THAT MOMENT WHEN THE SUN RISES

I was waiting patiently early in the morning, the sky had already begun to have a glow but nothing yet had appeared on the horizon, until all of a sudden there was the first glimmer of a sun.  The moment was magic, and I felt my heart fill with happiness, joy and gratitude, there was another day about to start, another day was breaking and in what a glorious way!  What a powerful moment!
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20171018_154801 Another day has started in which to explore, and see the beauty around me, and be intrigued by all the little adventures that this day would bring.

The gray-green leaves of the Olive tree, a beautiful flower, the bright colours of the Luzzu boat.

20171025_180121The view out of the window of my lace making class in Victoria.

20171025_152530The humour seen in this proud dog trotting beside its owner in the funniest way.

20171025_151014And the funniest of all, me taking the wrong bus on my way to Victoria for my lace class and ending up doing a tour of almost the whole island before I got off the bus in Xaghra and taking another bus to town.  I so enjoyed this little detour and could only laugh at my own mistake!

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And when the day is done and a glorious sun is setting, painting beauty for long moments more, then, well then it’s time to happily be grateful again.

EXPLORING VILLAGE LIFE

It is wonderful here in Gozo and we are enjoying life to the full, grateful for blessings. We are here now a week and a half, our second weekend already! The first week or so I was very busy with sourcing shops locally. In doing so I have started to explore the village where we live at this moment, Ghajnsielem. It takes me about 15 to 20 minutes to walk to the shops depending on how often I stop to admire something or to take a photo. At first, and because I went shopping during the closing hours (12 to 4pm) I thought that there were no shops at all except one supermarket on the main road between Mgarr and Victoria. But then I went to the village after four o’clock and discovered a bakery, a hardware store, a green grocer, and a small food shop, also several cafés. The fact is that generally there is nothing advertising that it is a shop, and when the door is closed you cannot see that it is a shop. Here is an example of the hardware store, it is one long narrow room filled with glass jars containing screws and nails and what have you, a delight to go hunting for something you need, and to be sure to find it!
20171014_111451But I’ll tell you a little more about this village.
It has a population of 3000 souls, there are several churches, the main one is in a neo-gothic style, rather impressive and amazing inside. Another older church is much smaller, was built mostly by voluntary labour of the farmers around the area and I fancy this one much more, it has simple architecture, and it has many steps leading up to it.

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This is a photo of one of the squares in the village, I really like this square, people go and sit outside in the evening enjoying each other’s company, it is found in the oldest part of the village. There is a butcher shop in this square and a young woman who grows her own organic vegetables and sells a number of other products like gram flour and sesame seeds and so on… she has told me how to cook rabbit the Maltese way because I ordered some at the butchers, I like to cook at least some of the local dishes.  I’m getting to know some people and finding so many friendly and helpful folks, making me feel at home.
But there are several other squares in this village, all with plenty of benches, important for Ian, but also nice to just sit and take in the atmosphere. Beautiful trees and flowers are also in plentiful supply in these squares.
There is also the huge Band club café where a coffee only costs 50cent. This is sort of the hub of the village where young and old gathers and where the local band holds its practice.

I like to walk through the narrow streets and the squares, there is a special atmosphere and often I find some beautiful features in the vernacular architecture using local limestone. Old doorways are also always a joy to admire and take photos of, they are so picturesque that I always feel I want to paint them, well this time I brought my watercolours and we’ll see how it goes. There is a lot to explore yet around here, I read that remains of a prehistoric temple complex are to be found within the limits of Ghajnsielem, but they have almost been destroyed by road building, but what does remain are two groups of megaliths, they were probably originally part of the same structure, can’t wait to plan a walk out there to go and see what I find.

These are photos of an old washing place, the source of the water is an ancient well and women used to communally do their washing here. The rest of the village would have been built around this area. The above photos are of a reconstruction of the original washing place, a shame that the original one got destroyed but at least the original well is still there and the water is still running! There is a story attached to this well. Long ago when the village was only starting to be formed a local farmer named Anglu Crech used to take his sheep and goats to this spring every single day, and because the sun was so hot he would take shelter under the surrounding trees and say his prayers. Well one day while doing this he saw an apparition of what he thought was Mother Mary who invited him to raise a statue close by and this the farmer, together with his friends, achieved and they would gather there in prayer, and eventually a church was built close by. It’s nice to learn something more about the places we stay, it makes it so interesting, it is the small church I was talking about above.

