Posts Tagged ‘life in Malta’
Disclaimer: if you’re one of the people who took offence to ‘that post’ or you have a habit of skim reading, please note:
1) this post is written with affection for Malta and the term 20 crazy things about Malta should be taken with a pinch of salt as I had to pick a short snappy title
2) I choose my words respectfully and carefully when writing…so if you intend to comment I advise you to do the same
3) if you think this post is meant to insult, it’s a good idea to come back here to the start and reread it.
So….it’s that time of year again. The time of year when I suddenly realise marks yet another anniversary of my arrival in Malta
(which I have written about previously from different angles in Should I Stay and Home is Where). A time of year when my disbelief at still living on ‘the rock’, is at its greatest. Yes, this 9th October was eleven years since I left loving family, interminable traffic, the vibrant culture and the relentlessly grey clouds of the UK (sorry but that’s usually the first thing that strikes me when I land at Heathrow) for the endlessly sunny blue skies, bumpy roads, simpler lifestyle and 1970’s supermarkets of a country I couldn’t even point out on a world map.
I actually forgot today was the exact date (despite spending the last two months telling people I’d lived here almost eleven years) until I bumped into a couple of friends on the beach (both of them expats).
One of them told me about a woman who has given up trying to make a happy life here as she has found the adjustment too hard for various reasons
which I won’t go into here as this post is not about bashing Malta as already explained at the start. I got to thinking about the number of people I’ve known who left the island for the same reasons as this woman and I couldn’t help wondering why we have stayed for nine years longer than we planned (!) and what we like about it. Inevitably, I also thought about some of the unusual stuff you see here. I think our longevity in Malta has been partly due to our capacity to endure the rough with the smooth, partly our ability to just have a good laugh at the daft bits and mainly our steadfast refusal to go back to the blooming rain and high prices we left!
Anyway, I can’t let a Malta anniversary go by without writing something. So after the hard-hitting but honest Dear Malta You’re Breaking my Heart and the pensive How Has it Come to This?
I think it’s time I take a light-hearted look at life on the rock based on my experience.
There is so much I’ve got used to (admittedly a lot of it reluctantly) over the last 11 years to the point where I often don’t realise, until guests come over and express total shock at this that, just how much of the Mediterranean madness has become second nature to me! If you had told me 11 years ago that I would find ANY of the following ‘normal’, I would have thought you were out of your mind. Here is my list of 20 Crazy Things About Malta that I never in a million years believed I’d actually do myself or get used to (and yes the original list was longer but I narrowed it down for everyone’s sake because sometimes Netflix is more important). Oh and er…remember the disclaimer.
I never thought I would:
‘1. Go to a new furniture store..not because I need furniture…but because it’s a day out. (I think I just blushed.)
2. Get stuck behind a lorry/rubbish truck/car driver who has not broken down but is merely chatting to someone they’ve seen on the pavement…and that I would just sit there…without getting out the car or hooting in good old 1990’s road rage style (must be going soft in my old age).
3. Get used to the sound of fireworks. Every day. For three months.
4. Ask at a grocery store if I can just leave the money for my one item instead of waiting behind that woman with the large trolley. I’d NEVER do that in the UK for fear of getting lynched.
5. Read a headline in the local paper about a sulky driver, think “Oh my God what a rude way to describe that poor driver” before realising they meant the driver of a vehicle known as a sulky…not that the driver of a car was in a bad mood.
This is a sulky (noun NOT adjective!) driver
6. Say ‘I’m ready” when I mean “I’ve finished”. This is quite possibly the biggest surprise of them all considering how I wanted to Rip. My. Own. Ears. Off. every time I heard someone say this the first few years here.
7. Go to Lidl! Never mind the blooming furniture store. Ruddy hell, I never thought I’d go to Lidl. (Gold star to those of you who follow my Facebook page and have just worked out this is what I refer to as ‘the shop that shall not be named’.)
8. Complain about the traffic…when there are in fact only twelve cars in front of me. Talking of which:
I also never expected to hear a radio DJ guess the state of play on the roads because his particular radio station does not have an official traffic update service (in the form of helicopters with reporters hired to provide actual real time info). This happened about two weeks ago and I almost had to park up, I was laughing so much. He just hypothesised about how many cars may or may not be on the roads and which areas may or may not have traffic. Funniest thing I’ve heard in ages.
9. Feel perfectly comfortable walking down the street in a sarong and flip flops behind three barely-dressed children (my kids, not some randoms).
10. Accept it when a cafe only offers ham and cheese sandwiches or cheese and ham sandwiches or cheese sandwiches or ham sandwiches.
11. Park on double yellow lines (sssssshhhhhhh).
12. Get charged 2.50 euros for a cappuccino and think ‘ooh that’s expensive’. I mean it’s twice that in my home town!
13. Avoid enrolling my children in a particular sport because the location is a whopping 15 minute drive. You really do have to live here to get that one!!
14. Sing high praise for the excellent customer service and wonderfully friendly staff at such and such a place…when actually all they did was say please and thank you and serve me within ten minutes of walking in, you know, their job.
15. Leave my car key with a total stranger instead of waiting for a space in a car park and taking my key with me.
16. Go into raptures over an ‘amazing new’ cafe/hotel/shop, baffling a guest visiting from abroad who looks at me as if every brain cell has fallen out of my skull because in actual fact said cafe/hotel/shop is nothing special and I’ve simply lowered my expectations.
17. Have the following exchange (more than once)
Me: “Please can I have still water?”
Waiter: “Yes, still or sparkling?”
and not want to scream.
18. Pay 4 euros for a tiny broccoli head. I mean actually pay it. Without asking if it was grown in gold soil. And leave with my broccoli. Without whispering a breath of complaint. Or sarcasm. Never thought I’d see the day…miracle.
20. Not be in the slightest bit surprised at returning to a local beach restaurant, months after a visiting friend fell off the back verandah due to inadequate safety standards (breaking her leg and requiring surgery) only to see that NOTHING has been done to erect a protective railing since then. Shame on you Las Palmas. [Clearly this is one not-at-all-funny point in this list.]
As I finish writing this at 11pm, someone is sitting in a car hooting their horn instead of getting out and ringing the doorbell of the person they’re visiting…and all my lights have gone out.
Well it is in the Mediterranean Darling!
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So somehow, (I honestly have no idea how) we’ve only got two weeks left of the holidays before the kids go back to school. It seems like just yesterday I was trying to get over the end of the school year with my spoof First Case of Exhausted Mother Reported and getting ready to go the UK for three weeks.
It’s been a rather spiffing Summer from the point of view of the blog. The school mum post did really well on my own site and it was super exciting seeing it do well on social media. I then got on to the Huffington Post with it which ended up being even more fab than I expected and then again with 10 Ways To Tell Kids About Sex. It’s been a fun busy time riding the Twitter train meeting some amazing bloggers and having hilarious conversations with some of my Twitter BFFs and building relationships. And of course, as many people know, two other posts, the one about my marriage and the one about Malta caused quite a ‘storm’ and gave me an eventful time on the blog! And it would have been rude not to write about it so I did in The Good, The Bad and the WTF of Blogging.
But during all this time, much as I love blogging, two key things have been rather neglected: my kids and my house.
The kids have been so amazing as per usual playing all day while I work, hardly ever asking for anything and being perfectly happy to spend entire days at home! They’ve not been enrolled in any summer activities and have been perfectly happy with that.
I’ve made ice lollies only once:
I can count on one hand how many times I’ve taken them to the beach:
I’ve managed to sit down and play a board game with them once and have barely made it through a single film without getting sidetracked by twitter or getting up to go do a job.
