Escape to Morocco

I was lucky enough to escape to Morocco for some winter sun. I have wanted to go for years and this winter break came as a complete surprise bought for me by my better half who decided I needed Time-Out even though I had not planned on having any.

3.5 hours from Gatwick to Agadir is really a very quick escape, we left at 4.30am on a very dark and very cold winter’s day and landed just after 14:00 hrs in full sunshine and 26c.

Before I start, I have to say just how much I loved Morocco: it surprised me, charmed me and I am definitely going again. I’m saying this first as possibly you might not think so from my initial observations, so please be sure to read till the end!!

AGADIR

On first impression and if I am honest, Agadir was not what I expected at all, it is somewhat of a building site. Turns out that in 1960 it was totally wiped out by an earthquake, so it genuinely is a building site. Not a single old building survived the earthquake: no blue walls, no small alley ways, none of that. Furthermore Covid seems to have dealt it a bitter blow. Our hotel , which was highly rated, was falling apart at the seams: from the lift that hardly worked (in fact we got stuck in it on our last day), to a very sad breakfast, no shower gel as it ran out and we were given shampoo instead. The gym,  Sauna/ Hamam, hair and beauty salon closed down when Covid hit in 2019  they remain closed and  left in a state of disrepair.

But the people who worked at the hotel were lovely, they did all they could and the best they could to keep it together and offer a heartfelt service. They worked extremely long hours, smiled and carried on, I have nothing but respect for how genuine they were.

Agadir is built around a very long bay, it’s not one of those ‘picture postcard’ beaches: no palm trees, no crystal clear turquoise blue water. But it is pristine, the beach and the sea are clean and with it being a bay the water is calm and perfect for swimming.

Was the food amazing?? No, not at all. We found a couple of reasonable local restaurants, that’s about it. What it lacked in good food it made up for with its bakeries. OMG, the bakeries are on a whole different level, French patisserie infused with hints of Moroccan flavours, can it get any better? Not in my books. The bakeries are open from early morning to late at night ,you can eat all your meals there, or just have a drink and people watch. I would go back tomorrow.

Tafarnout was absolutely my favourite bakery, can’t recommend enough.

Next door to Tafarnout is L’anice , if you ask me it has the best biscuits I’ve had anywhere, they are not cheap but they are worth every penny

And across the road Café La Fontaine is great for a late night mint tea and cake, sit upstairs on the roof and check out Agadir.

The only local restaurant I can recommend for its charm and fresh food was Rafiq,

Finally, I have to mention the Souk, the Souk El Had in Agadir is the largest in the area

Walk in through one of the gates and step back in time. This walled Souk is enormous, the nerve centre of Agadir, selling everything from furniture to freshly made Argan oil.

The stalls of Dates and Olives did it for me, just incredible.

TAGHAZOUT

The bus outside our hotel said ’32 Gone Surfing’ well, had to jump on it to see what this was all about. 15 minutes out of Agadir is desert on one side and the Atlantic coast on the other, lots of coves with white beaches ,big waves and a lot of surfers.

The final stop, some 30 minutes up the road is Taghazout and Taghazout is exactly what I thought Morocco would be like, even better. This small fishing village with its narrow winding alleyways lined with cafes, pottery , blue doors and plenty of sea food is picture perfect. The people are lovely, it’s very chilled, the beaches are fantastic, coffee is spot on and if you like freshly grilled fish , this place has it all. I can’t recommend it enough. We tried a fair few of the local cafes, all of them were great so I’m not going to recommend a specific one but I definitely recommend visiting.

I must mention the cats and dogs as there were plenty of stray cats and dogs everywhere. No matter where: beach, street, outside restaurants.they were constantly fed, kept hydrated and well looked after. I was impressed.

