The stories of my life on a little island in the middle of the Mediterranean sea ... and my occasional adventures beyond these shores.

Friday, 30 January 2009


Marsamxett Harbour

I suppose that some of you are wondering where I am from. I live on the island of Malta which is situated almost in the very centre of the Mediterranean. The Maltese archipelago is made up of 3 major islands: Malta, Gozo and the uninhabited island of Comino. Although all 3 islands are very small, they are steeped in history.
The first inhabitants of the island came from from the island of Sicily, some 60 miles to the north. A large number of megalithic temples dot the islands and it is thought that in ancient times, Malta was a centre of worship. The megalithic temples were dedicated to a fertility goddess. During the course of the years, Malta was ruled by a number of nations including: the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines and Arabs. The Arab rule gave Malta its unique language. It is, in fact, the only Semitic language that is written in the Latin alphabet. Following over 200 years of Arab rule the country was over-taken by the Normans, after which followed several centuries of feudal rule when the island passed under the governship of various nations such as the Angevins and the Aragonese. In 1530 Charles the First of Spain gave the islands to the Knights of St John who governed until 1798 when Napoleon set his eyes on the island. The French rule, which lasted only 2 years, was highly unpopular and there were several uprisings. In 1800, the islands became a British Dominion and in 1814 Malta became a part of the British Empire. Independence was granted in 1964. Malta still forms part of the Commonwealth and since 2004 has formed part of the European Union.

The above is just a very brief outline of the chequered history of Malta and its sister islands. The capital city of Malta, Valletta, started to be built in 1566 by Grand Master Jean de la Vallette. Prior to this, the capital of the island was the fortified city of Mdina, found to the west of the island. Valletta is on the eastern coast and it boasts a spectacular harbour.

The climate is typically Mediterranean, with long, hot summers and short, wet winters. The islands look their best in Spring, when carpets of wild flowers cover the countryside, and in late autumn. The beauty of the island is mainly in its unique architecture, crystal clear blue sea and a history that spans 7000 years.

In future I will tell you more about my island home, or maybe I can start a different blog dedicated just to Malta. There is so much to tell. So many myths and legends. So many unique traditions. Yes, there is much to tell but, perhaps, the lure of these islands is to discover their little gems and secrets one at a time.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

The Secret Attic

I belong to an aspiring writers website called The Secret Attic. It is a place where I have been given a lot of constructive criticism about my writing. Although I do not know anyone on 'the Attic', as we like to refer to it, personally, yet I feel that a number of people on there are my writing friends. It is a really nice community with an active forum where you can ask questions and receive answers, whether it is about grammar, punctuation or even ideas on how to develop a story. The forum is open to members only but the site runs monthly competitions for the best flash, short story or poem of the month which are also open to non-members. The winning entries from each month are then published in a book at the end of the year. Apart from the monthly competitions, there are always new competitions which are posted on the site. A monthly newsletter, Quill & Ink, is available for download to all members. Attic members are encouraged to submit their stories, flashes or poems for inclusion in the newsletter.
If any of you are interested, please pop by and see what The Secret Attic has to offer. You will not be disappointed and I guarantee that you will have lots of fun.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

The Tree

There was a tree at the end of my parents' road. It stood by itself on the edge of the road, overlooking the valley. I was about 7 years old when I first noticed it. At that time it was not more than a sapling, its trunk not much wider than my wrist. We never thought it would live since the only water it got was during the winter. No one bothered to water it during the summer drought, but I suppose its roots dug deep into the rocks and drew water from some underground stream. Over the years it grew in height and in girth. It more or less grew with us kids. During the winter it would be buffeted by the wind, leafless and forlorn except for its beige-coloured berries. When spring came, the leaves would start to grow and in summer, it would provide a spot of cool shade. From a small sapling it grew into a big tree, with its trunk wide and strong. It majestically overlooked the valley from its lofty height. It because a familiar part of the landscape. It almost became a friend, something I had shared my childhood with, because I spent many an hour under the shade of its branches during the long, hot summers. Every time I would pass by it I would reminisce about how I remember the tree when it was still young and weak. In my mind, it had seemed indestructible after weathering so many seasons.
A few days ago, I passed by and the tree was gone. I stared in dismay at the empty, desolate spot where it used to grow. Someone had chopped it down. Perhaps it was blocking someone's view. Should anyone just be permitted to chop down a tree, especially in this land where trees are so scarce? Perhaps I am just upset because deep in my heart it used to be 'my tree'. All I know is that another symbol of my childhood has gone, never to come back. I feel sad when I think about it. I used to think that the tree would outlive us all and be there to tell the tale to my children and grandchildren. But it is not to be. Farewell beautiful tree. You will be sorely missed.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Birthday Awards and Wishes

It was my birthday last week and it passed pretty uneventfully but today, I was reading a post by Loribeth at Loribeth's Artistic Romance and she gave me the birthday award. I am very flattered. Thank you Loribeth.
Of course, there are rules to go along with the award which are:
1. Post the image of this award.
2. Make a list of what you want on your birthday.
3. The list should be 15 numbers.
4. Give it to 10 friends of yours.