I’m a stay at home mum and frankly I’m not sure where the holidays have gone or what I’ve done apart from drag my heels around the house moaning about the heat and taking 4 showers a day… #StayAtHomeBum
Meanwhile the house is disappearing under I don’t know how much dust and the storage/clear out projects are piling up and yada yada yada. I’ve just about kept up on laundry:
Yet I seem to manage this just fine:
Anyway, so I need a bit of blogging break to be a wife and mum:
Priorities shmiorities. Fear not. Shan’t be gone for long. And I’ll be back with a funny little piece for ya.
See you soon!
We all want feedback on a post that we worked hard on. We love it when you share something we’ve written (you want to share it more than once?…please go ahead!) and we could cyber hug you when you comment on our social media pages etc. Running a blog is time-consuming and labour-intensive for oh so many reasons that I won’t bore you with (but you can bet any blogger reading this is nodding their head hard in agreement).
Basically, it is a very rare writer who only wants to be read by themselves and their Aunt Pam (or Parminder in my case, hey hey) before their painstakingly crafted words disappear into an abyss.
So when those words evoke a tidal wave of good will, kind wishes and raw emotion from people who totally get what you’re saying, it is truly gratifying and makes it all worth it. But when your words are misinterpreted and attract mean unpleasant remarks and aggressive behaviour (even if it’s only from the minority), it’s very disappointing. Nobody likes being misunderstood or attacked (even if only by the minority).
Well, if I ever realised the power of the written word, it was during what I will forever refer to as THAT week, when all that (and more) happened. I started off THAT week making many people cry after I wrote about my marriage. I managed to end it causing controversy with something I wrote about my adopted country, Malta.
Yep. Go me. And I could not have predicted any of it!
Basically, I came up with The Anniversary Card I Never Thought I’d Write because one of my blogging besties asked me to write a relationship piece, with no warning (when he had ample opportunity to give me more time and no he WON’T be getting a Christmas gift…men!). I was a total stress ball trying to write it because I hate working under pressure and didn’t like the way it was coming out (blah blah) because I didn’t feel it was flowing right (blah blah) and the angle wasn’t right (triple blah). I even messaged him at one point (okay…maybe more than once) moaning about how I was just coming off looking like an ungrateful complaining princess who had no idea how good she had it. Blah blaaaah.
I know. I get it. It’s not like I was aiming for the Pulitzer Prize or anything but I’m a wordy girl and dang it, how much do I hate it when the words just feel wrong? A lot. That’s how much.
On top of that, I cancelled my yoga class plans (#FirstWorldProblems), ignored mounting laundry and neglected my kids to write it, thinking it was being published on his site, only to nearly die of mortification when I realised this deeply personal ‘badly written’ piece was going on my site. (I told you…men…they don’t communicate properly and they give you daft deadlines!) On top of it all, I dropped a plank of wood on my foot trying to unearth our box of wedding albums to find an appropriate picture that I could then format, photoshop etc with just minutes to go before the deadline (and has that man asked me how my foot is? As if…)
Nobody called me a moaning Minnie. Nobody lectured me on how good I had it. Nobody judged me. Nobody saw me as husband bashing (thank Heavens).
Quite the opposite…
– I received messages from strangers thanking me for helping them feel less alone in their marriage and saying they cried from start to finish.
– I noticed women on various facebook forums saying they saw their own marriage crystallized before them in words.
– People told me they read the post/emailed it to their partners and it prompted them having a talk about their own future.
– Comments poured in to my website wishing me well and literally everyone related. Go figure!
– My husband read it, said
Ouch…but it’s factual, well written, gutsy and honest…well done babe”
and shared it!! I swear, if the tables were turned, I’m not sure that would have been my response. I fell in love with him a bit more for that. (And yes, he only saw it after it was published.)
– My mum read it…and cried… I felt so bad.
– Bloggers shared it on their social media pages saying they had read it several times.
– Words such as ‘brave’, ‘powerful’ and ‘honest’ flew about with amazing regularity.
You get the picture.
To be honest, I wasn’t trying be anything (apart from on time with my blog post). In short, there was an outpouring of emotion (sometimes from ‘surprise quarters’ such as a relative I’d not heard from in years messaging me to applaud me and so on). And as I said, I didn’t expect any of it. A good (heck a downright amazing) side of blogging.
a series run by Moderndadpages and Lifewithbabykicks. Now, I have lived in Malta for close to ten years. After talking about the good points of living in Malta on many occasions, I felt it was time to write a piece on the less positive aspects of the country called Dear Malta You’re Breaking My Heart.
I took pains to point out that there is no perfect country in the world and said we’ve never regretted our decision to leave the UK. The article was in no way an attempt to attack Malta or to tell its people what to do from some ‘self-appointed position of expat superiority’ or to claim that my birth country is any better. It was merely a lament on the increasing lack of common courtesy and positive societal values I’m witnessing here. It is because I love Malta that I care enough to write about her, which thankfully was in fact recognised by many local people.
I started writing at 2am, finished at 5am by the time I’d sourced images etc, got four hours’ sleep, got up to link it to the blog series and pop it on my Facebook page/personal wall too (cursing myself because of course I thought of several other points I should have mentioned). Then I went back to bed for a couple of hours.
When I woke up and looked at my Facebook page and site: Oh my word. (Or should that be Oh my words… I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.)
From what I could see, people were mainly agreeing with me left, right and centre but heated debates were breaking out across social media forums and lengthy conversations were taking place on people’s personal walls.
Several friends messaged me to say “Lady, you’re brave”. That word again…I was a bit mystified and wondered what I had done to be called brave.
I can’t possibly repeat on here all the comments from people echoing my sentiment, some of them who have just arrived in Malta, some who have lived here for years, some who left as a result of similar experiences and many of them Maltese born permanent nationals themselves. You can read the comments under the post of course. Suffice to say, I was taken aback at how many chimed in with stories of their own not exactly positive experiences here.
Many Maltese people thanked me for ‘speaking out’ saying that they feel the same frustrations, hoped the negative treatment had not put me off staying and apologised on behalf of their compatriots. Someone made a point about how the people who declare their patriotism the loudest often do nothing to look after the country they are so proud of and harm its reputation instead. Someone else said: empty vessels make the most noise. Great phrase!
Later that day a friend messaged to tell me she’d noticed the post had been shared to a ‘certain community page’. At the risk of incurring any further wrath, I’ll just leave it at that. She said “Get ready Honey”. Hmmmm…what does that mean? I thought. Go fix my hair? Put on a nice dress? Then she said “Shit’s gonna hit the fan”. Ah righto, forget the dress. Full body armour then.
Another blogger noticed a well known online magazine in Malta issued a counter article the same day to balance all those “nasty and bad things we [Maltese] do”. Quelle coincidence…
By now, it was 10pm Friday night and frankly after several late nights on the blog, I needed down time. I switched off the computer and some time later went to bed.
I woke up the next day to a surreal situation.
Now, hand on heart, I still genuinely believe that I was measured and on the ‘calmer’ side of emotional throughout the post. Even though I wrote it for a ‘rant’ series, in truth, I hardly ‘ranted’ and was in fact restrained leaving out quite a few negative points (something that many readers also noticed). Had it been an angry rant, I would not have used ‘breaking my heart’ in the title. I could/would have used something like ‘pissing me off’.
Alas, there were those who somehow missed the point and went on the attack, making such awful narrow-minded comments that they validated my very article with every word they wrote. (This was not lost on others who congratulated the bigots for making my point for me!)
