Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Investment Advice (Commit to memory)

Research and due diligence as they say are invaluable tools when it comes to putting your hard earned moolah into a venture. I always listen to my peers, or those in the know, as well as using my gut instinct but from now on there is a mantra i will be remembering over all others. It is simple, commit it to memory and you wont go far wrong as you strive towards creating your personal pension, or enhancing your portfolio or just want to get stinking rich. It is the personal credo of one of the worlds richest men and shrewdest businessman Warren Buffet and it goes something like this.

When embarking on a venture either as investment, speculative borrower, setting up a business just follow these 3 main points and you will NEVER go wrong. They are in no particular order



and last but not least


I think I get Warrens drift and after his lifetime of global risk taking I think he knows what hes talking about so Thanks Warren thats definitely made things a lot clearer for all of us!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Observations and ethanol

Nice piece in the Sunday Telegraph about our fine city with a few slightly distorted facts from yours truly, I really wish the reporters would send a proof before printing as I really dont recall saying searches on a property can take a year. Or maybe I did as Mike and I were blathering on at a rate of knots but it would be good to confirm certain elements before they are set down as gospel truth but its a minor quibble all good publicity, hey.

Took another one of my scenic observational walks the other day and the stand out attraction hands down was the renovation of the Jnan Sbil Gardens, this is a monster sized public park undergoing massive reconstruction. Situated at the far end of Boujloud square opposite the Kings Palace it covers several hectares and though locked to the public at present peering through the gates i could see an incredible centrepiece fountain being built flanked by plants and subsidiary sister fountains. Also throughout the park as far as I could tell there was pruning, planting and landscaping being carried out and it will very soon look sensational.

Coming back through Boujloud square the workers are now renovating the INSIDE of the ramparts and soon we will not recocognise this area as proposed demolition of the triangle of old buildings to your right as you come out of the Boujloud gate is on the cards. This will open up that whole view into one gigantic open space so of course eventually this will be Fes answer to Marrakech's Jamaa el Fna.

The other highlight was on the walk back from a visit to my friend Monique at Riad Norma to console her as her latest project has over run, overspent and under finished, I passed by Riad Mokri, no not Palais Mokri that is a different beast. This is a worthwhile stop not only because it is a beautiful house but unusually for Fes in the Medina it boasts a 2000sq m landscaped garden on several levels which is an oasis of calm and some incredible mature fig, olive, date, orange and palm trees and at the bottom of the garden a zelliged working well on four zelliged pillars.

As this is blog post number 100 I raise my glass to whoever is reading and wish to get political for a moment. We are all aware of the cost of oil going through the roof and the effect of carbon emmisions on climate change, witness the flooding of dear old Blighty and there is now a big push for the use of flexfuel or ethanol based products. Going back to my old mate Brazil did you know they are not oil reliant at all(but they can always borrow from neighbour Chavez) and that 70 per cent of the cars there run on ethanol, so it can be done America pay attention. Actually America through a Bush mandate is surging ahead with ethanol production BUT at what cost.

As ethanol can be made from wheat, sugar and even straw you would think that it is a healthy ecofriendly alternative but it could actually increase world hunger quite easily. If overstetched farmers have to divert their wheat crop say to produce ethanol this lessens the amount of wheat that is used for food product, less availability, price of wheat goes up, who pays the consumer of course. So you are driving a flexfuel car, doing your bit for the environment driving to the shops to put a down payment on a loaf of bread. Its the downside of an ethical equation, but it will happen. So what do you do, well buy shares in sugar and wheat now if you are speculative, but basically be aware of the conundrum this will happen in our maybe I'll pop over to Brazil to see how they manage..anyone want to sponser me????

Monday, July 23, 2007

99 and rising

The title refers to the fact that my postings on the ole blog now stand at 99 a bit of a landmark (well to me anyway)so for the next posting I hope you will join me if you are reading in a toast of whatever beverage floats your boat!

