WELCOME

This blog is dedicated to Malta - my island home. My aim is not to bore you with history but to share my thoughts and a few facts together with a photo or two. For a more in -depth background of the island please go here. The purpose of this blog is not to point out the short-comings of the island. There are plenty that do that already. My wish is to show you the beauty of an island at the cross roads of the Mediterranean, a melting pot of history; a place where fact and fiction are sometimes fused to create unique myths and legends; a country that has been conquered so many times that our culture is a mish mesh of the lands that surround us and of lands far away. I confess that my greatest desire is to make you fall in love with this tiny enchanting island.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Images of Summer

It's that time of year again, when the sun's white hot rays beat down on this small island. The fields are parched and the land is dry. Occasionally the faintest of breezes floats in off of the becalmed sea. For those that are lucky enough not to have to work, the cool azure waters beckon.



Summer here is a lazy time, of afternoon siestas behind shuttered windows.


It is when the oleanders paint our roads with whites, baby pinks and reds.



Summer is the time for enjoying nectar-sweet fruit...



... and soul-searing sunsets of indescribable beauty.



It is when the contrast of sun-bleached rocks and deep blue sea ...


and light and shade

is at its greatest.


It is a seasons of contrasts and contradictions. It is the best of seasons. It is the worst of seasons. It is the craziest of seasons.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Wayside Chapels - Our Lady of Victories


This chapel is situated in the picturesque village of Mtahleb (pronounced Imtahleb), one of the most unspoilt areas on the island. It is situated on the edge of a cliff. Beneath it lie slopes of fertile fields and the deep blue sea. It is one of our favourite picnic spots. The silence is broken only by the twittering of birds or by a farmer tilling his fields. The village is sparsely populated, mostly made up of a farming community. Up to about 50 years ago, the numerous caves that dot the cliffs were used by the farmers as shelters for their animals. It is a peaceful place. A place where time has almost stood still. Thankfully, it has, up to now, remained out of the clutches of greedy developers. I hope that things won’t change any time soon. I look forward to the winter months to go and picnic in the surrounding green fields and relish the sound of silence.





Historical Note
The current chapel of Our Lady of Victories was built in 1656. It is known as a juspatronatus, that is, the noble family that owned the surrounding land had the right to nominate the parish priest, or rector, who would look after the church. This privilege was held by the D’Amico Inguanez family of Mdina (Imdina). The titular painting was done by Pereira.

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Tale of Two Balconies

Side by side they perch - as close as two lovers; as familiar as two old friends - through long, hot summers and the biting winds of winter. Beneath them they have seen countless generations walk through the streets. What secrets do they know? What gossip have they heard? Perhaps during the dead of night, when all around them is silence and slumber they come alive. And they whisper to each other. Of bygone days. Of people that once walked the streets below them. Of the ghosts of the past and the people of the present. Sometimes the air is filled with ghosts as they tell their secrets to each other. I wonder what they have seen. What scenes were played below their wide open eyes. I would love to know. It would be interesting to see the world through their eyes, to see the changes that the passing years have wrought.

Note

There are hundreds of these types of balconies in all the towns and villages of Malta. Although the enclosed type, like the ones in the picture, are the most common, open balconies also exist as do balconies which do not overhang the street but are part of an upper floor with a balustrade at the front and walls on the sides.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sentinels

Photo by Darin Dykstra

They stand on rocky promontories of our coast. Silent sentinels of a distant past. Battered and broken by the passage of time; their stones eroded by wind and sea. Time has wrought many changes to this island they guard. No corsairs or pirate ships roam our shores. No gun shots break the stillness; no cries of wounded and dying men. Today their silent gaze reminds us of a troubled past, the vacant posts a memory to the men who guarded this land. Their work is done; their youth is past. In the sunset of their life they scan the distant horizon and dream – the silence broken only by the distant booming of the restless sea.
Historical Note
A total of 18 towers were built in the style shown in the photo by Grand Masters Juan de Lascaris and Martin de Redin. The first five Lascaris towers were built between 1637 and 1640 whereas the remaining 13 de Redin towers were built between 1658 and 1659. The towers are known collectively as the de Redin towers. All the towers are within sight of each other and their main function was to act as watchtowers against attack by corsairs.

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