Category: Places

Japan 2017

So, I’ve had a baby… but luckily I managed to sort out the ridiculous number of Japan photos before going into labour – huzzah!

I also managed to not delete the Google Map I made for the trip, unlike when we went to the US in 2015 – good work Ruffle!

Go check it out… Tokyo, Himeji, Kyoto and Toyko, plus mucho Sakura.

We love Japan.

US Trip 2015

Its only taken me two years… but I’ve finally got through all the photos from our trip to the US in 2015 – back when the orange madman wasn’t in charge!

Usefully, I had made a Google Map of the trip, but like an idiot I deleted it a few months ago. Doh! It took forever to create so I’d be a bit mad to redo it, so you will have to settle for a list instead…

• New York
• Washington D.C.
• Grand Canyon
• Las Vegas
• San Francisco
• Hawaii
• Los Angeles

We had a super amazing time flying, train-ing and driving round America and we will definitely be back… but there are so many places to go and so many things to see… so it might be a while – pending the 2020 election of course!


Parkgate on the Wirral

In April I went up to Liverpool to see friends, and as well sampling the delights of Mowgli, and taking a ferry cross the Mersey, we also visited Parkgate on the Wirral.

It was a gloriously sunny day and we crossed the river for a beautiful and scenic drive south towards this small village on the west side of the peninsula, facing Wales and the River Dee.

Parkgate’s importance in the area grew and shrank from the gradual silting of the Dee over time. It grew when a new port was needed further downstream from Chester, and then shrank as the continued silting of the river eventually moved shipping away from the Dee to the Mersey.

Towards the end of the 18th century the village was also popular as a bathing destination, but the silting of the river became so severe that marshland covered the riverbed next to the town. Nowadays, only seasonal high tides bring the river to Parkgate.

A thirty minute drive from Liverpool, Parkgate is now a commuter village full of beautiful houses and fantastic views across to Wales. The prices aren’t bad if you are a Londoner but even this might be a bit much for anyone!

After a drink or two at The Boat House we meandered down to the village itself for a super duper ice cream from Nicholls ice cream parlour. Then it was general silliness and photos. 😀

Definitely worth a visit if you are in the Chester or Liverpool area. 🙂


Essaouira, Morocco

Whilst in Morocco last December, we went on a day trip to the fishing town of Essaouira on the Atlantic coast. Essaouira is partially surrounded by a high wall to protect the town from fierce storms, but it also has a long sandy beach perfect for sun-bathing, a stroll or camel rides!

Fishing and tourism are the town’s main staples and we spent a warm but windy afternoon exploring the town centre while the seagulls screeched and circled overhead.

Fairly certain blue is the official colour or something…

Looking across the harbour

For catching the fishies

Fish market

Fishing huts?

Sea wall

Beautiful December sun

The blue nets stretched all along the harbour

Securely anchored

Fish being gutted

Tide must be low

Epic view

View from the top of the Scala del Mar fortifications

View towards the town. Stunning

Our lunch. All the fish!

Beach walk

It was a three hour drive each way from Marrakech but it was worth the (driver’s) effort to see the sea. The fresh air and bracing wind was particularly wonderful after the moped fumes of the city. If you can, go.


Jardin Majorelle, Marrakech

On our last full day in Marrakech we walked from the Medina to Nouvelle Ville, the part of the city established by the French in the early 20th century.

We came to visit Jardin Majorelle, a garden designed and planted by French expatriate Jacques Majorelle. He moved to Marrakech in 1919 and after buying land in Nouvelle Ville developed the garden in the 1920s and 1930s. The Art Deco villa itself was built by architect Paul Sinoir.

The garden has become very famous due to Majorelle’s use of a vibrant blue that was named Majorelle Blue after him. The garden also features deep reds and yellows, a wonderful number of palm trees and cacti and ponds full of goldfish.

He opened the garden to the public in 1947 and there are a miriad of paths to take that weave in and out of the plants and ponds.

Majorelle died in 1962 and in 1980 the French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and his partner Pierre Bergé bought the garden and villa. I think it was used as a private residence from then on but after Laurent’s death in 2008, Bergé donated the garden to the Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint Laurent and it is now open to the public.

The foundation has some interesting history on the garden here.

Unlike the Medina, this part of town is full of space and light and the garden exemplifies this. It is calm, beautiful and serene.

The primary colours used are wonderful and the natural green of the planting contrasts extremely well. Different textures are featured in the garden with bamboo, cacti and palm trees all making their characters known.

Various water features are dotted around the garden and there a number of places to sit and contemplate. The view to and from the villa is beautiful, it hides itself and shows its bold colours at the same time.

You might have guess that I loved this, I did. It is a stunning place.

Go see.


El Badi Palace, Marrakech

Just before Christmas we went to Marrakech for our summer holiday, and one of my favourite discoveries was the El Badi Palace in the south of the Medina.

Commissioned by Sultan Ahmad al-Mansur, building began in 1578 and took twenty-five years to complete. However, the palace is now a ruin as it was ransacked and stripped of its jewels and gold during the reign of Ismail Ibn Sharif, 1672–1727.

It doesn’t feel as if much has changed over the centuries as the palace is still barren apart from the orange tree gardens filling two of the sunken courtyard spaces.

The emptiness shows how grand the palace must have been and the space is wonderful to immerse yourself in after the endless dark and winding alleyways of the Medina.

It was a very hot December day when we visited and the sun beat down and shone in the pools in the centre of the enormous courtyard. Cats lazed about all over the place and it was very peaceful.

Storks nest in the ruins of the narrow rooms surrounding the courtyard and very little has been done to turn the palace into a particularly tourist friendly attraction.

I loved this about Marrakech, everything was a little messy and there was no great attempt to present the city in a clean and tidy manner for the tourists.

Wandering around with a map was a stressful experience at times but I think we are supposed to take all as it comes. Once used to it I enjoyed wandering around a city where very little was shown in English. You get much more of a feel for a place if you aren’t obsessively reading all the signage, just accept the fact that you will get lost a few times.

It was also lovely to go out of season and to see a Marrakech with fewer tourists and even fewer English people who I don’t really want to see 1400 miles from home.

The palace has been developed enough so that one corner of the high walls could be accessed by two flights of stairs. As you look over the courtyard you look south past the Medina’s walls.

Look to the south-west and you see “the next-door garden, a royal mess with the King’s security equipment”, very Marrakshi!

View slightly north-west, the Koutoubia Mosque is in the distance.

So yes, I will stop waxing lyrical over this place now, just go, it is only 10dh and it is gorgeous.


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