So, having been invited by Club Med to experience #morehappiness at their gorgeous Agadir resort in Morocco, with the children safe back at home, we settled down for a week of relaxation.
IMG_4989

The accommodation was pretty, the rooms simply decorated in a Moroccan style and whilst they weren’t huge, you don’t spend a lot of time inside when there is so much to do both in the resort and in the local area.
There are gorgeous areas within the bar, and seating all around which had huge, velvety cushions and ornate Moroccan style decor (and Wifi, and of course unlimited coffee, which is a big selling point).
The staff at the bars and restaurants were really lovely – and all of them could speak English far better than my hopeless attempts at French.
There’s no problem with finding a sun lounger – I was surprised, being an early riser, to get up and not see the usual towel-wars going on. The atmosphere is very laid back – fresh towels are supplied from 8.30 until 6pm and there was no trouble finding a sun lounger or an umbrella either at the pool or down on the beach, where there’s a private section for Club Med guests.

IMG_4993

There are two restaurants on site – one, the buffet, and the other a Moroccan themed restaurant where you could reserve a table. The food was AMAZING. I’ve been to several all inclusive resorts and never had such a wide variety of dishes. The themed evenings were so gorgeous. The whole restaurant was decked out with flowers one night, and we were all handed a rose as we arrived.  
The next night the restaurant and bar were swathed in rugs and huge wall hangings for a Moroccan evening, with fragrant tagines which are making my mouth water just thinking about them.  Each night there was something different – one night the theme was simply “white” and it was surprising to see how many of the guests embraced this (I was in a turquoise dress, and stood out at the bar rather…)

IMG_4996

IMG_4999

IMG_5001

The flowers in the gardens are incredible. The gardeners work so hard to keep the place spotless – as a gardener, I know how much work it takes to keep my little town garden tidy and the grounds of Club Med Agadir are huge and immaculate. There’s loads of room for children to play outside, or just to lie under the shade of a tree and read if you want some peace.
The pool area is peaceful in the morning but lunchtime brings super-loud music which definitely appealed to the younger guests – I tended to escape to the beach, or to the gardens in the afternoon as the very enthusiastic DJ was a bit much for me. I suspect I might be showing my age, mind you.

IMG_5003

IMG_5004

IMG_5005

There are a handful of tame cats who live in the resort and these two kittens were SO gorgeous that I could have sneaked them into my bag and taken them home…

IMG_5010

In the Medina-style courtyard each evening you could sit and enjoy a cocktail (they’re deceptively strong) before heading over to the bar for… another cocktail. The bar staff have a long list of cocktails they can provide, but I saw them making up all sorts of others on request.

I’ve never been on an all inclusive holiday where I have literally not spent any money – but with coffee on tap, breakfast followed by morning snacks, followed by a huge lunch, afternoon snacks, and then dinner in the evening there wasn’t much to spend money on in the resort.

If you still have room for something to eat in between times, there’s always the lovely GOs (Gentil Organisateurs – the staff who work tirelessly to make sure you have a brilliant time) who appear round the pool and down by the beach with trays of freshly cut fruit. 

IMG_5015

IMG_5016

IMG_5018

I loved the atmosphere of Club Med Agadir. It was magical.

IMG_5020

IMG_5022

IMG_5024

IMG_5043

Watching the sun set each evening over the harbour of Agadir was a nightly routine, and made the holiday really special. In the evening the weather cools off a bit so you can walk along the promenade and into the harbour itself where there are designer shops, a huge variety of restaurants, a souk (fab souvenirs and household decorations – we got some amazing plates as well as herbs and spices) and then there’s the harbour itself, which is beautiful.

IMG_5048

IMG_5056

IMG_5093

Club Med Agadir is a fantastic place.  I haven’t even mentioned the amazing kids club – with six children between us we’ve got a good eye for that sort of thing and whilst we were enjoying some time away from the children, I couldn’t resist popping round for a look to see how the clubs were run. There are clubs for tiny toddlers (where they had activities from art and crafts up to a visit from farmyard animals) right up to teenagers, and they seem to have the balance just right – I watched as the teenagers started the week looking reluctant to join in, and within a couple of hours they’d all bonded and were hanging out at night at their own table, having abandoned their parents at dinner time.

