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.



Sunday, November 22, 2009

Casa Botanica - Family trips in Marrakech

Casa Botanica Fantastica! They have this pretty little boutique selling lovely gifts for children.
This is a selection of juices made fresh on the premises, they told me these are just suggestions, you can make up your own!!
Little baby organic tomatoes for sale per cup.
The really nice shop that the girls loved, full of real packaging to play with. They also have chickens, rabbits (don't put your finger through the fence they bite) and a donkey and a pony which you can ride for free. Ideal for younger children. Zamzam can book you a trip for lunch.

We are off to the AiM lunch tomorrow at Casa Botanica, can't wait!
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Casa Botanica - Marrakech out and about

I was invited by my friend to go and meet her family for brunch at a new nursery. I had read that it had a cafe and area for children so off we went - the changing faces of Marrakech.

What a great surprise, it was like being back in a Portobello cafe. There were different kinds of quiches with salads, choose your own fruit juice list - oh it was just great at last great home cooked food but out of your home! I had the broccoli and blue cheese tarte and an apple and ginger juice. I'm a terrible food critic and is was very good, even the pastry. There was a nice children's plate for my daughter with potato and cheese cakes, with homemade tomato sauce a yogurt sauce, served with home grown organic baby tomato's and fresh apple juice.

To follow we had home made cakes a particularly good one with flaked almonds.

It was very relaxing surrounded by gorgeous plants on a 3 acre site, covered with huge cloths of red, blue and yellow.
We spent ages there, it is a long time since I have had a proper brunch time on a Sunday like that.

It is easy to find as you will see the vast colours from the road. It is just 3k on your right past the Royal Golf (another nice place to go for lunch if you have young children who want to run around)

Casa Botanica
Route de Sidi Abdellah Rhiatt
Marrakech

m 0665693365
m 0661405820
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Friday, November 20, 2009

Black Handira Magic - Marrakech

Wow said Fatiya it is just like the night sky. Well that is exactly what must have inspired this weaver.
Large vintage black handira, very rare- 3.1 x 1.8m, it is absolutely stunning, covered in sequins and woven will natural yarn.

A total show stopper a huge amount of work has gone into this handira. It's like a very expensive haut couture piece.
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Handira Gems - Zamzam Boutique

Since a year ago when I posted the gorgeous orange handira on my website which flew out the Boutique, I have many of you emailing me if I have any more or if I can find such pieces like that. The answer so far has been no, until this morning when I got a call. "I have 3 pieces, really good ones, shall I come to your riad?" Yes please do come now I said getting all excited. 30 minutes later the door bell rang and in entered The 3 Wise Handira, Red, Green and Black, all vintage, all gorgeous. I thought I had forgotten to take my asthma puffer but remembered I had. I must calm down I thought, chill out! but the literally took my breath away. I'll take them all I said, thank you so much and off he went. Immediately one of the writers staying with us for the AiM festival came out. "what are they he said, can I have one?" he was nearly as flustered as me, he had no idea what they were but he was intoxicated. Red or green, red or green, ok i'm having the green. Although I'm happy he bought it and was so thrilled with his treasure I would have liked to play with it a little longer!
Anyhow, this is the red one!!
I was wearing it, I told Fatiya if the king ever invites me to tea this is what I will wear, she knows I'm mad.
Thousands of sequins it looks like a fish the way it shimmers. Drop me an email. Zamzam Boutique - there are lots of gorgeous classic ones in my collection too go and have a look.
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Thursday, November 19, 2009

The creation of The Witches hat

I know it is a loooooooooong time ago but I'm now catching up with my posting and thought it would be a shame not to post these! I came home from an exhausting day at the riad and my daughter said - I need a special witches hat by the morning to wear to Halloween. Marcus said that's impossible ............. men!
A serious of designs, calculations, a Kellogg's box and the dog biscuit bag, and Marcus's very special supply of super glue from the UK (he wasn't too happy about that!)
And voila an everyday Harry Potter hat with the right amount of flexibility! They always told me at school I should have been a theatre wardrobe mistress - Maybe they were right!
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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Zamzam Boutique - New Collection of Beni Ouarain Carpets

Dear readers, I'm sorry I haven't blogged in a while i've been so busy organising the Zamzam Retreat - Journey of Awakening in January. I've got lots of news and photos to share with you starting with the most recent and working back. I have at last had time to replenish my stock of Beni Ouarain Carpets for the Zamzam Boutique. I have got some lovely vintage pieces in this recent collection please click on the link to have a look at the photos and sizes. Email me the references of any pieces you would like information on.
Simple but stunning!
This one I adore it is my favourite piece, but I love the chocolate brown and the loose weave.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Yoga and Reiki Retreat - Zamzam Riad Marrakech, Morocco

We have been really busy organising the first "Journey of Awakening Retreat" at Zamzam. On the 28 January we will be holding an exciting four day Ashtanga Yoga and Reiki Retreat in Marrakech at Zamzam.

