10 of the best locations for landscape photography in North Devon

10 of the best locations for landscape photography in North Devon

Grab your camera and head to one of these North Devon landscape photography locations!

North Devon has so many picturesque and photogenic locations that it can often be overwhelming to know where to visit for photo opportunities. To help you out and to give you some inspiration I’ve come up with my top ten North Devon photography spots to visit for landscape photography.

1. Westward Ho!

Westward Ho! is the only town in Britain to have an exclamation mark in it’s name! It has a vast sandy beach that extends for two miles north of the village ofWestward Ho! and is backed by a pebble ridge. The pebble ridge leads onto the the grassy plains and salt marshes of Northam Burrows.
Westward Ho! has numerous beach features which make excellent subjects for landscape photography including groynes, rock formations, sea pool, remains of a Victorian pier, rock pools, beach huts as well as the vast sandy beach.

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A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

2. Instow

Instow is on the estuary where the rivers Taw and Torridge meet, between the villages of Westleigh and Yelland and on the opposite bank of Appledore. The beach is perfect for photography as it enjoys few waves because of the sandbanks at the mouth of the estuary cancelling out most of the ocean swell. There are also a large number of boats anchored on the sand which make great subjects. Further down the beach towards Yelland there is a wreck and old jetty.

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A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

A post shared by Kim Stone (@kistography) on

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3. Hartland Peninsular

The spectacular cliffs at Hartland Quay with their incredibly contorted rock layers are always worth a visit and at low tide there is plenty of sand, rock pools and rocks to scramble over. This wildly beautiful bay offers an ancient quay as well as some some of the most spectacular geology in Northern Europe,

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If you drive to Brownsham National Trust car park on the Hartland Peninsula, near Clovelly, you can enjoy a lovely walk which encompasses both woodland and sea and takes you to the spectacular Blackchurch Rock.

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4. Clovelly

Clovelly is well recognised for it’s steep cobbled streets and quaint cottages but it also has a pretty harbour

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5. Woolacombe

Woolacombe has a long expanse of sandy beach or venture half a mile down to Barricane which is a small picturesque location with rocky outcrops and rock pools.

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6. Croyde

Croyde is a village with old world charm, based on the west-facing coastline of North Devon. It’s sheltered bay makes it a fabulous location for various water based sports. There are three fantastic sandy beaches to choose from and some pleasant walks along the cliff top footpaths.

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7. Great Torrington

Great Torrington is a small market town in the north of Devon, England. Parts of it are sited on high ground with steep drops down to the River Torridge below. Torrington is surrounded by 365 acres of common land surrounding the town on all but the eastern side.

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8. Bideford

Bideford is a historic port town on the estuary of the River Torridge. Bideford has an old arched stone bridge which was built in 1535 and spans the River Torridge. The tree-lined quay still bustles with fishing vessels, cargo and pleasure boats.

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9. Barnstaple

Barnstaple is the main town of North Devon, England and possibly the oldest borough in the United Kingdom. The River Taw flows through the centre of Barnstaple. It has a traditional pannier market as well as fine buildings and attractive narrow streets and alleys.

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10. Ilfracombe

Ilfracombe is a seaside resort and civil parish on the North Devon coast, England, with a small harbour surrounded by cliffs. The seaside town is home to renowned artist Damien Hirst’s famous 20m high sculpture, Verity. This picturesque harbour town is steeped in maritime history and remains one of the key working fishing ports in North Devon

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Which of these North Devon locations is your favourite landscape photography location?

Help End Plastic Pollution – Earth Day 2018

On Earth Day I am taking the opportunity to highlight their focus this year of ending plastic pollution.

I am personally taking steps to reduce the amount of single use plastics in my life by using a refillable water bottle, refusing straws when buying drinks in cafes and bars, whilst ensuring I use reusable bags for my grocery shopping.

Litter collecting monkey at Angkor Wat, Cambodia. Single us plastic bottle and straw.

Single use plastics present a moral juxtaposition for me.

