Tuesday, April 24, 2007

As one friend leaves more turn up which is great to get them to test drive as it were the various rooms. Its feeling real homely now and all around the house have been adding little touches but still need some real essentials such as a toilet door for the upstairs room, oh no I dont as its just arrived, albeit seven days late.

Heres a few pics of the interior for those of you fed up with terrace shots and for Michael a shot of our lunchtime companions the metalworkers.

Next project is the infamous basement which has been used as a dumping ground and general store for months but now hopefully we can transform it into a chill out space as it will be nice and cool in the summer heat.

Sandy provided another feast of entertainment in a Moroccan Music Melange type of way and a very healthy turn out of expats greatly appreciated the superlative vocal stylings of the various masters. It was shame we couldnt get to socialise more after the event but as it finished quite late a conga trail of us wended our way back up the medina ensuring all the girls got safely home. Cafe Mike provided his famous lemon tart nibbles alongside other treats and was most offended when Barbara enquired if he had anything savoury or salty as she had missed her dinner!

More and more characters are passing through the medina portals including NZ based set designers from Lord of the Rings to French chateau owners and music teachers from Eton and it all makes for a heady mix. In fact its difficult to spot a boring person as Fes tends to attract the unusual and adventurous not to mention the downright mad, no names mentioned.

Monday, April 16, 2007

A fine old time

The Purple Circle members have been revealed to the public at large consisting of like minded souls intent on promoting ethical restoration, organising cultural events, socialising and supporting each others endeavours in the Medina etc. There was talk of a breakaway movement from one of the newer members to form a Deep Purple Circle whose role would either be to play Smoke on the Water on a constant loop or to be an underground wing. One of their weapons in this endeavour is the fiendishly clever and devious lettuce chewing character above who for the purpose of subterfuge is cleverly disguised as a common or garden tortoise.

We had a social gathering of the PC clan at the house on Sunday as I had decided to make a traditional Sunday lunch with Yorkshire Puddings. All the usual suspects were there and more besides and there was a lovely write up and more with a great terrace photo on the View From Fez. As the house is clearly now habitable with a functioning galley kitchen who better to try out my rusting culinary skills on than Fes nearest and dearest eccentrics.

Michael is over from Norwich for his usual mad three day sprint to get all his furniture made or ordered even though his house is not ready. Took him round to see my very valued contacts who have done me proud in the workmanship stakes and he was able to easily see, price up and order to his hearts desire. Picture shows him at the metalmans, we only dropped by for a minute but they insisted we stay for tea, lunch and even repaired my shoes into the bargain, as always exemplary Fassi hospitality.

For all those interested will post some pics of the house interior now that its all coming together and any mates interested in coming over to stay should contact me at djlouismac@hotmail.com

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Its all happening Folks

The Medina is buzzing and not just with the Semana Santa or Easter crowd but also with the core of ex pats here and its growing almost daily. As i said before have just discovered another new neighbour in the delectable Barbara who has stopped the renovation at her spacious marbled Riad to write a thriller novel, so she must meet Sandy of course for a few tips.

Introduced her to Pizza or is it Lemon Tart Mike and Fraulein Kleo and of course everyone hit it off like a Dar on fire as we are all basically as eccentric as one can get but all involved in beautiful projects of course so we cant be all mad. At the Mernissi House although waiting a week for the notorious plumber to show to fit in kitchen taps I cant let him get to me as we concentrate on making a house a home with handmade, not by me I add, furniture and pots and plants. Cheers Michael at Dar Mystere for the before and after shots on his blog of my terrace I had forgotten what a tip it was, my how time flies, as that was less than a year ago.

Ben and I were potting plants minding our own business the other day when we heard a commotion outside as a tour guide and his 40 young French ladies were admiring the front door and ladies lookout window which is a rarity here. I bounced down 5 flights to invite them all in and Ben gave them a quick shoof shoof around the house to the amazement of Fatima the Da Capo lady and the two cats and the very frightened tortoises. It was quite an experience and while on the top terrace several enquired as to my marital status so I held up my ringless hand prompting fits of giggles and two offers of marriage, not bad for a Saturday morning.

Fun continued later the same day with dinner with Kleo and Barbra at chez Barbra where we all cooked up a veggie storm and cheered up Kleo who had had a mare of a day having her water cut off and her electrician literally going mad. Not angry you understand but bonkers which is not good if someone is wiring your house, did I mention that the lighting doesnt quite work, well that goes without saying really! Anyway explained to her that she is approaching the Hump Phase as I call it when problems seem insurmountable but then they even out and you realise you are on the home straight and flying towards the post, over the Hump!

Dining on Barbras hand made black marble table in the bandstand area of her 450sq m patio with the two lovely ladies made me realise that I wasnt in Kansas anymore Toto, or for Kansas read Norwich terrace house and suddenly all felt right with the world. I have got over my personal Hump and am now fine tuning the house and it is looking great in fact just as I pictured it in my head all those months ago proving it CAN be done you just need to be STRONG in all senses of the word.

Will post some more piccies later when I have finished my pottering, made the beds and await a batch of friends arriving any moment now inshallah to test out the Mernissi hospitality.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Getting Neighbourly

Big Big meeting last night in Batha at the sumptiously appointed Government Hall or whatever this palatial place was. It had been necessary for some time to get the Government and Tourism offices to acknowledge the frustration and anger of the European contingent and also to remedy said frustrations. All problems stem from archaic bureaucracy or delaying tactics with roxas or interference in peoples design choices for their business.

