GETTING TO KNOW IR-RABAT

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St.Francis square and church, this is where the library is found also, beside the old hospital on the right.  It is a busy square and the café at the corner is where one can find the locals drink and chat.  In the old hospital, besides a beautiful courtyard is a place where regular exhibitions are held of work by Maltese or Gozitan artists.

Close to where the National Research Library is situated, I found this little bookshop, it was closed as it was around one o’clock, but in the window were displayed the sweetest and most beautifully sculpted little portrayals of life on Gozo, people in all sort of work and play, I will visit there again and hopefully the shop will be open.  The old door is one of much found style here, the arches are plentiful in local architecture, I think that it looks real nice.  It is in the little streets like the one above on the left that one finds all these treasures, and there are plenty of these streets.

In another one of those narrow streets I came upon a lady, her name is Victoria, she was making her lace in the doorway and we got chatting, seems I can take classes after all, she is going to talk to her teacher around the corner, that would be lovely and I will take the opportunity if it presents itself.  The interesting thing was that the lady hardly spoke any English, wish I could speak Malti but so far only a few words like bonju, and triq….

Shop where religious statues are painted or restored

Another interesting shop I came across was this one where the man was restoring religious statues, he did a marvellous job by the look of it.  The place smelled of paint.  It is interesting about the culture here in Gozo that religious objects are still part and parcel of everyday life.  I entered another little shop just beside the St.George church where a nice man called Martin informed me about the sisters (a religious order instigated by Don Bosco in Italy called the Salesians) that are still working with orphans and young people right here in Victoria, he told me to go and see them and they would tell me all about the more social aspects of the place, as in what sort of social work is being done and what problems, if any, are most prominent here on Gozo.  I will take him up on it and go see the sisters.  If you live in a place you have got to know a bit more about the people, the culture, and the community.  It is what interest me most beside the architecture, the plants and insects, and the limestone.

What a pleasant and most interesting morning I experienced, now more than ever I believe that if I want to get to know a place and its people, all I have to do is talk to whoever is open to chat.  It is amazing the knowledge you gather that way.  And what a lovely and interesting place this island really is.

 

 

GROWTH IS GOOD

Yes growth is doing well, the sun and warmth are certainly helping. What a new experience in growing here in this climate. The pepper plant is already throwing some flower buds, and the basil is doing just fine and already I can get a delicious scent from the seedling, some of which I planted out. Most of all I am happy about the seeds I put down which my friend from Kerala sent me last year, it is the bitter gourd and one of its seeds has sprouted, exciting that is as the last time I tried to grow them in Ireland I only got one gourd, a lovely climbing plant though. The tomatoes and lettuce are growing fast now, soon I will have to stake the tomatoes with the bamboo I found, hope that will work.

Meanwhile I keep picking up stalks which I find in the dusty street while we walk, I root them and already I have collected about eight different succulents, most of them have rooted and some are flowering, it is fun to see this happening, and it costs us nothing. Plants are not cheap here, I am surprised because most of the houses have plants outside their front door and in their front gardens, which are mostly tiled. This makes the street scene quite attractive. You see a lot of succulents here but also cacti of course.
22/10/2016 CONTAINER GARDEN - GOZO

XAGHRA VILLAGE IS PEACEFUL

For some days now I’ve been saying that I should visit the village that we can see from our walk on the outskirts of Victoria, high up on the hillside it towers above the countryside. I was intrigued to know more about it. On the map I could see that the village is called Xaghra (pronounced shara with the ‘SH’ of Schindler) Its population is around the 5000! Seeing that the Ġgantija megalithic temples, as well as a stone circle are found there – it must be one of the earliest areas on Gozo of human habitation.

I found the village very peaceful, the little streets picturesque, and the ambience friendly. On this visit I did not go into the temples, nor visited the windmill which, by the way, dates back to 1725. That, as well as the caves with its stalactites and stalagmites, is planned for a visit in the near future. I started off by visiting the church (our Lady of Victories) always curious about what the magnificent Baroque façade will reveal on the inside. It was well worth it too, though too ornamental for my taste. After that I walked for a long time along the narrow streets, just enjoying the limestone houses, some really old and brittle, some quite new. I eventually ended up at a museum of toys where I was shown around all the amazing things of the past, a very interesting place and very nice people to welcome you.

One very interesting building I came across, and will talk about this further down among the photos of it.

I walked for hours (my workout for the day) and took the bus home to Victoria which drove there in 5minutes, I still cannot believe how close together all the places are here.
A wonderful day it was!
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Below are the photos of the building I wanted to talk about.  Though I know nothing about it actually, only what I can see and deduct.  Both the older and the newer building are literary built on rough rock, I just wonder how this is possible, it looked as if the buildings were just plunked loosely on top, but I am sure that cannot be the case.  Also the grey rock seems different material to the regular limestone that is used here as building material.  It’s killing me and I just have to find out more about it.  The last two pictures I took to the side of the older building, there seems something going on with the cement (not sure what type of cement it is)  it gives an interesting and lovely design in the last photo.  I did see this sort of thing also on some of the other buildings in the village.  On my next visit I will go to the town council and try and find out more.  The limestone of the Maltese islands has me totally bewitched.

The lady at the toy museum is a goldmine of information, she showed me so many of the toys, explaining all about them.

