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).
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.
- Prague: Radisson Blu Alcron - stylish five-star right in the heart of the Prague action
- Ostrava: Park Inn - business hotel literally next door to the office
- MyRaw Cafe - a new one, cute raw cafe in stunning arcade
- Maitrea - an old favourite just off Old Town square
- Moment - another new one, awesome great value food in this tiny place
- Rawcha - another new raw place, in a lovely courtyard setting
- Lehka Hlava - another old favourite in Old Town
- Bon Gusta - cute vegetarian place just off the town centre
- Rawbar - an old favourite, good food and great value, they even remembered Ky from previous visits!
- Williton: Fairfield House - our second visit to this beautiful old home converted to a relaxing vegetarian/vegan B&B, with the most amazing dinners
- Taunton: Lowdens House B&B - friendly B&B and the owners were Quo fans, so that always helps!
- Llanelli: Llanelli Central Travelodge - basic good value accommodation, staffed by some super-friendly people
- Totnes: Passiv Haus B&B - certainly the worst pick of the trip as it was a room shared with the rest of the house, Ky's idea of hell. Friendy hosts, though, and interesting to spend time in a Passiv-certified house
- Falmouth: Headlands Guest House - really welcoming B&B and went out of their way to accommodate Ky's vegan needs
- Taunton: The Planet - great little plant-based cafe in Taunton town centre, a newcomer and destined to do well with good food and friendly service
- Thornbury: The Wheatsheaf - vegan-friendly pub near Bristol, where we enjoyed a vegan Sunday roast!
- Willow - long-standing vegetarian offering in the alternative town of Totnes, nice little cafe
- Cott Inn - a beautiful thatched pub dating back to 1320, voted in Britain’s Top 30 pubs and always has vegan options on the menu (and it just happened to be a couple of minutes’ walk from our B&B)
- Fat Lemons - homely vegetarian café in Totnes
- Brixham: Oats Healthy Living café - health food store and café, small range of food but great value and friendly staff
- Pea Souk - tiny vegetarian café in a small laneway in Falmouth, nice food and the owner took a call from The Times newspaper while we were there to do a feature on their little café!
- Wildebeest - top notch vegan fare on the main street of town, highly rated and always needed to book (sadly now closed its doors after the owners became parents)
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!
- Plymouth: Best Western Duke of Cornwall - historic hotel close to the waterfront (also right opposite Plymouth Pavilions, home to many a Quo gig)
- Islington: DoubleTree by Hilton – London Islington - high quality modern hotel close to Islington shopping, surprisingly quiet given its location on a very busy road
- Notting Hill: La Suite West Hyde Park - funky modernist hotel in a Victorian terrace just off Hyde Park, also happens to have a splendid vegan restaurant on-site
- Aberystwyth: Bodalwyn - our home away from home, this friendly & immaculate B&B always delivers
- Falmouth: Cinnamon - good vegie fare in a nice courtyard setting just off the main street through Falmouth
- Tetbury: The Royal Oak - a lovely Cotswolds pub with an excellent vegan menu, always good to return to this homely and welcoming pub to enjoy great food in nice surroundings
- Stafford: The Swan - when we spotted this historic hotel offering a Tuesday vegetarian/vegan night, we had to check it out - and it was great! Really nice food in a fine dining setting, good to see a "local" offering something different in this area
- Kings Cross: Mildreds - we'd previously been to Mildreds in Soho many times and our couple of experiences of the Kings Cross version were also excellent
- Islington: The Gate - another top notch vegie restaurant, this place is a perfect example of what vegan fine dining can be like
- Kings Cross: Itadaki Zen - this small Japanese vegan place was packed for lunch and we had to wait for a table, but well worth it
- Notting Hill: Farmacy - a trendy vegan/raw/clean restaurant in a trendy part of town, we only managed to get a drink here (as no food service in the afternoon)
- West End: Tibits - a trusty old favourite that never disappoints with its varied and fresh buffet (and we were pleased to introduce Chris to this place as well!)
