Archive for November, 2010

Marrakesh – the city of red

November 20, 2010
Marrakesh, Morocco is completely crazy. I don’t think anything could prepare you for it. It’s a mash up of first world and third world, Europe meets Middle East meets Africa. A donkey parked up next to a Mercedes whilst a man carries a live sheep on his shoulders past the supermarket.

 

The busy streets of Marrakesh

The air smells of horse piss, spices, smoke, mint tea and a million different flavours weaved in together.

The markets are bustling, people pull you from all sides, demanding money, wanting to give you a henna tattoo, sell you their leather wares.

And yet we had an amazing time. We spent most of the six days in the city, except for a day trip out to the Atlas mountains where we hiked up to a waterfall. As we went further up hill, it became colder and colder and when we reached the top we were forced to pull out our winter coats. The view was worth it though. The valley spilled out before us while the waterfall crashed behind.

The Atlas Mountains

We went back to the city, where the temperature rose to a blissful 30 degrees which was delightful after coming from the London winter. We ate each morning’s breakfast up on the roof terrace with the sun beating down, before making our way through the city’s narrow and winding streets where we got lost on more than one occasion.

Dress-wise, I didn’t reveal my shoulders or legs, as Marrakesh is a strict Muslim country and if you’re female and don’t want to get any unwanted attention then it’s best not to dress too provocatively. You’re still bound to get a little hassled by men though – I was called ‘beautiful’ a few too many times by slimy guys but you’ve just got to learn to take it with a pinch of salt.

We ate some great food – numerous tagines, salads, couscous and grilled kebabs. It’s hard to get alcohol in the city though, especially with dinner, so it was a relatively boozeless holiday – rather unusual for us!

 

 

We spent too much money in the souks, the markets that sprawl on for miles, buying leather bags, shoes, harem pants, jewellery (turquoise!) and tagines. It was good fun although the bartering takes some getting used to. The best technique I found is just to walk away and pretend the price is so ludicrously high that you’re never going to pay it. More often than most they chase you down the street and agree on the price that you previously mentioned. I think we possibly got ripped off a little because we’re hopeless at knocking the price down but when you look at the bigger picture, who cares? I’m sure they needed the money more than we did.

We visited beautiful buildings that were built centuries ago that have intricate carvings that make you wonder how they were made. The mosques dotted around the city were stunning works of architecture and the call to prayer came five days a day, when you could see men lining up outside the buildings, shoes places neatly beside them, bending down in unison to pray to their God. Although I must admit the call to prayer at 5am was rather annoying – a man chanting through a loudspeaker that reverberated through the room of our Riad.

 

The main square – Djemaa el Fna – has men chanting snakes rising out of woven baskets and young guys walking around with monkeys chained to leashes. If you want a photo with either a snake or an ape you must pay them an agreed fee. I thought it was cruel to do so, especially because the animals weren’t treated very kindly – the monkeys were kept locked up in little cages when they weren’t posing for photographs with tourists.

At night time the square truly comes alive with the hustle and bustle of the city. The food stalls open and are rammed with diners having their nightly meal. Scooters and cars zoom around, narrowly dodging tourists, and dancers dance for hours on end until you’re sure they must be ready to collapse from exhaustion.

The main square at night

 

The most relaxing thing we did during our stay was to visit a hammam. I would highly recommend this. We were scrubbed down from head to toe, which was rather painful at times but made you feel squeaky clean. Then we were rubbed all over with oil and received a full body massage. It was divine and made me feel amazing!

Our trip was eventful from start to finish. If you want to visit a place like no other, which is both busy and exciting with its chaotic streets, and calm and soothing with its lush courtyard gardens and relaxing hammams, visit Marrakesh. It’s well worth a holiday.

Inside Majourelle Garden, formerly owned by Yves Saint Laurent

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Prince William and Kate to get hitched… wish I had that kind of money to splash out on our wedding!

November 18, 2010

The happy couple - check out that bling! It was Diana's engagement ring, hopefully it'll bring Kate more luck than it did Diana

So Prince William and Kate Middleton have finally got engaged. Poor Kate, she had to wait nine years to get that shiny emerald on her finger. It must feel like a victory now she’s finally wearing it.

