THE AZURE WINDOW

On a most beautiful late January day, today, with the sun pouring over the island, and not a breeze to be felt, there was nothing better to do than to take the bus to the Azure Window at Dwejra on the West coast of Gozo. Quite a few tourist were there with us, many Chinese in fact and I also heard some Northern Irish accents. Everyone was soaking up the sun, and unlike us, who are still wearing socks and woollies, I saw women in sandals, in bare arms and very light clothing, some were working on their tan in fact, others were taking selfies or photos like myself. The ambience was pleasant and the views breath-taking. We had been there before, I was very impressed with the amount of fossils under our feet in the rocks. Rocks are very much eroded here making for all sorts of strange and interesting shapes. The rock pools too had mirror-clear water standing in them. The sea and sky were both so very blue!
The Azure Window is special, very nice to see time and time again.  The inland sea too is a place where it is so nice to sit and see the little boats come and go

One sweet girl asked us if we would like our photo taken together, we said yes as this does not happen very often, the result was good. We took coffee in the only café that was open, and just soaked up the sun.
What a most beautiful day it was, and for a while we could forget about all the world events that has kept our minds so busy this past week.
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MGARR HARBOUR MUSINGS

Yesterday we had took a lovely walk around the harbour of Mgarr here on Gozo. It is the first village that you get to see when you arrive on the island because the ferry docks here. I love this fishing village as it is overshadowed by beautiful rock formations, plenty of lovely greenery and wild flowers too right now, and colourful fishing boats, besides yachts and ferries of all sorts to enable visitors to visit some of the other smaller islands and take a cruise around Gozo.

Yesterday it was quiet, or else it was the quiet time of the day (which runs from 12:30 until 16:00hrs. Some men were sitting on the stairs of a lovely old building, reading the newspaper and chatting. The ferry station was busy whenever the ferry was due to arrive or to leave.

We took coffee at a kiosk right down by the water and sat for a long time watching the few activities taking place, and enjoying the sun. It is a quiet place during winter, a peaceful place. We then walked along the original part of the harbour where the first ferries from mainland Malta used to arrive long ago at the time when the harbour was still undeep, and walked along the promenade, which for both of us had plenty to offer, Ian loves looking at the sea and the boats, while I looked upwards direction Ghajnsielem at all the wonderful rock formations, the plants, and even the few farms where I saw tomatoes ripening in the sun, and that during January!

We spent the rest of the afternoon just walking, resting, enjoying the sunshine and taking in the peace and quiet of this lovely little harbour, and it wasn’t even cold.

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BITTER ORANGES OF GOZO

Last week I tried something new, like many Gozitans I made use of the Seville bitter oranges which are grown locally to make marmelade, something I had never been interested before. But the scent and colour of the fresh bright orange fruit on the trees locally made me want to try my hand at making marmelade, but besides, one of my new Gozitan friends, Tessie, brought us three kilos of organically grown oranges fresh from the tree, and she also gave me a recipe to make this delicious bitter jam. So, full of enthusiasm last Monday I gathered the stuff that I needed to start. Fine brown sugar, weighing scales (which the flat does not have but Tessie brought, lemons, also brought by my friend from her own tree. The pictures will tell of how I faced some challenges due to the fact that the flat did not have the right pot for cooking marmelade, but I managed with a pan that has a thick bottom. I ended up with so many pots and we shared most of them out to friends and neighbours because we ourselves only eat a little of marmelade. I tasted it and it was very much to my liking, bitter, tangy, with a sweet after taste, but everything in balance. Yes the recipe was good and simple too. It was interesting to see the fruit preserved in this way, and to see the process of getting it from the tree into the jars. Taking part in a little bit of tradition here which I surely enjoyed.

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This type of orange has very many pips in it, these pips are used, cooked for a little while and the juice strained and used in the marmelade as pectin.

Above, here I had to weigh all the sugar into lots of 500gr and use the pan six times filled with 6 lots of fruit all measured out.  The large pot I had being very thin almost burned immediately so I transferred it this way, it took a long time, most of the day to do it this way but it worked and all the marmelade succeeded I am happy to say.

2017-01-25-19-44-54Apart from a lovely taste, I like this marmelade for its bright colour, only fruit and sugar used, nothing else. mouth-watering.

COLOURFUL PERIPHERY OF VICTORIA

A walk to the outskirts of this historical town treats me to wonderful views of the surrounding villages and countryside, places like Sannat, Xewkija and Xaghra can be seen easily, and in between the villages there is a wealth of greenery and meadows full of yellow flowers. It was a cold day, a slight breeze made me put on my hat, but for walking it was excellent weather. I had been to the library, where the librarians were freezing, obviously because their job demands deskwork, it is a fairly small library here but the librarians are very helpful and friendly. The book stock, although some of it is old enough, is very interesting to me for my chosen subject while we are here. So after that visit I decided to head off on the nearest street and see where it would bring me. Interestingly it turned out to be a different area from most of what I have seen of Victoria because up to now I have just hung out in the oldest part of town, here it is very residential. The whole town of Victoria is very residential, a pleasant town to live in I can say from experience, very friendly, always something happening and buzzing with people, yet quiet and peaceful, you feel safe here. It is historic, and beautiful in its limestone buildings.  Here a few photos of today’s walk.
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Looking towards Xewkija, I could easily have walked there if I wanted to, so close to here.