- Cannock: The Barns - a good local spot, just on the edge of Cannock Chase and with several vegan options, all presented in a historic barn setting
- The Treehouse - another old favourite, this is always a good meeting place during our reunion weekends and a reasonably-priced healthy meal is always on offer here
- Crimson Rhino - a new vegie fast food joint and the first vegie-only place in Aber for years, so we just had to support it! A cute rear garden space was handy in the sunshine too
- Newport Beach: Holiday Inn Express Newport Beach - Newport is an expensive place and this Holiday Inn Express seemed like our best option for a decent standard at something less than a ridiculous price - and it turned out to be a good choice, not too far from the beach, quiet and clean & tidy
- Aliso Viejo: Renaissance ClubSport Aliso Viejo - a bizarre combination of sports club/gym and hotel, this is the only place to stay within staggering distance of the Dell office. While it's all clean and modern, it's soulless, typically OC and kind of surreal (as is most of this area)
- Anaheim: Disneyland Hotel - we stayed in the Disneyland hotel as the STARWest conference was being held there, so it was handy for that and also handy for accessing the parks of course. Horrificly overpriced for what it is, early park access was a bonus and the room was spacious & well equipped.
- Banzai Bowls - a trendy acai/smoothie bowls sort of joint in this trendy town, very refreshing in the Californian sunshine though!
- Café Gratitude - we'd visited Gratitude in Venice Beach before and the Newport Beach version was no less impressive, seriously high quality vegan food here
- Sambazon - another acai specialist, right on trend in Newport and handy to the Holiday Inn
- Aliso Viejo
- Native Foods - fast vegie food outlet in the Aliso Viejo "town centre", big serves of decent grub, not the healthiest place but not many options within walking distance of the hotel here
- Nekter - a new juice/smoothie/breakfast bowl place near Native Foods, perfect breakfast choice instead of heavy hotel buffet fare
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.
- Konstanz/Kreuzlingen: Hotel Swiss - a vegan hotel in a lovely traditional Swiss style, plus a superb 5-course vegan dinner!
- Zurich: Greulich Design and Lifestyle Hotel - a very funky modern hotel on the fringe of the city centre. A forest between the main building and our room was an interesting feature and the super-modern room was very cool
- Luzern: Waldstaetterhof Swiss Quality Hotel - traditional hotel close to the train station, but very high standard and perfect location for us
- Konstanz/Kreuzlingen: Eugen's Bio Cafe - a lovely small bio cafe close to the shores of Lake Konstanz
- The Sacred - this place seems most well-known for its incredible selection of vegan ice creams, but we had a nice buffet dinner here
- Hiltl - something of a Zurich icon, Hiltl is the world's oldest vegetarian restaurant! We tried the city centre "Haus Hiltl" as well as "Sihlpost Hiltl" in the main post office building. The city centre restaurant was very crowded and the post office one much lower key, but both offered really nice food (albeit at hefty Swiss prices!)
- Luzern: Tibits - we love Tibits in London so it was a no brainer for us to use their Tibits branch for every meal while in Luzern! The food was great and the location very unusual, within the main train station looking over the tracks (perfect for trainspotters!)
- London (Hammersmith): Novotel London West - good quality accommodation in a pretty handy location and we secured an upgraded room at a very reasonable price for a Saturday overnighter
- Belfast: Premier Inn Belfast Titanic Quarter - well-located modern Premier Inn, up to their usual standard. A bonus here was the view from our room over the loading bay of the arena next door, so could watch the Quo comings and goings (acknowledging that not everyone would agree that this was a nice view)!
- London: Tibits - a favourite of ours, just off Regent Street, the buffet never fails to please
- Home - a really vegan-friendly & popular restaurant in the heart of Belfast, we only ate elsewhere when this place was fully booked!
- Raw Food Rebellion - handy health food store with some takeaway vegan food (sadly appears to have closed down)
- Dublin: Clontarf Castle - a stunning historic building in the nice waterfront suburb of Clontarf, very comfortable and somewhere different to stay (although Ky wasn't keen on the dead animals hanging on the walls in the grand main entrance!)
- Sova Vegan Butcher - this was very new when we visited and we managed to sneak a table twice during our brief stay in Dublin. Super inventive, high quality vegan food in a trendy area of the city, a "must do"!
- Cornucopia - a Dublin institution for vegie folks, a reliable decent feed at a good price
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!
- Leamington Spa: Premier Inn - typical good standard Premier Inn in a nice heritage building in the heart of Leamington
- Cambridge: Holiday Inn - an out-of-town hotel but offered a decent rate and easy access to the city via public transport
- Leamington: Garden Shed Cafe - a tucked-away little vegan cafe, fed us well during our brief time in Leamington
- 3 Three's Coffee Lounge - an excellent city-centre cafe serving largely vegan snacks and cakes
- 1847 - top-end vegan dining in the stunning Great Western Arcade right in the city
- Lichfield: Faro Lounge - popular central cafe, with a separate vegan menu, great to see in one of our favourite little cities
- Taste of Cambridge - lovely falafels from this food van in the city centre
- Rainbow Cafe - surprisingly, the only fully vegetarian cafe in Cambridge. We had a very nice lunch here and the location opposite Kings College was very cool.