If you want to play golf or tennis, try archery, do yoga, power walking or aquarobics, they’re all available. I watched all of the above, did lots of swimming, enjoyed the glorious peace and quiet of a week without children, and read a huge heap of books. There’s something for everyone at Club Med Agadir and they’re doing a brilliant job of spreading #morehappiness!

Club Med provided us with a week’s accommodation in their Agadir resort for the purpose of this review.

We decided to celebrate our new National Trust membership with a trip out to Rufford Old Hall in Lancashire, which isn’t far from us.

rufford old hall lancashire

It’s a gorgeous place to go if you’re looking for a day out in the North West – there’s something for everyone, whether you’re a lover of history (the most amazing 16th century Old Hall complete with woodwork) or gardening (there’s 14 acres of garden which is beautifully maintained – I could have wandered around there all day) or cake. In typical National Trust fashion there is the most AMAZING cafe. The cakes are so good that a woman there told me they quite often pop over just for a treat (I’ve wondered before if National Trust membership is worth it as much for the cakes as for the culture…)

courtyard rufford old hall
The 18th century cobbled courtyard has stables, an old piggery and a water pump (as well as the cafe, a shop and some plants for sale from the garden, too)
rufford hall lancashire
The Tudor patterned Hall was built in 1530 – you can’t take photos inside, so you’ll have to imagine how gorgeous it is (or visit) but it’s all intricately carved wood, complete with angels carved into the hammer beams. There’s a seven foot wide movable screen made of oak which weighs three tons. Back in 1580, William Shakespeare was reputed to have stayed there for six months.
rufford old hall gardens rufford old hall hydrangeas
foxgloves rufford old hall lancashire National Trust
The gardens are gorgeous. There’s a lovely nature trail for children, and in the woods there’s space for den building and heaps of wood and branches – we’ll definitely be back with the children soon.
hydrangea head rufford old hall NT english garden bunting rufford old hall lancashire NT english house garden bunting rufford old hall lancs apple trees rufford old hall english fern

If you’re thinking of a trip to Rufford Old Hall the opening times and directions are here. I went on a whim after a weekend which was busy and full of London and chaos and noise and people and it was just what I needed. More on that weekend in another post – suffice to say every time I speak at a conference I end up escaping to the green quiet of a garden, somewhere, very soon afterwards. It soothes my soul.

Grab yourself a personalised, signed edition of my current novel, Sealed with a Kiss

“Wonderful escapism – Katie Fforde”

Over 500 Amazon reviews!

pop over here and sign up before they run out!

I went on Facebook just now and saw this.

Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 17.25.35

And I started to write.

What’s on my mind Facebook

Is that I’ve been up since 5am. I’ve had a million and one tweets of congratulation from blogging friends and famous writers and people I’ve met along the way.

I’ve featured in newspapers and online interviews and in blog posts.

At lunchtime Amazon had already sold out of their stocks of the paperback of Sealed with a Kiss and they’ve ordered in more.

I’ve jumped 176,200 places in their paperback chart since yesterday and that’s amazing.

I had a long thinking sort of shower and the characters for my NEXT book, the one that isn’t even due until next year, were talking in my head because they’re desperate to get out.

I went to the bookshop and they looked at me blankly and didn’t have any copies ordered.

I felt a bit deflated and we went for coffee and to do the school run (because all that stuff still goes on)

Then I saw this photo my mum had sent – from Waterstones in Milton Keynes

IMG00021-20140508-1337

And that’s MY BOOK on a bookshelf. And I felt amazing.

And then I read a text from my mum which told me she was proud of me, and that my dad would be too. And I cried, in the school car park, in the rain.

And then lovely Waterstones at the Trafford Centre told us on Twitter that they’ve got copies and they’d love me to sign some and I felt like A Real Writer for a moment.

And people keep asking how does it feel. And the answer is it feels amazing and terrifying and scary and wonderful and exhausting.

And tomorrow I’ll get up and go and sign some books, and then I’ll get on with writing my book.

And that, Facebook, is what’s on my mind. A bit much for a status update, really, but it’s been a bit of a day.