For the urban poor in developing countries, informal waste recycling is a common way to earn income. Plastic waste is an unsightly pollutant littering the environment. It is believed, 1% of the urban population in developing countries relies on recycling as their primary household income. I have witnessed this first hand when visiting Cambodia and Morocco. In fact some of the remarkable and inspiring people I met during my travels, used waste recycling as a springboard to escaping poverty.
In most developing economies, the informal sector is responsible for recycling the majority of plastic waste. However, this informal supply chain is very exploitative and dysfunctional. Change is needed from the top down. Improving livelihoods of waste pickers and extending waste collection to the two billion people who currently do not have access to this basic service is an urgent task for international development.
Recycling. Marrakech, Morocco

Recycling. Marrakech, Morocco

Visit the Earth Day website to discover how you can join the fight to end plastic pollution.

A place to learn – Education in Cambodia

My trip with Edukid taught me so much about education in Cambodia. On our last day visiting Care For Cambodia schools  with Edukid, we visited a school just outside of Siem Reap. This visit was probably my highlight of the entire trip. The Edukid delegates and children all had a wonderful time. There was so much fun, happiness and laughter. The khmer children fully immersed themselves in our ‘British’ traditional sports day events including a sack race and egg & spoon. The event was finished off with a 1.5km race.

The children were so enthusiastic, cheering each other on and embracing the challenges.

Education in Cambodia - Siem Reap School Sports Day

Sack Race!

Education in Cambodia - Siem Reap School Sports Day

Sack Race!

Education in Cambodia - Siem Reap School Sports Day

Water cup challenge

Education in Cambodia - Siem Reap School Sports Day

Egg and spoon race

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is also the school that left a lasting impression for me and I would like to do something to help.


All of the schools we visited were established beneath the teachers own home – this school was no exception. The red plastic chairs you can see in the pictures (below) were hired in, especially for this sports day event…because the school doesn’t actually have their own tables or chairs. The children are either taught on the floor or the teacher uses his wooden bed frame as a makeshift table. You can see the bed frame in the first picture. 

Education in Cambodia - Care for Cambodia SchoolEducation in Cambodia - Care for Cambodia School Education in Cambodia - Care for Cambodia School

 

 

 

 

 

To buy tables and chairs for this school will cost just £350 and I have pledged to raise the money to fund this for the school. The tables and chairs will be sourced and made within the local village, meaning that the money also goes straight back into the local community.

If you feel compelled to help towards the purchase of the tables and chairs, you can make a donation to my justgiving page and the money will go directly towards helping this school: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/kistography

The Education system in Cambodia

 

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”

Nelson Mandela

History of education in Cambodia

Over 40 years ago Cambodia’s education system was destroyed at the hands of the Khmer Rouge, which saw the destruction of all schools and intellectuals were executed. Although, since then the education system has been rebuilt – it still has a long way to go.

According to UNESCO, only 1.6 per cent of Cambodia’s Gross Domestic Product (GNP) is spent on education. The GDP on education in most western countries is anywhere between 5.5 to 6.4 per cent.

The number of children entering education in primary school is increasing and the gender gap is closing, however completion rates for primary and lower secondary school are low. Parents are unable to afford the indirect and direct costs of schooling and many children are required to stay home to help with chores, field work or accessing the labour market.

There is also the problem that due to the insufficient funding, there is a lack of quality education and resources. Much of the education centres around learning by rote – rather than child-led and child-centred teaching practices. Also, children often repeat years and there are many over age children in the primary system who have not transitioned into secondary education. This all contributes to the high drop out rates as children are bored and become unmotivated.

There is also a gap in the provision for early childhood education. Less than 26 per cent of three and five year olds have access to early years development opportunities. Social and languages skills are developed in early childhood and it is important to embrace this stage to facilitate their academic success.

We were lucky to have the opportunity to visit a rural State school in the Preah Sihanouk Province (photos below). The school was closed for the summer holidays but even so – the lack of resources, basic equipment, teaching materials and the state of disrepair was concerning. The library was empty – the books worn, tattered and barely usable. 

