Aimee Horton

#LittleLoves – A Few Nights Away.

Jun
19

It’s “that time of year” isn’t it? The time of year when the children are excited about the summer holidays, and all the stuff going on before. We have meetings about my baby starting school (MY BAYYBEEE), we have transition days where my eldest goes into Year 3 (juniors for CRYING OUT LOUD) and MY BAYBEEE spends the day in ‘retetion’ – I’m not correcting him. It’s the time of year for deadlines, LOTS OF DEADLINES.

But amidst all this, while the children aren’t sleeping or behaving like teenagers, and they’re eating me out of house and home, Mr. Aimee and I snuck some time away. Without the kids.

This is where you all close my blog down forever.

I don’t blame you, because you know what’s coming.

READ

I read a lot this holiday, it was so nice to read books without having to put them down every twenty-blooming-seconds. So nice in fact, I’ve made the decision, since I have no freelance contracts until the kids are back to school (but I still have 2 books to edit/write) , to set a bit of time aside a day just to read. I’m also totally following Mostly Yummy’s lead and I’m going to post what I read every month on my blog. YAY!

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So while in Malaga I read Colette Mcbeth, Lisa Jewell and David Mark. All three were amazing and I’ll tell you about them in a week’s time.

WATCHED

The world go by. Again, out and about with two small monkeys you can’t always find time to drink in your surroundings like you can when it’s just two of you. Whether it was sitting peacefully in a bar watching people go about their days, or whether it’s wandering around, it’s so nice to take things in. It was wonderful to get to know Malaga, it’s totally gone to the top of my favourite city list.

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WORE

SUMMER CLOTHES! After a week sitting wrapped in blankets at my computer, the sunshine was welcome. Plus, for the first time in a long time, I actually felt happy in my own skin. THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED. I didn’t wear a bikini – I don’t any more, I just don’t like it. But I was thrilled that without the protection of my trust bowed mirror, I still felt happy. HURRAH!

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IMG_9371HEARD

I have nothing to report here! I heard a lot of lovely Spanish which I’m desperate to learn so we can eventually seriously consider a move abroad, and the pool had tunes playing while we lazed, but nothing stood out.

MADE

NOTHING! I MADE NO FOOD FOR AN ENTIRE WEEKEND!!!!! So instead, look what other people made. #SorryNotSorry
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AND LASTLY…

I came home to an email which stuffed up a few things if I’m honest. Being a freelancer sucks at times, and for about three hours it undid all the relaxing that the break away did, but then I sat back and remembered a man I’d bumped into at the pool.

He was away with work, he’d extended his flights by a couple of days so he could have some time in the sun before heading back to the office. He hated his job, really hated it – even though I’m totally envious of him travelling for meetings in Malaga. And when he asked what I did, he reacted in a way only a stranger can react. He was totally impressed. He couldn’t believe I’d given up a career to follow my dream. Most days I can’t either.

He said “I hate my job, I have loads of money, but I hate it. I wash I was brave enough to step out of my comfort zone to go for what I want.”

Comfort zones are really a bit of a nightmare aren’t they? I mean, they can totally hold you back from giving 100 per cent as to what you want, especially when the impact isn’t just on you but those around you. The thought of stepping out of it is blooming terrifying. But remembering our conversation, I felt lucky. Yeah, I might have to make a few adjustments, but it’s ok, because I will have more time to dedicate into making my books the best they can be, and the children to make sure they’re as happy as can be. Or at least, not as annoying.

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Joining in with #LittleLoves hosted by the totally amazing But Why Mummy Why?

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The Medina, Mojitos and Madness of Marrakech

Oct
31

I have always wanted to go to Marrakech.  For as long as I can remember I’ve yearned to meander in the medina and souk it all up.  I’ve longed to sit on an embroidered leather pouffe in the cool courtyard of a riad, eating a homemade tagine surrounded by glowing lanterns.  Probably wearing a fez.  And so, last week, my African ambition finally became a reality as he and I touched down in Marrakech Menara airport ready to begin our Moroccan adventure.  Any my, what an adventure it was.

 

I fell in love.  Instantly.  From the moment Hamid, our happy smiling taxi driver, began the frenzied cart-avoiding and moped-dodging journey to our riad, the crazy city stole my heart.  The people were friendly and exceptionally welcoming; the food was stunning, the weather beautiful and the shopping, well, the shopping was heavy.  Two pouffes, three tagines, three hand painted bowls, pestle and mortar, lantern, candle, clutch bag, purse, five bangles and three bracelets heavy.  We were immersed in a vibrant sun soaked film set of laden donkeys, skilled craftsmen and bustling markets.  Every sense was stricken by the colour, spice and cacophony the magical city is overflowing with.  I could babble on and on about how mind-blowingly, breath-takingly fantastic it is and how everyone should go, immediately.  Alas, there are only so many times I can say GO, book it, book it now!  Instead, I have whittled down the highlights.