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This photo is the neo-gothic church, I took it today and include it to show the blue sky and the way the sun shows off the honey coloured limestone which is most commonly used as building stone here and sourced locally. I have not messed around with this photo, the colours are real.
Close by is the library which is so small that I won’t have a problem reading those books that I fancy. I found some there on the history of the village, to my delight. Most of the books are for children and just like at home there was a class of them in there yesterday, all excited about getting their books. I was laughing as one little girl was told she could not take that many books because she had still some out… she went over to the table and found the books, just like what we often came across back home when I was still working in the library, I did not need to know Maltese to understand what was going on!

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Also along the main road between Mgarr and Victoria, are some beautiful trees. It is an alternative route to the village from where we live and even though it is uphill all the way I like it because of the interesting plants and rocks along the way. So shopping is no hardship even without the car and as it is always nice outside the walking is a pleasure.

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This is the view from our balcony, mostly in the day it is almost too warm to sit here, but in the morning and evening it is lovely. At night the view too is great with the lights of Malta and Comino in the distance. The ferries come and go every 45 minutes and there is always plenty of life to observe. There are little fishing boats at the marina, typically Maltese – at the moment they go out fishing for Lampuki, a fish locally used in traditional dishes. This fish migrates past the Maltese islands during the autumn so it is then that you can find it everywhere and it is very popular here.

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One of the Luzzu boats, original Maltese fishing boats, they go out early in the morning or at night to try and get their catch.  We used to see very many of them while staying in Marsaxlokk, Malta.  Very colourful boats, and usually having an eye painted on its bow, said to protect the boat and those in it.

So this is only the beginning of another winter’s stay in Gozo and there will be plenty to discover and learn and write about, it seems that in order to experience a place fully I have to write about it, then it becomes more real for me.  It is always very exciting though and no matter how many times I walk the same road, there is always something new to find and see or experience.  Awesome!  I hope that you all enjoy coming along with me on my journeys.

THE BEAUTY THAT IS GOZO

It is hard to believe that it’s nearly a week ago that we arrived in Gozo again. This time we are staying in a village, Ghajnsielem it is called, which lies on the East coast of Gozo and right at the little harbour of Mgarr which is where the ferries from Malta and Comino arrive, and where many boats of all sizes are anchored in the marina. Our flat is at the outskirts of Ghajnsielem and we overlook this harbour from a height which is very pleasant indeed. I am fascinated with the rock that our building is situated on, a beautiful rock, limestone. On my way to the village centre to fetch some groceries or go to the Post Office or such-like, I walk past lovely limestone buildings, old and new. The traditional, beautiful Maltese/Gozitan balconies can be seen in wood or stone along the way, a pleasure to the eye as always. Then you come to the neo-gothic parish church which rises up toward a blue sky, it’s eye catching! Surrounding the church are a variety of green and tree filled areas and an interesting Band club café where it’s nice to sit outside and observe village life while sipping a nice coffee or a cool drink. This morning I discovered where the library was. People all along the way were greeting me with either a bongu or a good morning! I’m starting to feel quite at home in this village.
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FLINT STONE AND PILGRIMAGE

To say that England has a lot to offer in terms of history, interest, and beauty surely is an understatement. We have been here in Norfolk now for several days, while it is mainly as a family visit, the family has generously shown us around the area, and we took a great, long walk along the salt marshes at Burnham Overy Staithe. How nice to get to see this and get acquainted with a variety of the birds and plants found in this habitat.  I did hear a curlew, nice to hear as in Ireland they are heard less and less.

One of the main noticeable find here though are the what the houses are all built with lots of flint stones on their facades, no even all over the walls of the houses, I had never seen anything like it before and am fascinated. Flint is a very hard stone and those walls much be so strong and well able to endure the winds and weather in those areas. It is great to see locally sourced rock used as a building material. More information about the use of flint in Norfolk can be found here: http://belongathoughton.com/introduction-norfolks-natural-heritage/gallery ids=”13797,13790,13784,13792″ type=”rectangular”]

We took Ian’s grandchild and daughters on a steam train ride from Wells to Walsingham, the ride took us along many different wild shrubs and the berries were plentiful, among them hawthorn and rosehips. The birds will have plenty of food this winter!  The train ride was quaint, lots of time to take in all we saw along the track.

The flowing fields along the railway track were beautiful to watch.  Skies were also very  interesting.

We had cream tea in a teashop at a place which is dedicated to the virgin Mary in memory of her visitation by the angel Gabriel.  A pilgrimage from London to this village goes back a very long way.  There is a well there with waters that are said to cure people.  Mostly the place is very peaceful and beautifully laid out with lovely trees and flower beds.  In mediaval time pilgrimage was very popular but people had to go a long way and the road was often not very safe.  Today many people will visit places like these to get in touch with themselves and meditate on the meaning of their life.

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https://www.walsinghamvillage.org/about/history-of-pilgrimage/