Category Archives: The rest

A (Great) Day in the Life

There were many possible names for this post; Yesterday (only if I posted the day after), Hey Paul, Here, Out There & Everywhere to name but a few. The name had to be something Beatles related as nothing else would do justice to announce my trip to see Paul McCartney in the flesh for the first time on his Out There tour at the O2. It was only apt that I went with the very person that sparked my interest in the Beatles in the first place all those years ago. 20 years to be exact.. another title comes to mind…. It was Twenty Years Ago Today.

We arrived by car at the O2 and just as we wondered where to park, a flashing sign said “This way for Paul McCartney Parking”. Some people would call it “Synchronicity” so we followed the signs. We were followed by another car driven by a woman shocked by the parking charge. She explained she had only come to watch the concert as she was given a free ticket, wasn’t really a fan and didn’t want to pay more than £10 for the whole night. This set my judgemental side into motion and as we were two hard-core fans, she was not talking to the right people if she wanted sympathy.

However, I hadn’t paid for my ticket either but the least I could do was pay for dinner so we went in search of food with a quick detour to look at the merchandise. There were a few things I wanted to get but food was more of a priority and was also a chance to calm down before I spent my life’s savings on Paul McCartney trinkets. At dinner it seemed I was the only person wearing a Beatles T-shirt and felt a little self-conscious but two Chilli Queens later we left Byron Burger and saw another girl with a Beatles T-shirt which made me feel better.

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A few mandatory Instagram pictures and another wander past the merchandise stall we went through to the main event. We had Amex Lounge tickets so we leisurely wandered into the arena not having to queue with the regular folk and sat in the plush lounge with live acoustic guitarists and enjoyed a couple of drinks before the big show.

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In here there seemed to be no true fans with T shirts on until a German couple sat down at the next table having just returned from the sound check. Sound check?! I didn’t know we could do that. We were amateurs at this. We started chatting to them and found out this guy was from East Germany, the Beatles were illicit but he loved them and as soon as the wall came down in ‘91 he made the pilgrimage to Abbey Road. I would daresay he was a more hard-core fan than us! We were trumped plus he was wearing a Paul McCartney T-shirt.

A couple of drinks later I made us go through to our seats against the wishes of more drinking time. We probably did go through a little early but it was a great opportunity to point out all the people that were true fans and not really fans which you probably have guessed depended on whether they had a suitable T-shirt on or not.

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It was nice to see someone had made the effort and had put on a Sgt Pepper outfit. Whilst we judged (none of the people in the seats either side of us were wearing the right T-shirts), we also watched the video stream, listened to the DJ and discussed the T factor until the man himself, Sir Paul, entered stage right.

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He covered all the bases; classic Beatles, Wings, the odd one here and there and a couple of new ones. I’ve listed exactly what he played and my thoughts at the end of this if you want to have a look but for now the things I learnt:

  • I’ve underestimated the brilliance of Sir Paul McCartney
  • Wings is actually a good band and Band on the Run is a really good album
  • How to do the Wings hands thingy
  • Always buy merchandise beforehand
  • This now makes sense…

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After the show we went back to the Amex lounge just because we could. Another round of drinks before heading out to buy merchandise meant I missed out on stocking up on T shirts. As I write this I’m considering driving up to Birmingham where he is performing tonight and raiding the stand.

Anyway my last thought; I’m almost glad I never got to see the greatest show on Earth that is all four Beatles performing together. I could barely handle a quarter of it.

Setlist

Before the next song Sir Paul placed his thumbs together and palms out to form a set of Wings. I copied but ended up forming a ‘whatever’ sign with my hands. Rookie mistake.

This would make a great dance track. Although perhaps a little sexist these days.

Tried the Wings hand thing again and succeeded.

This brought a tear to my eye even though it’s never been one of my favourite Beatles songs

A new song that I immediately  liked

Here is where I lied to Sir Paul as the stage rose with him upon with nothing but a microphone and a guitar. He asked the crowd how many of us had tried to learn to play Blackbird. I stuck my hand up but I haven’t… but I am now. Hopefully I’ll be forgiven.

A conversation with John Lennon.

Played on a ukulele all by himself again before his tribute to George.

Another tear and i have no idea why. I don’t even know this song that well. I think I finally realised where I was.

Did you know Sir Paul does a pretty good Russian accent. He told us the story f when he met the Russian Minister of Defence to be told the first record he had bought was Love Me Do.

Wow! Fireworks and real fire, drummer wearing a hard hat and I’m sure Sir Paul was playing the piano with his eyes closed throughout the whole song probably out of fear of some incendiary flying off in the wrong direction.

Ok so picture this… Sir Paul moves from his black piano to his snazzy psychedelic one, all is quiet until he utters two words that sent me back in time to the 60s and I became one of those screaming/shrieking/screeching fan girls. I was waiting for this moment all night but I had no idea that “Hey” & “Jude” could do that!!! My life is complete!

Encore:

Encore 2:

Last day in Morocco

On the morning of our last day we went to the Medrasa having always lost our way in the souk trying to find the Ben Youssef Islamic school. I wore my newly acquired kaftan. Perfect for the Moroccan weather and I didn’t want to sweat in the clothes I had planned to wear on the plane.

