Sunday, March 25, 2007

Up the Workers

Nice to see the Boys getting their hands and notably faces dirty as we progress on the renovation path. Nordeen who greets me each morning with Hello my brother, his only English, is on his last chore after repair zelliging throughout the house. This is the counter or is it bar top on the terrace and of course we are staying with our green and cream design complementing the table and terrace floor.

Mustpha the builder who solved one of my biggest annoying problems the huge chunks taken out of the steps in the stairwell, created a mosaic mix that perfectly blended in with the existing steps. He came in early Friday as the shops were shut because when he got his sanding machine going full tilt to polish the steps the place became enveloped in a Kalahari dust storm hence his dusty visage in the photo.

Nordeen the carpenter was responsible for the salon doors after the potent potash boys had stripped them. He lovingly made a colour stain to match all the existing wood in the house and applied it and then a linseed oil coating so the doors then looked good enough to eat, wood chips anyone. Then with our new solid brass bolts in place we hung the doors to give the whole room a special glow it seemed, because rooms are so naked without their nicely oiled doors, methinks.

Great three course meal at Pizza Mikes abode who will now have to change his name to Burger Mike or Lemon Tart Mike after a delicious meal in the exalted company of The Amster and Sandy Fassi Man with his newly acquired fez, looking quite the part I must say. The Purple Circle reared it s ugly head yet again and has gained some new members so I have heard so watch out Fes, this could get dangerous.

Friday, March 23, 2007

House Hunt

Had a runaround week this week folks as my friend Pippa, another Norwich Nomad arrived. She was determined to find a property for under 20000 euros within the Medina and was expecting to see drivel or rubble but in that strange way that househunting works here she found her ideal house within an hour at 19000 euros. Or so we thought...

I knew it was too good to be true and so it was as the agents tirelessly working on her behalf, Linda and Alan from My Moroccan Dream, came up against the usual obstacle, one family member who wanted to jack the price up to...30000 euros!! How do you say you must be having a laugh in Arabic cos thats what we all thought. Poor Pippa was so despondent but hey thats the way things go so she put in a counter offer but they still held out and so the game continues. She left for Essaouria with nothing sorted so yours truly will pick up the reins for her and carry on the game.

Its been all go in the Medina and around the house as well as we organise yet another clean up, you realise that the final clean up is always tantalisingly out of reach. Started to stockpile furniture now at quite an alarming rate it must be said but all necessary and even on a frugal budget your money can go a long way ie wicker chairs at 140 dh each. Also dont go out on a limb for beds, a decent mattress from Metro on top of the wooden banquettes is just fine for most people unless of course you are expecting royalty.So this is where the fun begins visualising furniture and fittings in place and then checking the wallet to see what you can stretch those dirhams to afford.

Pizza Mike is back in town and found a lively companion in our Pippa as they are both ex Maitre Ds of top restaurants. A few drinks were shared with other ex pats at the Batha hostelry spotting Joesphine and the last remnants of the Aussie contingent over for her sons wedding, also Sandy preparing mentally for his Sufi party. Mike was waxing lyrical about the Purple Circle and why he was not in it whatever it was so suggested he start his own, maybe the Brown Circle... anyway moving on.

Its time for a Chefchaoen trip, why, because its there, plus need to see what progress in the house there regarding paperwork because then I will have to seriously chase up money. Also ANOTHER Norwich Nomad is on his way and Im sure you will see him out and about soon enough, an old mucka of mine of some 35 years standing his name is Simon Butcher. We were involved in an infamous Nomad meetup in Perth in 1986 which took two years to organise getting Norwich friends to Oz from all over the globe for a couple of months of mayhem that Xmas.

I think he needs a break from Englands frenetic work pace so the Big C should be ideal, whats the betting I sell him a house....

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Da Capo Code

Dont talk to me about Da Capo I have had just about enough, for those who think I am talking about a Sicilian Dynasty ..think again. It is basically paint stripper used on all the cedar wood here but faced with stripping my main salon doors as they look a tad ratty in the cold light of day i decided on an alternative measure. With their fine gravure it would take the ladies over a week to strip them maybe more so I got in the Potash Boys. Now these guys use a caustic solution mixed with water that bites through the old paint and strips doors almost instantly albeit with tons of scrubbing and water.

Now the purists amongst us especially that Purple Circle crew would be up in arms about this procedure but to hell with it they came out fine. Then I will let the Ladies loose on them for a fine Da Capo treatment and then the carpenter will apply his secret mix of gum,alcohol and water to give the doors a heavenly body before we stroke them finally with linseed oil. But the discussions about all of this took up half a day as everyone had an opinion about everything unusual in Morocco.

Elsewhere in the house the plumber suddenly arrived after a 9 day absence to put fittings in the apartment bathrooms, whilst Mouaniss was ordering marble for apartment steps and the beautiful handmade bolt for one of the salon doors a work of art in itself but at 900 dh was it cheap ...who knows, but it weighs a ton, slight exagerration.

