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, October 29, 2008

Pulling it altogether - Zamzam Riad

We have now been open for a week as our first guests were the WOW ladies. These photos were taken a couple of days before we opened. It was majorly hard work pulling everything together.

The lantern genie arrived, we are so pleased with the lights they are gorgeous.
The chef organising his kitchen. Not very Moroccan but he makes great Sushi, we are so pleased to have him at Zamzam Riad. The food has been great. I will soon be putting on the half a stone I have lost running around!
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Food, Moroccan Style - Zamzam Riad

Today Mo and I were whizzing through the souks on his scooter. Stop I yelled lets get a kefta sandwich. Gorgeous meat balls, barbequed, infused with cinamon and served in a hot roll with tomato and onion. Delicious. The marinated meat stall where we ate, was packed. Gorgeous food at great prices.
Fish and chips anyone??

Come and eat at Zamzam Riad, our chef is great. We are offering a fusion of International and Moroccan.
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Unusual Azilal Berber Carpets

Today in between rushing around and organising the Riad in the rain! I managed to buy two stunning Azilal. I thought you would enjoy seeing these gorgeous Berber carpets. If you would like to see more gorgeous Berber carpets, click on the Zamzam Boutique link.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

A crazy day at Riad Zamzam - Marrakech

My good lord what a day yesterday. I haven't got time to write you this, but I couldn't resist it before embarking on my last minute shopping list! This is how the day started. We turned on the swimming pool pump and it made a dreadful sucking, churning noise. Turn it off bellowed Marcus as we all waited for it to explode. It turns out that the very consciencious tadelakt man had put a big blue plastic bag in the filter at the bottom of the pool, so that when he was working no tadelakt would fall in and block the pump. The problem is everyone had forgotten this until the dreadful noise. We all looked at each other and then everyone said in unison, Abdelkarim (the guardien) will have to get in - the water is freezing said Mo the manager, no its not shouted the English party. What you don't know is that Abdelkarim is a bit of a show off so he jumped at the chance and was very proud that he had been chosen. Armed with a skrew driver, as he had to undo the screws underwater, down he dove. We need goggles, where can we get goggles in the Medina? everyone looked at me as if I had made a seriously blond comment.
How funny is that photo! He managed to get both screws out amazing! and saved the day. You can stay said Mo as he got out the pool. I think he needs a bonus for that one.
The day got more crazy ending in a huge Monsoon of rain, just as we were putting up curtains, thunder banged the wind blew and blew and the night was lit with ferocious lightning, we tried to get home in the pitch black. The roads were chaos, two accidents with police sending us back into town. We don't need this said Marcus as we ploughed through a lake on the road and lost vision.

Exhausted the evening ended with Marcus falling up the stairs whilst carrying my computer and broke the dongle off the side of it. I am able to post as I have stuck it together with gaffa tape and managed to get on the Internet!
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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Well, what a week it has been, not helped by the fact that I have a stinking cold. Friday which is never really a working day in Marrakech, I was charging around town in my car trying to do 20 things at once. Driving through the Mellah in my very small black car, a sofa fell off the side of a stationary lorry and I drove over it! It was like driving over a large cow, it nearly rolled my car. Marcus said I hoped you stopped. No i did not, I only had 10 minutes to get to the fabric shop before it closed.

Photos showing furniture being put into rooms, as it wouldn't go up the stairs!! quite daunting for me who had put so much energy into the fabrics and design, as they all wobbled about on the scaffolding. The Tapis gave me grey hair this week as he didn't turn up until Thursday, telling me everyday since Monday I'm coming. Luckily he works like the TGV and churned out 5 sets of bedroom curtains in one day.
The bathroom in the suite with the lovely Agadir Rouge Marble.
The Riad corridors patiently awaiting their furnishings.
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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Cooking Up a Storm - The Zamzam Kitchen

We are getting ready in the Zamzam kitchen to cook up a storm. We are having our first charity dinner for WOW - women's health on 23 October. Look at these pretty little breakfast bowls I bought from Safi on the coast, famous for it's pottery.
All sizes of pans in anticipation.
Some of my favourite cook books we have been mulling over, Mo, the chef and I. Actually useful just having the photos of the dishes as a discussion point. Watch this space for Moroccan cooking classes.
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Sunday, October 5, 2008

Rare Blue Beni Ouarain Carpet

I have found this stunning vintage Blue Beni Ouarain, Berber Carpet. The first photo shows the back or summer side and the second photo shows the front or Winter side. I just love it. I have never seen a blue Beni before and not sure I will again. This will be very hard to part with, but Marcus says that I must sell something from my personal collection in order to own this, so it looks like it has to go into the Zamzam Boutique. Don't you just love it? if not you can't join the Zamzam Carpet Club! Let me know what you think.
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Riad Madness - Marrakech

We are two weeks away from our first guests, which is very exciting but also manic as anything! Today no water in the whole of Marrakech, difficult when you have been charging around and desperate for a shower. Lucky we put an extra cold water tank of the roof. I don't think Marcus should be doing this after a back injury recovery!
Even Ahmed who popped in, couldn't resist joining in the tile scraping.
Wow, looking good, the recently tadelakt hall with my niches, finished and lit at last. What shall I put in them? alabasta vases from Egypt or West African masks, or maybe huge fossils from the Atlas mountains, what do you think?
Plunge pool awaiting, stunning bronze fountain, en route!
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Saturday, October 4, 2008

Retro Cool - Restaurant Essaouira

Firstly sorry I haven't posted in soooooooo long, but I have had no internet for 2 months and have been trying to post off a dongle which is just not powerful enough.

Yes I know that I should have been working hard at the Riad, but my friend Marijne was over and persuaded me to go to Essaouira for the weekend. I'm glad we went because my daughter was on Ramadan holiday from school and the weather was fabulous so we could build sandcastles.
Marjine and I were able to escape one evening and have dinner together. I found this wonderful retro restaurant that I want to share with you because it was a fun place and the food was great too. The owner has spent a long time collecting retro pieces from markets in Cassablanca and the restaurant was full of beautiful fabrics and nick nacks.

You know how I love these tiles, fabulous floors put together randomly together with traditional Moroccan tiles. Great interior design.

Go and visit you won't be dissapointed:

1 Rue Agadir
44000 - Essaouira

Tel: 024 472 103
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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!