The meeting was pulled together by Maison Bleu and The Amster, David to his friends and a lively discussion ensued with several highlights incuding the Minister of Tourism being pedantic about criteria for Maison dhotes, for which he was interupted several times by a Government minister. Barbara, a Riad owner from round my way also had her say not mincing words when saying how do we stop getting ripped off by malams. Strong words indeed, but someone had to say it as most of the Europeans around the hall could equate to her individual experience in some way during their own renovations.

It was a good chance to see and meet the other mad people of the Medina who have chosen the Fes lifestyle in their individual projects and hopefully this meeting will result in more discussion groups being set up to address concerns as and when they arise. Hopefully with a sympathetic Government influence the Tourism and Planning Departments can work with us and not against us in the near future. After all we have all renovated here because we love the houses and Medina lifestyle and are not quick buck Bulgarian off sale merchants so a bit of respect for this would not go amiss. I think we should be in harmony working towards the common goal of having a legal business, paying our appropriate taxes etc to free some us up from the stress of working under the table so to speak until reforms are in place.

On a more chilled note it was good to see lots of the Medina stalwarts including a few new ones, got introduced to Barbera the rip off accuser from Question Time with the Walid and discovered yet again someone who was a very close neighbour who I had never seen before. This keeps happening so now I find myself flanked by Kleo on Kabira side and Barbera on the Sighera side in the middle of a German sandwich, not that i am complaining. They are great examples along with Josephine of the gung ho,go it alone, charming but feisty if necessary, strong independent women who are attracted to the Medina.

I take my hat off to them also anyone of us brave enough to dip their toes in The Renovation Game and come out the other end with a brain intact and anything but coins in their wallet or purse. Its all worth it in the end folks as I near the end of this first phase of finishing I can look back on all my hassles and realise it was all part of my education. Question is did I get an A plus for effort or a B minus must try harder next year, maybe I will never know until The Amster comes round!!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Yellow and Green

The painting and sloshing and dripping finally came to an end today, after many complaints about masking off and not splattering. The last day they spent on a monster clean up of tiles and terrace and light fittings etc and well I couldnt believe it as the terrace became a vision of yellow and green. Ostensibly it should be Fassi Beige but its yellow to me and so we now have the national colours of Australia, Brazil and of course Norwich City my home town in Blighty.

Friends are staying in the salon bedroom and the intermediary room which at the moment has no doors, still waiting on that one as they are being made, so its a bit makeshift at present. Still putting one kitchen together but as the plumber has gone walkabout we have no taps in place although plumbing is good to go, so we have to go to the apartment kitchen for water, oh well at least we can cook and have a fridge. The plumber will turn up when you least expect him and I will come back one day to find the work done and while hes at it theres that leak in the bath thats bugging me!!

Its strange time at present as even though there is still lots to do in the house having friends there forces me to look to my catering and hospitality side to make sure they are reasonably happy in the circumstances explaining the lack of a sugar bowl or door to their toilet!!

Abdelkaddir stands proudly in front of his latest paint job and I have finally paid him off the last installment of the plaster,tadelakt and painting he has done. I dont know exactly what he has been paid but it is a LOT but his work is worth it in the long run after some of the shoddy work I have seen. I would recommend him but make sure you nail him for exactly what you want done and is material included and the exact sq m of what he is doing so you are au fait with what you are getting. Also see if cleaning up is in the price or what it will cost to clean up after his workers, factor all this in your quote and you wont go far wrong.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Old faces: New faces

Doors are on, bolts polished, kitchen tadelakted and just when i thought the mess had ended I decided to get the terrace painted while I was off for a few days. Well thats not logical is it as I should have had it done ages ago but as Abdelkaddir had promised a wicked job at fair price I went along with it.

Had to pop up to Chefchaoen for a few days mainly to pick up my old mate Simon from Norwich on his way down from the Jerez MotoGrand Prix looking to celebrate his birthday with a Moroccan Experience so I obliged. We had a few days in the pouring rain for the most part catching up with Archi and collecting twigs and kindling for a nightly fire in the funky apartment we had rented. No news on the paperwork for the Chefchaoen abode, how unusual, so after two days headed back down to Fes through glorious greenery and verdant countryside. Simon was already impressed but interested to see what he would make of Fes and in particular the Mernissi House.

As he is a fine finisher back home his eye for detail and colour schemes is second to none so I value his comments or critiques on the house. On entering he was already impressed as the layout of the house is unusual to say the least and once on the terrace his unerring eye was picking out detail and coordinating colours. Unfortunately the painters had rain stopping their play so the terrace was not finished and slightly paint splattered, how unusual, as they believe its a clean up crews job to tidy up after them whereas half a day masking up could have solved the problem. Its best to be on hand to ensure this happens and even though I left strict instructions on my departure no masking was done and the old methods prevailed, oh well just hoping this is the final clean!!

Next day couple of old friends arrived for a week and as main salon bedroom ready thats where they went and over the week will help me put the kitchen together and fine tune the house for liveability. Paul and Becky have only recently bought their house here after numerous trips and frustrations over the last year so good luck to them and their imminent baby, could this be the first expat Fes birth i dont know, we shall see.

All week bits and pieces started to come together Simon and I choosing light fittings for the stairwell while Koka the leather man produced gorgeous banquettes out of the leather hides I have had for a year. Also the central light fitting in the main salon was made and ready for pick up so slowly, slowly it all comes together. The main project left is the Berber Basement so when the terrace is done its down to the depths we go to finish this off again Simon adding invaluable advice and great ideas he really is on my wavelength which is great.

More friends arriving this week from Chefchaoen so its all go at the mo will post some piccies soon adios.