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

Friday, 27 December 2013

Winter Is …

… grey clouds, heavy rain and unexpected hailstorms.
… red cheeks and cold noses.
… scarves and beanies and boots.
… cuddles on the couch.
… fleece blankets and flannel sheets.
… Christmas.
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… glasses of hot, mulled wine.
… popcorn and movie nights.
… pastel sunsets.
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… fierce northerly winds.
… apple-cinnamon scented candles.
… deserted beaches.
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… my favourite time of year.
Now I know that not everyone fancies winter but it is hard not to love a season that provides a respite from the blazing heat of the sun. I hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas and I continue to wish you the very best during the rest of this festive season. May all your winters be mild, with bursts of sunshine and plenty of rainbows.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

From The Grinch To You At Christmas

I did not mean to be away from here for quite so long but I am always busy at this time. Every year I make the same mistake of leaving everything till the last minute. Then it’s a whirlwind of shopping, cleaning, baking, card-writing and gift-wrapping until I am ready to fall off of my feet. I find it hard to get into the proper spirit until work wraps up for the holidays. But it doesn’t have to be like this, it really doesn’t, because Christmas isn’t really about things is it? Christmas is about something so much simpler, something so fundamental, that many of us just miss it. I will not go into a lengthy discussion about what Christmas really means to me on this blog. You can read my thoughts in this article that I wrote some years ago.
I want to wish all my readers many, many beautiful memories this Christmas but, above all, I wish you joy in your hearts, peace in your souls and your nearest and dearest close to you. Since I am sure that you are all as busy as I am, I will leave you to ponder the immortal words of the Grinch.
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I am sure you are all familiar with this quote. If not, you can find the book here.
And, because Christmas won’t be Christmas without traditional carols, here is a new version of a much-loved classic.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Remembering A Friend

I’ve been debating for the past 5 days whether to write this or not. It’s close to Christmas and not the best time to share a sad story. But I do believe that we do not always consciously choose what to write about. There are moments in our life that just beg to be shared.
The fact is, that many years ago, when I was seventeen, I lost a friend in a traffic accident. He was just eighteen. There is much that I have forgotten about that day but some details are still extraordinarily clear. It was a cold and wet night when the accident happened and the wind ripped through the island, uprooting centuries-old trees and leaving a trail of damage in its path. It was a time when news travelled slowly, much more slowly. I only got to know about it the next morning. I remember the surreal feeling in the air at school; groups of friends huddled together in shocked silence. Tears fell freely. Gone were the teenage swagger and bravado. All around me were stricken, incredulous looks.  In one day we went from being careless, carefree teenagers to suddenly being confronted by our own mortality; our vulnerability. Death had claimed one of us and we were powerless. With that came the sobering realization that it could have been any one of us. Life offered no guarantees.
It would be an over-simplification to say that we grew up that day. We didn’t. But life had dealt us a blow and taught us a bitter lesson. That was twenty-five years ago. We have moved on. There is grey in our hair now and laughter lines around our eyes. We have loved. We have lost. We have had our fair measure of success and of failure. But I like to think that we each carry the memory of our friend in our hearts. It’s been many long years, a quarter of a century is a long time, and time has blurred so much. There are countless things about my friend that I cannot remember – like his height, the timbre of his voice, the exact colour of his eyes. But I do remember one thing - his warm smile; and perhaps, after all these years, it is what matters most. I think it is what the majority of us remember and, knowing him, I know it is a legacy of which he would be proud.
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Friday, 29 November 2013

The Beach, In Autumn

There is a story in The Odyssey about the seductive song of the sirens. It is said that their music was so alluring that any sailors who heard it would not be able to resist it. I have my own siren call. One that is sometimes too loud and insistent to ignore.
The weather has changed almost overnight. Although the previous night’s storm had abated, it was still windy, and angry grey clouds hung in the sky when I made my way to one of our beaches last week. I felt my tension melting away as the surf pounded around me like the beating of a huge drum.
Autumn had finally arrived. I could smell it in the tangy air. I could taste it in the sea-spray that settled on my lips.If I was an artist, I would try to paint this scene – the frenzied waves, the scuttling clouds, the lacy froth forming on the golden sand. There is a drama to it that the calmness of summer can never impart.
For this is the sea of a thousand different faces. The one with the wind in its voice and the rain on its brow. This is the sea that I adore: turbulent, dangerous, moody, wild; its fury unleashed, its power uncontrolled. It is mesmerizingly beautiful; seductive, almost. Like the sirens of the ancient tales.
Location: Golden Bay, November 2013