I must admit that I seem to have acquired a wifi addiction over the last few days now that I have access 24/7 in the sweet comfort of my chilled salon, as opposed to sitting in a sweaty cybercafe surrounded by screaming kids on gaming machines who all seem to be called Nordeen or NORDEEN!!!!!(shout at top of voice every 2 mins). Now I have the luxury of browsing/writing/exploring old Smiths videos on youtube at my leisure over a nice cup of Typhoo tea and a buttered crumpet whilst Ben my trusty guardian linseed oils every piece of wood in the house around me. So as I write this a heady mix of oil and fragrant cedarwood is gently assaulting my senses, very serene, I think I might write a book its definitely conducive to it here as outside the Sun cranks up the heat a notch or three making mid morning an ordeal.

Talking of Sun where is it in Blighty, nowhere to be seen it seems so I thought I would post some summery (is that a word) pics to peruse namely the blooming terrace and some colourful Caribbean art brought back from a previous sojourn in St Maarteen. I have them up in the house here and its fitting as its African art albeit from a Caribbean perspective although of course they came from here originally though not of their own volition methinks, so I am, to quote the great man "Bringing it all back home".

Now where was I, oh yes, the wifi scenario has enabled me to do the research that I used to do on property in Spain so now I am researching Morocco of course, though unfortunatly the Mernissi Beast has taking huge chunks out of my potential investment pot it doesnt stop me looking. Now for those who know me I have for the last few years had a fascination and strong instinct about Brazil and my recent research has borne out the fact that this is one of the strongest investments in the world at present. Listen to these facts....Brazil has a third of the Worlds drinking water...WHAT I didnt believe that one either, it is part of the BRIC conglomerate that is alongside Russia, India and China where the biggest leaps in economic activity/world influence is due over the next few decades (ask Goldman Sachs). It is one of the greenest eco friendly countries on the planet and with the price of oil going through the roof it is one of the largest producers of alternative fuels namely ethanol.

Also I wont tell you where, because you can check this out for youself, but the worlds fourth largest airport is being built as we speak due to be finished in 2009 (and no it isnt Rio or even close) and the affect this will have on land prices is of course ridiculous. The area I have been looking at you can at present buy a plot of land on the beach for about £10,000 or thereabouts now who wouldnt want to just sit on that for a few years?

Well see what happens when you get wifi, access to all these possibilities from the comfort of your banquette. Well I better move as Ben is threateningly close with his linseed brush and the rate hes going I could end up with a coating myself!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

A View from the Derb

Just clicked onto the View from Fes blog and was surprised to see my last missive reprinted, well as long as it reaches a wider audience its all right by me. My article just goes to show though that its what goes on behind the scenes here in Fes that makes it the eternally fascinating city that has captured our imagination.

For those of us who are searching for a richer and also simpler life based on sound principles incorporating family values, respect for one another not to mention a lower cost of living then we have found it here. All this is also enhanced by the fact that as I mentioned previously the Medina overall is finally getting the major facelift it deserves. From 1981 onwards when UNESCO and World Bank provided funds and initiatives to stabilise the rot and decay that had undermined life here Fes did not really move forward in great leaps and bounds. I would suggest that some of these monies may have been misappropriated although anyone involved in a contract for supplying the cedar propping up the houses here probably made a pretty penny.

Its only now that we are seeing the true fruits of over 25 years of interest in this World Heritage site. Not only within the medina streets where its visible renovation is taking place nightly but also on the ramparts where six separate contractors are restyling and repairing the city walls. Within the houses also we are seeing a massive amount of investment from Europeans intent on creating or recreating glories from a bygone era hopefully with a sympathetic eye.

As one goes about their daily business its not always apparent exactly how much is going on and I must admit my stroll the other night brought home the extent and also the speed of operations. Maybe the deadline for all this work is 2010 according to the Plan Dazur from the King when we could also expect the other infrastructure to be in place such as the double decker high speed trains, proposed motorway to Oujda and cable car over the Medina!!