You can order Sealed with a Kiss here and have it delivered to your local indie bookshop.
You can buy Sealed with a Kiss here for Kindle or in paperback
You can click and collect Sealed with a Kiss at Waterstones here
I don’t mind how you do it really – but I hope you like it.

I am completely giddy with excitement. I have to confess that I’ve been into bookshops and tried to imagine how it’ll look to see Sealed with a Kiss sitting there and I can’t quite imagine it. I got a copy of Cruise International magazine through the post the other day complete with a review on the back page (my book on the same page as Twiggy – probably the only time I’ll be on the same page as a supermodel…)

Screen Shot 2014-04-30 at 18.00.23

I’ve got loads of exciting stuff happening this week – I had two interviews today with journalists who are doing articles on the book, and I’m going to be popping up all over the place featuring on blogs chatting about books, and my favourite films, and all sorts of things. I’ve also leapt into YouTube having had a really good chat about it at yesterday’s Blog On conference at the Museum of Science and Industry and discovered (rather later than my children, who are permanently glued to Stampy Longnose videos) that there’s a whole world of people out there who like watching people talking about stuff. And I like talking about stuff. So you can find me there, again, talking about stuff – Pinterest, this time. Excuse the slightly bonkers unbrushed hair. It’s a holiday.

The paperbacks are here! D’you want to have a look? My favourite bit about this is the “is this on” moment where I don’t say a word. Technology is not my friend.

Sealed with a Kiss, my romantic comedy set on a Scottish island is released by Pan Macmillan on May 8th. Keep up to date with my writing, get extracts from my next books and be first to hear about signings, free book giveaways and more –  Just sign up for my newsletter here

Or you can join me on Facebook or chat to me on Twitter

Living in a Victorian seaside resort has benefits for Doctor Who fans. We sneaked off to the huge Victorian cemetery to take some photographs of weeping angels. (We didn’t blink.)

weeping angels doctor who

It was gorgeous sunshine when we took the pictures but that doesn’t stop them being eerie. We’re all massive Doctor Who geeks in this house, so having a collection of angels here in town is a bit unnerving.

weeping angel

victorian graveyard angels

weeping angels doctor who

weeping angel victorian

victorian graveyard

weeping angel on grass

 

I don’t know which of the last two Weeping Angels we found the spookiest. All I know is we won’t be watching Doctor Who again for a while until our imaginations have calmed down a bit. And don’t even think of creeping up behind me while I’m sitting here in this chair…

Sealed with a Kiss, my romantic comedy set on a Scottish island is released by Pan Macmillan on May 8th. Keep up to date with my writing, get extracts from my next books and be first to hear about signings, free book giveaways and more –  Just sign up for my newsletter here

Or you can join me on Facebook or chat to me on Twitter

I found myself on YouTube this morning helping my 12 year old with his plans for world domination, and got sidetracked looking at writing videos (it’s research, so it’s not procrastination, right?). I thought I’d share them here for those moments when you’re feeling a bit stuck and need a boost, or in the case of the Nora Roberts interview, a laugh.

five videos for writing inspiration

“Harry Potter gave me freedom”
JK Rowling talks about writing for grown ups.

“Create, through writing, the person you want to be as a writer”
Anne Rice answers the questions she’s most often asked

Ian McEwan’s Advice for Writers:

“By the time I get the first words on the first page, half of the novel is done”
Philippa Gregory on research.

“Discpline, guilt and guilt are really excellent tools for the writer’s toolbox”
A very funny Q&A with Nora Roberts. This is brilliant.

Sealed with a Kiss, my romantic comedy set on a Scottish island is released by Pan Macmillan on May 8th. Keep up to date with my writing, get extracts from my next books and be first to hear about signings, free book giveaways and more –  Just sign up for my newsletter here

Or you can join me on Facebook or chat to me on Twitter

chicken soup

 

The most popular post on my blog is my Immune Boosting Chicken Soup recipe written one day whilst I was struggling to finish a book I was writing and I had a horrible cold. I’ve gathered together a few of my other favourites, for those of you who come here looking for inspiration.

 

swack christmas

Or you can join me on Facebook or chat to me on Twitter