This week I wrote Origins, the folklore that is passed down through the generations on where Shifters came from. Like any origin story it only has part of the truth, but its the truth the Shifters needed to develop their sense of identity and shared history to develop as a race. This story may or may not end up in my current WIP, I don’t want to info dump on the reader though I will take bits and pieces to provide context.

I love my origin story and thought I would share it here as a tantalizing insight to the universe I am creating and I hope you enjoy.

P.S. The Fae are now referred to as Pari (a derivative of the Persian Pari-Pari).

Shifter Origins

Innovation comes out of crisis, and when the Pari came to Earth their world was in crisis.

The Pari had been in a civil war for almost 40 years; their planet’s ecosystem on the verge of collapse due to increased sea and atmospheric temperatures; and, the Pari of the land lacked the ability to effectively engage with the Pari of the sea creating tensions between the two races. 

But the Pari of the land were great scientists and innovators, when they discovered Earth they utilized our ancestors to find a solution to their problems. Using their Elphame magic they desired to discover the ability to change from one species into another, so the land Pari could turn into sea Pari and find common ground for their quarrels.

This was The Age of Experemental Evolution in Pari history. Scientists used animals and explored merging Elphame with the animal’s spirit before ripping both from its body and thrusting the merged energies into a human.

In the beginning some ancestors turned feral, the spirit of the animal too dominant and they would be stuck in the animal form. Over time the Pari learnt how to pull spirits from multiple animals and combine them, merging only a small part of the mixed spirits into our ancestors. This process was less effective at first for maintaining a shift, however, within a few generations the offspring, from childhood could control and maintain full shifts. 

This discovery provided the solution that would end the Pari civil war and soon the Pari returned to their homes leaving sentries to observe evolution of the Shifters they had created. 

The experiments on our ancestors to create Shifters were not the only ones the Pari conducted. Later Shifters learnt about another branch of Pari scientists studying the elements, and whether, if they could control the elements, if it would give them the ability to reverse the damage they had done to their world. Through their research the Pari created another race, the Mages.  

Shifters and Mages lived in relative peace with humans for nearly 600 years before the witch trials began. Unlike Mages, Shifters had always kept their Elphame abilities secret and Shifters were predominantly saved from trials— though a few were accused of being werewolves and drowned.

During this period the Pari who maintained sentry over their creations assisted in hiding and relocating the Shifters and Mages, protecting them from human ignorance. Shifters started creating compounds or safe havens for families to live free from persecution, and providing safe harbor for nomadic Shifters which eventually lead to the development of an underground Shifter network.

Shifters continued to live alongside humans but the tales of how the Pari had almost destroyed their planet remained on their consciousness, and influenced their culture. Shifter compounds spread around the world during the colonial period and Shifters learnt of others like them across Asia and Africa. Shifters begun to collaborate, developing a global Shifter network providing more opportunities for individual and families to find new homes in new Shifter communities which exist to this day.

Querying and Nano

This morning Query Tracker marked day 15 since I submitted my first query. In the interim, I have received two form rejections neither from the agent that lit the fire under my butt when I first saw she was open to submissions and started me querying.

To distract myself from the querying trenches I decided to participate in Nano and draft the book I started drafting last Nano and lost because I didn’t backup to the cloud! Magella’s story – as I am referring to it; has taken on a whole new life to what it had been a year ago and I have added a new POV, Ma’Heanna, to tell her story and how she ended up becoming the villain.

As a plantser I start with very basic details about my characters and plot. I know who my main characters are, I know where their journey starts and where I want their journey to end, and I kind of know what lessons I want them to learn or struggles I want them to face. But their path, their choices, their reactions to situations and their personal growth I can only write as they develop into their full selves throughout their journey.

It’s exciting not knowing how someone will react to finding themselves the kidnapper or the kidnappee and wondering how they got into that situation. When they grow in their relationship with their partner and learn new things about themselves; or, in the case of Magella, makes a complete transphobic ass of herself when she first meets her future mother-in-law and has to reevaluate her own opinions of self and long-held ideas on gender.

I don’t know yet just how Magella will overcome those challenges but there is a certain excitement in facing those challenges with her and helping Magella find the path forward best for her.

