28 November 2014

Dreams and Memories

It is late or early morning and my last night on Malta. I have woken and can’t get back to sleep for wondering about a strange dream I have had which has also evoked many memories.

I am in an expensive women’s wear shop with I know not who. Not Hanna that is certain. And I am buying a woman an outfit (suit?) for a special occasion we are going to. No idea what, but you get the idea. On the counter are silks and very fine linens in pastel shades of cream and pink. The woman I am buying this for is somewhere looking at the racks and I turn to the sales lady and ask if she is sure the colours are not too “young for madam?” She replies that she is sure that with “madam’s complexion” she can carry them off!!

What does this dream mean? Dreams surely are sometimes our way of working out things that have happened to us during the day, but today I have not been near women’s dress shops or thought of a woman! Is the dream telling me to beware of “mutton dressed as lamb”! Why am I buying this unknown woman something expensive to wear? And who is she? An old love? A new love?

The memories this had evoked in the dark are something else entirely and are wonderful memories I have of some occasions with Hanna. I never had to buy her clothes, though often offered to. There were, however, two lovely occasions when I spontaneously did buy her something to wear.

The first occasion was long ago when we were new to being lovers. I was also a newly appointed Services Liaison Officer and we were in Verden on our way home from some event in town. In a side street we came across an exclusive Lingerie shop. I said come on we’ll buy you (meaning us) something frivolous.

She did not protest too loudly and so in we went and what fun we had. The sales lady gave us glasses of champagne and made us relax and showed off her wares. We had no real idea what we wanted, but knew what we wanted it for. I was also ushered into the changing room and we had such fun choosing something frivolous for each other.

If you have never done it, then I can recommend the experience, go out and take your lover into such an exclusive shop. Yes, you will end up spending a shed load of money, but you will create a memory that will keep you warm in the winter of your life. It brings a smile to my face even now.

The other occasion was also spontaneous. We were in Maidstone in the UK and had gone there for a quintessentially English morning suit wedding in a 13th or 14th century church. I had discussed with Hanna beforehand the wearing of hats. She in her stubborn way said she never wore hats. I said then that she would be the only woman without one! She did not believe me.

It was the morning just before the wedding and we were walking through the small town and came across a Milliners that was having a sale! I literally dragged her in and said come on let’s try some hats on. Reluctantly she did and again we found one that suited her and with which she was happy. She looked good in it and again it was one of those occasion in my life where I have done the right thing and I was so so pleased. And yes, she would have been the only woman at the wedding without a hat.

27 November 2014

We were Grockles on the Last day

Today being our last day we were up early as usual and had a nice view and a leisurely breakfast before setting off to go and chat to the nice lady in the “GO” shop, again!!!

Our Ferry to Valletta

As we got on the ferry it chucked it down with rain, but by the time the ferry docked in Valletta the sun was out again. We walked up to the Lower Barrakka Gardens via the Victoria gate and enjoyed the lovely view from there.

One for the ladies, fine figure of a man in the Lower Barrakka Gardens

The entrance to the Grand Harbour

We walked on round the walls to the St Elmo Bastions and took in the film about Malta, known as the Malta Experience. Worth watching if you know nothing and fun even if you do know something about it all.

As we walked on round the bastions Alan decided to take the ferry to Sliema and look at the places where we were with KARMA in 2002. On the way over we noticed that the bastions on Manoel Island were being renovated and that the Yacht Club where we had had lunch with “L” in 2002 had moved.

The view of Valletta from Sliema

This is where we were moored in 2002

Sliema was more or less the same, though there had been even more high rise hotels and flats built since we were here.  Nostalgia satisfied we took the ferry back to Valletta and went directly to Costa Coffee to check the Social Networks.

We did a little shopping for gifts and souvenirs and then stopped at the Upper Barrakka gardens to watch the 16:00 hrs signal gun being fired. That was fun and once the smoke cleared we took the lift down to the ferry.

The fine view of the 3 cities

Action stations

Shot over!

Alan went to chat up the nice lady in the “GO” shop and lo and behold she had a nice new smart phone for him! She put his “GO Mobile” chip in it and paired it up with his iPad. Fantastic, he practically skipped home he was so happy that now we could get on line again.

On the way we met “F” the nice man who collected us at the airport when we arrived and who is taking us back there tomorrow.

Back in our flat Alan played with his new toy and we were able to get on line and at least bring you all up to date. Now it is time for a meal, some packing and then bed.

Frustrated Bloggers

What’s the use of being a travel blogger if you can’t blog due to technical difficulties? Life for us bears is not always as easy as you lot seem to think. Obviously if you are reading this we are back on line, but let us go back to the beginning.

