Tag Archives: covid

Not Staying At Home

Here we are then from Monday a large part of the restrictions and rules that have been in place to help tackle the pandemic in England will be removed. I appreciate we cannot continue for ever in some form of frozen state. As a massive fan of the theatre and the arts it is terrible what has happened to those businesses and the people who work in the industry especially as it does appear other sectors have been treated differently. That said though it does feel a bit odd to me that with cases of the virus now rising to levels on a par with what was happening before the last lockdown. All social distancing and all of the current precautions should now be removed.

I do understand that the reason they feel they can do this is down to the success of the vaccination programme, which has been brilliant. Personally I have been fortunate enough to have had both of my jabs for more than six weeks now. It does appear that they greatly reduce the risk of hospitalisation and also your chance of dying from it. That is of course excellent news. It will hopefully help make the transition for it to be more like how we live with the standard flu virus. But the Government has warned us that cases will increase and there will be more deaths as a result. That feels like a bit of disappointment after what we have all been through already.

I am slowly beginning to start to head out to places and meet up with a few more people under whatever guidelines apply at that time. I do have the NHS App and always check in whenever I go anywhere. To me that seems the common sense thing to do. We are all in this thing together and reliant on the actions of others to help us all get to the other side. The latest advice seems to be a lot more advisory than mandatory. My plan is still to wear a mask when I am using public transport or in an indoor space with strangers, as cases are higher now that seems to make more sense than ever. The main aim of a mask is more to stop you spreading the virus rather than stop you getting it. However it does help with both sides of that coin.

Ultimately you have to do what feels right for you and what you feel happy and comfortable doing. Very few people on the planet have lived through something like this, so it is new to everyone and we all know it is frustrating. But a little more thought and compassion may help us all through it a little quicker with a bit of luck. It does feel like the way things are going that half the country could be self-isolating by the end of the month, if cases rise and we mix in bigger and bigger groups. But I guess we shall see. It will be interesting to see if after all of the big sporting test events that we have had recently, if we see any major surges in cases as a result of them, obviously I hope not.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

England were beaten by Italy on penalties in the Euro 2020 Final at Wembley Stadium. I worked there for a few years between 2012 and 2015 and remember being excited and interested by the way this competition was organised with Wembley hosting the Semi-finals and Final of the tournament. Even back then I hoped that this would improve our chances of success, like it did in Euro 1996 when we reached the Semi-Final only to then be beaten by our old friends Germany as ever on Penalties. Famously a certain Gareth Southgate missed one on that occasion.

Talking of the manager I think he has done a brilliant job with the National team. He originally took over in slightly odd circumstances but quickly put his own stamp on the role. Having come from being in charge of the Under 21’s this meant he knew them and was keen to work with younger players. He has massively lowered the average age of the team during his time in the role. He has shown he is not afraid of making tough decisions and has the faith and confidence to do what he thinks is right. He also sets the right tone. And is a great talker and role model for players and fans alike.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

The Italians on the night were just a bit cleverer possibly their extra experience did show in a few areas on and off the pitch. We matched them all the way in the actual football part of the game. Penalties are always a bit of a lottery. It is the same for both sides. You need a bit of luck on your side and everything to go your way. As a footballer a penalty in a shoot-out situation is the most pressurised thing you will ever be involved in. You go through pretty much every emotion as you step up to take one.

I once took a sudden death penalty for Aylesbury United in an Under Eighteen Cup Quarter Final. I can still remember the nerves I had as I walked to the penalty spot. I had to score to keep us in it. You can practice taking them as often as you like but you cannot recreate the pressure that is there when you do it for real. I had made my mind up where I was going to put it and struck the ball as hard as I could. The keeper went the right way got a hand to it but it still went in the net. I have never felt such a feeling of joy and relief. It was amazing! That was a penalty kick in a youth team match that did not really matter. I can only imagine what it must feel like to step up to do it in a final for England.

Anyone who even offers to do it is a hero. You are on a hiding to nothing in a way. If you score it is expected. If you miss you will suddenly never feel more alone. To put your hand up and say you want one shows what a person you are and demonstrates such leadership and courage. You can always look at teams and see players who did not fancy it. That is their choice but you should never criticise the person who was prepared to put everything on the line for the team. It is not a nice way to lose and it should not really be a nice way to win. But it is, as a player the adrenalin rush you get from winning one is off the scale.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Well done to everyone involved with the England Squad. They should all be very proud of what they have achieved and how they united the country. The aftermath from it is sadly a society problem that we all clearly need to work together on. You see this sort of thing almost on a weekly basis during the normal football season. The unrealistic expectation to win every game! Then the attack on individuals when things go wrong! The mind set of which I just do not understand I support every player at my club who plays for the team and the same goes for the National team.

This team are great role models and dedicated hard working young men. The main stay of this squad will all be together for a couple of years or so. There is a World Cup next December and I see no reason not to dream that we can do it. We reached our first final since 1966. We are getting closer. There are some children who have never seen England reach anything less than the Semi-Final in any competition they have seen. Let us not spoil their fun and optimism with our old negativity based on failures of the past not opportunities in the near future!

England

Last weekend my girlfriend and I went to see some of her friends for a few days in Reading. During the most recent lockdown one of them celebrated a landmark birthday. This was the first chance we had to mark the occasion properly. He offered to cook for us on both days but he was unable to put us up, so we stayed in a nearby hotel. It was really lovely to see everyone again. Luckily he is a decent chef so on Saturday the meal included Paella and a Beef Stroganoff both of which were excellent. Then we had a Gluten Free Cheesecake that was supplied by Lynda. That meant I could have some but everybody else had to have the “special” version to.

We may have had a few drinks and spent the day laughing and talking. It felt very normal and relaxing. I think I am still happier in small groups of people I know rather than being in venues with lots of strangers around. To me it just feels a bit more comfortable and sensible. We got a taxi back to the hotel just before midnight, that on the face of it seems like a reasonable time to end things. However I will admit that we met up at around three in the afternoon. In our defence we had not seen each other for at least ten months.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

On the Sunday her friends got up earlier than us and went for breakfast at the restaurant next door attached to the hotel. We thought we would just grab a quick something. There was a Burger King across the road. We looked in there but they had nothing that was suitable for a Coeliac. There was a Nando’s nearby but that had a queue outside. Therefore we ended up driving to a Supermarket so that I could raid their Free From section. I am still getting used to the fact I am a Coeliac as previously getting fast food or a simple snack at breakfast would be easy and simple. Now I have realised that it requires a bit more thought and planning. That is fine it is just a bit of a learning curve for me.

