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

Monday, 23 November 2015

Books for boys

Every night, before going to sleep, I would read to my son. It was our special time, a time of bonding. And what better way to bond than over books? We read all sorts of stories, letting our imaginations soar above the clouds. But, as with everything in life, there were some books that became favourites and we returned to them again and again (sometimes two or three times in one evening). Here are some of them:
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown
This beloved book, which I am sure needs  no introduction, has lulled generations of children to sleep and is one of those classics whose appeal will never fade.
“Good night room
Goodnight moon
Goodnight cow jumping over the moon”
Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson
This is a cute book about a red-haired (friendly) witch and her cat, who ride a broom, lose a few things, make some new friends and scare off a monster – all in one night.
““Down!” cried the witch,
and they flew to the ground.
They searched for the hat
but no hat could be found.”
Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae
At the annual Jungle Dance all the animals are able to dance – except for Gerald the giraffe. But with the advice of a friendly cricket, Gerald finally finds his own sweet tune. There is a lesson that children can learn from this book – that we are all unique and in the end we will all find our special niche.
“With that, the cricket smiled
And picked up his violin.
Then Gerald felt his body
Do the most amazing thing.”
If You Take a Mouse To The Movies by Laura Numeroff
My son absolutely loves this book. Even now that he is almost ten, this book gets taken off the shelf every Christmas season and is re-read time and again. The book came with a mouse soft-toy in red dungarees. It was love at first sight. My Mischief Maker and the little mouse (who was named Cheddar) are inseparable to this day.
“If you take a mouse to the movies, he’ll ask you for some popcorn,
When you give him the popcorn, he’ll want to string it all together.”
Aliens Love Underpants by Claire Freedman
This is the perfect book to make little boys giggle, especially since aliens end up on Earth for the sole purpose of stealing underwear.
“They like them red, they like them green,
Or orange like satsumas.
But best of all they love the sight
Of Granny’s spotted bloomers.”
How The Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
This is another well-loved tale that I am sure you are all familiar with. The Grinch ranks right up there with Scrooge when it comes to hating the Christmas season. But, like Scrooge, he also has a change of heart. This story, told in Dr. Seuss’ imitable style, is one that appeals to both the young and the young at heart. It is a book that we really enjoy and which we read with that  same sense of wonder year after year.
““Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.
“Maybe Christmas … perhaps … means a little bit more!””

Monday, 16 November 2015

No words

I am  lost for words. In truth I am too angry to write what’s really on my mind. That we are standing with Paris, with Beirut, with all the people that are hurting, goes without saying. Yet I fear that more words are not going to make any of it better. So I will leave it at that and leave you with some quotes I found. I hope we can all derive some strength and solace from them.
(None of the quotes are mine. I could not find the source of all of them.)
Location: Paris, March 2009

Thursday, 5 November 2015

All Hallows’ eve

All Hallows’ eve: lightning, thunder, rain showers and a newly restored fortress – the perfect setting for this spookiest of nights. They say that the veil between the worlds is thin at this time of  year. Thin enough to reach out and touch – what? A solid wall, centuries-old, and beyond that, a vague notion of whispers, of shadows, of things that go bump in the night. The place is haunted, or so they say.
Fort St Angelo 094
I could feel shivers up and down my back. But it was probably the wind. Yes, it was most certainly the wind. It tends to get a bit chilly at this time of year and an old, draughty fortress is not exactly conducive to feelings of warmth.
Fort St Angelo 029
But it was Halloween, or Samhain as some call it, and the weather-scarred walls of the fort seemed to reverberate with their own strange energy. I lightly traced my fingers across the pitted stones, as I always do when a place has a story to tell. And this place, with foundations dating back to the thirteenth century, probably has more tales to recount than I could write down in a lifetime.
Fort St Angelo 032
On any other day I would have been inclined to linger and coax a story or two out of those towering walls – walls that had withstood the Ottoman siege and the might of the Luftwaffe. But today was Samhain, lost souls might wander from that world to this and I was not quite sure that I wanted to hear, that I wanted to see …
Fort St Angelo 024
Just for today, I would be content with the song of the wind, with long-silent cannons and the rusted bases of anti-aircraft guns. There was an odd normality about these things, a fleeting sense of security.
Fort St Angelo 012
But the sky was darkening fast and, again, I felt a shiver run down my  spine, a mysterious whisper in my ear. It was time to go; and as the heavy doors clanged shut behind me and the brooding ramparts rose like towers above my head, I knew that the fort behind my back was a keeper of secrets that would haunt my dreams for many  winter nights to come.
Fort St Angelo 056-001
Location: Fort St Angelo, Birgu, All Hallows Eve 2015


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