Tag Archives: TV

St Lucia

Hi there, how are you? Long time no speak. Well for me it has been a bit longer than usual. In updating you on what I have been up to. On here at least. The reason for that is I have just managed to finally do something that I have wanted to do for years. I am a massive fan of the festive period. And I enjoy starting the New Year with my family near by. However January can seem a bit long and cold in the United Kingdom. So I have for a while fancied some Winter sun to kick start the year. And happily I have now achieved this dream.

St Lucia

I have just returned from a fantastic holiday in St Lucia. It started the night before the flight. As it was an early departure from Gatwick. I decided to stay at the Premier Inn at the airport. So I would have no morning travel issues or stress. And could literally just stroll across the road to the waiting plane. The hotel was full of fellow travellers. I had a very nice steak and a glass of red wine. Before getting an early night ready for my alarm call in the morning.

I was flying with Virgin Atlantic. For the first time. It was all very well organised and civilised. Their staff were helpful and lovely. The food on board seemed fine to me. And the entertainment system kept me amused. During the long nine hour flight. Through a combination of a Derren Brown Special, Family Guy and the Big Bang Theory. Plus a bit of Bruce Springsteen. Due to the four hour time difference. We landed there at 1.30pm St Lucian time.

Once I was through customs and had collected my luggage. I found the airport transfer supplied by my hotel. The driver took me on the five minute trip to the resort. I have never stayed anywhere closer to the airport. I am also happy to report that owing to the direction of their run way and the small amount of flights. That the planes caused no disruption at all, while I was there. I had opted for the Concierge package. So when I arrived at the hotel that afternoon. Mine was already waiting for me with a rum cocktail. Which was a lovely welcome.

ST Lucia

Once I had checked in. She then showed me to my room. Which had an Ocean View from the balcony. Which was brilliant. There was a Swan made out of towels on the bed, flowers all over the bathroom and a fully stocked fridge. Not to mention some welcome chocolate and fruit. I was already thinking I am really going to like this place. It was also sunny and about twenty-eight degrees. Which made it all even better, as far as I was concerned.

I put my shorts on and then went for a look around the place. It was an all inclusive hotel. That sat on eighty five acres of land. It had its own private beach area. There were two pools and a water park on the family side and two adult pools on the adult only side. Which is where I was staying. It is called Harmony. The resort itself is called Coconut Bay. I also had a walk down the beach that first afternoon. To check out my surroundings and try to get my bearings of the place. That was to be my home for the next ten nights.

St Lucia

They have a main eating area where you can get Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner in a buffet style. With a huge selection of different food options at every meal time. They also have four restaurants. Where you can eat in the evening, if you book. Luckily as part of my deal. I had a reservation made for me each night at one of these eateries. So I got to enjoy a three course meal with waiter/waitress service. Every night that I was there. The food was to a very high standard. I had some delicious meals.

In case you needed a snack during the day. They also had a Jerk Food Tree House and a burger place called Flip Flops. There were bars all over the place. Including a swim up bar, a sports bay, lobby bar, pool bar and a lounge bar. There was even a bar by the sunbathing area on the beach. Where ever you were it was easy to order yourself a drink. All the bars were under the all inclusive deal. You could order anything you liked beer, cocktails, wine or shorts. They made some really tasty cocktails. Many of which I had never heard of or never tried before.

St Lucia

It was so relaxing. The weather was amazing. The staff were great. Fun friendly and helpful. I made the most of sunbathing on the beach and by the pool. Most of the other guests were American, Canadian and also British. I met and got talking to some lovely and fascinating people. The atmosphere of the whole place was perfect. I tried out all the bars and restaurants on offer. In one of the adult pools. There was a big hot tub. Which I found was a great place to be in as the sun went down. It was also a decent place to chat to and meet people in, strangely. We had conversations in there about every subject you can imagine.

There was nightly entertainment. Either poolside or at one of the various bars. This included a Caribbean Night, a Country Hoe Down Night, Karaoke, Jazz and lots of different live bands playing at all the various stages. They have there. Then in the lounge bar every night. There were sing-a-longs around a piano, solo performers and always a disco until 1am. When the bars all closed. Which after a whole day of drink on tap anytime you want it. Was more than late enough for me.

St Lucia

While I was lying on the beach one day. I noticed they were doing some horse rides along it. I am a big fan of horse racing. However I had never been on a horse before. I therefore decided this was the place and now was the time to put this right. I booked up for the ride for later in the week. I had been keen to at least experience being on a horse for a while. But the opportunity had never arisen. Until then.

