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

Friday, 26 September 2014

Fabulous Fridays: Notting Hill

I know that I said I wouldn’t write about London for a while. But when I recently found myself watching the movie all over again to remember the vibe of the place, I knew that I just had to bow to the muse. Incidentally, was it Notting Hill that made the movie famous or was it the other way around?
I happened to just love this London neighbourhood. It is quirky, with a plethora of vintage clothing stores and little boutiques.
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You’ll find art everywhere – not just in galleries.
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The houses are painted in the most fascinating and vibrant shades.
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It had such a friendly, relaxed atmosphere that it’s hard to believe we were not too far from central London. Notting Hill truly felt like an area of London that I wouldn’t mind living in. Of course, that assumption may be based on the number of bookstores that we came across.
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Yes, it definitely felt curiously homely, which is not usually an adjective that I associate with London.
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So there you have it – Notting Hill in a nutshell.
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And of course, I could not resist sharing this:

Thursday, 18 September 2014

That Elusive Something

My son’s friend turned eight yesterday. So a bonfire was the order of the day (or rather, night). We cooked sausages on sticks and toasted marshmallows to make Smores, their melted gooiness sticking to our fingers and faces, as the velvety darkness caressed our skin and the crickets sang their humble serenade. It was the last hurrah, the final nod to summer before saying farewell. School starts next week; and it will all begin all over again.
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I made many plans before summer started but the days relentlessly  marched on, turning into weeks and then months, as I floundered around trying to find some respite from the heat and not accomplishing mush else. It is the story of every summer. Or at least, it is my story - of hours wasted, lounging behind shuttered windows, desperately seeking that elusive something – the something that the French call the je ne sais quoi.
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Because summer, you see, is about making memories. It is about looking back, many years later, and forgetting the heat and the humidity and the pesky bugs and remembering only those moments that stand out in time because of their simplicity and the heart-warming feelings that they evoke.
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Time always flies beyond our reach and I always seem to be standing on a figurative threshold, trying to catch it in a gossamer web of words and images. For soon, all that we are now will be but a shadow and all that is will become but a moment of laughter on a lilting summer breeze.
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Monday, 8 September 2014

London Moments

I’ve been trying for days to define London, struggling to find just one word to describe it. Then, it dawned on me that I can’t. So I won’t. But I will share the moments that made me think ‘this is London’. It might not be your London or the guidebooks’ London. But this is my London. And these are my moments:
~ Most moving moment: Attending Sunday service at Westminster Abbey. We didn’t plan it, we just wanted to visit and forgot that it might not be open on a Sunday. But we were invited to attend the service and I am overjoyed that we did. The singing was sublime and the towering Gothic architecture made it even more so. We were not allowed to take any photos, but perhaps it was just as well, because I paid more attention to what was around me and I left the place in awe.
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~ Laziest moment: sitting in the shade of a sprawling tree in Kensington Gardens and contemplating the fountains in the Italian Garden.
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~ Best shop-window display: Selfridges of Oxford Street. Each window display was part of their Meet the Makers campaign which gave shoppers a chance to meet the  people behind some of the items for sale in their food court.
~Favourite historical building: I would have to confess that it’s the Tower of London. This brooding fortress on the edge of the Thames has a dark and bloody history which has fascinated me for years. I am still trying to decide whether that is a good or a bad thing.
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~ Favourite historical artifact: London museums are replete with important historical finds but, for me, the absolute star was the Rosetta Stone at the British Museum. The discovery of this stone was instrumental in helping scholars decipher hieroglyphics. I remember discussing its importance many years ago during history lessons at school. Incidentally, I did not realise that the Rosetta Stone was this big.
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~ Best fast-food:  it definitely had to be the sandwiches at Pret-a-Manger. There’s a wide variety to choose from and they are a healthier choice than burger and fries.
~ Most beautiful building:  in a city that is almost over-crowded with architectural gems, it’s really hard to pinpoint just one. The Royal Albert Hall, St Paul’s Cathedral and the iconic Tower Bridge all come to mind, but as we walked along Westminster Bridge and the sun started to set, it cast a golden hue on Westminster Palace (better known as the Houses of Parliament) and Big Ben and my heart just  missed a beat. I knew that this image of London would stay with me for months to come.
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~ Most interesting restoration: the Covent Garden covered market. It made me think what, with some imagination, our own covered market in Valletta could be turned into. The Covent Garden market used to be a vegetable and flower market. When it was moved elsewhere because of traffic congestion, the market was restored and re-opened as a shopping centre with small boutiques, specialty stores, restaurants, cafes and a craft market.
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~ Favourite neighbourhood:  Notting Hill. This pretty district with its colourful houses and vintage stores feels very different from the rest of London. What once used to be a very run-down neighbourhood is now one of the most desirable residential areas of the city. The popular Portobello street market takes place in Notting Hill every weekend. Pity we missed it.
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~ Most not-sure-whether-to-scream-or-laugh moment: as we walked along a lonely garden path in Kensington Gardens, a huge rat ran out right in front of us. I doubt I would have felt so relaxed under the tree if I had known these creatures were lurking in the bushes.
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Since I don’t want to bore your collective socks off, this will be my last post about London – at least for a while. Now that summer is winding down and I get back into some sort of routine, I hope to write more regularly and be able to comment a bit more. Hope you’re all enjoying the last days of the season.


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