Posts Tagged Marrakech

Riad Maizie — the Cast

Early Morn­ing Sun on the Roof

Sun in the Courtyard

Dan and I bought Riad Maizie, in the very old­est part of the  Med­ina of Mar­rakech just 100 yards away from the orig­i­nal mosque, ten years ago. We knew that it was here that we could devote our­selves to gam­bling and gladly read We fell in love with it imme­di­ately, and then pro­ceeded to slither head­long into one drama after another, until two years ago, when we realised that it had to be run Mafia-style, within the fam­ily. The story of our bumpy ride can be read in my book, ‘Cin­na­mon City’. Riad Maizie is now a fam­ily busi­ness — you can see the seri­ous info on — but I thought I’d intro­duce you to the peo­ple who give it warmth and character.

Maizie her­self


Maizie was a mere dot when we bought the pretty, aban­doned court­yard house in Octo­ber 2001. We named it after her to cel­e­brate its com­ple­tion and her arrival on the planet. Her first visit was some­what marred by the fact that she had chicken pox, and spent the time explor­ing the accoustics. Despite every­one tip­toe­ing, she would wake at the twit­ter of a soli­tary bird, creak of a sin­gle hinge, a per­am­bu­lat­ing lizard’s quiet cough, and she would scream and scream. She has greatly improved since then.

Dan, work­ing in the Olive Room


Dan the Carpenter

Dan loves Mar­rakech — the King­dom of Boys. It takes me for­ever to get to Dje­maa el Fna these days because every other bloke wants to know how he is, where he is and when he’s com­ing back to Mar­rakech. The answer is that he spent a year man­ag­ing the riad, quite bril­liantly, and now lurks here in Italy in his frow­sty lair doing his Oscar car­toon, and noth­ing short of an earth­quake will budge him.

Leo, Chi­lali and Maizie



Leo and Saki are Maizie and Chilali’s par­ents. Leo is a Web­site Meis­ter, and really got us going when he did such a bril­liant job on — of course he always com­plains that it needs updat­ing. He web­site is called for rea­sons best known to himself.

Super­man and Batboy

Plus ca change.….


When Dan came back to Italy, Spigs took over. He com­bines eccen­tric, effi­cient and con­vivial man­age­ment with learn­ing Ara­bic, provoca­tive paint­ing, superla­tive cook­ing (he worked as a chef for a cou­ple of years in Spain) and SKATEBOARD FANATICISM.

Spigs the Charmer

Spigs the Chef

He has a mas­ter­plan to set up a skate­board park for the bored youf of Mar­rakech — who oth­er­wise turn to less salu­bri­ous pas­times — and to some­how to pro­vide them with afford­able skate­boards. It’s a great idea — his  name is Will, and I can’t help but think, where there’s a Will, there’s a way.

Spigs the Artist

Amal and her Family

Amal holds the place together. With a sweet, secre­tive smile, she makes Riad Maizie into a home. She has a major reper­toire of fab Moroc­can cui­sine, for which she shops fresh every day — even down to the spices with which she makes her own dis­tinc­tive ras el hanout.

Amal and tomato man

Amal and spice man

Hicham, his wife Nezha and her sis­ter Amal

The trio work peace­fully together and for them the riad rep­re­sents sta­bil­ity, cash, and amuse­ment. They observe us, our friends and the guests with dis­creet inter­est, and earn acco­lades for their quiet atten­tion to com­fort and plea­sure, with­out a trace of judge­ment for riotous or eccen­tric behav­iour . Nezha buffs the brass basins until they shine like gold, she and Amal cook together, and Hicham is guard,  handy­man, organ­iser and gen­er­ally Mr. Fixit.

Our Mates, Yussef and Jamal

Yussef, Spigs’s Ara­bic teacher

Jamal and friend — famil­iar to read­ers of the book.

Jamal used to play and sell musi­cal instru­ments, but decided it was irre­li­gious and now sells teapots.


Me with appar­ently no legs — a prob for a yoga teacher

Oh, there they are.….