Our host cooked us a Lamb Roast Dinner, which was lovely. We also managed to sample three different bottles of Fizz in the afternoon. On reflection it seems like the perfect way to enjoy the weekend. There was of course a big football match that evening that I was never going to miss, so we said our goodbyes and went back to the hotel in time for kick off. We met up in a friend’s room to watch it me armed with some Gluten Free Beer, my girlfriend with some wine. It was a bit odd watching it all in a hotel room but the most important thing is that I got to witness it, despite the result. It was a brilliant weekend, great to see and spend time with people. Something I have not done that much of over the last eighteen months.

Neil Quigley

Paella’s are like buses you do not have one for years then a couple come along right after each other. My girlfriend’s mate gave us his version last weekend. And the Sunday before Lynda decided to try to make the dish for the first time. Now I probably should have kept quiet but I am not very good at that. When she told me her plan I mentioned that the only time I had ever previously eaten Paella was when I was in Barcelona in a very nice restaurant there. It was not an attempt to put pressure on her. I was just being truthful and honest and possibly showing off a bit that I had been there. She need not have worried her Paella was a triumph. I really enjoyed it and went back for second and third helpings!

Paella
Paella

I have been having issues with my left arm for about eight weeks now, which if you are a little bit addicted to exercise like me is very annoying. It means that I have had to alter my regime so that it does not hurt when I work out. Anyway yesterday I went to see a NHS Physio Therapist for some assistance with it. They were very helpful and professional. They are going to help me manage it and improve it with a series of exercises and some treatment. To be fair the amount of niggling things I pick up when I am keeping fit I could do with a full time Physio like they have at football clubs.

Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur

Talking of which I got some new running shoes recently. I did not wear them in enough before I went for my morning run in them. I got them basically because they have a big N on each side. But they are meant to be pretty decent. However the first time I used them they gave me a huge blister on my heel. It was so big that I actually had a problem putting my shoes on. I tried to leave it and rest it in the hope that it would go down and disappear by itself. Everyone was telling me to pop it but the medical advice is that should be kind of the last resort.

After several days with no improvement, if anything it seemed like it was getting bigger, so I phoned my Doctor’s to get an appointment with a Nurse. As it happened when I called they had a cancellation for thirty minutes time, so I took that slot and rushed straight down there. She decided that it would be best to drain it to let the fluid out. My girlfriend had been threatening to do that for me. But I was happy to wait for a medical professional to make the call and carry out the procedure. It is still quite sore and I am unable to run, but it is slowly getting better. Moral of the story is wear any new footwear in before you use it in anger!

New Trainers
New Trainers

As a massive David Jason fan I have of course been watching Still Open All Hours the follow up to the original BBC Comedy that he appeared in alongside the great Ronnie Barker. In the new version the shop boy has succeeded his Uncle as the owner of the corner shop and picked up a lot of his skills and beliefs along the way. The other week I watched a few episodes of the original Open All Hours. I had not realised how many of the original characters were still in this updated one and how much it is true to and corresponds with the version with Arkwright in charge of the shop.

It is actually so clever and would make sense totally if you watched them all back to back, which bearing in mind the gap that there was between the original and the new one is incredible. Both versions I think are funny and have some laugh out loud moments. But you cannot beat Ronnie and David working together. The two of them in a scene just makes everything funnier. The delivery, the timing and the relationship between them is astonishing. The secret may be just leaving little pauses to build tension and anticipation. The ability to allow silence I think is one of the hardest things for any comedy performer. Both masters of the trade, I would like to personally thank them for all the laughter over the years.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Today I am going to Taste of London in Regents Park. It is the first time I have been to this event. However Lynda assures me it is brilliant. Due to her love of food I think this will be to her like a football match or music festival might be to me. I am looking forward to experiencing it. And I will let you know what it was like next time we speak.

Regents Park in 2018

A quick reminder that you can listen to me every Saturday afternoon between 2pm – 4pm on Radio Ninesprings https://www.radioninesprings.co.uk/

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Have fun and we will catch up again soon. Stay safe! Cheers Neil.

Horses For Courses

It looks like we will still have another two more weeks at least under the current restrictions then. That will not massively affect me as I am still not going out much or doing too many things at the moment. That is just my own personal choice as I wanted to make sure that everyone close to me had received both of their jabs before I started mixing with too many people again. Things are now getting to the stage where that is almost the case.

I am still taking regular Covid tests so I know that I have not got it when I go to meet people. As it has been from the start it is just a case of doing what is right and what you feel comfortable doing to maintain some sort of work and life balance. Have I enjoyed the last eighteen months? Of course not like everyone else I have missed out on so many events and occasions. That I normally enjoy on an annual basis. Do I regret any of the decisions I made? No, I am happy I kept myself and my family as safe as possible throughout this situation.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

When things do fully reopen this virus is not suddenly going to have disappeared. There will be random outbreaks, we may still have to self-isolate on occasions. It may still cause us problems and in some cases heartbreak. But it is seemingly more under control than it was over a year ago. People who have now been vaccinated are I believe around 75% less likely to die from Covid if they catch it and also less likely to get the virus or transmit it. Over time that will make a huge difference as it will hopefully no longer be able to mutate at the rate that it was due to the level of transmissions. I am not a Scientist by the way, no way near clever enough for that! So I may have got that a bit wrong, but I think that is the general idea.

