I could hear the rain on the roof. It was light at first, like a hundred butterflies flapping their wings on the asphalt above. Before long, the gentle tapping was replaced by the heavy drumming of thundering summer rain. I leant out of the small room and glanced down the narrow corridor at the outside world. Grey clouds had chased away the blue sky, rain was slamming down on to the pavement, the drops of water exploding as they made contact with the ground. I stepped back in to the room and apologised for being distracted by the rain. Rachid, the man I had been talking to, said ‘no problem’, and picked the conversation up where we had left off. He talked about mountains, markets and hand-made leather. As he spoke, I turned my back on the grey outside world, and found myself transported to Morocco.
Surrounded by colourful ceramics, fabrics, mirrors and lanterns, I felt like I was in a souk. In reality of course, I was much closer to home in Wood Street Market. I’d popped in to Moroccan Corner to see if I could get a new bag for work. After much deliberation and lots of help from the owner of the shop, I eventually decided on a handmade leather satchel costing £55. I usually buy rucksacks for a tenner from one of the bag shops on the High Street, so buying a proper bag is a bit of a departure for me. Rachid was very patient with me as I struggled to choose between three possible options. He was also very descriptive about the goods he was showing me, telling me all about the hand stitching, the leather making process, and how he hand picks all of the goods he sells in the shop. This man isn’t just selling you something, he is telling you a story, taking you on a journey through Morocco, and it is a glorious experience.
Rachid has a story to tell about all of the goods he sells in the shop. He explained how the hand painted ceramics often have small differences in their designs. He told me how he laboriously checks each piece, making sure matching items do actually match. He went on to tell me how the designs are painted on to the ceramics, and the speed at which the artists work. We spoke about the trade process, how things work between the maker, middle man and the seller. Listening to Rachid speak with passion about his business, I felt like I was hundreds of miles away from Wood Street, in the markets and winding streets of Fes Medina. My virtual trip to Morocco didn’t end there, we left the city behind us, and went on a fantastic journey, way up in to the mountains where Rachid buys his rugs direct from the makers. Honestly, I was right there with him, watching the rugs being made and listening to him barter. I popped in for a bag, and ended up on an hour-long wonderful trip around Morocco.
Moroccan corner is a bit of a treasure trove, full of colour and stories, a real piece of Morocco right here in Walthamstow. Pick up a ceramic sink, or a bowl or lantern. Buy a rug, treat your self to a new bag, or get a hand painted tagine. Shop, chat, and let your mind wander to distant lands. Pay a visit to this small shop on Wood Street, and see where the stories take you. For more information, including opening hours, click here.