Wednesday 28 February 2024

Marrakech day 3

 After considerable bartering, we negotiated a 30 min taxi ride down to 50 dirham (about £5) for our ride across town to the tanneries.

These units are for softening camel and cow skins using lime and pigeon droppings. Handfuls of mint were offered to mask the smell, which you can imagine was overwhelming.  We had taken on a 'guide' at the tanneries whose family worked there, we needed him as it is difficult to negotiate your way around and to get a good view you need someone who has a friend with a shop that has a balcony! of course you do :).  Our guide was Berber and explained Berber people process camel and cow whilst the rest of the population only process lesser quality sheep skins. Some sort of hierarchy.

It was sad to see many donkeys overloaded with carts carrying heavy goods such as the bags of lime powder. 

This area is rife with locals all wanting to be your guide, we asked a couple of loitering  police lying on their motorbikes  to help us choose ours and went with the Berber man as they pointed him out, he was happy with a small tip to take us to the flat roof of his relatives shop so we could see the tannery from above.  As you can imagine, there were high hopes that we would buy leather goods but we managed to escape this as we quite simply don't carry much cash! Apparently we are the only tourists who don't carry a debit card, the disgruntled shop keeper told us.  Had we wanted to shop we would have been bargaining today, leaving disinterested and returning with our cards a day later - that's the way we have learned you get the best price.

After the tanneries we found the taxi price was now triple for same journey back as they had worked out that we were stranded - well not quite - not to be beaten we decided  to walk back through the warren of alleyways, above,  it took several hours but was worth the walking as we saw so much.

We got lost many times but my limited French and helpful school children set us back on track each time!

Monday 26 February 2024

Marrakech, day 2

 Up bright and early, we had breakfast In the hotel and walked to the Secret Garden, this formed part of a private residence dating back to the 16th century that fell into neglect and was re-discovered in 1960, renovated for opening to the public in 2003.

View from above of mosaic tiling in courtyard which has what is thought to be the first piped water system in the city.

All riads follow the same design as this,  of a courtyard with fountain, balconies looking inwards on to the courtyard and gardens sectioned into four. 

Afterwards, we walked back to the main square to see a food market and trinkets on sale, there were also monkies and snake charmers with cobras but we did not encourage or pay for pictures with them as we don't like to see animals used in this way.

This is one of many fresh water fountains we saw on streets, people use them to wash hands and feet before prayers and will roll out mats and face Mecca wherever they may be when they hear the Imam's call on loudspeakers.

If  like me, you appreciate beautiful doors, Morocco is the place for you.  

The man above is a musician hoping for a tip.

We walked back to our hotel   our step counter showed a total of 8 miles walking!

Afternoons were spent under the shade of tge hotels many orange trees in the gardens after lunch each day. 

...more to come..the Tanneries, .Jewish Mellah, Palace de Bahia

Saturday 24 February 2024

Marakech, Morroco day 1

Having just finished my latest read, The Caliphs House, the story of how a beautiful old house and grounds in Casablanca  that had fallen into disrepair, was lovingly and lavishly restored, I was more than inspired and ready for my Moroccan adventure:  4 nights in Marrakech... a 65th birthday treat from hubby.

We stayed all-inclusive at Medina Gardens Hotel  within easy walking distance of the main attractions, it has 2 pools and beautiful orange and  lemon tree gardens, built in the grounds of an ancient house.  

Below: Medina.Gardens.Hotel

Above: first night buffet dinner which I had again and again as so delicious: couscous, sautéed vegetables, chick peas.   There were plenty of other vegetarian choices and also a vegan selection.

We then walked to the night market at Jemaa el Fna square, to see storytellers, the night food market, musicians and more.  

I took a leaf out of my friend Vix's book and mixed patterns and swapped skirts and tops around to get the most out of my limited luggage space! My bikini, pool kaftan, 1 dress and 2 skirts, 3 blouses and 2 tee shirts plus leather sandals and pashmina were more than enough and fitted really well into an Easyjet small black hand luggage bag with everything rolled.  My new kaftan (below) got plenty of wear and was ideal for areas where women should cover up and was cool and comfy in the 80f afternoons but also with a pashmina, adequate in the cooler evenings.

Orange and lemon trees were everywhere, you could pluck fruit from the trees 
just walking along the streets. 2 exploring the 16th Century Secret Garden and .... daytime market.

Sunday 4 February 2024

The weekend and a carpet

 No work over the weekend so I had time to go to legs bums and tums class at the gym, plenty of squats and planks!  I also had time to put up some new curtains.  Youngest son came over for a curry and hubby took me to Spoons for a pizza on Sunday night!

weatherspoons toilets

Yes! I did remember to take a pic of the carpet for Vix - this is our local Weatherspoons, the Jack Fairman in Horley, which was previously the Kwikfit garage.  Prior to that, it had a glamorous history in racing as was originally a car showroom built in 1933 for the Fairman family.  Jack Fairman took part in 12 Formula 1 Grand Prix races and was personally involved in the development of the Connaught, he raced one, coming fourth in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone  in 1956.  He was also famed for driving for Aston Martin.

source: Weatherspoons

The pub has that lovely art deco style that Weatherspoon pubs are so well known for.  I sometimes pop in for a hot chocolate (free refills) and a hash brown when I am in town.  The toilets are very grand and the carpet.... well here it is .....

I have to say nothing to do with racing, garage  or grand prix jump out in the pattern but it is due refurbishment so I will keep you posted

Source:  Weatherspoons (Jack Fairman)

Mellieha, Malta Sunshine Break

We had a week in Mellieha, Malta, staying at DB seabank all inclusive. My packing was 7 lightweight tee shirt/cotton tops, 3 sho...