I even made a new friend who decided to enjoy the shade of my beach recliner

Finally, seeing as I am a bag lady 🙂 for those who asked about my Instagram pics, I travelled with my Full Circle Duo, of course I chose colours I thought would look great in Morocco. You can now get my exact Limit-ed Edition Duo from our website ( and in our winter sale, but be quick)

At last it’s time to go, Portugal escape

This past January, just before lockdown restrictions ended in the UK and after almost 3 years of staying put in London, I finally boarded a plane and travelled.

Travel prep, testing and documentation was a mine field, just about enough to put you off from going anywhere. But with all the paperwork done and negative Covid test results confirmed I was Portugal bound taking with me my all new ‘Rena Go’ bag.

Well, I did design it to be a bag on the go, so only right to test drive it properly.

The airport was deserted, only 15 of us boarded the flight (I had to count), hard to describe just how alien it felt.

The flight was a direct flight to Porto, I was warned it rains a lot in Porto and it did exactly that. But I loved it, what a beautiful town, such friendly people and the bakeries… oh my, take me back.

The old port , bridges ,blue and white tile clad buildings and steep cobbled streets make it a fascinating town to visit and discover.

A 3 hour train journey which ended being a 5 hour journey from Porto to Lisbon was not great, if I am honest.  The steep walk from the station up the hill to Alfama was picturesque.  I’m not sure what I expected, but it certainly surprised me , so very quaint for a capital city, living in London you expect capital cities to be big and crowded.

One advantage of travelling during Covid was just how empty and quiet everything was. I understand Alfama is a bustling tourist district, not so when I visited. I appreciated the sunshine, views, colours and silence.

Lisbon is an absolute gem, beautiful, vibrant, interesting, tasty..  and if I’m talking tasty , a meal at Pharmacia is a whole different experience. Especially if you can sit outside on a sunny day. Don’t miss it!

There are plenty of short excursions to be had from Lisbon ( another reason I will be going back).

I managed to visit Cascais, a short train ride from Lisbon along the coast to this old fishing village. Inside the walls of the old city is the Cidadela Art District with it’s galleries and museums. It was too cold to swim in January but the white sandy beaches were beautiful all the same and the old port with it’s outdoor dining hub was buzzing.

Did the Rena Go pass the test drive?? the intention was to create a ‘down sized’ bag for the times… we live out of our phones after all so travelling with a big bag is unnecessary. We do need compartments for our phone, passport, masks, sanitiser, book…  The Rena has just enough space for all these necessities plus a sewn- in key fob and card holder.  With it’s wide, adjustable and detachable webbed cotton strap, I think we did good.

Ooh La La, The Richmond Bag in Paris

Photography: Brian Minkoff

Bag: The Richmond

Is there a more photogenic capital city than Paris? arguably not in my humble opinion.

We sent our iconic Richmond Bag travelling just before Christmas ( and Omicron), so here’s a bag’s eye view of this beautiful city.:

From the newly renovated La Samaritaine Paris Department store

to the Place Vendome

The Louvre

The Eiffel Tower

Le Marais and it’s delicacies

Art Deco meets the new iphone at the Place St Michel

Even the bears over do it sometimes, but how can you not?

 

Despite Covid ,Paris is as beautiful and as tasty. In fact, maybe Covid restrictions and complications have made short, successful getaways even more special.

Happy New Year to all, may 2022 be healthy, happy, tasty and a whole lot easier.

How changing times changed our design sensibilities

“I don’t think we could have stood the test of time had we not paid such close attention to what our customers want, what they buy or the direct feedback they provide us with. Covid meant we had to look and listen to your feedback even more to make sure we could keep our business alive.  Our new AW21 bag collection has taken all we’ve seen; all we’ve learnt and all you’ve asked for and suggested to us into account.”

During lockdown we learnt how to be creative, resourceful and how to make the most of what we have at our doorstep and in our homes:

Walks to the park, discovering a new local beauty spot, queuing up for a take away coffee & pastry, learning something new, time spent watching and discussing Netflix

When lockdown ended but travel was restricted, we learnt how to Staycation and how to support and embrace local businesses.

