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

Thursday, 28 May 2009

The Rock

This is a photo of a rock taken last winter when the wind was howling and the sea was raging. It just lay there embedded in the sand, surrounded by chaos. It was not a very big rock, and except for some furrows, its surface was, more or less, smooth to the touch – evidence that it had been tumbled by the sea and polished by the sand. How old was it? Where did it come from? Had it ever been part of a bigger rock? What strong currents and tempestuous seas had brought it to this shore? So simple an object; so great a mystery.
And now that the season has changed, the winds have died and the sea is calm, where is it? Is it still there buried in the sand? Or has the sea carried it away, dragging it along its depths and depositing it on some other shore, in some other land? I wonder if I will ever see this rock again or if it has mutated and changed on this, or some other far-away shore, and been smashed into pieces - diminished, unrecognizable. And, when the years have taken their toll, will it be broken up into a million grains of sand to be trod on by the feet of future generations?

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Paragraph Planet

I have recently started submitting paragraphs to the Paragraph Planet website. This site accepts paragraphs from both professional and amateur writers. Each paragraph has to be exactly 75 words, including the title. Each day a new paragraph is chosen as the feature paragraph of the site. My first submission, entitled ‘Longing for Rain’ went online on May 12. I also submitted another two paragraphs which will be featured during the summer months.
Some may question the rationale behind a 75 word paragraph. It is, indeed, a very short piece of writing, just a few lines; a very brief glimpse into whichever world the writer wants to take you. Of course, many times, the reader is left wanting more. For this reason it is possible for another writer to submit a sequel paragraph. I find it an enjoyable writing exercise and more than a little fun – a 75 word challenge; an exercise in being brief. And that’s the whole idea behind Paragraph Planet – brevity - in this oh-so-fast-paced world.
I will leave you with my little snippet and look forward to all your comments.

Longing for Rain

I lay on the bed, the sheets drenched in my sweat. Hot desert air wafted in from the window. The noises from the souk had gradually died down until an uncanny silence filled the air. I longed for the verdant fields of England and the feel of cool, cleansing rain. But circumstances had me living here in Algiers. Suddenly, the shrill cry of the muezzin calling the faithful to prayer shattered the silence.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Hannibal, MO

Hannibal, Missouri, is a small quaint sleepy town on the edge of the Mississippi river. Its main claim to fame is that it was the boyhood home of Mark Twain and the setting for his books The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Downtown Hannibal is a fun place with a number of shops selling antiques and Native American items. There are also a few art galleries. The streets are lined with wooden shop fronts and the original historical buildings are still standing.

It is possible to tour Mark Twain's house and go on a horse-drawn trolley ride around the town. Hannibal was also the home of Margaret Brown or, as she is better known, The Unsinkable Molly Brown - one of the survivors of the Titanic tragedy.

Mark Twain's homeMy husband grew up in a small town about an hour away from Hannibal so every time we visit the US we like to drive to Hannibal. I have always wondered why a small town in the mid-west has the same name as the ancient general from Carthage who had marched over the Alps to try and invade Rome. I suppose it is just one of those curious things in life. But the town of Hannibal is just one of those places which has a 'homely' feel to it. I like to call it a place with a heart.

View of Hannibal from Lover's Leap

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

The Silent City

Perched on a hill in the central-west part of Malta is the small walled town of Mdina. Its history goes back thousands of years to the first inhabitants of the island. In Roman times it used to be much bigger, encompassing most of the neighbouring town of Rabat. However, during the Arab conquest, it was reduced to its present size. Mdina is a place of winding narrow streets and small picturesque squares.

The main square is dominated by the Baroque cathedral dedicated to St Paul and was built by the architect Lorenzo Gafa after the previous Gothic structure was destroyed in an earthquake in 1693.

The houses that survived the earthquake date back to the medieval period. However, rubbing shoulders with them are the ‘newer’ palaces and houses built in the Baroque style.

Thankfully, change has been slow in coming to Mdina and it is much the same as it was hundreds of years ago.

There is much I could tell you about its history, but that would make my post too long. Instead I will try to let the photos speak for themselves. This is an enchanting place which has captured my imagination, whose old buildings hold countless secrets for those willing to stop and listen.

Its walls throb with history; the very air thick with ghosts and memories of the past. Perhaps it is just my imagination but in this ancient place I never walk alone, the spirits of my ancestors surround me, whispering of bygone days, of lovers lost and battles won; of shuttered windows and high palace walls; of cloistered nuns and armoured knights; of chapels and churches, dungeons and banqueting halls; of tragedy and death and the beauty of life… I close my eyes. The noise of their whispering fills the air: a clash of swords, the clanking sound of heavy armour, the rustling swish of a faldetta, a piercing scream, an agonized moan, the insistent booming of church bells...
Perhaps I should be afraid. Perhaps they are trying to lure me to their world with their tales of the past but I think they are friendly ghosts, lost in time, unwilling to leave their enchanted city of silence and mystery.


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