The negative barrage included (amongst other things):
– being harangued on Twitter by someone calling me a bully because I hadn’t published his comments (when I’d simply not seen them yet). It was plain strange how many people didn’t realise I have a house/family to tend to and have to step away from my computer to do that.
– being criticised for authorising peoples’ comments which were seen as attacking Malta (so I should censor?) but then accused of not authorising comments which were attacking me (wait, so I shouldn’t censor?).
I actually authorised every single comment, in the interests of freedom of speech, even when those comments were hostile and mannerless towards me.
– being berated by someone for not publishing their comment and then berated even more once I did publish it and then getting a ‘bonus’ torrent of sarcasm and spite about my mental health, debating skills, strength of character, other blog posts etc! Priceless. The pity was that some of the points this person made about Malta were valid but it was useless even trying to reply to someone who was ill-mannered and clearly hellbent on just picking a fight over e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g including the name of my website!
– being lectured on “my country’s” colonisation of various countries (the irony of which was not lost on me as my country of birth colonised my country of origin so nope, I don’t run around waving a flag about what a great job Britain did there).
– being given a ‘lesson’ on various topics that were totally irrelevant to my post, including Sharia Law (it was like writing about the health risks of junk food only for someone to go off about Mercedes engine part prices).
– being told the experiences I had mentioned are rare occurrences (have these people had a camera following me around the last ten years?).
– being at the receiving end of the gold-standard finger pointing at other countries’ problems (as if that negates the need to do anything about the problems right here).
– and of course, receiving the classic “if you don’t like it leave”, as if this is the cure-all for a country’s problems rather than maturely appreciating there is room for improvement and that it is not shameful to admit this. The comical thing is that several Maltese people said they’ve also been told to go home leaving them wondering where they are meant to go as they thought they were already home!
To date the overwhelming majority of people who have read the post understood my overall intention. Many readers stressed that just because there ARE many good sides to living in Malta, that does not mean the island’s people should be opposed to an improvement of the bad sides and go on the attack when they’re are mentioned.
Most heartwarming of all, 90% of my new followers over the next week were Maltese people. What an encouraging sign! I’m not the UN. I’m just a one woman blog but that is still a sign, however small, that many nationals do recognise what needs to change and don’t behave like petulant children when a non-Maltese person highlights these aspects.
Now, I never expected so many people to publicly identify with what I was saying and actually come to my defense in front of those who clearly did not.
I never expected friends and bloggers to check in to see how I was weathering the storm.
I definitely did not expect so many private messages and so much good will from rational well meaning people saying they felt embarrassed by my treatment at the hands of certain others.
I didn’t think strangers would find me on Twitter to tell me I had done the right thing.
We’re all driven by different things. Some of us are blessed to find something we enjoy doing or at least find something we’re not bad at, whatever that may be! I love putting words together and seeing them turn into something.
I simply wrote two posts from the heart (instead of overthinking them to death which is my usual modus operandi). I never meant to make anyone cry with the first one and I definitely did not set out to offend anyone with the second. I don’t write to annoy people but it is bound to happen at some point and frankly if I spent my entire time worrying to bits about how people might react, I’d never publish a single post.
It’s quite simple really. If you relate to / laugh at / cry over / feel inspired or entertained by something I’ve written, I’m beyond delighted because it means I’m doing something right. THAT’S what lights the fire in my belly. And to be honest, even if I don’t want my words to offend or annoy people, as others bloggers have said, it still means the words aren’t disappearing into that abyss! Every writer wants that whether they’ve just got a blog they’re growing or they write for a major publication or they are a big time hot shot author.
Thank you for being part of the dialogue, for reading, sharing and commenting because that is what encourages me to keep going. I’m grateful beyond measure for all of it.
Yes even to the trolls!
Well…that and the need to make money for my wine habit…
Now, as for this post:
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I’m honoured to have been tagged by two of my newest blogger friends – Tayla of Motherhood The Real Deal who is super funny and the lovely Laura of Life With Baby Kicks (who listens to me moan about blog tech glitches on an alarmingly regular basis and who I’m dragging out for a Mojito-fest when we meet one day ‘outside’ of the blog) – in the wonderful “I’m a Mum Who” series. I’ve been really enjoying reading the at-a-glance descriptions of various bloggers regarding their parenting experiences and themselves. It’s wonderful finding out more about them.
So here is mine.
Could write a book called ‘Being The Not Now Mummy’. #TooBusyForYourKidsIsTheWrongBusy
Is rubbish at crafts. Cannot. Will. Not. Do. crafts. But finally learned to bake aged 38 and has made all her kids’ birthday cakes since the eldest was 3 (and yes you’ll have to work out my current age yourself) #NotBraggingJustSayinWeDoWhatWeCanDo
Is never happier than when she’s snuggled up for weekend movie night with her babies…or sipping a Rosé by the beach while they play. #HappyMemories
Is hellbent on raising healthy eaters but will never deprive her kids of home made chocolate cake dammit! #LovinFromTheOven
Finally understood so much of what her parents had said/done raising her the very minute her firstborn was handed to her in hospital. #ThatsWhyOurParentsWantGrandchildren
Somehow conceived all her kids on the first try after the age of 35 but who has known the heartache of miscarriage. #MixedBlessings
Literally hates it in a toe-curling stomach-churning tear-inducing way when her hubby yells at the kids but then yells at them herself a few minutes later #ParentingTruths
Conquered her lifelong crippling fear of water to jump into a pool aged 39 knowing there was no other option after her 4yo said “Go on mummy you must”. #AboutTimeToo
Was never an outdoors gal but has got into hiking with her equally “can we just stay home Mama?” kids. #GetOffTheSofaNOW
Is a super strict parent yet still receives compliments, hugs and “you’re amazing mummy” praise from her children #GoFigureAgain
Misses that golden time of the ‘afternoon sit down’ with a cuppa, Murder She Wrote on TV and a cheeky sleep while the kids had their nap. #ThoseWereTheDaysMyFriend
Has found her identity again and ‘met’ awesome talented people through blogging but is so busy running a blog about being a mother that she hardly has time to be a mother! #BlogMammaBlog?
Loves Sunday mornings, pottering about, baking to the soundtrack of kids playing and listening to chillout/retro 70’s/old soul tunes. #EasyLikeSundayMorning
Didn’t leave the suburbs of London from 1975 to 1988 but now has the crazy privilege of stopping off on the way home from school to go to her local beach #LifeHasPlentyOfSurprises
Nags her eldest on a weekly basis to tidy her room yet hasn’t sorted this out since January. #Hyprocrisy
Clowns around and loves laughing with friends but has never been the ‘fun mum’ with her own kids. #SortThatOut
Tries to undo some of the mental conditioning of a very Indian upbringing swearing blind she wouldn’t turn into her parents. But…guess what…yep. #FacePalm
Honestly doesn’t know what she did in her past life to deserve three little monkeys like this #WhenYourHeartBursts
Gets it wrong each day but still has kids who know they are loved. #MummyDoesntTryEnoughButSheTries
I now tag:
Yes Peas Mumma
Coffee Kids Ice Cream
The Holly Hockdoor
and a dad:
Dad Blog UK
You can also find this on these fab linkies by these bloggers:
Is it a little late to do a 2014 retrospective? I mean I already mentioned my 2015 goals a few days ago. So I’m kind of going backwards if I look back at last year right? Plus it’s 5th January already…we’re almost a week into the new year. So I guess it’s a little weird and passé and I should have done it in the last week of December. Am I starting to sound like Woody Allen?
