stage finally. And do her thing in a massive field in Somerset. I am a huge fan of hers. She always puts on such a great show. She is very hardworking. And I get the impression, she is lots of fun. Nice one Kylie!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

Spice Up Your Life

Life is for living and to be enjoyed. And I think to be seen as a great big adventure. For me personally going out and having fun is a huge part of that. Therefore once again I have had a pretty busy couple of weeks. Doing lots of diverse and different things. As I do believe that variety is the spice of life.

For starters I had a brilliant night out with some very good friends of mine. Believe it or not it was the first time that we had all been in the same place at the same time this year. Which is impressive given that we are now half way through it. But we are all so busy, just getting on with our own lives. That finding a date when we are all available, is to say the least a challenge.

However we finally managed it. Meeting up at a local pub that was in a central location for everyone. For some food and a few drinks. I am always the first one to turn up to these things. I really hate being late for anything. So I normally turn up ridiculously early. I am not saying I was keen. But I arrived an hour before the agreed time. I have spent a shocking amount of time in pubs by myself waiting for people over the years.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

The other three turned up. I had been pretty good and was only one drink ahead when they arrived. We made our way to the restaurant area. As we are grown up and organised nowadays, We had booked a table. We had a very civilised three course meal. Washed down of course with a few more drinks. A splendid evening catching up on all the current news. While taking the mickey out of each other. And as ever reminiscing about days gone by.

After dinner there was a singer performing with a guitar in the bar. We stayed and listened to him for a bit. Before heading up to the other end of town to try another pub. We had a couple more there before calling it a night. You really cannot beat spending time with friends. It is very good for the soul. But not that good for the head the next morning, sometimes.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I went to see a fantastic new musical recently. Well I say new, but it has been in the West End since the end of January. And has won four Olivier Awards. But compared to the more established ones. It is still possibly, lesser known. It is actually set around the time of the attack on the World Trade Centre in New York on 9/11. It focuses on knock on side effects from the actual incident. That I must admit, I had not really thought about.

Based on a true story. It explains what happened to a small Canadian suburb. When seven thousand stranded air passengers from all over the world ended up there. After the terrible tragedy. All flights were grounded and American Airspace was closed. Gander International Airport in Newfoundland offered to house inbound flights coming from Europe. The whole community then came together specially to look after these weary and confused travellers. Many of whom are a long way from their planned destination.

It is called “Come From Away”. Because “Come From Away’s” is what the residents of the towns and villages, who took them in called their guests. The show itself is fantastic. It is wonderfully staged and very clever. The whole cast each play at least one of the locals and one of the visitors. But credit to them, as you always know which one they are in every scene. The songs are catchy and memorable. And are all performed in an Irish musical style.

There are so many layers to it. You have of course got the backdrop of the actual horrific incident. The story of how the locals cope with the population of the place suddenly being doubled for a week. Then there are the individual tales of the passengers themselves. Who are suddenly stranded. Seemingly in the middle of nowhere. I thought it was amazing. And I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I would certainly recommend seeing it, if you can. It is well worth it. As well as being an interesting story. It will restore your faith in all human nature. Just in case it is lacking a bit at the moment. It runs straight through with no interval. Luckily though I was aware of this so I took a nice glass of Rioja in with me. “Come From Away” is on at the Phoenix Theatre in London. Go and see it!

Come From Away

A mate of mine took me to the legendary Ronnie Scott’s in London for the first time the other Sunday. He is a member there, so goes a lot. It was yet another place I had been wanting to experience for a while. And it did not disappoint. We arrived, put our jackets in at the cloak room. Then we were shown to our seats. Like a theatre show you buy tickets for certain areas. Either on the round tables right at the front of the stage or at the straight tables to the sides.

We were at the straight tables. But like all the others, they still come with a table lamp and waitress service. You order all food and drink from your seats. Then they bring you the bill at the end of the night. It was the Blues Explosion Band performing. Which is made up of great musicians, who have played and toured with many of music’s biggest stars. The songs were excellent. And the second half was a tribute to the great Blues legend Dr John. It was a quality evening. I look forward to going back there again soon.

Ronnie Scott’s

As part of my Dad’s seemingly never ending birthday celebrations. We had a night at Windsor Races. They have meetings there most Monday’s during the summer. Normally with some sort of theme. This particular evening it was their Irish Night. It was not a nice day weather wise. It had been raining heavily all afternoon. When we got there it was still throwing it down.

I was not convinced we were going to see any racing at all. And I was expecting the meeting to be abandoned at any moment. I had a curry to try to warm myself up. Before the first race. And a couple of cups of tea. It was such a dreary night. That sadly not many people turned up. Although all the racing still went ahead.

The races were quite exciting, possibly due to the weather. Mind you I did not have any winners. We left before the last race and the live music. To get home and dry out. I hope you are also making the most of the Summer, so far to.

