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.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Ruby Tuesday: The Street Organ

Known in Maltese as ‘terramaxka’, street organs were a common sight on our streets in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In the days when radios and TVs were unheard of, street organs provided an important source of entertainment during village feasts, carnival and day to day life. The street organ in the photos below dates from 1929. It has been restored by Dutchman Mari Van Rooy and is the only functioning street organ in Malta. These days the terramaxka is a frequently found at festivals, like the recently held Epoka at the Valletta Waterfront. Even in this age of instant technology, the street organ still delights old and  young alike.

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On some weekends, this wonderfully restored street organ may also be found in the streets of Valletta. You can go to the video link below to hear it play.

Malta’s Street Organ at City Gate, Valletta

You may find a brief history of street organs in Malta at The House of the Terramaxka.

Street Organ

photographed at the Valletta Waterfront

June 2011

I am linking this post to Ruby Tuesday hosted by Mary The  Teach at Work Of The Poet.

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Video source: YouTube

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Malta And The Movies (1)– Malta Story

This series of posts is inspired by Suze, writing at  Girl Wizard, who has been sharing some of her favourite movies with us. So I thought, why not a post about movies filmed in Malta? Although small, Malta has a number of interesting locations which have been used as the backdrop for a number of movies. You can go to Wikipedia for a full List of Films Shot In Malta. Every now and then over the next couple of months I will give you a brief overview of the ones which went on to become famous. Today I will start with the earliest movie shot in Malta which was Malta Story released in 1953.

Malta Story (1953) starring Alec Guinnes, Jack Hawkins and Muriel Pavlow is based on life in Malta during WW2, the island and its people and the RAF aviators who defended it with their lives. Although the acting is very much in 1950s style and the ending is quite predictable, this movie does give a good portrayal of what it was like to live in Malta during WW2 when daily air attacks were the order of the day and most of the population spent long hours in  underground shelters that were hewn out of the limestone all over  the island. This film was shot at various locations around the island including: the Lascaris War Rooms, Fort St Elmo, Grand Harbour, Valletta, Ta Qali and the Neolithic temples of Mnajdra.

 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Summer Is Calling

A Day At Gnejna (17)

Just chilling out a bit. Forgive my absence. I’ll be back soon.

Gnejna Bay

August 2011

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Mdina And A Tale Of An Ancient Seductress

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It’s been a while since I’ve taken you with me to roam the silent streets of Mdina at night. I’ve written many a post about her seductive beauty but no matter how many times my feet walk those ancient streets, it seems that I always discover some new charm. From sleepy convents to houses so old that their walls could tell  a thousand tales, each sight is familiar – for I have gazed at these dwellings at least a hundred times; a thousand even.

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Yet every time she weaves a new spell, the old seductress. Some mysteries she has revealed, but others she keeps to herself, hiding them in her bosom, for some other visit, for some other walk through the echoing, cobbled streets.

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The ghosts of Mdina are always kind – benevolent, almost. And amongst the ghosts walk the shadows of my younger self as countless fragmented memories stir and take form every time I wander through her winding streets. I never know what she’ll choose to reveal, but I welcome them all – these brief glimpses into a long-lost time. And no matter how far away my journey takes me, I know I will always return to this silent city which has seduced my soul.

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As I said at the beginning of this post, I have written about Mdina many times. If you go to my sidebar and click on the label Mdina it will take you to all my previous posts and each one will reveal a little bit of the enigmatic whole. It’s story is so old that I always balk at the idea of trying to write it in a single post and, more often than not, I do not reveal much as the place takes me on unprecedented flights of whimsy every time I venture inside its gates. But I hope that slowly, over time, I will be able to reveal a bit more so that  one day you may  be able to put the pieces together to see the unbroken truth.

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Photographs of

The Streets of Mdina

May 2011

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Lethal Beauty–The Oleander

The heat is intense and summer is reaching its peak.  The ground is parched and the patches of dry earth seem like miniature deserts surrounding our towns and villages. On the horizon, the blue ribbon that is the sea meets the expanse of the sky in a hazy embrace. It seems like colour has taken flight to cooler climes. Yet amidst all the dreariness, the oleanders bloom in pretty hues. Like confetti at a summer wedding their flowers are plentiful and alleviate the monotony of brown caked earth.

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One of my favourite ‘oleander walks’ is across this bridge that used to be the only link between the towns of Rabat and Mtarfa. Oleander bushes are planted on both sides of the bridge and, from June to September, when crossing this bridge at certain times of the day it feels as if the air is suffused with a magical, pink light. Although oleander blooms come in a variety of colours (including red) the predominant colours, both on this bridge and along various roads all over the island, are dark and light pink and white.

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Oleander plants are very hardy and can withstand long periods of drought (hence they are perfect for our long, dry summers). Being perennials, the bushes grow bigger every year and in many cases they are trimmed down to prevent them from over-growing. The flowers are very pretty, the leaves long and of a vibrant dark green shade.  Yet this beautiful plant is known to be highly toxic. In fact one of its leaves can be lethal if ingested by a child or small animal. Thankfully I have never heard of anyone who had the not-so-bright idea to eat the leaves. However, I do remember that, as young kids, one of our favourite pastimes was to cut off a few oleander leaves, mash them up,add a variety of other wild plants together with some soil and water to make ‘cakes’. It’s a good thing that the disgusting appearance of our early attempts at baking put us off from trying to take a nibble or I might not be here today to write this story.

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Here’s hoping that your summers are not too harsh and that pretty blooms cheer you along your way.

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