St Lucia

The guy taking the tour met me in the hotel reception. After literally signing my life away. He led me to where the horses were tied. Just stopping to collect a towel along the way. I did explain to him that I had not ridden before. But he was confident I would be fine. After I had my helmet on. I was introduced to my horse Big Orange. They appear to have a Ronseal approach to naming their animals. It is exactly, as it says on the tin. Luckily there were steps available to get on the horse.

I somehow managed to swing my leg over to get in the saddle. Which was a bit harder than I thought it would be. Once I was on board. He showed me how to hold the reins. Then how to sit in the saddle and how to position my feet in the stirrups. It is fair to say I was not the most natural rider. I was not overly confident. My plan was simply not to fall off.

We set off down the beach. The guide had to keep reminding me how to hold the reins correctly, control the horse and make him move forward. I was going too slow at one point. He told me not to worry, as he would not run. Unless I got to far behind him. Hearing this news. I managed to get my horse to go a bit faster and close up the gap.

St Lucia

I had just about got things under control on the flat beach. When suddenly we had to walk up a bank up in to a woodland area. That raised my heart rate a little. But I stayed in the saddle. We then got to the half way point. And stopped for a bit, so the horses could have a snack. We then made our way back. Which of course included us having to go back down that bank. As we came to the final stretch on the way back. I was starting to feel a bit more at ease. And almost in control.

We got back. And after a few pictures. It was time for me to get off Big Orange. It is very fair to say there was no Frankie Dettori flying dismount. The step was back out. And I just about managed to swing my leg over again. It was a really enjoyable experience. I would like to go horse riding again at some point in the future. It was good fun. No way I want to do any obstacles yet though. All jump jockeys must be mad. I will stick to just watching the races.

St Lucia

The only other tour that I did while I was there was a sailing and snorkelling excursion. It was towards the end of my holiday. As I realised I had not left the resort. And should probably at least try to see a bit of the island. While I was there. It began with a short twelve minute drive to a near by fishing village. Where we caught the boat. It was then an hour trip around the coast.

The hotel I was staying at was on the Atlantic Ocean side. Which currently has a really big issue with seaweed. Meaning it is tough to paddle and swim in the sea there. We were however heading to Caribbean Sea. Which has no such problems.

On the boat ride there. We sailed past the Pitons. Which are two Volcanic Mountains near the town of Soufriere. They have been a world heritage site since 2004. And they do look spectacular. Our first stop was the white sands of Sugar Beach. They have a marine conservation site. Which was the first Snorkelling area on the tour.

St Lucia

I had never snorkelled before. As it turns out I am not very good at it. I struggled with the flippers. The mask I could use alright, But I had some issues with the tube you breathe through. The main one being the amount of salty sea water I kept drinking through it.

I managed to do it for a bit. And did see a few colourful tropical fish. But I did not make it as far as some people and see as much as I could have. It does mean though I can say I have swam in the Caribbean Sea. It was lovely and warm plus so clear and blue.

We then had a twenty minute boat ride to our next stop. A little bit further round the coast. I decided not to Snorkel this time .As I really could not take in anymore sea water. So I just chilled out on the boat. And watched everybody else. Next it was back to a port. From where we were then driven back to the hotel. It was nice to get out and see some of St Lucia. The towns, houses, plantations and countryside. I am glad I ventured out. And saw what I did.

St Lucia

There was a Spa where I was staying. I thought I would treat myself to a full body massage. I had one years ago and found it very relaxing so I decided I was due another one. They are a bit odd and awkward. As you are fully naked for it. But you are under towels and blankets. So the key bits of you are not on display. Shall we say.

It was really nice. The lady doing it was very good. She seemed to have very strong fingers and thumbs. I will give her that. Because it was right by the sea. You could hear the waves lapping the shore during it. Which I found made it even more relaxing. They even do you fingers and toes. It was fifty minutes long. I enjoyed it. Although this one was a holiday treat. I think I might to to have them a little bit more regularly during the next year. It really helped my muscles.

St Lucia

I was invited to the Managers Cocktail Party. There were drinks and finger food on offer. I got to meet and have a quick chat with the man himself. Which was nice. While I was there I also won a prize in the free draw, they did. I bagged myself $100 of resort credit. While it is all inclusive. Any Tours or Spa treatments get added on to your room for payment. When you check out. Therefore this was a very useful bonus. That I was happy to acquire.

On my last day I was all packed and just having a final beer. Before it was time to head to the airport. When I got a text message from my airline Virgin Atlantic. Telling me that my flight had been cancelled. And that I would now be flying home the following morning. To cut a long story short. This meant I ended up staying an extra night. Then heading to the airport early the following morning. Which as I am sure you can imagine was terrible.

