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

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Tunes On My Playlist – Christmas Medley

It’s that time of year again – my favourite time of year. Amazingly, or perhaps not, it seems as if each year the time between one Christmas and the next only seems like a few weeks instead of twelve long months.
Below are some of the songs and tunes that I look forward to hearing as soon as December 1st dawns. Cheesy? Perhaps. Christmas memories are always special and these tunes all take me back to happy moments.
Queen: Thank God It’s Christmas
An evergreen song from a legendary band. Freddie belts out this classic in his inimitable style and fervently makes me hope that the joy and goodwill of Christmas will last throughout the year.

Band Aid: Do They Know It’s  Christmas
This the Christmas song from my teenage years – a time when most of the guys singing this song were the major heart-throbs of many a teenage girl. I remember this was one of the first singles I bought – if not the very first one. Of course, that was before CDs were invented – or at least, if they had been they had not yet made their way to these shores.

Charlotte Church: O Holy Night
Uplifting and beautiful. Charlotte Church has a voice like an angel and her rendition of this Christmas classic is one of my favourites.

The Corrs: Silent Night
All the Irish need to do is speak for the words to sound like music. The Corrs’ version of this most popular of Christmas carols has a wonderful  Irish lilt to it. This carol always moves me to tears and I love it in any language that I hear it sung. It also brings back childhood memories of cold, December nights back at a time when it seemed like we actually used to have a winter. Or maybe my memory is getting hazy …

As you may have noticed, I have not been visiting much lately. The reason is because I have been busy packing and preparing for a long and special trip. This year we will be spending Christmas with my husband’s family in Missouri. I will do my best to come round and visit as soon as we are settle and, hopefully, will have time for some quick posts myself. In the meantime, I wish you all the best that this wonderful season has to offer …

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Wednesday Wanderings: Breezy, Beautiful, Bewitching Burano

Venice -  June 2007 (95)-1
Burano bewitched me. That is a fact. From the moment I set foot on this colouful little island situated a few miles away from Venice, I was in love. After the splendor and decay of Venice, Burano had more of a village feel to it. The canals and waterways are wider here, the houses less tall. It was less crowded and with more open spaces. More importantly, we could feel the remnants  of a breeze rolling off of the Adriatic and winding its way through its streets.
Venice -  June 2007 (80)-1
Venice -  June 2007 (82)-1
Without a doubt, comparisons are odious, and there is no way that the humble fishermen’s houses of Burano can ever compete with the grandeur of the palaces of Venice. But the simplicity of this place is palpable.
Venice 2007 from Lorna's perspective (26)-1
From the leaning tower of the church of San Martino, to the cheerful houses lining the canals, Burano seems to be a completely different world. The contrasting colours of the pretty houses and their reflections in the water of the canals are a photographer’s dream.
Venice -  June 2007 (108)-1
There’s something endearing about a place that paints its houses in such boisterous colours; something intrinsically appealing. I couldn’t get enough of Burano. I would gladly have walked its peaceful streets till sundown, enjoying the glimpses of homes that I got through the curtains that, in summer, doubled as doors; smiling at the unabashed lines of washing strung across sleepy courtyards and all the time wondering what it must feel like to live in the proximity of such a famous neighbour. Burano is in no way pretentious but I came away with the certainty that it has an innate charm all of its own.
Venice -  June 2007 (99)-1Venice -  June 2007 (103)-1

