Tuesday 23 February 2021

Event Engraving - Lesley Pyke Glass Engraver - Doha, Qatar, 1st - 13th February 2021

Event Engraving Lesley Pyke Glass Engraver- Doha, Qatar, 1st - 13th February 2021 - Engraving perfumes for the wedding of  Sheikha Dana and Sheikh Jabr. Engraving of a considerable number of 100ml bottles of L'heure Bleue (eau de parfum by Guerlain) I completed all the engraving at their palace in Doha

So the action began with a Covid test in Boots, Norwich, 48 hours before the flight. Totally empty carpark in the middle of the day. Strange times.
There had been weeks of endless paperwork to organise with dear Sahar, my client, I don't think I have ever known anyone work so hard with the huge challenges of travelling during the Covid-19 pandemic.  I had to take it all with me as there were loads of detail checks at both airports. Travel was banned unless on busines.

Then after a negative result received in good time, David took me to the airport, 4 hours before the flight. Pretty empty!    

yeah....Not many people on the plane either!

Who needs first class with this much room!!!! Mood - happy and positive and mega excited! All the weeks of anxiety now vanished!! Let the adventure begin! ...

Roughly 7 hour flight and landed in Doha some time before midnight. (3 hours ahead of UK)

My home for a week. Very very comfortable! Room 218 at the 5***** La Cigale Hotel.  Soon after arriving in my room (well after midnight) I had a knock on the door and a woman in a space suit with a mobile stand full of gadgets stood there. She gave me  a Covid test (much more aggressive than UK) and vital signs tests. I showed high blood pressure, but that showed normal again when they tested the next day after I had a brilliant sleep! I had been informed that leaving the room at any time during my quarantine was PROHIBITED !

Very big and luxurious room, every comfort and the most stunning pillows ever! It was silent, I could not hear a thing. I was delighted to have a Nespresso machine and an endless supply of capsules along with the usual coffees and teas and GALLONS of water. The air con does make you thirsty.

I was shocked at the window situation though. This was it. I could not open it of course, it was solid. It was also very tinted. I guess the sun gets a little bright and hot. I tried to move the curtains... they wouldn't budge, I then saw the switches on the wall, one for the backing and one for the main curtain....electric curtains, total black out too, that was great!

The windows also has a lot of sand on them..well it is a desert after all. The view was different, to say the least, but hey, I was intrigued. People hung their washing and took walks on their rooftops. They are very spacious after all. All roofs are flat...they only have rain one month of the year, January, and this year they had had none (according to one of my drivers) This was winter so temperatures were in the mid 20'sC , Summer can be in the 50'sC. Air con is vital.

Every day I carried out my normal routine of shower, wash hair, skin care and make up. Stayed in contact with the world and checked on my mental health all the time, I believe I was absolutely fine throughout.

Each day the meals had a different menu with a choice. The hotel is owned by a Lebanise gentleman and his chefs are top Lebanese chefs. The food, while simple and healthy, were utterly delicious. I found it incredibly hard to resist anything, although I never ate breakfast. Sometimes I kept back a salad from the day before and had that as a late breakfast.

Meals were brought to the door in a little bag .

Everything sealed and disposable, including the cuttlery. Ultra fresh and if the meal was hot, it was SO hot I had to wait sometimes. Huge portions!

I had a little visitor, the only wildlife I saw really.

This little bird could neither see or hear me through the thick tinted glazing. He was probably looking at his own reflection here. I was chatting to him anyway. (mind check...decided I was not going coo coo just yet)

On arriving in Qatar it is absolutely vital to have a local phone number/sim card as it is illegal not to have the Ehteraz tracing app, live and kicking always. So your phone MUST be charged up at all times and the app live. It is illegal not to. My phone takes 2 sim cards so I was able to keep my number aswell. On entering shops, restaurants, hotels etc etc, your temperature is checked and must be normal and your Ehteraz is checked that has to be green. UK have a LOT to learn!

I did some gym every second day, so probably not as often as I should have, but at least it was something.

Happy with my new find in a wardrobe I hadn't noticed.

The bathroom was very spacious and had every possible gadget to keep your bits clean!! Not sure what the phone was for 👀

Didn't take long for me to make myself at home!

I enjoyed watching BBC and ITV programs, here I am watching the Maggie Hambling documantary again, saw it quite a while ago. I love her, flipping amazing woman!!! I had discovered on day 1 that all UK programs (and no doubt other countries too) were unable to be shown, so I subscribed to Express VPN...et voila!!... all the English programs I wanted.   This really kept me sane. The only English channels on the huge TV were NEWS channels and there is only so much of that I needed to see. I had bought this laptop(SAMSUNG Galaxy Book Flex 13.3" 2 in 1 Laptop - Intel® Core™ i5, 512 GB SSD) just before I left, a fantastic little thing... so that I had something to play with alongside my tablet.

