Saturday, December 20, 2008

A Moroccan Brithday celebration - Marrakech

My daughter was invited to a birthday party at a Moroccan families house. There was a horse for tours round the garden, a man with a pop corn machine, a candy floss man, an entertainer who jumped around making little people dance and clap. Then came the sandwiches and cakes and all sorts of different milkshakes. It was fabulous fun. After a couple of hours I noticed everyone leaving, so I thanked the hostess - who exclaimed your leaving no we are going into the salon for games and a tea party.

These are some photos I took in the salon. It was incredibly grand. You see unlike the west the Moroccans have huge salons for entertaining. It is the most important room in the house, where large families and friends unite and often stay the night on the Salon Beldi, Moroccan Sofas.
Look at the gorgeous Zellij tiles, all hand fired, hand cut and hand set in these wonderful patterns. A real skill that you don't see many other places. All the walls were done in this intricate craft as you can see above.

The stunning Salon Beldi in a mix or wonderfully flamboyant fabrics and gold embroidered cushions. Thought id share a peak with you of real Moroccan interiors.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 19, 2008

Beautiful Beni Ouarain additions to the Zamzam Boutique

A number of you have been enquiring about the Beni Ouarain carpets at the Zamzam Boutique and asking me to find more wonderful pieces to add to the collection. These days it is getting harder and harder to find great examples of these stunning carpets, which is why my stock is a little depleted. However great news for you Beni lovers. Today I found some wonderfully interesting pieces which I have managed to buy. Please look at the Zamzam Boutique for all the current pieces for sale.
The two top pieces are very unusual and below I have shown you two simple hatch. These only pop up once in a while and I know that a number of you are very keen on the simple hatch. A fluffy Beni for Christmas anyone? they are lovely under bare toes!

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Rams head sculpture - Zamzam Riad

This frog is one of my favourites, I just love the way he looks and he is so smooth to touch. Sally carved her sculptures from pure pieces of alabaster or other natural materials and after this she has them cast in bronze resin.
I wanted to share with you some of the wonderful sculpture for sale done by Sally Joyston-Bechal. I love the organic shapes of her sculptures.
This is the dove in bronze.
I adore this mother and child carved in stone.
Sally has just made us this gorgeous rams head which we are going to put in Zamzam. A real Moroccan symbol, he has such elegance and character.

Please go to Sally's website www.bronzeresinsculptures,com and have a look at her other work it is really fantastic.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Skiing in Morocco - Marrakech to Oukaimeden

After discovering the skiing last year at Oukaimeden in the high Atlas only 1.5 hours from Marrakech and being an keen skier myself, I have been eagerly awaiting the snow in the mountains this year. I discovered the wonderful skiing only at the end of the season, so have had to spend all year, rallying up a girl group and waiting on the snow. It is now here! My friend had invited me to go up with her family and children but the day before she called to say there was a blizzard up there so would call me at 8am the following morning to make a decision. The next day I awoke, the sky was blue and crystal clear and the recently dumped on mountains standing proudly and invitingly on the horizon, what a day I thought. She called - we're off, see you up there. We dashed around the house jumping into salopettes and ugg boots and little one into her leopard skin hat and matching boots (she had these on in the summer with her swim suit, a very funny sight.) The drive up there is gorgeous so I thought I would show you the different views on route. In the time you get up there, you go from about 19 degrees to -2.
Berber houses en route, imagine how cold these people must get. They walk around in the really cold temperatures in just a jumper, sitting outside chatting. They are very hardy.
Beautiful Christmas trees on the way, I was wishing I could have taken one home with me.
Getting higher! Anyone visiting in the winter months should do this trip, it is such a great drive and even if you don't ski, you can have a nice lunch up there and glass of wine in the sun looking at the spectacular view. At the riad we can organise this day trip for you. You can stay overnight too if you fancy a bit of skiing. The skiing is not advanced unless you go off piste with a guide, the runs are red and blue runs, but if you are dreadfully unfit like me it is still enjoyable and the most amazing thing for me which blows my head is that you are in Morocco! sunbathing - skiing - 1.5 hours.
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 6, 2008

stunning Azilal, Berber carpets at Zamzam Boutique

I just bought these fabulous vintage Azilal Carpets for the Zamzam Boutique. I hope you are as excited as I am, they are just stunning and superb quality wool.
I love this zig zag one, I have never seen this pattern before.
Look at the superb kilim weave detail at the end of the carpet, just gorgeous.
A real stunner as well, I was so excited when I found these. It's all about timing when you find these wonderful works of art, it is literally like going on a treasure hunt. Often you find nothing and then you uncover a wonderful carpet. If you would like details on these carpets please email me at zamzamriad@gmail.com
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A fairy tale Birthday lunch - Marrakech Riad Style