We left Gozo on Monday in brilliant sunshine. “A” kindly came and took us all to the ferry terminal. We had such a nice time with her being shown around this lovely little island, but all good things must come to an end. Alan did invite her to come and visit us in Germany so we could reciprocate the kind hospitality shown us. Maybe next year she said!

The journey back was largely uneventful. We saw again all the new hotels and holiday camps which have been erected around Melliha Bay and even St Pauls Bay has changed almost beyond recognition for those old Malta hands who used to come here in the 80s and 90s. Alan even came in 1968 for the first time and he said Strait Street in Valletta was a red light district in those days!!!  “It was because all the nice girls love a sailor,” he said. We didn’t understand it, but he wouldn’t elaborate! Mass tourism has its price he was then heard to remark.

When we got back to the lovely little flat in Senglea we were treated to the view of an oil rig being towed out of the Grand Harbour. Better than seeing cruise ships we thought. Then we discovered our technical difficulties. We could not get onto the Internet at all. Our mobile Wi-Fi was on strike! Strangely late at night it came on briefly, but then dropped out again. While he had a connection he was able to agree to meet his friend “L” for coffee in Valletta in the morning. Alan read a book, or rather his Kindle and eventually went to bed early in disgust at not being able to email or surf the web.

Early to bed generally in this household means early to rise and so it was that we were all awake at dawn. Alan likes dawns, but we prefer to sleep late. We enjoyed the view from the balcony over a very leisurely breakfast.

After breakfast Alan went to the “GO” shop where he complained that he could not get on to the internet. The nice young lady there then showed him that it was his mobile Wi-Fi which was at fault as she could not use it with her phone either? As we had to get on the ferry no immediate solution was found and Alan said he’d come back later.

As there were no cruise ships in, Valletta was relatively quiet. Alan was to meet “L” in the Café of M and S of all places. He knew where it was so took us straight there. “L” was already there and they decided to go out into the sunshine and sit in a Café in St George’s Square. These two then just talked the morning away and then to cap it all, changed Cafés for a light lunch and went on chatting. After lunch “L” showed us where we could buy one or two nice souvenirs. She also recommended one of the places we should see. Casa Rocco Piccolo. When they parted Alan took us more or less straight there.

We sat for a little while in the courtyard of the Palazzo until the time for the guided tour began. Sadly one could not take flash pictures in the Palazzo and so we have few to show you since the light was too poor. However, this Palazzo is the only one still in private hands and lived in by the owners which is also open to the public, a bit like some Stately Homes in the UK. Of interest is that Alan had to carry his pack on his front, so for once we saw what he saw going and not leaving as usual!! They said this was to ensure he did not sweep some glass crystal off the table when he turned round! Well I ask you is he a bull in a china shop? Don’t answer that!

Seen in the courtyard of Casa Rocco

At the feet of the Muse

A noisy parrot.

The glass we could have swept off the table

Sadly their shop was closed for restoration so we were unable to buy any souvenirs there.
When we came out of the Palazzo the sun was beginning to set and so we made our way slowly back to the ferry and home. On the way we stopped again at the “GO” shop but the nice young lady was not able to offer us any solution to our problem.

Without an internet connection it was a case of cooking a meal and off to bed, this time to read for Alan had been given a book by “L” about the American Civil War and the Gettysburg battle called “The Killer Angels” by Michael Shaara. It is this book on which the film of the same name is based.

This morning, Wednesday, it was up at dawn again. Today we were to meet “S” one of Hanna’s nieces. The first shock of the day was that it had been raining and was trying to rain again. Alan had to put us in the pockets and do them up so we did not get wet.  Alan stopped at the “GO” shop, on the way to the ferry. We think Alan fancies the young lady or else why does he keep going there when she can’t help us?

The nice young lady in the "GO" shop

In Valletta we went to Costa Coffee as Alan knew they had free Wi-Fi and hoped to catch up with all the news on Facebook and Twitter that we have missed over the last two days. We were early and so not only did he check the Social Networks, but was able to read the Malta Times. The talk here is of building a bridge over to Gozo!! This is cheaper than a tunnel! Not sure the people of Gozo want a bridge or a tunnel for that matter. One article recommended investing the money for a bridge on the infrastructure of Gozo instead. We rather feel that a bridge would spoil the environment, but we know of many such bridges in Europe where similar discussions were held and then the bridge was built anyway. They call it progress!