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We went back to our riad to pack and say goodbye

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My favourite bits about Morocco:

Koutoubia mosque – the symbol of Morocco

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Water men

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Prickly pears

prickly pearsAnd best of all; Women buying their groceries on motorbikeswoman on a motorbike

 

Essaouira

A day on the coast at Essaouira – pronounced essa-weera – fortified city walls, fishing boats & seagulls.

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For food, you can buy your own fish from the market and get one of the stands to cook it for you. They also provide bread and salad. Or you can go to one of the many restaurants where you can pick your fish and seafood out of the many available on their stand and take a seat and listen to the traditional music played for you while they grill your selection.

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Feeling Majorelle Blue

After our trek through the desert we were in critical need of luxury and relaxation so we booked ourselves into a hammam. We were steamed, rubbed, scrubbed and massaged back to life. Back to our spoilt first world ways. The day then continued in the same vain.

Majorelle gardens

We visited the gorgeous Majorelle gardens owned by Yves Saint Laurent and where his ashes were scattered. I fell in love with the strong intense ultramarine cobalt ‘Majorelle blue’. Against the green of leaves it was completely different to usual red clay of Marrakech.

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1983

McArabia 

Sticking to worldwide brand names we all know, we went to McDonalds for lunch. Not normally one of those people that eats at chains especially when on holiday but this was halal and I couldn’t resist after seeing this poster.
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La Mamounia

After lunch we took a stroll to La Mamounia hotel. A place once described as the lovliest place on Earth by Winston Churchill. The entrance was manned by a guy dressed in brilliant white traditional dress. He looked very regal. A prince. We sat down for a mint tea and stayed till after dark which made the surroundings even more beautiful.

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Louis Vuitton

We left just in time for a browse round Louis Vuitton

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Dar Essalam

Our day of luxury ended at Dar Essalam. A restaurant with a solid roof that didn’t require fighting our way through touters & the busy square. Plus if it’s good enough for Hitchcock…

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The Deserters – Part 2

When I left you yesterday we were still hurtling through the mountains to reach the edge of the Sahara desert. The sun was low in the sky by the time we got there. There was just enough time to wrap up our faces to protect us against the desert sand before riding into the arid environment on our camels. Our guide didn’t blink an eyelid when we sang Champagne Supernova, Wonderwall & Don’t Look Back in Anger everytime we saw an oasis. image image image image image image

We reached our camp for the night just before sunset. Our tent was much more luxurious than I was expecting. We were almost glamping. We settled into our new surroundings while the guides cooked us up Harira soup and a chicken tagine followed by refreshing melon for dessert.

base camp in the desert

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It was a very hot night and I couldn’t sleep in the tent. Hot and tired I curmudgeonly dragged my mattress out into the sand outside the tent and finally managed to sleep in the cooling desert wind with only beautifully filled blanket of twinkling stars over me. Very romantic, pity I was with my sister.

The next morning we were woken up by the Berbers for a breakfast of Bread, butter and honey which we ate while we watched the sunrise.

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The Deserters

The next day the two of us left Marrakech for a couple of days for a trip through the Atlas mountains to the Sahara Desert. We met our driver early in the morning and before I was even fully awake we were hurtling through rugged landscape whilst listening to Arabic music. A real initiation into Moroccan life.

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Ait Benhaddou

Our first stop was the ksar, a fortified city, of Ait Benhaddou it was a common stop along the caravan route between the Sahara and Marrakech. It is now a UNESCO world heritage site with 10 or so families still living in the basic city. The rest have moved across the dried up river to the more modern village

Here I learnt what a kasbah is (a family home with four towers), how to tie a scarf like a real nomad (see picture below), what agadir means, (lookout) where Game of Thrones is filmed (plus a whole host of other films).

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The dried up river should be in plain bed between the old city and the palm tree. You can also see the agadir at the top of the hill.

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Before long we were back on the road for a whistlestop tour of Ouzarzate and a couple of rest stops to admire the scenery.

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IMAG3757 The day didn’t end there but I think I’m going to have to end this post here before it trails on and on…. Read more  about it tomorrow.

Mo’rock’o the Kasbah

On our first morning we ate breakfast on the terrace. There I spotted two storks on a distance rooftop thinking they were fake. Fascinated by their choice of home & rhythmic feeding I took a picture. Again not a cloud in the sky.stork nest at breakfast

As soon as we left the riad I was stopped by the police! I had inadvertently taken a picture of the King’s Palace trying to capture this fountain. The police called me over and I had to prove that I deleted the evidence. They let me on my way without any fuss but there’s a tip for you – don’t take a picture of guarded buildings!

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I’ve never been a big fan of The Clash but I do regularly repeat a certain lyric of their song Rock the Kasbah. It’s the only song I’ve come across that contains my name. Ok not exactly my name but it’s close enough for me to be caught singing “Sharmeeeeen don’t like it” when applicable. Even though it wasn’t applicable I couldn’t stop singing it. Not even long enough to smile for a photo.

Kasbah Cafe Marrakech

Rock the Kasbah
Everywhere we went we saw intricately carved wood and precisely tiled walls.

Saadian tombs

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El Bahia Palace – orange and banana trees, a maze of rooms and courtyards, beautifully intricate tiles, even more intricately carved wood and fireplaces.

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El Badi Palace – Perfect place to see nesting storks. Stripped bare by a jealous ruler, cooling dungeons and a great place to wander.

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This area of Marrakech is also home to a huge emporium selling everything and anything. All fixed price so need to haggle but you won’t find a bargain.

4 types of cous cous

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