Hay Amores

Pisces and Libra, Angel with FishI made this illustration a few months back and have recently just finished it.
Hay Amores is an illustration based on the love between a Libra and a Pisces and of the elements air and water. Air & water come together to make rain that is both cleansing and nourishing. But Air and Water can also create waterspouts (Tornado made of water mixed with air) causing a rush of emotion spiralling passionately out of control. The illustration is so much more than that if you can understand the secret symbolism. I like to play with symbolic imagery & numerology so although a simple illustration it has deeper meaning than first perceived. What do you think of when you look at it?
This was initially inspired by a dream & dedicated to a friend.

The translation is:
“Oh! My God, like the river Magdalene,
That it flows in the sand of the sea,
I want to fuse myself in you.”

I have more illustrations to finish including some baby dragons with botanical illustrations and a children’s book for my Nephew is under-way.
I also have a short course I am currently completing, working on my costumes & routines for 2 performances that are coming up in October & November. Stay tuned!

Morocco: Fes

Moroccan exterior architecture
After our day in Meknes & Volubilis we travelled in the evening to our next destination, Fes. Arriving at around 7pm, it was dark and we were all hungry! Our guide took us through some windy back streets of narrow walls with an array of tangled electrical wires poking through the surface like over grown ivy and cobbled footpaths of leaky drain pipes and many stray cats. Where were we being taken? If we didn’t know we were in the safe hands of our guide, this would have been a reasonably unnerving walk akin to being lost in precarious alley ways of London.
Finally we arrived at a door with other ‘tourists’ merrily stepping out into the street, I was intrigued. One by one we ventured inside and it felt like we had been transported to a magical world, I really did feel like Alice falling down the rabbit hole and waking up in Wonderland. We were surrounded from ceiling to floor of hand made and hand carved mosaic walls and furnishings as well as lovely locals. This magnificent place hidden away like a secret box belonged to a family who open it up to travellers to experience authentic Moroccan hospitality, cuisine and décor. They were so gracious and welcoming and We dined and lounged like Royalty on their delicious food before saying our goodbyes and driven to our hotel for a good nights sleep in preparation for the wild unknown maze of Fes.

a feast in Fez

Moroccan hand carved ceiling

Moroccan family home interiors
This walled city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, will transport you back to mediaeval times. Fes, in my opinion is quite a bohemian city as it is populated by an assortment of artisans and craftsman and a University entitled al-Karaouine or al-Qarawiyyin (Arabic: جامعة القرويين) It is the oldest continually operating university in the world. The al-Karaouine was founded by a woman (Yes, a Woman!) Fatima al-Fihri, making Fes rather progressive, individual and eccentric in comparison to other places in Morocco and in fact most parts of the world. If this place existed in the UK I would liken it to the cultural hubs of Liverpool or Bristol. Fez is the medieval capital of Morocco founded by Idris I in 789, and a great city of high Islamic civilization. Fez has the best-preserved old city in the Arab world, the sprawling, labyrinthine medina of Fes el-Bali, which is incidentally also the world’s largest car-free urban zone. Within the medina transports of goods is provided by donkeys, mules and handcarts. Understand that the city infrastructure is not necessarily prepared for tourism, especially English speakers. Try to use Google translate to get across, but learning basic words won’t hurt, and you will see people appreciating your efforts.

Fez crafts women, pottery

Moroccan women painting

clay work in Fez

looking down on Fes

Intrepid tour group

At the main gates of Fes old medina
Some consider Fez to be the handicraft capital of Morocco so if there is something you want made, there is bound to be someone here that can have it crafted for you. The moment you walk into this colourful maze you are surrounded by jewellers, carpenters, silver smiths, potters, weavers, painters and you must stop over at the tanneries where you can witness locals hand dyeing & tanning large leather hides in huge stone containers before allowing the hide to dry in the sun and being crafted into purses, bags and shoes. Leathergoods, copper and brassware are the bargains to be had, although you may also find good prices on drums and other musical instruments.

walking through Fes medina

Olive oil soap in fes

Moroccan dried henna leaves

the streets of Fes

carpets and tapestries in Fes

shopping in Fes Morocco

local butcher in Fez medina

camel head in Fez
Fez is safe, but crowded. Take standard precautions regarding wallet, purse & bags, basically be responsible as you would in any other city. Appear to know where you are going, even if you don’t, or you will get offers from false guides or individuals trying to sell you something. False guides are not dangerous but they can be exasperatingly tenacious. Best technique is to ignore their presence; seems rude but it works and do not be afraid to say “La shukran” in a direct & firm tone, this means “No thank you” and saying that in a less polite way is really hard for me as a British citizen (Us Brits always have to appear polite at all times, even to people we find despicable) but that also really works if ignoring them doesn’t make them go away, they will appreciate you are learning some Moroccan Arabic and a bit more respectful, eventually leaving you alone.

