Misty Moisty Mornings And Spiders’ Webs

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This past week we’ve seen many signs that autumn is nudging its way in and summer is gracefully retreating (not that summer this year was anything worth holding on to!). Much of the U.K. presently has a high pressure hovering over it. Skies have been quite clear rendering night-time temperatures low and giving us mornings of ‘misty moisty’ wonder (depending on your point of view on those, of course).

For anyone unfamiliar with the phrase ‘Misty Moisty Morning’, it’s from an old nursery rhyme:

One Misty Moisty Morning

One misty, moisty morning,
When cloudy was the weather,
There I met an old man
All clothed in leather,
All clothed in leather,
With a cap under his chin.
How do you do?
And how do you do?
And how do you do again?

All I can find out about the origin of this rhyme is that it’s based a traditional English poem with several verses. Here’s the first verse of another version:

One misty moisty morning, when cloudy was the weather,
I chanced to meet an old man a-clothèd all in leather.
He was clothèd all in leather, with a cap beneath his chin,
Singing ‘How d’ye do and how d’ye do and how d’ye do again’.

On Monday morning, when I was out on my walk I took some photos of the village and surrounding fields and lanes. Here’s a few from the lanes, giving lots of glimpses of autumn. The hedgerows were bursting with hawthorn and elderberries, sloes and rose hips, and the leaves on trees were turning really golden. I got a close-up of some conkers too. Some of the fields were still golden with stubble, others had already been ploughed and disked.

I also took some photos around the village on my way back. There are some quaint old buildings and interesting gates – and the church dates back to medieval times.

Well, that’s all about autumn for now. I was supposed to be doing my WOW post, but thought I’d just do this one while it was on my mind.  Who can ignore the “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness”? It certainly inspired Keats to wax lyrical bout it . . .

Besides, I rather like spiders – except when they completely cover my washing line with their webs.  🙂

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Reunion and Farewell To The Barons

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On Sunday morning we drove once again up to Lincoln Castle. This time, it was to have a look at an event held in the castle grounds called ‘The Lincoln Barons’ Reunion’. The photo of the Baron above is the ‘Baron of the Crystal Hues’. (Unfortunately, my husband’s shadow is hiding his name!)

This event, held from Thursday, September 24th until Tuesday, October 1st, is a chance for people to see all 25 Barons together before they’re auctioned on the evening of October 1st. The money raised will go to the national charity, The Trussell Trust – who organised the construction and displaying of the Barons in the city, along with Lincoln BIG, a business improvement group.

The Baron’s Trail was devised by ‘Wild in Art’ – an organisation that aims to make creativity and enjoyment of art accessible to people by working with artists, communities and schools and producing high profile and popular events. Individual artists from all over the country created the colourful barons, which have been displayed in locations around Central Lincoln throughout the summer. This one, the ‘Anything Goes Baron’ was standing on the bridge over the River Witham along the High Street:

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I wrote about the reason for ‘The Barons’ Trail’ in an earlier post but, in a nutshell, it was part of the city’s celebrations to mark 800 years since King John signed the Magna Carta (Great Charter) at Runneymede. One of the original copies of the Treaty is housed in Lincoln Castle, so the city was justified in hosting so many celebratory events.

The Barons who ordered John to sign the Treaty are represented in these life-sized, smile-inducing models we are now saying ‘Goodbye’ to. Last week, they were gathered up from their different sites and I’ve no doubt that the area will look quite dull without them. They’ve been a big attraction for locals and tourists alike, the characterful barons and the ‘Trail’ proving to be one of the highlights of the Magna Carta anniversary celebrations nationwide. Children in particular found it great fun to find the code letter on each one in order to claim the promised bag of gold coins (gold paper-covered, chocolate ones, of course).

There were a lot of people already in the castle grounds when we arrived just after 10 am – the opening time. Consequently, it was difficult for photo-taking. We’d hoped to be able to get a few good shots of many of the Barons all together, but that wasn’t at all easy. Firstly, the barons were placed further apart than shown on the advertising blurb, and secondly, people were standing close to individual Barons. That’s understandable, so we just went with the flow and got some ‘not-so-good’ photos.  Here’s  a few of them:

A mini ‘Paint Your Own Baron’ can be bought at The Lincoln Visitor Information Centre (shown below in the wonderful old building located on Castle Hill, between the castle and the cathedral) and a competition to win a free mini model of a Baron is also up and running. And finally, every shop in the city centre will be given their own mini Baron to paint and decorate in time for the Christmas season. By doing so, they will be creating a Christmas Baron’s Trail. These mini characters, unlike their bigger brothers, will be harder to find. Many will be ‘ hiding’ amongst other items displayed in the windows of shops and businesses.