Wednesday, 20 November 2013


It always takes me by surprise, like a schoolgirl caught napping during French lessons. One minute it’s Halloween, and November stretches out before me with the promise that there is enough time to get things done. But, before I have the chance to blink twice, Thanksgiving is looming and, after that, the fairy lights of Christmas won’t be far off. Everything is rushing towards the final curtain and I am not sure I am ready for Auld Lang Syne just yet. The pace has started to quicken. I feel weary. Weary of all that remains to be done. Weary, like a traveller who has walked a thousand miles but now needs to sprint through the final hundred.
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November. It’s such a melancholy month. They call it ‘the month of the dead’ here and, even though the sun shines nearly every day, it fills me with a strange feeling of sadness that I cannot quite shake off. That, coupled with a restlessness caused by certain local events, have not been very conducive to writing. I wish I did not feed so much off of the emotions of those around me. But that’s the way I’m wired. From time to time, I still stop to wonder whether I’ve found my voice yet; whether I should be writing for myself or for an audience. So many questions; so much to think about.
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November will soon be a hazy memory. A month of dying days, impossible deadlines, sweet melancholy, Downtown Abbey (yes, I have finally given in), Tommy Lee (I’m sure you’re all thinking that Downtown Abbey and Tommy Lee make a strange combination, and I agree) and soul-searching. Perhaps I have stayed in my cocoon for too long. It’s time  to spread my wings and fly. Maybe November has served its purpose after all.
Valletta on a Sunday (31)
Art Recycles Art Exhibition, Strait Street, Valletta
November 2012

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Helping Kayni

We may write in isolation but our words are rarely lost in a vacuum. Someday, someone, somewhere will read them. Someone, somewhere will stop to think about them. Something we may have written will ignite the interest of a reader thousands of miles away. Conversely, what someone else has written may touch us  in an inexplicable way; for a variety of reasons. It is the way these ‘virtual’ friendships start.
I started reading Kayni’s Corner Café a couple of years ago. Kayni talked about her travels and about her craft shop Kayni Boutique. But she also wrote about other topics: aplastic anaemia, blood transfusions, needles and pain. Sadly, none of the treatments worked for Kayni. What she needs now is a bone marrow transplant. For that to happen, her doctor needs to find a matching donor.  In an effort to raise awareness about aplastic aneamia and the need for donors, Kayni has started a new blog, Kayni’s Bone Marrow, and a Facebook page. Her appeal is for people, especially minority populations, to join the Bone Marrow Registry.
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While not everyone can qualify as a donor, what each one of us can do is spread the word via one of the social networking sites we all form part of, and also within our community. So my appeal, on behalf of Kayni (although she does not know I am writing this and has not asked me to), is to raise awareness in any way you can and encourage more people to sign up with the Bone Marrow Registry. Determining whether a prospective donor is a match to a patient is an easy and painless process: all that is required is a swab taken from the cheek. You may read the facts about bone marrow donation here and a simple explanation about the actual donation procedure here.
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We spend a lot of time writing about inconsequential things. Sometimes we need to take the time to use our gift for the benefit of others. Please feel free to share this post. It may help save a life. I will end with a quote that I first heard in the movie Schindler’s List but is, in fact, taken from the Hebrew Talmud:
“Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire."
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Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Sunset at the Great Salt Lake

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Sometimes, the best thing about a trip is not so much the trip itself but the memories we take away with us. Because, like everything else, a trip will come to an end but the memories we make will last a life-time.
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My husband’s best friend has lived in Salt lake City for the past 20 years. He knows the coolest places to visit; the best sights to see. So we got off the highway and onto a bumpy dirt road, till we came to the shores of the Great Salt Lake. We wanted to see the sunset but the sun had other plans.  It hid behind the clouds and veiled itself in the summer haze.
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So we made the most of what we had: sharing precious moments with a special friend; getting a kick out of the cheeky seagulls and capturing the fleeting light on the glass-like surface of the Great Salt Lake.
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It was such an isolated spot; could have been such a romantic spot. Clearly, others before us had thought so too.
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It was getting dark. Time to say good-bye. Time for one last photo of the Great Salt Lake.
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Location: the Great Salt Lake, Salt Lake City, Utah
August 2013
If you would still like to see the sunset at the Great Salt Lake, go here.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