Windsor races

I went to the Spice Girls first ever tour at Wembley Arena. I was at the 02 for the last reunion tour. I even went and watched the short lived musical featuring their songs called “Viva Forever”. I did all of these with my sister. Therefore we both just had to go and see their latest show, when it was at Wembley Stadium.

We went to the opening night of the three. That they were doing in the Capital. It was actually the first music concert. That I had been to at the home of the national team. I have of course been to countless football matches there in the past. I will admit the walk up from the train station was slightly different to that of a standard match day. It was a bit more chilled and relaxed. With the same amount of Union Jacks but a lot more leopard print around than normal.

Spice Girls

We got inside the stadium. It was impressive how many people had dressed up as their favourite Spice Girl. I say people, as there were a lot of men dressed up to. We had a burger and a soft drink. I am not turning into Paul McCartney but I did have the Veggie Burger. Which was delicious. I had managed to get us in the Bobby Moore seats. In my opinion these are the comfiest seats in the place. Plus they gave us a decent view of the stage.

The support act was Jess Glynne. She is a fantastic artist. Who has had six number one’s in the UK herself. And sells out her own shows. But I thought she was the perfect choice for the gig. Her stuff is well known and upbeat. The right person to get things started and up and running. Although judging by the reaction when the DJ played C’est La Vie by Bewitched. May be they should have booked them. Joking aside, Jess was brilliant. And looked to be enjoying herself out there. Which was good to see. Great work!

Jess Glynne

Then we came on to the main event. The backing dancers came out nice and early. To get the crowd warmed up. The Spice Band appear and start playing. The big screens at the side of the stage kick into life. Then suddenly the four girls appear from nowhere right at the front of the stage. They launched in to Spice Up Your Life. And we were off and running. The party had well and truly started.

They then go through all of their brilliant back catalogue of songs. There are lots of outfit changes. These breaks in the action were often filled by their excellent dancers. Sometimes with individual routines. We got the usual onstage banter. You would expect from the ladies. Which was often hectic, lively and a little bit fruity. But which was also sincere, honest and real. Containing plenty of good humour.I felt it was all delivered in a very positive way.

Spice Girls

They are all older. They have all been through a lot. They are more emotional than they used to be. Which if anything shows how they have matured. After going off to rapturous applause. They returned for the encore. To perform Stop, Mama and of course the song that kicked things off for them back in 1996 Wannabe. We had fireworks at the start and at the end. It was a bright colourful and a thoroughly entertaining show.

They did of course reference the missing member of the band a few times. The same way a group of mates would, if one person could not make the get together. It was a proper big production. I am around the same age as the Spice Girls, well except Geri, of course. So we have kind of grown up together. Their concerts are just fun and full of lots of positivity. I do not think they try to be anything else. Just live in the moment. And have a good time. Top work all round!

Spice Girls

Next Sunday sees the start of the Tringe Festival. A three week long comedy event in Tring. It features lots of top comedians previewing their new show’s ready for this Summer’s Edinburgh Festival. Now in its tenth year. It is curated by Ben Moorhouse, Most of the events take place at The Court Theatre in Tring.

The first event however takes place across four pubs in Tring. I know this, as I have done it twice. Once in 2012 and then again in 2017. It is The Roving Comedy Night. A group of wannabe comedians work with the comedy guru Logan Murray for eight weeks. Doing weekly three hour sessions.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Which I must say from my own personal experience are so much fun. Basically you spend the whole time laughing with new found friends. Then somehow at the end of it. You have five minutes of brand new stand up to perform to four different audiences on the same night.

The added bonus of this night for the upcoming comic is that you get to work with a professional comedian. You go around all the pubs in groups of three or four with your professional comedian. In each of the venues you all do your five minutes and then the pro headlines your little show. So not only do you get to do your first four gigs in one night. You get to see a seasoned performer handle four separate audiences at close quarters.

Neil Quigley Stand Up Comedy
Neil Quigley Stand Up Comedy

The first time I did it. I had completed the course. And did my debut stand up performance going around with the great Tony Law. When I did it the second time round. It was a selection of comics from all the past classes. I was delighted to be able to represent my year. I Had so much fun both times, I did it. I would honestly recommend anyone to do it. Just for the amazing experience of it all.

Some of the comedians who have attended a Logan Murray course at the start of their career include Josh Widdicombe, Rhod Gilbert and Greg Davies. To mention but a few. In fact quite a few of the Roving Comedy alumni have gone on to win awards and perform their own show’s in Edinburgh.

Logan Murray
Logan Murray

I am looking forward to seeing this year’s Roving Comedy “Trainees” in action. It is always a great night. And once again I hope to catch up with one of the stalwart professional comedians of this night. The marvellous Silky. And hopefully the legend that is Logan Murray to. This event is sold out.