I’ll probably do an update on the mini barons around Christmas. Hopefully, we’ll be able to find and photograph some of them in their hiding places. Until then, I’ve got a few more posts on Malta and other places we’ve visited this year to keep me going.

Sticky Pink Peonies – Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers

Flash Fiction for for Aspiring Writers is a writing challenge hosted by Priceless Joy. It asks us to write a piece of fiction from the photo prompt provided in around 100-150 words – give or take 25 words. It encourages us to comment, constructively, on other entries, so supporting each other’s writing. If you’d like to join in with this challenge, follow the above link to see what to do. The challenge runs from Tuesday to Tuesday every week.

Here is this week’s prompt, kindly provided by Graham Lawrence:

wpid-photo-20150922070218865

And this is my story:

Sticky Pink Peonies

Jessie bobbed a curtsy. ‘’Scuse me ma’am, but the master asked whether you’d be attending the dinner party this evening.’

Lady Howarth wrinkled her nose and wiped her paintbrush down her long skirts. ‘It depends on how long my friends keep me talking, Jessie: they’re awfully chatty. If I am busy, he must carry on without me.  Mrs. Williams can be hostess instead.’

Jessie stifled a giggle at the thought of the crusty housekeeper chatting with influential people whilst the mistress entertained her imaginary ‘friends’ in the garden.

Lady Howarth swirled her paintbrush around a sticky pink blob on her canvas, intended to resemble a delicate peony on the nearby bush. ‘Monsieur Monet tells me that even Queen Victoria likes my work …’

A year had passed since the carriage had overturned, leaving Lady Howarth with the mind of a child. After the meeting tonight, the mistress would be admitted to the asylum – rendering the wealthy Lord Howarth quite free: as Jessie had planned the day she removed the pin from the carriage wheel.

Word Count: 175

If you’d like to view other entries, click the little blue frog below:

Some ‘extra’ information, for anyone interested:

The lovely garden in Graham’s prompt reminded me of the walled gardens in the grounds of the many English stately homes that I’ve visited. Consequently, I set my story in Victorian times. I haven’t the time this week for much of an ‘Extra bit’ to accompany my story, but here’s a little snippet about walled gardens:

Perhaps one of the most famous walled gardens in literature features in the novel, ‘The Secret Garden’.  I read this story many years ago and can remember little about it – so perhaps a re-read is due. But I do remember the main character: a young girl (a child) finding her way into an abandoned and totally overgrown walled garden and tending to it – and it completely changed her life, easing the misery of her loveless upbringing.

The Secret Garden (cover) by Frances Hodgson Burnett, 1849-1924. Public Domain.
The Secret Garden (cover) by Frances Hodgson Burnett, 1849-1924. Public Domain.

Essentially, the walled garden was something that many big and affluent houses had, mostly for growing fruit and vegetables for the use of the family living there. Some we’ve visited still grow really old varieties no longer heard of the shops or markets of today. It’s interesting to see how some of these old varieties differ to the modern ones. Sections of the gardens were generally devoted to flower growing too, to adorn the halls and stately rooms and impress the important guests.

Here’s a definition of a walled garden from Wikipedia:

“A walled garden is a garden enclosed by high walls for horticultural rather than security purposes, although originally all gardens may have been enclosed for protection from animal or human intruders. In temperate climates the essential function of the walls surrounding a walled garden is to shelter the garden from wind and frost,  though they may also serve a decorative purpose”.

Azealeas blooming inside the walled garden at Sunbury. Author: Colin bSmith. geograph.org.uk. Commons
Azealeas blooming inside the walled garden at Sunbury. Author: Colin Smith. geograph.org.uk. Commons

The walls were very important, some even having built-in heating systems:

Walled Garden 'hypocaust' system, (Hollow wall). Author: Rosser. Public Domain.
Walled Garden ‘hypocaust’ system, (Hollow wall). Author: Rosser. Public Domain.

