Searing sun and wheelie-bin baths: on the road with Celtic and Hibs
STV's Chris Harvey is in Dubai following Celtic and Hibs on their winter break.
Dubai is hot. Sure, the locals are wearing jeans and jackets and complaining about the cold, but it's 29 degrees. Just because it's much cooler than July doesn't mean, for a January acclimatised Scot at least, that it doesn't feel uncomfortable.
It's hot for the Celtic and Hibs players too, and likely will be for the Aberdeen squad when they arrive today. I know this because they've told me. Every sweaty beep run and 'possession session' they're put through sees them gasping for chilled water bottles and slumping on shady turf anywhere they can find it.
Hibs have taken a leaf out of the Andy Murray playbook and are jumping gleefully into wheelie-bin 'ice-baths', with players forming queues despite the plunge normally being considered torture by athletes.
As for working out here, there a two camps - the written press and those carrying lenses. It would be unfair to suggest that not everyone works hard on these trips but I do look enviously at the writers sitting in hotel lobbies on their laptops as they prepare for the next player interview.
There's an element of camaraderie between the Scottish media, but only up to a point. The competitive demands of scoops and exclusives means, behind the smile and the 'how are you this morning?' repartee, we're all hoping to get one over on rivals.
The workload can be tough but it's an accepted part of swapping the comfort of the studio for a week long location shoot - that's location not vacation! For example, a day producing two reports for the STV News at Six went something like this:
Up at 7.30am, despite being awake since 4am due to the time-difference, and then drive (without breakfast) to Celtic's training camp at the Nad Al Sheba Sports Complex to report on their training session.
Arrive at 9.30am and begin filming flat out for 40 minutes, focusing on shots of new signing Oliver Burke. Then hot foot in my Nissan Sunny (50th Anniversary edition) hire car to Hibs training complex at the Dubai English Speaking College 30km away.
After filming for 45 minutes or so, I head all the way across the city to Celtic's team hotel for three player interviews. Two hours later and I'm heading all the way back across the city to film three player interviews plus their manager at the Hibs team hotel.
Having finished up at Deira City, I set off all the way back across town to my hotel. By this point it's just after 7pm local time and almost 12 hours since I began working and about three hours until the STV News at 6 goes live in Scotland.
I've still got two reports to write, edit and send to Scotland plus a mountain of phone calls and messages from colleagues to negotiate before the finished product goes to air.
I can't emphasise enough how stressful this bit is. It's all well and good filming, interviewing and making sure everything is in focus and beautifully lit but if none of it makes it to your TV, then I'll be having an awkward conversation at some point in the near future.
So you focus on what you can control and pray to the WiFi god for a fast upload speed, a great ping response, and a successful send. Endless phone calls and messages are part of this process, mainly variations on 'we can't see your material/what's it called?/did you actually send it?/are you sure?'.
Finally, a wave of calm breaks and you know that your report, the report that's meant a 14-hour day, with no breakfast, lunch or tea, the report that involved over two hours of recorded material - and more than 200km of Dubai motorway - has finally travelled the thousands of miles back to base ready for broadcast.
By this time, freezing cold from the hotel air-conditioning and hungry from a day without eating, I put on a hoodie and head out into the Dubai night to find somewhere, anywhere, open for food.
Then I realise it's Dubai and everywhere is open and it's still hot.