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.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

You can't eat an elephant whole! - Berber Wedding Blankets

WB8 one of my latest editions. I am truly ensconced in buying for Zamzam Riad now which I have to tell you does not come easily to me. I am of the school, choose something really fab - buy it - love it and then buy another piece. I am a woman on pieces. I would rather spend money on a piece than on many odds and sods. So you see, suddenly having to buy alot at the same time is hard for me, not natural. I'm a one thing if I'm lucky buyer, terribly choosy, never buy en mass.

Let me tell you 3 weeks ago it dawned on me like a tidal wave that I needed to get on with this buying thing and that i didn't have time to choose a piece, that 7 bedrooms, a salon and a terrace let alone the rest (I can't even buy a soup bowl unless i adore it) had to be bought and that I had been shallying around for far to long. Don't get me wrong I can buy carpets 3 at a time, but they are my thing and I've found some excellent people who seem to provide more and more amazing ones. It's actually like having a personal genie.

Any how I had 3 weeks to buy 150m of fabric, all different for all those different rooms, yes I chose a hard path, I wanted all the rooms to have different energy I'd already done my feng shui bagua map. I lost the plot, there is only so much staring at fabric you can do, when I remembered........... A long time ago I worked at KPMG. A consultant who I liked very much told me "you can't eat an elephant whole" wearing my African trade beads at the time and being very Eco conscious, I realised it had to be a metaphor. "You have to cut it up into bite sized pieces".
Oh sorry I forgot, WB8 is not only stunning but unusually large, nearly 3m x 2m, visit the Zamzam Boutique if you'd like more info.
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Monday, July 28, 2008

Moroccan textiles and tortoise

After weeks of tilling hard earth, fighting weeds and not much water, today I found a tortoise in the vegetable patch, munching on my beautiful lettuce!
I have posted you some photos of beautiful woven Moroccan cloths, they come in all colours and plain. They measure 3x2m so are idea to cover beds or make curtains with. They are made out of silk and linen and look more stunning than in my photos. If you would like some please drop me an email, I will also add them to the Zamzam Boutique. Shopping in earnest now for the Zamzam interiors, can't wait to show you some photos of the finished Riad!
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Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Wonderful Moroccan Coast

We are now back from 3 days glorious break at the coast. The weather was absolutely sublime, cool at night and in the morning so that you could slowly wake up and take your time over breakfast and then wonderfully hot with a breeze in the afternoon. Although July and August are busy season for the Moroccan holiday makers, there is so much beach that you can always find a spot for yourselves. The English really don't realise what they are missing, 3 hours from the UK into this complete coastal paradise. You don't have to go to crowded Agadir on a package. There are many many coastal villages on the Moroccan coast you can stay at. When you arrive the streets are lined with key shakers offering accommodation and apartments. Being on the Atlantic coast the sea food is also a fantastic bonus. The coast I prefer best is the coast from Rabat to Essaouira, which is rugged and sandy with crashing waves all around. It is perfect for young children as there are many warm rock pools to explore including crabs and sea slugs. My 4 year old daughter spent hours collecting seaweed. I must say some of it was really stunning, I've never seen seaweed flowers!

Just 2 1/2 hours from Marrakech!
Of course no adventure would be complete without buying a carpet. Not my usual low key taste in rugs, but totally stunning. The photos don't do it justice it is a wonderful faded peach colour and would look stunning in a modern home. It is from the desert a region I have yet to research. It makes sense to me that there would be so much colour in this carpet when the weaver is surrounded by sand. I adore the blue camels! I will add the photos to the Zamzam Boutique so you can see more of it. What a find..................... by the way i'm having lots of internet problems if you don't hear from me for a couple of days, I think maybe it's the heat.
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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Funky Moroccan Barbeque

We are just finishing the tadelakt on the terrace, I chose a beige but it looks more flesh coloured to me! These photos are of my funky barbecue on the terrace, where you will be able to dine under the stars or have a lovely lunch. The barbecue wall was made using Moroccan water pots.
What do you think?
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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Little Beni Beauties - Zamzam Boutique

Sorry I haven't posted for so long, I have just got back from a whirlwind trip to the UK. The extremes in temperatures have also taken their toll on me giving me a horrid cold, which I don't seem to be able to shift, something to do with the aircon at night I think!!

Recently I have had alot of enquiries for small Beni Ouarain carpets. These are quite difficult to find at the standard Beni Ouarain is 3 x 2 meters. I have been on a hunt this week for people and these are some of the smaller pieces I have added to Zamzam Boutique. Most of these smaller carpets are around 2m x 1.5m. They are beautifully woven and with top quality wool. A far cry from your european rugs, each piece unique in it's design believed to come directly from the Universe through the weaver.