Cambodian State School

Cambodian State School Library

Cambodian State School Library

Cambodian State School Library

Cambodian State School Classroom

Cambodian State School Classroom

Cambodian State School Classroom

Cambodian State School Classroom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Schools are frequently overcrowded so often have two shifts – one set of students in the morning and another in the afternoon.


 

NGO support for education is vital.

 

This is where the work of Edukid and Care for Cambodia comes in. Using the donations they receive they provide supplementary education in their village projects during the afternoon and each child is provided with a school pack which contains everything they need to attend school for that year. Edukid currently supports 2015 children.

It was delightful to witness the children receiving their school packs:

Edukid - Cambodia School packs

Edukid – Cambodia School packs

Me with children receiving Edukid – Cambodia School packs

Edukid - Cambodia School packs

Me with children receiving Edukid – Cambodia School packs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Here are some photos from a few of the CFC run schools we visited during our trip.

CFC school near Phnom Penh

Children enjoying activities in a CFC school near Phnom Penh

CFC school near Phnom Penh

Children enjoying activities in a CFC school near Phnom Penh

CFC school in Preah Sihanouk Province

CFC school in Preah Sihanouk Province

CFC school in Preah Sihanouk Province

CFC school in Preah Sihanouk Province

CFC school in Preah Sihanouk Province

CFC school in Preah Sihanouk Province

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


How you can help:

Through Edukid sponsorship for £20 a month:

  • A school pack containing school bag, uniform and study material for one child
  • One hour’s supplementary education every day after school
  • Supervision and monitoring of the programme both incountry and externally
  • You will receive annual reports, films and lesson plans and further teaching resources.

Download a sponsorship form here

Alternatively you can make a one of donation via my Justgiving pagehttps://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/kistography

SOURCES:
https://www.unicef.org/cambodia/3.Education.pdf

http://www.phnompenhpost.com/columns/education-and-its-role-cambodia

http://careforcambodia.org.kh/about-cfc/our-projects/

 

 

 

Cambodia

To have nothing, is not an excuse to do nothing.

There are many stories to tell from my time in Cambodia with Edukid and I intend to share them via here, on my Facebook and my Instagram. Some full of hope, some inspiring and some also full of sadness.
 
First off, I’d like to introduce you to the most empathic, selfless, driven, kind-hearted, gentle and caring woman I have met – Bonnie.
 

Watch Bonnie talk about her story here:

 

 
I had the privilege of meeting Bonnie on several occasions during our trip. What struck me immediately, was that consistently she was always putting others first. Whether that be fixing one of the groups broken flip flops, spending a bus journey making origami frogs for one of our younger members, sorting out a confused coffee shop order or cooking for us at the Homestay. It’s just instinctively and intuitively in her nature. No education or training can provide someone with these qualities. However, what education can do is enable someone to embrace those qualities and facilitate opportunities for them, to pay them forward on a much bigger scale. Bonnie had the tenacity to recognise this, when she decided at a young age that she wanted to study medicine. Her desire to study medicine was instigated after she witnessed a pregnant lady and her unborn child die – because they were unable to afford medical care.
 
However, as Bonnie conveys during the video – studying medicine was going to be fraught with barriers. Notwithstanding the cost, there was the fact her parents didn’t want her to have an education as they felt she’d be better off earning money collecting recycling, then marry a man and become a housewife – a fate already decided for many girls in Cambodia.
 
Fortunately, Edukid were able to find a sponsor for Bonnie to allow her to attend university and study medicine. Her sponsors were among the delegates on my trip and it was an honour to be there the moment that they met each other for the first time. Through their generosity, Bonnie will be finishing her medical studies in 2018 and she hopes to become a gynaecologist.
 
Of course, Bonnie has bigger dreams than “just” being a Gynaecologist. She has ambitions to also open a clinic in the slum areas of Phnom Penh. There she will offer free health care to those who are unable to afford it (all delivered around her “day job”). Already, still in training, she makes herself available 24/7 to anyone who needs medical care (often woken at 2 or 3am to see people).
 

A truly altruistic and magnaminous human being. Hopefully, through Edukid we could make her clinic a reality.

