From Portsmouth to India to Manchester, welcome to my hectic life – Cheryl Gibbs

Cheryl in Anantara Qasr Al Sarab, Abu Dhabi
Cheryl in Anantara Qasr Al Sarab, Abu Dhabi

The last time I wrote my column I was in Udaipur, India, and today I write my column from a Flybe plane leaving Southampton airport for Manchester…what a difference a week makes! 

When I wrote my column last week I was departing India for Abu Dhabi to finish filming another hotel, the last one on that particular trip.

Looking back, I can’t believe what has happened in a week. We left India for Abu Dhabi and had to fly, via New Delhi, from Udaipur.

When we arrived in Abu Dhabi we were all keen to get to our hotel, having already travelled a good 10 hours or so door-to-door.

It’s never the flight that’s the most exhausting part, but the travel to and from the airport, the wait at the airport, and then going through security that takes forever.

When we arrived in UAE we did our usual process of declaring our camera equipment to customs and that’s where it all went terribly wrong.

To cut a long story short – and it really is a long story – we were held at customs for several hours because they refused to let our cameras in.

We ended up arriving at our hotel at 2am the following morning after a very exhausting two hour car drive without our cameras. Unfortunately they were held at the airport.

It wasn’t until we woke up the next day and pulled back the curtains did we realise exactly where we were – in the middle of the largest desert in the world.

I have never seen anything like it and I said out loud ‘oh wow!’

We were staying at the Qasr Al Sarab in the Empty Quarter and I totally appreciated why it took so long from the airport to get there. 

It genuinely is in the middle of nowhere and everywhere you look is, well, sand – a lot of it.

It was breathtaking and strange all at the same time.

We ended up having to hire cameras in from Dubai and now, a week on, I’m sitting on a Flybe plane going to Manchester to get my South African visa…this is just my life.

Finally managed to catch some shut-eye on the plane

We decided to leave ridiculously early to get to the airport in Abu Dhabi for our flight home. We were naturally very worried about whether we’d encounter the same problems going out as we did getting into the country.

We needn’t have worried because it took a whole 10 minutes for them to return our cameras. With time to kill, we googled our airline, Air Belgium. I wished I hadn’t because it has only been in operation since March and has just four planes. 

 But I’m happy to report it was one of the best flights I’ve been on. It was empty so I spread across the middle four seats and slept for six hours. I’ve had worse sleeps in my own bed! 

It’s all work, work, work, for me but I’m not complaining! 

As I said earlier, I’m writing this on the plane on my way to Manchester to get my South African visa. They’d run out of appointments at the London office so the crew and I have had to fly to Manchester and Edinburgh to get our applications in.

 It’s a mad rush because we leave for Kenya and South Africa on October 8. There’s just a 13-day turn around between coming back and going again.

I can’t wait to see Kenya – I’ve already been to Cape Town so know what to expect.

While I’m happy to be going back as South Africa is one of my favourite places, I’m so excited to experience Kenya.

I just wish I was on holiday instead of working, but I can’t complain can I?