It is great that the vaccination is available to all adults now. As far as I can see the reason for the delay in reopening the United Kingdom was to get more people vaccinated. I had my second injection more than six weeks ago. Therefore I am wondering if I can get a booster in September. Just to be on the safe side. The scientists have done an amazing job in a relatively short space of time. However there are obviously lots of other very serious medical conditions that we have to focus on once again. Of course the country needs to be restriction free as soon as it is fully viable to do so.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I do appreciate I have talked quite a lot about the current situation but I could not just ignore it. As it has massively impacted what I have been up to during the last eighteen months. I am sure you noticed that there have been a lot less holiday specials from me for example. Last weekend I did actually go out to a restaurant to eat for the first time since February 2020. My now long suffering girlfriend was keen to go out for food and as she has been cooking pretty much every Saturday night for the last twelve months. It did only seem fair. Plus I found somewhere that was on the Coeliac UK accredited list, so I thought it would be safe for me to go there.

Neil Quigley

We booked a table at her local Prezzo. Originally the plan was to eat outside but it was raining so I had to be brave and sit at a table inside the place. It was all very well managed everyone was wearing their masks when moving about and all the tables were nicely spaced out. I instantly felt at ease and relaxed. As somebody who had not been out much I was not ready for people to be too close to me just yet under a roof. They offer a full Gluten Free menu in that pretty much everything on the menu can be served as the Gluten Free version. Therefore as this was my first restaurant visit since being diagnosed as Coeliac I had lots of options to choose from.

I think it was a combination of eating out for the first time in ages, the fact I had so much choice or possibly the glass of Malbec that I was enjoying. But I ordered a full three course meal. For starters I had Gluten Free Garlic Bread with Red Onions and Cheese. That was followed by Pasta Arrabiata Gluten Free style. Then as one of my many mottos is that a meal must be finished off with something sweet. I had a Gluten Free Black Currant and Prosecco Cheese Cake. The whole meal was really nice. The Staff were great even though the waitress managed to deliver us the main with no cutlery. She quickly resolved this issue when I got her attention.

I very much enjoyed it and felt safe and happy in the surroundings. It was only the third time we had actually eaten out together, so luckily I managed to remember all the correct table etiquette. When we got there the place was packed then about half way through our meal it was nearly empty. I used to be able to clear a pub just by being in one and talking. It would seem that “skill” is also transferrable to Italian restaurants. We were only out for a couple of hours but it was nice to have a change of scenery and drink someone else’s wine. I am sure I will not leave it that long to eat out again, all being well.

Neil Quigley

I have always drunk move than your average amount of tea. When I was still at school it was more controlled than it is now as we did not have tea breaks, so I could not have any during the day. Once I got my first full time job at seventeen my tea intake went through the roof. As a general rule I cannot leave the house in the morning unless I have had at least two cups of the stuff. I do consider myself a great tea maker owing mainly to the amount of cups that I have made in my life. I think I average about ten cups a day at the minute. For me it is a multi-purpose substance. It wakes me up in the morning plus I can happily drink it to relax before I go to bed.

A nice cup of tea

I spoke to a dietician last week. It was to do with my Coeliac Disease and offered by the NHS to make sure my Gluten Free diet is healthy and balanced. I have been trying to eat well for about ten years now and my general food intake does include a lot of fruit and vegetables. I have actually found my new restrictions to be even heathier. As I now tend to have less processed meat, no bread and less chocolate. One of the issues with Coeliac Disease is that it affects the body’s immune system and ability to absorb nutrients. I was diagnosed in February and being on a Gluten Free diet should correct these issues but it can take up to a year to start working after the diet change.

Generally as I suspected I was doing ok with what I was consuming. She did make a couple of good suggestions for other vegetables that could help with my condition. I do have quite a strict fitness regime. I run nine miles three times a week, do five miles on the exercise bike three times a week as well as doing weight lifting, Yoga and Pilates. Therefore if I do say so myself I am in reasonably good shape at the moment. However since I have been Gluten Free I have actually lost a bit of weight, so the dietician suggested that maybe I should try to consume a few more calories a week. That means I can have more chocolate and Gluten Free cake as far as I am concerned.

It is very important I eat lots of foods that have Iron and Calcium in them. They are nutrients Coeliac sufferers are often low in. That suits me perfectly as Steak and Cheese are both good sources of them. The other thing she did mention is that sometimes tea can affect the ability of the body to absorb these things. She did suggest that I might like to try to cut down on my tea intake. I do appreciate that it is good sound health advice and I will admit I know I should have less of it. But I have already lost Gluten therefore all standard bread and beer in the last six months so I am not ready to give up on my tea just yet I am afraid.

Neil Quigley

I have been really enjoying this current series of The Last Leg on Channel 4. They always have some great guests on and I like the whole atmosphere of it, it is fun yet at the same time does make a few decent points. I have seen Josh Widdicombe live a few times and I think he is really funny. I have also seen Adam Hills do his stand up and he is just such a likeable bloke who has a great rapport with the audience. Plus I once saw Alex Brooker drinking champagne with a load of mates in a bar I was in around Bond Street in London. I did not go and say hello to him but I was trying my best not to stare if I am honest.

I have been to see the show live. The three of them clearly all get on very well with each other. And compliment each other perfectly as they all seem to come at things from different angles giving them their own unique jokes. It just all seems to work. I like the way the programme kind of happened by accident. They were all thrown together to cover the Paralympics in 2012 and then from that it became this weekly topical comedy show. Let us not forget they are the ones who organised a big Tuba to follow Donald Trump around when he visited Scotland. That in itself is genius. It is worth a watch if you have never seen it.

Josh Widdicombe
Josh Widdicombe

Two of the horses that I have a small amount of shares in via Owners Group have run recently. Force Ten who I have visited at Champion Trainer Paul Nicholls stables in Somerset ran in a Hurdles race down at Newton Abbot. I went and saw his race course debut at Newbury Race Course in 2018. He is six years old and although he was looking good in training he has been finding it difficult to settle in his races. This has meant that on occasion he has been badly misbehaving in the Parade Ring or used all his energy up by being too pent up before the race has even started.

Neil Quigley and Paul Nicholls
Neil Quigley and Paul Nicholls

In his previous two runs he had set off at a rate of knots got himself to the front and then just run out of steam in the final stages and finished near the back. We have tried using a hood, blinkers and cheek pieces to calm him down. But none of these measures have made any difference. The plan for Newton Abbot was to get him to lead from the front and try to win that way. However once again he did not settle. He was in midfield for most of the way round then got up into fourth place with a few furlongs to go then seemingly almost stopped.