Working on Magella’s (and Ma’Heanna’s) Story is also making me consider parts of my first novel (the one out for query). Even now I think of different scenes and way’s in which I could improve it; I think of the opening chapter and consider small changes that would better reflect the tone of the story I am introducing the reader to. Part of me is waiting for that first agent to reject my manuscript so I feel justified to go in and make those changes that I am want to make, while another part hopes the agent sees the potential and is as eager as I to discuss how we could make my book even better.

For now, however, I will keep on Nano-ing and hope to get a full or partial manuscript request soon!

World Building Changes

For almost 3 years I have been building my Elphame Universe and in the last couple of weeks, I have been having this feeling that my Universe is unintentionally too… I am going to say European. Or at least appeared to be based too heavily on European folklore— which it is, and it isn’t.

I was so focused on trying to make the races different from how we traditionally told stories about them that I didn’t stop and think maybe then be using other lore as my guide. The most prominent example of this is the Fae.

In my stories I see the Fae as an advanced race, they make mistakes, they are constantly questioning their own ethics and morality, but they are also in a way the older aunty or uncle that you would go to for help and advice. They care about life and want to guide you to make good choices.

That doesn’t sound like any Fae I have read either in modern or historical literature. The Fae are either portrayed in a benevolent light, or as tricksters, power-hungry, bargain makers, cruel and bloodthirsty.

It got me thinking of the other Fae or Fae-like creatures in other histories such as Jin, the Peri (or Pari Pari in Malaysia), or the Johan. The Peri had closer ties to the being I was looking to create but not quite.

Right now I am throwing up two ideas.

  1. To simply change the name of the Fae to Pari and look to the Persian, Arabic and Malay folklore more to build out their identity as a race more, or
  2. To create find another mythical being which better suites the qualities that my Fae race currently embody.

I haven’t quite decided yet which way I will go. Considering I am currently querying my books I either need to make a decision fast or (fingers crossed) if I get an agent explore the idea with them.

Thankfully in my current book the Fae play only a very small role for the most part I believe it will only be a name change rather than extensive changes to the book. But I am working on a second standalone in this universe for Nano and if I am going to change the Fae race I would like to do it now rather than in draft 3 or 4 while the story is still new and exciting.

The Elphame Universe

In the speculative Elphame Universe the Fae are an advanced race that had interacted with humans in centuries past creating the myths of Fae, Pari Pari, Nymphs, and Jogha across the world. These Fae have abilities and technology beyond those of contemporary society, and what is magic but science we haven’t learnt yet (Arthur C. Clarke).

The magical abilities of the Fae are the evolutionary result of Elphame, a compound that is natural to the Fae world. Centuries ago the Fae— under the guise of research and the betterment of all— experimented on the young human race. They tested the Elphame compound on humans, studying its effects.

These experimentations included taking one male and one female youth from each region, back to their Fae world. There those youth would become the first of the human settlement in Elphame and for almost 600 years the Fae would study and did not interfere as the settlement grew and a new Human Elphame race was born.

As the human race evolved, the moral ethics of the Fae’s involvement on earth saw the experiments come to an end. But small groups of Fae stayed and from the shadows watched, and over the generations two new races evolved. 

The Fae world

Fae: The Fae have many abilities. Over the millennia their life spans have lengthened and are now able to live upwards of 300 years. They are simultaneous hermaphrodites and possess fully functional male and female genitalia. They have no disease and heal from most injuries within minutes. Individual Fae have abilities that their families have cultivated over the years, including:

  • Abilities to heal others
  • Levitation
  • Control of the elements
  • Change gender, shape, species
  • Foresight 
  • Empathic 

They are also a technologically advanced society and have learnt how to harness the Elphame and apply it to wormhole theory to create portals from the Fae world to Earth.  

The Fae people are a highly enlightened, well-educated, liberal-minded, community-centric, environmentally aware race. Though they will admit they are not perfect and continue to make mistakes. 

Shifters: Shifters were the evolutionary result of a Fae experiment focused on controlling Fae ability to change genders and forms. Prior to the experimentation, Fae could not control their gender, environmental factors could see their gender change multiple times throughout their life. The Fae wanted to control their gender and were interested in seeing if they could take other forms using the Elphame.

Although this experiment ultimately failed in controlling gender, it did succeed in allowing the humans implanted with Elphame to take on physical aspects of animals for short periods of time. Over the centuries the Elphame within these humans evolved and within three generations these humans were able to change into an animal form. Overtime the animal forms these shifters would turn into would change dependent on the enviroment, but eventually a persons animal forms would be determined based on personality traits. 

