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, September 28, 2012

Wildflowers of Malta: Fennel

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Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare; buzbiez in Maltese) is a hardy perennial that is perfectly suited to the Mediterranean climate. The plant, which can grow up to 2.5 metres in height, has feathery leaves and yellow flowers that grow in the form of an umbel (umbrella). The plant propagate easily from the seeds and it’s life cycle is perfectly adapted to the climate. The flowers bloom throughout summer and start to form seeds. By the start of the rainy season in September, the seeds start to ripen, drying out throughout autumn and falling to the ground.

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As autumn turns to winter, the plant dies and all that is left are hollow stems. It reappears again during the warm days of spring. It is one of the very few wild plants that can thrive during the rainless summers that characterise this region.

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In Greek mythology, Prometheus used the stalk of a fennel plant to steal fire from the gods .

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The plant is highly aromatic and, together with anise, is one of the main ingredients of absinthe. It is used widely in Mediterranean cuisine – in fact the seeds, the leaves and the bulb are edible. The seeds taste lovely scattered on roasted potatoes in a traditional Maltese dish known as  patata l-forn.

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Fennel is also said to have medicinal properties and has been used to treat indigestion and chronic coughs and as a diuretic.

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Fennel

Location: Mtarfa & Tal-Virtu, September 2012

Friday, September 21, 2012

A Plane Called Faith

There were three of them, or so the legend goes, and they named them Faith, Hope and Charity. These are names of the three famous Gladiators that defended Malta during WW2. In reality there were at least 6 Gladiators together with a number of Hawker Hurricanes. The historical facts about that Malta Campaign may be found here.

The War Museum (9)

That Malta was hard hit and severely bombed during the war, is a fact. That Hope and Charity were lost, is also a fact. Charity was shot down on 29 July 1940 and its pilot, F/O P.W.Hartley, was severely burned. Hope was destroyed in an air raid on 4 February 1941. Faith survived and is with us still. It was presented to the people of Malta in 1943. In 1974, Faith was restored by ENG Wing RAF Luqa. It now resides at the National War Museum.

The War Museum (10)

It easy to see why a legend was born. This island was in a strategic position, almost right in the middle of the Mediterranean. It was an asset to the allies. So it was heavily bombed. These planes and their brave pilots defended Malta valiantly. Heroic feats were performed. I read that the names Faith, Hope and Charity only started to be used after the war was over. But I have always been told, by those that lived during those difficult years, that these names were given during the war, that Faith survived because it was the people’s faith which pulled them through.

The War Museum (11)The War Museum (12)

‘Faith’ Gloster Gladiator N5520

Location: Malta National War Museum, Lower Fort St Elmo, Valletta

Opening hours: Monday to Sunday: 9.00-17.00

Last admission: 16.30

Closed: 24, 25 & 31 December, 1 January, Good Friday

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