But if you want to check out the other gigs on at the festival. Click on the link. https://www.get-stuffed.biz/tringe/

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I have once again been to Royal Ascot this year. It is always a fun and interesting event.

And a very good excuse to put a nice suit on. I will tell you all about my two visits next time we speak.

Ascot 2018
Ascot 2018

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

Dungeons and Add On’s

It has been another roller coaster of a fortnight. I have as ever been pretty busy. As in all of our lives, some things have gone to plan and others have not. But more on that later. I hope you have had a fun and interesting couple of weeks. Last month I was in Rome looking at some ancient and historic buildings. And more recently I was just down the motorway from my home. Visiting one that was originally used by none other than William The Conqueror.

I went to Warwick Castle for the first time. It is only about an hour or so away from me. So I am not sure why it had taken me so long to go there. I met a friend of mine there. We parked in a public car park in the town centre. Right next to a lovely park. Which had a nice cafe, a splash pool and a mini golf course. None of which we actually used. As we did not really have the time for it. Before we went to the main attraction. We had lunch in a quality local pub in the town. Never go exploring on an empty stomach. That is my motto.

It was about a seven minute walk up to the castle entrance from the pub. Luckily it was a gloriously sunny day. I had bought the tickets in advance online. As it was slightly cheaper. Martin Lewis would have been proud of me. Once we got inside. The first thing we did was go to the main part of the Castle. Where we climbed the highest tower. Using the very narrow and winding staircase. Which at one point I must admit I did not think was ever going to end. On the way back down I managed to catch my head on the stone door frame. Which I can confirm did hurt a little. I am so clumsy.

Warwick Castle

As well the standard general entrance ticket. I had also pre-booked us on the Dungeon Experience. Which I thought was just a look at the Dungeons. Where you could see exhibits and learn about what went on there. That was not quite the case. I had booked us on it for 2pm. We arrived there on time and were shown through to a waiting area. There a member of staff, then came out and said we were the only two booked on it. And it is much better to do it in larger groups. Would we be prepared to wait until 2.30pm and go with the next lot? We said yes, no problem.

But then they sent two more people down to us. Who wanted to do it there and then. They were a mother and her young son. I should caveat this with the fact. That I am not a fan of horror films, spooky or scary stuff. I say this, as by this point it became apparent. That it was an interactive show. And there would be some scary bits during it. So the four of us set off. After being invited into the court yard by a Jester. Who got it all started with some terrible jokes. And warned us of what lay ahead of us.

We were shown in to the first pitch black room. Suddenly out of the dark and out of nowhere a white faced figure appears in front of us. This causes my friend scream out loud. Making me jump. A few more other surprise moments occur. Then as we are getting ready to leave this room. The little lad is now so scared. He wants to leave. Him and his mum are taken out. Leaving just us two, alone. For the rest of the performance. We were both pretty scared. And wanted to leave. But it had started now. And I thought it would be a little unfair on all the waiting actors. If we went. So we continued.

I said this was an interactive experience. The bloke before we went in had said it would be better in a bigger group. And he was right. As I was picked on in every single room. I had my vital organs removed by a rogue doctor. I was tortured. Then executed. And finally appeared in court. Before being sentenced to death. I mean it really was not my day. As I was in the performance at every part. I almost asked for a credit and a fee at the end. There was some more screaming from my friend at the end. But I stayed surprising cool. Or I was possibly just too scared to scream.

I will be honest it was not the sort of thing I would usually do. And if I had realised what it had involved. I would probably not have booked it. But I thought it was very cleverly done. It was pretty educational and it definitely made me jump a few times. I think it is quite a new attraction there. But probably not suitable for any young or nervous children.

Warwick Castle

After the Dungeons we had a nice walk around some of the gardens. We also saw a bit of the Birds Of Prey show. Which I must say was very impressive. The size of some of the birds, that they have there.

We had a sit down in the Peacock Garden. Which was a very relaxing end to the visit. It was great fun. And I would go there again. As they often have different special themed weekends and events.

Britain’s Got Talent

I managed to watch most of the Britain’s Got Talent Semi-Finals and the Final. There was a nice variety of acts in it. However I do still feel they do not really need some of the novelty performers. By that last stage. I always feel some of them take up places. That other people who also got four yes’s could fill. Which could improve the overall standard of the show. And actually make the live shows much more competitive. I managed to predict the top three acts virtually every single night.

I did think a few acts actually hindered their own chances. By some of the choices. That they made with their performances. Impressive though it is performing your own song. I do always think the general public will respond better to a song they know. Either done well or with a slight twist or individual stamp put on it. I think that ploy may well have cost Chapter 13 a place in the final at least. Also I did love all the magic acts. But in the Semi-Finals four of them all basically did the same trick. Just in a slightly different way.