The hollow wall idea involves a hollow wall with openings in the stonework on the side facing the garden. Fires could be lit inside the wall to provide heat to protect the fruit growing against the wall, such as espaliers. Heat would escape into the garden through these openings. Smoke from the fires would be directed upwards through chimneys or flues.

This is what an espaliered fruit tree looks like:

Espaliered fruit tree at Gaaskeek. Author: KVDB. Public Domain
Espaliered fruit tree at Gaaskeek. Author: KVDB. Public Domain

I would have liked to have written about the dreadful asylums, which were still in existence until the 1960s, or even later. Perhaps I’ll do that another time . . .

‘Miraculous’ Mosta.

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Mosta is a town in the Northern Region of the Malta. It has a population of 20,241 (in 2014) and is one of the larger towns on the island. It sits roughly at the geographical centre of the Maltese Islands, making it a crossroads for people travelling from the south and east to the north. As such, a lot of traffic comes through its narrow streets. The image above, taken last year, shows a view of Mosta from Mdina, three miles away.

Location of local council XY (Mosta region) in Malta. Author TUBS. Commons
Location of local council XY (Mosta region) in Malta. Author TUBS.
Commons

The remains of people who lived in the Mosta area date back to the Copper Age (4100-2500 BC). The actual name of ‘Mosta’ is of ancient origin – some claiming it to be linked with the legendary Atlantis. Other suggestions include ‘mysterious village’, the ‘hidden place’ and the more widely accepted ‘central place’, which is derived from the Arabic for ‘centre’.

As a village, Mosta never stood much chance of development until the late 17th century. It was always too accessible to marauding pirates who could make their way from the sea along the Madliena Valley. The people’s only hope of defence was to make it to Mdina, three miles away, or to one of the stronly defended stone farmhouses – or  to retreat behind the doors of their own church.

In the 18th century, the Mostin (people in the Mosta area) decided that their own church was both inadequate for the population size -which had reached 3,000 by then – and structurally unsound. Eventually, between 1833 and 1860 a new church was built – using funds raised by the local people. It was formally blessed in February, 1860.

Today, this church is what draws thousands of tourists to Mosta – and not just because of its impressive appearance, which I’ll talk about in a moment. We’ve been there twice now, on this occasion purely to take some photograghs. The last time we visited in 2003 we took very few. It’s called the Church of St. Mary of the Assumption, commonly knows as the Mosta Dome, or Mosta Rotunda:

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The church was designed by French-born, Maltese architect Giorgio Grognet de Vasse, and was modelled on the Pantheon in Rome. Grognet reportedly tested slabs of rock from every quarry on the island before settling for the lovely, golden limestone from Ta’ Venezja quarry at Ta’Qali. It was built around the framework of the old church to allow people to continue attending mass. The huge, heavy limestone dome was built without the use of scaffolding – quite a feat – and the old church was only dismantled once the new one was complete.

Here are a few more photos of the outside of the church – which is  soon to be re-classified as a Basilica. The two black statues are of St. Mary of the Assumption (left) and St. Joseph. There are also stone statues of various saints set behind the pillars. It also seems that nowhere is safe from the dreaded graffiti. The picture shown below was taken close to the front entrance:

And these are some views of the highly decorated, blue, gold and white interior. The great size of the dome is deceptive in photos – it’s actually 37.2 metres wide. Some sources say it’s the third largest unsupported dome in Europe and ninth largest in the world. (Sources vary on this! I’ve come across some that say third largest in the world and some that say it’s fourth largest in the world. I think it depends on what criteria are used in making comparisons.)

Other than the beautiful building, the thing that draws many tourists to the Mosta Dome is the story of an event that occurred on April 9th 1942, during the Siege of Malta in WW2.

On that day, four German bombs hit the Rotunda. Three of these did not explode and one penetrated the dome and landed in the middle of the church. The reason for the bomb-drop is unknown; as a central village, Mosta is a long way from ports and airports and, until that day, hadn’t been a target for bombing. But the town was in the flight path of German bombers heading to or from the RAF base at Ta Qali – which could well explain the drop.

None of the 3oo people present suffered any injury – and the Mostin see the reason as divine intervention.

The bomb – a 500kg Luftwaffe high explosive – was defused by Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Sections and, like all neutralised bombs on the island, was taken to the west coast to be dumped in the sea.  It was one of the 7,000 bombs dealt with by R.E. Bomb Disposal Team in two years.

