Sunday, 30 November 2014

Second Port Day Agadir

Firstly I am so disappointed that our postcard still has not arrived back, so here is a collage of some of the ship specially for Izzi.  I loved the art scattered around the ship, on every landing, and alcove, there were different ones.  Even the way they arranged the loungers was 'photogenic'.

We opted for a trip to the City of Taroudant which is surrounded by ramparts.  This is a Berber Market town, and on the way we passed the famous Argon Tree Forests.  I would not compare them to a forest in milder areas.  This is a semi desert area between the High Atlas Mountains and the Anti Atlas Mountains beyond which is the Sahara Desert.  We could see the mountain ranges, and in between the trees parched areas.  Some of the trees were weighed down with several goats nibbling at the foliage.  Along the excellent motorway, ran a newish looking water main which fed water to the increasing number of banana and orange plantations.

In Taroudant our guide took us to a soukk...I just wish we have taken euro coins with us.

 We passed a street stall with delicious breads

 And this is a building site in the middle of the road with goat and sheep rummaging through dumped household rubbish.

 We passed a 'restaurant', where dishes were being warmed on portable charcoal braziers ready for lunch.

In the souk there were many colourful slippers, but no prices,

 and large tagines aligned outside a small shop

We were taken to a woman's co operative not far from the souk, where Argon oil was made, and after a talk and a 'hard sell' we made our way back.  I'd bought Argon oil on our last holiday, and after applying it to my leg, had a type of burn which I could not get rid of for weeks, so passed on this.

On our way back, our tour included a trip to a local farm.  This was not quite the sort of Farm I was expecting.  I thought we would have had a walk among the orange groves or get to have a peek inside the large plastic poly tunnels, which housed the banana groves...we could see them, but this was a 'Hotel' on a Farm.  There were caged chickens of rather lovely breed types, turkeys, and geese, a few prize sheep and a dromedary, and arab stallions all beautifully housed for the pleasure of tourists.

The grounds were beautifully manicured and 'oasis' areas prepared outside a row of tourist apartments.  I caught this..donkey and cart alongside large lorry.

The breakfast we had there at lunch time was really delicious.  Freshly pressed orange juice with a wonderful depth of flavour, various breads, dates and honey, and some mint tea.  The honey was particularly delicious, but I did not have the chance to ask about this.  We were led into the room laid out already, with only a person serving tea.

It was fun to see succulents growing outside to large proportions.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Back from Holiday - Casablanca

I've downloaded the pictures, but the date thingy in my camera is set to 2008, the shots have come out all jumbled, I shall try to sort them out and post some of them.

Nearly all the washing has now been done, and there is a big lot of ironing to do!

We are back from our second cruise.  This time we traveled on the Oceana down to Casablanca, then back up stopping at Agadir, Cadiz, Lisbon and La Coruna.  The ship was super and we had so much to do.  On ship days we started our adventure into water colour painting.  Carol Hill was our tutor.

We had six lessons in all, all for the princely fee of £20 to cover the contents of a bag with paints, paper, brushes etc.  Apparently on cruises with several sea days there is usually a painting class, though we did not know that beforehand.  We learnt to mix colours, do wet on wet, wet on dry, etc

It was all good fun, and I think the last time I picked up paintbrushes and paint was when I was about 14 years old, and fell out with the old painting teacher at Rose Hill Loretto Convent.  She had known my aunt who was an artist, and kept referring to her!

Another great activity we got into was ballroom dancing.  We had double lessons on the sea day afternoons with an hour in between, then social dancing every evening.  Our teachers were Roger and Ann Sherfield, they patiently and very good humorously got us through our paces, but with the social dancing starting at 10 pm every evening, there were a few we did not attend.  Also David was only going for the foxtrot, the waltz and the rumba.  We  bought both their DVDs and last night played one of them.  It was really clear to follow and I think we now have the social foxtrot well under our belt.

On board entertainment was choc a bloc with must sees.  We saw two films:  Belle, and Philomena, went to see the onboard entertainment team several times, and String Idols, Laura Broad, Neil Georgeson, John Martin and others.  There were many others, but it is also just nice to sit and relax, read and knit, and watch the great skies.

The food was fantastic, and we realised you really could eat at just about any time!  During one of our evening meals when we were sharing a table, I was impressed to learn that P & O really do go that extra mile for people with special dietary needs.  The head of the restaurant came to visit one of our  fellow diners to discuss the meals for the following day.  She was a coeliac and explained that they have a seperate kitchen but dishes are as close as possible to what else if on offer.  And they are available throughout the various ship restaurants and eating places.

In Casablanca we booked the tour which included a visit to the Hassan II Mosque.  Its really huge and very impressive.  With low lights inside but with light coming in from the seaward side, there were a few photographic opportunities.

 The impressive tower of the Casablanca Hassan II Mosque

Washing facilities in the basement of the Mosque
Crowd control barriers
View from inside the mosque towards the sea
 Stone detail

 Outside fountain

Wonderful wall light
Marble floor detail

As a counterpoint our guide took us to the Catholic Notres Dames de Lourdes.  A plain white building on the outside does not prepare one for the impressive glass windows, which run along the two long sides of the building.  When I got up close I realised that the glass was different from traditional stained glass windows.

With its cuts and chips the light  dances through as you walk past, the type of glass is called dalle de verre.

I took some great close ups and have found some very festive ones which I shall post over Christmas.

Afterwards we visited Casablanca City Hall, I think this was the name of the time I must take a note book.  This place impressed me from the time we parked up at the side, I started taking snaps of the doors...

The detail of the cut plasterwork is amazing

 We just had a walk through of this building viewing the inner courtyards, and enjoying the details.

Outside there were numerous young kittens..mum was in the shrubbery nearby.

 We spied the equivalent of the man with a van, and also this motorcyle piled high with goods.

At the souk we saw various trades,

as well as the olive section

We did not get anything...we had large denomination euros but were warned to be careful about change.  We had hoped to get to a hole in the wall or a bank to take out some local currency, but we did not see any where we went.  I think the best bet would have to have taken euro coins or smaller denomination notes , and just asked for x worth of this and that.

And now for a few window grill details

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Biscuit Salami by the Hairy Bikers ....when you are let down by a recipe

Mr S has started to do a little more in the kitchen.  This time he wanted to make a treat to take with us when we went down to Basingstoke at the weekend.

As usual he did not want any 'contribution' from me, but as he started to make his salami, he knew something was not quite right.  Had I read the recipe before I would immediately have questioned the ratio of ingredients, and most probably have looked up some similar recipes to check...

The Biscuit Salami just would not set, and even frozen, is not quite right either.  I have looked and looked for errata for this, and even phone Orion Books the publishers.  The switch board only helped in so far as suggesting that I send in a letter, so I asked for an email address and have sent that in.  
Should I get a reply, I'll post it here.

I've used many recipes in this book, and all have gone well until this one. 
The recipe for Biscuit Salami from the Hairy Bikers' Big Book of Baking just does work.  Mr S is very good at following recipes, but when I looked at this one,  I could see that it just would not work.  There is far too much liquid, and not sufficient butter to act as a firming agent, and the salami does not work even when put in the freezer!

This recipe should definitely be altered if there is a reprint or used elsewhere.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Garden at the start of November

This morning, with a low light some plants just glowed.

Yes a waterlily opening in November

and then this evening the first flower on Faucaria Tigrina, which has many more 'teeth'

than the Faucaria Bosscheana which has been flowering for several weeks, it is very similar but is much smoother.  Each flower opens at about 3 pm GMT and closes again a couple of hours later, and does this for several days before it finally withers down.