Hello again or hello for the first time if you have just arrived here and the usual brief word of explanation. This is part of a series of entries about my wonderful trip to Malta in early 2013. For regular readers, you can see I don’t just cut and paste this bit although I could but I just think it is lazy. For anyone new, I suggest you scroll back through to the 13th Feb. 2013 when the whole adventure starts as it will make more sense.
You will know that my last entry was the product of what I call a “slow news day” where I described the London Church and Museum of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem and Malta and I do hope the reader found them of some small value. Waking on the morning of the 21st February in my windowless but utterly delightful little apartment and having performed my usual ritual of covering my nakedness, I opened the front door which allowed me a view of a tiny and pretty unkempt enclosed “garden” so I could gauge the weather. In truth I could have wandered about the main corridor as naked as the day I was born as, in a month of residence there, I never met another soul. That is an image that I do urge you to banish from your mind as it will either disturb your sleep or put you off your meal!
What then of the weather report? Abysmal just covers the situation, I feel. It was merely drizzling but it had apparently been a lot busier earlier as the place was sodden. OK, that was any sort of serious sightseeing out of the window so another day in Dick’s Bar, of which I have spoken fondly here before, would do no harm. They had a good wifi, I was already behind (as always) with my writing for a previous website and there was nothing to be done about it so I togged myself up in just about every piece of kit I possessed as I knew it could get cold here when it rained As suitably attired as my intended “winter sun” wardrobe allowed, I headed out the door.
What my brief inspection of a small garden surrounded on all sides by high walls and buildings had failed to convey was the ferocity of the wind. There was an onshore “blowing a hooley” as common parlance is where I come from, it really was stiff with enough spray blowing up to keep you to the landward footpath. I hope the images give some idea and so much for my winter sun! For some perverse reason I actually walked to Dick’s rather than get the frequent and comfortable bus but I often do things like that. Not for the first time I thanked my “travel gods” that I had not splurged on a seaview hotel room!
My day in Dick’s must have been totally uneventful as I did not take a single image but I know it was fine as I never had a bad day in there and hopefully I caught up on some writing.
This entry is going to be much shorter than the last one which I am sure will come as a great relief and will consist predominantly of images of an architectural feature that I had not seen before in exactly the form that I saw just about everywhere on Malta, the verandah / balcony which comes in all sorts of shapes, sizes, materials and colours but which seems to be a completely integral part of Maltese architecture. I had seen a few on my first days walk round Sliema / San Giljan and noted them as being pleasing on the eye but when I began to see more and more of them all over the island I realised just how ubiquitous they were.
I shall append a very interesting website here with some great images although when I read the phrase, “When touched by the strong light so typical of the Mediterranean region they cast deep shadows on large expanses of plain stone walls creating a dynamic chiaro-scuro effect”, I did glaze over a little. I am sure some of my smart mates could decipher this but it is way above one of my intellect. This site is obviously a scholarly tome but it is well worth a look if only for the excellent images.
Malta has always looked, as it’s geographical position suggests, rather more South towards North Africa than North to Europe from where it is now reaping huge benefit and it is suggested that the balconies were derived from North African lookout towers on the high points of buildings. The concept of Malta looking South was never more present since the days of the Barbary Corsairs than now in the early 21st century with floods of economic migrants making the short but potentially lethal crossing. Check the figures yourself if you do not believe me.
Others suggest that these charming structures derive as a heritage from the many Turkish (an extended empire as it was then) slaves who had been taken captive and brought to the island. I am not nearly learned enough to know and more appallingly I am not overly worried as I just love them as they are and whatever their provenance. I will share a selection of them with you over this page including, sadly, some that could do with a lick of paint at the very least.
I hope you have enjoyed this brief glimpse of something you will certainly be very aware of if you visit this wonderful island. I promise you that I will get back to some more specific sightseeing when the weather cheers up so stay tuned and spread the word.