In one of the two the sacristies a replica of the  the bomb is on display along with a few other pictures and models of the church:

Well, that’s it about the Mosta Dome. It’s well worth a visit should you go to the island . . . depending on your interests, of course. There are sites to suit all tastes on Malta, and I’ve still got a lot of them to see.

Word of Week (WOW) – Carbuncle

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Word of the Week (WOW) is a weekly challenge created by Heena Rathore P. It’s a fun way to improve vocabulary by learning new words every week. To participate, simply do a post with your word and leave the link as a comment on Heena’s WOW post for this week (above link).

I’ve already been through the alphabet once and now have started again. I’m looking at the letter this week.

This makes a nice break in my Malta posts. Back to those soon . . .

So, here is my WOW for this week: 

carbuncle

Word:

Carbuncle

Meaning

  1. A severe abscess or multiple boil in the skin, typically infected with staphylococcus bacteria:
Image courtesy of Pixabay
Image courtesy of Pixabay

(Perhaps not the best example of a severe carbuncle. I really didn’t want to put anyone off  reading by looking at the image I found on Wikipedia!)

2.  A bright red gem, in particular a garnet cut en cabochon. (En cabochon means polished but not faceted.)

800px-Garnet
A small sample of garnet. Author: Teravolt. Commons

3.  A mythical creature. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any images of this one, but here’s a description I found on a blog here:

Carbuncle was a mythical creature, reportedly sighted in the Americas by Spanish conquistadors. It is described as a small creature, a bird or a mammal, that has a gem in its forehead, crystalised from the brain of a dead dragon. According to myth, it is good luck to catch a carbuncle.

4. Also called London brown. a dark greyish, red-brown color.

Pronunciation:

car·bun·cle  (kɑr bʌŋ kəl)

Audio:  carbuncle

Part of Speech:  

Noun

Related Forms:

Adjectives: carbuncle, carbunkled or carbuncular (having the colour of a carbuncle)

Word Origin:

1150-1200; Middle English, from Old French, charbuncle, from Latin carbunculus ‘small coal’, from carbo ‘coal, charcoal’.

Synonyms:

boil, blister, sore, abscess, pustule, pimple, spot, wart, wen, whitlow, canker

Antonyms:

None

Use in a Sentence:

  1. The great storm drove our sailing ship considerably off course, and once it had abated, a small, carbuncular island came gradually into sight:
Bangchuidao Island, Dalian, China. Author: Jesse900. Commons
Bangchuidao Island, Dalian, China. Author: Jesse900. Commons

2. (Adjective use) The exterior of the pomegranate had ripened into a deep, carbuncular red, but the seeds inside were bright scarlet:

Image courtesy of Pixabay
Image courtesy of Pixabay

3. This example is a little longer than a sentence … but who’s word counting? 🙂

‘The ugly witch cackled, her voice like a corncrake, and when she turned I saw the massive green carbuncle sitting on her nose. She –’

‘Stop!’ yelled Mrs Humphreys, the tyrant English teacher. ‘I told you several times, William, that carbuncles are red.’

‘Well, this one i’n’t,’ William retorted. ‘Me dad said the word can mean just a big lump. ‘E should know, he ‘ad one on his b-’

‘Enough!’ Mrs Humphreys shrieked as the class dissolved into fits of laughter. ‘Only red carbuncles permitted in this story. If your father disagrees, William, he can see me about it’

‘He bleedin’ well will, un’ all,’ William muttered under his breath. ‘You’re wrong about this, yer silly old moo.’

(Apologies to all teachers, including my former self.)

Shutterstock image
Shutterstock image

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If you’d like to view more interesting words, visit Heena’s Page

Word Treasure

Vibrant Valletta

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Last Monday, September 14th, we had one of our many trips into the city of Valletta. I had intended to do this post whilst we were still in Malta but, unfortunately, time did not allow.  So here it is now . . .

Built on the Sciberras peninsula in the central-eastern part of the island,Valletta is the capital city of Malta. With a population of only 6,400 (in 2014) it is Europe’s smallest capital. It was described by Sir Walter Scott – who came to the island on doctor’s orders in 1831 – as ‘a city built by gentlemen for gentlemen’ and ‘that splendid town quite like a dream’. The colloquial name for Valletta is simply, ‘il-Belt’ (The City). Valletta is a city rich in sites to see, with historical buildings and wonderful statues, fountains and coats of arms at every turn.  In 1980, it was officially recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and in 2012 it was named as European Capital of Culture for 2018.

