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

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Liebster Means Dearest

Suze has awarded me the Liebster Award, which I will graciously accept and pass on. I now need to share 11 fun facts about myself, answer Suze’s 11 questions, pass it on to 11 other bloggers and come up with 11 new questions for ‘the chosen ones’ to answer.
Eleven facts
1. My favourite colour is crimson but over the years I have developed a love for turquoise and all its variants, especially aqua.
2. The furthest place I’ve been from home is Los Cabos in Baja California, Mexico. My husband and I travelled there for our first anniversary. It was all about sun, sea and sand and is the most relaxing vacation that we have ever had.
Cabo San Lucas June 12-19 2004 213
3. The most awe-inspiring place I have been to is the Grand Canyon in Arizona. The sheer magnitude of the place left me dumbfounded. Even my wildest dreams could not have imagined this marvel of nature. We visited the West Rim, the home of the Hualapai nation. I was over the moon to meet my first Native Americans.
4. I cook because I have to but I bake because I love to. Whenever we have people over, I always have to try a new dessert. The Mischief Maker loves to help too – especially if we are making anything that has chocolate in it.

5. Although they have been explained to me countless times, I am still clueless when it comes to the rules of a baseball game. My husband despairs.
6. I have an unhealthy aversion to snakes – even the local ones that rarely grow longer than 1 metre are capable of scaring the living daylights out of me. I am not sure why I find them so repulsive. I know they are not slimy and the ones here are not even poisonous (although they will bite) but, where snakes are concerned, I defy any attempts at reason.
              Source: Uploaded by user via Lorna on Pinterest

7. The above quote is my idea of a wonderful vacation. You will never get to know a city until you are truly and wonderfully lost.  My husband and I have endless arguments about my penchant for getting lost.
8. My favourite animals are Labradors, dwarf rabbits and British Shorthair cats.
9. I can never buy enough sandals and boots. Shoes are optional.

10. When I was a child I owned a stuffed animal monkey. I had named him Monkey Gibbons and I still have him.
11. Whenever I am feeling down, a musical blast from one of the hair metals bands of the late 80s or 90s is bound to cheer me up. This is still one of my absolute favourites.
Eleven questions from Suze.
1. Why do you blog? I blog because I enjoy writing but, most of all, because of all the people I am meeting along the way.
2. What is your goal for the next six months? It’s a secret but it involves photos.
3. The next year? I would definitely like to read all my camera manual and improve my photo-taking skills by using the manual setting on my camera more often.
4. The next five years? I never make such long-term plans.
5. If you could have any meal for dinner tonight, anywhere in the world, what would you have? I would definitely choose to have the tiramisu at Da Robertino in Rome.
6. Who are your influences? My parents.
7. Have you ever had a recurring (sleeping) dream? If so, care to share it? Yes. I went through a phase of dreaming that I’m eating gum and all my molars start coming out.
8. Without looking it up, do you know what your birth stone and zodiac sign are? Yes - Aquarius; garnet.
9. What was the first name of the first person you kissed/who kissed you? Oh dear, now everybody is going to know. His name was Peter Paul.
10. What is your favorite pizza topping? I’m not really into too many toppings. My favourite topping (if you can call if that) consists of tomato sauce, fresh  mozzarella and fresh basil – topped with a drizzle of olive oil and freshly ground black pepper.
11. Most interesting teacher you ever had? That would have to be Mrs Gauci. She was a Scottish lady and taught me in Grade 6. I absolutely loved her accent.
My Eleven Questions
1. What is your earliest memory?
2. What character from a book do you most identify with?
3. What is your favourite flower?
4. If you could meet one person from the past, who would it be?
5. What would you talk about?
6. Have you ever won anything? If you have, what was it?
7. Do you prefer modern or vintage clothes, furniture etc?
8. What one event will forever remain etched in your  memory?
9. If you were stranded on a desert island and could only take one book, which one would it be?
10. What is your favourite musical genre?
11. Can you ride a bicycle?
My 11 Nominees
It is really hard to find 11 people to nominate because so many people do not do blog awards anymore. But there’s no pressure to play. So I am choosing:
2. Josefa
3. Amanda
4. Doreen
5. Icy BC
6. Debbie
7. Glynis
8. Lucinda
9. Jeanne
10. Heather
11. Gattina

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Chasing Shadows

Seeing the world in black and white.
The Petting Farm (30)
In the sharp contrast of darkness and light.
Medieval Mdina 071
In the play of sunshine and shadows.
Mdina Ditch 098
There is a timeless mystery in a world without colour.
Medieval Mdina 073
An enduring beauty that transcends generations.
Medieval Mdina 074
I am shunning the spot-light -
Medieval Mdina 094
Just chasing shadows.
Location: Ta’ Qali; Mdina