Due to the fact that it does not appear that he will take to racing. The decision has been made to retire him from the sport. This means he will be retrained to be a riding school or family horse. It is a shame as I did have high hopes for him but it was just not meant to be sadly. As ever the important thing is the animal’s welfare. And if he was not happy he needs to find something that he enjoys in life. He is now at the Owners Group’s facility called Equiprep turned out with other horses in a field waiting to be rehomed. You win some, you lose some I guess.

Force Ten

Another one of my horse’s called Proclaimer had his second race after a long lay-off recently to. He was off the track for six months as they feared he might have a problem with his back. Fortunately that was not the case and he was able to return to training. He is trained by Julie Camacho. She has been pleased with his work at home but sadly he has disappointed us a bit in his two runs since his enforced break. In his most recent effort he was in contention until the final three furlongs then rapidly fell away, which is not like him. I will just have to be patient and wait to see what we do with him next. I get a weekly update on all my horses and regular videos, so I am very much kept in the loop, which is great.

Proclaimer

The delayed European Championships have reached the Quarter Finals stage. There have already been a few shock results in the knock out rounds and some good teams have already gone. It was a shame that Wales got knocked out but then owing to the Christian Eriksen incident it was nice to see Denmark progress. He was one of my favourite players when he was at Spurs. When we were at our best under Pochettino everything went through him. I wish him a speedy recovery. I think the final winner of this competition is still quite hard to call but we will all know in a week’s time and then all pretend it was obvious from the start.

England are still in the competition after beating Germany two – nil at Wembley last Tuesday. That is the first time we have beaten them in a knock out tournament match for fifty five years, when we beat them in the World Cup Final in 1966 also at Wembley, so we were due a victory over them. As a Spurs fan it was great to see Captain Harry Kane get his goal. We play Ukraine in Rome tonight and if we can get through that both the Semi-Final and Final will be played at Wembley, which surely should give us an extra boost. I will be glued to the game later. Come on England!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

A quick reminder that you can listen to me every Saturday afternoon between 2pm – 4pm on Radio Ninesprings https://www.radioninesprings.co.uk/

Neil Quigley

Have fun and we will catch up again soon. Stay safe! Cheers Neil.

The One Where I went to the Zoo

Depending on what happens between now and then we are possibly just over two weeks away from the United Kingdom taking the next step along the roadmap. I am not totally sure how I feel about that if I am honest. I obviously would like things to return to as near normal as soon as they can but we have all made quite a lot of sacrifices over the last six months. I would like to make sure everything is all under control before we take the brakes fully off.

I have been closely following the science, the latest figures and the rules. Things do look in a much better place at the minute but as we have seen in other parts of the world that can change quickly. It does seem that the vaccination programme is having the desired effect. I have had both of my injections. It just makes sense to help to protect yourself and those around you. I take regular Covid tests so I know I do not have the virus when I am meeting up with family and friends.

It has of course been a testing time but we can do so much more now than we could even a month ago. This thing is not suddenly going to disappear sadly but as long as it can be managed so the NHS is not so overwhelmed and fewer people are dying from it. Then it will just be like living with the normal flu. I have been having my jab for that for the last fifteen years, which is why the latest vaccination for me just seems like almost normal practice. The weather has improved and so has our ability to socialise and interact with people.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I am starting to venture out a bit more again now to I will be honest mainly outdoor events and attractions. The first of these was the other week when I went to see a showing of the original Star Wars film at a “Drive In” movie held in the grounds of Knebworth House. It was the second time my girlfriend and I had been to one of these here. The first one was Back to Future last summer. I am still not sure if I am a fan of this way of watching a film or not. But as a massive fan of Star Wars I was not going to the miss the opportunity to see this masterpiece on a big screen!

Drive In

I have seen all of the episodes of these films several times. There is no other film franchise that I have watched as many times. As I am sure you can imagine I was extremely excited to watch one of my favourite movies in the dark in our own private booth or to put it another way the car. When you arrive they give you a speaker to put in the motor that is tuned to the channel the film audio will be on. Then they show you to your parking spot. We got there nice and early so that we got a good space. Like the actual cinema you can get food and drink. Just to prove how rock and roll I am I had a cup of tea.

Star Wars Exhibition
Star Wars Exhibition

When I discovered we were going to this I told Lynda that I would be wearing my Star Wars T-shirt and bringing my Lightsaber. I am not sure if she thought I was joking but that is exactly what I did. I really enjoyed it, it is still brilliant. Hopefully I was not too annoying when occasionally saying the lines along with the characters. This was the first time I had seen the new director’s cut where George Lucas has added in some new bits including Han Solo meeting Jabba the Hut in person, which I did not think added anything to the story. I thought it was more fun to see him for the first time in Return of The Jedi.

Neil Quigley

The thing I like about all of the Star War’s films is that there is so much going on in every scene, it has a nice gentle humour running through it and thanks to the music of John Williams it is instantly obvious who are the good guys and who the bad guys are! I am even happy to concede that the plot of all of them is more or less the same but I see that as a plus point rather than a negative. It shows that the struggle in life is real and often repetitive and people often make the same mistakes over and over again. It was a top night out watching a classic. I always get emotional when Han and Chewbacca reappear to complete the mission and always cheer when Luke destroys the Death Star!

Star Wars Exhibition
Star Wars Exhibition

The first Saturday after the last set of rules were relaxed. It was my girlfriend’s Mum’s birthday so she held a barbeque in the garden for her. It was at the point just before the weather started to improve. There were only six of us in total but we all sat outside in our coats and jumpers using the parasol on the table to keep the occasional light rain showers off us. At one point Lynda did find herself under an umbrella while cooking. That made it feel like a proper English event to be fair.

That was my fist barbeque of the year and the first since my Coeliac diagnosis. She very kindly had got gluten free burgers and sausages so I could have them, but it is the first such occasion I have been to where there were a few things that I could not eat. That is of course perfectly fine, however as somebody who used to eat and like trying everything it was a bit weird. It is just something I need to get used to and will always generally have to bring my own “special” food and beer to these gatherings in the future.