These maps give an idea of Valletta’s location and the two harburs it dominates:

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Map of Malta and Gozo. Creative Commons License, Attribution- ShareAlike30
Valletta,_Malta
Satellite view of Valletta. Author: NASA Astronaughts. Uploaded by Aresceo. Public Domain.

The foundation of Valletta dates back to 1566 when Grand Master Jean Parisot de la Valette (statue of him, above) laid the first stone. Following the attacks by the Ottoman Turks in the ‘Great Siege’ of the previous year, Valette knew that the island’s defences greatly needed improving. He decided to build a new, well-fortified capital next to the already established watchtower at Saint Elmo Point on the tip of the Sciberras Peninsula. The city was originally planned as one of winding streets and alleys but, in order to speed things up, a grid design was adopted – which is still seen today.

The many narrow side streets are full of quaint old shops and cafes, and on the main street, Rebulic Street, larger shops sit side by side with the older buildings. Here are a few of the photos we took along Republic Street:

And here are a few of the little side streets:

One of the main buildings along Republic Street is St. John’s Co Cathedral, described by Sir Walter Scott in 1831 as a ‘magnificent church, the most striking interior I have ever seen’. We didn’t take a good photo of the exterior, so here’s one from Wikimedia Commons, by Radoneme . . .

800px-St_Johns_Co-Cathedral

. . . and one we took of people queuing to get inside:

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The interior is stunning, but I won’t go into that now, except to say that it was decorated by Mattia Preti, and some of his great pieces of art are also displayed there. But perhaps the most famous piece of art on display is by Caravaggio – whose own life story is fascinating, tempestuous – and very controversial.

Beheading of John the Baptist by Michelangelo Caravaggio. 1608 Public Domain
Beheading of John the Baptist by Michelangelo Caravaggio. 1608 Public Domain

This is the only one of his paintings that Caravaggio signed:

800px-Decollazione_di_San_Giovanni_Battista_(particolare_1)
Signature in blood beneath St. John’s head. Public Domain

The title of European Capital of Culture is given to cities which, according to the Minister for Culture, Mario de Marco, are ‘rich in heritage but would also have a great potential for cultural and socio-economic regeneration’. The ‘City Gate’ project involves the reorganisation of the main entrance into Valletta and the site immediately outside the city walls. The new Parliament building (shown top of the first set of photos), the landscaping of the ‘ditch’ and rebuilding of the old Opera House from ruins are also included in the project. This is a photo of the new gate, with photos of the 16th century bastions and ditch below it:

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The Great Ditch that surrounds Valletta on the landward side was dug and the excavated stone used to build the bastions on that side and also for buildings.

Valletta is well worth visiting. Every time we go we find something we hadn’t seen before. There are many museums, and the lovely gardens Barrakka Gardens . . .

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. . . and much to see of the defences along the harbour – which I can’t include in this post.

To finish with, here’s a photo of one of the sun shades for horses that pull the carriages for transporting tourists around. The sun shades are relatively new, and I believe they’re a result of complaints from people regarding leaving horses standing in the sun for hours – as happened in Mijas in Andalucia, with the donkeys. I wrote about that in May [here]. The carriages get a lot of use, particularly by people who visit the fort and coastal defences and find the trek back up the hill to the main city area difficult.

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Marvellous Malta

217 Our week in Malta is almost at an end. Tomorrow we fly home – probably to grey skies and rain – and normality will resume. We’ve been ‘out and about’ every day and taken hundreds of photos of a variety of sites on both Malta and Gozo. I hope to do a few posts when I get home. I had intended to do a post on Valletta –  Malta’s capital city –  earlier this week, but we’ve been quite late getting back to the apartment to do a great deal. But before I do focus on Valletta, I think it would be a good idea to say a little bit about the Maltese  Islands in general. Here are a couple of maps to start with to show where they are located:

EU-Malta_svg
Map showing countries in the European Union (light green) and the location of Malta. Author: Nuclear Vacuum. Commons.

shutterstock_105899297The Maltese archipelago (group of islands) is situated in the Mediterranean Sea, 90km (56 miles) south of the Italian island of Sicily. The three main islands that make up the group are Malta, Gozo and Comino. There are also three small, uninhabited islands. The many rocky coves around its coast form deep, natural harbours, which have featured In Malta’s history since it was first inhabited. Today the island group forms the most densely populated country in Europe.