I decided some "mood" selfies were necessary to remember this time. I took a few after this gym session, I was pretty knackered after a good workout and the aircon was too warm and I actually longed for some fresh air. But I didn't panic or feel claustrophobic, I decided if I felt really bad I'd simply have a cold shower and that would have sorted me out.

yeah...hot and sweaty and drinking gallons!! ...

It was on this day (whichever..) I discovered a long grey hair!!!???? Seriously?! It even has a slight curl. So I look forward to being grey if it means I finally have shape to my otherwise very straight hair.

I discovered if I got up early enough, I could catch a tiny bit of sun for a very short while at one end of the window.

I really did want to call someone to clean the outside of my window!! 🤣

So of course I had my drills (2 power boxes and 3 hand pieces) and I'd brought a couple of glasses. I was engraving this little shot glass to give to Sahar, from the wedding planners, who had first suggested my services to the bride and organised this entire trip.

No wonder I couldn't hear anything, the glazing was the thickest I have ever seen.

My little work station

Some very simple flowers, a light hearted engraving.

I was doing a bit of video editing for my Patreon Teaching channel while watching my TV on my tablet. " I love it when a plan comes together! "

I had previously engraved these champagne flutes for the bride and groom.... The monogram is from their invitation as are the bubbles.

It was about now that I had learned of the terrible news!!... The country's Covid cases had been rising and all weddings from the Sunday, were banned!!! I was engraving at the wedding a few days after that??!! So poor Sahar had to bring forward the wedding and of course, after attempts had been made to release me early,  and failed....I had to miss the very event that I had come all this way to engrave at.
OK...well, what can you do? I felt terrible for all concerned. Anyway the plan was that I engrave all the perfumes after I am released.  I knew it was a VIP wedding, but up until now had not realised it was a Royal wedding and I was now going to be spending a few days slightly more leisurely engraving the bottles in their  PALACE!! ....

... silly selfies...because why not!...  

I gave myself pampering facials and makeovers, which I do anyway, but it really helped me to maintain a sense of normal. I had forgotten to bring hairspray so my hair was a floppy challenge and while I decided I will buy some when I get out...I never did...

I had a few challenging times with the aircon. I would turn it cooler and then discover that I had turned it too much and had to wear a jacket ! But it was a much better temperature for sleeping.

I was amused at the "padded wall" behind the bed!! I decided this was useful in case I did go loopy-de-loop !

I moved myself around the room for different meals, this time I was dining at my workshop.

Finally after another Covid test (another aggressive one) at midnight on the 6th day, with a negative test  received in the morning....I was released. This was the first sight I saw when I came downstaires. I instantly got tears in my eyes. It was a very weird feeling. What a beautiful hotel!! I never saw the full magnificence of the place.

The art in the hotel was beautiful.

...And so to the next hotel.......driven by a driver in a black BMW 5 Series 2021 (my mode of transport for the next few days) This was the beautiful 5***** Marriott Marquis. I think they used the same flooring company as La Cigale!!

I ventured up to the 36th floor with my small luggage (big suitcase was to follow later) I cannot begin to discribe my reaction. It was an Executive Suite.   Shortly after I arrived there was a knock on the door. Not a "spaceman" to test my vitals and poke my throat and nose...  no, it was a chap presenting me with this beautiful gift and welcoming me to the hotel. The box was really heavy. My thoughts of course were chocolates....

...but they weren't chocolates, they were the biggest ,fattest, softest, most tastiest stuffed dates I have ever had in my life. ♥

So that is my entrance with the door to the bathroom and an office with phone and deks and charge points a plenty. A lovely little tea table with fresh flowers.

The biggest TV ever with a personalised welcome message.

View from the bed. Even though I was on the 36th floor, I could hear the outside. That was interesting, unlike the last hotel.  This suite was at the end of the building, so had floor to ceiling glass on 2 sides.

view from the office end. The wardrobe had  dressing gown and slippers, safe and full size ironong board and steam iron (YESSSSS!) and all the usual fridge, kettle, numerous bottles of water, Nespresso machine etc

The views speak for them selves....

I think I had my mouth open for several minutes as I gasped!

The side by the office had that same sand on the glass unfortunately But I could see the sea...

There was a lot of  construction (in the foreground) as they are preparing the roads for 2022 World Cup.