Shifters are not like the apha pack animals portrayed in media. The animal shape they take is not a separate being, there are no “animal instincts”, no alphas or omega’s, and they do not have packs. However shifters do live in small tight-knit communities ofter made up of extended families and friends. These communities are connected through shared history with the wider shifter community and shifters will often travel and visit other communities (it helps with preventing inbreeding). Shifters are aware of the Fae and Mages, but the Elphame Humans are a race they are only just learning about. 

Mages: The Mage race, like the Shifters were the evolutionary result of Fae experimentation. The Fae wanted to learn how to control the elements and used humans as guinea pigs to their theory’s before applying to their own race. This experiment was highly successfull and through teaching human’s how to pull the little pieces of Elphame the Fae had given them and call the elements the Mages successfully learnt to find magic in nature. 

The Mages, unlike the Shifters, didn’t form small communities. Instead they remained assimilated in society and often faced persecution for their abilities. The Mages learnt to hide themselves in plain sight and kept their knowledge within the family. 

Over the generations the Mages learnt how to further harness their energies and direct it certain directions, e.g. towards healing. However some Mage’s developed new abilities including the ability to pull energy from animals and other humans. These Mages often sort power and the ethics and customs of the Mage people were often discarded in that reach for power. 

Elphame Humans: The Human Elphame are the descendants of the youth taken from Earth 600 years ago and brought to the Fae world. For 500 years they lived, grew and prospered creating their own traditions, customs and ideas. During those 500 years the naturally occurring Elphame naturally blended into the humans genetic make-up, giving them longer lives to where they now live for around 130 years, less illness and faster recovery from wounds.   

However human technology in the Fae world did not keep up with their new abilities and after 8 years of drought and famine the Winters Men would be a night that would change the trojection of the Human Elphame. 

With the Human Elphame civilisation on the verg of collapse due to starvation and no knowledge of Fae world beyond the lage island the Human Elphame inhabit a group of men in their 40’s and 50’s take action. In one winters night they murder 85% of elderly and disabled people who they considered did not contribute to society and were taking away valuable food sources. The night, which would be known as Winters Men, shocked many humans and the Fae leading to the Fae announcing their existence to the Human Elphame.

The introduction was a rocky start with many upset that the Fae had not made themselves known sooner, but that populous animosity was quickly replaced by appreciation of the technological advances and relief from the famine the Fae provided.

Human Elphame are now beginning to assimilate with the Fae population and some have even returned to Earth.   

Batch Querying

I wasn’t kidding in my last post when I said I put my MS away when it was almost ready to go out into the world. A week after that post I sent out my first MS query!

I am batch querying my MS, which means that I am only reaching out to 4-6 Agents at a time. This is a traditional method of querying in the traditional publishing world, though I have heard that since Covid literary agents are receiving more bulk email queries where people are BCC-ing 50 agents at once.

I prefer the batch query method, not only does it mean you are taking the time to select agents that represent books in your genre but it also means if you receive feedback from an agent you can take that advice into consideration and if applicable make changes.

I already from my first batch of querying have learnt so much, below I have listed some of the things I have learnt!

  1. I can’t decide what genre to put my book in! This might sound weird but its true. So far I have categorised my MS as Urban Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Suspense, Fantasy, Romance, Women’s Fiction and Speculitive Fiction. I think now, to give it the broadest categorization I am now calling it Womens Specultive Fiction.
  2. Not all agents want synopsis but will want to know who you read?! In preperation for querying I wrote my synopsis and query letter spending lots of time researching how to write them and then having people critic. However when I went to query agents what they were regularly asking for were: Bio’s, Query Letters, First 10 pages – 3 Chapters of your book, and Book Comps. As such I ended up creating a second query letter for those agents that didn’t want synopsis’s as my original query letter was a taster in preperation for the synopsis.
  3. Book Comps A lot of people provide comparisions for their MS e.g. Its Pride and Preduice meets Tomorrow When the War Began (not my comps) but it is not necessary. However I have already had 3 of the 6 agents I queried in this round have a seperate section requesting book comparisons. I wasn’t prepared for this and wrote a really dumb answer for the first time it was asked (that agent rejected my MS in a day).
  4. Bio’s Again, I hadn’t been expecting to have to provide a second bio to the breif bio I put in the query letter. This threw me through a loop the first one or two queries, espeacially if agents are requesting you submit your MS through Query Tracker. I have since revised my query letter, reducing my bio there to 1 sentance, and drafted a short 4 line bio for those agents providing a brief background of who I am and what inspired me to write my book. If you have writing credentials though, this would be where you would mention those.
  5. Some Agents will get back to you in a day, others advise if you haven’t heard from them in 3 months then its a no. This was a crazy thing to read on agent sites, that they wouldn’t get back to you to say no. Not even a form reject. Aware that agents are getting bulk emailed for MS that aren’t even in their genre’s I can understand that agents are overwhelmed but having to wait 3 months just to know that particular agent is not interested is dissapointing. Espeacially if you can not submit to another agent at their literary agency until that 3 month period is over.