Flag_of_Malta_svg
Flag of Malta. Licensed under CCO via Commons. Public Domain

(I put this picture in especially for fellow blogger Prateek Kohli. He told me he loved learning about Malta at school because the Maltese flag was so easy to draw. You know… I think he’s right!)

The first people arrived in Malta around 4000 BC – Stone-age farmers from Sicily, who brought their animals, pottery, bags of seed and flint with them. Many hundreds of years later, around 1800 BC, they built wonderful temples on the islands, the remains of which can still be seen today, along with many examples of their sculpture and carved wall decorations: 120 Soon after this time, new invaders arrived and the temple builders disappeared – either through extermination or slavery. And so Malta’s story continues, with a number of different invasions over the years – through the Bronze and Iron Ages, and the Phoenician (800 BC) and Roman invasions. It was the Romans who named the island we call Malta today, ‘Melita’. The name is remembered on the little blue buses, occasionally seen today. The photo of the one above was taken last year when we were in Sliema. The name ‘Melita’ means ‘honey’, and there has been much discussion as to why this name was given to the island. My first though was that it was because of the wonderful honey-coloured rock which comprises most of Malta. 146 Very few buildings are constructed of any other stone, and from the air the island looks decidedly yellow – especially after the dry summers, when vegetation is well parched. Another theory regarding the name is probably more likely. The island was covered in wild thyme – and bees just love thyme. Being the enterprising people they were, the Romans made good use of that fact and kept lots of bees. There is evidence for their hives in various locations, and they probably considered this fertile and beautiful island their little ‘honey-pot’. The Romans built their capital city where the modern Rabat/Mdina are situated. They called that city, Melita, too.

Since Roman times, Malta has seen Byzantine rule, followed by that of the Arabs who invaded in 870. Arab rule continued until the Normans arrived, and in about 1298, the then homeless Knights of St. John (also known as the Knights Hospitallers) made the island their new home – a home that was to last until the 18th century.  They made improvements in Malta’s defences, but it was not until the attacks by the Ottoman Turks started in 1547 that defences were strengthened in earnest.

The ‘Great Siege’ of 1565 is so well documented, and I won’t go into it now. But eventually, the Turks were driven back and the Knights of St. John continued to improve the island. It was Grand Master Jean Parisot de Valette who ordered the building of the new capital city of Valletta. (And yes, Valette’s name does only have only one ‘l’ and isn’t another of my typos). Here is a picture of him:

Malta: Valletta - the Great Master Palace portrait of the Grand Master Jean de la Vallette-Parisot (1557-1568), founder of Valletta Photo by Giulio Andreini
Malta: Valletta – the Great Master Palace
portrait of the Grand Master Jean de la Vallette-Parisot (1557-1568), founder of Valletta
Photo by Giulio Andreini, edited by Clive Gerada. Public Domain

Life was not easy for the people under the Order of St. John; rules were strict and punishments extreme. But by the latter part of the 18th century, the Order started to deteriorate and when Napoleon invaded, the last Grand Master surrendered without resistance. French rule lasted until the British took command in 1814. Complete independence for Malta came in 1964, although self-government had already been granted in 1921.

I couldn’t write about Malta’s history without saying a little about the island’s amazing bravery during WW2, for which it was awarded the George Cross, Britain’s highest civilian honour for bravery.  As it had done throughout history, Malta’s location again meant it played central stage – and, as such, the Islands ended the war completely devastated. Malta holds the record for the heaviest, sustained bombing attack:154 days and nights and 6,700 tons of bombs.  In 1947, the Islands were granted £30 million to help rebuild. But it took many years and further restructuring once the British forces left Malta completely in 1979, to rebuild the economy.

Bomb damaged Kingsway (now Republic Street) during the Siege of Malta in 1942.. Author: Russell J.E. (Lt.) Royal Navy, official photographer. Public Domain.
Bomb damaged Kingsway (now Republic Street) during the Siege of Malta in 1942. Author: Russell J.E. (Lt.) Royal Navy, official photographer. Public Domain.

The Maltese islands offer so much to holidaymakers. They have everything from delightful coves and fishing villages to wonderful archaeological sites and bustling cities and towns. There are many museums that focus on the various historical periods, many cafes, restaurants and bars. The beaches are not striking in some areas, being narrow and rocky, but there are sandy beaches to be found – the most notable and largest at Mellieha Bay in the north of Malta. It has been described as one of the best beaches in the Mediterranean.