- The Free Press pub - we happened to be in Cambridge while a raw vegan popup restaurant was operating out of this pub, so we got to enjoy some amazing food in a pub environment on a Sunday evening!
- Berlin: Almodovar Biohotel - a funky eco-friendly hotel with a high-quality vegie restaurant on-site, in a pretty hip part of Berlin
- Bremen: Star Inn Premium Bremen Columbus - a no-frills hotel close to the train station and city centre, perfect for an overnight stay
- Koln: Hyatt Regency - 5-star hotel right on the banks of the river with stunning views over the city and cathedral, we enjoyed our few nights of luxury in this hotel!
- Frankfurt: NH Collection Frankfurt City - we returned to this central hotel in Frankfurt after a previous good experience and we were equally happy this time
- Essen: Ibis Essen Hauptbahnhof - a budget hotel close to the station, but was clean and convenient and a perfect choice for an overnight stay
- Oberhausen: TRYP Centro - close to the Centro shopping centre and the venue for the Quo gig, this was a perfect overnight spot for Lee's birthday!
- Bacharach: Rhein Hotel - a lovely small old hotel in this pretty little town on the banks of the Rhine. The vegan dinners here were fantastic, high quality food, great service, stunning location and some great local wines to enjoy with the food - a lovely place to spend Ky's birthday
- Heidelberg: City Partner Hotel Hollander Hof - we returned to this historic hotel after a great experience during a previous trip and we were once again very pleased. The location couldn't be better and we again had a stunning view over the bridge and river, while being footsteps away from the most interesting parts of the city and the incredible array of Christmas markets.
- Stuttgart: Steigenberger Graf Zeppelin - fantastic high standard hotel opposite the main train station with easy access to the city centre. We were upgraded to a massive suite, what a shame we only had two nights to spend here!
- Munich: Hotel Blauer Bock - solid hotel in the older part of Munich, easy access to everything we needed (the only downer was shocking wi-fi which made working here challenging at times)
- Goodies - good plant-based options at this deli and health food shop
- The Bowl - nice vegan cafe above one of the Veganz supermarkets, sadly appears to have closed down
- Bardot - all-veg hotel restaurant (where we stayed), good breakfast and nice dinner options in a lovely environment
- Veganbar - vegan fast food in this small place on an unremarkable street behind the train station, but did the job!
- Vengo - simple vegan fare at this pop-up store in the Citi Lab shopping centre
- Cafe Hibiscus - a tiny vegan cafe offering soups, snacks and cakes
- Past & Future - a small family-run vegan cafe in what felt like the front room of a house! The small buffet was amazing, though, with some really tasty homemade specialities and the owner/cook was very friendly. Apparently it's now closed and re-opened in Fuerteventura!
- Venjoy - a decent small vegie cafe serving "bowl" foods (this is another one that appears to have closed down since our visit)
- Greenfoody - a tiny vegan cafe in a trendy part of Frankfurt, tasty food here (it seems to have changed name to Rohkosteria now)
- Vevay cafe - vegetarian cafe in the heart of Frankfurt with a great selection of cakes
- Chimichurri - we returned to this place after great food there in the past and it was awesome again. Tasty inventive dishes in a trendy area of the city. Really sad to see that this restaurant closed down in 2017!
- Dean & David - a chain of healthy food cafes across Germany and we enjoyed some nice dishes here at the Frankfurt cafe, great value too
- Veganz - cafe attached to one of the famous Veganz all-vegan supermarkets. Great lunch options and friendly staff (who even got us to taste a new recipe they were developing). This shop has since closed down too!
- Essen: Sattgrün - an excellent city-central buffet restaurant, we enjoyed all of our meals here during the brief time we had in Essen. Lots of options, good prices and a pleasant environment.
- Oberhausen: Mosch Mosch - a chain of Japanese restaurants, this one on the promenade of the massive Centro shopping centre in Oberhausen. The staff and kitchen were very vegan-friendly with a number of choices and we enjoyed a substantial lunch here.
- Holy Kitchen - this was a pretty new small vegan cafe when we were in Heidelberg and was good for coffee and cake. Yet another casualty, though, as it's since closed down.
