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.



Sunday, March 30, 2008

The big smoke beckons

Well im signing off now for a week, back April 7th. Leaving the warm days and views of the snowy Atlas, probably for the snow itself, although i do hear its warmed up. I will still be able to answer any emails you send me. Off to the UK with a wedding blanket and a suite case full of babouche. I feel a bit like Father Christmas, although i wish i had a sledge and rein deer. I hope you are enjoying the blog, see you in a week!


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Riad Zamzam updates


The tiles have now gone down in the Berber Suite, we have had a good week, may it continue. The pattern in these pretty tiles mirrors the plasterwork ceiling which has stars carved into it.
These are our large Khokers, these are huge traditional doors which go on the main rooms, we have 3 sets. All made from cedar wood from the Atlas, all hand carved and all smell gorgeous. These will only be for decoration in Zamzam as we are going to have internal doors to keep the draft out in the winter.
The plasterwork arches have now been completed and are absolutely stunning, we are just waiting for them to dry at the moment.
Our window frames have gone in and are made beautifully, I'm glad to say. I have been holding my breath as i cant bear wood that doesn't work properly. They are fitted with solid brass Spaniard bolts.
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Zamzam Bathroom Update

At last our Italian showers are going in. Looking rather smart, i love the contrast between the old tadelakt wall and the modern fittings.
The shower in our spa, we have had a lot of trouble with this. The marble man put in marble that was too thick and then blamed me for choosing it! The tadelakt will be lighter but has to dry now. We are also waiting for some plinths to be cut for the edges. This is where you will go after Hammam to rinse off the Rhsoul mud, before your massage.
This is the pretty bejmat and zellij floor in the Berber Suite bathroom, there's yellow marble in there too. We got new tile layers and they are great, a slick operation.
The Spa toilet with pretty tadelakt sink. You can see the tadelakt starting to dry and lighten on the sink. This is the same colour as the shower room.
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Gem of the Week

Well what can i say, I think these speak for themselves. The colours, the leather, the detail, the hand stitching! I stumbled across these yesterday when walking through the souk to pick up a carpet. After living in Marrakech for a while and visiting the souk alot, you seem to get this inbuilt radar. This skill of being able to scan stalls and shops at high speed, it is quite strange, especially when new visitors that you bring to the souk find it so difficult. My mother who has visited the souk at least 3 times gets so frustrated. She says it's so overwhelming and visually overpowering that she always comes away with nothing. Last time with great determination she even bought a list with her to try and stay focused, but alas it was hopeless as she then decided she didn't want those items anymore.



The souk is like the sea it's always moving and changing. New items appear every week and some of them real gems, like these children's slip ons. I think lots of visitors find this, which is why the Zamzam Boutique is going to be so important. Bringing you the best from the souk. It's much more pleasant strolling round the souk at your leisure and then buying in a calm environment. Of course there are always people like me who like to bargain and haggle, but even i get past it after a couple of hours. It is also very hard on first glance to separate the real stuff from the rubbish. My husband calls this - Getting Your Eye In.



These Alibabas are only in children's size at the moment but I have asked the owner to make me a pair in bronze. They come in the colours shown here, silver, red, gold and bronze. They have soles for outdoors. I absolutely love them, let me know what you think?
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Souks you Sir!

Straight from the Souks, these elegant summer flats, guaranteed to brighten up any outfit. My babouche man has just made these for me in silver and gold. They have a hand stitched leather sole. I think they are really cool just need to get a manicure now!


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Vintage Moroccan Wedding Blankets/Handira

Now fully into the purchasing phase for the interiors of Zamzam Riad, I'm sharing with you some of my gorgeous treasures as i realise you may also want a little Morocco in your home. These are the vintage wedding blankets, heavier than the new ones but chunky and gorgeous.