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Tunes On My Playlist: Skin

Skin is a single from Sixx AM’s album This Is Gonna Hurt.  Sixx AM was formed in 2007 and is a side project of Motley Crue bassist Nikki Sixx.  While most, though not all, of Motley Crue’s music is probably what many would describe as ‘dark and heavy’ I find Sixx AM’s music to be more poetic and mellow. Skin is a wonderful song with thought-provoking lyrics. A recurrent phrase in the song is ‘you are not your skin’. I have written about  Nikki Sixx and his addictions in my review of his first book The Heroin Diaries. This year Nikki launched a new book entitled This Is Gonna Hurt which showcases his photography and more of his journal entries. I have not read the book yet but I have listened to several tracks from the album that was released to promote the book. Skin is about the homeless, the drug addicts, the disabled, the prostitutes. It is about the marginalized members of our society. Those whom we see but render invisible. Those we do our best to ignore.
Skin is a powerful song – it is an invitation to look beyond the physical and search instead for the beauty inside. I could write so much about how evocative I find the words of this song. I could write so very much … But I won’t. At least, not today. I’ll just say that the subject matter is very close to my heart.
I am including the lyrics to Skin because, even if you do not care for the music that comes with them, they are beautiful in their own right and deserve to be read like you would read any other poem.
Paint yourself a picture
Of what you wish you looked like
Maybe then they just might
Feel an ounce of your pain
Come into focus
Step out of the shadows
It's a losing battle
There's no need to be ashamed
Cause they don't even know you
All they see is scars
They don't see the angel
Living in your heart
Let them find the real you
Buried deep within
Let them know with all you've got
That you are not your skin
Oh [X2]
When they start to judge you
Show them your true colors
And do onto others
As you'd have done to you
Just rise above this
Kill them with your kindness
Ignorance is blindness
They're the ones that stand to lose
'Cause they don't even know you
All they see is scars
They don't see the angel
Living in your heart
Let them find the real you
Buried deep within
Let them know with all you got
That you are not your skin
Well they don't even know you
All they see is scars
They don't see the angel
Living in your heart
Let them find the real you
Buried deep within
Let them know with all you've got
That you are not
That you are not your skin
Oh [X2]
Words by Nikki Sixx via A-Z Lyrics

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Fabulous Fridays – Chocolat

I’ve seen the movie. Twice. And I’ve read the book.  I usually prefer the book to the movie but, in this case, I really have no preference. The movie brought to life all those delectable chocolate goodies that the booked described so well. So how could I complain? Of course, casting Johnny Depp as Roux was the frosting on an already delicious cake – chocolate, of course. 
                                                                        Source: via sheshome on Pinterest

I love chocolate. I love it to the extent that I would happily skip a meal to indulge in a chocolate bar or  a cup cake. Dark, velvety and rich is how I like it – the higher the cocoa-to-milk content the better. I have eaten chocolate that consists of 95% cocoa. Sinfully delicious – yes I can totally agree with that. While the Olympian gods feasted on nectar and ambrosia, the gods of the Mayans had their fill of the cocoa bean. I have no doubt as to what I would be eating all day long if I was a deity with no concern for my waistline.
I will leave you with some pictures of delectable chocolate creations which I wish I could reach into my monitor and eat.
                                     Source: via James on Pinterest

                                                                      Source: via Michelle on Pinterest

                                                          Source: via Kelli on Pinterest

                                                          Source: via Cassandra on Pinterest

                                              Source: via creactivity on Pinterest

Are you hungry yet?
And, of course, I could not help but include some memorable scenes from the movie.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Running On {Almost} Empty

As weekends come, it was a busy one. Preparations for our Thanksgiving celebration started Friday night when the  Mischief Maker and I made the Pumpkin Roll. It was really straightforward to make and, although I do not think that the smell of pureed pumpkin is exactly appetising, the final product tasted so much better than I expected that I was very pleasantly surprised. I tweaked the original recipe which I found at Mel’s Kitchen  Cafe just slightly by adding about 1 teaspoon pumpkin spice to the rest of the ingredients. Admittedly my roll is rather flat …
Thanksgiving (9)
My sweet American and I spent most of Saturday cooking. I tackled a batch of breadsticks inspired by Olive Garden. I found the recipe at Full Bellies, Happy Kids. I could not, for the life of me, remember what Olive Garden breadsticks tasted like but The American said that the ones I made tasted like the real thing.
Thanksgiving (4)
We opted not to cook turkey this year. I do not particularly care for it and, when we make it, it feels like we’re eating left-overs for ever. We went for capons with a citrus herb rub instead. The American prepared the birds. He has a knack for cooking meat which I seem to lack. Of course we made side dishes too and a cranberry margarita courtesy of Bobby Flay. We did not go for traditional recipes this year because sometimes I get a bit tired of traditions, preferring to make our own. So Saturday passed in a blur of cooking and washing what seemed to be an endless amount of pots and pans. It was worth it though.The meal was lovely as was the company.
Sunday I woke up feeling like I had run a marathon and would have gladly spent the day in bed. However I managed to summon the energy to go to Valletta and visit Patches – The Special Market.
Valletta on a Sunday (13)
The first Patches Market was held about a year ago. It is an artisans market which is held every 3 months or so. Some exorbitantly-priced items apart, it is a wonderful place to pick up hand made items, especially with Christmas around the corner.
Valletta on a Sunday (17)
This is the last weekend before the Christmas shopping chaos starts. I particularly enjoyed taking photos in the near-empty streets. That’s when one can really appreciate the full architectural beauty of our capital city.
Valletta on a Sunday (10)
I suddenly realised that sometimes, when I start to write, I just can’t stop.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Wednesday Wanderings: Art Overdose At The Louvre