I have not particularly liked the fashion this year to use the judges as part of the performance. They are there to watch it and decide what they think of it. That is harder to do when you are actually in it. Plus Simon Cowell walking off when asked to Can Can. Should never have been allowed to happen. Unless it was a publicity stunt for the show. Which they are known for to get press coverage. And that may have been the thinking behind it.

I have never met Simon. But I could of told you that he would be well out of his comfort zone. And flatly refuse to do it on stage. So surely the producers of the show must have known that. Yet they still went ahead with it. If you are trying to win something. Trying to humiliate one of the judges seems an odd way of going about it. And even if it was suggested to the act. They should have said no and refused.

BGT London
BGT London

I was delighted for the winner Chelsea Pensioner Colin Thackery. It was actually heart warming and encouraging that people voted for him. And he can really sing. You cannot argue with that. I thought his performances were great. What an amazing man. You will not find a more humble winner either. The best of luck to him. The exposure of reaching the final will help a lot of the other acts to. It will give them a lift. Or at least get them more gigs, if they already do what they do professionally.

The judges are basically the ultimate dysfunctional family. The way they argue and bicker with each other. Ant and Dec are the men you need at the helm of that madness. From dealing with the contestants to the judges. They are basically producing and directing that show from on stage, as well as presenting it. Far from an easy show to hold together and keep on track. Great job as ever, fellas.

Applications are already open for next year. I wonder if any of this years semi-finalists are thinking of coming back next year. But with a mask on like X did!

Mix 96

The other week I had a fun morning doing some filming in Aylesbury with an old friend. Mix 96 celebrated its twenty-fifth birthday earlier this year in April. I was at the radio station for around seven years in two spells. I was born there and loved presenting on my local station. Richard Carr, who I worked with at Mix 96. And who is now the man behind Bucks TV is currently making a documentary to mark the big occasion.

I met up with him for a cup of tea and a chat first. It was lovely to catch up with him and talk about old times. I cannot lie working in radio is great fun. But the most amusing and sometimes funniest things often happen off air. And behind the scenes.

So it was great to swap stories and reminisce about the old days. Fair play to him. He has managed to get a lot of former employees from the station, all together for this project. Including somebody, who now works on Breakfast television.

Victoria Pendleton and Neil Quigley
Victoria Pendleton and Neil Quigley

After we were both fully refreshed. We went to film my bits outside the Waterside Theatre. I just talked about my memories of Mix 96, how I got to be on air there and any stories I could remember from my time there. I do really enjoy doing things to camera.

Hopefully I supplied Richard with enough good footage. And will make the final edit. He is currently still working on it. I will let you know when it is completed. And how you can see it. I cannot wait to see it. I hope I get an invite to its Premiere.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Last Saturday night it was the Champions League Final. Over the last few years I had not been too bothered about it. But this year I had been looking forward to it for nearly a month. Simply because my team Tottenham Hotspur had made it to the final. For the first time in our history.

After the madness of the way we got past Manchester City and Ajax. I was just delighted to be there. For the first time since 2008. There were two English teams in the final. With Liverpool our opponents. After they got past Lionel Messi and Barcelona in their semi-final.

Tottenham Hotspur

As this was such a huge and historic match for my team. I had really wanted to get to Madrid for it. But although I am now a season ticket holder. I did not have anywhere near enough points to qualify for a Spurs ticket.

Which by the way, I am fine with. The fans who have had these tickets for years and who go to all the away games. Rightly have the most points and therefore deserve to go. I must confess, I was so desperate to go. I did look at a few secondary ticket websites. But they were all charging way too much. And seemed a bit dubious to me. So I did not risk buying one.

It was shocking how the airlines raised the flight prices. The week before and the week after the game. You could get a return flight to Madrid for around one hundred pounds. To fly there and back over the final weekend. It would have cost you over a grand. Which was also about the going rate for one night in an half decent hotel in the Spanish capital.

A few of the people I know went there with the travel company associated with the club. They flew in on the day and out straight after the game. This was fairly reasonably priced. But I understand it was not very well organised. There was lots of delays and confusion. Which is a big shame for such a special event for the fans. Who just wanted to enjoy the occasion.

As I could not get to Madrid. I figured the next best place to watch it was at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The club decided to hold a screening there. They were selling the tickets for ten pounds. And managed to sell the whole place out. Which to basically sit and see the match on giant televisions is pretty impressive.

Tottenham Hotspur

I optimistically booked a hotel in London. As I did not want to have to rush home, if I was celebrating. Plus if we won. There was to be a bus parade on the Sunday afternoon. And I did not want to miss that.

The atmosphere as I walked down the Tottenham High Road from Seven Sisters tube station was electric. The closer that you got to the ground. The louder and more spine tingling all the singing and chanting was. I got in the ground nice and early and met a friend in there.

We had a pint and a pie before the game. Then we made our way out to sit in our normal season ticket seats. To watch the teams walk out. As well as the four screens in the corners. They had also put an extra six giant screens on the pitch. So we had a good view of the action.

