Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Life Lately: Summer Vibes

It's been a while since I last wrote here and that's mainly due to summer lethargy, too much reading and quizzing my son for his annual exams. The latter is thankfully behind us and we have all have heaved a collective sigh of relief. We had been having some rather nice weather up to now but, overnight, the temperature shot up by around 10 degrees (C) and the raging heat of Africa has reached our shores. It is hot, muggy and unpleasant. The sky is laden with desert dust and, although the wind is blowing, it brings no respite because each gust feels like a hot blast from a furnace. But I'll look on the bright side: it's the solstice and, from here on, the days will only get shorter and cooler weather will return.

Wedding Anniversary

Last week my husband and I celebrated our 18th anniversary. We both took the day off and went to Marsaxlokk* for lunch. Marsaxlokk used to be a very picturesque fishing village with golden limestone houses huddled around the village church just metres away from the crystal-clear sea. We hadn't visited for 2 years and I was shocked at the change. But now, the main road that borders the promenade looks like a war zone with all the road works taking place and there are places from where the church is no longer visible due to all the construction that has been going on. You may read more about the ugliness that is engulfing us in my previous post Disappearing Malta.
Sincerely Loree: Marsaxlokk, Malta


Anyhow, we chose Marsaxlokk because my husband felt like eating octopus and it's the best place to get fresh seafood. We decided to go to La Capanna, which used to be one of our favourite restaurants, only to find out that it has been refurbished, was under new management and the  menu had been overhauled. The items on it were also drastically reduced too. But the food was excellent - perhaps even better than it used to be. Or maybe I should say that it went from being family-run to more gourmet. My prawn risotto was delicious and the portion was just enough to fill me up without giving me a carb overload.

*Marsaxlokk is made up of 2 Semitic words: marsa meaning harbour and xlokk which means south. Thus Marsaxlokk means southern harbour and remains dating back to Phoenician times have been found in the vicinity.

Currently reading

I'm currently reading 2 books: The Corfu  Trilogy by Gerald Durrell and The Pianist by Władysław Szpilman. I purposefully left The Corfu  Trilogy for summer. It is over 700 pages long but Durrell's writing is easy-going and often humorous. In this trilogy he writes about the 5 years his family spent on the island of Corfu and he really brings to life the eccentric and lovable characters that he befriends. The books were adapted for television and we have already watched the four series which I highly recommend for some feel-good summer binge-watching.

I am sure you are all familiar with the movie The Pianist directed by Roman Polanski and starring Adrien Brody. I've watched it twice but I wanted to read the book it was based on. As with all Holocaust memoirs it will make for some heart-breaking reading. I make sure to read at least one book about the Holocaust every year.

Plans

Have any of you made any plans for 'later on'? I can't seem to think further than next week. The thought of making plans further than that terrifies me. I was always a procrastinator and have never really been fond of planning far ahead but I had started to get used to it. Covid has set me back. I think it will take me a while to plan for events that are in 3 or 4 months' time. But, to be honest, I would love to go on a trip somewhere. I keep thinking of Tuscany. The thought of those little hill-top villages with their  massive walls and bell towers makes me feel calm, safe and serene. I was wondering whether you'd be interested if I did a virtual tour of Tuscany on the blog. It's been over 10 years since we were last there but I doubt the major attractions have moved anywhere so I think it's easily doable. Let me know and I'll try and come up with something.

Sincerely Loree: Marsaxlokk, Malta

Useful links

So that's it from me for this week. Let's see how often I'm going to be missing my weekly posts in summer. It doesn't look like I've got off to a very good start.

Sincerely Loree: Marsaxlokk, Malta

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Disappearing Malta

Sometimes I feel like a fraud. Both here and on Instagram I share photos of the Malta I love; the unspoilt, quaint Malta that I remember from my childhood. But that Malta is gone and only survives in our memories and in a handful of places. 

Sincerely Loree: Birgu, Malta

The desecration of this island started in the late 70s but, in the past 5 years, it has infiltrated all our towns and villages at a breath-taking speed that is impossible to keep up with. I used to survive by avoiding the ugly places. But now, the 'uglification' of Malta is everywhere. I cannot escape from it but I also cannot bring myself to press the shutter button on my phone or camera to immortalise and share the hideousness with my readers. There are a few pristine places left, like Mdina, Valletta, Birgu, Isla and some town and village cores. But the rest of Malta is subjected to wrecking balls, cranes, dust and debris on a daily basis. Post-war houses are being pulled down everywhere and replaced by soulless concrete apartment blocks several storeys high, because the limestone blocks that were used to build our houses and which gave Malta so much of its character are in very short supply. But these concrete monstrosities stick out like the proverbial sore thumb as concrete will not weather and take on the golden hue that used to characterize our townscapes.

Sincerely Loree: Rabat, Malta

It makes me weep to read that 250 football pitches worth of open space have been built up (and on an island this small, that is an irreversible tragedy) or that a beautiful old house has been 'regenerated' by adding several storeys of modern ugliness on top of it. Admittedly, it did win an award and we're all grateful it wasn't demolished but I can't bring myself to like it. It almost looks like it will crumble under the extra weight.  In the seaside town of Sliema, all the Edwardian and Art Deco-era houses on the promenade have been levelled and replaced by apartments and office blocks. Some might see it as an improvement and proof that Malta is joining the 'modern world' but I beg to differ. I think we've lost our soul. 

Sincerely Loree: Mdina, Malta

Pencil buildings, as they are called, are sprouting up all over the place. I suppose it would be forgivable if there was a sudden population boom. In reality, according to this article from 2013, at least 1/3 of the property on the island is vacant. I can only imagine how much higher that number is today. Moreover, to add insult to injury, property prices have spiralled upwards to ridiculous levels. The irony is that if we sold our home we would only be able to get something equivalent or smaller for the same amount of money. Anything bigger or better would be out of our reach.

Sincerely Loree: Birgu, Malta

Not that I would want to move anywhere. We are blessed to live at the top of a valley in a small military town designed by the British in the late 1800s. Our subdivision is from the early 2000s and, up to now, has escaped  unscathed - as has most of the town. How long this will continue I don't know. 

Sincerely Loree: Rabat, Malta

I'm also not sure why I wrote this except that I needed a place to vent. And to make you all aware that Malta is not the pretty place you will see in tourist brochures and postcards. Not anymore.

Sincerely Loree: Rabat, Malta

If you want to share my pain, you can click here for some visuals and here for a comprehensive article printed in the Times of Malta in March 2021. 

Sincerely Loree: Valletta, Malta

However, if you prefer some glimpses of what I like to call 'disappearing Malta' and which I frequently use as a hashtag on Instagram, please visit or follow these accounts (including mine):

My Instagram

Sincerely, Loree. Theme by STS.