St Lucia

On the plane journey back to England. I watched the Star Wars Han Solo Story. I must admit I only normally watch the official episodes. Despite being a huge fan of the franchise. That said I am a big fan of the character. Which made me want to check it out.

I liked it. That may have been because it featured Tie Fighters, Chewbacca, the Millennium Falcon and lots of nods to and plot explanations for the original film Star Wars. Which is actually technically episode four. Anyway I am glad I watched it. I thought it was pretty good.

Star Wars Exhibition
Star Wars Exhibition

I had an absolutely wonderful time staying in a Harmony Concierge Ocean View Room at the Coconut Resort and Spa in St Lucia. The place just has everything you need, right there for you. The staff are great. I even got to watch all the Tottenham Hotspur games in their Sports Bar.

I would very much like to thank the marvellous Paula at Red Route Travel for suggesting and then booking this trip for me. Excellent, friendly and professional service, Not least when advising me what to do when my flight home was then cancelled. I am tanned, relaxed and now ready for 2019. Bring it on!

St Lucia

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

At The Races

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

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

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

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

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

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

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

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

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

Henley Royal Regatta
Henley Royal Regatta

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

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

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

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

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

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

Jeff Nolan and Neil Quigley
Jeff Nolan and Neil Quigley

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

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

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

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

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

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

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

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

The Crack
The Crack

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

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

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

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

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

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

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

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

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

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

Neil Quigley Presenter
Neil Quigley Presenter

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

Thoroughly Modern Me

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of weeks. Mine have been fairly busy with some fun stuff going on. Now as I have mentioned before I am a big fan of Strictly Come Dancing. One of my current favourite dancer’s on the show is the brilliant Joanne Clifton. So when I discovered she was going to be starring in the new touring version of Thoroughly Modern Millie. And that it was coming to one of my local theatre’s. I decided that I had to get along to see it.

Therefore a couple of Tuesday’s ago I did just that at The Swan Theatre in High Wycombe. I have to confess that although I am a huge fan of musicals, it was not one that I had seen before. I did not even know what the story was about, which actually made a nice change. Seeing something that was completely new to me. I was genuinely surprised and absorbed by the plot.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Happily and conveniently for the show’s title I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish. The whole cast were fantastic. The songs were great. It featured a live Orchestra, which always enhances any performance, I think. It is quite a high energy, fast moving show with a relatively small cast, so some of the actors have to play a couple of different parts. It is fair to say that everyone is working hard while on and also off stage. As ever, like with most musicals it has a story line that looks at perceptions, decisions and morals with an element of good versus evil. But there are a few clever twists in it, which I really liked.

Now we come on to the main reason I went in the first place. The gorgeous Joanne Clifton, who shines in the lead role and carries the whole show so effortlessly. She really has not taken the easy option here for her first big production. As this part requires her to do an American accent. Which she does perfectly. She seems to have an aura around her, which attracts your attention and means you cannot take your eyes off her. Which I believe demonstrates star quality.

It really is a stunning performance. She has a great voice and really belts out those big numbers. Her acting is believable. And there is of course no need to question her dancing, she is a world champion in that arena.

She is definitely going to go on to star in more musicals. And I would be amazed not to see her in the West End sometime soon. Right at the end, as the curtain was falling, after the play had finished. She and one of the other actors gave us a little bit of a classic jive to enjoy, which was ace. She was giving it her all right to the very last second. She seemed to be loving it and I must admit I loved watching it to.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I also spent another night in High Wycombe recently checking out a new shop that has opened there. It is called the Brewery Shop. And it does what it says on the tin. It is a shop serving a huge selection of different beers from lots of various independent and local brewery’s.

It does also have a decent bar area with a huge selection of different guest craft ales on tap. So you can sit in there and try lots of different drinks. It seemed nice and friendly in there. Plus the selection of drinks they had was impressive. I tried a couple of them while I was there. I would imagine that I will be going back there again to sample some more of them at some point.

Beer
Beer

Saturday Night Take Away is back on television for another series. And once again I am really enjoying it. It is one of the maddest show’s of the year. With the two Geordie geniuses acting as ring masters to the huge Circus. I have said this before but they have cleverly taken all the best bits from every Saturday night entertainment programme that there has ever been. Put them all together and adapted them to their own unique style.

I went and watched a show live in the studio last year and that was brilliant. The atmosphere in that studio is electric. It is just like one big giant party. The ninety minutes go so quickly. It is fun seeing them get things ready and set things up  during the advert breaks. It is just plain old fashioned silly fun and very entertaining.