No wait…in that last week, a lot of people were busy eating and drinking and being merry. So in a way, it’s better to do it now, as those of you who celebrated Christmas have probably put away the decorations, vowed to go easy on the naughty treats and need something to read before Box Set season kicks in. So actually, I’m doing you a favour right? And in the time it takes to ponder this any more, we could well reach the end of 2015. And then it really will be late.
Dammit Janet. I’m GOING to do a 2014 retrospective. Because I’m crazy like that.
So these were my 2014 highlights and lowlights aka:
Seeing an incredible number of friends lose parents. #NoWords
Making beautiful memories in Sweden thanks to a gorgeous friend (she knows who she is). #That’sWhatHubsterSaid
Starting 2014 off the way I meant to go on, by doing 10k on the first day of 2014 after only three hours sleep, running my second half mara way faster than I expected…and then seeing it all slide away as I stopped running for the rest of the year following injury. #I’llBeBackYouJustWatch
Cheeky K starting school and it hitting me like an express train that THAT WAS IT…last one in…the baby years were definitely over and my heart was a bit hurt. #PassTheKleenex
A local beachside café/pizzeria/restaurant opening up down the road and revolutionising our life in Malta. #CantBeatTheSimpleThings
Having an impromptu evening in London jumping from pub to pub, eating great food and having great chat with my brother and realising it was the first time that just the two of us had ever gone out together ever ever. #TheBestThingsAreWorthWaitingFor
Finding Phunk Investigation’s This Holiday again after losing it nine years ago…only to find it was under our noses all this time when Hubster played a random music game with Musical M (I’ll always remember ‘Put on the cd that’s in the second column from the left, far right stack, eighth cd down and see what it is). #ThankYouForTheMusic
Hubster exclaiming that our marriage had at last been consummated on an alcoholic level because I finally got into vodka. #It’sAllAboutThatMixer
Classy Bird leaving Malta and hurting my heart a bit. #HateItWhenSheDoesThat
Going on my first ever girls’ trip (totally falling in love with Dubliners) and wondering what on earth I’ve been doing for the last 20 odd years to have never done that before. #IHeartDublinAndMyGirls
Dreamy D finally overcoming his ‘fear of water’ demons #AlwaysKnewYouCouldSon
Meeting up with dear friends in the UK including an old university chum I hadn’t seen in 25 years, picking up the banter where we left off and then meeting his wife and feeling like I’d known her for years. #AReasonToLoveLife
Seeing friends faced with tough personal battles and feeling helpless just standing by. #LifeIsAJourneyWithSomeBadSpeedBumps
Being spoiled by acts of kindness from someone I barely even know. #ThereWasALadyFromDownUnder
Finally going on the London Eye thanks to my generous parents and brother. #ItsAboutTimeWoman
A good friend of mine showing that underneath that well manicured seemingly middle class polished exterior, there’s just a good old regular working class girl who isn’t too proud to try on a lingerie set over her clothes in THAT store which shan’t be named. #MarvellousMarilyn
Playing chess for the first time and loving it. #SayCheckmateOneMoreTimeAndWe’reDone
A certain young lady turning 10 and my heart (and maybe Hubster’s too?) aching a bit at how quickly it came round. #ItGoesByFast
And a certain other someone turning 50…OH MY GAWD! #WasntMe
It was a year filled with laughter, tears and love with good friends, kiddie milestones, great Summer memories, a bit of a hurty heart, runners’ frustration and sadness at not seeing my parents enough because of the miles between us. (Okay, yes, chocolate, wine and vodka made more than an occasional brief appearance but a girl’s gotta live.)
So that’s what happened there.
Right, 2015…what you got for me girl?
Well, I mean…
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Image courtesy of Eloise Robbertze Photography
Summer was a-coming…A.C. units were a-humming.
Then Summer was here, yay!
We put away the jeans, got out the sun cream and
“Hope it’s not a scorcher” we did say.
Image Courtesy of Eloise Robbertze Photography
Carts piled with melons, strawberries and peaches,
Buses with tourists all heading to the beaches.
Milk shakes, iced coffees, wine coolers and ice creams,
Barbecues, Valletta views and poolside kiddie screams.
Girls on their deck chairs under sun umbrellas,
Lads and their long stares…fellas will be fellas.
Super yachts, cruise ships and glorious white sails,
Boiling hot days, Golden Bay, rosé and cocktails.
Blazing sun and intense blue skies; the drivers become even more crazy,
No rain for months, the fields are dry and everyone’s tired and lazy.
Empty playgrounds, semi full cinemas but all the beaches are packed,
One day in this heat, the kids are beat and every mother is whacked.
Banana boats, pedalos, snorkellers, bikinis and jet skis,
Paragliders, intrepid divers, the Maltese summer is about the sea.
Painted toes + mojitos = nights out with girlfriends,
Festas and hot balmy nights and humidity with no end.
Image courtesy of Eloise Robbertze Photography
Strapless dresses, sun hats, shorts, vests and flip flops,
Essential summer clothing…but some time late October it will all stop.
Then suddenly from sun block and sand and swimming off the rocks,
It will be hoodies, rain macs and winter socks.
Hunters shooting, car horns hooting and months of deafening fireworks,
In the Med, you need pills for your head because the noise just drives you beserk.
Crickets chirping, children splashing, these are the sounds of our summer.
But put away the sun hat because just like that…
…she’s gone. Man…what a bummer.
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Thank you my lovelies!
So October 9th this year, it was exactly nine years since I arrived in Malta
with a 15 month-old Musical M to join my hubby and embark on a life in the sun (well…actually we thought it was going to be two or three years in the sun). Nine years, two more kids, many near misses on the roads and a few sun-induced wrinkles later, we’re STILL here. We’ve hummed and hawed over the years about leaving and flirted with various possiblities including more than a mere flirtation with the idea of moving to the States which didn’t materialise after being turned down twice for the visa (their loss I say). Yet, here we still very much are. A friend of ours said during our trip back to London this Summer “So nine years in Malta…wow really guys, what’s the appeal?!” For me, Hubster’s reply really hit the nail on the head and I couldn’t have put it better myself; but more on that in a minute.
This year is Musical M’s last year of elementary school.
She started age three…and next year she’ll move to Middle School. I can hardly believe it. It’s the only school she and Dreamy D have ever known and Cheeky K just started too. I’ve had some of the teachers twice because of three kids at the same school so we’re part of the furniture by now. We’re in no rush to leave Malta as it really has become home but I can’t help wondering sometimes if it’s time to move on. I’ve never seen myself settling in one place forever as I’m a bit of nomad at heart but when you have kids in the mix, it changes things a bit. So what does one do when trying to answer the question of ‘should I stay or should I go’? Draw up a list of reasons to stay in Malta versus reasons to leave course!
REASONS TO STAY IN MALTA vs REASONS TO LEAVE
They Are in No Hurry to Take My Money…
I can turn up at the hairdressers/restaurant/doctors without my wallet (I do this rather a lot) and I can still get a haircut/meal/appointmet and just pay next time I go. What’s more, I can borrow items from certain stores to try out/show Hubster and then just return them at a later date without even leaving so much as my phone number or a deposit.
…But They Seem To Be In A Big Hurry to Take My Life
They routinely drive through red lights as I”m coming through my green, overtake on double lines on a tight bend with zero visibility and ignore no entry signs driving straight at me. (FYI apparently their misdemeanours are not their fault; they’re mine.)
It’s So Easy to Get to Know People…
I know the guy who runs the car park at Golden Bay, the staff at our local beach restaurant, the owner of our local convenience store, the chap who comes round with his fruit and veg truck, the fishmonger at the supermarket – all by name. This is a big deal when you come from London where you can live next to the same person for ten years and never know their name.
