(It’s) Coming Together!

The decisions over what size of luggage to take on a trip… can I get away with hand luggage? Pay for a large cabin bag? Or do I have to check one? … are taken out of my hands when there is so much equipment to bring along. I plead with clients to travel light, especially for Morocco when the luggage sometimes has to go on the roof, hoisted up by our kind (and luckily strong) driver, but too much is definitely tiresome for all concerned. What to do, then, when I have two trips running back to back, and both of them are full to the brim?

The good part: don’t all those pencil cases look colourful. Almost worthy of a sketch in themselves. And, best of all, I’ll have an empty case on the way back to fill up with Moroccan goodies: salted almonds, sticky dates (well-wrapped, of course) and dried broad bean halves that are difficult to source in the UK, needed to make ‘besara’: a wholesome, earthy soup, deliciously warming on frosty mornings. There was a time when I would have filled an empty bag with rugs and jewellery but that’s a story perhaps best left for another time.

I have packed the case for next week, when I’ll be travelling to Morocco for the first time since the pandemic, and I can’t wait to see, smell and taste it. The first sip of mint tea after three and a half years will be like nectar, and I’m delighted to be sharing the experience – not the tea – with so many eager painters from all directions. Morocco and I will be welcoming citizens of Canada, Australia, Ireland, the US (including Alaska), Hong Kong, England and Scotland.

I’m hoping the snow will have cleared from the passes – although it’ll look beautiful on the summits of the High Atlas – and after a period of heavy rain, there should be flowers in the desert, a rare and wonderful sight. One must pack for all seasons in Morocco, as for Scotland: shorts and flip flops, duvet jacket and furry boots. And lots of sienna, ochre and indigo watercolours, naturally. When I return I’ll post the results!