This shows you a vintage cushion cover to go with the vintage blankets. It looks a little yellow in the photo as it was taken indoors. These fab covers are 53 x 43 cm.
A photo of the same blanket but taken outside in natural light.
Here you can see the reverse side with its stripes, I have just turned the blanket back on its self so that you can see both sides again in natural light. This blanket measures 3m by 1.40m. I can find 3 x 2 if you like but they are much harder to find so i will need a little time.
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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Moroccan chic - Wedding Blankets/Handira

These are the new Moroccan Wedding blankets I've been selling. Here you can see mine on my bed in Marrakech. I can also get cushion covers to match. Although these are not vintage they are stunning and are fabulous too as wedding gifts.
I decided to take a photo of one outside in the sun so that you could really see the colour of them as photos taken indoors can be deceptive.
I adore the sequins, i think it's a really girly thing. When my daughter bounces on the bed she says - Mummy listen to them jingling, it's quite magical. This is tribal chic in its true form!

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Moroccan Pompom blankets

These blankets look stunning draped over a bed with their pompoms hanging down. The man i buy from weaves them all on a loom by hand. They come in wool or Cotton and brown or cream. They are beautifully simple. I'm buying them at the moment for some of the bedrooms.



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Rock the Kasbah - Moroccan Blankets Galore

Gorgeous Moroccan Blankets for sale. There is every colour combination imaginable. The are all sizes and some very long ones, but all 2.5 meters wide. The Moroccans use these as a lightweight rug for sitting on the floor, but they are equally nice as covers or throws. They also make gorgeous cushions out of them. These rugs are naturally dyed and made from wool. I adore them they are rich and organic. You will definitely see some of these in Zamzam Riad.




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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Babouche Baby

Look at these gorgeous babouche in the picture below. The designs have come out really well, combined with the metallic leather they are stunning. I cant stop looking at them on my feet, naturally had to have some to test drive and yes they are cool cool!

Not wanting to miss out on anything my 4 year old daughter pinched my camera and took a photo of her babouche for you. I didn't even know she had taken this picture, but it's very cute! Of course she will only wear pink.
Some other gorgeous ones i bought this week. I love the dark blue with silver and the natural leather with the pink. I can only take orders now for 3 pairs or more of babouche. They will be featured in the Zamzam Boutique when you come and stay! I'm thinking of having courtesy babouche made with palm trees on for the riad.

Please email me for details if you would like to order these and too become a Babouche Princess. They also come in plain colours for your man or those of you who are more demure.
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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Poofs Marrakech - All the colours

Today I chose a supplier for my Zamzam poofs. After hours of consideration i decided that these poofs were the best quality and the most gorgeous range of colours. I thought i would share them with you as i will be selecting some for the Zamzam Boutique.
Just look at the range of colours in this photo! I adore the silver and i adore the baby pink. It's funny though how you go through colours depending on what's happening in your life. I'm a real believer in colour therapy. The lime green is yummy.
These little round gold and silver poofs are to die for!
Equally is this gorgeous square one. All are hand sewn. Want some? email me for sizes and costs.
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Marques De Riscal - Rioja 2002

Thank you Michael, you have always been a man after my own heart. I have been saving this bottle of wine, not really saving, but admiring and yearning for it. One of my best friends Micheal bought it for me and said "drink this when you will really enjoy it, it's special". I have kept it and kept it and today a voice came into my head - my mothers "wine is for drinking and enjoying". After a hard but enjoyable day hunting in the souks i thought yes - I'm alive, life is a celebration.

Madame Monet read and weep as i so often have over your great write ups of wine tasting. This wine is truly superb and lived up to all expectation, it had a faint woody nose, but after allowing it to breath for a while it was delicious, not at all heavy as some describe it. Full bodied but eloquent and smooth with a nice resounding aftertaste, long in the mouth i think you say. A real winner with me. The last time i tasted such a nice red was in Johannesburg when i bought a special red from Stellenbosch, the name which i forget. It also reminded me a little of the fabulous Bordeaux, Chateaux Le Maine 1999.

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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!