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 request that you do the same
3) if you think this post is meant to insult, it’s a good idea to come back hereand reread this bit.
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!
BEFORE YOU LEAVE…DO YOU KNOW MALTA WELL? WHAT WOULD BE ON YOUR LIST OF CRAZY THINGS ABOUT ISLAND?
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So this is the first time I’m posting a photo for the #MySundayPhoto series hosted by Photalife! Can’t believe it really, considering how much I snap away on that most advanced complex skill-demanding photographic instrument, the iPhone. Anyway, despite having a mountain of DIY projects and ever-neglected chores to do around the house, we headed out for a quick walk to the stunning Ghan Tueffieha Bay, known locally as Riviera. I say quick because we slept in til super late o’clock, had to rush Cheeky K to a birthday party and by the time we’d had a late breakfast, didn’t have much time left til we had to be back home again for a super important event: Manchester v Tottenham….snoooooooore.
Anyway, I really struggled to pick one photo for My Sunday Photo 10th April because I have to say of all the pictures I’ve taken over the time we’ve lived here, today was quite possibly the day where I took THE most stunning ones. We walked up the top of Ghan Tuffieha, above the beach, along the beautiful open rocky terrain, to a stunning rock that looked like something out of a breathtaking film scene (hardly surprising when you consider that Malta has been used in the making of numerous films such as Count of Monte Cristo, Troy and most recently, By the Sea (with Brangelina). I got some incredible shots of the kids, paddle boarders, surfers and landscape in general. This picture was taken whilst downing a quick cappuccino before racing back home, you know, for that match that was much more important than spending quality time with one’s kids (ugh). If you look closely, you can see a surfer in the waters.
[She let out a happy sigh.]
So I’m baaaaaack from that mummy blogger break. (You know, the one where I still managed to sneakily read other bloggers’ posts when the kids weren’t looking and didn’t exactly do a great job of getting off the Twitter train.)
I thought I’d bring you up to speed on what I got up to the last ten days of the school holidays. How can I rant about that for the #effitfriday linky that I’m co-hosting this week, you wonder? Oh but I can, believe me… Impressive huh? Just say yes and make a blogger happy.
1) I watched my babies eat ice cream by the bucket load and drink milkshakes by the gallon.
I’m telling you, I can’t keep my kids in enough gelato. We have a looooong hot hot hot Summer here. You say ‘Junk Food. I say ‘Vital cooling mechanism.’ Let’s face it, there are two things that every kid has a right to: homemade chocolate cake and damned good ice cream. I’m rather good at the first one and I know just where to take them for the latter (sadly my own ice cream machine is useless). Now please let me sing you a song from my home country so you can leave some coins to donate to my ice cream fund.
While my babies watched their mum drink a LOT of iced coffee.
You think I jest? I almost single-handedly caused a coffee shortage in Malta and they couldn’t pick the replacement beans fast enough back in Brazil. And no I’m not showing you all the iced coffees I had.
2) Almost seven years after buying our house, I finally bought some plants!
You’d think I’d given each of my kids an iPhone judging from the squeals of delight and excited gawping at the plants and flowers and pleas to buy a lemon tree. Seriously people, this was the only thing we did on that particular day. Yep, I took my kids to a blooming garden centre (wow that pun just fell from my fingers all by its clever little self) and yet they were so excited and couldn’t wait to get back home and help me pot these babies.
What could I possibly have to rant about? Well obviously the fact that everything cost twice the amount it would in the UK which still pains me all these years after moving here but hey ho, nothing you can do about that. No, the peeving thing was how I had great service and advice from the staff (because believe me the only horticultural thing I know is that plants have leaves and flowers have petals and I can kill either very flipping quickly)…great service that is up to the minute it was closing time. Then Mrs oh so helpful Jekyll turned into Miss you must leave immediately Hyde and almost kicked us out the door.
3) I’ve had the longest saga in sun glasses shopping history. You say #FirstWorldProblems…
I say when you live somewhere with a yearly average of 300 days of sunshine, this merits a rant! Long story long: I tried to spend my birthday money on replacing my five year old faithfuls and went to seven different stores in London before making a Ralph Lauren panic purchase at the airport minutes before my flight closed (you should have seen those poor kids running with me, and by with me I mean behind me, to the gate) only to get back to Malta and discover they had a defect (the glasses, not the kids). Last week what should happen? I walked into a shop here and found THE pair. Figures. There they were looking at me seductively from the middle column calling my name. I looked in their direction and thought You belong to me and I belong to you. I tried them on and that was that. They were perfect..a different shape from the Jackie O style I’ve worn for years, a gorgeous tortoise shell colour making a change from my usual black and they fitted perfectly instead of sliding down my face like the damned Ralph ones ended up doing. Even better, they covered half my face. Yes I’m perfectly aware it looks like the glasses are wearing me instead of the other way round but frankly, when your face is falling apart at an alarming rate because you’re not exactly 21 anymore, that is good!
