Set in the heart of the new part of the city, Jardin Majorelle is an oasis filled with bamboo, palms, cacti, and pools filled with lilies. The gardens were originally created over a period of forty years by French artist Jacques Majorelle. His passion for travel and for botany led him to fill the garden with rare and exotic plants collected along the way. He chose vibrant cobalt and shades of ochre to complement the greens and evoke the intensity of its African setting. Finally finished in the 1930s, but not opened to the public until 1947, Jardin Majorelle had sadly fallen into disrepair by the 1960s. It wasn’t until 1980 that things began to look up when Yves Saint Laurent bought the gardens and restored them to their former beauty. Upon his death, Yves Saint Laurent’s ashes were scattered here and the gardens given as a gift to the city. These days the gardens offer a beautiful respite from the heat and hecticness of Marrakech. Gleaming russet paths snake around the lush greenery and chirping birds bring the garden to life. There is a small Berber museum (worth visiting for the surreal lighting alone) and a gorgeous walled café with a stunning selection of teas on offer (and prices to match). The café also boasts a sprinkler-type system, as found in many local restaurants, that lets out bursts of cool mist at frequent intervals – just the thing for a summertime visit. Entrance to the gardens is 50Dhs and the museum is 25Dhs. The gardens are best reached by a short taxi ride away from the medina which should cost no more than 30-40 dirham. The address? Rue Yves Saint Laurent, of course. What is the most beautiful garden you have ever visited?
A creamy yet light pasta dish with flavours of fresh lemon and basil. Spinach and mange tout are flashed with heat to keep their natural crunch, whilst the butternut squash is roasted to perfection in olive oil and plentiful black pepper.There are times when you crave something creamy and rich but don’t want that sluggish feeling that more often than not accompanies such an indulgence. Thankfully this dish fulfills the criteria of being satisfying and filling whilst staying light through using oat milk in place of cream and fresh by adding fresh lemon juice to cut through the richness. The sauce the vegetables are cooked in for this dish doesn’t thicken too much so you could add a little cornflour to achieve a richer sauce if you wanted. For the recipe I used Oatly, a Swedish brand of oat milk that I picked up in my local Waitrose. I love the packaging and their straight-forward approach to talking about what they do and labelling their products. Who knew but the Nordic climate is perfect for growing oats as are the farming practices common in Sweden, which you can read more about on their website here. Already low in pesticides and heavy metals, Oatly is also available in an organic variety and in a chocolate-flavoured variety, as well as both fresh and long-life varieties. Unfortunately the chocolate Oatly isn’t stocked anywhere near me but I’ll be keeping an eye open for it. Serves 4.
250g wholewheat fusilli or pasta of your choice
1 butternut squash, cut into small cubes
2 shallots or 1 white onion, finely chopped
175g mange tout, ends trimmed
125g baby spinach leaves
250ml oat milk (or milk of your choice)
4tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Handful of fresh basil
1 tbsp pine nuts
2tsp freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of sea salt
1. Preheat oven to 200C / gas mark 6. Add 3tbsp of the oil to a roasting dish, heat in the oven for a few minutes then add the cubes of butternut squash and black pepper. Mix well and return to the oven. Roast for around twenty minutes, until the cubes are tender and golden brown.
2. In the meantime, bring a large pan of water to the boil. Once boiling, add the pasta and sea salt. Stir once. Cook until al dente (time according to pasta instructions).
3. In a large frying pan, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over a medium heat. Add the shallots or onion. Once they have softened, add the garlic and mange tout. Cook for a further three minutes.
4. Turn the heat up slightly and slowly add the oat milk, stirring constantly. Simmer for a couple of minutes before adding the spinach leaves. Once the leaves have wilted, add in the fresh basil and lemon juice. Stir and serve on top of the pasta with a sprinkling of pine nuts.What is your favourite plant-based milk for cooking with?
*I was sent some vouchers to sample Oatly but all opinions and the recipe are my own!
If there is one constant when travelling in Morocco, it is surely the cats. Roaming almost every street, and dotted around in some of the most unlikely places, cats are everywhere in Morocco. There seems to be a mutual respect between the resident people and resident cats; we saw plenty of food and fresh water being left out for them. Most of the cats looked very healthy which is lovely to see and I couldn’t resist snapping as many as possible.
Here is a selection of the felines I spotted: (photo heavy)
Do you enjoy photographing animals when you travel?
Well, what was expected to only be a couple of weeks’ break has turned into much longer. Of course I failed to factor in just how long it takes to get the internet connected in a new house and how busy things would be! Almost all of my evenings and weekends lately have been spent covered in various shades of paint, constructing furniture or hanging photo frames.
I did however manage to take an evening off last week to attend a local blogger event here in Leeds. The team at Simplyhealth invited a group of local bloggers down to the Everyman Cinema in Leeds as part of their ‘Healthy Smile’ campaign with the sole aim of making us, and our plus ones, laugh. We were treated to a private screening of four episodes of Friends to celebrate twenty years (yes, twenty!) since the Friends TV series began and ten years since its finale.I took along my friend Sarah since she is the biggest Friends fan I know and the evening was guaranteed to make her smile the most. The Simplyhealth team also provided us with a couple of drinks and some snacks to make sure we were as comfortable as possible.
It made for a lovely evening and we can’t have been the only ones who could quite easily have carried on watching way past the four episodes. Laughter really is contagious and a natural way of bonding with those around us, so a night purely focused on that was a perfect reminder to take the time to do things like this when there is so much else going on in life. In fact, we haven’t been able to resist planning our next Friends marathon already.The Everyman Cinema itself is somewhere I’ve been meaning to check out ever since it opened last year. Located in the Trinity Centre in Leeds city centre, the Everyman Cinema is no everyday cinema – replacing cramped seating with comfy sofas and eschewing the usual food offering in favour of freshly stone baked pizzas. I’ll definitely be heading back next time I go to watch a film and finding an excuse to check out their food!Our little goody bag between two also contained a Friends mug which I insisted Sarah take home as I know it will keep her smiling.
To pass on a little bit of laughter (I hope!) and maybe get you in the mood to re-watch some Friends, here are a few choice quotes:
“I’m not so good with the advice… Can I interest you in a sarcastic comment?” – Chandler
“Stop cleansing my aura. Just leave my aura alone, okay?” – Ross
“Hi, I’m Chandler. Could I be wearing any more clothes?” - Joey
“Who’s FICA and why is he getting all of my money?” – Rachel
“Whoa. Where you going in those pants? 1982?” - Monica
“Oh, I knew something had to be wrong, because my fingernails did not grow at all yesterday.” – Phoebe
What has made you smile recently?
These beautiful tea bags are from Yogi Tea. They’ve been a staple in my cupboard for over a decade and I can never get enough of their gorgeous flavours.
What a couple of weeks coming up… Tomorrow I will be heading to Morocco, returning the following week ready to move house! That means it is going to be a quiet couple of weeks on the blogging front but I hope to have a lot of exciting things to share when I get back :)