We had a great time just sitting around drinking, eating and chatting. It was nice to be around people and hear laughter again. It felt good. The time flew by and it was gone eight o’clock before we realised it. Human beings are basically pack animals so we like being in groups and seeing each other’s faces and reactions. We have all been a bit starved of this during the last fifteen months now. I do feel like I am catching up on lost time so plan to get to as many barbeques as I can this year to make up for it.

Neil Quigley

Last Saturday Lynda and I went to Whipsnade Zoo. I had not been there for a couple of years. It is mostly outside and always a nice way of spending some time. Therefore it seemed like a good location to reacclimatise to being around random people again. When we got there the car park seemed very busy which did unsettle me a little bit. Then as you would expect the walk way and the entrance were quite crowded but we had our masks on as requested anywhere inside. We sorted out our tickets and went in.

Neil Quigley

It was still quite crowded at this point but everybody is outside and generally not that close to each other. Once we had been there a while it was then easier to pick ourselves a route round to see the animals where there were not too many people. There is plenty of space there to keep in your own groups. We managed to find some of the Rhinos out in their field. Every time I tried to take a picture of them they tended to face away from me, which became a running theme with my photography throughout our visit.

Rhinos

Next we spotted one sleeping Tiger in his enclosure. They really are just like house cats in that they sleep all day and just ignore you. It was then off to the Elephant house to see a selection of them and to enjoy their rather distinctive smell. We then ticked off the Camels, Wilder Beasts and the Flamingos. I remembered those pink birds being bigger and was actually surprised by how small they were. I then took my best picture of the day when I actually managed to get two Giraffes looking at the camera.

Giraffes

We were at the Zoo for about three hours and also saw a Bear, a Wolverine (who looked nothing like Hugh Jackman) but who was deceptively fast and two Otters fighting over a pair of children’s pink sunglasses. Somehow while they were fighting one of them actually flicked them on their face and they were wearing them for about ten seconds but we could not get a picture quick enough. Lastly we saw the Lions. We had to come back to them as there was a queue to get into their viewing area and I refuse to queue for anything!

Anyway predictably when we did get to see them they were all lying down. Then one of them started roaring. A loud and terrifying noise when you are looking right at it. She did this for about five minutes before getting up and walking inside. I imagine saying “that is your lot; you have had the show, now go away”. While we were at the Lions Lynda managed to get a picture of one of them pulling such a good face I will be using it to reply to certain social media comments for at least the next year. It was a lovely afternoon out, helped by the sunshine. You cannot beat a nice Zoo visit.

Lion

I did go to another barbeque on Bank Holiday Monday. See I told you I was going to go to loads of them this year. It was a party for Lynda’s cousin this time, she was celebrating her birthday. It was a Mexican themed do so we turned up wearing giant Sombreros. This was as it turns out a useful headwear selection for someone who has no hair on his head, while he is sitting out in glorious sunshine. The chef at this one very kindly cooked me my own special gluten free meat and I of course brought my own drink with me.

It was a fun afternoon chatting, eating and drinking in the sun. Three of my favourite things while enjoying my preferred weather option. To keep with the theme there was a Pinata. The birthday girl got to play with that if that is the right word. I thought basically you had to destroy them with a stick, but this one had more of a school summer fete appeal to it as you had to pull ribbons from the bottom of it but only one of them would release the trap door and the sweets inside. The only disappointment was that I did not get chance to have a go at it.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I have watched the Friends Reunion. Like everyone in my age group I went through a stage of being a massive fan of the show. I think that I have seen almost every single episode. I have always followed the cast since it ended to see what they have been up to. I even went and watched the play Matthew Perry wrote and starred in when it came to London. A few years ago I went to Friends Fest in Milton Keynes. That was good and I got some brilliant pictures from it.

The End Of Longing
The End Of Longing

I enjoyed the special it was clever how it started with them one by one returning to the set as we later discovered in the order that they were cast. I learnt a few little behind the scenes things that I did not know. It was nice to see them all back together. They clearly do have a special bond and connection having been through what they all went through together. When the programme suddenly took off it does sound like it really was a roller coaster ride.

It was also nice to hear from the writers and how they decided to pursue the Monica and Chandler relationship after the reaction it got from the studio audience. When they got together for what at the time was meant to be just a one off. Until they realised what the public wanted was for them to get together. There were some pretty decent guest appearances to including Lady Gaga appearing to do a duet of Smelly Cat with Phoebe.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

They all seemed to find it quite emotional looking back on it all. They were basically all unknowns when it launched, now they are all big stars. It was a fun and easy watch. Did we learn anything ground breaking not really however it was certainly a decent tribute to an extremely well put together television comedy!

It has aged and bits of it are of course a bit dated now but there are some great lines and situations in it as there are in all comedy classics. I personally think they are right not to make any new episodes and just leave it there frozen in time for us to enjoy re-watching when we need a laugh.

Neil Quigley

The Premier League football season ended then with Spurs beating Leicester City. It was probably the most animated that I had been watching a game all season. There was not much riding on it except for one thing which was the chance to finish above Arsenal. Overall the season has been disappointing but to fall below them on the last day would have been hard to take.

Luckily we won the game despite still not being totally at our best and with a great late swansong from Gareth Bale. We have qualified for the Europa Conference league but I will be honest I am not sure exactly what it is or why it has been created.

Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur

Domestic football is finished for the summer so I am now all about the National Team. The Euro 2020 Championships start a year late this Friday. The tournament is being played all over Europe for the first time rather than all in just one country. That was the plan before Covid became a thing as it happens. That means England will get to play all of their group stage matches at Wembley. It will also be the venue for the semi-finals and final of the competition. That hopefully should give us an advantage as it almost did back in 1996.

