Saturday, September 30, 2006

Ramadam a ding dong

Spent a good couple of weeks in Vejer chilling but getting the house on several agencies books and showed a few people round so should get some interest soon. Lovely cool nights spent with my friends mostly Sina and Pat, checking out new tapas bar at Cafe Central in town and holiday highlight was a 10 piece Cuban band on my last night at the open air Claustro bar fantastic.

Soon i was on the road again Tarifa then Tangiers with quick stop at the beach at Moulay Boussleham before cruising into Fes near sundown. Was determined to see the 10 hectare plot high above Fes before I hit the Medina so drove the ten minutes or so out of town just as the sun set. As I parked to view glorious Fes from the hilltop the siren went to end the fast for Ramadan,about 6.15 each day, and then you could hear the faint wailing from the muezzins in town, it was a magical moment. Within seconds a local guy approached to say I must eat now with his family, a traditional Ramadan hospitality thing, and I got whisked up a hill to sit amongst the whole family eating bowls of Harira soup, sweet cakes and tea. Dispite the fact they only had a smattering of French we all got on fine and after the food all took our chairs outside on the patio hillside to look down on the lights of Fes and watch the planes circling to land.

It was so tranquil compared to the Medina buzz and definitely showed me another side to this whole experience as i left they invited me back Sunday to go shooting, what I dont know, and to show me some land ...yes please.

Left for the Medina knocked out by the genuine hospitable nature picking up a stranger from the road and inviting him in. Onto the Dar, let myself in and wandered round the house in semi dark checking on the work progress since my departure. Its all real good with terrace all bitumened and most of it tiled whilst inside ceilings newly plastered, all structural work completed, newly built bar also on terrace and the kitchen inside started. I am impressed at how far we have come in just two months so we seem on schedule.

Will post some photos tomorrow.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Heading back to Spain

First of all look at this gorgeous view of a farmhouse and 10 hectares with the whole of Fes laid out in the valley below.

Well have been back in Vejer now for a week,a change of pace after the buzzing Medina and in the serious process of selling my house here to re-invest in Morocco. Have had agents round all week and all quite positive which is good so we'll have to wait and see.
On way back to Spain stopped off in Chefchaouen to meet up with a new friend John an english teacher who lives in Toulouse but maintains a pied a terre in Chaoen, i was very impressed with the blue rinsed medina and Johns funky place in the pirate quarter which he bought for 7000 euros 4 years ago and spent 10000 to do up. its the equivalent of my place in spain but a tenth of the price!! This is why Moroccos getting my money cos there are bargains left right and centre.
The whole town is getting major renovation and investment and is set to be a St Tropez of the mountains in the future. i would love a funky retreat here as an escape from Fes and its also close,60k to the buzzing north coast so have put John on the case. He is a great local character here a 64 year old gin and tonic Brit with a great lust for life and the moroccan way and was a great guide, he took me to the restaurant with terrace views inland which was stunning and a recent addition to the cuisine of the area.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Up on the top terrace

Finally popped up to the top terraces today for
a look round I had forgotten how great the view was and the work was really good all electrics in etc. Both sets of terraces now ready for a double bitumen layer so now I am convinced that on my return from Spain all the zellige tiling on terraces will be done hooray!
In front of the workman in blue shirt is my near neighbour the Mnebi Palace which while stunning inside blocks some of my view on the terrace, oh well cant have everything, after all its not everyday you can say a palace is blocking your view and one day they might actually tidy it up. It is after all where the French Consul first stayed when France in charge of affairs here.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Coming together nicely after only 6 weeks

A quick post of photos before I head back to Spain showing laundry room almost done just have to knock out a window fronting the terrace, in front of this I am having a bar area built, improved and renovated windows back in the skylight now just need the stained glass and shutters, the ceiling plaster being removed in the main salon and the rubble accumulating in the downstairs salon.

Tomorrow Ive designated a clear up day from the terrace down so we can see the wood through the trees before I go!! Cannot believe its only been six weeks since the work started as a lot has been achieved already but this phase can be demoralising as the beautiful house is hacked at by the electricians and plumbers and builders. You might call it a Caesarian operation as afterwards it all gets stitched up and you can hardly see the scar, we hope!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Its all go

Hidden in a cubby hole in one of the storage rooms one of the builders continues on the decappage and replastering campaign. This involves chipping off old plaster ascertaining everything structurally sound underneath and then rendering it. Next stage should be chasing in electricity channels before plastering the final coat but Ive found the plasterers getting ahead of themselves or electric boys are too slow so constant eye needed so each stage finds teams in right place at right time.
Looking across from my rented house terrace I watched the builders build the laundry room wall after the medina closed down for the night, woke up it was finished and plastered!!

Last few days have been frantic as the building team expands. As we have Ramadan on the 24th it is imperative to get the terrace finished so we can bring the workers inside. Last night the builders were building the wall of the terrace laundry room which overlooks Talla Sighera the main drag, and started at 8pm and finished at 4am as they can only do it while medina is empty. Today they are putting the ceiling on. On the terrace the electricians and plumbers are finishing their jobs so we can clear the terrace and put the bitumen down and then we are ready for the terrace tilers.
I am back to Spain for 10 days at end of this week leaving everything in Ben and Bacallis capable hands so will probably not file any reports till my return but then will have lots of updated photos of the terrace and interior.
We have also cleared the basement room and one idea is to turn it into a Berber Basement, tent up the ceiling, low tables cushions and chairs; plants with a bar in the corner and a renovated fountain, could look fantastic.
Anyway off to check on my friend Micheals place to get an estimate for his work so Adios Amigos for now!!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Kitties and Brickies

Our two kittens Moulay and Idriss keep a watchful eye from Bens apartment bedroom window on the workers below or maybe they just smelled dinner!
The final building on the terrace this will be the laundry room and also through the gap you can access the spiral staircase to top terrace which will be tucked behind terrace bedroom, so effectively out of sight.

