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

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

The Colours Of Our Winter

Almost 6 (20)
Perhaps it’s easy to love winter when you live in this part of the world. After all, the skies are often blue and, although some trees are leafless, there are plenty of wild flowers to make up for that. So the landscape is rarely drab, rarely grey.
Almost 6 (10)
There’s the bright yellow of the Cape Sorrel flowers; the grass is green; and oranges hang heavily on boughs of citrus trees like incandescent orbs. It never feels like Nature is taking a long sleep; just that she is waiting, in anticipation of spring, ready to work her magic at any minute.
Almost 6 (8)
Winter countryside (11)
Yes, the occasional storm does pass us by, and the heavens will pour down rain or hail; the sea is whipped into a frenzy and the clouds skedaddle across the sky.
Golden Bay - Stormy Seas 018
There is uninhibited power in the raging waves. And the colours … oh the colours – how they change and blend, from deep blues to indigo to teal and sea-foam green … I would need to be an artist to be able to name them all.
Stormy Weather 14.02.09 Golden Bay (66)
 Golden Bay 07.02.10 066
But the storms don’t last for very long. I wish that they would sometimes. After all, there’s something cozy about winter. Something very heart-warming about wearing fleece pyjamas and watching re-runs of old movies with a mug of steaming cocoa.
Almost 6 (29)
Really cold days seems to be very rare though. Maybe my memory is getting hazy, but it always seems like winters were colder when I was growing up and the wind always seemed to be howling. Or maybe as children we only remember the extremes.
On the back-path (12)
The flu has held me hostage for over a week. My fever has broken but my body still feels battered and listless. I was feeling grey and drab. But today, I am finally feeling human again. Colour is back in my life again – the vibrant colours of our too-short winters.
Almost 6 (35)
Photos from  my archives
Location: Chadwick Lakes,  Golden Bay, Dingli Cliffs

Friday, 25 January 2013

False Start Fridays: Me And My Shadow

Here is my piece for False Start Fridays in all its unedited glory. I am not sure whether this was a false start  or simply a very short story. Maybe I could expand it and do something with it. Or maybe I should just thrash it. I am finding that fiction is a lot harder to write than I thought or maybe that’s because real life can be so much more interesting. Anyway, let me take a deep breath and just hit Publish.
We’re inseparable, my shadow and I. Wherever I go, it comes with me. We are one and yet we also have two distinct personalities. Yes, you’ve heard me right. I said personalities. It’s because of my shadow that I am here awaiting trial for … but wait … I start my story at the end. For you to be able to understand, I will need to start my story at the beginning.
I can’t recall exactly when it started but I was very young. It happened after my sister was born. She was gorgeous: blond, with big blue eyes and a peachy complexion. I soon started hearing whispers of ‘changeling’ and, I admit, we were as different from each other as strawberries are from pruners. I was the dark one, with black eyes and sallow skin. I had always had a close relationship with my shadow. It was my friend, my confidant - someone to whom I could whisper all my secrets. But soon after my sister was born, it seemed to develop a life of its own, a personality of its own. My shadow would whisper words in my ear, horrible words, harmful words and it would goad me. Oh, how it would goad me. I was never at peace from its insistent murmurings.
“Take her toys,” I would hear.
“Pinch her arm.”
Each time I would obey and get into trouble. I would always blame my shadow. But no one ever believed me. They thought I was making up stories. That is a bunch of lies. I never made up any stories. My shadow talks to me. Why will no one listen? Why will no one understand?
I used to wait with glee for the night, hoping that the darkness would make my shadow flee. But it would not. It was there at my side like a dark ghostly presence - a specter with blazing red eyes. It took over my life and invaded my dreams. There was nowhere I could hide. It was like a voice inside my head, constantly nagging, and I was like a puppet on a string. As I grew older I tried to control it, but it was always there, lurking in the dark corners of my mind. Sometimes I sensed a lull in its whisperings and murmurings but then it would be back with a vengeance. Its suggestions would get worse.
“Push her down the stairs,” I would hear.
“Hide her homework.”
I always obeyed and my shadow would laugh. Sometimes it was a nice little laugh, like the tinkling of broken glass. Other times it was more of a screech, like the noise your nails make on a blackboard. Those laughs terrified me and haunted my nights. My dreams were filled with high-pitched shrieks and dark shadows. I would wake up shuddering, in a cold sweat, hoping it was just a nightmare. But my shadow would be there by my side or at the foot of my bed, waiting for me with a sneer on its blood red lips.
On and on this went. I could not escape its clutches. Then, at eighteen, I developed a crush on this boy in my class. Ricky was handsome as could be but I did not have the courage to approach him. I was sure my tormented soul would drive him away. For a while, my dreams were more pleasant, filled with images of him. But always, on waking, my shadow would stand there and mock me. I longed to hide my head under a pillow and never have to face it again. I watched Ricky from the sidelines and I was content. Until one day I saw him with my arm around her - my sister. A blinding rage clouded my vision and I heard an insistent whisper, “Kill her.” I tried to drive the thought away, to suppress it, to ignore it. But it kept flooding my head like breath floods my lungs, without effort, without thought. Finally, I gave in. I saw them together and I lunged at my sister with a sharp knife. My aim was inerrant. My inexperienced hand guided by rage and jealousy and by that constant dark shade at my side. The knife found its mark – straight to the heart.
So that is why I am in this cell, awaiting trial. I am alone with my nemesis; my inseparable twin. Me and my shadow. My shadow and I.
For more FSFs, go here.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Under The Weather