Intrepid tours, the best of Morocco

olives in Fez

foods in Fez medina

interesting electrical wiring in Morocco

very narrow pathway in Fes medina

Locals of Morocco

the famous tanneries of Fes, Fez
The leather Tanneries here are the oldest in the world, dating back at least nine centuries. When getting close to the tannery the smell is the first to appear. The smell drifts around the balcony or the roof from where all the activity can be viewed and is enough to put off the most excited of tourists. The stench is worth braving as the view over the balcony or the roof allows those watching to see a site that has never been changed since the 11th century.

The lifestyle of a tanner is so difficult. it is considered to be one of the hardest and dirtiest careers in Fez.
The art of tanning is run and done by men. Most of the families and workers live around the tanneries and their skills are inherited from generation to generation via the male family tree though a tradition less and less evident as education becomes obligatory and horizons expand.
Intrepid tour guide taking us round Morocco

leather hand made shoes in Fez

Head scarves

Hand made Hijab in Fes Medina

Beautiful blue Hijab in Morocco
Fes is not for the faint hearted, specifically for those who like their comforts. Fes is like a whirlwind and in constant motion, you will be in sensory overload with so much movement, colour, texture, smells and sounds, your mind will be filled with a variety of experiences just from one day visit here. Understanding the words “Belek! Belek” which basically means “Get out of the way!” may save you from being pushed over by traders with mules or huge carts of produce attempting to squeeze past you as you cling to the wall like a star fish. If you enjoy a real good culture shock and are not afraid to step out of your snug hotel room then Fes is for you. If you do visit this vast city, make sure you go with a guide otherwise you will get lost and if you are prone to claustrophobia, the narrow, busy and noisy pathways may be a little overwhelming for you although not impossible to visit if you are prepared and remember to look up at the sky to calm you down. There are wide open spaces once you get to the end of a pathway so you can take a breather and savour your surroundings before you venture down another winding path to your next destination. There are also beautiful museums and some Mosques that visitors are welcome in also.

intrepid group buying Morocccan carpets

hand crafted Moroccan Carpets

Carpets from Fes

Mosque in Fes

beautiful Mosque in Fez medina

Katie Ness sunflowerteeth lifestyle blog
Fes is probably one of Jon’s favourite destinations from this entire Moroccan tour, and why wouldn’t it be? This place is a dream for Photographers! I did really enjoy visiting this city, It is truly magical with it’s unruly medina maze, it’s crumbling & dishevelled exterior walls and cascading mosaic interiors that leave you speechless. This place sits between two worlds, the world of humbling ruin and the world of ravishing craftsmanship & Interior design. After a full day of exploring Fes we stayed over night in our hotel before awaken at first light to travel to our next destination: Midelt, which was probably my favourite experience out of the entire trip.

Apologies for taking a while to continue writing about our adventure around Morocco, It’s been a busy few months! If you missed my previous write-ups about other places in Morocco we stopped at here are all the links:
Day one & two in Casablanca
Day three/Afternoon in Rabat
Day Four/Morning in Meknes
Day Four/Afternoon in Volubilis

To view Jon’s awesome commerical & travel photography click here:
Jon Roberts Photography Blog

11 things that make me happy

Practising Yoga Asanas:

Leg Warmers:
leg wamers

Watching Ballet Dancers/Contemporary Dance:

travel quote

Yogi Tea:

Garlic Bread:
garlic bread

Wearing Chunky Rings:
chunky rings

Letters from friends around the world:

The Sea:
the sea

Squirty Cream:
squirty cream

Cadbury’s flake because it reminds me of my Grandmother:

I have not done one of these for a while and recently have been thinking a great deal about what I am thankful for and this includes all the simple pleasures daily life brings.
Sometimes we forget to celebrate & appreciate life. My Auntie Teresa recently passed away, she had learning difficulties and lead a very humble existence of going to church every Sunday, playing Bingo, walking her dog and doing charitable things for others, she had a big personality with a warm heart and she had a wicked sense of humour, she always had people roaring with laughter at her witty one liners and even though she was stunted mentally & physically, she lead life to the fullest just doing simple every day things. Lets take a moment to think about that and can you think of 11 things that make you happy and make you smile, think of things you usually take for granted, use your imagination and see what happens.

