Friday, 27 January 2017

Malta

Things have been rather quiet on my blog for the last week or so.  I've been on holiday with Mam to Malta and enjoying some much needed Mediterranean sun. Well, I can't believe it's been close to three years since last going aboard. My Mam paid for my flights as part of my  Christmas present. As her partner has a holiday apartment it permits for a cheap get away.

Sea views from the apartment. 
This is my third visit, I like Malta but the only thing on my first visit I did most of the cultural attractions. This time I'm on a budget, so, I haven't visited many places apart from my favourites. I more just enjoyed getting away having a break and taking photographs. 



Malta consists of three Island Malta, Gozo and Comino located in the Mediterrian sea between North Africa and Scilly. Malta earliest civilisation dates from 5200Bc and under occupation for its strategical location. The Island under Moorish control until the Byzantines repelled the Muslims where the Norman Sicilians occupied for over four centuries. The Island was sold to Spanish feudal Lords until the Island was occupied by Order of St John Hospitaler where they bought Italian Langauge, culture and initiated a building programme. The Order became weakened which meant the Napoleon Forces occupied the Island, which wasn't popular amongst the local Maltese where they invited the British for assistance. Malta gained independence in 1964. 

Throughout the culture of Malta has a fusion of  Islamic, Italian, and British influences. As the Island has elements their language, crafts and architecture. Including,  lace making, silver smithing and glass. The Maltese speak English and it's one of the National Language along with Maltese, so I don't feel guilty or rude for not speaking their language. Maltese has interesting sound with a combination of the lyrical rhythm of Italian mixed with the harshness of Arabic. 


Saturday

I stayed local and went to raid the local charity shops, I know I go on holidays and still go thrifting. I found a gorgeous bell selves top and military style cardigan for 4 euros. In next charity shop, I found a couple of books to read, with the intention to read at least, it never happened. By the afternoon, I felt so exhausted from the travelling and the early mornings I opted for a Granny nap. After an hour I felt rejuvenated, by the time I got myself sorted it out so it was 3:30, I was limited to options where to go.


I visited my favourite Maltese department store JB's. On first impressions, it's defiantly lacking the glamour of Fenwick's and John Lewis resembles any other household goods store. For any sewing addict such as myself, it's sewers dream come true with an almost two floors dedicated fabric. I could have happily spent my entire holiday here. The floors are crammed with a plethora of colours, patterns, styles and types, I was in fabric Valhalla. 





 Presently, I meant to be on fabric detox and not meant to be even looking at let alone purchasing any. Well, I've failed badly considering the temptation the damage was minimal. I tried to limit myself, the fabric was so unusual, I know what I will be making, there will be no more purchasing fabric,  and I don't when I'll next visiting. I'm also hoping the other half doesn't read this either.







Sunday


Sunday Morning was an early start for Valletta market, which was a  turnout of sellers since it's winter I guess that's to be expected, the of sellers did mean limited variety items for sale, yet I still found a pair of high heel boots for 15 euros. I really shouldn't go shopping with my Mam, as she always bad for encouraging me to purchase stuff.


After a quick wander around the market, we headed to the stunning and historic capital of Malta, Valletta. Valletta has such an interesting style of architecture as has a combination of Italian classical and mixture of Arabic styles that gives the city its distinctive vibes, It felt very reminiscing of Istanbul with its sandstone brick building and straight narrow streets with river views.






 Since it was Sunday many of the shops were shut, Malta has very close ties with the UK including having a lot of the same brand shops. I was quite happy to walk around and marvel at the buildings, taking photographs trying to capture the essence of the city.










 We found a small cafe took away from the main street and opted for a light brunch with a latte. I haven't tried much Maltese culinary, I really fancied trying the onion-shaped pies, Qassa. I went for the spinach and anchovy filling, I know it sounds disgusting but actually, it was really delicious and tasted very fresh. 



Monday

Monday overall for the weather was the best day with stunning clear blue sky and sea's that could revival the Caribbean its clarity I went with my Mam to a local cafe to meet her friend and got the local bus to explore the small city of Mdina and Rabat. 






Mdina is nicked name The Silent City" has existed over four thousand years, originally the capital.  The city was very quiet in comparison to my first visit that was in the height of summer. It made for a more pleasant experience walking. The weather made everything feel more enjoyable. I did consider visiting the Mdina cathedral I decided I was happier enjoying being outside. I was intrigued by where the variety of the elaborate and intricate door knockers, everyone that appealed to me.







 I couldn't resist photographing everyone as they were a piece of spectacular artwork. The small heavily walled city felt more like Italy than Malta, as it has a maze of narrow streets that lead to small squares of open space. 














 My favourite was the oddity, Victorian building in a Gothic revival style surrounded by classical Italian design. This one had me completely baffled it look as though it should have been in England rather than in the Mediterranean, I'm guessing it was from one of the remnants of British Empire.




Some of the stunning view of Malta from Mdina





I went for a quick gander around Rabat,

Rabat larger in size but more sparse in layout, it's far less touristy and more of a local place. With many of the retired men congregating in the town square drinking coffee, smoking and talking in Maltese having more of the chilled out lifestyle of the Mediterranean. The place is much quieter and fewer people speaking English more Maltese. Everyone seemed more friendly with smile nods, and the occasional hello. I stood out a lot more here with my pale complexion in comparison to the leathery and sun-dried skin of the men. 



 





The one thing I was over the moon to find was genuine hand made Maltese black lace. I searched in many on of the tourist shops but many look more mass produced rather than hand made. I found a small shop off the main road, which look as it  hadn't changed since the 60's where women were selling all her handmade crafts everything from lace to knitted jumpers. She kindly showed me one of her beautiful hand lace tops were sadly out of my price range, I went home with a small souvenir doily, will be going my wall.