So these are just a couple of the things I have learnt in my first week of querying, I am sure there are much more that will come up. Until then, in the words of Dr. Bonney Henry:

Be Kind, Be Calm, Be Safe.

Picking up my Manuscript after 5-month Hiatus

Three weeks ago I picked up my manuscript (MS) after a 5 month hiatus.

You might be thinking, think MS must be in the early stages, or the first draft for such a long break from my work but its not.

My MS has gone through 6 drafts and had just returned from the editor when I stopped working on it.

Why?!? You ask…

Because summer was on its way and I had just started a new job, and I was sick at reading the same story over and over again.

Over those 5 months I had also stopped participating in my writing community, and it was loss of community I felt that brought me back to my MS. After a Wednesday night zoom meetup of other fantasy writers, one of who also edited my MS, I felt rejuvenated and ready to look at my story again.

When I put my MS away, I was very close to sending it to literary agents for representation. All I had to do is review the edits and suggestions of my editor, write up a synopsis and start reaching out to agents.

5 months later I am happy I never completed those final steps.

My book is great. But with the distance and fresh eyes I am finding small ways throughout my MS to improve my story. There are no big changes planned, but all these small additions will have big impact.

Now, I am more confident that when do I send my MS out to the world (before the end of 2021) it will be loved, respected and enjoyed as much as I dream it will be.

So Long, Farewell

725 days after first arriving in Dublin to start my new life and a new adventure I am boarding a plane in search of my next adventure. For anyone familiar with my blog for some time I have been umming and ahhing about my life in Ireland and weather to leave for pastures new. Well over Christmas I finally made up my mind, and so after a short holiday to Australia to visit family and friends I am off to Canada.

Back in July 2017 I had applied and very quickly was accepted for the 2 year International Experience Canada Visa; I had not expected to get the Visa so quickly and had no intention of going so soon. Instead I sat on the Visa with the intention that I would go in June 2018. I had a great job in Dublin where I was learning a lot and working with a great team, I also had great friends who I could really rely on so although I wanted to go to Canada I was in no rush.


But as the year rolled on I realised I was not happy. The cost of living was getting higher and higher and impacting on my quality of life, I had started to apply for more senior roles but the salaries I was being offered were the same and sometimes less than what I was already on. I became depressed, I was sick of the rain, with no car (insurance too expensive to own one) I felt confined to the city where there was public transport for me to get around, I felt like all I ever did was eat and drink, I was sick of the “casual dating” scene I felt was so prevalent Irish culture, and I felt isolated from the things I loved: being outdoors, hiking, playing with my dog etc. I had felt it coming for some time, the weight slowly slipping on, my zest for adventure slipping away… then over Christmas while sitting on a sunny beach in Morocco I decided enough was enough, I was out.

I decided that although I want to continue to grow in my career it was not the most important thing to me. Having a healthy work / life balance, being close to nature, being able to afford avocado toast (ok maybe not avocado toast, I hate avocados… Eggs benedict, I like that), getting a dog, having a car – these are all things that are important to me and all things I feel I have missed over the last two years.

So on that basis I went looking for a place to live in Canada. For me it was important to find somewhere that:

  • Had a proper hot summer which lasted more than a week;
  • Was close to nature, with lots of hikes and outdoor recreation activities;
  • Was close to a lake, river or ocean;  
  • Was affordable to live; and
  • Embraced an outdoor, active but laidback lifestyle.