Sometimes I sit here and the words roll off my fingers. Sadly, today isn’t one of those days. I’ve been scrolling through my photos, hoping that one of them will provide some sort of inspiration – but when the body is tired the best thing to do is rest. I wanted to thank all of you for the kind birthday wishes. I appreciated each and every one of them.I meant to do something fun and then come back here and tell you about it. But the Mischief Maker and I got sick and we are both still feeling pretty low. Night-times are not very restful with all the coughing going on. So I suppose it’s understandable that I am rather the worse for wear at the moment.
This coming Friday I will be joining Suze for False Start Fridays. You can read more about that here.
In the meantime, I will try to find my muse. She doesn’t usually lurk too far away – not unless she’s on holiday or has come down with the flu herself.
Cornwall 123
Wildflowers at Tintagel, Cornwall
July 2012

Friday, 18 January 2013

Break The Rules

Cornwall 106-001
I found this quote at We Heart It. I am not sure who said it but I do believe it to be true.
With my birthday coming up on Monday, I do find the inexorable  marching feet of Time to be depressing at times. Life passes by before we even have the time to catch our breath. We could all sit in a corner and decide to mope about it. Or we can perceive each day as a new adventure; break a little rule every day; be a little bit outrageous. It doesn’t take much. I admire older people who are cheerful and who flaunt convention just a little bit – like Armande and her red petticoats in Chocolat. So do something memorable each day and, above all, love truly. And laugh, laugh uncontrollably – at life, at the world, at yourself. Wishing you all a weekend of broken rules; be eccentric and do something totally unexpected … Now if only I would follow my own advice …

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Of Books and Good Intentions

I know I said that I would not be making any major resolutions in 2013 and what I am making are hardly resolutions. They may more properly be termed good intentions – good intentions to broaden my horizons.
Thanksgiving (4)
Before I got married I used to read a book a week, sometimes two. Sadly, with less time on my hands, the number of books that I would read per month started to decline. Last year I reached an abysmal low. I doubt I read more than 6 books. It’s definitely time to remedy the situation. I’ve made a ‘resolution’ to get off the Internet twenty minutes early each evening and to spend the time reading - my brain needs it and my soul craves it.
Thanksgiving (3)
I know that a book is working it’s magic on me when I can’t bear to put it down yet feel a certain sense of loss once I’ve read the last word. I’ve chosen Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love to start off the year. I guess I want to see what all the hype was about (and once I’ve finished it I might watch the movie to see whether they strayed as far from the original story as they did  in Under The Tuscan Sun). But I don’t just want to read best-sellers. I would love to discover some literary gems that have been over-looked by the critics (and, more importantly, by Hollywood). So please feel free to give me some recommendations.
Eat, Pray, Love
I am noticing that I am searching inward again, striving to listen to my inner voice and seeking an oasis of calm. Perhaps it’s the best way to start a year: new books, more music and long, solitary walks with my camera round my neck – perhaps, in my own way, I’ve made some resolutions after all.

