Saturday, August 30, 2008

Kilim Kool - Moroccan Kilim carpets

As I drove into Marrakech, I could not understand why there was soooooo much traffic, it was like being in London in the rush hour! When I got to the Mellah (Jewish Quarter) you could hardly move for people. I had to beg my usual guardien to let me into the car parking area as he was fighting off cars. I walked down the street not daring to go against the sea of people, above strangely scores of large storks circled, then I realised! It is the last weekend in August, the last weekend before the schools go back, the last weekend, before Ramadan begins etc Everyone was coming home. There were a large number of tourists around too, it was as if the whole world had arrived in Marrakech.

The reason for my trip into town amongst other things, was that a lady had asked me if I could find her some nice kilims in yellows or blues. On my hunt I realised that are alot of rubbish kilims out there. There seem to be these awful kilim rugs made for the tourist market by the thousands, that they think people are going to buy? I don't really understand it. There are also dreadful copies in inferior materials of wonderful kilims, so at first glance you go to have a look and as you get close you realise. Anyway on my travels I found these pretty kilim, the yellow in reality was less bright than in the photos, but I thought you might like to have a look at the wonderful intricate design of them. They are from the south of Morocco and made from a wonderful cotton tightly woven.
This pattern looks like leaves or seaweed. They would look stunning on a wooden floor.
Spot the smiley face in this one! soft tones with raspberry and navy blue.
If you are interested in one, check them out at the Zamzam Boutique and drop me an email by clicking on contact me in the blog.
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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Making Moves - Finishings to Zamzam Riad

Some update photos of the Riad. It has been like getting blood out of a stone working with our carpenter, so this photo celebrates railings he has put in that we have been waiting a year for.
The stairs are done and evened out which is great as they are much easier to go up and down. Riad stairs are very steep so we used bejmat on them so that no one slips.
You can see here our celebrated Menzah, which is a cedar balcony on the master suite. You can also see the columns now tadelakt in brown and the hand rails have gone on.
Some of the Khokas have gone in, they are solid and pretty heavy. They had to be attached to my beautiful sculpted plaster work which made me nearly pass out, as the carpenter with a hammer in his hand walked over. STOP I shouted. God knows what he would have done if I hadn't been there.

Choosing paint colours now which I find so difficult, it is so easy to end up with the same colour everywhere. Full steam ahead now for our first guest 22 October. All toilets now working, pool and fountain tested yesterday as well, all working. Now awaiting final tadelakt, sealant for the floors and then the fabric finishes. So much to bring together now and with Ramadan starting next week. School also starts though so I will have more time to charge around.

I added some stunning wedding blankets to the Zamzam Boutique yesterday, so click in and have a look!
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Fabulous French Markets

I just love a french market. The markets in Morocco are far superior. The fruit and veg are second to non, but cheese, wine, preserves, truffles heaven forbid. Nowhere to be seen. I love a good French market, one of the best on Saturday in the Charente is Saintes market. Bring it ooooooooon!

Wonderful seafood.
Being so close to the Atlantic the seafood is out of this world especially the oysters.
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Out of Africa

Every year we head off to France in August, when it gets hot and school holidays are long, it is our annual holiday where we meet up with the rest of the family. It is such a contrast for us to be in the lovely green fresh garden although this summer, France have had more than their fair share of rain. My father's vegetable patch was such a joy with everything in great abundance. My daughter took great joy in collecting everything from the garden at meal time especially the baby new potatoes. The only problem was that we had one too many blackberry crumbles!



The refurbished bread oven, the same as is used daily in Marrakech medina for bread baking. The bread man knows every families bread tray. Each morning the family makes the bread and takes it to him to be baked. A wonderful smell.

Anyone interested in a holiday in the Charente should contact Lynn at Le Tacherie, she is a lovely lady and has wonderful cottages to rent, including Morgan cars to tour in.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Organic gardening in hot countries

The beautiful plus side to organic gardening. My daughter was obsessed with this gorgeous caterpillar, insistent on making it a little bed even though I assured her a spongy lettuce was much more comfortable. lettuce bed!
Good Effort!
What a fabulous compost. If anyone has advice on organic vegetable gardens in desert countries could they please contact me. My lemon trees have a dreadful leaf curl which effects the fruit, I think it is an insect. I spend ages cutting the infected leaves out but I would like to know an organic remedy for this. I also want to make a compost but I am scarred that I will attract nasties into the garden like snakes and scorpions. Can anyone also give me advice on this. I thought maybe a plastic composter with lid, but I'm so sick of plastic in Morocco. The lovely lettuce bed!