The four days will be all inclusive, including Yoga with Aisha, Reiki with Reiki Master Rebecca Hutley from Spain, delicious and nutritional food to feed body and soul by Emma and her Zamzam chefs, a journey into the Atlas Mountains with lunch at the stunning Kasbah Toubkal and a visit to the Agafay Desert outside Marrakech to La Pause, an eco retreat where we will have a traditional Moroccan dinner under the stars! For more information on the programme and events, email Emma - zamzamriad@gmail.com


Yoga Guru, Aisha Barzaghi will be leading two yoga sessions a day to work holistically with your awakening on this retreat. Aisha now living in Marrakech and building a dedicated yoga retreat has lived and trained for 7 years in New York City and 7 years in San Franciso, and has combined a variety of styles, from Ashtanga Yoga to Power Vinyasa Yoga and pranayama (breathing technique) and meditation, to a more slower inward Yin Yoga focusing on alignment and refinement of asanas. Her teaching style focuses on prana building, building heat in the body to cleanse, release, remove and heal various aspects of the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual bodies.

Her training and experience as a bodyworker brings an acute sense of the anatomical layout of the body to the application of asana practice.

Knowing that each individual is unique in their own right, as their bodies are, to the journey and practice of yoga, being aware in each class, each lesson, the unique individuals needs to that journey and nurturing that through humour, patience and loving kindness.
Aisha currently holds classes at Kasbah Tamadot (Richard Branson's Kasbah), she is excited to be joining this holistic retreat at Zamzam.
The second major component to the "Journey of Awakening Retreat" is Rebecca Hutley who will be coming from Spain to mentor and unveil reiki on the retreat and use her healing hands. Rebecca has been a Reiki Master of Usui and Tibetan Reiki for over 10 years. Her life in that time has taken her around the world teaching, training and practicing. She has worked with MTV, taking a team of Reiki practitioners on European tour and has taken Reiki into the corporate arena. She says, ‘Reiki is a gift to the modern world reminding us that we can heal ourselves. It is a form which takes us beyond our current perceptions of the body and how it works and explains the indivisible links between the mind, emotions, body and Soul. Reiki is a practice which enables people to relax and explore aspects of themselves often hidden by their busy lives. It becomes a way of being by re-connecting us to our true self’.

All of this and more will create a powerful and exciting four days journey in and around Marrakech. The all inclusive activities will be optional and we have created free time and guides for you to discover the magic of the Medina itself. Zamzam will host The Journey of Awakening Retreat so you will get the best of both worlds - full concierge service, luxurious beds to jump into at night, heated pool and spa facilities.

If you are interested in finding out more about The Journey of Awakening Retreat - Zamzam Riad - Marrakech, please email Emma - zamzamriad@gmail.com

Come and discover what it's all about!
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Monday, November 2, 2009

Zamzam patisserie continued - Moroccan cakes

Here you can see the filling being made, the yellow mixture is butter, being added to the ground almonds. Layering it out like a biscuit bottom to a cheesecake.Having put on the final layer of pastry, it is cut diagonally both ways to make little diamond cakes, a toasted almond is carefully placed onto each one.The delicious sticky end result. You'd better come to Zamzam and try them!









Moroccan patisserie - Zamzam Cooking

These are more of Joanna's photos of the girls making the Moroccan sweet patries. At the riad we serve these on the side with home made ice cream as a desert, they are delicious and very sticky. Hopefully these photos will be featured in a Food Magazine shortly.
Making the pastry. Two neat balls one for the top and one for the bottom of the little cakes.I will post the next set of photos so you can see the complete picture. The pastry melts in your mouth as you sink your teeth into a thick nutty centre, followed by lip licking honey!








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!