Neil Quigley

As the teams walked out. The noise in the ground was deafening. This was our first ever Champions League Final. I was nervous and excited. The game kicked off to a massive cheer. Then twenty five seconds later. There is silence and confusion as Liverpool are given a penalty for handball.

Which though, I appreciate I am not exactly a neutral. I thought was very harsh. Moussa Sissoko was pointing to his team mates. While closing down the Liverpool striker. The ball then hits his chest, then bounces down his arm. Which I do not think he can help. I have no idea how that can possibly be deemed as deliberate hand ball. The Reds scored from the spot. And we were instantly one down.

The game was pretty poor. I do not know if that was due to the three week break between the end of the Premier League and this game. Or that with Liverpool scoring so quickly. They were just happy to sit back, let us have possession. And then let us try to break them down. We were one down still at half time.

My mate and I watched the second half in a bar at the Stadium. Spurs huffed and puffed and had a few chances. Which if they had taken one of them. Could have made things a bit more interesting, But as it was, Liverpool grabbed a well taken second late on. Which killed us off. And meant they went on to win the game and claim the trophy.

Tottenham Hotspur

It was obviously disappointing to lose in such a big final. But for the team to even get there was a magnificent achievement. It has been a roller coaster of a season with highs and lows. We have won and lost games in the last minute. We have suffered lots of injuries this year. And had to play technically all of our games away. Until the last few months of the season.

Tottehham Hotspur
Tottehham Hotspur

I am so proud of the players, the coaching staff and the fans for what they have all done this year. It has been great. It is time now to have a rest. And come back stronger and even hungrier next season. Come on you Spurs.

I did stay for a few more drinks with all the fans after the game. For a season debrief. Then I made my way back to the hotel. It had a very nice bar. That was open until 2am. And had top live DJ’s playing. So I thought it would be rude not to have a drink in there. Before I went back to my room via the space and galaxy decorated lifts. To get a bit of sleep.

Neil Quigley

I went to see the musical The Book Of Mormon for the second time last Tuesday. And once again I really enjoyed it. It is written by the people behind the popular television adult cartoon South Park.

So it really does not pull any punches and it is packed full of swear words. Which I guarantee you will hear in very few other theatre shows. It had a bit of a shock factor the first time I saw it. But I was of course prepared for it this time.

The Book Of Mormon

As well as being very funny. It is quite a clever show. It takes a look at religion and beliefs. As you may have guessed from the title. It takes them apart and then kind of puts them back together. And although the religion in its title were not overly pleased. When it launched. It does not really offend. Plus there is a worrying amount of truths in it. The cast are fantastic. And there are so many weird and wonderful little bits of mischief in it to.

It is not meant to change the world or your views on it. Basically it is a bit of fun. I guess in a way it is a modern version of a Life of Brian. It does have some really good and catchy songs in it to. It has now been running at the same theatre in London for over six years. If you get the chance. I think it is worth seeing. Plus the Rioja they serve in The Prince of Wales Theatre is very nice.

The Book Of Mormon

I am looking forward to seeing the Spice Girls at Wembley Stadium with my sister this week. It will be the third time that I have seen the ladies live. And they always put on a really good show. I will tell you all about it next time.

Neil Quigley

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

When In Rome

Time flies when you are having fun. I cannot believe it is two weeks since we last spoke, already. During this time I have ticked off of my list, yet another Country. That I wanted to visit. More on that later. I am as blind as the proverbial Bat. Therefore I need to wear glasses to see anything at all. But I mostly wear contact lenses. As I prefer them, to having frames on my face all of the time.

I have been regularly wearing lenses since I was about twelve. When my eyesight got so bad, that I could not see to play football properly. As part of my eye care. I need to have a yearly check up. To make sure my eyes and my lenses are healthy and comfy. It starts like a normal eye test. To make sure the prescription is correct. And then it turns into the torture room from the Baddie’s lair in a James Bond film. As they make you put your face in this contraption. And shine a bright light in to your eyes.

That said my Optician is lovely. She always does a very thorough job. And let us face it. I think we can all agree. That it is important to look after your eyes. Happily my lenses fit perfectly. The prescription is correct. And my eyes are perfectly healthy. The whole process takes about half an hour. It is like a quick MOT for you sight. So I now have another years trouble free seeing. Which is always a good thing.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

It was my sister’s 40th Birthday Party a couple of weeks ago. We hired the local Community Centre for it. I had not properly been in there for years. It bought back some great memories. I used to go football training in there during the winter. When I was seven. Yes I can remember that far back. Just about, thanks. It was a bring your own drink and food, kind of do. So no problems with the pop up bar not having your favourite tipple. As you supply it yourself.

