Morocco – Rabat

Here is the room I am staying in tonight.

This is my first trip to Morocco and I will be here over the next three days for meetings. First impressions are not too informed. The journey from the airport took place through mostly dark streets with infrequent street lights – so not much to see. I will have a chance to have proper look around tomorrow after breakfast. It has been a long day of travel so I will be off to bed soon!

I’m in the mood for Christmas

I was helping out at the local school Christmas Fair at the weekend. This is an annual event which is always busy and features a number of regular things like a cake and candy stall, a raffle, a bottle stall, a nearly new toy sale and of course Santa’s Grotto! Of course Santa was also in attendance so it was a really happy time and is so well attended.

The staff and children from the school are always in attendance to provide great support for all the activities! See below some of them in action 😉

I was there to help my wife Mary as she made fresh pancakes which were sold whilst still steaming hot ready to take away – I suspect that many of them never made it home being eaten on the way! I still have an aching arm from mixing close to 11 bags of flour during the course of the morning.

Here is a picture of Mary with her class teacher and boss Lydia. They work hard together throughout the year and then here they are both on a Saturday morning in December giving their time for the school again. Of course all of the proceeds of this event benefit the school’s pupils allowing them to participate of a range of extra curricular activities throughout the rest of the year, so it is a really worth while cause.

Here is a picture of Santa’s Grotto just before Santa arrived – I had to steel a peek to get this photo.

And of course not to forget the reindeer – here is one that just happened to wander past as I had my camera in hand 😉

A happy time indeed – now I just need to wait for Christmas morning when hopefully Santa and his Reindeer will come to visit again 😉

American in Kemnay

In the context of my relatively new job I am now accustomed to working with colleagues who live and are based in other parts of the world. We regularly use telephone and computer conferencing systems to meet virtually and collaborate on our work objectives. The 1st of December was an exception to this “modus operandi”.

It was a pleasure on this occasion to have my colleague and good friend JJ visit me in Kemnay where were are working together for a couple of days.

My family and I also tried to let him sample some of the culture and tradition of our great country since this was his first ever visit to its soil! He has some ancestors in Scotland too!

This commenced by playing some traditional bagpipe music on the car CD player as we travelled back to Kemnay from the airport. JJ now thinks that we scots always listen to this sort of music 😉 On arrival at Kemnay we then had a light breakfast of Rowies ( or butteries) which he seemed to enjoy 😉

We continued this theme by having a traditional meal of Haggis , Mince , Neeps and Tatties. Strange that JJ thought that the story of Haggis being a real food in Scotland was actually a joke with no firm basis in truth!!! He knows better now!

I also read him a few verses of Robert Burns poetry since this is usual when Haggis is consumed!! Here are the verses I chose for the occasion from his “Address to the Haggis”

Fair fa’ your honest, sonsie face,
Great chieftain o the puddin’-race!
Aboon them a’ ye tak your place,
Painch, tripe, or thairm:
Weel are ye wordy of a grace
As lang’s my arm.

The groaning trencher there ye fill,
Your hurdies like a distant hill,
Your pin wad help to mend a mill
In time o need,
While thro your pores the dews distil
Like amber bead.

His knife see rustic Labour dight,
An cut you up wi ready slight,
Trenching your gushing entrails bright,
Like onie ditch;
And then, O what a glorious sight,
Warm-reekin, rich!……………..

and you can find the rest of the words by clicking here

We were quick to put his misconceptions about the Haggis right by explaining how it is a very special two legged breed which inhabits the the hilly terrain of Highland Scotland and consequently has evolved to have one leg longer than the other. This is due to the fact that these animals often have to run around the hillsides to escape their predators and having one shorter leg makes it much easier get up good speed. These facts are of course little known out with Scotland so I think that JJ was very pleased to increase his knowledge 😉

See below JJ as he enjoyed a traditional Scottish meal at our home in Kemnay. You can also see some more photos by clicking here.