Paris - Lorna's Day 2 (45)-1
To say that the Louvre is huge is probably an understatement. Wikipedia describes it as ‘one of the world’s largest museums, the most visited art museum in the world’ and home to over 35000 works of art, ranging from pre-history to modern times. Entering the place as we did via a passageway from the Palais Royale-Musee de Louvre metro station did not  prepare us for the sheer size and magnificence of the place.
Darin's view of Paris - Day 2 (92)-1
We finally got to see works of art that we had only seen in books  - life-like sculptures, beautiful paintings, delicate glassware, and the list goes on … Here are just a few of my personal favourites:
Venus de Milo
Paris - Lorna's Day 2 (26)-1
Winged victory of Samothrace
Darin's view of Paris - Day 2 (24)-1
Canova’s Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss
Paris - Lorna's Day 2 (27)-1
Da Vinci’s Mona  Lisa
Darin's view of Paris - Day 2 (57)-1
Darin's view of Paris - Day 2 (34)-1
What, to me, felt even more enchanting that seeing these masterpieces face to face was the thought that I was walking in the footsteps of the Sun King. It was easy to imagine Louis XIV with his impeccably curled wig, his rich clothes, his high heeled shoes and with hundreds of courtiers and ladies surrounding him, mincing his way across the marble floors of this sumptuous palace.
Paris - Lorna's Day 2 (21)-1
What I had a hard time coming to terms with was how people found their way around this enormous place. I kept wondering whether they used to carry a map, like I was doing. Or perhaps living in the same place, day in day out, ensured that they had no problems navigating their way around.
Darin's view of Paris - Day 2 (31)-1
Of course, Louis XIV considered the Louvre to be too small and dingy for his grand tastes, so he built the palace of Versailles. Which begs the question, how big, exactly, is Versailles?
Paris - Lorna's Day 2 (38)-1
After 4 hours of sheer art overdose, we decided that we couldn’t take anymore. It really is physically and mentally impossible to see the Louvre in a day. We exited through the Louvre Pyramid a structure built in 1988 to house the new visitor’s centre.
Paris - Lorna's Day 2 (41)-1
Architecturally, the Louvre is as imposing on the outside as it is on the inside. Even the grey clouds and rain that greeted us as we walked out could do nothing to dispel the sense of regality that the place exudes. It is sumptuous, over the top and majestic. A bit like its last royal owner, I suppose.
Paris - Lorna's Day 2 (43)-1

Monday, 21 November 2011

On Giving Thanks

First of all I wanted to thank you all for sharing your thoughts regarding my question in my last post. I know that I am not ready to give up my other blog – at least at this point in time – but I have made a few decisions. I will diversify this blog so that it will include more of what I currently include in my other blog in its content. Sounds confusing? Right now I am still confused myself but I am working it out slowly in my head. As for the other blog, I think I will aim it more at tourists and people who want more information about certain places, museums, restaurants etc. I will see how it all works out.

                                                                      Source: via Kristin on Pinterest


Well, here we are in the second half of November. Like all holidays that are not celebrated here in Malta, Thanksgiving has, once again, crept up on me. Every year, sometime in September, I vow that this year I will have time to prepare a nice meal complete with all the trimmings and an appropriate table-scape. But, like all other years, I am unprepared. The meal will happen and, although we will try to keep it as simple as possible, browsing through various mouth-watering recipes posted on different blogs always leaves me spoiled for choice and utterly confused as to what to cook.

                                                                           Source: via Lorna on Pinterest


Sometimes I think we worry too much about the food and the traditions and forget that Thanksgiving is about giving thanks: for what we have, for the people in our lives and for a thousand other little things that may seem trivial but are really so important. Give thanks, above all, for life.