Please consider making a donation to Edukid – my Justgiving page will remain active indefinitely: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/kistography

Other ways to donate: http://www.edukid.org.uk/donate/

Choum reap lear Cambodia

After an incredible 11 days in Cambodia, sadly, its now time for me to begin my journey back to the UK.

Our itinerary has been so jam packed that its been impossible to blog everything as it has happened, however when I’m back home I fully intend to share the stories, descibe the places we visited, explain the experiences we had and introduce you to the incredible people we have met along the way.

I have so many tales to tell and challenges I want to take on.

From hopelessness to hope.

So yesterday I arrived in Phnom Penh and met up with the Edukid delegates who I will be spending the rest of this week with. We enjoyed an evening meal together and did our introductions. The group comprises of children, teens and adults, from various walks of life, different areas of the Country, but all with the same goal – to try to promote and support the work Edukid does in Cambodia.

 

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

“From hopelessness to hope.” This is how one of the Edukid delegates descibed our day, today here in Phnom Penh and I think this sums it up rather eloquently! Our day started with a visit to S21 Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocide.

Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocide.

Tuol Svay Pray High School sits on a dusty road on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. In 1976, the Khmer Rouge renamed the high school S-21 and turned it into a torture, interrogation and execution center. Of the 14,000 people known to have entered, only seven survived. Not only did the Khmer Rouge carefully transcribe the prisoners’ interrogations; they also carefully photographed the vast majority of the inmates and created an astonishing photographic archive. Each of the almost 6,000 S-21 portraits that have been recovered tells a story shock, resignation, confusion, defiance and horror. Although the most gruesome images to come out of Cambodia were those of the mass graves, the most haunting were the portraits taken by the Khmer Rouge at S-21. Today, S-21 Prison is known as the Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocide. Inside the gates, it looks like any high school; five buildings face a grass courtyard with pull-up bars, green lawns and lawn-bowling pitches. The ground-floor classrooms in one building have been left to appear as they were in 1977. The spartan interrogation rooms are furnished with only a school desk-and-chair set that faces a steel bed frame with shackles at each end. On the far wall are the grisly photographs of bloated, decomposing bodies chained to bed frames with pools of wet blood underneath. These were the sights that greeted the two Vietnamese photojournalists who first discovered S-21 in January of 1979.”

It’s really hard to find words to truely articulate the experience of visiting S21. This was evident as we all gathered at the end of the tour for our Tuk Tuk ride back to the hotel – somewhat pensive, contemplative and reflective. I’m glad that I was in the situation where we visited this as a group, as it enabled us to share our thoughts and experiences on the journey back. We were all touched in different ways by the exhibits. For some it was the reality of standing within the confines of the cramped cells, for others it was seeing the faces of the victims depicted in the countless photos, for me it hit home when I spotted an English man had been caught up in the atrocities. John Dewhirst, aged just 26, was on a sailing trip with New Zealander Kerry Hamill, and ended up in Cambodian waters. Their boat was seized by a Khmer Rouge patrol vessel and they were brought to S21. The circumstances of their deaths are unclear. One thing is for sure, they were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. About halfway through the audio tour I decided to stop listening as it all got a bit overwhelming. The physical reminders, visual images and paintings were over powering in their own right.

After the museum visit, over lunch we got to meet Care For Cambodia who work in partnership with Edukid. Here we were blessed to meet Srey Da who’s story you can watch here:

Srey Da – Edukid

Tomorrow we will be travelling to Srey Da’s village to see the difference she and Edukid have made in supporting the children to receive an education.

We had a small amount of time to browse the sensory layer cake that is the russian markets. Clothes, jewellery, watches, trinkets, motorbike forks, live crabs, a rainbow of fruit & veg…it’s all sold here! I didn’t buy anything here this time, but thoroughly enjoyed the experience of being there with others as they haggled and bartered for their goods.