It was a brilliant night. I got to catch up with a lot of family members. Who I had not seen for a while. Which was fantastic, as ever. We are all so busy nowadays with our own lives. We do not seem to get to all meet up, as much as we used to. I was in charge of taking pictures on the night. Which was a brave move by my sister. As I am possibly the world’s worst photographer. I take about one good shot in every ten.

I did manage to find a bit of time to hit the dance floor and show off my moves. And just in case there was any doubt. I can confirm. I have sill got it. Taking my turn to perform centre stage in the family circle. We were dancing in. After only a tiny bit of encouragement from the rest of them. It was a fun night. I hope my sister had a fabulous time celebrating this big milestone in her life.


On my sister’s actual birthday. I took her to Whipsnade Zoo for the afternoon. I had not been there for six years, at least. However I do remember our parents taking us there a few times. When we were both kids. So I thought it would be a fun and nostalgic trip. Plus it is only around forty-minutes from where we live. I drove and despite my awful directional skills managed to get us parked in the free car park over the road from the entrance.

It was a week day afternoon. Therefore it was actually very quiet. I got us two tickets. We then made our way inside and took a look at the map of the Zoo. To decide what we wanted to see in the time we had there. I let the birthday girl choose most of the animals. As we were right by their enclosure. We thought we would check out the Lemurs first. But as it was a bit of a damp afternoon. They were in their house, so we had to peer at them through the windows.

We then went and caught the Sea Lion talk starring Dominic. He was named after the newsreader from the Chris Moyles Show. As fans of Radio One and now Radio X, would probably already know. He was joined by two females and a couple of pups. They are exceptionally clever and versatile creatures. They were very impressive and the information about them was pretty interesting. The first time I ever went to Whipsnade. They had a Dolphin display. Which gives you a good idea of how long ago that was.

Dominic The Sea Lion

Next we headed to the Tigers. As we arrived at their enclosure. They were all hiding. We then moved around to get a better vantage point to try and spot them. As we did that, four of them appeared right by the glass window. We had been standing at moments before.

We had the last laugh, though. We walked back down there. And got a great view of the young ones play fighting. And the parents telling them off.


We also saw the Elephants, the Hippos, Chimps, Flamingos, Zebras, Meerkats and Bears. Then we had a special moment with the Lions.

We were the only ones there. When five of them came right up to the viewing area. And had a mini roaring competition. The noise of which was amazing. It was really cool to be up so close and see them behaving like this.


Lastly we made the trek to see the animals hidden the furthest away. Why they are so far away from the rest. I have no idea. As far as I am aware they are not that dangerous.

They were the Penguins. As they seemed to be mostly hidden away nesting with just a few swimming. It seemed a little bit disappointing. We had a quick look around the gift shop. Before I treated her to a KFC on the way home. That is not me being cheap. That is her number one choice of food.


I was of course at Tottenham’s final Premier League game of the season on May 12th. To bring to a close my first full season as a Season Ticket holder. We were playing one of my favourite other teams Everton. It was a typical Spurs performance. We went one goal up early on. And looked totally in control.

We then conceded two in a short space of time in the second half. Requiring Eriksen to rescue a point for us with a brilliant free kick. The draw meant that we finished fourth. And have qualified to play Champions League football once again next season. Meaning we had achieved what we wanted to that afternoon. A season where we had to wait until March to get home. And in which we suffered so many injuries to key players. I think this was a fantastic achievement.

Tottenham Hotspur

After the match had finished. The awards were handed out for “Goal of the Season” and “Player of the Season”. Both of which were given to Heung-Min Son. Then the players and coaching staff came back out for a lap of appreciation.

It was great to see them all with their families coming round to clap the fans. While we were all having a good old fashioned Tottenham sing-song. This however is not the end of our season of course. We still have one more massive match to play.

Tottenham Hotspur

The Champions League Final on Saturday 1st June against Liverpool in Madrid. It still feels odd writing those words about my team. With a group that included Barcelona and Inter Milan. If I am honest, I was not sure we would get out of the group. Let alone make it to the very last game of the competition.

It will be by far the biggest game, that I have ever seen my team play. I really cannot wait for it. I am sure it will be a memorable night, whatever happens. And wherever I end up watching it.

Tottehham Hotspur
Tottehham Hotspur

I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to go to visit Rome a few weeks ago. I had never even been to Italy before. And their capital city is somewhere I had been keen to explore for a while. So when the chance came up. I jumped at it. I flew from Heathrow.

Using the Heathrow Express Train for the first time. And staying the night at a nearby hotel. To make it easier to get my mid-morning flight. It takes about two hours the journey. Plus the Italians are an hour ahead of the UK. So I touched down about half past two Central European time.

There is a train that runs from the airport to the main station. From there it was only one stop on the Metro. To get to within just a ten minute walk of the Bed and Breakfast I was staying at. It was a lovely little place. Down a side street. It only had four rooms in it.

