Plascassier, SoundStorm and onto Mumbai

We had given ourselves 10 days in France before we headed on to the next part of the adventure. This was to spend some time with Sadies family and sort out Daisy and prep for the travels to come.

It had been a fairly hectic 5 and a half weeks driving round France, Spain, Portugal then back into Spain and France travelling 3500 miles and it was good to get Daisy parked up, where she would remain for nearly 5 months. 
Obviously she needed a really good deep clean inside, it's hard to do when travelling about and Sadie did an amazing job on her, and we got her drained down and winterised and she should be good for our return.

Our time in Plascassier was brief but enjoyable, we went out for some amazing meals, one in particular near Nice Airport at a seafood restaurant stands out as one of the best meals we had in ages!

If you follow me on Facebook, you probably seen the post I made about the sad loss of one of Sadies parents cats called Toes. He was sadly found by a passer by after being knocked down by a car, and despite giving him CPR and taking him to a vets, he didn't make it and is a massive loss to them, as they are keen animal lovers like us with having another cat, 2 dogs and 5 chickens.

The very next day I was walking back from the supermarket as Sadie and her parents had went out to take her for a hair cut.
Just as I was walking down the lane towards their house, I seen a small cat in front of me and when I called, it came running and screaming towards me.
It was tiny, so thin and very distressed and at that moment, they returned and obviously stopped to see what was happening.
Needless to say it we took it to the house and into the spare room upstairs next to ours to check it over and give it some food. 

It was clear we needed to get it to a vet, not urgently, so we decided to monitor for 24 hours first and then take it in for a check over. It was like feeding a new born baby, small amounts and regularly as it was that thin, anything more could do some damage as it was starving.

I've said it, as at that point we didn't want to stress the poor thing to find out it's sex, it was dirty, afraid and not wanting anything apart from food and sitting on your lap, though we did suspect it was female.
Taking it to the vets and confirming as we suspected, it was a girl and she didn't have a microchip fitted. 
Obviously we will never know her story, but she was definitely used to people, being indoors as knew how to use a litter tray and was happy for cuddles and sitting on your lap. 

The vet obviously did a lot of tests and we got most of them back the same day, and were all good news. We did have a concern she had FID, and possible Thyroid issues, which are pretty serious and would sadly mean she would need put to sleep. 
It was a very stressful 24 hours till we got the final results, but thankfully it was good news and she could remain now with Sadies parents. 
She was given the name Tia, after Tia Maria as her family have a bit of history with naming pets after booze. Perhaps fate, we could save the little ones life, so soon after the sad loss of Toes. 

Anyway that's enough about Tia, and we had to do our final prep and pack for our very early morning flight to Riyadh, KSA via Paris and on to work at MDLBeast Soundstorm 2022. 

This was something we had been both looking forward to, but also nervous about, as working in a foreign country was new to us both, especially in Saudi and it's somewhat backward culture and views on things we take as normal.... I guess no booze for 9 days would do us good! 

After a miserable few hours in CDG Airport in Paris (the worlds worst airport), we boarded our flight to Riyadh and I must admit the service on Saudia Airlines was fantastic, despite some really poorly chap who was in a bad way and laid down puking a lot of the journey near us in the prayer area. 

We were met at Riyadh airport and whisked off to our accommodation for the next 8 nights, which was called Andorra Village and was a private 'Western' compound with amazing facilities such as a gym, pools, restaurants etc.. not that we would use much of them over the next week as would be too busy working. Plus it was around a 45 minute trip each way, and when it come to show-days, that would increase too!

Our task over there was as Security Managers working for ESM, who are well respected and a great company to be involved with, and have a huge presence in the Middle East. We already knew several people who were also going, and also looked forward to meeting those who I had known from 'online' and these are some of the best people in the industry.

We would train and mentor the local security providers and oversee the whole operation with around 100 of us looking after over 2000 locals. And what a bunch of amazing people, so keen to learn, easy to work with and we also had an interpreter to make the communication easier for everyone. 

Honestly, this event was something else, forget any UK festival budget, this would blow all that out the water... one figure quoted that I heard was £600m to put on... yes in Saudi they don't hold back! 
Our first day was some mandatory site training, inductions, site walk and meeting our fellow colleagues from the local providers, H&S, Gate Managers, Crowd Managers and other departments who we would be working with.
It wasn't till the walk round when we realised how big and special this event was going to be, the main stage which is rightly named the 'Big Beast' is a huge structure and never seen anything like it in my life, it's hard to describe so will post a link to the photos and videos too at the bottom of this blog!

My specific area was the VIB Valet Gate, where around 1000-1400 of the top tier ticket holders would arrive, be met by a valet company, taken to the welcome desk, given a wristband and then whisked up the stairs or lift to the VIB walkway and along to their 'Box' where they were given the top drawer service they paid for.
When I say Box, this was more like a pop-up hotel made from shipping containers, and was absolutely out of this world! 5 levels of these boxes and seperate entrances for each one with a key card for entry!

Sadie was also given a team and interpreter and her remit was to look after all the VIB walkways, all 4km of them! Yes they had actually built a whole network of elevated walkways that only the various levels of VIB ticket holders could use so they didn't have to walk on the ground level with the General Admission ticket holders! 
These walkways took you to all 7 stages, each with their own VIB viewing areas, toilets etc... mind blowing!

The 2nd/3rd days were set aside for training all the local suppliers, catching up with our respective team of suppliers in our area and just getting used to the site, making sure our areas were 'built' and ready for the first show day. 
These were shorter days, which we were glad of as when we hit the show days, it was to become 16hr days plus travel.. yes we would survive on 4-5 hours sleep... but it was only for 3 days and worth it for the experience.... and pay!

My team (and Sadies) were locals from a company called Golden Events and I had 18 staff and a supervisor allocated to me. 
Without going into too much operational detail, these guys and girls done a fantastic job and from what I've heard, it ran far better than last year and everyone was happy across the whole site.
I had an amazing Gate Manager, Ticketing Manager, Valet company and all the hosts did an amazing job, something definitely to be proud of being part of for sure.

By the end of the last show-day finishing at 05:00, we were both broken, but pleased it was over and then enjoyed our last day at Andorra relaxing and eating takeaways and packing for the morning journey to Mumbai.

Another early alarm call for our bus to the airport, where we had a flight to Dubai, then a few hours layover and a £12 pint, before the final flight for us for a while onto Mumbai.
This time we were with Emirates, and after discovering my in flight entertainment system was broken, they made up for it by plying us full of booze... much needed after a dry week in the desert!! 

It was exactly 8 weeks since we left the UK, it feels like it's been a huge adventure so far, but this was now the start of the next chapter and what will be around 18 weeks in India..... 

SoundStorm 22 Video

SoundStorm 22 Photos


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