I will be watching all the games and supporting the team. I like Gareth Southgate. I used to see him around quite a lot when I was at Wembley and he was always very personable. I wish him all the best. The squad selection is a bit of a surprise with a lot being made of the four right backs but they can all play in different positions. For me the bigger surprise is the lack of experienced midfielders, great to give youth a chance but I wonder if he could have used a spot for a player with more tournament game time. That said I am fully behind the manager and the squad. Fingers crossed for a good showing and some much needed excitement. Come on England!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

A quick reminder that you can listen to me every Saturday afternoon between 2pm – 4pm on Radio Ninesprings https://www.radioninesprings.co.uk/

Neil Quigley

Have fun and we will catch up again soon. Stay safe! Cheers Neil.

Ear We Go

We have arrived at the next point on the roadmap then and the rules have again been relaxed in regards to who we can see and the places we can go. Everything seems to either be a roadmap or a traffic light as the United Kingdom starts to reopen after the latest and possibly longest of the three lockdowns. As I generally live in my own world anyway I have not actually found it that tough, I appreciate I am very lucky in that respect. It has been an opportunity to reflect on things and think about what I want to achieve moving forward. Happily it is still world domination!

I am taking the approach of easing myself back into things gently and I have not been to any hospitality style venues as yet. I am planning to catch up with some friends soon most likely at one of our houses. Part of that is I am actually quite busy at the minute and have a set routine that no longer has any pub time built in. I think it is fair for people to start going out and doing things in their own time when they feel comfortable doing so. If you want to take advantage of the new freedom now great, if not no drama, return to it when you feel you are ready to.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I have actually ordered one of the Lateral Flow Covid Test kits. They are free and you test yourself twice a week to make sure you are not carrying the virus even if you do not have any of the symptoms. As I am going to be coming into contact with more people it makes sense to me anyway to be able to protect the people close to me and give myself and them peace of mind when I see them. One thing I will say though is that every time you take the test it is still an ordeal. It does not get any easier or less intrusive the more you do it. But I still think it is worth it personally.

I had my second Covid Vaccination about a week ago now. I am team Astra Zeneca. I had no real side effects other than a bit of a sore arm for a day where the needle went in and I did feel slightly more tired than normal for a couple of days, a small price to pay for something that should give you protection from a virus that could kill you. I am an asthmatic and have Coeliac Disease that puts me in the high risk category, which is why I got both my jabs so soon. I am not as old as you think I am. Tony Hadley also had his second jab at the same place as me on the same day. It was quite the showbiz day down there by all accounts.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I have had a bit of a health related service over the last couple of weeks. As well as becoming fully vaccinated against Covid I had a hospital appointment to have my ears looked at. I have this issue with them which means they get quite clogged up on a regular basis. Normally I have this simple procedure every six months but due the pandemic I had two appointments cancelled meaning it was nearly eighteen months since they had been dealt with.

The build up means I have trouble hearing so I either cannot hear people so they think I am ignoring them or my television is so loud it makes the whole of the house shake. It does sometimes cause a bit of Tinnitus for a short period of time to. The way it is dealt with is by using a tiny vacuum cleaner device that sucks all the debris out. It has a little camera on the end, which is attached to a big screen so the nurse can see where she is working. As I am squeamish I do not watch it as I am happy to rely on the health professional’s skill in this area.

It does make a huge difference when I have it done. I can hear so much more clearly and it does improve my balance, which also sufferers with the more stuffed up my ears get. It looks like they are back on track with this service so I will not have to wait so long next time thankfully. I have been having this done regularly now for the last five years. It is actually quite relaxing when it is being done. It does make a bit of a buzzing noise so it does feel a little bit like there is a friendly Bee in your ear. I can confirm though the ears are once again in tip top condition. (Who said that?)

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

The next part of my body to be looked at was my teeth. I was very overdue a check up and luckily my Dentist had started doing them again. I managed to book an appointment but the way it was done was obviously a bit different this time. The form that you usually fill out in the reception area needed to be completed online prior to my arrival. Then when I was outside the surgery I had to sign in online and wait across the street to be called in when they were ready for me, while trying not to look too suspicious. I wish I had dressed as a spy with a big brown jacket and dark glasses but sadly I didn’t.

After a short wait a hand appeared round the door and welcomed me in. I had to go straight into the dentist’s chair. It was weirdly nice to see her again and have a chat. My teeth were fine no need for any fillings or worse, which is always good. She did take some X-rays which were more uncomfortable than I remember. The only issue I have is receding gums I presume they must share the same genes as my hair. There is not much that can be done for them other than me not trying to brush so hard. That feels like it goes against everything that I was a taught as a kid. It was the final part of my body MOT although I have a feeling my eyes will need looking at again soon.

Neil Quigley

The other weekend I watched yet another film. That has been one of the big things for me during this last year. I think I have seen more films during the last twelve months than I have in the last ten years. The latest one was a continuation of my mission to catch up with the back catalogue of Quentin Tarantino. I seem to get on alright with his movies. I think he might have an attention span as bad as mine by the way his films tend to jump around a bit. As well as tell the story of about four different characters. Then of course there are the set pieces he does and the often quotable lines that they include.

My girlfriend and I watched “Inglourious Basterds”. It was originally released in 2009 so I am still a bit behind with the latest releases. It stars Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz and Diane Kruger. It is set during the Second World War and it is pretty gory so I spent a lot of it with my hands over my face or looking away from the screen. There are elements of truth about it combined with complete fantasy brutal in places but still gripping and exciting. It maintained my interest all the way through, which is no mean feat! I enjoyed it, if that is the right word for a film about this subject. It was thought provoking and a sad reminder of what humans are capable of doing to each other.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I have mentioned before that I have had some involvement in quiz show development for television. Some of which have made it on to our screens and many of which sadly have not. It is tough trying to basically find new ways of reinventing the wheel as a quiz where you ask questions is pretty much the same however you dress it up with quirks. Recently I watched a bit of the new Channel 4 quiz show with Tom Allen called “Quizness”. Firstly I feel I need to say that I like Tom and think he is great but the actual idea behind the programme was not for me. I found it tough to get in to.