I would like to wish you all a happy  Thanksgiving. We will be celebrating on Saturday since Thursday is a regular working day here. Enjoy the food and the beauty of the season. But above all, enjoy your loved ones.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Tunes On My Playlist – November Rain

It rained. All last night and throughout the day. It was a gentle, soothing rain, quite unlike the torrential downpours that usually occur around these parts.  The rain seems to have washed away the lethargy that had overcome me for the past couple of days. There are times when I could write a post every day and other times when I have to stand back and take a few moments to reflect. Right now I am wondering whether it might be a good idea to marry this blog and Snapshots of an Island so that I will end up with just one blog. It is not an easy decision and I would like your feedback my blogging friends. The truth is that I live on an island with 6000 years of history. I started Snapshots of an Island to separate the story of this island from the story of my life. But I am not sure whether this is successful or not. A lot of what happens, the places I go to, the things that I do, happen on this island and keeping the two apart is becoming harder and harder. I am Mediterranean, I live on an island and I love history. I think that these aspects of me need to find themselves onto this blog too. How it is all going to turn out, I don’t know yet. I will be doing a lot of thinking and some things will change, that’s for sure. And what better day to choose to stop and think than a day in November with rain pouring down while I sit in my cozy little nook and write? After all, this is the Mediterranean and rainy days are not the order of the day. To quote the song I have chosen today “nothin’ lasts forever, even cold  November rain”.
I absolutely love this track. It’s not my all time favourite but it is in my top 10 favourite songs of all time. November Rain was released in 1992 by bad boy band Guns ‘N Roses. It is undoubtedly a rock ballad but the sweeping orchestral score that accompanies it gives it an extra edge, a feeling of grandiosity which, I am sure,  is what front man Axl Rose wanted to convey.
In my opinion November Rain is one of those great songs that has withstood the test of time even though the original members of Guns ‘N Roses are no longer together. It is one of the classics of my generation. As the song plays in the background, the November rain continues to fall gently. It is time for me to wind down, rethink a few things and curl up with a good book – all perfect activities for a cold, wet November evening.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Fabulous Fridays – Friends

                                                       Source: via Lorna on Pinterest

I will be meeting my besties tonight – my friendship with some of these girls goes back many years. I have known some of them since we were 4 years old and then spent the next 12 years together until we left secondary school for sixth form (high school) when we were 16. We used to attend an all-girls convent school run by nuns and a cast of female teachers. The only 2 male teachers at our school were both well over 60 years old. We left school with  a rather distorted vision of the world. Few of us were street-wise and we had to learn the hard way that not everyone had led the same protected life that we had.
We will be  meeting at a pub-cum-wine-bar called Four Seasons which was very popular back in the ‘90s and was the stomping ground of many of us at the time. Owner Sammy has already been requested to play hits from the 80s and 90s. I envisage lots of laughter and reminiscing about the ‘old times’.
                                                            Source: via Lorna on Pinterest

After family, friends can be amongst the most precious people in our lives. True friends share our joys and comfort us in our sorrows; they are there when we need advice; they are their own person and also an extension of ourselves; they are the breeze in our sail and the wind beneath our wings. True friends are the ones that know our secrets; the ones that share our crazy moments and the ones that help us to, not just fly, but soar.
                                                          Source: via Lorna on Pinterest

Friends are not just about the here and now but about our yesterdays and our tomorrows.
                                                      Source: via Lorna on Pinterest

Wishing you all lots of true friends and wonderful memories. Happy weekend.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

On Inspiration

Uncommonly for me, I am struggling with words right now. Struggling to inspire myself, to write something eloquent. Struggling to strike a balance between a totally impersonal post and just how much of my personal life I want to reveal. What do my readers what to read? The straight facts? A sugared fictional version of my life? Or a marriage between the two? I know that I can write a good travel post but I cannot write about my travels all the time. This time of year always throws me into a bit of a quandary. Not much is going on – at least not much that is interesting to write about. So I was digging around and came upon this quote:
                                   Source: via Lorna on Pinterest

Wise words indeed. Words that I need to frame and hang over my desk. Because I do wander – especially in my thoughts and in my writing. I wander there and back again; to realms seen and unseen. I dip my fingers in stardust and fall back to earth with a bang. I dwell in the world of elves and hobbits and emerge in the real world with reluctant, tottering steps.
I am a dreamer and I make no apologies. And I write – snippets or long rambling posts - finding inspiration from without and from within. And when that fails, turning to Byron and Tolkien, to the flowing prose of Daphne du Maurier and the unlikely poetry of Nikki Sixx. But through it all I am learning to find my voice. To be me. To search for words until they pour out of me like a spring stream. Indeed, I wander often but lost I am not.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Tunes On My Playlist – California Dreamin

