Monday, November 30, 2009

Sequins, Beads and Polysterene Balls

This season, I decided to start up another hobby. I don't know what it's called - all I know is that you need jablo balls, small pins and lots of sequins to make Christmas baubles. One fine day I woke up with this craft idea in mind so off I went to my nearest hobby shop and bought what I thought would need to start off this hobby. When I went to pay for my stuff at the counter I asked the salesgirl to check if I was on the right track - she just changed my pin box because mine were too large.

Back home I opened up the boxes and bags and started planning my design. It didn't take me long to learn how to do this hobby by myself. My idea is to hang one handmade bauble on to the hamper bag that I will be preparing for each of my female friends that have invited us over to their place for Christmas. What sets me back is the lack of time. Although my husband thinks this is just a waste of time - when I could buy ready made baubles - I'm sure my friends will appreciate the effort I put in making their baubles. What's more - I hope I'll manage to finish the baubles on time for each party that we're invited to.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

St Martin's feast

Next Sunday we shall be celebrating St. Martin's Day 'Jum San Martin' in Malta. The actual feast was last Wednesday, November 11th but it if it happens to fall on a weekday we usually celebrate it on the Sunday nearest to November 11. In the past the children used to hang an empty bag by their bedposts in anticipation for St Martin's arrival. In the morning, then the excited kids would find a bag full of goodies or a bag full of coal - depending on their behaviour.

Nowadays, at school children are usually given a bag called 'Il-Borża ta' San Martin', containing autumn fruits such as figs, oranges, tangerines, apples, pomegranates , nuts like walnuts, hazel-nuts, almonds, chestnuts and a sweet bread with an aniseed-tasting sweet on top (Il-Hobza ta' San Martin) associated with the feast. There is also a traditional rhyme associated with this custom:
'Ġewż, Lewż,

Qastan, Tin

Kemm inħobbu lil San Martin..

(Walnuts, Almonds, Chestnuts, Figs, Oh how I love Saint Martin!)

The feast of St Martin is celebrated in the village of Baħrija on the outskirts of Rabat at the the only chapel in Malta dedicated to this saint. It is the tradition that on that Sunday a fair is held to commemorate the feast. The Turkeys' Fair, in Maltese referred to as 'Il-Fiera tad-Dundjani' , originally took place in 1953 , when the rector of the time started the fair as a fundraising for the building of the new church to replace the small chapel that had become too small for the evergrowing congregation that attended. At this fair one can find plants, fresh vegetables, local honey, and other such local stuff and an exhibition of local animals.

At this time of year we usually have a temporary respite from Autumn and enjoy what we call in Maltese - Is-Sajf ta' San Martin - St Martin's summer. I always look forward to this feast because we get to enjoy a couple of warm days at this time of year. This feast is also associated with a substantial increase in hairfall too. Have you noticed how much more hair falls at this time of year? Men beware!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Open Weekend at Fort Manoel

Manoel Island is a tiny island which lies in Marsamxett Harbour between Sliema Creek and Lazzaretto Creek, and is accessible by a bridge from the Gzira seafront. The Knights of St John realised the potential of the Island as an isolated territory against the plague and other infectious diseases and built a quarantine hospital here in 1643. In 1722, Grand Master Manoel de Vilhena began to appreciate the value of the Island for the defence of Valletta and commissioned the fortress which bears his name, Fort Manoel. The first stone was laid in 1723 under his patronage and the supervision of world-famous engineer Francois de Mondion.

While its defining characteristics survived the ravages of time, over the centuries Fort Manoel fell into disrepair, especially following the heavy and extensive aerial bombardment endured during World War II. On 23rd February 1965, the Fort was officially handed over to the Maltese Government; Fort Manoel was subsequently abandoned and fell into a state of neglect. Further damage was also inflicted during peacetime by vandals, squatters and souvenir-hunters, and by the end of the 20th century, a derelict ruin was all that remained of this once proud and imposing fortress.

In the year 2000 MIDI developers took possession of Fort Manoel and works relating to the restoration of the Fort were initiated by a restoration team. Last weekend the MIDI consortium hosted an Open Weekend at the Fort for the public. Yesterday, hubby and I together with a couple of friends joined the thronges of people who paid a visit to this historical gem on our island. Below you'll see some of the photos I took of the event.

World War II lorry on display

World War II exhibition

The view of Valletta from the parade ground

The parade ground and Barrack Block B

a closer view of Valletta from the parade ground

St Anthony of Padua's chapel where the engineer Francois de Mondion was buried

a detail from the chapel's interior

St Anthony of Padua's chapel and its restored interior

exiting the Polverista

The Polverista

Couldn't help taking a photo of these 3 nuns...

Blogging Women

Oh! I've just discovered that I've won a contest in Blogging Women. My blog will be featured for the month of November. Isn't that lovely? All you female bloggers out there - I invite you to hop over to Blogging Women and have fun discovering other blogs. Thanks Fay!