The only thing better than the exquisite ‘little darling’ P’tit Habibi is Wafi, the riad manager.  Taking care of our every whim, from arranging taxis to organising excursions and booking restaurants, he was wonderful.  When we arrived unexpectedly late after our delayed flight he ordered us a tasty takeaway of cous cous and chicken pastilla.  Serving it under the stars, we sat amidst lanterns eating, chilling and drinking our complimentary bottle of chilled wine.  Each morning a homemade Moroccan breakfast was served to us on the rooftop terrace, setting us up for a hectic day in the souks.  The decor, whilst striking Moroccan cool in the day, comes alive at night with a mass of twinkling lanterns.  An oasis of calm and comfort from the frenzy outside, the rooftop pool, Space Invaders mirror and mouth-watering Moroccan salads mean that when I next visit, there is only one place I would stay.  In fact, as Wafi told us the day we sadly had to leave, we now have friends in Marrakech.

When you pay £60 for four cocktails, you expect them to be good.  They weren’t.  They were amazing.  The incredible La Mamounia is indescribably beautiful.  I’d heard whispers of the ‘dangerously strong’ mojitos served at Le Bar Churchill so that of course is where we headed.  The whispers weren’t wrong, they were indeed dangerous and the carpet was leopard print. I’d come home.  Once the mojitos had been savoured we fancied a change of decadence so we were led to Le Bar Italien.  Bit of a blur from this point, all I will say is, Best.  Cosmopolitan.  Ever.

 

A bit of research had told me that the best tagines were to be found at Le Foundouk, a hidden gem of a restaurant in the medina.  We were led to the first floor where our table overlooked the impressive candlelit chandelier.  Our hands were washed in orange blossom water, our menus were delivered as scrolls and our belts strained under a wonderful chicken tagine with preserved lemons and olives.  Whilst it is not a local’s restaurant, it is beautiful and the food is delicious.

 

When the heat of the midday sun became too much, Le Jardin Marjorelle was a welcome retreat.  Famed for its collection of rare plants and cacti, the lush garden is the ideal place to cool off and chill out.  Particularly helpful after the blood pumping purchases made on Rue Yves Saint Laurent.  Just along from the garden sits a row of chic shops, the chicest of all being the intriguing concept store, 33 Rue Marjorelle.  Stocking an eclectic mix of quality jewellery, purses, bags homeware and clothes, my shopping craving was well and truly sated.

 

Straying from the old town was something we only did the once.  Whilst the new town is contemporary and cosmopolitan, it can’t hope to possess half of the charm of the medina.  However, what it does hold is Grand Café de la Poste which with its charming staff and frozen mojitos is a relaxing respite when you’re all cous coused out.  They do a bloody good club sandwich too.

 

I’m not too good at asking for a discount, I find it embarrassing.  When I was a student, using my NUS card made me twitchy, so the thought of bartering filled me with dread.  It’s the done thing, I was told, and there is no option other than to play the negotiating game.  Nope, no way, I couldn’t, there is just no chance…or so I thought.  I entered the souks, I spotted what I liked, I marched over and from nowhere, I was suddenly wearing my haggling hat.  They offered me 500 dirhams, I offered 200, they laughed at me, they said 400, I laughed at them, I said 250, we settled on 300.  Done.  My biggest triumph had to be paying 400 dirhams (about £30) when the original price quoted was 1450 (approx. £105).  It’s a game, it’s fun, I would always offer less than half the original price and nine times out of 10, we’d both happily meet somewhere in the middle.  And if not, I walked away.  I was delighted with everything I bought, happy in the knowledge that not only can I barter with the best of them, but that each piece has its own souk story to tell.

 

Whilst we were away every meal was fantastic.  I gorged on tagines, cous cous and pastillas, I devoured dates, pomegranates and sweet pastries, washing it all down with mint tea and mojitos.  But sometimes, a girl needs a burger.  And whilst the traditional Moroccan cuisine served at Le Comptoir looked fantastic, the original Comptoir burger was just what I needed.  A lively exciting venue, a surprise treat was the gyrating belly dancing show that kept us entertained whilst we sipped a pink mojito and classic gin fizz.

Marrakech is manic, noisy and energetic.  It is a place where you’ll be jostled by a donkey’s saddle bag in a sandy alley one minute and be dipping your feet in a mosaicked pool as a waiter brings you drinks the other.  I was dazzled, stunned and worn out.  Every sense was battered and I adored every second.  A city of contrasts, the feverish medina is remedied by the tranquil riads which are only an intricately carved door away.  A concern about finally visiting the place you’ve always wanted to go is whether it will live up to expectations.  Marrakech exceeded every one.

Silent Sunday (20120610)

Jun
10