In the end I chose Kelowna in the Okanagan Valley, British Columbia (BC). Settled between the Rocky Mountains and Vancouver I had visited and fell in love with the Okanagan Valley 8 years ago while on holidays after a semester as an exchange student at the University of New Brunswick. I had been a little reluctant on BC originally; mainly due to the fact that it was already the go-to destination for Aussies, and I did not want to be mistaken for just another Aussie out to get drunk, snowboard and work bar jobs. BC also only legislates for a mandatory two week’s annual leave per year, and although employers in professional industries are known to provide more leave this was a huge concern for me with my need for a better work / life balance. However all the other natural beauties of BC and my fond memories of the Okanagan Valley soon outweighed any reluctance and I had made my decision.

So now all my bags are packed and I’m ready to leave. I will leave behind some amazing friends, but as we go on our separate ways we will remember all the times we had together; and as our lives change, come whatever we will still be friends forever…

Regrets, I’ve had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption

I planned each charted course
Each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this

I did it my way



Agadir and Hamman

Part 3 of our Moroccan Adventure; you can find Part One here: Morocco, Marrakech, Souks and Sunshine… and Part Two here: The Sahara.

The next morning we were again up at the crack of dawn, our time in Marrakech was over and we were going to catch the 8:30am bus to Agadir. We arrived at the bus station early to buy our tickets and waited. Finally our bus was loading, we went to put our bags on the bus and were advised that we needed to pay if we wanted to bring our luggage, So we walked back into the station to the desk we brought our tickets from and asked for the luggage tickets, thankfully they only cost about 3 euro each. Luggage on board we climbed onto the bus. The bus was only half full and most people had crammed themselves into the front of the bus, so Guada and I headed towards the back of the bus and stretched ourselves out across to rows of chairs and prepared for a relaxing 4 hour trip to Agadir.

Once we arrived in Agadir we headed straight to the hotel, it was Christmas day and I had not yet had the opportunity to call my parents and wish them Merry Christmas so was looking forward to the WiFi to make a quick call before they went to bed. We arrived at the hotel, wished my mum and dad a Merry Christmas, dumped our bags and headed to the beach. 

DSC_3281The weather was about 21 degrees, had I just come from Australia that would have been baltic, but after almost 2 years in Ireland it was ideal weather for sun bathing. For the next 2 days we strolled along the Agadir esplanade each morning, we would then break to lie on the hotels private beach for a little while before retiring to the hotel pool for the afternoon. Once the sun began to drop we would again venture out to walk along the esplanade and find somewhere to eat.

DSC_3285On the second day we had decided a little spa treatment would be the perfect way to end our trip, so we ventured out to a local spa to try Hamman, a spa treatment everyone was recommending. We arrived at the spa and were ushered into a massage room and given bathrobes and disposable underwear to change into. After a few minutes later a woman walked into the room and showed us to a bathing room, the woman proceeded to disrobed us and started to pour warm water over our heads. Once we were both drenched the woman lathered us in a wax, indicated we should sit back and relax then left us in the warm room to look at each other, shocked and in fits of giggles… this was not what we had expected!

After a few minutes the woman returned and using a body scrubber began vigorously scrubbing at our skin removing the dead skin cells on our arms, legs, tummy, boobs and bum. My poor bum, which was still suffering with the scars of the camel ride from the two days before, did not appreciate the scrubbing! Once we were scrubbed clean our bathing lady lathered us up again, this time in mud. Our bathing lady was very funny, she could not speak English so to try and make us feel comfortable she would use her hands and facial expressions to joke with us as she washed us. After covering us in mud we were again left to lay back and soak in the mud’s natural …exfoliates? dirtiness? honestly we have no idea…. Again our bathing lady returned, she shampooed our hair and washed the off the mud before towel drying us, and helping us back into our robes. We returned to the massage room to dress, and finished off our treatment with a massage / manicure. It was an unexpected but brilliant experience, and the woman who bathed us were such fun and gentle women. We returned to the hotel glowing from our experience.

DSC_3266Although we found a lot of unwanted attention from the men in Agadir which stopped us from spending more time on the beach or strolling the esplanade, the hotel pool side provided us with plenty of entertainment to stop us from really feeling like we were missing out on anything. Ultimately we were happy with our experiences and our tan lines from Morocco. Finally, almost a week after we arrived we reluctantly left the hotel pool and caught a taxi to the airport and back to Dublin.

A week in Morocco was definitely not enough, we didn’t get to visit Casablanca, Essaouira or Fes, and they are just the popular places that the tourists know about. It would have been great to learn more about Berber culture and spend more time in the desert. But ultimately we had an amazing trip and for two girls on a budget we had an amazing time.  