So even though my birthday just passed, I think I am still eligible to make 15 birthday wishes. Here goes:

1. To one day make snow angels with my son (it never snows in my part of the world so we would need to go somewhere it does before this can happen).

2. To be a successful blogger and make a lot of 'blogger friends'.

3. To persevere until I write a work that is accepted and published.

4. To visit all the countries and places on my wish list.

5. To live a long healthy life.

6. I wish for a change in my current work situation, for the situation to improve.

7. An impossible wish this, but I will wish it anyway, to eat all the chocolate and desserts that I like and not put on an ounce of weight :)

8. For my husband to sell his paintings.

9. For more time to write (blogs, stories, anything).

10. For health and happiness for all my family.

11. To make lots of new friends and keep in touch with all my old ones who have scattered around the globe.

12. To find a cheap flight to London, Paris or somewhere in Italy some time soon.

13. To win a prestigious writing competition.

14. To always believe in the power of love.

15. Try to fit in some scrap-booking into my busy schedule every now and then.

Well, that was not easy but it is good to be able to make a wish, every now and then. It would be great if even just 2 or 3 of these wishes came true. However, with hard work and perseverance, I think that I can make a few of them become a reality. As for some of the others, well, I cannot expect to have everything in life, but coming close to achieving most of the above fifteen, would, in my opinion, be close to having an almost perfect life.

Once again I would like to thank Loribeth for this encouraging award and I am glad that I am a source of inspiration to you. In turn I would like to nominate: Glynis at New Scribbles From Glynis Smy, Louie Jerome at Lizzie's Choice and Len at Conversations with Self for all their support, especially during these early stages of my blogging experience.

P.S. I finally figured out how to insert links in posts. Hurray!

Thursday, 22 January 2009

My Birthday

It was my birthday yesterday. Another year older. Another year wiser? Perhaps. Only time will tell. I am, for sure, wiser than I was at 18. It's so easy to believe you know everything when you're 18, but in reality, not many of us are equipped with dealing with certain blows life may throw at us at that age.
Now the 40s are looming on the horizon and sometimes I feel so old, especially when I see so many people younger than me. My birthdays nowadays are more a day of reflection rather than a day of partying. I do, however, think that each birthday is a celebration of life; of being thankful that I am still here to enjoy the sunsets, the rain, the wild flowers, my family and friends ... It was a day of remembering people who are no longer here to celebrate my birthdays with me especially my grandparents, in particular my Nanna Rose.
The years are passing quickly ... much too quickly. It seems like only yesterday that I was twenty and now, almost another twenty years have passed. Twenty was a milestone - the end of the teens. I remember feeling a certain regret that I had left something behind which I could never retrieve again. I used to have so much time on my hands back then; and I wasted so much of it. Perhaps that is my biggest regret: wasted time which I can never have again. Now, it is a daily battle against the clock. One minute the alarm clock is going off and, it seems like another minute later, I am sinking into bed, tired out and longing to sleep. Then the cycle repeats itself until it seems as if, apart from the weekend, the week is one big jumble of days when sometimes it is difficult to remember whether it is a Monday or a Thursday.
Oh, for some blissful time to just sit in a field full of flowers and breathe slowly and deeply; for some time to just have absolutely nothing to do and I can empty my brain of all niggling thoughts. Oh, for the possibility of being 18 again just for one day.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Chocoholics Heaven

Those of you that know me, know that chocolate is very dear to my heart ... or rather, my taste buds. So enjoy this short story, which should make your mouth water:
I am standing outside a store on top of which is an old sign emblazoned, in gold paint on a brown background, with the one single most magical word: Chocolat. In the window, a sign: Enter and Eat Your Fill for Free During This Happy Hour. I hesitate for just the briefest moment before turning the handle and opening the door. On entering, I am almost bowled over by the thick, heady scent of the chocolate on display. The shop is empty except for a plump beaming man with a pink face as round and dimpled as a full moon. On his nose, he has a pair of perfectly round rose-coloured spectacles.
“Welcome,” he says “the place is at your disposal for one hour.” He pauses and then adds “But be warned – if you’re greedy, everything will disappear and you will suffer from very bad indigestion. Go, your hour starts now.”
I glance at the clock above his head. It is exactly four o’clock. I focus my gaze on the chocolate goodies. With what will I start? I decide that the chocolate fountain was a good place. Grabbing a small plastic cup, I fill it up and drink. The velvety richness hits my taste buds and floods my mouth with an acute gastronomic pleasure. Mmm…I lick my lips and decide that I will move on to the truffles: white chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate – I try one of each and then try the chocolate coated strawberries; next, the chocolate marzipan balls followed by chocolate nut clusters. I look again at the clock. I had already eaten through my first half hour. I need to move on. Then my eyes fall on the dark chocolate mint patties: my absolute favourites. I take one, delighting in the contrast of fresh mint and bitter dark chocolate. Delicious. Exquisite. Irresistible. I take another one and another, stuffing them hurriedly inside my mouth, hoping Mr Round-Specs would not see. Then suddenly ‘Pouf’… and everything disappears.
I wake up with a sweet taste in my mouth. An empty box of chocolate peppermint patties is on my lap…

Saturday, 17 January 2009


Photo courtesy of my mother-in-law: Cathy D.
I belong to an online writing community and, as a weekly exercise, we submit a flash based on one of five prompts. The number of words allowed varies every week. Below is a flash about snow which could not exceed 150 words. I hope you enjoy it.