The Light, It’s All About The Light

It’s the end of October and I am still dreaming of rain. The ground is parched and the sky seems to have forgotten how to create clouds. Autumn has decided to take its ‘mists and mellow fruitfulness’ to some other place this year, leaving us with a season that is long past its sell-by date.
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But, despite everything, I have come to appreciate the sunlight. Because when you walk around with a camera attached to your hip, you start to notice things that would otherwise be taken for granted. Like the nuances of the light. Its ephemeral hues. From the blinding, harsh brightness of mid-day; to the golden light of mid-afternoon and the rosy glow of sunset. I have come to know them all, to look out for that time of day when the light will be …, well, just right. Just picture-perfect right.
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Suddenly,it almost becomes a game. A game of looking for sunlight and shadows; of seeking unexpected patterns on walls; of brightness and darkness. It’s a game of telling a story without words.
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Location: Mdina, June 2013

Friday, 25 October 2013

A Whiter Shade of Pale

“Mummy,” he told me as we drove home one evening last week,"do you know that the moon has no light of its own?”
“Yes, I know …”
“It just reflects the light of the sun,” he continued.
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Above us, the not-quite-full moon cast a milky light on the time-worn walls of Mdina. He was right, of course, my Mischief  Maker. But inwardly, I sighed. Just a little bit. Would he always be so analytical, so scientifically correct? Would he grow up and remain unmoved by the sight of a beautiful, full golden moon suspended over the darkness of a bay, casting its reflection on the ink-dark water? I thought of all the poems, all the love songs and famous movie scenes inspired by our closest celestial neighbour and I realised that, despite the facts, despite the truth staring me straight in my eyes, my moon would always shine with its own light. I wanted to tell my son all  this. I wanted him to see the moon through my eyes. But I didn’t. I just smiled, secretly. With the passing years, he would learn that even scientists, occasionally, need a little romance in their lives.
We were almost home, my son still bombarding me with facts about the moon, the stars and everything in between. Above us, the golden orb rode higher in the sky, bathing us in a light that was a whiter shade of pale.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013


Fragments … of my thoughts.
Fragments … of my country.
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Fragments … of my hometown.
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Fragments … of my dreams.
Fragments … of memories, of stories, of secrets.
These are what I write about - tiny fragments; little pieces of me. Like a jig-saw, you can put them all together, until the final  picture is revealed. There are days when the words pour right out  of me and others, like today, when it seems like I have nothing to share.
Except fragments.
Of me.
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Thursday, 10 October 2013