Our day was rounded off nicely, when during late afternoon, we all piled into Tuk Tuks and headed off to meet with a group of University students that Edukid are supporting to study. They had organised for us to have a boat ride on the Mekong and they’d prepared a selection of local cuisine for us to eat, which included frog, Amok and fish egg soup! My daughter had challenged me to eat something unusual whilst in Cambodia, so this was the perfect opportunity! I decided to try frog and I’m pleased to say it was actually really tasty!

We had lots of opportunities to mingle and chat with the students. Their grasp of English, significantly better than my Khmer! Their commitment and dedication to their education is inspirational. When we visit the village tomorrow, we will get to meet a number of the students again, as remarkab they now volunteer as teachers in the village, selflessly paying forward their gift of education.

We had lots of fun when we were set the challenge of getting the funniest group photo. Here’s my groups efforts!

 

 

And here is all of us together:

Three days ’til lift off! Ten interesting Cambodia facts

I fly to Cambodia in three days so I thought I’d share a few facts about the Country to help you (and I) understand a bit about it’s history.

  1. More than two and a half million people in the country live on less than $1.20 per day.
  2. Cambodia has the largest population of amputees in the world caused by landmines. Over 64,000 casualties related to landmines have been recorded since 1979. Almost half of the landmines are yet to be removed. It’s estimated there are still 4 million landmines still to be cleared in Cambodia.
  3. Cambodia is one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia with an average growth rate of more than 6% in the last ten years.
  4. Cambodia’s flag is the only one in the world to feature a building, Angkor Wat.
  5. Angkor Wat is the world’s largest religious monument, covering an area of 162.6 hectares.
  6. During the Khmer Rouge era, there was an entire generation of young Cambodians who were uneducated and illiterate due to the closure of all schools. Educated people and teachers were treated with suspicion or executed. After the end of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1978, only 5,000 of the 20,000 teachers across primary, secondary and university levels from 1970 remained alive. The education system was rebuilt from scratch, with the new system based loosely on the Vietnamese education system.
  7. The value of education is low amongst the general populace. The value of money rates more highly and so many children work instead of going to school.
  8. According to the Cambodia 2001 Child Labour Survey, sponsored by the ILO, it was estimated that there were about 1,516,363 children aged 5-14 who could be considered “working children” (44.8% of children in this age group). 
  9. Most Cambodians don’t celebrate their birthdays and many of the older ones don’t even know how old they are.
  10. Because of the genocide of the ‘70s up to 63% of Cambodia’s population is under thirty.

SOURCES:
https://www.lasallianfoundation.org/page.aspx?pid=354

https://www.geckosadventures.com/tales/facty-things-10-facts-cambodia/

 

58 Interesting Facts About Cambodia

10 interesting facts about Cambodia

Why Cambodia?

On the 18th October, I begin my journey to Cambodia and I thought it would be useful to explain what has led me to this point.

Back in July 2014 my daughter (Lois, aged 15) went on a trip with her school to Swaziland with an organisation called World Challenge, for which she had to raise £2200 for. I was incredibly envious, but proud and wish I’d had a similar opportunity whilst I was in school. Two years later, whilst at college, Lois was presented with the opportunity of travelling to Uganda with the charity Edukid. She jumped at the chance. Again, I reflected on what a wonderful opportunity it was and I did explore the possibility of me going too, but work commitments meant it wasn’t possible.

In 2017 I changed jobs and I heard that Edukid were arranging a trip to Cambodia in October 2017. I made contact with Chris who runs the charity and after meeting him I decided this was definitely something I wanted to do, so signed up that day.

Who are Edukid?

Edukid is a Christian UK registered charity that helps children living in poverty and conflict have an education.

In the territories we support Edukid avoids imposing ‘western ideals’ by partnering with local people and organisations, helping them to develop projects born out of their deeper cultural understanding of what is needed and likely to be effective.

Many of these local partners are themselves living in poverty so Edukid acts responsibly and ethically in the way it financially supports their efforts.

Many former students from our scholarship programmes are now ‘giving back’ by helping Edukid.
SOURCE: http://www.edukid.org.uk/about-us/

Having worked within education and with children for over 10 years, the work Edukid does is something I am really passionate about. One other thing that appealed to me about Edukid is the work that they do with schools in the UK. They run a National Schools Programme where they link children from their projects in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, with schools in the UK. This enables the schools to build relationships with the children that they support.