What a wonderful day we had, all dressed up and ready for a very special day of marvelous friends, conversation, laughter and above all delicious food which when it came left us all totally silent. Something very rare for this group of people.
The Riad a beautiful fairytale in itself acted as an enchanted garden in the winter sun. We all arrived served a gorgeous cocktail or 4 and chatted wildly before going into the warm dining room for lunch.
We ate, all sorts of roasted vegetables some with feta cheese, some roasted on the vine, radishes with butter and salt, crispy fried sardines, followed by a saffron paella to die for crowned with cray fish. The wines carefully though out were all Moroccan and delicious. We finished with this light chocolate and fig torte and a pile of strawberries with a few bottles of cava. What a perfect day in Marrakech. It poured with rain apparently but non of us noticed.
The magic was everywhere even in the flowers and the birthday girl bloomed. What a joy friends are!
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Berber Wedding blankets at Zamzam

Yesterday I bought some fantastic Berber wedding blankets. Look at this one it is so unusual with the little blue and silver square woven into it.
I love the chunky row of sequins in theis one with the pretty kilim running through it. I got these for a really good price so please email me for the details if you fancy one.
The chunkiness of this one is just scrumptious, they would make wonderful Christmas presents. It only takes one week EMS courier to the UK.
This is a new black wedding blanket, simple but stunning and the new ones measure 3x2m so great for covering a double bed.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 28, 2008

Moroccan Fountain Fiasco

I never had time to show you these photos of the Moroccan Fountain fiasco. It arrived and took about 15 men to carry it all huffing and puffing, it was the weight of about 2 grand pianos. The pool was full of water with two pathetic planks of wood that Marcus had placed for the guys to work off while fixing the fountain. This should be interesting I thought. Didn't comment for fear of death as I could feel the tension in the air.

This is the first fountain Yahya has made and it has taken an enormous amount of planning and testing. Planks of wood now moved i hasten to add, but ladder probably made in china now over the pool, like some run the gauntlet programme. Anyhow there was a happy ending, which there usually is in Morocco only after an enormous amount of hurdles and heart ache.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

TJ Smith Photographer - Morocco

I thought I would share some of Tim's photos with you, they are so great. I love the way his shots are filled with mood. It is as if you are looking out of a window at a view rather than staring at a photo. I know how difficult this is, I have worked with many a Creative Director who has spent hours briefing photographers to get across mood and an exact feeling from a photo. It is also difficult as like a painting, different shots evoke different emotions in people. Many times the person cannot even express what they are feeling they just know they love it or hate it. Our whole personality is an accumulation of experiences and hence emotions.
This shot is one of my absolute favourites, It evokes magic, mystery, tales of goblins, hero's, tough tribal civilisations. I suppose I feel awe when I look at this shot and I think about times gone by when I see this last standing piece of Kasbah.
Kasbah of the camels - a land of voyagers and traders.
For further choice of shots visit TJ Smith
Posted by Picasa

As-Salaam-Alaikum

Hi, i'm writing this blog page to share information with all you wanderlust souls out there. Living in Morocco comes with lots of bizarre and unexpected events, which i thought you may enjoy reading about and sharing in the laughter.

My family and I moved to Marrakech 11 years ago from London. The beginning of a huge adventure for us. Choosing which country was right for us to live in had been an extremely long and tiring process. Having made a choice to move to MarrakeSh, was in itself a big box ticked. We had two criteria lists, one for our business (opening and running a guesthouse) and one for personal.

Phase two of our journey then began. Setting up home in Morocco, also a non English speaking country with a very different culture to ours. Marrakech is a real melting pot of; languages, tribes, rich, poor, city slickers, country peasants. It sometimes reminds me of that place Luke Skywalker went to, to buy that space ship, with all those different intergalactic aliens. (Any one know what it was called?) After months of beauroctratic paperwork, rendez vous with people who don't turn up and renting from an unpleasant woman for a large amount of money, we bought ourselves a villa. This was not in the plan as we didn't want to tie up our capital in a home. I now realise it is one of the best things we could have done. When you've had a really difficult day here to be able to close the door and relax in your own place really balances you.

Zamzam Riad & Spa was eventually created out of love and we hope you will come and stay and be pampered in our luxury boutique riad.



Creating the Guest House

We had decided to buy land and build a country guesthouse as per our business plan, about 10 double rooms and suites. The dream was to create a holistic retreat and build our house on the same plot. We were going to have an organic vegetable garden and provide a Moroccan Spa.

Land in Marrakech at that time, went mad. Prices going up daily, lots of people fishing but not really wanting to sell. There is also a problem here of title. ie not much land is titled and to buy land without a title is very difficult, unless you have a lot of time on your hands and like a gamble. We looked at more land than you can shake a stick at, drank more mint tea than you can imagine and got totally no where. It can take weeks to even get a price. You may be being shown a piece of land that isn't for sale or has already been sold. After a year of this we said 'that is it!, we are buying a riad!'

I had a total nervous breakdown and couldn't talk to anyone for three days. He then said this doesn't have to be the end....... It wasn't I have now built an Ecological Camp Adounia in the Sahara Desert!