…But Not If They Are in The Medical Profession
We’ve had the same doctor for a few years and he still looks at me like he’s never seen me or any of my kids before. Meanwhile the staff of the state hospital look at us like we built a boat and rowed all the way from India to seek refuge in Malta and one of the nurses I had at the birth of Cheeky K clearly thought I’d had one too many children and simply couldn’t find it in herself to be civil at any point during my five day stay in hospital.
If You Need to Look Good You’re Probably in the Right Place…
I have never seen so many hair salons, nail bars or beauty salons before.
…If You Need Decent Shopping, You’re In The Wrong Place
So you’ve got perfect hair, neat nails and you’ve been thoroughly ‘defluffed’ (oh come on…you didn’t really think I’d let this post go by without a tiny bit of Prabulous humour did you?). Now try finding great shoes and amazing clothes to go with it. Good luck with that. This ain’t New York, Paris or London baby…
Clear blue skies, infrequent rain and an average of 300 annual days of sunshine. What’s not to like?
It may not be Dubai or India but the four months of intense heat and two months of slightly less intense heat but awful humidity can be unbearable…not to mention all that sun on the skin… And when it does rain, they are shockingly ill prepared for it.
And the Water!
Apparently we have the most turquoise waters in the Mediterranean! I mean just look at these scenes! These were all genuinely taken with my phone during various days out around Malta and not from a tourism site. And the one bottom left really is down the road from where we live and I can stop off and fit in a cheeky half hour of snorkelling there.
By the way, if these photos make you want to come here, then these guides might inspire you:
Safety and The Simpler Life…
They may moan about how the island is changing and blame most of the ‘negative’ change on their favourite ‘f’ word…(’foreigners’) but it is still one of the safest places to live…a major consideration when you have kids. It’s a simpler life here. There is a beauty in that.
…Safe and Simple Isn’t Always Fun
Much safer and fewer things to do also means way less buzz. Nope, this sure ain’t New York, London or Paris.
It’s Lovely How Everyone knows Everyone…
There’s no need to be nervous if you’re going to a social event on your own because there is a 90% chance that you’ll walk in and know at least five people there, it’s such a small island.
…It’s A Nightmare How Everyone Knows Everyone
You have to seriously watch what you say. It will ALWAYS come back to bite you if you don’t, it’s such a small island.
You Don’t Have to Book Way Ahead For Events…
None of this months in advance nonsense…partly because they only advertise concerts or events about a month before the date. Well it is the Mediterranean Darling.
…Unless The Event is a Beauty Treatment
Women would rather go hungry here than not have tidy nails or fancy hair. Luckily I can call my magician lady at 4elements and she’ll squeeze me in for an emergency appointment even if she’s fully booked (I’m Indian. We have hair. I’m not being superficial. Believe me, it’s an emergency.)
A Night Out Doesn’t Cost a Fortune…
Crazy transport prices, exhorbitant parking costs, insane drinks prices…nope…don’t have that.
…But You’ll Always End up Going to the Same Places
A Tiny Island Means Short Distances…
Nothing is more than a 15 minute drive away. The kids’ school is a five minute drive away and my daily/weekly life pretty much takes place within a two mile radius. It’s liberating.
…But It Also Means Cabin Fever
When everything is reachable so quickly, you start craving the chance to let rip on long smooth open roads and actually drive. Problem is if you let rip on the roads of Malta and drive, you’d just end up in the sea. Not so liberating.
Life’s a Beach…
Whether it’s a full day relaxing at Golden Bay on the weekends or just delaying the reality of homework/dinner/evening routine by stopping off after school at our local beach for a cooling midweek swim, the beach is never far away. Heaven.
…But Sometimes The Beach Is The Only Thing To Do
…especially during those four blisteringly hot months of the year when It is just too hot to do anything not involving a cooling swim.
Still, you can’t do that in New York, Paris or London.
Or as Hubster said to our friends, “When you start the conversation about where to move to ‘next’ and you sit down and try to make a list of countries that have what Malta has, you end up with a very short list.” About a year after we moved here – once I’d got over my ‘rock shock’ – I realised it’s not about what Malta doesn’t have; it’s about what it does have.
Think we’ll stay a little bit longer then.
Phew. I’m glad that’s decided.
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Thank you my lovelies!
Right, so we’re back at school but here in Malta we still have at least a month of this hot humid ‘What’s the point of even showering cos I’m just gonna need another one in about five minutes’ weather to go. Don’t get me wrong. I’d rather have this than a start stop ‘is the sun coming out – ooh look there’s a ray of sun – oh no I can hear rain coming’ type of summer. But what goes hand in hand with hot humid Mediterranean weather people? Beach trips.
Ah yes…beach trips…
Basically, I reckon we pack more stuff for an afternoon on the beach than most families pack for an entire vacation. I swear it’s enough to make your teeth ache. I was going to pick another part of the body for that last sentence but this is a family show. If it’s not enough to make your teeth hurt, it is definitely enough to put you off ever wanting to come to the beach with me and my kids.
Don’t believe me? See for yourself. This is the sheer arse-ache inducing (whoops…there goes my family show status) amount of crap we take:
Obligatory beach towels with garish Hello Kitty, Spiderman and Monster High designs: Check.
Snacks (which started off as “let me whip up some home-made hummus and wholemeal wraps and four different fruits and get some low salt crackers and freshly squeezed orange juices while I’m at it” at the start of the summer and ended up more like “I know it’s out of a packet and full of salt and sugar but frankly if I never have to step foot inside a kitchen ever again I’ll pee myself with happiness so put it in the bag NOW and we’ll just order milkshakes when we get there” rubbish: Check.
Toilet paper (yep…this is the Med…take your own toilet paper folks): Check.
Kids’ individual water bottles: Check.
Waterproof low-on-pesky-chemicals sun cream which cost me a fortune: Check.
Non-waterproof organic sun cream which cost marginally less than the waterproof one: Check.
My book The Day I Realised There Was Too Much Sand in My Life by Ivana Manservant Towashitov (which I ironically won’t get a minute to read because I’m at the beach with kids): Check.
Baby wipes (because God forgive me, I know there are mountains of the world’s used wipes contributing to criminal amounts of environmentally hazardous waste but occasionally they come in useful and I swear I don’t use them much): Check.
Talc to help rub the sand off their bodies because my youngest gets her mini freak on when her feet get sand on them (I know…it’s a beach…there’s sand…lots of): Check.
9 buckets, 11 spades and way more beach toys than three kids could possibly need for one afternoon: someone sedate me and Check.
Towel swim-robes still damp from yesterday’s swim: Check.
More snacks: Check.
Cooler bag: Check.
Beach mat: Check.
Inflatable swimming ring. No not for the kids…for their mother in case she accidentally orders a mojito (what? I need something ice cold on a steaming hot day alright?) and she almost sinks afterwards: Hell yeah, Check.
Lilo which I bought, praying it wouldn’t puncture less than one month after buying it: Check.
Arm bands: Check.
Snorkeling gear x 4: Check.
Useless ineffective tape for the lilo because the buggering thing did in fact puncture less than one month after buying it: bloody flipping Check.
Sun umbrellas which threaten to fly off and injure innocent tourists x 2: Check.
2 portable sun loungers: Check.
Few more snacks…just in case (just in case what? just in case they never see food again?): Check.
Swim goggles: Check.
Spare swimsuit for little one: Check.
Extra water to refill kids’ bottles: Check.
Beach chairs (which I just had to buy in case I couldn’t face cajoling and coaxing and eventually breaking the damned sun loungers out of the back of the car and therefore needed something smaller and more manageable to sit on) x 2: Check.
