Epic overseas adventures! - 18 August, 2016 - 3 January, 2017

The announcement of Quo's "Last Night of the Electrics" final tour saw us heading to Europe in mid-August 2016 for an epic adventure lasting over four months!

The trip would take in a number of European countries as well as a side-trip to the US to present and attend a testing conference. It was a trip of highs and lows - 25 Quo gigs, three John Coghlan gigs and three tribute band gigs were all highs, as were catching up with great friends and visiting new & interesting places along the way. The passing of Rick Parfitt on Christmas Eve was certainly a low point but we celebrated his life with like-minded fans in London to bring in the new year.

We left Melbourne on 18th August 2016, heading first to Prague. We headed back to Melbourne from London on 2nd January 2017! To summarize our travels:

Given the length of this trip, there's not as much detail as usual but we'll try to give you a flavour of everywhere we visited and the Quo gigs we managed to enjoy along the way, plus links to our reviews of the 40+ hotels we stayed in and the huge variety of vegan/vegetarian restaurants that kept us well fed on our travels! Another way to see what we got up to is to look through an Instagram account that we set up just for this trip: www.instagram.com/lastnightoftheelectrics/ (and you don't need to register or sign-in to Instagram to view the photos).

Here are some quick links to each month of the trip to aid piecemeal reading: August   September   October   November   December & January

August

Our mammoth trip kicked off in August when we left the Winter in Melbourne behind and headed to Europe, with our first stop being Prague en route to the Dell office in Ostrava. A couple of recovery days in Prague were nice and the warm sunny weather was much appreciated! From Prague, it was the familiar train trip to Ostrava for three nights, with two-and-a-half days in the office for Lee. We headed back to Prague for one night to end the Czech leg, jetting off to the UK (via Brussels) on a ridiculously early morning flight - which was then delayed getting into Bristol thanks to heavy fog. Our first night on UK soil was spent at the wonderful relaxing Fairfield House B&B before we headed down to Taunton for the first Quo gig of our trip, an outdoor concert in Vivary Park. It was quite a day for us in sunny Taunton, being interviewed on BBC Radio Somerset and also being filmed for the BBC Somerset early evening news! The pre-gig action was excellent thanks to a local Quo tribute band called "Quo No" and the gig itself was a ripper, outdoors under sunny warm skies with a big crowd, gig number one done!

The next gig was the very next day and it was a fair drive from Taunton to Llanelli in South Wales to enjoy a big outdoor concert at the Parc-y-Scarlets rugby stadium. Wales welcomed us with dry and fairly warm conditions and gig number 2 was over all too quickly! Our original plans saw us heading back to Devon/Cornwall after Llanelli but we got persuaded to add in another Quo-related event the day after the Llanelli gig! The chance to see original Quo drummer playing in his hometown pub in the Cotswolds was too good a chance to miss and we had a fantastic Sunday afternoon enjoying "John Coghlan's Quo" banging out all the great old Quo songs in the company of amazing friends. The little town of Shilton didn't quite know what had hit it! Although this was a big diversion in terms of miles, we were so pleased we managed to be persuaded to attend this gig, certainly a highlight of the trip!

Our next commitment was a conference for Lee in Falmouth but we had a couple of days to kill before that, so we headed South and stayed in the lovely town of Totnes for three nights. This was a good base from which to explore the local area, so we took in Brixham, Broadsands beach, Paignton and of course Totnes itself. We got down to Falmouth the day before the conference, so rounded out the month of August by exploring this seaside town.

Czech hotels

Czech restaurants

UK hotels

UK restaurants

September

The month started in Falmouth for Lee to attend the two-day Agile On The Beach conference. This was a sold-out agile software development conference held on the uni campus just out of town. Blessed with fine weather, Ky enjoyed exploring Falmouth and the closing conference party held on the beach was a good way to wrap up our time in this seaside town. From Falmouth, we headed to Plymouth to attend the wedding of Niall & Ruth. Our fine run of weather broke on just the wrong day and it was a shocker, wet and windy, but it didn’t dampen the spirits and it was a lovely day, albeit all spent inside! On our way from Plymouth up to Cannock, we stopped off at the amazing Royal Oak pub in Tetbury again for a vegan Sunday dinner, and again were joined by Chris. A few days spent with Lee’s Dad followed before a trip down to London for a couple of Quo gigs – of the “Aquostic” variety and held in very different venues. The first was an intimate few hundred seater at the stunning Union Chapel in Islington (and Chris joined us for this gig too), the second the 60,000-strong Radio 2 Festival In A Day in Hyde Park! The fine weather had returned and our day spent in Hyde Park was under clear blue skies and in the company of a great bunch of friends, an awesome day.