You keep the keys for your entire stay. So you can come and go, as you please. And they deliver breakfast to your door every morning on a hostess trolley. For you to help yourself. It was a perfect base camp for the three nights, that I was there.

Once checked in and unpacked. I was straight out to see what it had to offer. On the way from the Metro station. I had already witnessed the first well known landmark. The famous Spanish Steps.

Next up it was just a short walk to Pantheon. Which is a former Roman Temple turned Church. It is simply stunning to look at from the outside and the inside. From here I had a stroll round a few of the many Piazza’s packed with restaurants and street entertainment. While taking in lots of spectacular and beautiful buildings along the way.


One of these was their official court building. Which was just huge. From here looking down the river. I got my first look at Vatican City. After a nice walk round. It was time to get some food. The first thing I tried was some of the famous Italian Ice- Cream. Which was lovely.

After this short pit stop. I continued walking around trying to find my bearings. It has a nice and relaxed feel to it. There are lots of tiny cobbled streets. But it does appear that all vehicles can go down any road they like. No matter how big or small.


For my main meal that first night. I went to the place that the lady at the B&B recommended called Alfredo’s. Handily it was just around the corner. It was packed out and I only just managed to get a table. The food was great. I had Beef Fillet with grilled vegetables washed down with a nice glass of Italian beer. It is obviously quite a popular place. As there are signed pictures all over the walls of some of the famous people. Who have previously eaten there.

I was up relatively early the next day. The Pope makes two public addresses, most weeks. One on a Sunday afternoon. And one on a Wednesday morning. If you happen to be in Rome. When he is on stage doing his thing. You really have to experience it. The breakfast was delivered as expected. Cereal, yogurt, cheese and ham plus a pastry. All included. And all eaten. Well if you are going to spend the whole day exploring. You need to keep your energy levels up. With my calorie intake complete. It was time to head to the Vatican to see Pope Francis.

It was about a twenty minute walk from where I was staying. Once you are across the river though. You can see Vatican City from a long way in the distance. It is free to see the Pope’s weekly service. To get in to the seated area. You do need a free ticket. Which you can order online in advance. I did not do this, but you can still get close enough. To see and hear what he and his other Cardinals are saying. Some of the Ceremony is in Latin, some in Italian and some in English. So with my limited language skills. I only understood a limited amount of it.


It was a very wet day. After seeing the Pope. I decided to do the tour of the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel and St Peters Basilica. I found one that combined all three, had a tour guide. And that could jump the queues to get in. So I booked myself on that. We each had radio’s with earpieces. And the guide had a mic. So we could clearly hear all that he had to say.

He started off with a general introduction. Before we made the long walk to the entrance of the museum. It took us a little while to get in and get going. The place is so busy. You cannot really stop at all. You have to keep moving and just take in as much as you can. As you are speeding along. It is packed with so much history. There are so many original Roman artefacts. As basically when ancient Rome was being demolished. The Pope at the time cherry picked much of the original items for the Vatican.

This includes some original Roman mosaic flooring, pots and many statues and busts. The actual building itself is amazing, as are some of the ceilings. They are so colourful and intricate. There is also a section with ancient tapestry’s. Once he had taken us through the entire museum. Our guide then led us into the world famous Sistine Chapel.


The only place on the tour. You are not allowed to take any photos. My word that artwork on the ceiling by Michelangelo is so stunning. And hard to believe that it was painted over five hundred years ago. There was a very special atmosphere in that room. It made you feel very spiritual. Just being in there. I am so glad that I got to see it and experience it for myself.

The final part of the tour was a look inside the hugely impressive St Peter’s Church. It is so ornate and luxuriously decorated. As well as being the resting place of many previous Popes. It is considered the spiritual centre of the Vatican. It is the most noticeable part of the place from a distance. With its massive dome. I am so pleased I got to see the Pope preach and look round this stunning place. That is filled with so much history.


I was brought up a Catholic. I cannot pretend to have ever been a good one. But my Grandad, Patrick used to attend Church every day. He was a very devout follower of the religion. He even had a framed picture of the Pope on his living room wall. Although he died a long time ago now. I think this visit to the Vatican. And to see the Pope was also for him, as well as me. It took well over three hours to look around it. So if you are planning to do it, one day. Do allow plenty of time.

It was still raining heavily. But with limited time and a lot to see. I kept on sight seeing. There were street sellers everywhere offering you Umbrellas for five Euros, I refused. Then I found a shop where I got one for only three Euros.

The art of the deal. I think I should have written that book. I had a good look around some of the shops. Then I visited the stunning Trevi Fountain. Before finding a small cafe. To have my first ever Latte in. I am normally a big tea drinker and never have coffee but when in Rome.


After a bit more walking and exploring. I thought I better try a piece of Italian Pizza in another small Cafe. Then I went to the Museum and Crypt of the Capuchin Friars. Which was as weird and strange as it sounds. I have never before seen so many actual human remains on display. It was a very odd and confusing place. But historically from the Monks point of view at least, very interesting.

