Hurray – I have climbed the highest mountain in North Africa. Summitting at 13,671ft, Jbel Toubkal was a five-day walk-in. Overcoming altitude sickness as we weaved up 97 zigzags to a col at 10,000ft was a memorable moment (especially for the rest of the family), as I was smothered in sunblock and force-fed Jelly Babies.

Fast forward 9 years – and the surrounding area of Toubkal was decimated by a devastating earthquake that has seen thousands dead. My memories from that area have been changed probably as much as the landscape itself.

As we walked through valleys and villages, we were greeted with amusement from the children, and as a source of income from the villagers. From fresh mint tea to wonderful fresh dates and figs, we benefited from their wonderful hospitality and friendship. The villages clung to the side of the rough terrain, holding on for dear life and building out of what was available. The arid conditions making living tough.

The earthquake will have caused deeper devastation as the smaller villages try and rebuild not just their decimated community but also their economy.

Whilst the Red Cross is running a fundraiser ( and politicians have said they will do what they can, I ask you to hold a moment for reflection on what you have, and what you hold so dear to you.

News has subsided as I search for updates, but the memories of a beautiful area remain slightly altered now.

How quickly thoughts and memories change!