A few days back in Cannock gave Lee some valuable work time, before our next trip, a long weekend in Aberystwyth. It was sunny days all the way and we were welcomed back to our second home, aka Bodalwyn Guest House, with the usual warmth and hospitality. Chris would join us for most of the weekend and Andy & Caroline and Graham & Renata also came down for part of the weekend, so it was great to see everyone and enjoy the usual reminiscing! Heading back to Cannock from Aber, we had a week of not doing very much, enjoying the sunshine and walks on Cannock Chase, and catching up on work. It was also useful downtime to prepare for the next leg of the trip, our two weeks in the US.

The US part of our travels was originally scheduled around a conference presentation that Lee was to give at the STARWest testing conference at Disneyland in Anaheim. Shortly before we left Australia, however, the idea was floated of some of Ky's family making an overseas trip to do Disneyland at the same time. So Shannon, Darcy and Xavier made their first overseas trips, with Joan tagging along too! Before the Disneyland part, though, we headed to Newport Beach for a recovery weekend (after the long flight over from Manchester). This was out first time in Newport and it was really enjoyable, with its relaxing beach vibe and lovely weather. After that, it was time for a few days' work in the nearby Dell office (in Aliso Viejo) before we made the short trip up to Anaheim to meet up with the Vaught clan as they arrived off their long direct flight from Australia. We rounded out September with a couple of days exploring the Disneyland and California Adventure parks with them - and needless to say the kids soon adjusted to life in California!

UK hotels

UK restaurants

US hotels

US restaurants

October

The first week of October saw us enjoying our time in California. We visited Disneyland a lot (obviously!) as well as a day out together at Universal Studios. We also indulged in some American sport, with a long day trip (via the awesome Pacific Surfliner train) down to San Diego to see an NFL game (New Orleans Saints vs. San Diego Chargers) and also attended a local NBA game (Los Angeles Lakers vs. Sacramento Kings). The clan Vaught got to enjoy many other delights during the week while Lee attended the STARWest testing conference and presented a track session there too. It was a great week or so with family and awesome to see the kids enjoying their first overseas trip!

After a few days back in the UK to recover, our next stop was Switzerland. We started off at Lake Konstanz then had a few days in Zurich (to catch a Quo gig at the massive Hallenstadium) before briefly visiting Luzern. We enjoyed fairly nice weather throughout and really enjoyed the lovely cities and spectacular scenery. We didn't enjoy the cost of living so much, Switzerland is a seriously expensive place and we counted ourselves lucky to only have to fund a few days here!

We spent about a week back in the UK before our next Quo-related trip and managed to sneak down to London for a weekend to attend the enormous Vegfest at Olympia. This was a great two-day event and we also caught up with Chris and Mel for an enjoyable dinner at Tibits off Regent Street.

Heading off again, we would spend the rest of October on the Emerald Isle, starting off in the North for a few days. We based ourselves in Belfast and really enjoyed exploring the city and its interesting (and, at times, tragic) history, as well as taking an organized day trip to Carrickfergus Castle, Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, Bushmills distillery, Dunluce Castle and the impressive natural wonder of the Giants Causeway. We also made a day trip out of a train ride up to Derry (Londonderry), with some fine scenery along the way. Lee slipped in an appearance at the Belfast Testers meetup too! The Quo gig in Belfast was great, a big eager crowd and Ky even scored a free ticket from a generous Irishman in the queue!

Heading down to Dublin, we had a couple of days to look around and it all felt very familiar after being in the city for a conference just a couple of years before. Staying in a castle just out of town was an experience and the Quo gig was fantastic, being guitarist Richie Malone's "home gig". We had a thoroughly enjoyable time in Dublin, shared with great friends.

Switzerland hotels

Switzerland restaurants

UK hotels

UK restaurants

Ireland hotels

Ireland restaurants

November

We didn't have much planned for the first couple of weeks of November, but that changed when Lee was invited to participate in a peer conference in Cambridge. Before that, though, we spent time around the Midlands and caught up with family and also visited Niall in Warwick. Heading down to Cambridge for the weekend to attend the conference, there was a perfect opportunity to sneak in a John Coghlan's Quo gig in Leamington Spa and it was great to meet up with good friends there again. Visiting Cambridge for the first time was a really enjoyable experience and we took a punt ride on the Cam and happened across the big fireworks event in Midsummer Common. The peer conference was a friendly affair and a good way to spend a Sunday for Lee. Back in Cannock, we caught up with Chris again and visited Stu and Tam in Congleton (and we also had dinner with Chris in Birmingham later that week!).