All images are here: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11

Back from Croatia & feeling Fruitful

Look what was waiting at home when we came back from Croatia, two more country flag patches for my collection & Om Yoga Magazine! I decided to subscribe to this magazine as a treat, I have never subscribed to a magazine before so why not? The year 2014 is almost over but I still have things to look forward to over the next few months until Christmas such as: Giving some Acro-Yoga a go & Totnes Yogafest in September; My Birthday, a Soul Reading, a trip up North in October and my trip to TribalFest Bucharest (Romania) in November. I feel pretty grateful & happy. Although my life isn’t perfect, there are things I want to change, I do appreciate all the positive things that are happening for me right now after years of struggle, I am thankful.
We came back from Croatia in the early hours of Thursday morning (4th September 2014) and then we both went straight back to work. Today is our day off together so here I am typing up a Blog post, sipping a cup of Chai and about to finish off my letter writing. I am so behind on my letter writing, I have friends we met in Morocco to write to, Despina in Cyprus & our new friends from Croatia. As with all my letter writing I include small gifts & photos, I love having pen friends.

It has been a fruitful year so far for me and for Jon, we have experienced some really positive events and it has all been down to hard work, dedication & striving for what we want because life very rarely hands you good fortune on a plate and says “Here you go, it’s on me, enjoy!”. A friend tells me I am a lucky girl, in a number of ways yes I am, I am lucky I live in a safe country, with fresh running water and a roof over my head. I am lucky I have a job that helps me pay for travelling, art and my dancing, so in that respect I am extremely lucky & grateful for these things in my life. But it has largely been 95% hard graft and 5% luck when it comes to achieving certain goals, the things I have done this year are because I made them happen and I am really proud of that. It just goes to show with a little determination, positive thinking, encouraging words and a willingness to just try (and not give up) then things do start to happen, they really do.

Other things I have to look forward to before the year ends, includes finishing off my 2nd children’s book I have had to put on hold for a while, a Dance Therapy Foundation Diploma, new Belly Dance costume (including some awesome flared pants) and my first tattoo might be on the cards (was thinking of a Dream Catcher on my back or a feather on my left foot?).

Now I need to catch up on my Moroccan Blog posts before I write about Croatia. Need to get this done before our next travel adventure we have planned for Spring next year!

Croatia so far

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Jon & I have been in Croatia for about 5 days now and we have another 5 to go. We spent 4 days in beautiful Dubrovnik yet one of those days involved a day trip to a nearby island called Lokrum & another day visiting parts of Montenegro. We managed to enjoy the stunning sights of Dubrovnik’s old town, ate locally made ice cream, rode up the cable car and a swim in the sea. During the 4 days in Dubrovnik we became friends with the lady whose apartment we stayed in and an interesting young woman at a Pizza place. I really enjoy making friends with people around the world because not only does it become a cherished memory but it also expands the mind and encourages you to immerse yourself in their culture. Jon is really enjoying learning Croatian as it sounds like an intriguing mix between soothing Italian and rigorous Russian, he already knows the basics and we find ourselves savoring the relaxed lifestyle here. Croatians are very fond of the arts and on nearly every street corner there are painters, musicians, art galleries, jewellery designers and lace makers. Croatians enjoy creativity on all levels including theatre, a mixture of music, poetry, literature & dance and I have even seen a number of locals here actually reading books or Kindles in parks, at a bus stop or on the beach which is so refreshing since most Brits nowadays prefer to watch television shows or go shopping, not that there is anything wrong with that, I just find it difficult to fit in with that sort of lifestyle because I am such a history, culture & art geek.

This morning we hopped on a local bus for our 4 hour journey to Split & this afternoon we pottered about Split’s old town photographing the old ruins & architecture before another swim in the sea. We have plans for a day excursion although nothing is set in stone and we have 3 nights here before we head out to Plitvice Lakes & Rijeka.

Until the next update čuti ćemo se! (We’ll stay in touch!)