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Travelling with parasols to Marrakech

I thought I would take some photos of the boys loading up the car, destined for Bordeaux Airport.
There was a big panic as to whether the 3 sun umbrellas I had purchased would stay on the roof rack until we arrived at the airport for our flight 2 hours away.
My husband is on the left in my mothers hat. He has become a little eccentric since living in Morocco. My father is on the right supervising as usual and John was roped in on a promise of a nice glass of Bordeaux.
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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Dog on a Berber Rug

Dogs always love these carpets, is it the smell? is is the soft wool (often these carpets are made from sleeping on), is it the spirituality of them? is he perhaps getting Reiki while he rests. Happy Dog on a Zamzam Rug - Happy client - Los Angeles
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Happy Zamzam Clients

I have just been sent some photos from two happy people I have sent carpets to from the Zamzam Boutique. The first photos are Zamzam carpets in an Apartment in Madrid. I'm posting these photos as I think it is really interesting to see these beautiful Berber carpets in peoples homes. It also really brings them alive in an everyday setting which is not always easy to visualise from my 2 d photos of them. The first carpet is a Beni Ouarain showing a simple hatch in black.
The second photo here shows one of the beautiful Azilal's that I sell in the Boutique, these are very soft and supple with quite crazy patterns usually. This one has a more even pattern with dots in the hatch.
This carpet is a beautiful Beni Ouarain with fine wool and a busy intricate pattern in the weave. A real stunner on a plain floor!
This photo is of a simple Berber carpet with an unusual box pattern. The lady has it in her house in LA. I hope you enjoy seeing these rugs living as much as I do. If you are interested in buying one of these superb carpets visit the Zamzam Boutique by clicking on the link in the left column of my blog.
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Thursday, August 7, 2008

King Beni Ouarain Carpet

Before leaving for France, I found this wonderful carpet. Every so often you see an absolute gem with real soul. Not only is it huge 4.3m x 2.25m but it has a wonderful little person and a star woven into one end, maybe the weaver's mark, or maybe a message from the Universe as so many believe that the weavers are well connected.
I just thought I'd share with you all a couple of images of this beauty. Can you imagine how much work has gone into it. It is also wonderfully old, like a Great Master. Enjoy many other Beni Ouarain's and Azilal carpets at the Zamzam Boutique.

ps it is wonderful to be in France and out of the fierce desert heat - oh joy!
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Sunday, August 3, 2008

Dinner at the Neighbours

Our neighbours invited us for dinner in the Medina. We entered a glorious old ancient Riad full of treasures. They had owned this riad for 10 years, these people were pioneers when they bought in Marrakech, but it paid off, they have a palais. It is very hard now to find riads of such proportions in Marrakech. As we sat round the pool with our gin and tonics, listening to the wonderful bird song in the banana palms all the stress of the day was forgotten.
Their riad had wonderful pieces from times gone by.
As the sun set on the terrace, we looked over the medina and viewed Zamzam from an entirely different perspective. We eventually ate a meal fit for a king, with hundreds of little salad starters followed by delicious tagines and home baked bread.
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Saturday, August 2, 2008

Riad Drama

We have had a real drama in the riad, just before going on holiday! This bedroom and bathroom was finished, the painter was just about to paint it having prepped the walls. The plumber told us that he had checked all water flow in the Riad and that all evacuations were working perfectly.
Marcus decided to check himself and it turns out that 3 toilets, were not connected to any waste pipes!! The end result - digging up the newly laid floors, digging trenches, drilling through a metal plate to connect this toilet to its waste pipe. Photos not only showing the mess created in my newly tadelakt bathroom but also showing you pipes going nowhere. I now know why the palm is looking so fab this year. Although it is very stressful, all I can say is thank god we found it before the toilets started being used. I also thought I would show you a little glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes.
ps the plumber's been fired and I think Marcus might have burst his ear drum yelling at him!
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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.



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!