Saturday Night Takeaway
Saturday Night Takeaway

The two of them are in their element and are given a bit of freedom to ad-lib and create magic moments in this inclusive and live environment. Now while they are not comedians, the relationship and comedy timing that exists between them does at least slightly remind me of Morecambe and Wise. They certainly have that connection together and the ability to make the audience feel we are all in on the joke with them.

I like the new weekly serials that they have added over the last two years. They are both ridiculous and hilarious, full of silly and amusing jokes. And feature some great cameos with the lads very happy to send themselves up in them. Plus the end of the show show is of course always a winner. And in many ways the idea behind that, seems like another nod to the two comedy legends I mentioned earlier. I am looking forward to seeing the rest of the series. It is simply fun, which is what the world needs more of in my opinion.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

The Nightly Show has now started on ITV1. I went to see the pilot version of it. At that time I felt it still needed a bit of work to get it right. And three weeks in I have to say I still think it does. It is the type of programme that the United Kingdom has been missing. They have been doing this kind of show very well in America for a very long time. Now I do really want it to work and for it to become a regular thing. But having watched a couple of episodes over the first few weeks. I think it is trying a bit too hard, it all seems a little too forced and they are trying to pack too much in, making it quite a difficult and awkward watch for me personally.

Although I appreciate it is not easy writing funny and topical material to order, every single night. But for me the opening monologue’s do need to be better. To set the tone, get the audience on side and give it that sense of the day. To make it unique and up to the minute. If you want to do a nightly topical show, it does need to be just that. Some of the guest choices have been a bit odd to. And I am not totally convinced the quick games with members of the public really add anything to it either.

I saw via social media that Danny Baker has offered his services to mould this show and build it up. Now love him or hate him. He has got form with this sort of thing from his past TV work. Which suggests he could may be give it the kick start that it needs. I do really want it to work and for it to be good. I hope they can tweak it and find the right vibe for it. That said the viewing figures for it are pretty good for a new show at that time, but I genuinely think it can be better.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Last Friday night I went with my dad to the Official Wycombe Wanderers Supporters Association Dinner at Adams Park. The home of the football team it assists. Both he and my mum are season ticket holders at the club. And members of the aforementioned organisation, as am I. It was a very pleasant evening including an enjoyable three course meal. That featured the best chocolate mousse dessert I have had for a while.

Since it was formed over twenty five years ago. It has donated over seventy-five thousand pounds to the club. It was good to see the manager Gareth Ainsworth there supporting the event. They auctioned off Myles Weston’s shirt from the FA Cup match against Tottenham Hotspur, which was signed by the whole squad. Plus there was a raffle in which I won a bottle of red wine, which topped off a very enjoyable evening, very nicely.

Wycombe V Barnet
Wycombe V Barnet

Talking of the mighty Tottenham Hotspur our season has been going through another quite decent spell. Well if you completely ignore crashing out of the Europa League that is. Certainly in the Premier League, things have been looking good with wins and good performances becoming the norm.

Still cannot see us getting past Cheslea though, I think they have the title sewn up already. The most exciting thing for me though is reaching the FA Cup Semi-Final. It has been far too long since we have been in one. Although we do now have to get past Chelsea in that to get to the final.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

My only ever trip to Old Trafford was to see us lose to Newcastle in a FA Cup Semi-final, several years ago now. I have always loved the competition and it has been to long since we have had a shot at the final of it. When you consider that we have not won it since 1991 and that was the last time that we were even in the final.

We must be due another appearance, I hope. If for no other reason than Chas N Dave can release a new Spurs song for the occasion. I can’t wait for the Semi-final it is going to be huge. And if we get to the final I will have to try and get a ticket for that somehow. Come on you Spurs.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Yesterday it was the seventeenth of March and therefore of course St Patrick’s Day. I do have a surname of Irish origin. My Granddad was born there. Plus I have been over to Dublin four times. So as far as I am concerned that qualifies me to be able to spend this very special day in a pub, having a few drinks. This year was no different. I went to my favourite pub in London.

Which just so happens to be an Irish Bar called Waxy O’Connor’s. Where I enjoyed a few pints of Guinness. The atmosphere in there is always top quality. To add to the flavour of the occasion they have music playing all day plus a traditional Irish Trio performing live a few times during the day to.

St Patrick's Day
St Patrick’s Day

Last year I won a competition on social media for my photos of the event. That prize pack included T-shirts from the place, which I really like. I was tempted to wear one of them this year but then I realised that I would look like the staff and end up having to serve people pints or tell them where the toilets were all day.

It was brilliant fun as ever and made even more entertaining by the fact they showed the Cheltenham Gold Cup live on the big screen. For a second during the race it almost felt like I was there. I always enjoy this day, every year.  It was lots of fun celebrating with a great group of people.

