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Dear <<First Name>>

We do hope you are all healthy and happy and that this newsletter will cheer you.

It's certainly a time for reflection. We chose the image because it shows reflections of the town walls and gardens in our environmentally-friendly pool.  If the pool interests you, please read  the story of how the pool is "green" 


An exciting new web site and video 
We'd planned to send this email in late December, but delays with producing a video held us up. We hope it's worth waiting for. Watch the video and explore the web site here

A Long Winter Stay
I'm glad to report that everyone in Morocco is well and in good spirits - partly thanks to the garden which is now producing lots of food. I am still learning how to live from our Moroccan staff after all these (28) years; they seem to be better at dealing with adversity than us. The garden here has certainly been a blessing for the staff. Having spent over 8 months in Wales, I decided to stay for 3 months over the winter. It has been a perfect opportunity to work with the team on a wide variety of projects. We think the place is almost perfect now! 

A Summary of the Structure of this Newsletter
1) Updates from the Ecolodge in Taroudant
2) Future Travel, Special Offers and Keeping Safe
3) Help for Deserving Causes

Interspersed with the text are our latest photos with explanations.


 
The view from the other end of the pool. To give you an idea of scale: the path between the arches is 46 metres long and the pool is 19 metres long! 
Ecolodge Updates

Our guiding principle for most current projects focus on making the most of our natural resources on the site and keeping the staff and our guests healthy.

Kitchen and Garden Projects 

So much progress that I could hardly believe my eyes. Many trees standing well above our 2 meter high walls, crops ready to eat. We have
  • made a "sensory plants" route to the hammam and massage room. You will be tickled by the soft grasses and will smell lovely herbs as you pass
  • rediscovered sourdough bread (once very widespread here), made sauerkraut and fire cider to support gut bacteria and immune systems
  • planted many new plants including henna and Mexican Apple (Casimiroa edulis)
  • sowed many crops and harvested some - we have eaten pink pomelo, pomegranate, guava and many herbs and vegetables
  • experimented with new recipes. We are enjoying the pesto very much
  • started caring for chickens instead of guests! The hens are turning waste from the garden and kitchen into manure to fire up the compost heap as well as eggs
  • we have a young female tortoise rescued from the road as well as our now very healthy stray cats, Marmalade & Gazelle
  • our next project is to make essential oils from our abundant basil, rosemary and lavender - they are so potent and fast-growing here
Colourful plants which thrive in dry conditions such as Madagascar Periwinkle mixed with food plants - here and fig tree and a partial view of the vine of a sweet potato.
The new fountain in the courtyard by the dining and activity rooms. The adjacent garden provides the kitchen with herbs and flowers to decorate food. Hidden underneath the fountain is a 9 cubic meter water storage tank. This is recycled greywater from showers, wash basins and rainwater which has been cleaned as it passes through gravel beds, and then it is used to irrigate the gardens
Communal facilities Upgraded

Amongst the many projects we have:
  • completed the solar-powered hammam (with gas back-up for emergencies including any days when the sun doesn't give enough hot water)
  • improved the dining room by decluttering and rearranging tables and adding wall hangings
  • decorated the activity room including a lovely centerpiece, a circular rug made of local wools by our friend Do Wilde 
  • in the arcades we have 4 "rooms", two of which now have a pair of handcrafted wooden benches with attractive rugs and cushions, mirrors and jewellery from Youssef's vilage for decoration
  • beautified the courtyard by adding a very attractive pergola to the south wall and a passion fruit vine beneath it
  • added 2 pergolas with tables and chairs in places with lovely views in the gardens and added a second fountain at the end of the pool 
 
Looking south into the courtyard to show the new fountain. It's such a delight to dance on this floor sprung with thick shoe soles which were easy to source in Taroudant because sandal making is a local craft.
The hammam uses sustainable materials too. The lower walls are covered with recycled glass tiles whereas the upper walls and curved ceiling are made of tadelakt, a traditional lime plaster sealed with olive oil soap. The bench is made of Moroccan marble. The room is scented by herbs and petals gathered in the gardens. Herbs can also be used in ceramic footbaths.
Tea and biscuits to greet new guests. You may gather your own herbs for teas from the courtyard - lemongrass, lemon verbena, scented geranium, mint, and more.
TRAVEL TO MOROCCO FROM THE UK 

Airlines are being very flexible about date changes so if you would like to travel and don't know whether you will be able to you can book without any financial loss. BTW if flights are cancelled due to insufficient bookings this normally takes place 2 weeks or more before the flight.

New Airline Schedules & Routes are now available:
  • EasyJet (Gatwick or Manchester to Agadir or Marrakech) until September 2022 (not 2021!)
     
  • BA (Gatwick to Marrakech) until February 2022
     
  • Ryanair (London Stansted to Agadir) until October 2021

Flights from London Gatwick, Stansted & Manchester now all go on Saturdays departing mid-afternoon, so from January 2022 our holidays will start on Saturdays instead of Tuesdays. This is beneficial for guests because transport can be shared, and it means it won't be necessary to stay at the airport the night before departure 
  


Covid related 

We must wait until the 12th April announcement in the UK as well as the Moroccan Government's next steps before earliest travel dates become clear, but Morocco is remarkably prepared and clean:
  • Covid-19 cases in Morocco are now very low - now only around 400 new cases per day and none in our town. Sunlight is known to kill the virus
  • An efficient vaccine campaign is well underway, ranking  6th in the world and the easily the best in Africa. It's planned to finish in late May
HOLIDAYS TO LOOK FORWARD TO..
 