Umbrella bases which I succumbed to buying after a few too many innocent tourists were in fact injured: Check.
Brown paper bag to hide the bottle of gin I’m gonna need after packing all this shit and carting it down the beach: CHECK.
Right, we’re ready to go to the beach.
For crying out loud, now where are my sunglasses?!
P.S. No I’m not going back in the house to put a jellyfish first aid kit together. Let’s just GO.
Now, if you have read 30 Things That Make Me Happy or When the Laughter Has to Stop or you’re one of my friends, you will (I hope) know that I’m a fan of Malta. For all its downsides (and what country doesn’t have its downsides right?) I usually have plenty of good to say about Malta and am in no rush to move back to the UK. So before anyone gets their tidy whities or luxurious lacies in a twist about any apparent Malta-bashing in this post, FYI I’m NOT Malta bashing. Well alright, maybe just a little bit in my cheeky Prabulous way but you’re a grown up. You can handle it. Right?
[Insert heavy pause in which I leave the doubters pondering or maybe even lose a few readers.]
The rest of you, step this way…
So as you may have noticed, I’ve been off the blog for a good few weeks. This is because we were en vacances and heaven knows it was much needed. If you check out my FB page, you’ll know we went to gorgeous warm green Sweden and then gorgeous not so warm but still green England. And no joke, I found myself thinking, ‘Wow it really has been a while since I left the UK for life on a little rock and I’ve actually got more acclimatised to Maltese life than even I realised’.
“Why did you think that, Prabs?” I hear you ask. Didn’t you ask it? Go on. Ask it.
Well, it’s like this my friend:
YOU KNOW YOU DON’T GO BACK TO THE UK OFTEN ENOUGH (AND YOU’VE BECOME SEMI MALTESE) WHEN:
1) A trip to the local supermarket is like going to Disney World.
Actually, it’s better than Disney World. The choice, good grief the choice! And the prices…Mama Mia the prices! Seriously, even my husband who visits the UK way more regularly than I do was throwing things we didn’t even need into the trolley like it was the last time he’d ever go shopping: “Get it! Look, it’s only a pound!” You’ve heard of the Last Supper. This was the Last Shopper (sorry, I had to go there).
And the aisles! Proper wide aisles you can actually push your trolley down without having to wait until a staff member has finished their ‘work’ so that you can just manoeuvre the bloody trolley around them.
And the concept of personal space! Ah…personal space…how I’ve missed you my friend. I’m so used to being bumped and jostled out the way at the checkout by the customer waiting behind me because it is totally beyond their ability to wait til I’ve finished my transaction, that it took me a few days of being back in the UK to realise I could relax and take an extra 4.5 seconds to put my receipt and money in my wallet and I didn’t need to feel anxious about the cashier already throwing the next customer’s items down the belt on top of my own.
2) You get cabin fever from car journeys lasting more than twenty minutes because you and your kids have become too used to short Malta distances. Seriously, after we got over the novelty of being reunited with decent long multi-lane roads, every time we went anywhere requiring at least a twenty minute drive (so that was pretty much anywhere) we’d turn round to find at least one child fast sleep…and no I’m not going to make a connection between that and the smooth non-potholed British roads nor make outlandish comments about how they never fall asleep in the car in Malta because of the bumpety bump roads…hell no, I wouldn’t dream of it [insert heavy silence here].
3) You go out for one drink and accidentally end up doing a pub crawl, obsessively going to as many pubs as you possibly can in one evening (actually who am I kidding with the ‘accidentally?) to soak up that typical English drinking atmosphere you’ve missed when in actual fact, you hardly ever stepped foot inside a pub after your uni days were over and pretty much favoured wine bars and cocktail lounges.
4) You think the customer service in the shops is the bomb and you want to add every checkout person to your Christmas card list because they’re sooooo polite…when all they actually did was say “Next customer please”.
Wait. What? They have Customer Service?
5) You can no longer order a coffee in Starbucks/Costa/Caffe Nero without turning into a gibbering wreck because you can’t remember the right lingo. Why do they all have different ways of describing the same product anyway? Tall, regular, grande, skinny, wet…no I’m not describing the Italian tourists who flood Golden Bay every summer. A medium latte in one cafe chain is a tall one in another, a large in the next cafe chain is a tall one in yet another; it’s confusing after all these years of not having to use those terms in Malta! Seriously, I’m all about good manners but sometimes they just get in the way. I mean, why can’t I just scream “Give me caffeine NOW!” at the barrista? Honestly, in this age of social media, how could they not know I was coming to town and simply change all the menu boards for the fortnight I was over just to save me the embarrassment?
6) You are filled with equal amounts of dread and excitement at the thought of doing some London shopping because there are so very many more shops than on your wee Mediterranean island that frankly it’s overwhelming going back to the big smoke (not that anyone calls it the big smoke in the UK).
7) You actually apologise at the Customer Service counter and get butterflies in your stomach for even daring to ask for a refund for that totally unnecessary handbag you bought because you’ve forgotten it is not a crime to expect a shop to have a full refund policy instead of that pissy ‘we only do exchanges so we’ve got your money anyway sucker’ policy.
Wait. What? Not only do they get customer service; they have actual Customer Service counters?!
8) You want to individually kiss every blade of grass and wrap your arms around every tree you see (and give them names…ahem again) because you are THAT starved of greenery on your little rock in the Med.
9) You shriek with excitement at the sight of a red bus.
No, you didn’t?! Oh yes I did.
10) The red bus is the one you’re going on for your sight-seeing tour (ahem).
Yep, I grew up, lived and worked in London, yet we went on a bus tour and I honestly could have fallen off the roof with delight at the sight of Big Ben, The London Eye and Buckingham Palace etc. I become such a tourist each time I return to London (ahem again).
11) You eat THE largest Sunday roast any woman has ever eaten in the history of Sunday roasts or pubs or human beings eating (exaggerating? me?) because you honestly can’t beat a good British pub roast and let’s be practical: you may as well store up because even though you and your husband can both make a mean Sunday roast, the amount of pots to wash up afterwards is a pain in the backside (especially when he makes it) so who knows when you’ll have the next one right?
12) You would rather open up your grandma’s sewing kit and get out all the pins and needles and stick them in your eyes than travel on a London underground train. Do I really need to add to that?
Wait. What? They have trains?
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Absolutely Prabulous and its associated Facebook and Twitter pages are dedicated to the funny side of life. I have been a little quiet on the blog of late, partly because I’m spending time with my kids for the school holidays but MAINLY because it does not feel like a time for great humour. I know it helps to laugh about things. After all laughter is the best medicine right? But there is no humour in the shooting down of an aeroplane carrying innocent people. There is nothing to giggle about over seemingly endless Middle East war It is no laughing matter when innocent girls get kidnapped from their school and the global media/news cycle moves on. There is no comedy in millions (yes I often speak in hyperbole but I assure you, I exaggerate not…it’s millions) of women and girls in India and several other nations being at enormous risk of being raped by depraved men.
I am so blessed to be living on a little island in the Med. It is by no means perfect (nowhere is) and there is a lot about Malta that could be improved (again, like anywhere). However, on balance, we are lucky enough to live in a bit of a time-warped bubble. A sun/sand/sea lifestyle, laughter and spending time with some of the loveliest people I’ve ever met: these are some of the threads that form the tapestry of my family’s life. I watched my kids today swimming and jumping into the beautiful pool we go to, playing happily and carefree with friends for hours. Tomorrow, we’ll be snorkelling in breathtakingly beautiful turquoise waters. I’m so happy for them but truth be told, I also feel slightly sick at the thought of how ridiculously lucky they are compared to so many kids out there. Clichéd? Probably. True? Definitely.
