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

Wednesday, 27 February 2013


Sometimes you wake up and it is just another morning but, somewhere deep inside you, you feel a strange sense of anticipation, as if you are on the brink of solving a great  mystery; or setting out on a thrilling adventure. That is how I felt last Saturday as I parted the curtains and stared out of our window at the familiar, serene scene. It was a blustery, sunny day with a flimsy haze that dulled the harsh brightness of the winter sun. I opened the window and sensed that a subtle change had taken place. There was a languid warmth in the air, a promise of  things to come, a hint of spring.
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Before too long we were out, driving to the squat tower at Nadur that crowns the hill on our horizon. It is the first thing that we see every morning and the last thing that we see, silhouetted against the sky, when the sun sets behind it. The wind was howling up there, blowing and heaving in every direction. We did not stay long. I felt a bit like the wind – restless and just as unshackled and unbound.
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So we drove some more to a sign that said Ghemieri (which is a mouthful to pronounce, I know, but it sounds very  much like emery) and followed a winding road that ended up in front of a barred gate.
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Carved in stone on the archway was a coat of arms, eroded by the winds of countless winters. Here was my mystery. All I needed was to get beyond the gate. It seemed rusty and old, but it would not budge. Conveniently, a small hole in the metal frame let me look through. But all I could see were the leaves and branches of an  olive tree, all bent and gnarled.
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I would not give up. We walked around and came to a little lane that said ‘Private’, but a friendly farmer assured us that we could go and take a little walk.
I led the way, prepared for almost anything. Then I saw it, lurking in the trees – a chapel, flanked on either side by a building the colour of spilt blood. A tower; a blood-red house and a little church. How mysterious, I thought, how utterly fascinating.
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My mind was soon a-buzz with unwritten stories. This place had to be old. I know of only one period in our history when buildings were painted in such bright colours – during the era of the Knights of St John. Here was a building that was at least 300 years old ... maybe more – all within a five mile radius from our house and I had never seen it before.
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It was such a peaceful, scenic spot, and the view was incredible. I could see why one of those knights of old would want to build his country abode there.
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We re-traced our steps, walking past the padlocked gate again and  down a sinuous country road. Some of my restlessness was gone. The serenity of the place was soothing but very much alive, with birds and blossoms and even the elusive chamomile -  which I had not seen for a number of years.
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It was the perfect end to a morning of billowing breezes, small discoveries and little wonders.
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Homeward bound, we listened to this. Some virtual digging informed me that the mysterious red house at Ghemieri is known as Palazzo Gomerino and it flanks the church dedicated to the Immaculate Conception and St Anthony the Abbott. And although I could probably write some more, I will stop here. Until next time friends …
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Location: Palazzo Gomerino and the Church of the Immaculate Conception & St Anthony the Abbott, Ghemieri, L/O Rabat, February 2013

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Wednesday Wanderings – The Fairy Island of St Michael’s Mount

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We arrived in Marazion in the early afternoon. Marazion – the word lingered on my tongue as I savoured its strange lilt. The day was overcast, but not too gloomy. My eyes were immediately attracted to the little island across the silvery-blue sea. I had wanted to walk across the causeway to St  Michael’s Mount but the tide was in. So we got there the only other possible way – by boat.
As we docked, I glanced up at the castle, perched precariously on the rocky hill, and sighed inwardly. Here was the castle from a hundred childhood tales, transported from the realms of fantasy to giddy reality. Surely this was the place that had inspired those stories.
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The castle beckoned, from its giddy height, and up the rugged, ragged steps we went.
Up and up, all the way to the castle ramparts. We caught out breath and enjoyed the view. For that alone, it would have been worth the climb.
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The castle has belonged to the St Aubyn family since the late 17th century. Once inside, it did not take me long to find a favourite spot or two.
Like this little reading and day-dreaming nook with views that plunge down right to the sea; and, naturally, the library.
But I was most enamoured of the views from the terraces – the wide, unobstructed vistas of the ocean.
But all fairy-tales come to an end, and soon it was time to leave. We walked slowly through the tranquil loveliness of the gardens and caught the very last boat to Marazion.
St Michael’s Mount may be small but it has its fair share of history and legends. This is Cornwall, after all.
Location: St Michael’s Mount, Mount Bay, Marazion, Cornwall
July 2012