I am a big quiz fan and enjoy answering the questions while playing along at home. I sadly lost interest in this one during the first round. It might be quite a fun quiz to play but it is really hard and confusing to watch in my opinion. Many people will like it and that is fine and good. I happen not to which is also fine. We cannot all like the same things and we are all entitled to our own opinions. But this one was not really for me!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I had a Zoom chat recently with one of the producers of a potential new television show. They are looking to film a pilot episode of it and wanted to see if I might like to be involved. It seems like a fun idea so I said I would be happy go along and take part. I cannot say any more about it at this stage as it is still in the development process but they explained the concept to me and I think it could well have a place on one of the big main TV channels. I am still waiting for confirmation of the filming date but I will let you know more when I am able to.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

The Premier League football season ends tomorrow. It has obviously been a strange competition this year. Only a handful of games have had any fans in attendance with most of the matches having been played behind closed doors. Manchester City I think fully deserved the title. They have been the best team by a mile. It has been an odd season for my team Tottenham Hotspur.

Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham Hotspur

We started off really well with some great results and playing attacking football. We were at the top of the league in December. Then we started dropping points and playing a more defensive style of football. We went out of the Europa League and dropped away from the top four. At which point we sacked our manager Jose Mourinho. We then lost the League Cup final to Manchester City.

We really flattered to deceive I feel. Even though a lot of Spurs fans seem to disagree I think we have a very strong squad. One that I felt should have been strong enough to claim a Champions League place. The issues were I think behind the scenes and for whatever reason the manager was not getting the best out of everyone. It looks as if Harry Kane will still finish as the League’s top scorer which is a great achievement for a fantastic player playing in a very inconsistent side.

There have been some reports this week that Harry wants to leave the club at the end of the season. If there is some truth in this I must say I cannot really blame him. He is in his prime and wants to be able to compete for silverware. No Spurs fan would begrudge him that. I mean he has been a great servant to us. However he does seem like an actual fan of the club. He could possibly become the clubs all time top scorer in the next three seasons. I wonder if he might be with us still in August. I hope so but will understand if he is not.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I have renewed my season ticket for next season. Obviously I do not know if that means I will be able to go to every home game. That will depend on any capacity restrictions that might be in place still. One thing I do know is that I will go there and support which ever eleven players have been selected to play, the same way I always have done in the past. Win, lose or draw as long as they have tried their best and worked hard during the match I will clap them off the pitch.

A lot of supporters seem to think their side should win every game and the players should be perfect every week. They are human and this is the real world so that is not possible. The expectations that some fans seem to have now are unbelievable and will only lead to them being upset and disappointed. Live for the moment, believe in the players and the club, enjoy the good times and deal with the bad times. I will be as optimistic as ever that we will win something next year. Come on you Spurs!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

It was the final edition of “Quigger’s Plays Pop” last Tuesday night. The forty-fourth episode of my little online Pop Quiz that I started during the first lockdown as a bit of fun to try to entertain and cheer people up. It then returned for lockdown two for a few weeks before I brought it back one more time for the latest and longest lockdown. Ten months of music based fun can still be found on my Facebook page.

It was great fun but I am pleased it has come to an end as that means people can go out and socialise with real people once again. When the country fully reopens properly I do plan on hiring a venue and doing an actual real life version of it. Where I can do the quiz and then we can all have a drink together afterwards. Here is the final Quigger’s Plays Pop in case you missed it. https://www.facebook.com/796795590/videos/10165049508260591/

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley


A quick reminder that you can listen to me every Saturday afternoon between 2pm – 4pm on Radio Ninesprings https://www.radioninesprings.co.uk/

Neil Quigley Presenter
Neil Quigley Presenter

Have fun and we will catch up again soon. Stay safe! Cheers Neil.

Not Got The Stomach For it!

We are already right at the end of February. This month seems to have flown by to me. It does every year, which if you think about it as it only has two or three days less than the other months is a little bit strange. It is March on Monday so we are basically in spring with the days getting longer and lighter. What is not to like about that? There is a lot be encouraged by at the moment. It does seem that things are finally moving in the right direction.

The basic outline of plans to start the slow process of getting back to somewhere near normal has been announced. I still personally think that patience is still the key. We cannot keep going back and forward into these lockdowns as that helps nobody. The NHS has been doing a great job dealing with the pandemic but it has sadly delayed other treatments of course. We need to get back up to speed with these and cannot really afford any further hold ups.

All the right figures are coming down but there are clearly cases out there and it is still spreading in some areas. Therefore we need to be a bit cautious still when opening the country up. As we now know how quickly it can transmit from person to person. The vaccination programme is working well it seems. Latest reports suggest I should get my first injection by the end of next month, which sounds good to me. The sooner the better as far as I am concerned.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

We all still need to be responsible and make the right decisions for our own good and for those around us. It has been a massive pain to say the least but we will come through it stronger. Things will return gradually to how we once knew them as things did after the Plague and the Spanish Flu.

We have I guess you could argue been lucky that it has been so long since a huge global virus issue like this has arisen. It has been a concern for many years, I believe. With the amount of people who travel all over the world nowadays it meant the spread of this thing I think possibly took everybody a little bit by surprise. Either that or they were not fully prepared to accept it.

Hang on in there, keep smiling, you are doing great. We will all get through this thing together and hopefully be better people for it. Last weekend it was the Australian Open Tennis Finals and there were fans in the stadium to witness it. It shows you after quite harsh measures things can begin to reopen to some degree in a relatively short time.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Just picture and look forward to the first time you can do something that you really want to once again. Then when it happens remember to savour it and not take it for granted ever again. Life is for enjoying and to be made the most out of.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

It was Valentine’s Day a couple of weeks ago now. This was the first year for a very long time that I actually had a girlfriend for it. I am not the most romantic person at the best of times and I was a bit out of practice regarding what to do. I think I did alright. I did get her a card which I believe is a fairly strong start. I also got a personalised bottle of Champagne with her name on it and a fun description that I wrote that was about her but in the style of a review of the drink. In return I received a card and a packet of heart shaped chocolates. It seemed to go well, so I think I got away with it.