In general with the expat community here it is time for a time out as we head towards a traditionally scorching August so everyone will be taking time off to dip a toe back into their previous life. I expect September will see a resurgence in frenetic housebuying and continued costly renovations (its never the price you would like it to be) and with all the proposed new flights winging their way here Fes continues to be the focus of a lot of media attention.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Strolling through the Medina

It being a cool night in Fes and with nothing planned on my agenda for the evening i decided to take a stroll through the Medina late at night as the shops packed up their wares. I realised that I hadnt ventured into the depths as it were for some time as I am a Talaa boy at heart enjoying the local community around this Golden Triangle. Also as I have recently acquired wifi, sounds like a tropical ailment in that context(must put some cream on those wified parts) after seven weeks of on off shenanigans from Maroc Telecom and their engineers I needed some time away from my overheated laptop.

I had heard of the various renovation updates down in the depths but I really wasnt prepared, as we know how long things take here to progress, for the sheer scale and standard of the works. The main work that had been grabbing my attention of late has been the pavementing at the entrance to Ain Azlaiten car park where not only are pathways and plants being introduced finally but also that curious phenomenon known as "sleeping policemen" that serve to jettison one into the ceiling of a petit taxi at least 5 times before arrival onto the flat.

However I digress, strolling through a nearly ready for bed Medina I was amazed at the nocturnal activities going on around me. First of all nearing Seffarine I looked up to see costly lattice work cedar in place obviously to give shade to the street below during the furnace like daytime. The cedar ceilings continued throughout the walk to Rcif at various intervals but also there were new cedar carved awnings in place over long groups of shopfronts.

Further in the shopfronts were closed but metal scaffolding rose dramatically skyward and gangs of workers were chipping away at old walls spraying the few strollers underneath with a rain of dust,stones etc. Even further in the shopfronts were splattered with newly applied madloouk which had been beautifully applied to the once crumbling surrounding walls, and once dejected looking old mosques now stood proud and gleaming as the works of art that they most certainly are or were.

I must admit I was slightly shellshocked as the realisation that this renovation in The Medina is now getting really serious the money is definitely going where it is supposed to go at last. Now whole streets are renewed in a biscuit coloured madlouk glory, also repaved and definitely rejuvenated and all under cover of darkness because of course you cannot work on these streets during a busy shopday.

I popped out the other end in Rcif and caught my breath as even here funky shop stalls had sprung up catering to the late late crowd, sizzling kefta on charcoal fires, long sticks of sugar cane to be cut and sucked and the inevitable bookleg dvd man but at 10 dh a dvd Im not arguing. All in all a totally pleasurable and exciting promenade and for those who come back after a time away get out and about down here after 11pm and witness the transformation, Marrekesh watch out Fes is on the rise....again!!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Nice Weather for Ducks

As my good friends from Norwich have just left after a few days roasting on the terrace heres a shot of their endeavours on the octagon delight or duck pond. Simon and Kate needed a well earned rest after the protracted sale of their secondary house in Suffolk and where better to come for some balm then the relaxed environs of the Medina. Believe it or not its not all frenetic bartering, donkey avoiding and dodgy tums well two out of three isnt bad!!

Its quite possible to just CHILL within the cool white walls of your house, unwrap the plastic ducks, fashion some rods out of bamboo and twine, fill up the octagon with water and encourage the neighbours to join in the fishing game. Well this was Simons idea of a well spent holiday while Kate encouraged and aided him in his endeavours. My role was to make sure they were fed and watered and went home relaxed and to this end I think I succeeded to the extent that their 5 days seemed like 10 to Kate. I tailored our expeditions out of the house to their love of all things wood or veneer orientated as Kate is a cabinet maker back in Norwich while Simon is a fine finisher of some repute with a great eye for detail and colour.

So going to see classic renovations around the Medina was right up their alley as we say and it was worthwhile seeing their eyes light up at classic gyps work, carpentry and fine zellige and madlouk finishing. Simon has never seen me as the practical type as I am more of a delegator and overseer of works so it was a bit of a surprise for him to see me on hands and knees inspecting potential tadelakt crack repairs in his shower room!!