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Tunes On My Playlist: Für Elise (L. van Beethoven, 1810)

Much as I love certain types of contemporary music, there are days when only the pure notes of the classics will do.
I started taking piano lessons at the age of seven and stopped, very abruptly, at twenty-one. Since that day, the times that I have sat at my piano have been few and far between. Music has always been an important part of my life. But, looking back, I now realise that I am one of those people who are moved my music from without. But there is no music inside of me. I have never felt that burning urge to create music.  Maybe my heart was too full of words to have space for musical notes. I would rather spend any free time that I had with my nose in a book or scribbling little stories on dog-eared notebooks.
But that does not mean that I can live without music. So, as the weekend here draws to a close, I wanted to share one of the pieces that I most enjoyed playing by one of the greatest musical geniuses that the world has ever known. Here is Mitsuru Nagai playing Für Elise.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Sending Postcards

It happened quite unexpectedly. I was in my Nanna’s cellar – I am not sure what I was doing there. Perhaps she had sent me to get some onions or perhaps I was just looking for adventure. It was not a large cellar. It was made up of just two rooms but there were plenty of boxes and forgotten treasures from bygone days to pique my curiosity. On this particular day, I was not more than six or seven years old, I came across two old, dusty shoeboxes. Holding my breath at the thought of what might be inside, I opened the lids. What I found inside was not quite what I had expected. They were filled to the top with postcards. Excitedly, I ran upstairs, my errand – if that’s what it was – completely forgotten. And that’s when it started, my love affair with postcards.
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I sat there, in my Nanna’s kitchen, and patiently went through each card. They were mostly from pen-friends that my mother and her two sisters had made during their visits to Europe and postcards that they themselves had sent home. It was  glimpse into their world; a wonderful introduction to some of the most beautiful cities of Europe: London, Rome, Athens, Paris, Venice … I asked permission to take them home. It was granted, without hesitation.
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That is how my collection started. From then onwards, whenever I visited a place, I would make sure to get postcards, both as a souvenir and as an addition to my ever-growing collection.
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So, when a few months ago, Jeanne from Collage of Life, asked if anyone was interested in joining a postcard exchange with her, I immediately said yes. Jeanne had recently moved to  Vietnam and I was enthralled at the idea of receiving postcards from this part of the world – one which I am unlikely to ever visit (although, of course, I never say never). In this fast-paced world of instant e-mails and online presences, finding a hand-written note in the mail-box is as rare a treat as rain on a hot August day; it makes a person feel that much closer and makes them so much more real.
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In the spirit of keeping things real, I would like to extend Jeanne’s invitation to all of you.If you would like to start a post-card exchange with  me, just send me an e-mail on: stories(dot)scribbles@gmail(dot)com and we will get started. I promise, I will not inundate you with mail – it is not my intention. I just want to rekindle that old magic of finding a note from a far-off friend in my mail-box.
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Postcards from my collection.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

The Edge Of Infinity

I think that one of the most comforting things in life is sinking into bed every night, with a pile of blankets to keep out the howling wind and a pillow that immediately moulds to the contours of your head. It is a moment when there is a lull, when everything is kept at bay as you wait for sleep to wash over you.Dwejra, Nadur &  Mdina (1)
It is then, during the time between wakefulness and sleep that I feel I am on the edge of infinity. It can last a second or it may feel like a lifetime, but in those moments my soul is dancing among the stars and poetry courses through my veins. The impossible seems probable and my ears ring with the symphony of the universe. The mundane meets the divine and a feeling of an impossibly perfect, unconditional love washes over me – calming and soothing the day’s ills.Dwejra, Nadur &  Mdina (7)
It is infinite madness and wisdom beyond measure; an agonising ecstasy; a bridge to immortality. Everything is perfect – like the world was in Eden – innocent, pristine. Or maybe it’s all a dream.Dwejra, Nadur &  Mdina (10)
Location: Dwejra, May 2012


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