The Maltese language is fascinating, with words stemming from the many past invaders’ languages. The Arabic sounds are prevalent, with some words being more like Italian. ‘Thank you’ for example is ‘Grazie’. Most people on the islands also speak English, which is taught in all the schools. This is definitely a bonus for us, as neither of us speak Maltese!

This last image is of the famous Maltese Falcon set against the Maltese Cross:

shutterstock_107566154

One Day Spent In Malta… Already!

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We’ve been in Malta since 12.30 pm yesterday, Saturday, and I can tell you, I’m loving the sunshine! Today, temperatures hit 37° in Bugibba, where we’re staying. Not quite as high as the 40-45° we had in Andalucía in May, but still very hot after the miserable weather we’ve had at home most of the summer.

So far we’ve not been too far on the island. We spent the morning by the pool and I had a nice long swim… well, as nice as it can be will lots of people in there. This afternoon we had a walk along what we’d call a ‘promenade’ at home – i.e. along the seafront. So I just thought I’d post a few photos of the hotel and town…

But first, I’m putting up a few snaps of the hotel we stayed at near to Gatwick airport, before flying out here. It’s one of the Millennium  group of hotels, and it’s at the village of Copthorne. We’ve stayed there a few times and always leave the car there. It’s nice and old, and it has a swimming pool – always a bonus for me. Regular shuttle buses run back and forth to the airport, or the hotel will organise taxis on request – which we usually do. It’s a fifteen minute ride. Anyway, here are a few pictures I took when we went down for a meal. It was dark by then, and the polished floors really gleamed! This first photo is of a screen in the reception area with some information about the history of the hotel. It moved from one image to another quickly, and I had a bit of a job catching it – so excuse the poor alignment. (Click on it if it isn’t readable.):

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Here are a few of the other photos I took:

And now to Malta…  These are a few photos from our apartment windows in Bugibba, Malta. They were taken at different times, some mid-afternoon, some at sunset, and one just after sunsrise this morning. (We are facing north).

These photos were taken along the promenade/sea front this afternoon. Two show views up  typical Maltese side streets; others show shops selling ‘seaside’ goods, or offering a variety of excursions. There were lots of places selling ice creams – with almost as many flavours as we saw in Italy!

We took so many photos today, far too many to show here. Tomorrow we’re going to lovely Valletta. We spend a lot of our time there because it’s just amazing. Bugibba’s OK as a base, but it’s not the best place for us. We got this time share years ago, and it’s handy to have. But we’d much rather be in Valletta…

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Blog Award Time!

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I am delighted to have received two more blogging awards, although they’re really two versions of the same award (I think). I am grateful to Suganiya on her blog at Infinite Passion for one (left, below) and to Susan at Susan’s Personal Blog for the second (Seal of Approval on the right). Both of these lovely people write interesting flash fiction stories and participate in other challenges, and I recommend you to take a look at their blogs. I apologise to both Suganiya and Susan for sitting on these awards for far too long.

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So, here are the rules!shutterstock_152788070

1. Select 15 other blogs you want to give the award to.
2. Write a post to show off your award!
3. Give a brief story of how your blog got started, and give a piece or two of advice to new bloggers.
4. Thank whoever nominated you, and provide a link to their blog.
5. For first award above only (the one with trophy cups on it): List who you’ve nominated in the post and link your post to Edge of Night.

Because the rules for both of these awards are exactly the same, I feel I can just answer Q’s. 2 & 3 once, and nominate fellow bloggers for either one or the other. So I’ll get on with it ….

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Q.3  My blog took some time to actually come into existence. Several people had suggested to me that, as an author, a blog would be a useful thing to have. Unfortunately, I had no idea what having a blog was all about, or how to go about setting one up. But I resolved to have a go, and in May 2014, I set up my blog – or rather, I partially set up my blog. Then I left it sitting there for three months until, towards the end of August, one of my daughters (Louise at thestoytellersabode) also decided to set up a blog and we worked on them together. My first post was done with great trepidation. Like all new bloggers, I was very apprehensive about how the content of the post would be received. As a writer of historical fiction, I decided that my focus had to be two-pronged: some posts would focus on history and some on writing.