Watch this video to see what Edukid does in Cambodia

 

 

Even though I’ve reached my individual fundraising target, you can still donate to my fundraising and the money will go directly to Edukid: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/kistography

My first 4 days of travel will be independent, where I will get to explore some of the Country myself (based in Siem Reap), before joining up with the rest of the Edukid participants on Sunday 22nd October. 

Watch this space as I hope to post regular updates whilst I’m travelling.

THE MOROCCAN SENSORY LAYER CAKE. TRIP REPORT – DAY TWO!

4 Day 3 Night Private Tour

(repost from a previous blog of mine Feb 2015)

We had lots of reservations about travelling in Morocco – many of which were eased by reading the extensive and reassuring information provided on Trip Advisor forums. It was a daunting prospect, being two female travellers, having to spend 4 days with someone we’d never met before, in a country that was alien to us. I didn’t sleep very well the night before – thinking what have I let ourselves in for?!

It only took a few moments in the presence of our driver, for my worries to be dispelled. As had been arranged, we were met at our Riad at 8:30am. Mohammed, our driver for the next 4 days, introduced himself and immediately demonstrated his polite, gentlemanly manner as he carried our bags up the cobbled streets of the medina. His impeccable manners and charm were endearing characteristics, present for the entire trip. The vehicle (Pajero) was new, clean, comfortable and well maintained.
Mohammed ensured we felt at ease and was very attentive – frequently checking that everything was ok – and giving us space to take in the sights, at the right moments and providing us information as required. When we were taken to ‘prime’ tourists spots, such as the Argan Oil co-operative, Rissani Market or the Labyrinthe Du Sud, in Ouarzazate, Mohammed gave us a pep talk briefing beforehand, explaining that we should not feel obliged to buy and use the opportunity to get lots of photos. This helped us to relax and enjoy these experiences without feeling pressured. He always hovered at a respectful distance and intervened if he felt it appropriate or necessary.
Day ONE of tour:
Today’s journey would take us from Marrakech, across the High Atlas Mountains, ending the day at Ouarzazate. As we drove out of Marrakech, the looming, snow-capped mountains seemed such a contradiction to the dry, arid flat plains stretched out before us. However, it didn’t take long for the terrain to become more rugged and undulating.

Atlas Mountains

Atlas Mountains

Obviously familiar with this route, within a few miles our guide pulled over to provide an opportunity for us to get some photos. Within seconds of us leaving the vehicle I hear the sound of a creaky bicycle pull up behind us (seemingly out of thin air). Immediately the rider begins his well-versed sales patter “Mineral”, “Amethyst” “photo?”. His ‘merchandise’ was three vibrant (more than likely fake) minerals. As fascinating and as dazzling as they were, I rolled off my standard “Non! Merci”. We quickly learned that we could expect to encounter these sellers any time we stopped… no matter how remote or isolated the spot! During one photo stop, my daughter was busy snapping away at the impressive view, when she turned round and was eye to eye with an outstretched hand containing a pair of lizards…. followed by “You take photo?”. I wish I could have captured her expression at that moment! Needless to say she was back in the car like a shot!

Tizi Ntichka

Tizi Ntichka

After a few hours traversing the winding roads, which snake up the sides of the mountains, we passed the highest point (Tizi Ntichka) – blink and you’ll miss it!

Our driver briefly pulled over to allow for an ‘out of the window shot’! We then dropped down off the main road and our guide explained we were heading towards Telouat Kasbah. Traversing the narrow, rugged roads on this part of the journey, left me feeling somewhat ‘sea-sick’!!