This little dusty rock is consistently ranked as one of the safest places to live in the world. Some would say this alone forms the fabric of an idyllic existence. My family and I don’t live lavishly. In fact, we have few luxuries compared to some people…but then we have many luxuries compared to half the planet’s population. It’s all relative and comes down to individual perception. But live, we do. We have a life, not a hellish existence. And right now, I’m aware of what a damned luxury it is to even have a life when so very many innocent people have lost their lives in the Malaysia Airlines tragedy, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, the gang rapes in India, the war in Syria and so on and so on and so on. Who even knows what has become of those Nigerian girls?
Yet more suffering.
One of my friends poignantly described it as blood in her newsfeed.
So, out of respect for the victims of the utterly senseless tragedies being inflicted by humankind, this is my latest post. To you lovely followers who say my blog makes you laugh out loud, thank you for reading even though there was no comedy to be found here this time.
Sometimes, my friend, you and I have to stop laughing – if only for a little while.
Happiness. We all want it don’t we? Personally, despite life’s inevitable low points, I think I’m more of a glass-half-full rather than half-empty sort (like I said, I think!). It”s what works for me. Yes, admittedly, when you live on a little island that is positively drenched in sunshine most of the year, it’s easy to be glass more-than-half-full. In fact, I honestly don’t think a day has gone by in the last few years, where I haven’t done a mental fist pump because of the glorious blue skies and sun we have here. For sure, I’ve bored my kids to tears (and probably half my FB friends) constantly saying how lucky we are.
So recently, a few things have got me thinking about the whole ‘happiness thing’. Pharrell Williams is one of them. He did something with that song; he got us thinking about the H word. (You might want to watch this fab clip of the man himself crying tears of yep, happiness about the impact of the song). It blew me away…such an honest real moving reaction.
Something else that got me thinking was a friend’s 100 Days of Happiness challenge documented over three months on FB. They made me smile and reminded me of something we’ve done ever since Musical M was three years old where we all share our ‘favourite moment of the day’ at bedtime. All three kids love it but even if we saw the Queen in a karaoke bar singing a One Direction song, you can bet money that if the kids watched a DVD that same day, then that trumps the Queen. Seriously though, even if you’ve had a rough day, it makes you focus back on the positive. Oh, don’t worry, no gloating here. I’m NO earth mother. Sometimes my favourite part of the day comes after I’ve got them into bed when I head downstairs to a glass of wine.
The other big ‘what makes me happy’ trigger was our Easter break; in particular, the day I took them to Golden Bay. One of those perfect days with lovely friends, 13 kids playing easily, relaxed lunch, ice creams, sand castles, ball games, sun lounger chilling, coffee in the sea wind and musical nostalgia-fest on the cafe radio. By late afternoon, it was just me and my lovely ‘baker in chief’ friend (who also features in the below list…I wonder if she can work out where) with our six kids. She got out one of those neat little pocket kites and what unfolded was one of those moments that I’ll always treasure. Now, bear in mind that I grew up in the suburbs of Greater London; a pretty ‘regular’ Indian upbringing (who can spot the subtext?), no beaches nearby, kite-flying unfamiliar to us and not much sunshine…a different time, a different generation, a different culture. Yet here I was, decades later on a Mediterranean beach not far from where I live, my eldest having fun climbing over rocks with baker lady’s eldest, my other two running around on the sand without a care in the world chasing after their kite-flying friends, all of us laughing in the evening sun. Parents do their best. Mine did theirs in their way. Yet it hit me, probably more than at any other point in my parenting experience, just how much your kids’ childhood can turn out to be different from your own (that stands for any culture).
Where am I going with this? Well, if Pharrell ever comes knocking on my door, I’ll tell him this is my official list of what makes me happy (for now).
(My) Happiness is…
1. Coming downstairs in the morning to find that hubster has done the packed lunches.
2. The stunning coastline drive to my house.
3. Grabbing a 15 minute breather with a cup of tea (and cake) after non-stop chores before heading out again for the school run.
4. The squeals of “Mama!” from my baby as she runs down her kindergarten corridor towards me smiling.
5. Coming across a film that is such a gem, it leaves its mark on me, becoming an ‘old friend’ I go to when I need comfort (About Time and Something’s Gotta Give are up there).
6. Pulling warm cake out of the oven on a rainy afternoon.
7. Finally figuring out who sings a particular song (We are People or Home recently for me.)
8. Yoga at Golden Bay under blue skies and palm trees.
9. The sight of my kids going nuts in the lounge dancing to my Spotify playlist.
10. Watching Musical M effortlessly dive into a pool, remembering how at that age I was too terrified to even get in.
11. Coffee with girlfriends.
12. Melting under a long hot shower after a long blissful run and sinking onto the sofa afterwards for trashy TV.
13. Hubster paying me a compliment (about whatever…not fussy…after 17 years together, I’ll take anything).
14. Discovering I can do something I never thought I could do.
15. An afternoon of board games to a soundtrack of old school tunes (making Bowie/U2/Beatles/Wonder fans out of the kids).
16. Coffee with myself.
17. Rushing through homework and dinner on auto pilot only to remember the next day is a holiday which equals no school which equals movie night.
18. Movie night!
19. Stopping after school at a beach café to grab a drink in the sun while the kids collect shells.
20. Wine…and the sound of the cork popping and the wonderful glug glug of the first pour.
21. Conquering a life-long fear.
22. Hearing my daughter sing and knowing, beyond natural maternal bias, that she really has got something.
23. Having a friend who would actually leave her house at night, get in the car and come over to mine with a bottle of wine if I said I had none in the house. 🙂
24. Home-made ice cream…see Hubster smile!
25. A beach-side restaurant finally opening a minute’s walk from our house where we can laze over Sunday lunch and let the kids literally step out the back onto the sand while we both have a coffee and a chat.
26. Meeting two cool chikitas, one whom I first met years ago but never actually got to know, the other whom I met quite randomly just a year ago – and knowing they will both be in my life forever.
27. Realising the best things happen when you’re least expecting them.
28. Hubster returning safe and sound from business trips.
29. The sound of my kids laughing. OF COURSE.
30. Launching a blog that has led me to discover the most heart-warming, surprising, affirming things about myself and others that I never expected.
This is my truth. These are what make me happy. So I’m clapping my hands, like Mr Williams said.
You can also find this on these linkies:
Thank God it’s all over
So that’s a second half marathon under my belt. I had decided not to write ‘yet another’ post on the race but then it dawned on me that after writing various posts on the training and build-up (albeit from a tongue in cheek perspective because it’s not exactly a full marathon after all), it would be a little odd to say nothing about how the day itself went. Then a comment from someone who read Race Day…The Lie-In Has to Wait convinced me to stop debating already and just get on with it. I suppose I could say, well the starting signal sounded and I put one foot in front of the other and repeated that til I got to the finish line.
But I’m not going to do that. So:
They need to design a nappy (diaper) for female runners
“Oh no…Not again!”
because so help me God am I sick to death of running races needing the toilet from start to finish or what? If you’re not wild about reading about pee-related issues, feel free to skip to the next point. The rest of you, let me break it down for you: Half Mara 2013, went to the toilet about ten times before the race and still needed the toilet 90 seconds into the run. Pfffff. Gozo 8 miler 2013, same. This Half Mara, got in the queue for the toilets and had to step out of the queue and go find my friends at the starting line or else risk a repeat of last year where I couldn’t get to them in time for the starting gun because of the long queue for the toilets. I simply can’t stand stopping to use porta-loos as I don’t want to lose a second off my time (although I’m sure that attitude is counter-productive because surely running with a happier and erm emptier bladder would help my speed?!) and I’m just not good at doing the Paula ‘pulling over to the side of the road’ thang for reasons of modesty. Any of my friends who have just read the last part are screaming with laughter at the idea of me trying to pass myself off as a bashful lady.