Just as I was heading to get my bus, I went into the small chapel. To describes it yep it wasn't a chapel more of the grandiose church with the full catholic regalia of imposing altar to the image of Mary and Jesus. On the ceiling, highly decorative frescos of saints and holy figures paint on the ceiling looking over the congregation. The church was exquisitely magnificent with divine architecture, art and stone work. The church felt very austere and stringent made feel slightly uncomfortable all the Catholic symbolism. In comparison, modern Catholic churches tend to use simpler d├ęcor make for the more pleasant environment.
















Tuesday

I had more of a quiet day and spent my last afternoon having a quiet afternoon in St Pawl's Bay watching the liveness of the waves. Trying to get the photographs that reflected the tempestuous nature of the wave crashing off the shore rocks spraying into millions of minuscule droplets. I really wanted to the raw furiously of power and movement, so I spend at least a good while just watching the waves and started experimenting with settings to get the right setting for the ideal photos. 





















Wednesday, 18 January 2017

A Festive Time In Hexham

Last week, I felt very nostalgic and melancholy for a yearning for the return of Christmas, after taking most of the decor down my sitting room feels bare with no black sparkly tinsel tree. 

 For me, this is an odd sensation, I explain the rationale of my feeling. Is age? The first year of the festive period in my new home?  Or perhaps, waking up at 6 am on a cold morning and seeing the thick fluffy virgin snow lying everywhere resonating the sensations of Christmas.


So this feeling has brought back a memory I wanted to share it's not grand, fabulous or amazing. Just the simplicity of revisiting my favourite place accompanied by the other half.

Over the festive period, we over indulge on the sofa, watching festive films and pursuing our own interest me crafting, and him,  gaming. We rarely venture from the comfort of our home.

On Thursday, we ventured up to my favourite Northumbrian Market Town, Hexham. I  love going up at least twice a year to visit not to mention a good excuse for a charity expedition.This place is a little-hidden gem of history, cultural and not to mention a few decent ale bars.




It meant we avoided Newcastle during the Christmas sale rush, as we got the Hexham bus from the West Raod. This road was where the original Hadrian's wall ran, so technically we live on the Pick side.

We got the slower bus which took an extra twenty minutes, yet, it was worth it as I enjoyed seeing the winter Northumbrian scenery.

Normally, I would head to the first the charity shops, since the boyfriend was me we headed to a cafe for food, as both our stomach were grumbling. Afterwards, we found a pub with a decent ale selection. 

After food, I ventured to the charity shop while leaving the boyfriend in a warm pub with a decent pint, as he hates any form of shopping. I spent £3 I found a gorgeous ruffled blouse and pair shoes, I was so happy. There were slim pickings in comparison to other times I've visited but I guess that normal. 




We headed off to look, Hexham Abbey, I don't know how many times I visited this place it never feels like a proper trip unless I pay my respects and go for a wander. Despite my frequent visits, the Abbey feels like a living entity that continual changes and evolve particularly with the changing of the seasons. The atmosphere and essence always reflect the different season and times I visit. In all my years of visiting, I think Christmas has to be my favourite period as it had such a wonderful ethereal feel without the imposing or authoritative feel. It far more relaxed and welcoming place. 




The low twilight light peeking through the stained glass, which illuminates up the interior with the rainbow of colours. I love the various light streaming through highlighting and creating shadows with the arches adding a sense of depth. 




The church adopted a simple decor utilising natural decor of garlands and floral display of red and green with an interesting contrast of tropical flowers and evergreen.   A spruce tree that felt huge and overpowering when I stood next to it. When I went up to the stairs it to In the overall perspective, the tree was rather dwarfed by the towering arches. 


                         

I couldn't revisit this shot as it resembled Escher's sketches. with the composition of the structural arches and swirling metal and each of their outline meets creating an interesting but baffling image.  

Every time, I visited the Abbey there always seem to be some new or something I've overlooked on my visits this time I couldn't help being drawn to stone figures carved on the Leschman Chanty. The images to be a range of humorous, satirical,  and grumpy figures each depicting a scene. 




This is a bagpiper. It reminds of my partner as it looked although he was smoking a pipe with a cup of beer. 

Below is a fox preaching to geese  




I found the beautiful mural depicting the Annunciation of Mary receiving news that she would be with child from the Arch Angel, Gabriel. It's hidden away on the central passage located on the side.  I love the use of the vibrant red and gold-tone it was painted in the fifteen century, considering the time year it seem perfect on.


After spending time wandering around the chapel, we headed to another pub for drinks and head back as soon as possible. 

Friday, 13 January 2017

My New Coasters.

For my bedroom, I've wanted a couple of  coasters, but I've been a real cheapskate refusing to pay £2 for a set. 

Originally, I had en-suite bathroom, that got ripped because of the shoddy workmanship.
 I asked if the work men could retain some of the black tiles, but were  most of tiles were redundant.   



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However, I was able to find two viable ones perfect for coasters. The coaster only need a clean, I wanted to tart them up.  






 I had some of my favourirte sticky back plastic left over. 



 I placed the tile on the sticky back plastic and cut around it.  






I cut out a piece of  vinyl big enough to wrap around all the tiles a bit like wrapping a present. Cut the excess out of the corners.


             

I folded the two larger pieces first and the narrower sides this assisted creating a neater finish. 




The back looked fine, but I wanted to finish the back of the coasters felt.  




I cut around the tile to get a template for the back and made the back piece slightly narrower.  
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I glued the felt on using a hot glue gun alternatively pva glue, fabric glue or double side tape would suffice.  





I love my finish product and if I can save money, all the better, 








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