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, September 30, 2013

Of Angels And Saints

 

Mdina Ditch 053

They are not easy to miss – though many of us walk beneath their frozen gazes every single day without so much as a second glance. More than anything else, they are a testament to our past. To a blind, almost irrational, faith. Maybe they make us uncomfortable, those piercing, agonised stares. Time has taken its toll on most of them: faded colours, weather-worn faces, missing limbs … These are the angels and saints that our fore-fathers evoked – for a boon; for protection; for a cure.

St Agatha & Hal-Bajjada (21)

Valletta 124

St Agatha & Hal-Bajjada (40)

In towns and villages and half-forgotten country lanes, they built niches to house them or just set them atop their houses – their arms outstretched in endless benediction. Our ancestors carved them from the soft limestone or simply painted them on walls – maybe because they wanted to bring Heaven just a little bit closer to earth.

Attard (12)

Birgu (30)Bingemma, Gnejna & Dwejra (42)

Salib tal-Gholja, Delimara, Marsaxlokk (55)

They look strangely weary, our angels and saints, as if they have been battling demons for way too long. Or maybe they are just feeling lonely, standing in their dusty alcoves, dejected and forlorn. But sometimes, someone may light a candle or leave a token bunch of flowers at their weary feet. And somewhere, in a faraway Heaven, a tired saint smiles.

Mdina Ditch 080

This is a predominantly Catholic country. Churches and chapels abound, as do images of angels and saints. In 1569, Grand Master Pinto del Monte, issued a law that people who owned a corner site in the new city of Valletta had to embellish it with some ornament. This idea soon spread to the other towns and villages and it is one of the reasons that so many effigies of saints can be found in the old village cores.

Bormla 010

Valletta 152

Monday, September 23, 2013

Laundry Day in Valletta

It was a bright day in March. The sky was as blue as the local borage with only the wispiest of clouds.  I had read in a guidebook somewhere to always look up. What I saw made me smile.

Valletta 118

It was such a typically Mediterranean scene. All over the residential quarter of Valletta, laundry was hanging out to dry. It seems like the housewives of the city had been busy.

Valletta 142

(We do have dryers, of course, but most people hang their clothes to dry in the sun. The majority of houses have a roof or a yard for this activity but, in these old apartments with lots of stairs and, usually, no elevators, it is easier to hang the laundry out of the balcony.)

Valletta 149

These are the types of changes I was talking about in my last post – nothing too major. History will be interspersed with the reality of life on this small island.  Perhaps you can say that you will be seeing more of the ‘real’ Malta – blemishes and all.

Location: the streets of Valletta

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Expect Some Changes

As you may have noticed, this blog has been on vacation. A very long vacation. But I had some thinking to do; some decisions to take – about this blog. I came close to deciding that I would no longer write here. Then I thought about it some more and I felt that a slight change  in direction might do the trick. You see, I felt that my posts were becoming a bit bland; a bit too factual and serious. It’s time for occasional doses of quirkiness; for less of the past and more of the present. So expect a few changes around here. I just hope you’ll like them.

Incidentally, I’ve been getting between three to four hundred hits a day on this blog.  I haven’t attracted any new readers nor have I noticed an increase in comments. It’s quite strange as I cannot trace the source of all this traffic. I’m not complaining, of course and hopefully, it’s a positive thing. Have any of you experienced anything similar?

That’s all for today from a very windy island.

Salib tal-Gholja, Delimara, Marsaxlokk (81)

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