St Patrick's Day
St Patrick’s Day

I am looking forward to next weekend visiting and exploring somewhere that I have never been before. For my fortieth birthday some friends of mine got together and got me a travel voucher as a present. So I have used that to enjoy a weekend away in Barcelona.

I have never been to main land Spain before, so I am very excited. I have heard great things about the place from friends who have been before. I will tell you all about it and let you know what I got up to next time we speak.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

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

Healthy Fun

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really nice couple of weeks. Mine have been very busy with lots of fun things going on. When London hosted the 2012 Olympics the only event I managed to get tickets for was the Beach Volley Ball. Don’t judge me. Weirdly this took place at Horse Guards Parade in Central London.

So I had never been out to Stratford or the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. I finally put this right recently when I went on a tour of the London Stadium, which is of course the venue that was specially built for the athletics at the games. And the arena that hosted those iconic opening and closing ceremonies. It is now the home of West Ham United.

The London Stadium
The London Stadium

Before I went to the stadium I had a little look around the park itself first. I found the Aquatics centre. Where all the swimming and diving took place. Then I strolled down to the Leo Valley Velo Park, where all the big cycling moments happened. Away from sporting arena’s there is also a traditional English Garden, which contains a brilliant Sun Dial. If you stand roughly where your birthday is on it, your shadow will point to the right time. How that works I have no idea. I tried it, to prove it was impossible but it was spot on when I did it.

They also have the winning distance jumped by Greg Rutherford marked out on the tarmac. When you are standing next to it, you cannot believe that anyone could  leap that far. It looks like an impossible distance. I got tired just walking it.

The London Stadium
The London Stadium

I then headed in to the stadium. It has had a bit of a West Ham United makeover. And there is now claret and blue everywhere including lots of the seats. The roof has been replaced to cover all of the seats but they have kept the original floodlights in the new design. The seats can be moved closer to the pitch for the football. Then moved back to reveal the running track for when there is Athletics. It is also set up to be able to host concerts.

The seating areas are nice. Fantastic views with no obstructions and the seats are very comfy to. The dressing rooms are well designed and practical. There is still the actual warm up track that the athletes used in 2012 there. I had a sprint down it. And I also had my picture taken on a podium wearing a gold medal.

The London Stadium
The London Stadium

On the tour you also get to walk out the tunnel and get a managers view of the action from the dug out. I sat in the away side pretending that I was Mauricio Pochettino. Then you see the interview rooms where all the various media outlets speak to the managers after the game. I really enjoyed the tour. You go round by yourself at your own pace.

You are given an audio and video guide to use. Which gives you lots of facts about the stadium, its history and of course everything about the team that now play there West Ham United. It felt really good to be at the stadium where so many amazing achievements took place during the Olympics. May be I will get along to see Spurs play there one day.

The London Stadium
The London Stadium

I recently spent another Monday Night at the brilliant Old Rope Comedy. It is a new material night run by the fantastic Tiff Stevenson, where great comedians come to test out new jokes. The line-up is always excellent. It takes place every Monday at the Phoenix Pub, which is just off Regent Street in London. It is actually a decent pub in its own right. It is on in their down stairs area and you can buy tickets in advance for it. Which is what I would advise doing, as it is very popular.

As you go in Tiff’s dad is on the door to check your tickets and show you to your seats. Then she always kicks things off and hosts the night herself. On stage there is a noose hanging, and the twist is. If any comic does a joke they have done before they are meant to hold the rope. To symbolise money for old rope, material they know works and will get a laugh.

To give you an idea of the calibre of comedians who regularly appear there. The bill for my last visit included Tom Ward, Sara Pascoe and Joe Wilkinson. All of whom were of course top quality. Even though it is new things that they are trying out for the first time, the standard is high. If a particular gag may be does not work out quite as well as they hoped. They normally have a laugh about that to. So it feels very inclusive.

The audience are there to have a good time and to be nice and supportive. The last act of the night is always allowed to do their normal tried and tested routine to finish the night off. It is always good fun. And I will be going again soon, I hope.

Old Rope Comedy
Old Rope Comedy

So when I turned forty. My doctors sent me an invitation for a free health check-up. Which I decided made sense to do. So I signed up for it. A few weeks ago I had the first part. During which they weighed me and measured my height, which left me feeling slightly disappointed. As I honestly always thought I was five foot ten inches. And they said that I was five foot nine inches. So either I have been accidentally lying about my height for over twenty years. Or I have shrunk by an inch. They also took some blood to check my cholesterol levels. Just a very small amount not half an arm full thankfully.

