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.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Little Beni Ouarain Rugs

These two little gems, the first is newer and in better condition that the second. The second has two small repairs, but they are very well done. The first is 1.4 x 2.4m.
This is a real sweat little rug, it is only 1 x 2m and about 30 years old. The brown in fainter. Again you can view them at The Zamzam Boutique.
Posted by Picasa

Large Moroccan Beni Ouarain Rugs

These are the gorgeous two new large Beni Rugs I want to share with you. I really like the way this first one is finished at the end with a small weave. It is in very good condition and has these little v's at one end. This rug is 4m x 2m. It is a real stunner.

This is the back of the second one. It is really pretty, I love to turn them over in the summer and see this pretty pattern, that's why I carefully look at both sides when buying.
This is the front of the same rug. You have two types of Beni Ouarain, the striking ones and the subtle ones. I love the striking ones and my husband adores the subtle ones. You can see the subtle dark brown zig zags in this one. This rug is also 4m x 2m with no repairs or marks. Both are in excellent condition. They can also be seen online at The Zamzam Boutique.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Miscarriage and Women's Health

I have been thinking of writing a post on some issues close to my heart for a while. Difficult on a blog because although this post will have an enormously positive side, alot of these issues for many women are hard to confront let alone discuss.

You see I am going to London on Friday for the second visit to my consultant Professor Leslie Regan, she is one of the leading miscarriage experts in the world. Leslie Regan will only see women at her clinic who have had 3 or more miscarriages and who are not pregnant. This whole subject for anyone who has had to deal with it is an incredibly lonely and emotional journey. Leslie Regan has helped an enormous amount of women with unexplained miscarriage she has an 80% success rate, which explains why her waiting list is so long!

Having read her book and many others on the subject I now realise what an enormous lack of clear information is about for women dealing with this. There are loads of websites on the subject that tell you absolutely nothing more than you already know! A huge problem for many couples dealing with this problem is that their own doctors or gynaecologists also only have a limited amount of up to date knowledge, which as we all know can be a dangerous thing. Being told to carry on trying and that there was something chromosomally wrong is actually rarely true, once maybe, but the more you carry the worse your probabilities become. Unfortunately many women only find this out through sheer determination and heart ache.

The TRUTH is that many unexplained miscarriages are due to APS or natural killer cells in the body. This whole area tends to get very complicated and without a medical degree it is hard to discuss or comprehend. What i do know is, that the following problems lead to a clotting disorder in the placenta, which stops the placenta attaching or growing properly. This leads to miscarriage, underweight babies, premature babies and pre-eclampsia. What is the treatment i hear you say - well in most cases it is baby aspirin everyday or with low molecular heparin a blood thinner. Some doctors are even prescribing steroids to suppress women's overactive immunity. This has been used with success when a woman has been stringently tested and nothing shows up. The problem regarding the blood tests is two fold, firstly many women are sent by their doctors to be tested, but the majority of labs test wrongly, secondly there is a widely held view that women should be tested several times as their bodies are always going through change. I have not yet read them but apparently Tori Amos has written a few articles on this.

What i really don't understand and is making me really cross and frustrated is; if baby aspirin increases the success of life births in IVF patients by 50% why aren't all IVF patients put on baby aspirin? If anyone out there can explain this too me I would be really grateful. It is really sad to see close friends going through IVF after IVF without any testing or help. Also why when you've had a miscarriage don't doctors put you on baby aspirin?

I phoned a friend three weeks ago the conversation went like this, she said 'I think I'm having another miscarriage', 'quick I'll take you to my doctor', 'no, it's OK it's the third time', 'I'm making an appointment' - so off we went. Low and behold there was still a heart beat, the doctor prescribed progesterone and relaxation. 'Um doctor, maybe she has a clotting problem, would it hurt to put her on baby aspirin' Silence, 'yes OK'. I know this is only early in her pregnancy but at 9 weeks the heart is stronger and it has grown well. The haematoma seen at the first scan has now disappeared.

Moving on, my mother is supporter and fundraiser of WOW - Well being of Women what I love about this charity is that they support all women's health issues, covering areas of all ages. This is a charity for all women. They also have great links for people who are going through different health issues. My mother mainly does lunches and dinners, where people donate at the end of the evening. WOW are a member of the Association of Medical Research Charities, this means they raise money yearly and then support the different research groups. I recently found out that they have been supporting Leslie Regan's ground breaking research into miscarriage. Without this invaluable funding many organisations would not be able to carry out their crucial research. Zamzam Riad will be choosing a local charity to sponsor in Morocco but we may also do a WOW weekend at the Riad.

After finishing her degree in Japanese and living in Japan my sister, Rebecca Hutley, trained and became a Reiki Master (more on her healing later). She has just been given a place in the London Marathon next year, running for WOW.

If any of you have found this interesting or would like to chat about anything further with me I am more than happy to do so. I have written this post to give a voice to women's health issues which are so frequently suffered in silence.