The Sahara

Part 2 of our Moroccan Adventure (part one here: Morocco, Marrakech, Souks and Sunshine…).

The next morning we were off for our desert adventure. We were collected from the Riad at 7am and taken to a meeting point where an hour or so later we started our journey. We headed across the Atlas Mountains towards the Ksar of Aït-Ben-Haddou. The ksar is  mainly a collective grouping of dwellings. Inside the defensive walls which are reinforced by angle towers and pierced with a baffle gate, houses crowd together – some modest, others resembling small urban castles with their high angle towers and upper sections decorated with motifs in clay brick – but there are also buildings and community areas. It is an extraordinary ensemble of buildings offering a complete panorama of pre-Saharan earthen construction techniques. This world heritage listed village is also a Hollywood A lister, having appeared in (Brenden Frasers) The Mummy, Jewel of the Nile, Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven, Prince of Persia, and most recently Game of Thrones just to name a few. As we were taken on a tour through the village, our guide proudly announced that last year running water had been connected to the village and next year they expected to get electricity. Sadly we were on a tight schedule and had little time to wander around the village and take in the eclectic scenery of donkeys, chickens, carpet makers, souks, children and women going about their daily lives as we were herded off to a restaurant in the new village for lunch.DSC_3039Our stomach’s full, we dozed on the bus as we continued to head west towards the Sahara. The landscape changed and we passed through mountains which reminded me of contour lines in geography class. We finally passed Zagora and found ourselves in a long valley of date palms, another hour and we were on the edge of the Sahara Desert. We said goodbye to our driver and hello to the camels. Most of our tour group stood around, obviously not wanting to be the first person to have to fumble their way onto a camel, but the moment the guide called for someone to be the first I was already standing next to my camel ready to jump on. Our journey was to take a bit over an hour, and I quickly fell into the rhythm of the camels movement… to be honest the movement kind of reminded me of being on top while having sex.

DSC_3141Half an hour in and my ass was killing me. I was wearing a tight pair of jeans that had rubbed against my skin along the stitching as I bobbed up and down. The older Danish woman bobbing up and down beside me quietly complained that her hips hurt and a women her age should not be in this position for so long. Finally the sun had set and we had arrived at our camp for the night, a ring of 12 sleeping tents and one food tent encircling a fire pit. Guada and I bunked up with a Columbian mother and daughter, we threw our bag into the tent and headed to the food tent for mint tea and to await our dinner.

Once our group had all settled into the food tent one of the guides joined us with a tray of glasses and a pot of mint tea. He poured us all glasses of tea and we went around the group introducing ourselves, our guide was genuinely interested in everyone and would try to say foreign phrases he had learnt from previous guests. After the tea was finished our guide cleared our glasses away and the men served us a communal dinner of soup, and chicken and vegetable tagine. We ate until we were full and then were served fresh fruit; the fruit was just delicious and we could not get enough of the oranges.

DSC_3090Finally the food was cleared away and we all moved outside to the fire pit. While some of our guides lit a small fire the others grabbed their drums and krakebs and started playing. After the first song was over some of the drums and krakebs where passed among us tourists as we attempted to keep in beat with our guides. After a while one of the older guides and an old eccentric Italian man jumped up and started dancing around the fire, they quickly encouraged others to join them and I found myself laughing and dancing as we circled the fire.  Eventually the many of the tourists started to disappear and head to bed, we sat for a while and talked to our desert guides about the stars and their lives. Our guide had grown up a Bedouin, travelling in caravans through the desert most of his life…. He said desert life had become much more difficult in recent years and so he and his family had settled in the village 6 years earlier. He missed the desert and they still went away for periods at a time, but it was better for them to be in the village.

Eventually we drifted off to bed, but we were not prepared for the cold desert night… Along with the 2 blankets each we found in our tent, Guada and I wore everything we had brought with us. For me that was a turtleneck sweater, t-shirt, and long sleeve shirt, with jeans and summer pants over the top; my winter jacket zipped up and hoodie pulled close around my head; shoes on and my bed socks on my hands like gloves. We were still freezing but somehow we survived the night. The next morning we had breakfast and mounted the camels just before sunrise for the trek back to our awaiting buses. Not everyone was keen to climb back on the camels, and for some of us it may have been smarter if we didn’t. However again I mounted my camel and we set off the way we came. Within 10 minutes I was regretting my decision. This time every time I bobbed up and down on the camel it felt like my ass was being smacked raw. But I refused to admit my defeat and battled on. As the sun rose over the mountains we stopped to admire the sunrise and to take selfies. Finally we arrived back at our bus, we dismounted our camels, bid our guides goodbye and loaded back onto the bus.