The other day I went back to the doctors for part two, the results. Think of it as the Saturday Night then Sunday Night episodes of Strictly Come Dancing. So firstly they look at the height, weight, BMI and general health information. Now bearing in mind there is hardly an ounce of fat on me. According to the way they work out the figures and as the system does not take into account muscle mass. Technically from the information the computer was giving her. She was advised to suggest that to be the correct weight for my height. I should lose a kilogram. My response was simply really from where?

Then next it was the results from the blood test. Well the good news is that my cholesterol is within the recommended and safe acceptable level, putting me in the lowest ten percent of people in the country at risk of heart disease. The bad news is and I did not know this was even a thing but I have too much of the wrong kind of cholesterol. There are good and bad types apparently. Who knew? Basically I need to eat less crisps, chocolates and cheese. Three things that I love! And eat more nuts, avocado and oily fish. So far I will be honest this adjustment has not happened at all. But I kind of figure that as I am in the lowest risk group anyway. I can probably just get away with making just a few subtle changes anyway.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Last Friday I took my parents to see The One Show at Broadcasting House in London. It is live and on just before seven on weekdays. I had been to the studio to see it before but it was new for my parents. And it was the first time that my dad had ever been to a television show. It is always good seeing things at the BBC.

Before the show we met up in the Media Cafe, which overlooks the news room. So you can see the journalists working hard. That is the area that you see being shown at the start of the BBC news. The One Show we saw was presented by the Hairy Bikers. The guests on it were Ricky Gervais and Rag & Bone Man.

About ten minutes before the programme starts. We get shown in to the studio. The Hairy Bikers are already there just doing some last minute rehearsals. Then a couple of minutes before it goes live Ricky Gervais comes and sits down on the sofa. And Rag & Bone Man takes his place in the performance area.

As it is two television cooks who are hosting it. We have already been told we will get some food. So just before the show starts we are all handed some slices of a very nice carrot cake. In fact right at the top of the show you can see me in shot with Rag & Bone Man, eating my cake.

The One Show
The One Show

It was great fun, Ricky was on top form and we got a bonus brief appearance from Anita Rani. Then at the end Rag and Bone Man performs his new single with me standing about ten feet away from him. He is brilliant and really deserves his recent success and Brit Awards. He is such a cool, relaxed and normal bloke to.

At the end of the show we all got a group picture with the Geordie Chef’s. Then on our way out we all got given a Patte’ in a bun, like the one Ricky tried on the show. It was a good night watching some live television. It was fun to see my parents witnessing it for the first time. It is always a laugh. And actually very laid back and relaxed for a live show.

The One Show
The One Show

My good mate Jeff Nolan has recently launched a brand new Podcast. He is having a very early mid-life crisis, although he is practically four years away from being forty.He is starting to panic about it. His new series is called “Chasing 40”. It features him and his friend Bec, trying to work out how they fit in to this ever changing world with this landmark birthday hanging over both of them. They have both worked in the radio industry for many years.  So it also includes a lot of behind the scenes stories from their careers to.

So far they are up to episode two. I make a very brief cameo appearance in the latest podcast.  After Jeff heard something in my podcast that he didn’t know about me. I think there is a reasonable chance that I could be making some future guest slots in this programme. I am going up to see him for the Grand National Weekend, which is now a big annual event for me. I am really looking forward to it. So while I am there. I am going to try and gate crash one of their recording sessions.

Neil Quigley & Jeff Nolan
Neil Quigley & Jeff Nolan

Here is a link to the current episode of “Chasing 40”. (The one that features me)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6E6MOnDGb_w

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

For the first time in years I did not manage to watch the whole of the Brit Awards. I saw Little Mix open the show and they were great. Dermot O’Learly and Emma Willis did a safe job hosting it. And one of Katy Perry’s dancers dressed as a house fell off the stage.

It is not as rock and roll as it used to be is it? And once again One Direction won the public vote for best video. Their fan base is amazingly loyal. Right, if you missed it, you are basically up to date. Although I only actually saw the first thirty minutes myself.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I am still spending a fair amount of my time working for the BBC in London. The other weekend I found myself working with the legend that is Kate Adie. On her Radio 4 show From Our Own Correspondent. That was a great experience and lovely to meet her. Her career has been exceptional and if you look at where she has reported from and the huge stories that she has broken over the years. It is extremely impressive.

Recently I have once again found myself in a lift with Scott Mills and walked past Andrew Marr in the Canteen.

BBC Studio
BBC Studio

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

A Right Old Laugh

Hi there, how are you doing? I hope you have had a really good couple of week’s. Mine have been very busy with lots of fun things going on. My run of recent trips to see TV programme’s being filmed continued. This time an episode for the new series of the DAVE comedy computer games show  “Go 8 Bit” at the Elstree Studios.