I hope you love them as much as I do. The pretty last one is an Azilal, my favourite weave, soft and supple with a touch of eccentricity, they usually have colours on the back.
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Sunday, July 6, 2008

Zamzam Riad Update

Photo of the exciting fireplace in the salon, black and tan tadelakt. I can't wait to serve you all a gin and tonic in this wonderful room. We have had a tough and I mean really tough couple of weeks in the Riad, but we have regathered our composure, re-jigged the building team and on Monday the rest of the Riad floors are going in and painting is beginning!! It always gets busy when you decide to leave the country for the week.
All the tops of the pillars have been carved now and they are ready for the tadelakt to go on. Slowly we are pushing to the end and ready for the opening of our African Boutique Hotel in Marrakech Medina! I think this plaster carving is really clever, do you?
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Friday, July 4, 2008


'Nirvana' in Bogota for freed hostage

Mauricio Due-As AFP/Getty Images

Freed Colombia hostage Ingrid Betancourt, center, is kissed by her daughter Melanie Delloye, left, as her son Lorenzo looks on, at the airport in Bogota. As former Sen. Ingrid Betancourt reunites with her two children, transfixed Colombians share in the exultation.

"Paradise, nirvana, must be something very close to what I am feeling in this moment," she said on an airport tarmac after being reunited with her two children, Lorenzo, 19, and Melanie, 22, who arrived in Bogota on a French government aircraft. "These children are my light, my moon, my stars. It was the desire to see them again that drove me to get out of the jungle."It was another nationally televised chapter in the sociopolitical drama that has transfixed Colombia and much of the world. Betancourt is a dual citizen of Colombia and France, and her case has become a cause celebre in France while generating intense interest throughout Latin America.

By Patrick J. McDonnell and Chris Kraul, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers July 4, 2008

For a long time now I have been following Betancourt's story and feeling great empathy for her. Held hostage in the jungle for 6 years, gradually becoming more frail to the point where she thought any day she was going to die. No one can imagine what it is like to live like that in daily fear as well as terrible conditions. She had one tiny radio which her son used to broadcast on in the hope she could hear him. These messages kept her going, but as cruel punishment her captors used to confiscate the radio.

I have prayed so much for this woman, I felt such joy this morning when i heard of her freedom. I am so pleased for her family and the other hostages freed with her

A Good day!!
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Below I have pasted a summary of the background story from Reuters

(Reuters) - Colombia said on Wednesday it rescued French-Colombian politician Ingrid Betancourt and three Americans from leftist guerrillas who had held them for years in secret jungle camps.

Here are some facts about Betancourt and other hostages held by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

* Colombian-French politician Ingrid Betancourt, who was running for president, and her vice presidential candidate Clara Rojas, were captured while campaigning in 2002. Rojas gave birth to a boy, Emmanuel, while in captivity in a secret jungle camp.
* Three U.S. Defense Department contract workers -- Thomas Howes, Marc Gonsalves and Keith Stansell -- were kidnapped when their aircraft crashed while on a counter-narcotics mission in February 2003.
* Betancourt and the three Americans were among 44 key hostages the FARC wants exchanged for jailed rebels. Some have been held for nearly a decade. The government says the FARC holds another 700 hostages.
* In late 2007, the army arrested a group of guerrillas as they delivered documents including a video that showed a gaunt Betancourt sitting in the jungle and the three Americans. In a letter to her mother, the politician said she was barely eating and that her hair was falling out.
* The FARC began as a Communist peasant army in the 1960s. President Alvaro Uribe has pushed the guerrillas onto the defensive with a U.S.-backed security campaign, but the group is still fighting, kidnapping and trafficking in cocaine.
(Editing by David Storey)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Oversized Bags

A wonderful lady in Marrakech has been making these over sized silver leather bags. They have got little pockets at each end and internal wallet and phone pockets, the leather is also lovely and soft. There are only 5 left! if you would like one drop me an email and if you are in the UK i can bring it over on Wednesday 9th July when i leave.
I bought one of these and what i love about it is how useful it is for a flight bag, nowadays as they will only let you on with one hand bag.

Other good news is I heard last night that BA are putting on two flights from the UK to Marrakech in the Autumn. We could do with BA getting going again after they sold of GB Airways, a franchise and the flights were taken on by Easyjet.
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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Berber Carpet Clients - Zamzam Boutique

Here are some photos from happy clients who have bought gorgeous Beni Ouarain carpets from the Zamzam Boutique. I thought you would like to have a look at how they look in everyday houses and apartments. Above is a small Beni, good for the hall way, 1m x 2m.
These are medium sized Beni Ouarain carpets with strong black hatch designs.
This large old Beni is one of my favourites, it has tons of character. Uneven hatch with little square in between. Don't they look fantastic in modern/traditional settings?
If you would like to see more of these beautiful carpets for sale click on the Zamzam Boutique and look at the collection!

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!