WE CAN'T WAIT TO WELCOME OUR GUESTS AGAIN!
After almost a year without guests (except for 2 volunteers and the occasional Moroccan guests), the staff say how much they are missing their guests. They all send those of you they know their love and good wishes. They feel optimistic about the future because they are now so proud of the new property that they are sure guests will want to come. If you are going to travel abroad we are able to offer a safe haven - the layout, high levels of ventilation and spaciousness make it ideal.

 
TWO "KEEP SAFER" OFFERS
Since we are aware some of you are still keen to travel this spring, we are making these offers:


1) Single occupancy of bedrooms for the same price as a shared bedroom until end of August 2021.

2) Discounts on longer stays - to encourage less travel. We will offer a limited number of long winter stay places next year. I've also found that Taroudant is a great place to have eye problems sorted out cheaply - and now I've started on teeth!


For long stays 
Come to enjoy great food, some grown in our lovely gardens, birdsong, a large and private sun terrace on the roof, your own sun terrace by your room, the swimming pool, the solar hammam, argan oil massages, the natural warmth of our south-facing earth-walled bedrooms, books from our library, the activity room, yoga (mats available) and the loving care of our staff.


GROUP HOLIDAYS
We have an exciting new offering, a week entitled "The Power of Connection" run by experienced facilitator Katy van Haeften. The course will run in both 2021 and 2022. Don't we all need to connect better anyway? But after a long period of being much less connected with other human beings, it's even more important. If you would like to attend one of the Zoom Taster Sessions free of charge please register with Katy at trendydiva1@aol.com. The sessions will take place on Tuesday 13th April from 8-9.30 pm & Saturday 17th April from 3-4.30 pm  (both UK time). 



Group holidays will not be running before until 18th May 2021 (when the UK holiday travel ban may be lifted)
SOMETHING TO LOOK FORWARD TO WITHOUT COMMITTING
Provisionally reserve any dates between May and October 2021 
No need to pay a deposit until it is clear that travel is feasible for you 

See Our Calendar                    Email us to book
ALL BEDROOMS HAVE INTERESTING VIEWS
  • You will enjoy a variety of interesting vistas from the rooms. Many bedrooms have views of the plants after which they are named.
  • We planted deciduous or small plants are planted directly in front of bedrooms in order to allow the sun to warm the earth walls in winter.
    The rooms on the west or east sides enjoy close views of the plants planted beside our boundary walls whereas those near the main arches capture the beauty of the arcades.
  • Four rooms on the east side enjoy views over the greywater pebble bed which contains spectacular clumps of papyrus. 
BATHROOMS - AND A MINI OFFICE IF NEED BE!

Each pair of bathrooms is supplied with hot water from an innovative SunPad solar panel (we have 7 in total on the site). The water saving EcoCamel showerhead feels powerful because it draws in air, so saving 50% of the hot water. All the water from the shower & washbasin then passes through the gravel trench which cleans it in an anoxic environment. The water is stored both in the trench and in the tank mentioned earlier.

Each room has a little desk & chair with socket and USB port and a good lamp. Used together with our excellent Wifi you could move your office here! 
YOUR SAFETY DURING TRAVEL & STAYING WITH US
 
SAFE FLYING We feel reassured by recent research on flying. Transmission between air passengers is relatively rare, and careful preventative measures can reduce the risk still further. 

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology statistician reports that if you wear a mask, it greatly reduces the chance of you infecting others, but it doesn't protect you fully, whereas a shield appeared to be up to 10 times more effective against fine aerosols than the mask. He put the chance of catching Covid-19 on a full short-haul flight at one in 4,300.

The reason why the chances are so low is due to high-efficiency filters and that entire air volume of the cabin is exchanged with outside air every 2 to 5 minutes, hence the air you're breathing on your flight is  much cleaner and less contaminated than most office buildings.  Additionally, the cabin air is filtered through a HEPA filtration system 25-30 times per hour (better than N95 respirators used in hospitals) capture 95% of all particles >0.3 micrometers).

Open the air vent(s) above your head to maximise the flow which moves vertically from above your head and evacuated from beneath your feet.

Protect yourself further by:
1) putting a few drops of Lugol's solution (a form of iodine) on your mask because this will kill viruses that you inhale (it is volatile). But do test that you are not allergic to it beforehand by rubbing a little on your skin! A little peppermint essential oil on the tongue will have the same effect in the mouth.

2) Prepare by boosting your immune system with vitamins D3 with K2, Vitamin C and zinc.

Safety during Your Stay Rest assured we have good systems in place as well as a perfect layout and facilities at the ecolodge. We can't quite believe that we designed it so perfectly for current regulations.

You can read more about safety in the green box below.
 