It is presented by Dara O’Briain. He is joined by team captain’s Steve McNeil and Sam Pamphilon. Who came up with the idea for the Edinburgh Festival, a couple of years ago. Plus comedian and former computer games journalist Ellie Gibson. Who acts as the oracle for all the games. And as co-commentator with Dara for all the high octane action.

Dara O'Briain
Dara O’Briain at Tring picture courtesy of Adam Hollier Photography

Steve was joined by comedian Russell Kane and Sam’s team mate was the comedian Lolly Adefope. The teams go head to head in a wide range of new and classic computer games. One of which was Lemmings. I had completely forgotten about it but I loved the game as a kid. I am not sure if it was just the way they were playing it. But it certainly looked a lot harder than I remembered.

For the final challenge they played a new virtual reality game. Where you work in a burger bar. And have to make and serve burgers. It sounds rubbish but it actually looked like fun. And it also proved to be pretty difficult. Who knew? The new series will be shown later this year, so keep an eye out for it.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

The other weekend I went to Cheshire to see one of my oldest friends and his family. The purpose of my visit was to celebrate his wife’s fortieth birthday. I got there on the Friday evening. He has a two year old daughter. Who insisted on showing me all of her toys. Then on us reading some books together. While watching the Shaun The Sheep Movie.

For those of you who may have not seen it. I can recommend it, it is very amusing. She is a big fan. I think I must have seen it at least three times while I was there. After the little one had gone to bed. We had a few beers. And watched one of the grown up’s DVD’s.  The latest one from the ace Sarah Millican. Which was hilarious. Very clever and simply laugh out loud funny.

Saturday was the party day. In the morning we went for a walk in a local park. While there, none other than the mother of One Direction’s Harry Style’s walked past us. When we got back to their house. We were all blowing up inflatable guitars and microphones. Plus lots of helium balloons. Which was actually much harder work than it sounds. And we had pumps.

We had about an hour to get the venue ready before the guest’s arrived. Which we did. Strangely they had a few electricity issues and the lights in the toilets were not working. So they had put lots of candles in there. Which actually gave them a very romantic and seductive feel. Which was odd but weirdly relaxing.

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

The party itself was fantastic. I had a few drinks and some tasty food. Including the birthday cake that my mate had baked and decorated himself. It looked and tasted amazing. I had a dance with the Birthday girl. Then thanks to the aforementioned inflatable instruments. Me and my friend recreated the glory of a live Gun’s N Roses stage show. With Slash and Axl Rose during Sweet Child O’ Mine. He was on the guitar. I had the mic.

Thankfully as far as I am aware there is no video evidence of this incident. The next day along with her parents. We all went out for a slap up Chinese Meal. Which was a fitting end to the weekend.

I recently made my first visit to the Comedy Store in London for about eighteen years. I was not purposely avoiding the place. I had just not got round to going back. But I did put that right a couple of Monday’s ago. I went to a Gala Comedy Night in aid of a children’s charity. It was fronted by Tim Vine. Who was great with his quick fire jokes and silly visual gags. Plus I got to see pen behind the ear live.

Also performing we had Tom Lucy, who has recently been supporting Shappi Khorsandi. Elliot Steel, who is the son of Mark Steel. Charlie Baker who is a top comedian and an excellent singer, who has appeared in a few musicals. Angela Barnes who is of course the current host of Newsjack on Radio 4 Extra. And the headline act Adam Hills. They were all on top form. It was a very funny night. And I will definitely not leave it so long until I return there again.

Comedy Store
Comedy Store

I do like a trip to the theatre to see a musical. This show had been on my radar since it opened. So I was very happy the other week. When I managed to get a ticket to see the new version of Half A Sixpence at the Noel Coward Theatre in London’s West End.

I was familiar with the film version that starred Tommy Steele in the lead role. A role he also played on stage. And one that he very much made his own. So I knew the songs and the story line already.I did however absolutely love this latest version. The cast were all fantastic.

Half A Sixpence
Half A Sixpence

The three lead females are all quality performers with amazing voices. And for me they nearly stole the show. But the man who had the biggest shoe’s to fill by taking on the part of Arthur Kipps was Charlie Stemp. And he does not disappoint. He totally makes it his own. But at the same time possibly due to the time and geographical area that it is set in (which remains the same.) There is, I felt at least a nod to the original star in his performance.

I thoroughly enjoyed the show. I would recommend you go and see it. As always with classics, the stories and dilemmas the characters face are still relevant today. Plus there are some great show stopping songs in it. Another successful night at the theatre. Which left me dancing and singing on the way home.