Now that the skies, restaurants, workplaces and entertainment venues have re-opened did life resume to pre-covid normal or have we changed? adapted? developed new habits?

It’s hard to imagine that we can learn so much at Nadia Minkoff London through our online bag and jewellery sales, but we can.

Roll on Winter 2021 and we’ve adapting:

Our bag sizes have changed- we now ‘live in’ our phones and want smaller, lighter, more practical bags.

We’ve re-designed the interiors of our bags too- different compartments to make life easier: sewn in card holders, key fob holders, face mask pockets, more external pockets.

Our straps are wider, softer and kinder on the shoulders. And our colour palette? goodbye ‘seasonal’ and hello ‘all year round’. Seems we as people enjoy greater freedoms these days, switching things up, doing things our way, adding vibrant colours to our winter wardrobe and basic neutrals to summer one.

In 2017 I designed The Rena Bag in memory of my mother, it’s been a great, staple classic but needed to adapt to 2021.  The all new Rena Go for Winter 21/22 is a great example of how we’ve adapted:

  • The Rena Go a fair bit smaller: at just under 2/3rds of the original Rena that’s a big drop in size!
  • The layout of the compartments and pockets in The Rena Go is designed to make everything visible at a glance- no need to rummage in the bag looking for that pen, lipstick, phone. But of course the all vital sewn-in key fob remains, you have no idea just how happy that key fob makes me, so useful!
  • Internally and externally we have maximised the space with a full size outside pouch and clever detailing inside
  • The new strap is a wide, soft cotton webbing. Not only is it comfortable so you can wear your bag crossbody or on the shoulder it is detachable so you can pack the bag away easily into a small suitcase if your flying light
  • The all new gunmetal plated hardware give compliments the modern, minimalist shape of the bag,but best of all will work with any jewellery plating be it gold, silver or gunemtal.
  • And the colours? classic Grey, Warm Honey, Fresh Aqua Blue

Of course, we test and re-test all our bags at the office, at home and outside.

We sent our Rena Go on a short Brighton staycation, which involved walking, cycling, beach strolling, eating out, drinking out and … more eating out.

It was perfect and I think my mum Rena would have approved….Normally she would have gone for Grey but I think this time round she would have gone for the Aqua Blue , Blue was her favourite colour.

Blue summer- creating mood and harmony with a limited palette

Outdoor Photography : Brian Minkoff

Since the first UK lockdown in March 2020 I have been developing our jewellery, handbag and small leather ranges based on limited colour palettes. I choose a palette that I feel fits the current season and the current mood.

Prior to lockdown my colour schemes would have been ‘fashion led’, I would have covered a broad spectrum with a mixture of both cool and warm colours with varying hues and intensities.

I now choose to explore a limited palette, I have discovered that exploring a limited palette creates harmony, clarity, evokes strong feelings and gets the absolute best from a colour.

Those  who know me know Blue is probably my favourite colour, choosing to limit my palette not only to Blue but also to a ‘cool colour’ might seem an odd choice given that it is officially summer now ( I say officially as it doesn’t quite feel like summer in the UK as yet).

However, my association with Blue is one of warmth: blue skies, blue seas, blue horizons.  Full of depth, never disappointing, dynamic and optimistic.

My design sensitivities have gone from ‘fashion led’ to ‘mood led’ over this past year, my colour palette tells both my story at this moment as well as my outlook.

Simply, this means that my first story for Summer 2021 is dynamic and my outlook is optimistic. Blue Summer, not Summer Blues.

The Limited Edition Blue Summer collection is now available from Nadia Minkoff London and leading stockists online and worldwide

Hope or No Entry?

Two weeks into 2021 and London has started the New Year with a lockdown. It’s hard to imagine London empty and shut down.  I hope these photos from Bank , down to the Thames and onwards to Mayfair, Knightsbridge and Kensington capture the emptiness and beauty of this silent capital city.