California Dreamin which was first released in 1965 by the Mamas and the Papas is one of my favourite ‘oldies’. It brings back childhood memories of record players and black vinyl records usually accompanied by lots of static. It reminds me of winters that actually felt cold, of cozy rooms and, I’m not sure why, of pink pyjamas. I am sure that my mum and dad still have the original album stacked somewhere in their house. It was a time when music was raw and real. When it was still about the lyrics and the melody rather than about what the singer/s looked like.
I sat down with the intention of writing a totally different post today. But the words would not flow. It happens from time to time. I am finding myself listening to music a bit more these days – especially to those songs that evoke special memories. And when that happens, it’s like I’m in a dream world and my feet have difficulty staying on the ground. Perhaps I’m doing a bit of California dreaming myself right now. I know that I am always guilty of dreaming with my eyes open, so it’s hardly surprising. I’ll post again when I am back in the real world Smile

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Wednesday Wanderings: V Is For Venice

Yes, I know, it’s Thursday but I experienced a technological glitch yesterday. So here is Wednesday Wanderings … a day late ….
Venice 2005 (10)-1
Our first visit to Venice was just a day trip. We took the ferry from the mainland at Tronchetto. As the boat slowly chugged its way across the murky blue-green waters of the Adriatic the haze of a hot morning in mid-September danced before our eyes. Then, almost like a mirage, the towers and spires of Venice rose into view, impaling the sky like spears. It seemed as if someone was slowly raising a curtain as she revealed herself to us – La Serenissima: one-time queen of the Adriatic.
Venice 2005 (12)-1
We docked at Riva degli Schiavoni and emerged on the quay, blinking in the sunlight and feeling dwarfed by the majestic buildings. Across the Canale di San Marco we could see the islands of San Giorgio Maggiore and La Giudecca guarding the cabal like protective arms. It felt surreal to finally be in Venice after all the photos and postcards I had seen of it throughout my life. Like all first-time visitors, we did the sights:
the Bridge of Sighs, Venice 2005 (19)-1
the Palazzo Ducale (the Doge’s Palace),Venice 2005 (28)-1
the duomo of San Marco with its Byzantine-inspired architecture, Venice 2005 (91)-1
the Rialto Venice 2005 (57)-1
and the view of the Gran Canal. Venice 2005 (58)-1
We had to share all these places with hundreds of other tourists all intent on taking the perfect photo. It felt chaotic, and a bit suffocating. I felt that Venice was losing some of the lustre that I had attributed to it.
Venice 2005 (70)-1
We walked away and queued up with the Venetians at a little hole-in-the-wall paninoteca (sandwich shop) with no seating space. So we headed to the side steps of Piazza San Marco and ate our delicious tramezzini in the square that Napoleon dubbed ‘the most elegant drawing room in Europe’. After dining like paupers, but feeling like princes, we decided we would leave the crowds behind us and lose ourselves in the warren of alleys, streets, canals and bridges that make up Venice. It was here that I fell completely under the spell of  this water-bound city.
Venice 2005 (65)-1
It is hard to pinpoint exactly what is most attractive about this place. Certainly, part of its charm lies in its slow decay. Every year, Venice is sinking back into the cold waters of the Adriatic from which it rose. Its buildings have been patched and re-patched, the sometimes mismatching colours giving the place a delightful character and quirky charm.
Venice 2005 (49)-1
Here in the back streets,  Venetians were going about their daily life in a place where every errand has to be done on foot or by boat.
Venice 2005 (44)-1
It felt strangely liberating not to be surrounded by cars of any sort.  We were lost, literally and figuratively and it was one of the best feelings ever – discovering hidden little gems, uncovering secrets, wandering and pondering; walking with the ghosts of yesteryear. Because here in the shaded pathways that are known by such romantic names as sotoportego and calle, you will never walk alone.
Venice 2005 (87)-1
Almost reluctantly we found a quaint sign pointing us to the Rialto and soon we were back in the crowded, jostling streets.
Venice 2005 (95)-1
But Venice had done her work well and the spell she laid on us did not wear off. It was love at first sight and, as we boarded the ferry while the first rays of sunset burnished the waters of the Venetian lagoon, we vowed we would be back soon.
Venice -  June 2007 (70)-1
Indeed, we kept our promise and returned just two days later, preferring the silent seduction of the alleyways of Venice to the more commercial  Gardaland amusement park. Both of these visits were what I call ‘whirlwind visits’. I knew we had to return for a longer stay with enough time to savour the place and visit its monuments. A year and a half later, we were back. So I suppose it means I have more of Venice to share with you some time in the future.
Venice 2005 (38)-1


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