Half A Sixpence
Half A Sixpence

Last Wednesday I went to a specially refurbished theatre in the Holborn area of London. To witness a run through of a new entertainment show. That ITV are currently in the process of developing called The Nightly Show. It is due to start at the end of this month. It will be on five days a week at ten o’clock at night. For around a month at first.

It will be presented by a different presenter each week. The plan is for it to feature up to date topical jokes, some great guests and some fun games. So they are doing some practice shows to get used to the theatre. And to work out exactly what they will or will not be able to achieve in thirty minutes of fast paced television.

On the version I watched. They had a very experienced presenter in Eamonn Holmes. It was filmed as an actual show would be. Before it started he came out and explained what would be happening. The first part was the opening monologue. Then the guests were Right Said Fred and  Saira Khan.

The interviews were pretty straight forward with slight little twists. For example during the pop stars’ chat. They played a quick game with some audience members. And the last part of the Loose Women’s bit saw her and Eamonn being fed special love food ready for Valentines Day. Which basically involved the Irishman having a few Oysters and Saira having a chocolate banana.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

The most interesting thing for me was Eamonn discussing things with the director. Asking them how much time he had for each item. Advising what he thought was working or not. And making some suggestions of things they might like to look at. It was kind of like, say a Formula One racing driver test driving a new car and giving the mechanics feedback. To make it smoother and better.

It gave a nice insight in to things that need to be considered. For it all to work for the programme and the presenter. It was still early days. But they have got quite a bit to iron out before it all starts, I feel. It was interesting to be a part of. I cannot wait to see what the actual show will look like. When it goes out. Another fun evening spent in the world of television.

Sarah Parish started the Neil Quigley Fan Club

Last weekend I visited a town in Somerset. Where I spent five and an half years working and living. I went to Yeovil to catch up with some old friends and to see how much it has changed since I was last there. I moved down there in 2004 to work for the radio station Ivel fm. Which later became Midwest Radio.

I then left there in February 2010. In fact randomly last weekend was the seventh year anniversary of my leaving and returning to Buckinghamshire. Much of the town still looks the same.  As I took the taxi from the train station to the hotel. I felt quite at home there.

I visited the road where I used to live. And had a look at my flat from the outside. I actually lived about five minutes walk from the radio station. In a little Cul-De-Sac called Ivel Court. So yes that is correct. I was living there when I was working at Ivel fm. So I was certainly very much on brand when I was there.

Ivel Court
Ivel Court

On the Friday Night I went to a few pubs I used to drink in first. Then met my former boss Steve Carpenter and ex colleague Chris Criddle for a Curry in the Viceroy Indian Restaurant. Somewhere that was just around the corner from my flat and where I used to go regularly.

The food and service was as ever excellent. And the company to was delightful. I had a great night catching up on the current and talking about the past. It was great to see them both.

On the Saturday morning I met up with another mate for a cup of tea and a nice chat. Then in the afternoon I went and saw Yeovil Town play. In the past I have reported and commentated on a lot of their big games. Including a match that saw them win the league at home and a trip to Wembley Stadium for a play off final.

I also went to loads of press conferences. And regularly spoke to the manager and the players. I went to the game with the former Yeovil Town, Bristol Rovers and Hereford United player Tony Pounder and the former Yeovil Town and Torquay United defender Paul Thorpe.

Yeovil Town FC
Yeovil Town FC

It was great to catch up with them. They are top blokes. Who have loads of brilliant stories from their playing days. The Glovers were playing Leyton Orient. Both teams were pretty equally matched. So an one all draw was probably a fair result.

I mentioned I used to know the players when I was working down there. So I did find it a little odd seeing two players I knew from that time Darren Way and Terry Skiverton in the dug out as the current management team. Despite Yeovil Town not being able to hold on for the win. It was a very enjoyable afternoon at a lovely club with some brilliant company.

Yeovil Town FC
Yeovil Town FC

That night I met up with a few people in the establishment. That was actually below the Ivel fm studios. It was the place where we held the station’s first birthday party. And somewhere I used to DJ and spend a lot of my free time.

I also was a judge and host for lots of different talent competitions held there. The place was the Chicago Rock Cafe. Since I moved away it has had a few refits and changed its name several times. But it has reverted back to its original title again. It felt a little strange being back in there. And bought back lots of great memories.

Chicago Rock Cafe
Chicago Rock Cafe

Before returning home on the Sunday I met up with another former work friend of mine and her husband in one of the town’s coffee shops. It was lovely to see them both. We had a good chat about old times and some exciting plans for the future.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable weekend. In a place where I have so far spent an eighth of my life. I am glad I ventured down there. To coin an old radio station strap line Good times, Great Music.

Neil Quigley

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