DSC_3201We left the desert and traveled back to the town of Oaurzazate which we had passed the day before. We were guided around the old city and the Taourirt Kasbah by a local guide enjoying an education in the the history and traditions of clay architecture before being deposited in a restaurant overlooking the old Kasbah to enjoy lunch.


After lunch we leisurely made our way back to Marrakech, stopping here and there in the Atlas Mountains for photo opportunities or to stretch our legs. Finally just before 7pm we were dropped at the gateway to the Medina, grabbing some street food as we walked back to our Riad.

Finally I was able to peel away the jeans I had worn for the last 2 days and enjoy a long, hot shower. On peeling away the jeans however I discovered that my desert adventure had left its mark, the rubbing of my tight jeans as I bounced up and down on the back of the camel had left a 2 ½ inch cut on my my ass….DSC_2823

The adventures continue in ‘Agadir and Hamman’.

Morocco, Marrakech, Souks and Sunshine…


Morocco, the land of the Sahara desert, Atlas Mountains, Casablanca, Marrakech, souks and sunshine… For Christmas 2017 my friend, Guada, and I decided to escape the dreary cold and wet winter of Ireland and head south in search of sunshine and tan lines. Being both from the southern hemisphere (Guada from Argentina and I from Australia) the idea of a hot Christmas was a welcome and totally normal idea. So we packed our carry-ons full of summer gear and headed off to Agadir.

We reached Agadir at  2.30am and slowly made our way through customs. A few hours earlier we had organised for a chauffeur company to drive us the 2 ½ hours to Marrakech. As we walked out of the airport we were meet by 2 men; one dressed in modern western attire, the second in a full length cloak and pointed hood…. To our ignorant relief our driver was the one in modern western attire. But as we soon learned the full length cloak and pointed hood is a traditional outfit in Berber culture, and after a few days, as we became accustomed to seeing them everywhere, my friend and I both wanted one for ourselves…. but at 2.30am in a new country, with no other people around, it just kind of freaked us out.

blue houseWe jumped in the car with our driver and head off in the middle of the night along the road we hoped was for Marrakech. I had popped a sleeping pill as we left Dublin and had fallen asleep almost the moment I had sat down on the plane, so I quickly fell back asleep on leaving Agadir, while my friend desperately tried to stay awake in case we were being kidnapped. We speed along the blacktop and arrived in Marrakesh at about 6am. We had booked to stay in a traditional Riad in Marrakech’s Medina, but at 6am when we rocked up on the doorstep bags in hand the night-man refused to let us in telling us we could not check in until later. Thankfully after some words from our driver, the night-man let us leave our bags and our driver took us for breakfast at one of his local haunts. Our driver treated us to Harcha and Msemen, typical moroccan flat breads served with honey, cheese or eggs, and our first of many proper mint teas. After breakfast our driver dropped us off at the train station where he promised we would find somewhere to sit for a few hours and use the free WiFi while we waited for the banks to open up to exchange our money. I have to say, he was a pretty amazing driver, and we looked forward to more of this open and genuine hospitality.

DSC_2856We spent our first day in Marrakech visiting the Majorelle Garden ( Yves Saint Laurent), Jemaa el-Fnaa (square) and Marrakech’s famed souks. We looked, we shopped, we ate and we drunk mint tea. Completely exhausted we were back at the Riad and passed out by 8pm that night.

The next morning we were up early and on a mission. We had decided to go to the desert for 2 days the next day meaning that we only had one more full day left in Marrakech and we were determined to make the most of it. We started the day at Saadian Tombs, it was a peaceful and in the far corner there was a local man creating new mosaics for the tombs. From the Saadian Tombs we headed to the vastly different but impressive El Badi and Bahia Palaces. Before accidently finding ourselves on an impromptu tour of Marrakech tanneries while in search for the Ben Youssef Mosque. After lunch we leisurely made our way through the souks again before strolling through the gardens surrounding Koutoubia Mosque and ending the day in Jemaa el-Fnaa square.


Morocco continues in ‘The Sahara’….