As part of the celebrations if that is the right word as it was my turn to cook I ordered us a Chinese Takeaway, which was lovely. Have you ever had one and not ordered way too much food? I used to be a big fan of starters so I loaded up on them meaning I rarely ever finished the main dish. You try to be sensible but it all sounds so nice when you look at the menu. If you are the sort of person who can order exactly the right amount of food from any takeaway you have my total respect.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

In the afternoon as we were treating it as a bit of a pamper day I had my first ever moisturising face mask. It was actually quite relaxing even though it felt a bit weird when it first went on. Like all real men I do regularly moisturise anyway but this took it to a new level. After experiencing the benefits of this process I have now tried the puffy eye treatment. And have ordered my own pack of them to use when I want or think I need them. My skin will look fantastic when we are finally released back into the wild again.

While we were sat there with the face masks on, we were watching some new episodes of The Simpsons. I have been watching it for the last thirty years now and it is still brilliant! Their social comment on the world is exceptional clever and always spot on. It still makes me laugh out loud. I really cannot think of any other comedy show that has been this consistently good over such a long period of time. It is as fresh now as it was when it first appeared. I have decided by the way that Maggie is my favourite Simpson. She is clearly the smartest and makes me laugh even though she never speaks.

Neil Quigley

Did you enjoy any pancakes on Shrove Tuesday? I did although it now turns out this could be the last time I do in the conventional way, more on that in a bit. I cooked them myself and if I do say so made an excellent job of them. Just for the record I am also an exceptional flipper of them. It is all in the wrist you know!

My topping of choice is simply Lemon Juice and Sugar. Straight forward and to the point, using the oldest trick in the seasoning book the sweet and sour combination. They tasted great. As ever I enjoyed all the fun of the pancakes with none of the suffering of giving anything up for lent or at least so I thought.

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

About a year ago now I had a few issues with Iron levels in my body. As a result of that I had a blood test that suggested that I might be a sufferer of Coeliac Disease. To be able to confirm this for sure I had to have a Gastroscopy. Due to the delays caused by Covid I had this procedure at Stoke Mandeville Hospital the other week. It basically involves a doctor putting a camera down your throat and down into your stomach. And yes it is about as much fun as it sounds.

That said all the staff at the hospital were amazing. I had to take a Covid test a few days before to make sure I did not have it. This was organised by the hospital and I was fine. They do give you the option of being sedated during it all, which as I have a really bad gag reflex I happily accepted. They numb your throat with some special spray as you sit there on the bed ready. You then lay down on your left side and they put the sedative straight into a vein, stick a mouth shield in your mouth and slide the contraption down. The worse bit is when it first goes down your throat. It is unpleasant but only lasts a couple of seconds. The whole thing went really quickly before I knew it I was in the recovery room having a rest.

After around thirty minutes they got me a tea and some biscuits. I then had to wait to see the nurse to be discharged. Meantime they had arranged for the person driving me home to be there ready and waiting for me. The good news is that my throat and stomach in the main all looked pretty normal, which is nice. The doctor was able to confirm that I do have Coeliac Disease. There was some damage in the stomach lining relating to the condition. He did take a couple of Biopsy’s while he was in there but there is no cause for concern from them at this stage apparently.

Coeliac Disease is a condition where in a person who has it Gluten attacks and damages the stomach lining, which makes the sufferer more susceptible to certain diseases including some types of Cancer if not treated. It also affects the body’s ability to absorb nutrients and vitamins from food. It causes the immune system to attack itself and therefore lower its defences. The only way to treat and control Coeliac Disease is simply to not eat Gluten. Therefore I am now on a very strict Gluten Free diet.

I have suddenly gone from a man who used to really enjoy eating absolutely anything to somebody who has to be ultra careful what they eat. I am fine with this and totally understand the reasons. It is going to take a bit of an adjustment to my daily diet. Lots of things I had as a staple of that I can no longer eat. I will simply have to find a new way of fulfilling my own food needs.

The main meal of the day is easy some sort of meat and vegetables, no problem. Also lunch does not require too much tweaking with plenty of fruit, cold meat and a bit of cheese for example. For me what to have breakfast wise is the biggest thing having had wheat based cereals for years. These have of course now gone.

As soon as I was diagnosed to help me understand and get to grips with the do’s and don’ts and to check what I can and cannot eat I became a member of Coeliac UK. They supply lots of very useful and quite crucial information. They offer you support in several different ways.

One of these is an unbelievably handy mobile phone application that includes a barcode scanner which you can use to tell you if food is alright for you to eat or not. This has already come in incredibly useful during my first week as being Coeliac. It is a bit of a new challenge and chapter in life for me I guess. However I just need to be sensible and careful with my food and drink intake. That is all everything else remains the same!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

As Lockdown continues so does my fun weekly Pop Quiz every Tuesday evening at 8.30pm on my Facebook Page. I have a great time hosting it and writing the questions for it. It is a nice way of passing the time currently. It is called “Quigger’s Plays Pop” it lasts around half an hour. It includes thirty questions split into six rounds. Between each round I have a chat and a bit of a giggle with some of the people joining in. A fun and inclusive show that often features a showbiz story or two from me. Here is last week’s quiz for you to enjoy whenever you wish. https://www.facebook.com/796795590/videos/10164706432510591/

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

I am starting to regret beginning these Spurs updates at the start of the season. It seemed at the half way point like we might just have a successful year. Recently in the league we seem to be finding wins and any sort of consistency very hard to come by. I find this quite hard to fathom with the squad of players we have. We did I thought play reasonable well against West Ham United in our last game but did not have any luck in front of goal. That resulted in yet another defeat. Things I still hope will pick up again soon. Ever the optimist!

We are in the League Cup Final which is currently due to be played in April but we do have to beat the brilliant Manchester City to get our hands on the trophy. The Europa League campaign is still alive and the way things are looking that could be our best and possibly only route into next season’s Champion’s League.

As a life-long Tottenham fan I am fully invested in all the highs and lows associated with being a supporter. You have to take the rough with the smooth and the smiles with the tears. Enjoy the good days and accept the bad days, which in a way is actually quite a good motto for life!

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

You can listen to me still on Saturday afternoon’s between 2pm – 4pm on Radio Ninesprings https://www.radioninesprings.co.uk/

Neil Quigley
Neil Quigley

Have fun and we will catch up again soon. Stay safe! Cheers Neil.