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

Friday, 29 March 2013

The Call Of The Sea

As weeks go, this past one has been very busy and it made me feel tired and on edge. That explains my rather long absence from this blog. The words just would not come. Or rather, they did come, but my thoughts were as jumbled as veggies in a salad. Thankfully, today is a public holiday as the island stops and commemorates Good Friday. It’s a day of traditions and much pomp and pageantry – very reminiscent of Semana Santa in Spain, from where it was adopted.
Kuncizzjoni & Gnejna 001
When I woke up this morning, I felt an urgent need to escape. So the  Mischief Maker and I set off. We took the back-roads and, sometimes, got blissfully lost. But it is what my body and soul needed to regenerate. We came to the chapel at Kuncizzjoni. Since 1736 it has stood on this lonely, windswept plateau, surrounded by fields and a few scattered farms. On clear days, it commands a wonderful view. But not today. A haze in the air reduced the visibility to just a few miles. But I still saw it, way down below. Even from up there, the sea beckoned and I had to obey its call.
Kuncizzjoni & Gnejna 031
So, after a few photo-stops and a number of false turns into dirt roads that led nowhere, we made it to Gnejna (pron. Jineyna) Bay. Not even in the summer-time have I seen this bay look so beautiful. The water seemed to be made up of a hundred different hues of blue: turquoise and aqua; sapphire and navy; and many others that I cannot even name. I breathed in, deep breaths of salty sea air, while I waded ankle-deep in the crystal-clear water.
Kuncizzjoni & Gnejna 054
When all else fails, the sea always soothes my mood. At the water’s edge, the pulse of life beats rhythmically and strong. Beyond that endless expanse of blue, earth and heaven meet in an eternal embrace, and it tells me that all is well.
Kuncizzjoni & Gnejna 035-001
Location: Immaculate Conception Chapel, Kuncizzjoni; Gnejna Bay
March 2013

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Excuse Me While I Kiss The Sky

It was precisely 7pm. As I cleared away the supper dishes, the bangs from the fireworks reverberated across the valley and rattled our  window panes. (Our fireworks are anything but muted – you’d be forgiven for thinking that a war had broken out). Our neighbouring town was celebrating the feast of St Joseph. With each eardrum-shattering bang, the memories came hurtling back. Excuse me, while I kiss the sky …
Festa night (2)
In an  instant, I was there again, a little child with mouth agape, staring at the statue of the saint silhouetted against the high doorway of the church. Around me, paper confetti floated down gently, landing in my hair, on my shoulders and in a pile at my feet; while around me the cacophony of pealing bells and almighty bangs mingled with the shrill, hissing sound of hand-held firecrackers. All thoughts were drowned out and all eyes were fixed on the gentle face of the carpenter from Galilee, who held the infant Jesus in one hand and his lilly-topped staff in the other. My small hand was entwined in my Nanna’s much  bigger one. She squeezed it tight; as the statue was held aloft and paraded slowly through the streets of the town, hundreds of lips mouthed silent prayers. Excuse me while I kiss the sky …
Festa night (4)
That was many years ago – a time of simple faith and a simpler way of life. This country has changed, as has that impressionable child. Now I know that faith comes from within and has nothing to do with statues, or bells or fireworks from hell. It is strange, this thing we call faith - as tenuous as a cobweb; and, like a cobweb, it clings to us in ways we cannot even imagine.  Faith transcends time; transcends generations – it is a subliminal link to the divine. Excuse me while I kiss the sky …
Rabat and the Catacombs (47)
So every year, when those stentorian bangs boom like cannons across the valley, forcing me out of my reverie, a part of me longs to just drop everything and stand there again - in front of that lofty doorway - with the chilly March air nipping my nose and with my hand held warm and secure by my Nanna; while around us paper confetti float down like spring rain, buildings shudder with each successive boom and bang, and the night sky lights up in a rainbow of shimmering colours – all  underneath the benevolent eyes of the carpenter from Galilee. Excuse me while I kiss the sky.
Location: Church of St Mary of Jesus, Rabat
This post was inspired by:
                           Source: via Lorna on Pinterest

Monday, 11 March 2013

One Thousand Books Before I Die

My love affair with books started at an early age. There was always a far-off world to discover between those two covers, an adventure to go on, new friends to make. Books have made me laugh and made me cry. They have transported me to Narnia, Middle Earth and Avalon. I’ve befriended vampires and danced with kings; travelled to Venice, India and Paris, the jungles of Burma and hot Alice Springs. And I’ve gone back in time to the age of the Tudours, the Caesars and so many more. My life has been so enriched by these things we call books. I can imagine my life without many of the modern gizmos and gadgets but not without books. They have been my best friends when real friends were busy doing other things.
Books 007
Books have a strange power – they can teach, provoke, enlighten. They promote new theories, broaden our horizons and make us question the status quo. It is no wonder that, throughout history, tyrants have burnt them in their thousands. In some ways, books can be very  dangerous things. So when I recently came across The Guardian’s list of 1000 novels everyone must read I was curious to see how many of them I had read. Yes, you see, I keep a list of books I have read which you may view here. To date, I have read 51 out of the 1000 titles. Will I ever read all 1000 titles? Probably not. There are some books on that list that I would never read, simply because the subject matter does not interest me. But as for reading 1000 books before I die? Yes, that is definitely a challenge that I would like to take up. The Guardian’s list can be my starting point.
 Books 009
Some ‘book facts’ about me:
Currently reading: Slash – The Autobiography by Slash and Anthony Bozza, What I can say? This book will never win the Pulitzer prize but I am enjoying a more intimate look into one of the greatest  bands to rock the planet.
Just finished reading: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. I know that this book was highly acclaimed and was even made into a movie (which I haven’t seen) but it left me with a feeling of ambivalence. I am not sure why, I just was not moved.
Books 010
Favourite book I read in 2012: The Glassblower of Murano by Marisa Fiorato. I had not planned on reading this book. My mother in law sent it as a surprise gift – and I loved it. It was not so much the story itself (although that was interesting) but rather, the fact that the narrator seemed to be viewing Venice through my eyes. Her feelings were my feelings. When something like that happens, there is instant magic and that character in the book becomes me.
A book I keep re-reading: Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne Du Maurier. The first time that I read this book I was about fifteen years old. Since then I have re-read it at  least five times, maybe more. It has become a personal ritual to read it every summer.
My favourite book (to date): The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. This is a book about words and about their power to move nations. I have already written about it in The Book Thief Who Stole My Heart.
The next book on my list: The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway.
Books 011

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

The Ancient Seductress Again

She’s up to her tricks again, the ancient seductress;
Mdina 102
The keeper of secrets and the weaver of dreams.
Medieval Mdina (34)
I hear her whisper that it’s time for a visit -
Dwejra, Nadur &  Mdina (29)
Which is strange, because a part of me, just never leaves.
Medieval Mdina 124
No matter where my footsteps may take me, my heart never leaves.
Mdina 105
I had planned something different for today, but this took over, so I went with the flow.
For more about the Ancient Seductress go here.
Location: Mdina. from top to bottom: Villegaignon Street; private residence; Our Lady of  Mount Carmel Church; Vilhena Palace; the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral.


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