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The opening line in the Lonely Planet Marrakesh is "be prepared for your senses to be slapped". I could not have put it more accurately myself. Marrakesh overrides you with noise, dust, snake charmers, acrobat, stall holders, products and more products, spices, the heady smells of barbecued food, donkeys, carts, the call to prayer, clinking of spoons stirring sugary mint tea, people, so many people. It's mesmerising. And the shopping opportunities are endless....

We went, last year, as a family with some friends. And stayed in this wonderful villa just outside the city. El Goute is comfortable and comes with a pool, tennis court, house keeper, driver and cook. The food, beyond delicious. I adore Moroccan food, we chose it for our wedding supper. The different flavours and textures are dynamic and playful. When I used to make Food and Travel

programmes I remember particularly enjoying the Moroccan shoot.

Anyway, I digress. If you would like more information on El Goute then please do visit their website.

From Marrakesh we travelled to the coastal fishing town of Essaouria where we stayed at the tranquil Le Jardin des Douars. I particularly fell for their interiors scheme. A mix of Moroccan textiles and Senegalese furniture adorned the terracotta fortress.

Once the place where Jimmy Hendricks used to hang out Essaouria is an easy town to explore. More chilled than Marrakesh. A surfers paradise. If surfing is not your thing I would highly recommend saddling up and going for a morning ride along the long beach. Heaven sent.

My only regret was that I did not meet up with Emma Wilson from Castles in the Sand as I know she would have added an extra-ordinary element to our already amazing holiday. Emma organises incredible days out. Whether you are looking for a traditional Hammam scrub and massage, camel trekking, kite surfing, a home cooked Moroccan feast, tour of the medina though

a locals eyes, quad biking, a cooking class Emma is your key ingredient.

For something a little more off-piste she would adore to take you on a true Bedouin experience or even explore a traditional Berber souk. You will leave with more than just the flavours of Morocco in your belly, I can promise you will be enriched by the whole experience of what this magical country has to offer.

When I revisit Morocco, which I will soon, I will make sure that I hook up with Emma and do something different.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with a painting our daughter created of her view of Essaouria.


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