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.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Marrakech Bag of the Summer - FREE COURIERS

Well what a find, out shopping for the Riad I found these beautiful bags, the leather is soft and strong, they have two internal pockets for wallet and phone and they are BIG. For on flight goodies, at the beach or on the town, they are perfect and in any colour you want, i have never seen so many colours and they told me they will make to order if they don't have the colour. Just stunning - I bought two!

I didn't buy the green one but can't stop thinking about it. What is it with women and bags? The top one is a metallic mink and the middle a metallic peach!

I'm flying back to the UK on 9th July with family ie 3 empty suitcases. FREE COURIER ........... anyone want anything?? I can even bring the rugs as they are about 20 kilos each.
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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Zamzam Kitchen Garden

Well the Zamzam Kitchen Garden is in full swing and producing some fabulous vegetables. We have an abundance of gorgeous beetroot. In view of the fact that it is now 42 degrees in Marrakech we are eating some wonderful beetroot salads which of course is how it should be eaten, raw.

The thing is that with the Riad not yet open we have got so many beetroots we are struggling to eat them all. See below the beetroot biscuits my daughter and I made, they are delicious if you'd like the recipe. We have also been eating them roasted with olive oil instead of potatoes, they are really superb roasted especially with duck and red wine gravy! I think I'm going to juice a whole load of them. They are so sweet even my 4 year old daughter will eat them.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Moroccan Wedding Contract

Carol Prior of Morocco by Prior Arrangment a booking agent for Riads and activites in Morocco, gave my friends this very special wedding present. In the middle of the framed glass in a piece of wood with arabic writing on it, it is in fact a Moroccan wedding contract. We are yet to find out what it says but will let you know when we do!
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Monday, June 23, 2008

Flavours of the Orient

Belly Dancers, Sheriffs, The Pink Pussy Cat, Indiana James, the guest list was high profile. Everyone arrived for the grand event, there was an air of expectation as pink and red juice was served in multicolour glasses chiming with ice. The chicken sizzled, the blue cheese dressing piled high and the event began.

For gorgeous children's clothing email Natasha Compton at and have a look at Xanthe Pat's blog, she has got some gorgeous children's summer Kaftans, I've just ordered two myself!
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Sunday, June 22, 2008

BBC - Best Birthday Cake

The best birthday cake ever, how clever she was to make this, a magical belly dancers castle. The windows and flowers carefully drawn on with coloured icing. Look at the tiny flowers up the front
The house was the guardian of all the goodies, below a 3 tier sponge cake with fruit supported lollies and marsh mellows. After happy birthday was sung the walls of the house came tumbling down and were quickly eaten up. The house walls were melt in the mouth shortbread. What a treat.
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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Zamzam Revamp

Well I am now truly getting on with the re-upholstery of the antiques I bought over from France for Zamzam Riad. It has been really difficult trying to find different fabrics for the rooms, something Moroccan but not too kitch. After all if you are staying in a Riad in the Medina of Marrakech you don't want to feel like you are in the UK, the whole Riad experience is also about everything in the Riad. I feel better now I've started as I've got something to work off now, whereas before it was a bit like the blind leading the blind, painting once you've chosen fabrics. It's bound to be somewhat eccentric it always is with me, but then I think Riads given their age and origin are excentric characters. I just can't wait for it to be finished now, the renovations of the Riad seem to be taking forever. Yesterday however the salon was finished with the mighty striped fireplace, and the sockets and switches are going into the rooms, the only one really holding us up is the carpenter. I can't even go there on that subject as I might be arrested. Just to let you know we are no longer friends!!
My expensive white chairs outside the upholsterers kiosk waiting for me to buy their fabric. Rose Suite, Berber Suite ............. I can't decide which rooms the pieces should go in.