So, there you have it — you now know every­one. Next I’m going to intro­duce you to the riad, the city and the shop­ping. Baci, M

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Six Slinky Sirens do the Downward Dog

Riad Maizie — see


From 2nd to 9th Novem­ber 2010
Reprise from 14th to 21st Feb­ru­ary 2011

Maizie the Yoga Dude

Morn­ings began with a cup of tea and an hour of yoga on the roof in the sun with the glit­ter­ing snows­pan­gled peaks of the Atlas, clear and sharp in the win­ter light on one side, the Ben Saleh mosque on the other, and a loud alter­ca­tion of bird­song burst­ing from the bougainvil­lea on all sides.

Happy Yogini

We worked our way through the seven chakras one day at a time, start­ing with the Mulad­hara and ascend­ing to the Sahas­rara chakra. I was amazed by how good we all were, espe­cially Beth and Anthea who had maybe been to one yoga class twenty years before. Sheila did a per­fectly bal­anced crow, and they all man­aged the beau­ti­ful King Dancer, no prob­lem.

Sheila’s a Dancer

There was a bit of groan­ing par­tic­u­larly with the locust and the eagle, but sun­warmed savasana with cute laven­der eye bags and a spot of hyp­notic guided relax­ation soothed indig­nant and unac­cus­tomed joints and mus­cles.
This healthy exer­tion was fol­lowed by break­fast — local vanilla yoghurt, lit­tle pas­try things made by Amal, scram­bled eggs, Berber bread, fig and apri­cot pre­serve, cof­fee, tea, avo­cado and pome­gran­ate milk­shakes. It just about replaced the calo­ries lost by two rounds of surya namaskar.
Then there was usu­ally a dis­cus­sion — which sounded a lit­tle as though a fox had got into the hen­house — about how to spend the day.

Annie, shop­ping for STUFF incognito

The favourites were:
1) shop­ping for devore vel­vet caf­tans near the Badi Palace
2) dri­ving to the moun­tains, lunch by a river in a fairy­tale deserted adobe vil­lage
3) shop­ping for candy-coloured car­pets in the magic souk
4) brav­ing the mys­ter­ies of a typ­i­cal Moroc­can ham­mam
5) shop­ping for love potions and amber­gris in the spice mar­ket
6) tak­ing a horse­drawn caleche to visit Yves St. Laurent’s Jardin Majorelle
7) shop­ping for embroi­dered boots in Gueliz, the French quar­ter
8) destroy­ing the diet with ice cream and cakes in Le Prince
9) shop­ping for scarves and rain­bow bright leather bags in Souk Sema­rine
10) tak­ing a guided tour of his­toric sites with nice, clever Youssef cul­mi­nat­ing with a visit to the Berber phar­macy (Her­boriste du Par­adis), a flurry of spice buy­ing, and a shoul­der mas­sage with argan oil and arnica that trans­ported us to pink fluffy­dom.
We did it all. We also dined under the stars at La Ter­rasse des Epices, less glam­orously at Aisha’s Num­ber 1 stall in Dje­maa el Fna, and at the Marakchi over­look­ing the square where a cou­ple of trainee belly dancers made us quite dis­grun­tled by demon­strat­ing what seri­ously bendy, youth­ful peo­ple can do with­out the ben­e­fit of yoga. We ate cheap and cheer­ful up on the rooftop at Chegrouni, and had a cou­ple of feasts made by Amal and Nezza in the can­dlelit din­ing room at Riad Maizie.
The ham­mam Mille et une Nuits was a rev­e­la­tion. We went for the full €40 job with vig­or­ous clay cleans­ing, abun­dant black soap and slosh­ing, and a full hour of heav­enly argan oil and neroli mas­sage. I’m very shy of remov­ing my over­coat let alone every­thing down to my knick­ers, and had never pre­vi­ously had the courage to ven­ture into the steamy dark inte­rior of a ham­mam (men am, women pm). I was so grate­ful there­fore for my brazen mates, with whom being pum­melled and soaped, sand­pa­pered and sluiced by female Sumo wrestlers was not only bear­able, but hilar­i­ously fab­u­lous. An absolute Marakchi essen­tial, best with a cou­ple of friends. We fol­lowed it with watch­ing the bus­tle of magic and mun­dane below us in Radha Lakdima, while we downed cornes de gazelles and cof­fee on the roof of the café des epices under a Pucci sun­set.

Me doing the Beam­ing Tree

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