OUR IMMEDIATE NEIGHBOURHOOD IN VICTORIA

It is now two weeks ago that we arrived in Victoria – Ir Rabat, and we are living in a spaceous flat in the shadow of the Citadella – we are not quite in the oldest part of the town with its little, narrow and beautiful streets, but we are close enough to hear, loud and clear, the bells of Santa Marija, the Citadella’s cathedral, this is something I value very much. Both my father and grandfather were bell ringers back in Belgium. The houses in the street here are architecturally interesting, typically built in the Maltese style with its closed balconies, some made of wood like you see in Malta, some made out of stone which you see more on Gozo. I have read that these balconies provided women, who may not have been walking out so often in the past, with the possibility of watching the world go by providing food for talk later on in the day! Personally I find these balconies a very attractive feature. Where we live it is not so quiet, but that does not matter, I want to see life here and experience it. I want to draw it and photograph it, and I want to interact with people, with the Gozitans. A class that I was hoping to attend, in lace making, fell through yesterday, I was disappointed – I even brought my bobbins with which I used to practice making Flemish lace with me. So now I need to try and find other ways to interact and meet the local people. I talk with shopkeepers, librarians, and anybody I meet and seems open to talk – I think that is a start anyway. As with my container garden I need to be patient with this too.
Everyday I take a long walk, not only to buy fresh produce from a vegetable stalls, or to get fish, but also to visit the library, a local museum, or just to get the feel of the town, there is so much to see and take in, I keep discovering new things; buildings, streets, interesting architecture, churches and other aspects of life in Victoria. It sure is interesting. And there is so much to read up on the history of the place, luckily the local library has a good variety of books on the subject.

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AN UPDATE ON MY TERRACE GARDEN

The tomato plants are doing very well, and so are the lettuce though I think that it is a bit too hot for them, we shall see what comes.
The seedlings are starting to really come up, at the moment they are only as far as the cotyledons but they look healthy and it is exciting to see them grow.
The temperature is still reaching near the 30C but it feels much hotter, it is nice though that now and then there is a little breeze which brings relieve.
I have taken to picking up bits of succulent plants on the roads, this is good because I can propagate them and it is a joy to see them do well. It is fun too to discover yet another orphan lying in the dusty street of Victoria, bringing it home and giving it a new lease of life.  I am really enjoying all this.

My little corner in the conservatory, it will expand as plants will grow.

Every conceivable container is used as we cannot spend to much money on buying plant pots, and anyway its good to re-cycle isn’t it.

These are all succulents that I found on the street and brought home.

Some of my seedlings coming up, some more containers that are going to be put to use.

Here are two more succulents and their flowers, pretty and interesting.

 

IR-RABAT (Victoria)

I would just like to share some of the beauty of this lovely town where I am living at this moment. There is so much to explore, everyday brings something else interesting. Like in the old part, the picturesque narrow streets leading to St George’s Square and cathedral. There is a museum there that is very worthwhile of a visit. I will be spending more time there. So much to learn about the history of this place, the people and their traditions. Luckily we will be here long enough to explore.

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Gozo Gossiping, a sculpture by Joe Xuereb in Globigerina Limestone

A SMALL CONTAINER GARDEN ON GOZO

About a week ago we arrived on the island of Gozo, we are staying in the wonderful town of Victoria and have a flat there that has a terrace and a small conservatory too. As I miss my garden in West Cork I decided to try my hand here at growing plants, herbs, small vegetables and also flowers in containers and yesterday I started. I will use anything I can get my hands on as containers, milk cartons, bottle bottoms, buckets etc. but I also bought some long containers in a garden centre, soil also and it was a job getting that up the stairs but I managed. I had brought some sealed seeds from home and sowed some of the herbs including a really good small leafed basil, and lemon balm. Here in Victoria I bought four tomato plants and some lettuce plants to start myself off. To prepare the soil I used coffee grinds, banana peels and eggshells and I added a bit of this underneath each plant. The temperature here is still around 30C and humidity is high, though the last few days it has become less so. Sunshine a plenty here!
I had sown some chives earlier in the week and goodness me one little seedling has popped up today! I am waiting and hoping for more.
My aim is to grow everything organic but for a start my soil is not, one must do what one can of course and it is not possible to get organic soil around here, at least I will not be using pesticides or fertilizer and that has got to be good. The magic of seeing things grow is already good enough for me and the enjoyment that gives is very good for one’s health anyway – so!
I found some bamboo sticks on the side of the road and took them home to use as supports when the tomato plants get bigger. I also found a lovely piece of succulent plant on the footpath the other day which I have now rooted and it produced a beautiful little orange flower. There were the cacti to look after that belong to the flat, and I am rooting another few succulent leaves that I found on the road.

I am so very happy here on Gozo, I just love everything about the place, the people, the architecture, the limestone, the culture, the exotic plants, the weather, the sun, and the Mediterranean foods, it is all wonderful!

Making my fertilizer from banana skins, coffee grinds, and eggshells.

Containers ready to use, some of them anyway.  Seeds picked to sow.

Tomato and lettuce plants

The bamboo sticks to support the tomato plants when the time comes

Some micro plants, and trying out lettuce seeds from back home

The cacti belonging to the flat after I gave them some TLC, and the succulent i found on the footpath the other day, all are doing fine.