The tapis mood board, carefully put up in his kiosk to let people know that he's the man. The only problem is these aren't photos of his work they are cut out of a magazine!! Well he's brilliant and works at 10 times the speed of the others. Hurrah for the tapis!
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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Brett Whiteley

Brett Whiteley is one of my favourite artists, he was Australian and in Sydney you can visit his studio where he lived and worked. The studio has been maintained just as it was when he was there and is now a museum and part of the Art Gallery of New South Wales. It is great visiting if you get a chance, even his music collection is playing as you go round.
Brett Whiteley as well as a superb artist was a great traveller. In his studio you can see masks from Africa and even some of his sculpture has an organic African feel. He was a very talented man as well as a great character. One of his paintings is called 'self portrait after three bottles of wine' - it always makes me laugh. Have a look at his website by clicking on the link above, if you get a chance it is really fun.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Marrakech Potters

This weekend, Marcus gave me the task of finding some pretty tiles, for the staircase risers, so off I went to the potters area on the Road to Essaouira. I found some beautiful coloured glazes and these pretty tiles below in which the patterns are hand carved individually after they are glazed.

The potter putting his clay tiles out to dry in the baking sun before firing them in the kiln. These Bejmat as they are called are being used at Zamzam, they are a wonderful colour when they have been fired.
Beautiful little ashtrays, hand made drying in the sun.
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Friday, June 13, 2008

The Best of Morocco

These sinks are to die for, unfortunately I discovered them once the Riad bathrooms were finished. Hand painted and totally stunning, I can't stop looking at them. I'm not sure how they will ship, but I am determined to get you some, so I'm going to chat tomorrow about packing maybe in a small crate. Once I've dealt with shipping correctly I will list them in the Zamzam Boutique.
You can see the tiles too which are also hand painted, very very special. I think this pottery is from Fez, the town of major detail and artisans.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Black Wedding Blankets - Morocco

A Director from Grazia Magazine in London, contacted me and asked if I could find her a large black wedding blanket. She had stayed at a luxury Riad in the Medina whilst on holiday where they had a black wedding blanket and on arriving home she longed for the one she had seen.

This turned out to be a tough hunt. I had never really noticed the black ones before and on searching for one, found a small one, but could not find a large one to fit a double bed. Eventually after a week of searching a contact bought me one from the Atlas Mountains. We made her some cushions too with the little blanket. The more I played with it in my house the more I loved it.
The funky cushion covers on my white hand stitched pouf. I think we will be having some of these in The Palm Suite at Zamzam Riad. Anyone fancy one send in a request............
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Saturday, June 7, 2008

Upholstery Moroccan Style

I thought you might like to see these hilarious photos. Living here, scenes like this become normal, life until you have a moment of reality and stepping out of the situation you think how bizarre life is in Morocco. My upholsterer, came to collect my wonderful French antiques which I bought for the Riad, last summer in France. Look at the dogs peering into the van!
Firstly all the furniture was taken out of the house into the garden. Actually a huge relief as I am storing everything for the Riad in the Villa at the moment and It's getting a little cramped.
Dogs guarding one of the sofas.
Van loaded up and ready to go! As they drove off they laughed at me cheekily and said 'we should get good money for this at the souk!' Panic overcame me as I realised I didn't actually know where the new shop was that they had moved to. I snapped photo after frantic photo at the number plate, thinking it may be my only hope. I also wondered looking at the van whether the furniture would arrive in one piece.
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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Queen Handira/Wedding Blanket

I have been busy busy, organising fabric, interior colours, furnishings for the Riad. Talk about shop til you drop, I nearly did today and it's starting to get hot. Well I found it!! Look at this beauty. She must be the Queen of the Berber Wedding Blankets. This bride must have been very loved by her family and friends because alot of work has gone into this one. I just can't stop looking at it, it's so pretty. It's going into the Ismail Room, unless of course you are desperate to have it?

This is a gorgeous little one too. It's so sweet and immaculately clean. My daughter and I just adore these chunky piles of sequins. She keeps jumping on it to hear the jangles of the sequins. Have a look at the Zamzam Boutique for a whole new stock of stunning Handiras.

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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!