Silently I fall from puffy grey clouds. Every part of me made up of countless individual momentary flakes, frozen in time. I have no form but take the shape of that on which I gently land. Beneath me I clothe a rainbow-coloured world, white. I lie and await my fate. Angry winds sometimes buffet me and lift me. They take me to places beyond my control. Children greet me with joy as they mould me and form me into balls. For a while I share their games; feel their warmth through mittens and gloves – that same warmth that will destroy some individual parts of me. My time here is scant, for soon the sun will gain its strength and, helpless to resist its deadly warmth, I will slowly melt: for I am snow.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Rainy Days

I know that rainy days depress many people. The grey sky and lack of light in general makes a lot of people feel down. I suppose I am strange, or maybe just different, but I love rainy days. Perhaps it’s because I come from a land of sunshine. It seems as if the sun shines almost every day here. So sometimes I crave grey and rainy days. The gentle drumming of the rain as it falls is a soothing melody to my ears. When it is rainy and windy, the rain plays a staccato melody on the window pane. My favourite thing to do on a day like that is to cuddle under the blankets and listen to the sound of the falling rain. Rainy days have so much character. You can never tell how much rain will fall, how stormy it will get. It is like a small mystery waiting to happen. Will there be any thunder, crashing and booming in the heavens? Will the sky light up with jagged paths of lightning? Will it be a full blown storm or will the rain just patter down gently? I watch with satisfaction as the pure rain water washes away the grime of the streets, removes the dust from flowers and leaves, waters the fields and causes the crops to grow. Without rain, any place would be a desert; forlorn, incapable of sustaining life. With rain comes renewal; a promise of new growth and new life. Whether it falls on us gently or pours down heavily, it never ceases to make me feel renewed and refreshed. When, the rain stops, the sun comes out and shines on a sparklingly clean landscape. Sometimes, droplets of rain will still be in the sky and a rainbow will form, promising a new beginning. The air smells clean and pure. The rain has come and gone. It has quenched the earth and cleansed the air. Rain is a blessing from above.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009


Sunsets are my favourite time of day. Something almost mystical happens when the sun is level with the horizon and casts its hues across the sky painting it with gold and amber, crimson and pink. When, like me, you live on an island and are privileged to see the sun set over the west-facing sea, you will be blown-away by the sheer beauty of the moment. The burn-off from the sun is reflected in the water and as far as the eye can see there is a palette of colour that is daily re-created and that is different everyday. Each season brings with it a different sunset. Winter sunsets, when they happen, are usually brief with the sun slipping quickly over the horizon and giving way to an ebony-coloured sky. In late spring and summer the sun seems to linger, as if loathe to slip away and let night take over its brilliant hues. Clouds, or the lack of them, have an effect on the beauty of a sunset. Thin layers of clouds may cause the colours of the bright disc of the sun to appear fragmented and sometimes it appears as if the sun has lost its round shape. But this only adds to the beauty and diversity of sunsets. Every sunset is a new experience. Every sunset is a mystery. Having viewed and photographed many sunsets I can truly say that I am still awe-inspired by the beauty, the majesty and the vivid colours. Sunsets signify the end of the day, a time for rest and for allowing the tranquillity of the moment to soothe and calm the tensions and tribulations of the past day. I know that for many, sunsets signify the end of light; a time to face the trials that the night might bring. But for me, sunsets signify the endless cycle of life and, as night follows day, so too, day follows night and in the dawn the sun will return and rise and paint the sky once more with unimaginable colours.

Monday, 12 January 2009

About Me

When I was young, I had a dream. My dream was that I would become a writer. Writing was one of my passions and I used it to express myself and give vent to my imagination. Time passed and, although I never gave up on my dream, the realities of life forced me to make a choice. Instead of taking up writing, I decided to follow a different and more secure career path and I became a pharmacist instead. Did I make the right choice? It is hard to make up my mind completely. Working in healthcare has given me an insight into a world I would not otherwise have discovered. I can now use that insight in my writing. So the experience has enriched me. But the love of writing never left me, and although the last time I put pen to paper to write something I was 18 years old, I would still write out stories and situations in my head. So after 20 years I have decided to give way to the writing muse. Sometimes it is hard to find the time to write. Other times I get writers block. A full time job, a husband and a young kid keep me occupied but I try to write something everyday whenever I can. I hope that I will have a measure of success and that those of you that visit enjoy my blog.
Please come back as often as you like.


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