Moroccan Tadelakt Cats

When i went to the riad today, these boys were already in there. When we first bought the riad there were loads of cats in it, they used to pop out of the pipes and scare the life out of me!
Now two of them are back. They want to sit in the fresh tadelakt that has been made up by the builders. Do you think it's cool in there?
Any how welcome back boys! after this photo they started fighting viciously and everyone had to jump out of the way. I wonder what suddenly bothered them they look so relaxed in this shot. Those Medina cats are always a bit cranky.
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Vintage Moroccan Wedding Blankets/Handira

I have recently found these superb, Moroccan Wedding Blankets and thought i would post them up for you. The two featured here are really unusual and pretty.
Blankets are not really top of my mind right now as the temperature for the last 3 days has been about 38 degrees, quite unusual for this time of year, hot hot hot! I spent a long time sweating in the greenhouses at the nursery today looking for some small palms for the Zamzam roof terrace. I ended up buying a load of bougainvilea in pretty pink and white for the garden.
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Moroccan Alley Cats

Yesterday morning I was marching through the souk, very early in the morning, when things haven't yet got going. I love the Medina at that time, you get to see real life scenarios. Breakfast is a very important ritualistic time for Moroccans.
As I came scooting round the corner, there was a marvelous scene of Medina cats waiting patiently for the butcher to open. All sitting like statues looking up at the shutter, by the time I got my camera out of my bag, the shutter was up and bits of meat where being thrown to each one. Breakfast at last!! what great rhythms the Medina has depending on the time of day.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Zamzam progress

Well yes we are progressing. Marcus is now constantly walking around and discussing finishes, pushing the builders to get things straight. I have been told that wonky riads means they are full of character. Well Zamzam has got more character than you can shake a stick at. I love the shape of this tadelakt door way into the Harem Suite. The Harem Suite and bathroom are all tadelakt and i just love to stand in that continuous shape, it's very organic and earthy. I dream (literally) of living in a mud house with sand floors and by that i mean like a beach. I always have, i wonder what that is about. I adore the mud villages we ride through, i love the earthy energy of it. Imagine living in a house made only of mud!
Moving on - there is alot of Bejmat in the riad. Hand made clay tiles that are then fired, you get a gorgeous mixture of shades and they feel lovely to walk on in bare feet. Warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
These are the pretty hand made taps in the massage room, together with the soft takelakt sink.
A modern addition of taps in the riad, but we love the modern Moroccan mix with the striking Moroccan marble.
Posted by Picasa

Moroccan Zemmour Kilims

Hi today i thought i would share these Kilims from Morocco with you. A lady emailed me last week and asked if i could find her some nice Kilims. These intricate rugs are made in the North of Morocco. Some are more intricate than others, but the patterns and work on them are stunning. The first one is actually silver and red.

I think this is my favourite, i love the pattern of it and the zig zag edging. Some of them strangely remind me of Ghanaian fabrics, the patterns are very similar, especially in the last example. If you would love one of these stunning rugs please go to the Zamzam Boutique for sizes or contact me for prices and shipping.

Posted by Picasa

Monday, April 21, 2008

Yoga Marrakech

Aisha's Ashtanga yoga classes in Marrakech. Twice a week, about to become three times a week, we make our way to Aisha's yoga class. She pushes, empowers, coaches and mentors a class of different abilities. It is a fab class, i like it hot in the summer when you can really stretch under the heat, but actually at the moment it's a lovely climate for yoga. Above you can see the youngest member of the class, who last week chatted and urged us all on.

Photos of the class in action, this last photo of course being Aisha. When she's not pushing us to our limits, she has classes and courses at Kasbah Tamadot, Richard Branson's Retreat. At the moment Aisha and i are discussing a programme for the Zamzam Spa, more news later..........................
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Moroccan Joiners

Marcus, Ahmed and the wood workers. after a heavy morning of negotiating. Tea anyone!

These Moroccan craftsmen are so much more than carpenters. Their delicate sculpting of the wood is truly magnificent. The great thing about property investment in Morocco is that you can choose all these wonderful finishes yourself with the developer. You can have great things from Africa. Morocco is a mix of Arabic style combined with many influences from other African countries ie Ghana, Senegal, Uganda, and particularly Sahara from the Tuareg's.
All these wonderful craftsmen and products can be found in the Medina. Only 3.5hours travel from the UK and you are in a totally different world having a totally different kind of holiday.
Look at our beautiful shutters being made for our luxury Riad. All made and carved by hand!
Mustapher has a large workshop full of patterns for the different sculpting. We have chosen this one for the bedrooms doors and cupboards. The Moroccan decor is really stunning.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Engineer - Zamzam Riad, Marrakech

The wonderful engineer, Marcus my husband, building Zamzam Riad. It's a difficult task, but i definitely chose the right man for the job. For the past year it has taken Marcus to another world 24/7. At the moment he eats, sleeps, dreams the work on this riad.

We are now starting to get close to the finale, but for someone so involved in the renovation and the detail sometimes it is hard for him to visualise it all coming together.

I think I'm going to re-name him 'Marcus Braveheart'. Even with 13 years construction engineering experience of big hotels and hospitals, this project has really tried and tested him. It is not for the faint hearted he has completed a major degree from the University of Life - I award him an honors!!

Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Zamzam Branding - FutureBrand London

On my very hectic visit to London, one of my most important visits was to FutureBrand London to finalise the Zamzam Brand. We have been working on it for a few months now and i'm pleased to say after a productive meeting in the Fox Hole we bagged it!

It was strange being back in London and certainly going to FutureBrand as you see i used to work in this environment, day in day out. Coming from Marrakech, I felt a bit 'Beldi' as they say here, meaning wild. It's strange hopping from one world to the next on a 3hour flight. Medina to FutureBrand very sureal.
Many serious meetings and crucial brand descisions are made here!
Posted by Picasa

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Marrakech Wedding Reception - Medina

The lovely John Arthur, cutting his traditional wedding cake!
The stunning couple with the hansom Marcus, for once having an afternoon off from Zamzam Riad.
Stunning mirror work in the bathroom.
The pool shimmering in the magical candle light.
Posted by Picasa

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!