Yep even sunglasses this big can’t mask my neglected eyebrows and middle-aged train wreck hair.
So what’s the problem? Sunglass hut never emailed back to confirm if they would refund the money on the faulty glasses which Hubster is willing to return to them on his next business trip…so they have just sat in a box for the last two months and I don’t know if I’ve wasted my money on a useless pair. I have been wearing an equally large – but nowhere near as good quality – pair as the ones in this pic, the last few weeks. And the sunglasses that are a match made in heaven are in fact not protective enough for the strong sun here and fade half way down the lens which causes eye strain. Back. To. Square. One. Then I walked back to my car only to find this guy wearing them. Unreal.
Told you it was worth ranting about!
4) And what on earth happened to the blockbuster summer?
Apart from the fact we’re a big movie loving family, I depend on cinemas in the summer for their air conditioning ha ha. There were just TWO kids’ films appropriate for my lot the entire holidays: Minions and Inside Out. Minions irritated me and I thought I’d love the second as its all about feelings etc (and I am ALL about feelings etc) but it bored me rigid. What can I say? I think I’m becoming a grumpy old woman. That left only two other kids’ films: Jurassic World and Pixels. Jurassic had a 13 ting so no go. So I waited weeks for Pixels only to find out it was a PG (I’ve never taken my kids to PG rated films as I think five year old K is still too young) but went the day it came out I was that frickin desperate to do something not involving sand. You’d think I’d given each of my kids an iPad (it’s my blog and I can recycle one of my own jokes if I want to) the way they nearly fell over with delight when I surprised them with this.
I have to say, uninterested as I am in the whole video/computer game culture (I could have cried when my kids were given a Wii because I’m such a back to basics mother) I honestly thought this film was one of the best family films I’ve seen in years.
Seriously, most adult comedies don’t even have scripts this good (okay it’s a bit redundant if you’ve not seen the film but I promise you’ll find these funny if you see it):
Well if it isn’t Zac Efron, Gandalf and Harry Potter all in one room.
Just when you think Adam sandler is typecast and so over, he surprises you (well ok he is typecast but whatever).
Now if you could leave the room so that those of us with long pants and government positions can get on with their job….
I love the actor Brian Cox (he scares the shit out of me but I love him).
My dad left my mum for his 19 year old pilates instructor called Sinnamon with an ‘s’ which pretty much tells you all you need to know about her. My mum says she’s going to develop a slut-seeking missile to take her out.
I think my kids missed the word slut. I’m praying my kids missed the word slut. They caught the other saltier words though. Despite being quite active in the potty mouth department myself, I did think it was an avoidable shame that there was a bit of bad language in it but ya know…. #YouWinSomeYouLoseSome
5) At last I got round to using the Zara birthday vouchers from my Sliema sexies and co, one week before they expired!
Yep, totally chuffed with the gorge blanket-like shawl, smart casual cream skirt, edgy smart jumper etc but… I found the most perfect summer shoes, the kind I’ve wanted for ages (wow for someone who n-e-v-e-r goes shopping I’m starting to sound like a shopping whore) only for them to not fit properly. And I stupidly didn’t get the top I’m wearing in this pic all because I had one of those dumb “I don’t need this” moments. Even Cheeky K saying “I think you should try this top with those trousers mummy because it will look nice on you” didn’t sway me. Doofus. Me, not her.
6) I took ten days off yet my house is no cleaner.
I just don’t know how I tidy but it gets no better.
You know what? Funny as this meme is, it’s not the kids that mess the house up that much. It’s their mummy that’s the problem and she could never keep a tidy house before she had kids!
7) I did manage a mega clothing sort and clear out.
Where is all this clothing I’ve sorted? Yep, umpteen bags in my lounge tripping me up cos nobody at the 3 charity places I’ve called is picking up. #Pfffft.
8) And basically enjoyed this little rock we live on.
We caught crabs (for goodness sake, no not that kind), swam, took mama-baby selfies, swam…you get the picture… All in all, a nice little break with my kiddos.
No, they’re not real rants BUT today really is a 100% first class humdinger of an #effitfriday because…
…it’s the last day of the school holidays!
Soooo not ready for school to start… and I’m already dreading this in ten months’ time…
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