Running like the police are chasing you really helps
My pace during my training runs (if you can call running twice a week training) was predicting that I was barely good enough to get through the finish at 2 hours 15 (only 5 minutes up from last year’s half mara) and yet the official race result has me grinning from ear to ear. Alright, so maybe my little legs weren’t exactly moving at warp speed – I don’t do much at warp speed apart from open a new jar of nutella as soon as I’m back in the car after leaving the supermarket- but I’ll take that result thanks (see below).
Why oh why is there so little ‘atmosphere’?
“Why on earth are we clapping? We still have 9 miles to go!”
I almost left this bit out for fear of being verbally punched in the face. So before any local seasoned Malta mara runners wade in here and tell me off for being critical, I’m simply saying that from my limited experience of two half maras here, I find it really odd that there are so few people lining the route for huge portions of the race. I guess you can rationalise that part and simply accept that most people want to be near the start and finish lines for obvious reasons. However, the thing I really don’t get at all is why – with the exception of those spectators at the start and finish – the majority of those few who do come out and ‘support’ and ‘watch’ the race along some of the route are so lacking in enthusiasm.
Okay, so there are small pockets of people doing their best to cheer you on and a few bands playing but for the most part, many just stand at the side of the road staring silently without so much as a wave, cheer, fist punch or ‘keep going’ between them. For goodness sake, I actually started clapping myself out of sheer desperation (the proof is in the pic). You’re out there, giving it your all running your socks off all the way to the finish line and you look over only to see a bunch of miserable faces and you just think, ‘honestly…go home…you’re no good to me’.
I know that comparing events from different countries is pointless because that’s just it: they’re different (size-wise, culture-wise etc). Also, I realise that despite Malta’s full and half maras apparently getting bigger year on year, as this is a tiny island obviously it is never going to emulate the biggies like London or New York in terms of sheer scale and consequently atmosphere. But come on you silent spectators…if the organisers can do such a good job every year of organising, can’t you muster up a little more of that famous Mediterranean passion and enthusiasm when you’re spectating?
No idea how my runner chick friend found me at 19k
“Where are my kids? I can’t see my kids!”
after she ‘pulled over’ twice from 11k but I’m sure glad she did. Those last 2k may not have hurt as badly as they did last year but they still hurt. I do love running with my tunes but sometimes it helps to have a running buddy. And if you’re wondering why she’s smiling while I’m grimacing here, it’s probably because she had the sense to do those two pitstops earlier while I stupidly pushed on through the needing to pee and was in proper agony by the time this pic was taken near the finish 🙂
“Children do as their parents do, not as their parents say”
Although this adorable note from Dreamy D is factually incorrect – as I am neither a fast runner nor the best mum ever – it warms my heart that over the last couple of years, my kids have witnessed their stay-at-home-mum trying something new (that she wasn’t sure she’d be any good at because she was the least sporty kid at school and spent half a lifetime with knee problems) achieving a few cool results along the way. I’m not talking about teaching them to compete against others. For me, it’s about teaching them to set their minds on something, try hard and achieve something, small or big (and if they don’t achieve it…at least they tried right?). It’s about the personal victory. Not the “I want a medal to prove I’m bigger/better/faster than you” mentality. But the “It’s nice to have a medal in the drawer proving that I’m bigger/better/faster than I myself thought I could ever be” mentality. Surely that’s setting a good example right? And erm…technically…I am the fastest runner and the best mum in MY house. So just let me own that alright?
How the heck did I manage to wear these just hours after the race?!
Who Says Runners Don’t Have Sexy Feet?
What I love most about finishing a race:
Happiness Is a Long Hot Shower
(apart from getting a shiny medal and hugs from la famille, I mean).
Looks like we’ve started a tradition with the Half Marathon dinner
If so, I think the ‘Thank Frank It’s All Over Til Next Year – Oh No There’s the Gozo 8-miler – Crap, I Need a Tequila!’ Dinner is a more appropriate name. Impractical but accurate (and I only wrote this part as an excuse to post up this pic of the ever-lovely K.L. and T.K.).
I’m not sure if I found my competitive gene or if my competitive gene found me.
Struggling to stand after 21k…and this heavy medal isn’t helping
Who cares? Either way, got the job done faster than I expected. Happy.
You can always trust your sister for good advice. One of my siblings suggested I start a blog. So being a firm believer in “why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?” I did just that…and put it off for 3 years.
Then more and more friends who had been reading my facebook posts started urging me to start a blog. Well alright, they didn’t exactly ‘urge’ me…they just said they find my posts really entertaining and though I might do a good job of writing a blog.
So why the hesitation and procrastination?
Yes my brain was still in baby-fug as my youngest wasn’t even 2 months old when my sis suggested it but let’s face it, I’ve still had plenty of time since then to do something about it given that my youngest is about to turn 3 [at time of writing]. And it’s not like I’m new to writing. From the bespectacled little girl who used to sit at the back of her parents’ shop, quietly penning poetic masterpieces in her little green notebook to the numerous short stories I wrote in adole scence to my superb (if I say so myself) university thesis to my recent stints as freelance copywriter, I’m no stranger to writing.
No, I think the reason for the delay was probably the same reason why a lot of people don’t immediately reach for the remote, switch off American Idol, leap up from the sofa and exclaim “I’ll start a blog!” FEAR. Fear of looking like a show-off (I mean nothing screams “Look at me! Look at me!” quite like a blog…well, nothing apart from your own Kardashian-style TV series). Fear of nobody reading it (who on earth would pay attention to my ramblings?). Even worse, fear of people reading it and disliking it (how on earth did she think anyone would find this tosh interesting?). Fear of not having anything to say after the initial rush of inspiration and so on and so on…you get the picture. Yes, I hate to admit it but 8 years as a stay-at-home mum – despite all the fulfilment and joy they’ve brought me – have gradually eroded that confidence I had as ‘a girl about town’ to the point where I am now often too scared to try something new.
Enough with the fear though. I figure that if I can conquer my lifelong crippling fear of water to the point where I now jump into the Mediterranean sea, make some hilarious attempts at diving and go snorkeling unaccompanied (warning….don’t go snorkeling unaccompanied), then I can blooming well start a blog!
What’s more, I still have a couple of years before my youngest starts school but am itching to do something now to keep my 4 remaining mummy braincells intact. So…what to do? Well, going back to work is high on the wishlist but in the meantime, doing something from home which allows me an outlet for my increasing interest in writing seems like a pretty good idea. So, off my derriere I finally get and voila, a new blog is born (which ironically requires a lot of sitting on my derriere).
So the core of this blog will revolve around my experiences raising my 3 monkeys, ‘domestic bliss’ with hubby and life in Malta all from a fairly light-hearted angle. I’ll get serious from time to time and I’ll add some practical stuff too.
Yes, I may only reach a small audience. No, I’m not doing anything admirable like risking my life providing medical treatment in a war zone, building housing for impoverished children or dedicating my life to finding a cure for a terrible disease…but hopefully if my musings can put the odd smile on the faces of a few or a few smiles on the faces of many, then I’ve done something to ‘contribute’ in some way. (Between you and me, I hope it ends up being so successful that I barely manage to get out of my pyjamas all day and the kids have to drive themselves to school, as I spend my entire time responding to comments by my many adoring followers.)
Move over little green notebook.