As we progress slowly and surely the old wallet is taking a hammering so decided to meet up with the delightful Kleo for a drink or two in the sumptious environs of Riad Fes. Truly stunning and tasteful, yes Kleo that could be you but I meant the building, throughout this grand Riad perfect for a chilled session after Medina Madness and we compared notes on renovation. She has a stunning house that is just a bit behind schedule by about a year so I shouldnt grumble really, as everyone seems to assume I havent much left to do ...WRONG, I see loads and its all in the small nasty details. I guess the place will be furnished with a couple of deckchairs and a sand pit with an odd bean bag if i dont curtail the spending but the trouble is these houses demand a certain standard so in for a penny in for a dirham or two is the norm here...Drat.

I notice that Fred of Fred Real Estate Developements is opening his new office next door to where I am typing and best of luck to him have heard various reports about the good service and property he is showing, so good on you Fred now give us a job, you need a Fassi lookalike with a broad Norwich accent dont you now.

Failing that of course the two girls I helped to buy a property or two in the Big C have been in contact and I would love to oversee their renovations it would be a doddle compared to this dirham munching monster, after saying that its all been a great life experience although one of the most stressful things i have ever done in my life. I have been in a Force 9 Hurricane for 5 days on a yacht in the Atlantic in the mid eighties in a previous incarnation as a private chef and that was life or death situation everyday, but there have been times when i would have said that was more preferable. Just letting prospective buyers out there to Be Prepared, you will need all your wits and possibly another bag of wits for spares, ohh what a wit I think I will retire now its been a long day.

Friday, March 09, 2007

From Door to Door

Woke up with no workers around,luxury, as it was a Friday; but just as I was about to exit along came a new carpenter who I had commissioned to make a new cedar door. Just the one door you understand to test the quality of his work and if good he can make another and then...another as i need five or six in total. I have had doors on the mind for a week now, as you do; getting fixated on silly things just because you have to really.

The day started to take shape when after the successful door hanging I met up with a couple of bright young street sellers who earlier on in the week had sold me two gorgeous old cedar chests for next to nothing. After a quick linseeding they both looked stunning in the house. They whisked me into Ziat to check out an old mate whose granfather had died so was selling his collection of antiques. It was like walking into an Aladdins cave of ancient artifacts, old carved banquettes, Chinese antiquities his gramps had brought over from China and some ornate gild mirrors ...nice.

Several things took my fancy but need to sleep on it really before I get carried away as I usually do but I will definitely get the cedar carved banquette bases which could double up as a bed base. The young guys were very switched on as as they definitely knew their cedar so took them to the Mernissi House to view the salon doors which are intricatly carved and in dire need of a good Da Capo as they show up the main salon now everything is looking good. They pronounced they could do all four doors in 3 days at whatever I wanted to pay them so thats a goer then and then will also try and source old doors for 500 dh which is half the rate of getting new doors done. so that could be the end of my door fixation so now I shall have to find something else to worry about....shouldnt take long...what about that Berber Basement!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Norwich Nomads

Nice to welcome Mystere Micheal back in town now for the eighth time along with another Norwich face in Napoli Phil, who was visiting Morocco for the first time. Phil needed a break from the exertions of his computer software and programming job setting up a wicked site text2ad, not sure of the address exactly but if it takes off he could be rolling in it so to speak, so good luck to him.

Within hours of arrival Phil had been seduced by the idea of a little retreat in Chefchaouen as it fitted all criteria for relaxing, mountain climbing and good prices and he hasnt even been there yet!! I think I painted a good general picture and when he actually saw some photos it was the icing on the cake.

Within the three days they were here camping in the menzeh bedroom, well not literally camping but you get the picture, we managed to fit in an early morning souk visit, check daily on the progress at Dar Mystere, have drinks with the luminous Sandy, met the delightful Kleo for dinner in R,Cif, shopping trips to Metro and a birthday lunch for Phil at Majestic.

During this time the Mernissi house work slowly creeps along as the fine details take up a lot of time, for instance the zellige repair. Also having rushed to get the rest of the bathroom fittings last week the plumber has been sick for 3 days and tadelakt team announce they will be back in a week to do the kitchen and repair any knocks and dings throughout the house. Meanwhile the electricians have put up 15 gypsy style lamps as Michael says on the terrace so now we can play with the dimmers to our hearts content. Also light bulbs in the main salon behind the intricate plasterwork backed by Iraqui glass near the ceiling transform the salon area. The dimmed lighting emanating through the glass and the plasterwork is like a work of art and I can,t say I have seen its like in the Medina before.

Had several old and new friends around for a salon christening and Pizza Mike brought round some freshly baked pizza from his pastry chef as we discussed Medina lifestyles,gossip, renovations and Purple Circle updates.

A member of the PC earlier in the day was debating the issue of ^^To Maison dHote or not to Maison dHote that is the question, whether it was nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous baksheesh, or take arms against a sea of roxa permissions^^ blah blah blah, you get the picture. It is difficult to pick your way through the minefield of legislation to find the formula that works best for your particular property but inshallah things could be becoming clearer over the next few months.

Awaiting the visits of two more Norwich Nomads in the coming weeks with Pippa flying in from Dublin looking for a small Dar on a tiny budget and Simon an old friend from way back just needing a break from the rigours of English day to day living,poor lamb. Will he be seduced by the Medina, will he buy a house, will he like the Mernissi renovation, will he recognise me with a grey Berber beard well we will see wont we.