 

2017-01-17-13-21-12                             A beautiful little flower on a patch along the road.

2017-01-17-13-15-52-copy                                  Cats meet you all over Gozo

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A VILLAGE WHICH LIES STILL AND TRANQUIL.

Zebbug is a village in an elevated area on the North coast of Gozo. It was a Wednesday morning when I visited, everything was quiet, I saw no one when I got off the bus and I was the only person riding on the bus too. So tranquil was this place, everything was shut, that is except the church for which I headed, crossing over a large empty square I reached the steps leading up to an impressive Baroque façade of the village church, I was on a mission, to go and see the beautiful interior which is made up mainly of locally quarried brown Onyx stone, and the book where I read about it did not let me down, I was very impressed and delighted to be able to see this, and to touch this semi-precious stone. I found myself looking at the altar, the confession chair, the pillars, holy water container, a statue, the chairs for the priests, everything made out of Onyx stone, it looked amazing. Yet again I am finding that the ‘stones’ or rocks found on Gozo are very pleasing to the eye!

So I walked on along one of the streets and took in all that was to see, soon I got glimpses of the sea and the beautiful green agricultural landscape along the coast, I found it interesting to see lots of fields like patchwork, the land was being worked by some farmers I noticed. I read that Zebbug derives its name from the Maltese word referring to the Olive tree. The village is also known for its lace making, its weaving and its woollen blankets, but I did not see any of this when I went, no shops were open. The village was quiet, there was a vegetable van driving around, I bought a very tasty orange from him, a few people were gathered around this van buying stuff. There was also a gas delivery truck driving around blowing the horn at intervals as is done here in Gozo. It was when I saw a bread van that I decided to check out if it carried ‘Ghazziela’ I had read about it and had to see one, it’s a biscuit in the shape of the ‘M’ for mother Mary, tradition is to hang it behind the door of your house in order to protect the place from storms and lightning. These biscuits are blessed after they are baked. Of course the bread van lady did not have them, they are not for eating! However, a kind lady standing beside me and hearing me ask for the Ghazziela offered to have a look for some in her house, she did come out with two of them and gave them to me, we had a chat after that and she and her sister really made the visit to Zebbug a very memorial one, so kind and helpful people are, I am experiencing this all the time, it warms the heart. The kindness of these two ladies will not be in vain, it has touched me and showed me once again that people have such good hearts, humankind is not a failure, if we let our hearts speak then kindness has no bounds, it made me happy to mull over these thoughts on my way home.

I took many photos, some of which I will share here, but there is still much more beauty to find in this tranquil  village, I’m so glad that I went there.

The two Ghazziela gifts I received from the kind ladies, and on the right this is the inside of a Prickly Pear cactus leaf, people use this material in making jewellery.

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A street leading towards the blue water, and butternut squash drying in the sun.

These four photos are of the village church and its Onyx interior.

I saw grapes hanging over the wall in a village street, and little country lanes lead out from the village to the pastoral land below in the valley.

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This village has its fair share of arches which I love so much, I hope that they can always be preserved.

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Greenery looks so nice against the limestone walls.

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This cat did not have to say much for herself, she was just soaking up the few rays of sunshine on this winter day.  You are never short of cats on Gozo, and they are beautifully coloured animals.

DELIGHTFUL CLIFFS

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Xlendi, is a village on the South-West coast of Gozo, it is surrounded by steep cliffs to one side, they look very impressive from every angle.  One can climb them via stairs that lead one to the Caroline cave, this walk gives lovely views over the bay, the clear water, sometimes blue, sometimes green.  It is of great interest to people that are interested in the rocks and flora that grows in the crevices.  Beautiful!  So one day we walked, or rather climbed this delightful hike and I like to share some of what we found.

20161221_134732The limestone rocks along the walk. 20161221_135022The rocks are amazing, full of fossils, beautifully light in colour.

And finally one goes down to the Caroline Cave where the water laps against the weathered rocks.

Some of the flora along the walk, amazing how the plants grow out of the crevices of the rocks, and look so healthy and fresh!

Back down at the sea front. Xlendi is actually a fishing village, though a lot of it’s income these days comes from tourism too.  We always love going to Xlendi, it was the first place we stayed in last spring, we get there by bus in about five minutes from here and because there are more and other beautiful cliff walks to be found there we never get bored, always we come across something new, a plant, an insect, always something interesting to see.  I also love the trees in the square, there are some old Tamarisk trees, which look like old men riddled with arthritis, but they are beautiful too.

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I guess I will never, no matter how small the island of Gozo is, find at a loss of what to go and explore, so much to see and do, in fact a great place to live.