 ANTI  COVID-19 MEASURES
New addition: trays in bathrooms so that your things are not touched when cleaning.
Half hectare plot – plenty of space to socially distance.
Floors marked; wide walkways in the open air to rooms.
Private terrace for each room plus 3 large outdoor paved areas (each 360 sq m) in courtyard, terraces by pool and on roof.
Very good ventilation through doors, windows and ventilation chimneys. 3 doors & 3 windows in large communal rooms.
Design and materials will maintain comfortable temperatures whilst ventilated: thick earth walls keep warm in winter or cool in summer
57 square metre pool for guests only; silver/copper disinfection more effective than chlorine as well as being environmentally-friendly.
Hygienic granite & marble worktops. Regular and thorough cleaning.
Regular temperature checks of staff and guests using remote laser.
Monitored careful daily cleaning including sanitising high traffic surfaces.
Signs for you to request not to have cleaner enter your room during your stay if you prefer,  just collect rubbish and dirty linen outside the door.
Liquid soap for hand washing in bathrooms (all en suite).
Toilets are in a separate cubicle from washbasins. Sign on all toilets to remind guests to close the lid before flushing.
New serving system in dining room.
Kitchen: 17 metres long with 6 sinks set in 27 metres of granite worktops. Separate sinks designated for hand washing, fruit & vegetables, meat, fish, dish washing & rinsing dishes.
Pigeonholes in the communal area for guests from each room to keep their small possesions in (eg keys, papers, phones, serviettes).
Reflexology as well as/instead of massage.
Our very special staff have been carefully trained in new procedures.
Transfer in our own vehicle(s) - Agadir is an airy, small, efficient airport.
Contactless payments. 
 
Help for Deserving Causes
 
It's good to feel we are lead lives with a purpose - that's certainly what inspires me to do what I do. 

In the last newsletter, I mentioned that we use the ethical Triodos Bank.  This time I suggest you might open a personal account with Triodos Bank because they will also donate £40 to the Soil Association who are doing such good work promoting sustainable farming post-Brexit & much more.
 
Beautiful birds and insects have moved in!
We see at least 20 species from or in our gardens. This house bunting loves to sit on the lantern. There are lots of  insects to feed them including crickets which make such a lovely sound in the evenings. We also recently started to see a variety of types of caterpillar and look forward to the butterflies. 
Date, walnut and olive harvests took place at the end of last year
NEWS OF CHARITABLE WORK 
Of course, Covid-19 has had a big impact on employment not only in tourism but also on many small businesses and disadvantaged people in Morocco.

Supporting Families and Children in Need
The biggest effects of our efforts have been through us putting donors and researchers in touch with the Moroccan Children's Trust.


As a result of Professor Helen Snooks (a former guest and academic at Swansea University) was successful in obtaining a £40,000 funding grant for research to undertake a project to explore the child protection system in our region as well as opportunities for improved alternative care and deinstitutionalization. It'll really help their wider child protection agenda in Morocco.

We introduced Pikala bikes (an NGO who we will be working with in future, but who unable to continue their normal work due to Covid-19) to them. 60 families most in need were identified and were supplied with food parcels. 

Animal Welfare
King Mohamed VI has indicated that local authorities must make provision for such facilities which is great news, so animal sanctuaries are getting support from the local authorities. We are excited to tell you that we have been in discussion with an incipient animal rescue charity in Taroudant which is already operating informally. 
We now have a visit planned to another animal rescue centre near Agadir soon to see how we can support them.
This was our Seasonal Greetings photo when the newsletter was scheduled to go out at Xmas. It has been delayed because we have been awaiting the completion of a video. The poinsettia you see was planted roughly the size you buy as a Xmas decoration in the UK a few months ago. Now it's about 2 meters high! It enjoys the moist soil around it, greatly helped by the ground cover plants that are now well established over most of the site.
Actions you might want to take to support us through these difficult times

We would be incredibly grateful if you recommended us to your family and friends.

We hope that our newly launched website will inspire you. See more

Maybe you would like to give a present of a gift voucher for a holiday with us? Email us here 


 
Musician and waiting horse-drawn taxi in the Main Square - where you will find also traditional storytellers and medicine men.
Belatedly we wish you all the very best for 2021. Finally, we would love to hear from you! Feedback, ideas and requests are always gratefully received. Sorry this is so long - it's 5 months' worth of news!

We thank you for your ongoing support. May you be healthy, happy, and creative in these extraordinary times.

Warmest wishes

Jane & Martyn in the Welsh office and the two Latifas, Said, Dounia, Nordine, Rachid, Fatima, Youssef and Souad in Morocco.

Phone Numbers Jane's WhatsApp +44 7787 148142   
UK office: +44 1239 615499   8.30 am -2.30 pm (Monday-Friday) and often at other times  


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Copyright © 2020 Holidays with Heart @ La Maison Anglaise Ecolodge, All rights reserved.

Our e mail address: jane@holidays-with-heart.co.uk

Our postal address in the UK: Estuary View House, St Dogmaels SA43 3HF, Wales, UK

Telephone: UK +44 (0)1239 615499

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