Saturday, October 29, 2011

Presents and a Wonderful Giveaway

Shopping in Marrakesh is always wonderful fun.'

You can pick up the little bowls with the calligraphy design in the souks. They come in lots of colors. The tiles are handmade by a craftsman whose workshop is between the rue riad Zitoune LaKadim and rue riad Zitoune djedid.

The painter Mortesi's shop is next to the mellah market.
 But since I'm in New York, I won't be able to pick up
 any of these treasures before Christmas.

Next best place for unusual and lovely presents and accessories from all round the world is  Novica's website with super women's silk scarves ( like the ones they sent me above)
and also men's accessories like cuff links and walking sticks. Leave a comment below and I'll put your name in a jar and pick a winner to receive a $100 gift certificate from Novica. Drawing next Saturday November 5th.

(Novica are also looking for people who would like to host parties featuring all their fascinating products. Go here to find out more details. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Vanishing Marrakesh

Dusk falls over the big square which isn't square at all but sort of kite shaped.

In the early morning Djemma Elfna is almost deserted. At night it is exotic and strange.

There are snake charmers, food sellers and story tellers. Needless to say, I can't follow a tale in Deriga (the local dialect) though the rapt attention paid the teller of tales convinces me that I'm missing something wonderful. So  The Last Storytellers by Richard Hamilton came as a joy. There is a sweetness and a magic to these tales spiced with gruesomeness of Grimm and  the bawdiness of A Thousand and One Nights. The pure of heart mostly triumph as they should. Most of the stories were new to me and I gobbled the book up in one day. Highly recommended!

A blessed and joyful Ramadan to all our friends  in Marrakesh.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


When we next go to Morocco - probably next spring

we'll certainly goto Essouira --we've been there every year for the past thirteen year and it's always a wonderful blue oasis after the warmth of  Marrakesh.

The air is so clear and bright and the shadows so crisp.
Here in the Hotel Riad al Madina where we often stay

This is the corner of a friend's house in the old part of Marrakesh -such a typical chair!

And here the Jardin  Majorelle with their reflecting palms and little hidden frogs...

 and a bench to sit on in the dappled shade.  I'm counting the days.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Flights of Fancy

Reflecting recently on Marrakesh -really detailing everything a gardening
 friend needs to see -I decided that

the Jardin Majorelle comes pretty close to the top of the list

as does the Bahia Palace (jasmine in their garden)

and the delights of jumbled tile.

A lover of flowers should rush immediately to the Mellah market
 and ask for Said and fill wherever they're staying with roses. 

This last photo is from a roof garden with desert plantings
 ( like Crown of Thorns) - much more sensible really considering the climate.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Moroccan Tales/ Must Reads

Tomorrow Robert's art show opens in Chelsea, New York, which made me think back to his studio on Derb Djedid where these red people were painted -- all of them walking across Djemma Elfna.

The little house was a place where I did lots of writing --and reading too, so I'm really looking forward to reading The Last Storytellers: Tales from the Heart of Morocco,  a collection of traditional tales collected by Richard Hamilton which has just been published in England and will appear in the US in July. Update: A really terrific book. Reads just like Grimm's Fairy Tales. Wonderful stuff!

Must reads about Marrakesh include Peter Mayne's 1956 A Year in Marrakesh (Eland Press) and Leonora Peet's almost-impossible-to-track -down Women of Marrakesh which contains one of the most chilling stories I've ever read called "Couscous of the Dead".

Anyone setting out on the great adventure of owning a house in Morocco should read Tahir Shah's The Caliph's House --or read it anyway; it's stunningly good.
And if you haven't yet read The Arabian Nights, well, a treat in store.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


A patient donkey in Djemma ElFna

Photograph courtesy of Claudia Schmid.

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Haunting Painting

For some reason I keep coming back to look

at this  atmospheric painting in the window of an antiques shop in the souks.
My photo is terrible, but you can see the hard ground of the stony desert
and the men alone with their sheep.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Sad Day

A photo taken this February of Place Djemma Elfna.

How very senseless and sad the tragedy there today.
Our hearts go out to the families of those killed and wounded
and all our  Moroccan friends.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Friday, March 18, 2011

Glimpses of Dar Tah-Tah

Dar TahTah is a wonderfully funky no-frills tiny guest house
 tucked away in the medina just near the straw market

with wonderful checker-board stairs 

 and eau de nil doors

 and a tiny little courtyard

It really is rather fun

 and full of wonderful colors......


Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Little House Itself

When we lived in the little house in Derb Djedid it had bags of charm -- but probably all sorts of structural defects and quirks.
There was the time when we had to jump over a giant hole in the stairs and had to have an entire beam replaced.
There was the time the courtyard filled up to our knees with flash flood water.
So, it was exciting when we heard that the new owners were completely remodeling the place.

So, this is where the salon was -- an uber-swanky kitchen. Gosh.

I don't think I ever took a photo of our old kitchen.....

Look at the wonderful storage carved into the very thick walls.

This is the front hall. The floor was raised 18 inches and the scruffy little WC is now a utility room.

The bathroom window

The stairs are in a quite different place. Above where the old kitchen was.

Looking down into the courtyard......

Looking up from it.......

I was happy to see jasmine on the roof. So, the little house has an entirely new life which is thrilling.
We were welcomed back for a state visit. I was surprised that I wasn't a bit sad --just pleased to see how well the work was done. Grant Rawlings of Chic-Marrakech designed the new house and oversaw the whole project.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Cats/Part II

On the whole, Moroccan cats are pretty fortunate.

They get to wander around at will and get petted by everyone.

They tend to be both handsome -- and noisy. They call out to catch your attention.

They assume they are welcome in shops --here a blanket seller in Essouira.

and kittens outside a ceramics shop in the same town.

How nicely the white cat contrasts with the blue door!

A sensible choice of venue: underneath a fishing boat.....

At the rug seller's again.

In the inner garden of the Bahia Palace......

and little kitties just hanging out in Essouira.

Most of these photos were taken in Essouira one of the places you
must visit while on your Moroccan holidays!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Cats/ Morocco Edition Part I

Sindibad, the monarch of all he surveys, now lives a very pampered life
 but was born in the vegetable market in Djemma El Fna.

This elegant young lady is our Mimi reincarnated -- the same multicolored fur and up-slanted eyes.

Taking a nap in Gueliz in a planter with bamboo.

Taking a nap in the old part of town in a nice cardboard box.

Waiting for her babies to arrive in a nice sunny spot in Essouira.....

This mother-to-be was photographed in exactly the same meat market where Sindibad
 (in the top picure) was born. May her kittens be just as handsome.