A lot of UK taxpayers are whinging because they don’t reckon they should foot the bill for the royal wedding but I don’t mind. The event is going to bring in big bucks for tourism so I’m all for it.

Although apparently Kate and ‘Big Willie’ (as Kate apparently likes to call him… hmmm, wonder where that comes from?) are going to ‘keep the economic situation in mind’ when planning for their big day. They’re not going to go all out, it seems, like Diana did when she married Prince Charles back in 1981. Their wedding cost a reported £40m or so.

However, this is a different era and with so many big names coming along to the wedding bash and with the threat of terrorism lurking, more than £20m could be spent on security alone.

I say go for it. Who cares? They’re hardly normal people and they deserve a big do. I’m sure Kate has been dreaming about this day since she was a teenager putting pictures of William up on her walls. She’s waited for nearly a decade, she should be awarded the crown… and one day she might actually be queen!

Completely off the point now but… I wish I had her wedding budget! Her wedding dress alone could cost a couple of hundred thousand pounds. If only!

The most important thing – the dress!

November 4, 2010

There’s one thing that matters for your wedding. Who cares about the ring, the bridesmaids or the flowers… everyone knows it’s ALL about the dress.

People are shocked to hear that I’ve already got my wedding gown. Bought 18 months in advance, it’s a bit of a risk, but to be honest fashion doesn’t really change much in the wedding world…and I was very keen on my outfit.

However it does mean I can’t put on any weight before the big day… so I have my measurements tucked in my purse just in case I forget that!

Of course, it’s a special moment buying the dress that your fiancé will see you in as you become his wife. And it’s important someone special is there when you buy it. That’s why I bought it when I went back home to Perth – because I wanted my mum to be there.

I’d tried on a couple of dresses in London before I left and burst into tears when I slipped the first one over my shoulders. The reality just dawned on me – I was going to be a bride! I got swept away and was adamant it was the dress I wanted.

In the end, the actual dress I got was 100 times prettier and I’m so glad I didn’t settle on the first one I tried on, simply because I was overcome with emotion!

When I went out trying dresses with my mum, I fell in love with a beautiful gown. It was stunning but something told me we should keep looking. It was lucky we did. As we pulled up at the next store I saw a dress in the window and I thought ‘I must try that one on’. So I did. And it took my breath away.

It’s true what they say – when you try on the dress you’re going to wear on your big day, you’ll know it straight away. And I did.

I walked around the store like a princess and had to laugh when my mum said ‘I knew you’d want something a bit more showy and glamorous’.

My mum knows me too well!

I want to look like a princess but not like this!

Our wedding venue

November 2, 2010
The view from The Boatshed Restaurant

When planning a wedding there’s much to think about. I didn’t realise just how much until I got engaged. I went out and bought a large pile of bridal magazines and began to organise. Anyone who knows me will understand that I am a bit of an organisation freak so planning a wedding, I believed, would easily be my forte.

 To be honest though, I underestimated just how much planning was needed. All the magazines stated a timeline which you had to work from and it said you needed to start planning at least a year in advance. Some would say this is a headache but I am secretly excited about the thought of a year’s worth of planning.

When we went back to Perth for a two week break, we looked at countless venues – so many in fact that my fiancé became frustrated and told me that I was only to take him along if I was certain he’d like it.

In the end, I fell in love with The Boatshed. It’s absolutely stunning and suits us to a tee. It overlooks Perth and the foreshore and has the most stunning views both during the day and at night. The food is divine and the wine is good enough for my dad (the harshest wine critic there is).

We definitely wanted to get married near water because my man is a keen sailor and growing up in Perth we spent a lot of time next to the water.

One of the first dates we went on was when he took me sailing on his skipper’s yacht!

So the venue was great. Best of all, the owner was delightful and I have a feeling he’ll make our wedding a special night to remember. I can’t wait! Only 16 more months to go…

Friday 9th March 2012 is going to be the best day of my life!