- Cafe Auszeit - tucked away on a little town square, this popular cafe fed us well
- Ashram Bio Vegan market stall - yes, a vegan food stall at a Christmas market! The super-friendly owner chatted with us for ages and the delicious spicy food was welcome on a chilly evening as we explored the city
- Bitteat - a good variety of vegan offerings at this large vegetarian cafe in the city centre. We visited a few times as it was so close to our hotel and it was always busy, so surprised to see that this place has closed down.
- Super Jami - a very cool small vegan deli/cafe in a residential part of the city
- Munich: So Ham - a very busy vegan restaurant at the back of a yoga studio. Great good and very reasonably priced. It seems that this place closed down in 2017.
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.
- Gratitude - lovely vegan food in a nice setting, perfect lunch spot
- Max Pett - super-popular vegan restaurant, we sneaked a table without a reservation and had a delicious meal plus great conversations with the staff, a memorable evening
- Amsterdam: Holiday Inn Express Amsterdam Arena Towers - an excellent value hotel very close to the Heineken Music Hall for us to attend the Quo gig there. Also very easily accessible from Amsterdam city centre at much lower rates than in this expensive city.
- Utrecht: NH Utrecht - good quality accommodation right next to the train station and up to the usual NH standard
- Amsterdam: Dr Blend - a small juice, smoothie and snack bar where we ended up after failing to find other options (we were devoid of maps). Very small portions here, not really surprised to see that this one has closed down
- Broei - a busy vegie cafe in a lovely spot just off a canal. It was along walk to get here, but well worth it with a delicious lunch and really friendly staff
- Kitchen Punx - The Garden of Vegan - the first fully vegan restaurant in Utrecht, this place was pretty grungy to look at but served up tasty and hearty meals at a great price
- Paris: Le Robinet d'Or - one of the highlight hotel stays of our long trip. This small hotel just off the Canal Saint-Martin upgraded us to an enormous suite, more like an apartment, it was like having our own home away from home, great spot!
- Carmen Ragosta - the bizarre combination of a top-end boutique and small vegan restaurant courtesy of clothes designer and vegan cook, Carmen! Very personal service and real food made this a truly memorable experience. Carmen was so welcoming and friendly and took such pride in her food, a true Parisien experience here!
- Hank Vegan Burger - mega-popular vegan burger joint (they have a separate pizza place), we squeezed in and the junk food offset some of Lee's disappointment after the cancellation of the Quo gig!
- Wild & The Moon - a very hip all-vegan superfood cafe selling all the trendy stuff you'd expect, was a handy spot for breakfast
- Brasserie 2eme Art - a typical side-street Parisien restaurant, but all vegan. We had a very decent "set" lunch here (has since changed name to "Janine Loves Sunday" under same ownership)
- Le Potager du Marais - we returned to this restaurant in the gorgeous Marais district after a good experience some years before. It's a homely little restaurant serving typical Parisien fare but all vegan, has traditional French cider served in little pottery jugs and nice friendly staff
- Nottingham: Premier Inn Nottingham Arena - typically tidy Premier Inn very close to the Quo gig venue and also handy for the city centre
- Bournemouth: Premier Inn Bournemouth Central - a really different Premier Inn, being an old Art Deco hotel close to the seafront. Our room with a lovely sea view was a bonus!
- Brighton: Premier Inn Brighton City Centre - very central Premier Inn and good value in this expensive town (and the discount parking was a big saver here too)
- Cardiff: Premier Inn Cardiff City Centre - a modern Premier Inn just steps away from the gig venue, another no fuss and excellent value overnighter
- Birmingham: City Nites Apartments - a decent and large studio apartment right next to the arena for the Quo gig, perfect overnighter
- Leeds: Premier Inn Leeds City Centre - a very new Premier Inn literally across the road from the arena for the Quo gig, so very handy plus only a short walk into the city centre.
- York: Travelodge York Central Micklegate - a good value hotel close to everything in York, we'd stayed here before and it again served our needs for a basic overnight stay in this beautiful city.
- Manchester: Travelodge Manchester Central Arena - very handy for the Quo gig at the nearby arena, a pretty clean and tidy Travelodge in this otherwise disgustingly littered city (at least when we visited)
- Glasgow: Crowne Plaza - we treated ourselves to a couple of nights of luxury at the Crowne Plaza. This lovely hotel on the river was next door to the venue for the Quo gig and a nice walk along the river into the city centre. Our good friends Yvonne and Paul stayed here too and we enjoyed a lovely evening and dinner with them in this hotel.
- Newcastle: Jury's Inn - our first experience of a Jury's Inn hotel and it was very good. We got a very low price booking early and our room was of a good standard, the hotel being a very short walk to the Metro Radio arena for the gig. The bar was also handy for us to meet other fans before and after the gig.