We spent the rest of November in Germany, touring around the country by train to follow the Quo tour. We started off with a few days in Berlin and a lot of our UK Quo friends visited too, so we had some great times with them and an awesome gig together. Next stop was the lovely historic city of Bremen and then onto Koln for a few days. This lovely city was good to explore and relax, plus another gig! From there, our next city stop was Frankfurt (and another gig!) before a night in Essen on the way to Lee's birthday destination, Oberhausen - with the bonus of a gig on his birthday! For Ky's (50th!) birthday, we headed South to the Rhine valley for a couple of nights in a beautiful old hotel in the town of Bacharach to enjoy the atmosphere of this stunning area during the festive season. The hotel offered amazing vegan dinners and we didn't realize the friendly owner/chef is something of a TV celebrity chef in Germany! (he didn't mention this when he was helping us lug our suitcases to our room when we arrived!) We also managed a lovely cruise along the river as far as St Goarhausen. Next stop was the picturesque city of Heidelberg just for one night on the way down to Stuttgart for the next gig! Stuttgart was a pleasant surprise and we particularly enjoyed visiting the Mercedes Benz museum, housed in an amazing piece of architecture (coincidentally right next to the venue for the Quo gig, the Porsche Arena). To round out the month, we travelled on from Stuttgart to Munich - and one more gig for the month!

UK hotels

UK restaurants

Germany hotels

Germany restaurants

December & January

We had one more day in Munich to explore to kick off December, before it was time to fly to the Netherlands for the Quo gig just outside of Amsterdam. This also afforded us the chance to spend a night in one of our favourite places, the pretty Uni town of Utrecht. From there, we headed to Paris on a fast train service and, incredibly, we were in Paris for lunch! The Quo gig in Paris was cancelled at the last minute (literally, Lee was in the queue to go in when everyone dispersed after an announcement in French!) but at least we got to enjoy two lovely days exploring the city under pleasant Winter sunshine.

Leaving France, we would spend the rest of the trip on the UK mainland. We only got one day's rest before the UK leg of the "Last Night of the Electrics" tour kicked off. We originally planned to do nine of the eleven gigs, but got (easily!) persuaded to go for the full house while we had the chance. We started off in Nottingham and then Bournemouth. The London gig (preceded by Stated Quo playing a jam-packed East End pub!) was sandwiched between two free days in Brighton before Lee's "30th anniversary gig" in Brighton (13th December 2016 marking 30 years since Lee's first gig at the NEC on 13th December 1986!), then heading to Cardiff before another "day off". Chris joined us at the Cardiff gig and also the day after when we lunched together in the Cotswolds.

Next stop was the Birmingham gig followed the next day by Leeds. It was good to visit Leeds together for the first time, even if our schedule meant we didn't get to see much of the city! The Quo gig there was preceded by another chance to see excellent Quo tribute band, Stated Quo, in a dingy dive of a pub just out of the city so we had a big afternoon of rockin' before an evening of "proper" Quoin'! A rest day was welcome and we took the chance to stay overnight in the lovely city of York, always a delightful place to visit. On with the gigs, it was Manchester next and then the next day in Glasgow. Another day off gave us more time to explore Glasgow with friends before we headed to Newcastle (another first time visit) and then finished up the tour in Liverpool. The final gig was preceded again by a Stated Quo gig, this time in the confines of the Cavern Club, what an afternoon that was! The eleven gigs on the UK tour were so much fun, shared with great friends and we were pleased we made the decision to do the whole tour, quite an achievement given the mileage and the hectic schedule. Heading back to Cannock on Christmas Eve, the awful news broke of Rick Parfitt's passing which tarnished Christmas somewhat (as did the fact that Lee's dad decided to spend the day with friends instead of family so we spent a very quiet Christmas Day alone but together). We took last opportunities to meet up with friends (Graham and Renata on Boxing Day and Stuart and Tam the day after) before it was time to head down to London to close out the trip. We took part in the tribute to Rick outside Hammersmith Odeon amongst grieving friends and fans, quite an emotional experience. A John Coghlan's Quo gig at the famous Half Moon pub was a great night, filled with emotion and celebration. New Year's Eve saw us milling around the city in a huge limo (thanks to Paul and Yvonne!), about a dozen Quo fans sipping champagne and blasting Quo music probably made for an interesting sight on the streets of London town...! We saw in the New Year at the Hard Rock Cafe and then spent New Year's Day with Quo friends on board a Thames river cruise, a very civilized way to end our touring before starting the long trip home the next day.

Germany restaurants

Netherlands hotels

Netherlands restaurants

France hotels

France restaurants

UK hotels

UK restaurants

There were a few crazy fans who did the entire UK tour, so we took a post-gig photo with this "special" group at each of the eleven gigs!