Tag Archives: TV

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.

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.