Monday, 7 January 2013

My Favourite Blogs in 2012

When I first started blogging the last thing that I expected to find was kindred spirits. But perhaps I was being naïve because our senses have a way of leading us to those places where our heart needs to be. At first, I read the blogs of those people who read mine. But as time passed, I ventured out and started dropping by and leaving comments in places where the style of writing, or the message, really struck me. New friendships were born and my life was all the more enriched by these wonderful women ( yes, I seem to read women almost exclusively) sending their thoughts out into the great universe of cyberspace.
At the start of this new year I thought I would share with you the blogs that I keep returning to, the ones whose posts I hate to miss and which you might also like to visit. So, here they are, in no particular order:
Subliminal Coffee – written by Suze and always thought provoking. There are many subtle ways in which Suze and I are alike, and she has this incredible way of giving words to my thoughts. Suze is an incredible writer with a wonderful talent and her writing moves me more than she can ever know. I feel that if I ever met Suze for a cup of coffee we would talk for hours.
Picnic at Dwejra (12)
Lost In Arles – I had never heard of Arles before I chanced upon this wonderful blog written by Heather. Heather is a travel writer who moved to France to be with the love of her life and she is slowly introducing me to the beauty of Provence, its quaint old villages and beautiful countryside. Heather has a natural way of drawing you in to her corner of the world. She takes beautiful photos and seems to see the world through my eyes and has made it her special quest to seek out the patina of age, the crumbling facades, the rusty door-knockers, the little everyday things which probably have an enchanting story to tell. Thanks to Heather, Provence has made it to my list of places I want to visit.
Picnic at Dwejra (14)
Travels With Persephone – Amanda is an archaeologist and writer. She writes about the here and now and about her life as an archaeologist on Ithaca. I have been an avid reader of the Greek myths since childhood so reading Amanda’s blog was a natural progression. What makes it even more interesting is that, because Amanda lived on Ithaca, it makes the place and the legends become so much more real. Needless to say, Greece is another place that I long to visit.
Picnic at Dwejra (46)
Baroque Sicily – this blog is written by Jann Huizenga an American expat writer who has been living on and off in Sicily since 2007. Jan takes beautiful photos and I love to see Sicily and its people through her lens; and the more I see of this island to our north, the more I am able to pick up the similarities between Sicily and Malta. Looking at Jan’s photos of Sicilians going about their daily business, it always strikes me that we are not only linked culturally but that many of us share the same genes. Sicilians and Maltese look so  much alike that I am sure many of us had common ancestors. (Maybe one day, when I retire or have a lot of time on my hands, I will delve into our family tree and find out).
Picnic at Dwejra (87)
My Marrakesh – Maryam Montague, who writes this blog, has quite an impressive list of achievements to her name: humanitarian, democracy specialist, writer, author of Marrakesh By Design and owner of Peacock Pavilions, a boutique guesthouse in Marrakech. Maryam is an inspiration to women around the world and her tales about Marrakech have me constantly wondering about this exotic location.
Garden Flowers (1)
Agnes’ Pages – I believe that Agnes wears her heart on her sleeve and has some profound insights about life that only come to those who have travelled extensively and to places beyond the comfort zone of many. I have lived vicariously through her trips and I am the more enriched for it.
Garden Flowers (11)
Spain Daily – Jane may not write too many words but her photos provide an exquisite view of life in Spain, and occasionally beyond. What I love most about her photos is how she focuses on the details to tell a story in pictures. I also want to take this opportunity to thank Jane for the pretty necklace she recently sent me after I won a give-away on her blog.
Garden Flowers 2 (5)
I would also like to mention Gattina at Writer’s Cramps whose sense of humour always makes me giggle – even on really bad days - and Jeanne at Collage Of Life whose writing is always so inspirational and who always comes up with wonderful snippets of her life to share with her readers.
So there they are, the women who challenge, inspire and amuse me. There are others, of course, because each blog I read is special in its own way, but I cannot mention everyone or this post would be even longer than it already is. And before I sign off, I would like to thank all my readers, old and new, for their continued encouragement and positive comments. In one way or another, you have all touched my heart.
Photos: March Flowers at Dwejra and at home.
March 2012


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