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Palazzo de Piro Revisited

Mdina 107-001
“May I go upstairs?” I asked the young, foreign waiter as he cleared away our dessert plates. “This used to be my school,” I continued.
Mdina 121-001
“Of course,” he said and his eyes smiled. I could tell he’d had this request before.
Mdina 120-001
Leaving my husband and the  Mischief Maker in the courtyard downstairs, I slipped behind the cordoned-off area and slowly walked up the grand staircase. This was one trip down memory lane that I needed to take by myself. Twenty-five years earlier, my friends and I had gone down these same stairs for the last time. It was our last day of secondary school. We were sixteen. We were ready to face the world. Or so we thought.
Mdina 123
But today I went up the stairs alone. Or maybe not. In my mind’s eye I could see them still, those smiling faces of so many years ago. The intervening years have changed and moulded us. What we were then were mere shadows of what we have become. We couldn’t wait to discover what lay beyond the heavy red doors. If we only knew how safe and protected we were within those convent walls, we might not have been in such a hurry to find out.
Mdina 127-001
Slowly I went, up the familiar steps, my fingertips lightly caressing the smooth wall. I smiled as I passed the lion that had stood sentinel over the dreams of so many hundreds of girls. At the top of the stairs I stopped and hesitated for only a minute. Then I turned left and went into the first door on my left, into what used to be my last classroom. The roomed seemed bigger. It was bigger.
Mdina 129-001
I realised that two adjoining rooms had been joined into one. It looked so grand now. Gone was the cream paint, the desks, the blackboard and teacher’s platform. In their place were vibrant colours, brocade curtains ad huge, crystal chandeliers. Now it was a room worthy of a palace. And where had they hidden that fireplace?
Mdina 136-001
I continued to open doors and explore. The silence was uncanny. There were moments when I thought that I would surely hear giggles or whispers or even the shrill bell calling us to recess.
Mdina 141-001
But the only sound that disturbed the peace was the  clickety-clack of my heels on the stone floors. Whatever secrets  these walls had overheard, they guarded them well. Our teenage dreams were safe with them.
Mdina 145-001
This magnificent  palace that used to be my school is now a bistro and cultural centre. You can read about the history of Palazzo de Piro here.
Medieval Mdina (12)
A list of cultural events currently taking place at Palazzo de Piro may be viewed here.
Dwejra, Nadur &  Mdina (38)Dwejra, Nadur &  Mdina (39)
Palazzo de Piro may be found at 3 Bastions Street, Mdina.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

High On A Hill

Winter countryside (59)
There is a cross, high on a hill, in a place called Girgenti. It has long been a place of worship, a place of pilgrimage. But, most importantly, it is a place of utter solitude. That’s one of the places where the wind took my Mischief Maker and I last Friday.
Salib tal-Gholja, Delimara, Marsaxlokk (52)
We drove, through a road so narrow that I thought my little car’s sides would be scraped by the rubble walls, and inched our way slowly about three quarters of the way up the hill. Then we came to the end of the surfaced road. My tyres spun uselessly on slippery cobblestones. It was time to stop the car (in an entrance to a field) and walk.
Salib tal-Gholja, Delimara, Marsaxlokk (4)
At the base of the limestone plinth, on which the cross is mounted, we stopped to catch our breath. Carved in the stone were the names of hundreds. I wondered what drove them to do that – was it thoughtless vandalism or the very human desire to leave their mark on something more permanent than human life?
Salib tal-Gholja, Delimara, Marsaxlokk (19)
Heaven seemed so close up there that I felt I could reach up and touch it. Before us, the view stretched out for miles; far, far out to the  shimmering sea.
Salib tal-Gholja, Delimara, Marsaxlokk (10)
Salib tal-Gholja, Delimara, Marsaxlokk (45)
It was idyllic. But seven-year-olds have no time for idle nonsense. We were soon walking around, creating fantastic stories and dreaming wild dreams. We came across so much prettiness up there, so many signs of spring, that I was reluctant to  leave. But other places beckoned. There was more exploring to be done …
Salib tal-Gholja, Delimara, Marsaxlokk (40)
Although this has nothing to do with what I wrote above, I could not resist sharing the photo below. This is what I saw from our balcony when I drew back the curtain this morning.
Etna - from our balcony (2)
Looming on the horizon, majestic  Mt Etna seemed larger than life. This is the first time that I have seen the mighty volcano from these shores. I guess all the atmospheric conditions that are required for her to reveal herself to us, about 75 miles away, were in place. Or the stars were perfectly aligned. Or it was just our lucky day.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Spanish Caravan

Spring came early this year and, by the looks of it, summer is already barking at its heels.  But for now, the days are beautiful.The wheat is fast turning golden and there is delicate new growth on the branches of the trees – so delicate, the baby leaves appear translucent in the sunlight. But sometimes, like tonight, the wind blows strongly from the far, far south. It is born in the vast expanses of the Sahara, gathers momentum and speeds north, slamming into our coast, our towns and our homes.
Santa Katarina (6)
Cooped up at the office all day, I envy the bees as they go about their business on two huge lavender bushes outside our window. The bushes smell heavenly in the warm sun and the hum of the bees is mildly hypnotising. Since as far back as I can remember, spring makes me feel restless and with that comes a fervent urge to explore. Staying indoors is such a waste of time. I feel the stirrings of my gypsy soul. I’ve taken the day off tomorrow. It is the  Mischief Maker’s last day of Easter break. We will be off on another little adventure. We’ve made no plans. We’ll see where the wind takes us. And it’s blowing strong. So who knows where we’ll end up.
Fawwara 253
But tonight, surrounded by a surreal silence that only night-time can bring, I dream of skies beyond these shores. I dream of my own Spanish caravan - bedecked in colourful scarves and piled high with comfy rugs and pillows – in which I will wander from city to city, blown this way and that by the ever-changing wind. And I would see all the places that I can only dream about. The sun will shine but it will never get too hot and at night a light rain will fall that will birth diamonds in the grass.
Source: via Lorna on Pinterest

What an incurable romantic I am. Perhaps it was these guys from another era that inspired  me today.
Does spring make you restless too?


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