For my main meal that day. I visited the Hard Rock Cafe. Which as it turned out. Seemed to be the place that was trickiest to find in the whole City. But I made it there in the end. To enjoy some very nice Italian Beer with American Style Tupelo Chicken Strips and Fries. Which I must say were scrumptious. Plus it was cool to listen to some good music, while eating. This bought an end to night two.

Luckily the weather improved for day three. After heavy rain the whole of the previous day. Blue sky and warm sunshine was the new backdrop for the latest expedition. And the focus was very much on the Romans. With the mission for the morning to visit the Coliseum. I set off on the thirty minute stroll from my base camp. On the way I had a quick look around the Military Museum. Which is housed in a massive and very imposing looking building.

From there I could see the famous Amphitheatre in the distance. On the way to it. There are some actual original Roman remains. I had a quick look as these, as I went past. I then got to the Coliseum. And I booked a tour that took you inside it and also in to the Roman Forum ruins next door.

The benefit of the tour, like at the Vatican was that you got to queue jump. See some different areas. And get a guide to explain it all to you. The guide was fantastic. He really knew his stuff. And was very entertaining. I learnt a lot from it. Including that at its prime it held sixty thousand people, entry was free. And the entertainment was available from sunrise to sunset. For around six weeks during the Summer.

It just demonstrated how far advanced and clever the Romans were. They even had several trap doors all over the arena. They loved their special effects. They were such show men! I got plenty of pictures in there. I bet it was a crazy place to be in its hey day. We then left the Coliseum behind. To meet our next tour guide for the Forum part of things.

He was a great guy called Alex. Who also goes by the name of The Gladiator Guide. He spends half the year working for the British Museum in London. And he also works with the Discovery Channel. Producing and presenting some of the history based programmes that they make. Checking him out on Instagram. he has a few well known “friends”.

He was brilliant. He escorted us through the remains of the Roman Forum. Sadly only two percent of the original buildings are actually still there. They were all buried under ground for hundreds of years. Until would you believe Napoleon, of all people. Did the excavations in the eighteen hundreds. Mainly because he actually believed that he was a Roman.

It is amazing how close the Romans seemed to live to the way we do today. High Street’s, running water, central heating, roads. He told us that at its height the Roman Empire ruled sixty million people. Let us not forget that at one point the United Kingdom from Hadrians Wall down was all under their control. Very powerful, yet brutal people.


As it was such an unexpectedly hot day. I got a little bit caught out. I did not have any sun cream or a hat on me. It is fair to say that my head is a little bit exposed nowadays. I realised that it was getting a bit too hot. While we were queuing to get into the Forum. There was a street seller flogging hats. Before I got to him. I sneaked a five Euro note out of my pocket.

He came over. I tried on a hat. I asked him how much? He said fifteen Euros. I said that was too much. He then asked for ten Euros. I shook my head and offered him the five Euros in my hand. He said no, so I put the hat back and said that was all I had on me.

He then takes the five Euros and gives me the hat. For the price I was prepared to pay. That my friends is how you haggle. Forget Donald Trump. As I said earlier, I should have written the book “The Art of The Deal. I might enter the Apprentice next year.


Wearing my new hat. After I had finished at the Forum. I stopped for a quick snack. Before heading back to see a few things that I saw in the rain the day before. But this time in the Sun. To try to get some better pictures. I then found a popular Gelato shop. That did over one hundred and fifty different flavours, so I thought it would be rude not to at least try a couple of them. They were delicious.

For my final night there. I went to one of the Piazza’s. I found a lovely traditional Italian Restaurant. Where I enjoyed some Spaghetti and Meatballs “Roma” style washed down with a couple of glasses of red wine. Italian of course. I was sitting outside. And there were various Street Performers doing their thing. Including a Michael Jackson impersonator. Which was something I did not really expect to see, if I am honest.


The last day had arrived. I was flying home late afternoon. So I still had a bit of time left in the city. I worked out there was one part that I had not seen within walking distance. So I strolled out there.

There was a Leonardo Da Vinci Museum in that area. So I had a look round that. It was fascinating. He was such a clever and talented guy. There did not seem to be anything that he could not do. He was certainly well ahead of his time.

Mona Lisa

Then I just had time for one more quick look around. My second and final cup of Italian Coffee. And of course my traditional gift shopping for the family. I got myself a t-shirt. I originally just bought it as it was white and had a nice picture of a Roman soldier on it.

It was not till I got home that I realised it had some Latin writing on it. I wore it over the weekend. And my sister pointed out it actually says “I came, I saw, I Conquered”, so I actually like it even more now. I flew back in to a very rainy London. Therefore bringing to an end my latest adventure. I liked Rome. It was a lovely City with lots of things to see and do.


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