Its all been going off today as well as last night, I was woken up at midnight as several trucks turned up to take away the rubble which had started to build up alarmingly outside the house. Of course they have to come at this time when the medina is empty. Today there is so much going on in the house on all levels that it is best to stay out of the way.
They are taking all old plaster off the ceilings, building on terrace, plastering one of the bedrooms, chasing out for electrics, clearing out rubble in the basement etc. Felt like a war zone wont go back till 5pm when the dust should have cleared a bit. Just when you think you have finished demolition phase there is something else to consider oh well thats the nature of the beast.
Will be heading back to Spain in a weeks time to see Casa Luigi, my Spanish hideaway, and also Sina who has been brilliant looking after the house and renting it out even hiring her daughter to clean it while Ive been here. I know she will be reading this so a big HUG and thank you from Africa. It will be good to take a break and to come back to appreciate the progress as going in daily you instinctively want to hurry things along. Bearing in mind the build has only been going 5- 6 weeks I am well impressed with where we are at the moment.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Fun in the Sun

Woke up as usual to the very busy sounds coming from the Mernissi house as they unload 20 tons of rubble outside onto donkeys whilst inside the poetry spouting electrician channels his way through the main salon whilst practicing his english at every opportunity.
On the terrace the chippers are chipping , the plasterers are plastering and the builders have started on the new build, the laundry room on the terrace. By end of the week we will be ready for the bitumen layer or two on the terrace floor so it will be very watertight. Then I will decide where to place the plunge pool!!!!

Have decided after consultation with Bacalli and Houssine the architect to have a metal spiral staircase to go onto top terrace it will be hidden behind terrace bedroom so freeing up space on the terrace, its all very exciting, to me anyway!

This morning Ben and I went in search of the doctor who owns the old property next to mine that is propped up with wood beams onto my house. We had previously visited ADER FES, the UNESCO funded Medina watchdog committee who had inspected it and quoted 6000 euros to demolish and rebuild the walls; thus getting rid of the wood prop, they would help contribute also to the costs as we are tidying up that neck of the medina. Also had visited the Pasha at planning, the topman, who said you are English we have to help you, so find the owner we will tell him his house is dangerous and he has to fix it, nice one. As long as I make a little contribution everything will be fixed, I hope.

Found the doctor at the Childrens Hospital who living in Casablanca for 10 years had forgotten about wreck next door he owned but promised to visit this week to see the state of it, then see planning department to ascertain the next step. So a good mornings work especially as I had a toothache, not surprising with my fangs, and he recommended his wife, a dentist in the new town and we promptly rushed to her for a checkup and medication.

Met Mohammed the taxi driver in the afternoon to pick up some leather hides we had ordered from the tannery as I have an idea to make leather pouffes with carpet on top where you sit. I had bought a couple last week in goat skin and carpet but these will be top quality as I will do it in partnership with Adil who of course runs a carpet shop. Adil loved the idea and we will knockup a prototype within the week.

Busy day so relaxed at home with a pint of freshly squeezed orange juice followed by a pint of banana smoothie, I have had more fruit here than in 5 years I spent in Caribbean and also sticking to a no alcohol policy keeps a fresh head for the next day.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Keeping on top

I usually wake up in the little rented house I have across Talla Sighera to the sounds of the workmen chipping away at the terrace of the Mernissi house at 7.30 each morning. On Saturday I heard nothing and checking on the house found half the workforce not there. Called Baccali and he had pulled some men away to another project but others just hadnt showed. As work for the day ground to a halt after several weeks sterling work I let my feelings known. The next day there was double the work force and everyone steaming in at a rate of knots and were, including yours truly, happy chappies. Every so often as Ben has told me spend 50dh on getting cold water or Coke for the builders during the day, its very well appreciated.

After a while you can tell who are the star workers and I make a point of requesting them for their skill and diligence. At the moment it is a toothless old builder called Hassan a master of old and new styles who works faster than a speeding scorpion and when he was taken to another job I insisted he come back.

Generally I pop into the house 3 times a day at the moment I am stopped by the electrician at 5pm to give him English lessons after work he cheerfully recited The Soldier by Rupert Brooke to me the other day, you know the one, ....if I should die think only this of me la la la.

We are looking to have the terrace and new build plus zellige done by Ramadan, starts about Sept 24th for a month, then we can bring the workforce into the house out of the scorching heat as obviously they cannot drink during Ramadan during the day. All these things you have to be aware of constantly.
At moment Tourate Fes have several projects underway and i just gave them another, my friend Micheals place just up the road needs some decappage and reconstruction and should be a reasonably straightforward job. Once they get an estimate together and approval I can keep an eye on things there for him.

Just checked on Ryanair new flights Fes to Luton if I book now for November its 99 cents each way but with taxes about 40 euros return still pretty good huh!!!