- Liverpool: Jury's Inn - two Jury's Inn stays in two days, this time in Liverpool literally across the road from the venue for the last night of the Quo tour! Another good hotel, our room was nice and had a view over the arena to the water. Nice big bar and the bonus of post-gig bar time with Richie Malone!
- London (Hammersmith): Novotel London West - a return visit around New Year to coincide with other Quo friends staying there. Nice and close to the Hammersmith Odeon to pay tribute to Rick and a handy spot for other London attractions. Good quality hotel, typical Novotel offering really but at good prices when booked early.
- Nottingham: The Peacock - another traditional city centre pub that's taken the vegan route, great to see this trend in the UK. We enjoyed lovely hearty meals here and some great conversation with the staff too.
- Warwick: Fusca - this small subterranean vegetarian restaurant in Warwick was a handy stopping off point on our long drive from Nottingham down to Bournemouth. The food here was of a very high standard and the setting is pretty unique, high quality vegetarian food in a town we've visited so many times to see Niall.
- Wickham: Offbeet - this place was one of the biggest surprises of our trip. It was a short detour on our drive from Bournemouth across to Brighton to search out this well-reviewed vegan cafe in the pretty town of Wickham. It was situated inside an old mill building that mainly houses a second-hand/antiques shop but we found it tucked away in there - and it was packed! Booking is the order of the day here apparently but we didn't need to wait long for a table and we enjoyed really inventive, tasty and beautifully-presented food here, true restaurant quality in this bizarre location. Highly recommended on all fronts!
- Rootcandi - very popular and busy top end vegan restaurant, we scored a table here twice and enjoyed the variety and uniqueness of their offerings. Really surprised to learn that this place has since closed down.
- Beelzebab (in The Hope & Ruin pub) - vegan junk food in a pub, a great combination! This grungy town centre pub was doing great business serving up vegan burgers and hot dogs, tasty and filling, just not healthy!
- Iydea - cheap and chearful vegie fare at this small cafe in The Lanes (same owner as Rootcandi, but this one has survived!)
- Infinity Foods Kitchen - an excellent little vegetarian cafe, sister of the wholefood/health shop of the same name nearby. It operates as a co-operative and certainly had a "feel good" vibe about it, as well as dishing up good value, substantial meals in this popular area of Brighton
- Prince George pub - another all-vegie pub, this one in The Lanes district, a typical British pub inside and served up large meals at good prices plus a decent cider on tap!
- London (Deptford): The Waiting Room - a tiny and busy vegetarian coffee shop serving burgers and hot dogs. We squeezed in amongst the trendy folks to stuff our faces with vegan junk food before a Quo gig!
- Cardiff: Atma - Hare Krishna restaurant in the heart of Cardiff, offering the usual fare of such places at a good price
- Stroud (Nailsworth): Asparagasm - we'd been looking forward to visiting this place as the owner also runs the excellent vegetarian restaurant at The Royal Oak pub in Tetbury where we've lunched a few times. This place, though, was expensive, very slow and small portions - and completely disorganized, so quite disappointing. Not surprised to see that this one has closed down, though the owner still runs courses and pop-up events.
- Birmingham: The Warehouse - excellent vegetarian restaurant in the grungy Digbeth area of the city. We had an excellent three-course meal with Roy & Anne, great food, great company and a lovely experience all round. Sad to see that the restaurant is (again) looking for a new operator (as of December 2018).
- Leeds: Roots & Fruits - this long-standing vegetarian restaurant in the city's lovely Grand Arcade was a great spot for some lunch and cakes.
- York: El Piano - very popular top vegie spot in York, we'd eaten there on previous visits and then several times during this visit. Amazed to learn that this place has closed down as the owners have moved to Scotland.
- Manchester: Earth Cafe - super-cheaf buffet-style Buddhist in a subterranean spot in the city centre. Chearful service and hefty portions, can't go wrong!
- Newcastle: Wildflower - this place had only just opened when we visited and it's small, eclectic style was quite different but we enjoyed decent meals here and nice mince pies (from memory!)
- Liverpool: Next To Nowhere - one of the most bizarre places all trip, this underground not-for-profit community-run place only opens on Saturdays and we were first in (after a long wait due to opening late). No menu, you got what the chef could cook on the day, so it was super basic (but very cheap). All for a good cause but probably wouldn't return...
- London (Hammersmith): 222 Veggie Vegan - another return visit, this small vegan place offers a limited buffet but the quality is excellent and it's a nice location too.
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!