For all the trials and difficult times I’m sticking with with ‘Hope’. Stay safe, well and creative, the days are getting longer, we’re on track for better times.

No handbag???Keeping things to a minimum, going out with my Zrow Lifestyle Phone holder and that’s it.

Out catching colours

I’m sure that for many other small business owners like myself , life since the first Covid lockdown in March has been a daily challenge with the unknown. I realise I’ve been so ‘consumed’ with my effort to keep going and to find a strategy to see the business through Lockdown and beyond,that I’ve taken no ‘time out’ to do some of the most fundamental things that have been my core inspiration. Little did I know when I took off the last 2 weekends in October that my luck was in, lockdown is back as of November. I was fortunate to re-charge my batteries on time.

For my first inspirational weekend off , I ventured out of London to the Chiltern Hills for some autumnal inspiration. ‘Catching’ colours as I call it.

I always choose my new season colour palette from nature, match the images to my desired Pantones and start forming my range

Here I am, lost in my thoughts

with my Silver Abstraction Pouch, I mean why not do muddy walks with a shiny silver bag?

Happy new discoveries in an old neighbourhood

Living in the suburbs of London, I have always been aware of where my closest green spaces are. I invariably expect them to be a park, framed with metal railings and hopefully some big trees. Some kind of water feature like a small lake would be a huge bonus. Hampstead Heath was the only wild-ish green space to which I felt I had relatively easy access… until now.

Having had the time to walk around where I live in the recent months, I have discovered Dollis Brook and its walking route known as the Dollis Valley Greenwalk. Unbelievably, the walk is 16km long and stretches all the way from Hampstead Heath to Moat Mount in Mill Hill. Sections of it are like a regular park with trimmed grass and playgrounds, and sections of it are wide, wild and like escaping to the countryside.


Totteridge Fields – a nature reserve with wildflowers and ancient oak trees
A section of the brook in West Finchley.

A “secret” section somewhere between Finchley and Totteridge.

I love to be nosey and see how the allotments change in colour and density across the year.

The days may be getting shorter, and the weather a little greyer, but I’m looking forward to seeing how this little bit of the countryside on my doorstep will change with the seasons. My wellies are ready!

Out exploring?? meet The Essential Borough bag!

If you’re out exploring with camera and/or phone then you need to meet our Essential Borough Bag ,a bag that is so perfect for outdoor exploring, you won’t need anything else!

There are two compartments to keep your belongings separate, whether you’re carrying a compact camera or your everyday essentials, you’ll be surprised how much you can fit in this stylish little cross-body. One side also features our card holder pockets so you don’t even need a full wallet if you want to travel light.

The Abstraction pouch, staycations in Brighton

Video & photography: Brian Minkoff

UK Staycations are not ones for guaranteed good weather… anything but. With that in mind they are still time away, they have their own charm and during Covid times at least you are guaranteed to get out of the house and explore.

Our Abstraction Pouch in Silver certainly made the most of its Brighton Staycation. Relaxed at The Grand hotel, braved the stormy weather and enjoyed a cream tea ( or too) and some fish & chips

Here’s to time out, wherever it may be.

Stay safe, stay well, stay positive!

Bag fit for a blogger

My sister in law Sharon, is a lady of many talents. Apart from being a photographer and global traveller, she is also an amazing cook, consummate foodie and writes her own food blog.

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It goes without saying that as my sister-in-law she has a decent collection of Nadia Minkoff handbags, mostly large bags that can accommodate her camera and lenses and are suitable for travelling.

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So when we launched our Borough Camera bag she was intrigued to know if it would work for her ‘ bloggers’ camera and we decided to let her test-drive it and tell us what she thinks.

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So here we go, Sharon and her Borough Camera bag, on location in Cadiz Spain. And for those wondering the camera is a Fuji X-T20 with a 18-55 lens.

We’re happy to confirm Sharon has advised that bag, camera and photographer are very well matched!!

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