Autumn Tears

I opened the curtains and, for the first time in weeks, I was not greeted by the rosy fingers of dawn. Instead the sky was dark and a gentle rain fell.
Stuck in traffic, with my windows tightly rolled up, I was overcome by a strange sensation that felt akin to being inside a cocoon. All I could hear was the swishing sound of the wipers and my MP4 player belting out Sixx AM.
Traffic was head-to-tail to the next intersection. Yet I had this uncanny feeling of being alone. Alone in a world of rain and puddles; suspended in the ether and looking down from a vantage point on the trail of cars inching their way forward, red brake lights leaving a bleary reflection on the shiny, wet tarmac. The traffic’s backed up on the 405… Yes, indeed. But that was LA and this was Malta and I was definitely not on a highway. So it went on, all the way to work. Yet despite running late, I was unusually calm. Perhaps I was still suspended in the ether.
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Fast forward to the evening … I sat in my car (again) waiting for my son’s Boy Scout meeting to wind up. In front of my wind-shield a posse of mosquitoes danced and twirled in crazy delight, probably thinking that I would be their next victim. I closed my windows tightly shut and looked at the patches of sky above the tree-tops. A bat came into view; and then another; and another. They flew erratically in my line of vision for a few seconds and then headed on to their next destination. Meanwhile, down below, the mosquitoes continued their frenzied dance. And I felt a heavy weariness descend upon me.
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It had been a long day but we finally got home. I logged on to Facebook and started to scroll down my wall, wondering why so many people had yellow gerberas for a profile picture. Then I read the sad news. Cancer had claimed another victim. A woman of 40, with two young sons. An acquaintance  from my past. I was stunned. I inwardly screamed ‘no, no, no’. Oh my God, this is insane, How'd it get like this or has it always been this way? This was the fourth woman, that I had known at some point in my life, that had lost the battle this year. I felt a grief beyond words yet my lips mouthed a prayer. Piles of roses at my feet, friends and lovers gather around me … On and on, in my numb brain I repeated the words, like a secret mantra, like a call to arms. Enough, I wanted to say. Too many tears have been shed; too many lives have departed – gone too soon, silently, like the autumn rain.
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This post is written in tribute to the brave survivors and in remembrance of all those who have lost the battle.
The words in italics are not my own but are taken from: Sure Feels Right; Oh My God and Goodbye My Friends from the album This Is Gonna Hurt by Sixx AM.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Her Secret is Patience

Patience is one virtue which I am truly lacking right now. But I won’t go into that and bore you with the details. Instead, I invite you to adopt the pace of nature. For she is a wonderful teacher. And her secret is patience.
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She does not rush things but waits until every petal unfolds in perfection.
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From seeds to flowers and back again, the cycle is repeated, in its proper time, in its appropriate season …
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Summer is slowly dying and autumn is creeping in. Subtly. Secretly. There is a slight shift in the nature of the lift – it is softer, more golden. The shadows are longer. The nights are cooler.
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The crickets have ceased their song and the fields lie in wait for the life-giving rain. Sometimes dark clouds gather and the thunder growls.
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I long for the storm to break. I will it to break. But she whispers in my ear that she is in control. And her secret is patience.
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I feel myself sigh, my tension relax. A measure of serenity returns. I tell myself that there is beauty in every season.
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Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
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Location: wild-flowers – Missouri and Utah (USA); storm clouds – Malta

Thursday, 26 September 2013

I Fell In Love With Jenny Lake

Usually, I fall in love with old, old towns. Towns with weird names like San Gimignano, Mousehole and our own Mdina. They are generally places with a story to tell and many secret memories to share. And that’s what I like about them – peeling away their todays to discover their yesterdays.
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But sometimes, I fall in love with sweeping landscapes; with the incomparable architecture of a Higher Power. They are locations so majestic, so seemingly unchanging that, to them, our stories are but whispers in the wind. Jenny Lake is one of those places. Framed by the Grand Tetons and ringed by  enormous fir trees, it emanates an aura  of serenity; a feeling, that in a transient world it was, is and will be, until the end of time.
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If I were there by myself, I would have sat at the shores of that lake till the sun went down and the stars came out. I couldn’t tell you what fascinated me the most – the lofty Tetons, their reflection in the pristine waters of the lake or that glimpse of the infinite that this spot was giving me. It was all just so heart-wrenchingly beautiful; so unabashedly perfect.
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Why is it called Jenny Lake, I mused, as I walked through the fir trees, startling some noisy squirrels. And who was Jenny? A few steps away I found a plaque with my answer:
“The name Jenny Lake dates back to the Hayden Expedition of 1872 when Jenny Leigh, Shoshone Indian wife of Richard "Beaver Dick" Leigh, assisted the expedition.”
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A lake named after a Shoshone Indian woman in one of the most awe-inspiring locations of North America – I don’t think it could have been more appropriate. Behind me, the encroaching trees were starting to obscure my view but I managed one final glimpse of the lake and with that glimpse, that incurable, romantic part of me that is so in touch with the fantastic and the bizarre, had the distinct impression that Jenny’s spirit would always roam there, keeping watch over the lands of her ancestors. Deep in my heart I walked away with the promise that one day I would return.
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Location: Jenny Lake, Grand Teton National Park, Teton County, Wyoming, USA
August 2013
P.S. No, I do not think that Jenny Lake is haunted.


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