Its been a while since I last wrote anything on this blog. I have been head down settling into a new and demanding role, which has included some of the more interesting things in life: travelling abroad, taking photographs; meeting people; and generally living a busy and extraordinary life! These things don’t last forever though and enjoying them while you can is the key… so what have I been up to since my memorable visit to Budapest in November 2015, followed by my appearance on BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Live programme?
In November I went to the Middle East with work. Whilst there I renewed a number of old acquaintances and made some new ones. I visited Doha, Dubai and Abu Dhabi. It was a packed programme with some challenging meetings and some great reunions with my Qatari friends in particular. I also met up with our old Au Pair who has settled in the UAE working as cabin crew with Etihad. It was great to meet everyone. On my last day in the region I was a VIP guest of Williams F1 on the Friday at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
I can hardly find the words to describe how much of a privilege it was to be wondering around the paddock, using the Williams villa as my base, doing some serious VVIP people watching, drinking coffee (and more…) finding myself sitting next to and meeting Claire Williams, Sir Jackie Stewart, Damon Hill, Felipe Massa, Toto Wolf and Martin Brundle from Sky. There were too many others to mention.
It was an extraordinary day and one of those experiences that even at the time I knew was unlikely to be repeated. I was treated exceptionally well by the Williams team and I watched (and listened to) the two drivers tearing around the circuit, coming in for practice starts and getting technical tweaks done to their cars. It was very special, standing next to Felipe’s Father (whom I also met – I speak Portuguese) at the back of the garage. I was then invited to meet the Williams drivers and to have a formal photograph. The picture below has now been framed at home! Getting such an insight to F1 life was remarkable. Strolling along the paddock, watching Bernie Ecclestone chatting to the teams and seeing Nico Rosberg walk through the paparazzi heading for his own Mercedes villa. Little did they all know how things would change in the months after that race.
Then last month I was back in the UAE again. And back at Yas Marina. This time inside the 5 star Viceroy Hotel which straddles the track. I arrived, joined my boss in the lobby and ordered a coffee. Then who should turn up but the entire global peloton who were staying in the hotel in advance of the Tour of Abu Dhabi. And Mark Cavendish wandered over, shook our hands, then agreed to pose for a picture. Who will I meet next time I am there?!
So after a period of hibernation I am back and will start to share my thoughts with you once more. What can you do to help? Please share this link if you find what I am writing to be of interest. I will be commenting on many things. I will be giving my views on local, national and international matters. And I want to hear from any readers who find what I am saying to be interesting.