Massive shower head, like a waterfall, perfect. Amazed whay there is a phone by the loo again...??

Fresh rose, toilettries that smell divine!

A corner Jaccuzzi !!

Well Jaccuzzi it was, had to be done! Just missing David and the champagne. (I had no alcohol at all this trip)

Attire for my work from now on...

I was allocated a particular restaurant to eat at in the hotel. Adjacent to it was a sports bar, That was a pretty large screen and it was amazingly sharp, aparently there was another the same size on the other wall. No I didn't go in there, this was a football free trip !

This was on my door. I took note. I don't think I have ever stayed up so high in a building.

I took this picture because I really fancied this bedside lamp idea. (2 perfume purchases...the red one is for your hair??!!!. The gold one is a limited edition absulutely stunning eau de parfum)

My first breakfast

Lovely Sahar took me to the Souk Waqif

No idea what they were selling here...

Myself and Sahar, we got along so well, an absolutely lovely lady from Lebanon, who works so so hard!!! Very efficient in organising everything.

It was strange to see so much winter clothing in a desert.

I regret not buying souvenirs here....will have to go back!

No I would not fancy being out on the sea in one of these.

A gold coloured thumb....

Mask off for a second for the photo, naughty!

Sahar guiding me through all the little avenues

Everything is so neat and clean

Ladies out and about in Doha

It was just wonderful to be outside with people , out and about, almost normal (I wonder if we will ever ditch the masks.)

I thought these were really pretty!

This is a relatively new city and so these building are not ancient relics, just built traditionally so they look older than they are.

Sahar treated me to a traditional al fresco Lebanese dinner. It was a little chilly as it was pretty late, hence the heater. She did all the ordering so that I could experience her traditional quisine. It was absolutely delicious!!

The beautiful buildings, the lights, the aromas, just so amazing.

I had to buy some new outfits right quick, as I had not expected to be working at a palace for several days.

...and so to work. There are no images of the palace, outside or in, only of my work. You have to take my word for it. The deco is of the absolute finest taste and quality. My tea and coffee was always served on a beautiful tray with the finest crockery and cutlery.

I engraved the perfumes in managable batches, first the engraving then the gold infill. They had all be pre engraved on the back with the Bride and Groom's names and the date of the wedding....(which was of course sadly the wrong date after all that)

Another beautiful tray of light refreshments. I fancy tea with hot milk now!

I bought a dotty scarf...

Exploring the mal, adjacent to the hotel. The hotel and the mall also belong to the bride's father. 

I would have fancied a game of putt  putt...

The Mall was immense and I never got to see it all. There was so much to see out in the city too. Perhaps one day.

Another work day... I bought the shoes so that I could walk about comfortably, flats are very popular here, they are stunning!

Another beautiful tray of coffee and traditional savory snacks. I want to point out the large bottle of hand sanitizer in the background, red label, it smells almost as beautiful as the perfume in these bottles!? They used it at the wedding.

Another beautiful tray of goodies. Did I mention I have gained a few pounds this trip....

My first ever tea in cut lead crystal... where have you been al my life? I must get some!

Off to do a bit more shopping...

Last breakfast in The Crossroads.

Drove past this on the way to pick up my  last Covid test result which I had had the day before, from the Queen's Hospital ready for my flight early next morning. Loads of construction going on everywhere.
Khalifa International Stadium
Capacity: 40,000
Inauguration: May 2017
Location: Doha
Khalifa International Stadium was the first tournament-ready venue for Qatar 2022 and will host matches up to and including the third place play-off during Qatar 2022.

Off again to the palace to engrave a few extra bottles and then I gave Sheikha Dana a quick glass engraving lesson and left her my spare drill and some burs to carry on with.

Before the gold polish infill

Adding the gold polish.

The last few completed.

Last journey back to the hotel. My DRivers all loved telling me all about the buildings and the history. Incredible architecture.

At the airport, I have had 2 hours sleep. my alarm was at 2am , my driver collected me at 4am. I am so excited to be heading home but absolutely thrilled by the whole experience for which, once again, I thank Sheikha Dana  and Sahar for this amazing experience.

...yup...I have no idea what that is??...

...or this???...

He looks sad ...

I was trying to get a shot of the desert as the plane banked, but I was too slow!!  So there is one tiny bit of the desert, it really did look surreal.

David was at Heathrow to greet me and I was a happy lady. Just home in time to see the last of the snow!

...and BTW... during my trip I got a brand new little grand daughter, Olivia Faith, in New Zealand , Fingers crossed we can get there in November ♥