“S” arrived and then there was a lot of catching up to do as they had last see each other in 1995!! We found it a very pleasant morning listening to the humans and watching the world go by. And then it started to rain in earnest. When “S” left Alan stayed to write some emails, had a light lunch and when the rain had slowed a bit left to do some shopping.

Back in Senglea we all had a nap. Then as the rain had stopped Alan went back down to talk to that nice lady in the “GO” shop! What did we tell you? She even took his telephone number!


Garçon 4 ACE

Strangely we had a connection for a bit and Alan checked up on the super yachts in the harbour opposite us. He discovered that one of the ships out there, the one with the helicopter on the deck, called GARÇON is the support ship to the super yacht ACE also in the harbour!! Some people just seem to have too much money. The crews are all working hard to secure the yachts for the winter.

Since we still have not achieved a workable internet connection by this time, Alan poured himself a glass of wine and sat and read his book. We think it will be early to bed again tonight.

23 November 2014

Gozo Ramblings

Xlendi Bay

Friday was another nice day here and we had decided to go for a nice walk along the coast. First we walked around the headland into Xlendi, where Alan took a few photos and then we reversed our course and walked along the cliff towards the famous scenic Ta’ Cenc Cliffs.

Most of the land atop the cliffs is semi-agricultural. That is to say, there are small plots some of which are cultivated, but the majority is given over to catching and shooting small song birds! Shooting stands in the form of small stone huts have been created and as luck would have it many of them were occupied. The men had placed around their small plots, tiny (approx. 20cm square) cages with song birds in them. Mainly they seemed to be finches, but we noticed sparrows and starlings as well. These captive birds were singing their hearts out it seemed to attract their fellows to come and see what was up. On the ground were placed nets, presumably to catch the birds. At one place Alan was admonished from taking photographs by a very large angry man. Clearly they were engaged in something illegal, yet further along the cliffs we came across two policemen who had not stopped the goings on. Sad.

The view back towards Xlendi

You can just make out the cages of the song birds and the nets on the ground to catch the birds

Can you see the Bear in the rock pointing out Malta?

The view of the Citadel on our walk back

Our block of flats, the balcony with the white square on it is ours.

Having walked to the top of the Ta’ Cenc cliffs, from where we could see Comino and Malta we walked into the village of Sannat for lunch. After lunch we walked back to Xlendi along the main roads, Alan never liking to go back the way he has come!! Back in our flat we had tea and a siesta before it was time to shower and change to go out again, though we were not invited.

A had obtained tickets for Alan to join her in going to a Musical and Literary Evening to celebrate the Feast of St Cecilia, the patron saint of music. This was held in a medieval chapel also dedicated to St Cecilia. The instruments that played the various pieces in a duet with a piano, were a trumpet, a flute, a Baritone horn and a violin. A soprano and a young treble provided the voices for the operatic parts. Poems in Maltese were read out too. Alan was pleasantly surprised with the wealth of talent Gozo had, for it was a very professional evening’s classical entertainment, with music from Bach to Purcell and Bernstein. A and Alan went out for a meal thereafter. A wonderful end to a really good day he said.

Saturday A had a lace making class to go to, so the humans had agree to meet in Rabat/Victoria for lunch. Alan took the morning easy and so after a late start we all walked from Xlendi to Rabat, Alan taking pictures along the way. A took us to Xerri IL Bukket where we had a lovely view over Comino to Malta. We sat on a terrace and looked at the boats with all the grockles in the Blue Lagoon.

The view from our restaurant 

Another great view of Camino and Malta

After lunch A took us for a drive around and showed us a few more of Gozo’s highlights. We even sat in a traffic jam for a bit and this caused the humans to decide to call it a day for the sight seeing. A took us back to our flat where we sat on the balcony to watch the setting sun. Suddenly Alan’s tummy did a rumble and he rushed off to the loo, getting there just in time he said. He sat there so long he missed the sunset. It must have been the tuna salad lunch! He took something for it and went to bed for a nap in the hope it would get better. 15 minutes later he was back on the loo!!

He rang A from his bed about 18:10hrs to say there was no way he could take her out to dinner this evening and they would talk again in the morning. Alan stayed in bed reading and was fast asleep by 21:00hrs.

This morning Sunday, after a good night’s sleep we were up early. Alan made himself a boiled egg and a piece of toast for breakfast. He did some washing which he hung up on the balcony to dry and then worked on his photos.

A came round for morning coffee and brought Alan a much needed loo roll. He had decided to stay near the flat for the day, but hoped he would be well enough to take A to dinner this evening. A left to go and play scrabble with some friends, a regular Sunday afternoon occurrence apparently. We wished her luck.