Telouat Kasbah

Telouat Kasbah

Telouat Kasbah

Telouat Kasbah

Telouat Kasbah

Telouat Kasbah

Telouat Kasbah was the only place where we needed to pay to visit (20 MAD). We were fortunate to have the place to ourselves. Mohammed explained the history of Kasbahs in Morocco, and guided us through this now unoccupied and largely dilapidated building. The downstairs area (where the poorer people would have resided) crumbling and in a state of disrepair, was dull and uninspiring and doesn’t prepare you for what’s in store upstairs! Floor to ceiling bright zelije tiles, ornate cornices, ironwork window grates and beautiful hand decorated panels on the doors. A photographer’s dream.

Our next destination was Ait Ben Haddou, where Mohammed explained we would break for 90 minutes, for lunch – “and just relax” he reassured us! The restaurant was clearly a regular haunt for organised trips – with numerous 4×4’s and coaches lined up outside. We now realise that lunch breaks were always taken at restaurants that seemed to cater for tours like ours – I wonder if the guides get a discount? They generally offered a limited set menu costing 100 dirhams (£7 approx) – this you needed to pay for (however breakfast & dinner were included in our tour price).
It was pleasantly warm so we chose to eat upstairs on the roof terrace – with a fabulous view of the famous Ksar – Ait Ben Haddou.

Ait Ben Haddou

Ait Ben Haddou

It’s a good job we’d been given those 90 minutes to relax, and a hearty dinner (Moroccans certainly don’t hold back on portion sizes) – as the walk up to, and through, the Ksar involved ascending countless stairs! Nevertheless, it was a beautiful example of traditional Moroccan architecture and I particularly enjoyed walking through the many alleyways that were lined with shops – their vivid scarves, pictures and pottery illuminating our way. Simply charming. I took some of my favourite photos along there.

 

Ait Ben Haddou

Ait Ben Haddou

Ait Ben Haddou

Ait Ben Haddou

Ait Ben Haddou

Ait Ben Haddou

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We travelled on to Ouarzazate – Mohammed drove us past the film studios. He offered us the opportunity to visit them, but explained there wasn’t much to see. So trusting his opinion, we declined!

The final stop of the day was the Labyrinthe Du Sud – an Aladdin’s cave with two rooms full of antiques, proudly displayed against striking indigo walls and a vast pillared room, stacked with multicolour rugs and carpets. Mohammed left us in the capable hands of an animated and enchanting man, adorned in indigo blue traditional berber robes and headdress. We were guided through a whole host of artefacts, enraptured by their fascinating and eclectic history, before being led into the brightly lit carpet bazaar! I knew this was where they were going to get into serious sales pitch mode as the mint tea made an appearance! We took a seat, accepted the tea and braced ourselves for the sales pitch! I was quite happy to sit back and enjoy the ride as I knew I only had 200 MAD on me…. I doubt that would have even got me a carpet tile! Berber man and his faithful assistant set about a well choreographed routine, producing intricately made rugs and passionately illustrated each design for us… “these diamonds represent the Milky Way”, “this chevron show shooting stars” “pyramids for sahara desert” ,“this rug fold into suitcase to go on mule”, “this is family rug for marriage”. After being presented with about 15 rugs – getting progressively smaller, the anticipated sales pitch made it’s appearance. 1500 MAD for the smallest one… I took out my 200 MAD and conceded, “I don’t think this will buy anything here?”! Not surprisingly, we were soon redirected to a room containing jewellery and smaller artefacts where we leisurely snapped a few photos before returning to Mohammed outside.
My daughter and I now fondly remember this encounter and chuckle when we see a rug – as it provides an opportunity to try our best to creatively interpret the designs! It doesn’t quite have the same resonance on a brown two-tone IKEA rug though!

Just a 5 minute journey down the road and we arrived at our hotel, Riad Bouchedor. The grand building seemed very out of place amongst the incomplete and under construction buildings surrounding it. The staff were courteous and attentive at all times. The room was probably the best we experienced during the entire trip. Dinner was a fixed menu – and the food just seemed to keep coming (7 courses??). For some unknown reason my phone wouldn’t connect to the WiFi (although my daughters would) – as a result there then ensued about 45 minutes and seven Moroccans trying to get it connected for me…. I really wasn’t that fussed about having WiFi, but I was flattered and appreciated their relentless determination!