And basically, that’s what I did for the next few months. I was determined to finish Book 2 of my trilogy by Christmas, and so I wrote very few posts – sometimes with a couple of weeks between them. It wasn’t the best way to ‘kick start’ a new blog, and consequently, it got little attention. Things improved a little when I started including British ‘traditions and celebrations’ into my posts. I found several to write about, starting off with ‘Bonfire Night’ (November 5th) followed by some of our Christmas traditions. I’ve continued to look at other traditions as they occur throughout this year.

What really helped to improve things for me was becoming involved in flash fiction challenges. I still continue with traditions and writing historical posts, and I also do a few posts about travel. But I’ve really enjoyed the challenges. I would advise any new blogger to have a go at the many challenges offered on WordPress, whether they involve writing, photography or whatever. There are also Blogging 101 and Photography 101 for new bloggers – neither of which I did, due to lack of time. Louise did Photography 101 and found it a great way to meet fellow bloggers and help her list of followers to grow.  The other way to get new followers is by following other bloggers yourself – something else I did little of at first. In truth, I do far too little of it, even now.

Much of what I’ve said so far is not so much advice on how to achieve a successful blog as how not to! So I hope anyone reading this will just do the opposite of what I initially did. But becoming involved in community activities, connecting with other bloggers and posting often are three things I think really help. Then there’s the ‘Meet and Greet’ that some bloggers offer on their sites. That’s something I know I should try…

Connecting with other bloggers is what WordPress is all about to me. It’s interesting, educational and lots of fun – and vital if you want to keep people visiting your blog. But, as with the challenges, particularly the writing ones, it can be very time-consuming. So much so, that I’ve been considering putting my blog ‘on hold’ for a while whilst I get on with Book 3. I’m not nearly as far on with the book as I’d planned to be by September, so something has to give. Perhaps I’ll just go back to what I did before last Christmas and do fewer posts. I’m still thinking about that…

So here are my nominees:

point-36834_6401. Joycelin at tribalmysticstories

2. Norma at Emovere

3. Izzy at Izzy-grabs-life

4. Chioma at lifehomeandaway

5. Prateek Kohli at The Uncertainty Principal

6. Graham at grahamisjustmyname

7. Joy at Tales from Eneana

8. Meghdeb at Summer Seraphine

9. Az at tasyniblets

1o. Huma at HumaAq

11. Diana at Toast and Tea Together

12. Lynz at Lynz Real Cooking

Happy blogging to you all! 😀

The Sealed Knot At The Village Show

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Last Sunday, September 6th, we drove eight miles out to the village of Sutton-on-Trent, where the locals were putting on their village festival.  But this was a village show with a difference, because it was visited by a regiment of the Sealed Knot.

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The Sealed Knot is the oldest re-enactment society in the UK and the single biggest re-enactment society in Europe. It aims to honour those who died in the many battles of the English Civil War (1642-49) and to educate people about those battles and the life of people during that period. Events are staged throughout the country all year. The name, The Sealed Knot, comes from that of a secret association that aimed to have the monarchy restored during the Interregnum/Commonwealth – the period between 1653 and 1659, when the country was governed by a Lord Protector, Oliver Cromwell. The present society, however, has no political affiliation.

Their events vary in size: a major battle lasts for two or three days, and can see thousands of combatants taking to the field. On this occasion The Sealed Knot did not come to stage a battle. It was a fairly small group, visiting only to demonstrate a few weapon skills and battle formations. They did have their 17th century muskets and pikes, but no cannons this time. Some photos later…

The show was held on Saturday and Sunday and both days were well attended. A variety of stalls and exhibits were arranged around the outer edge of a village field, including local produce, farm machinery and vintage cars and motor cycles. There were also several refreshment stalls.

In the central area, known as ‘The Hollow’ (because it’s a step down from the outer edge) displays were put on at various intervals by The Sealed Knot, Dako’s Flying Angels (a group of gymnastic lads) and the Whitwell Brass Band. There was also someone doing keep-fit with younger children and others hosting a doughnut eating competition. On Saturday, there had been a dog show. The threshing machine, standing right at back of the field was also demonstrated:

In another corner of the L-shaped field, was the small encampment of The Sealed Knot:

The Sealed Knot displayed their skills twice during the day. Here are a few photos:

And to finish with, here are a few photos of the many vintage cars and motorbikes exhibited:

All in all we had a really fun and interesting time. It was sunny and warm, and the ice creams we had really made my day!