Monday 30 June 2014

Doggie Erratum - Malta's native dog.

I have a confession to make. I made an error, an erratum. Unlike me you might say - but then I am a member of the West End Making Up History Group, so I have form.

I assumed that Maltese Terriers were native to Malta. Not an unlikely or unwarranted fact to assume given their name. But no, the dog which is claimed (note my careful wording) to be native to Malta is in fact the Pharaoh's Hound.

"The Pharaoh Hound is a breed of dog and the national hound of the Mediterranean nation of Malta. Its native name is Kalb tal-Fenek (plural: Kilab tal-Fenek) in Maltese, which means "Rabbit dog". The dog is traditionally used by some Maltese men for hunting." (from wikipedia - which never makes anything up)

Looks very much like a well cared for Australian dingo - another link I have no evidence for. I'm really digging a hole here (as would the Pharaoh's Hound in his/her rabbit hunting mode).

By the way, DNA tests show no link with any known Egyptian dog. So it's not just me making things up.
Pick the pretender.

Saturday 28 June 2014

The Peels Rock.

 After a great five days, where, as the local tour guide, I did as much as I had done in the previous four weeks, the Peels have headed for Sicily to sample a bit of Italy Mafia style (capital M out of respect). We toasted ourselves and our great families with a bottle of Conegliano Prosecco (where the Capelin/Perins originated) and then held our breath as we waited for a Maltese bus. The Malta public transport system is sent to help us learn patience. I am a new person after five weeks of intensive training. Bon voyage P & D - great travelling companions that you are.

Neolithics rock.

We then walked along the cliffs for about 3 kms to the little fishing village of Ghar Lapsi. The walk was rough and largely barren though tough scrubby wildflowers abounded. Ghar Lapsi was isolated and only accessible by car or foot - there is a bus stop but the drivers refuse to come down the steep hill, maybe because they fear their old vehicles might never make the climb back. The swimming hole was splendid and full of locals though not really crowded.

I don't have any photos of the second half of the walk because I decided to walk to the top of the hill and catch the bus home. I was all Neolithed out. Pauline and Denis arrived back four weary hours later.

We then went to a local restaurant for dinner - pork belly, seared sea bass and rabbit with prunes. We were lashing out as the last night together. Finished with an hour or so at the local outdoor jazz bar.

Goodbye Peels - what a great week. Thanks for your company.

From my window 18 - Woof!

 Don't jump - it's five stories to the street. There is a breed of dog which is unique to Malta and this is not it. The Maltese Terrier, a show dog which does not appear to have originated in Malta (it was brought here by the Crusaders it is thought) has become associated with Malta (see picture 3). I don't see any connection. It is not the Malta I have come to know.

Thursday 26 June 2014

St Denis and the Denisians

 St Denis of Brisbane arrives in Malta in freshly laundered robes to convert the locals to his Denisian ways. It is believed he swam from Australia and landed at this holy point hereafter named Dxenixsian Cove (Maltese always have at least one X in a name which is silent - as is the Denisian Order).

St Denis is reputed to have emerged with a sea bass in one hand and a sardine in the other. He then bought a loaf of bread at the local Cash and Carry and ordered a pint of Cisk lager before revealing to the assembled tourists his mission: "Repent" said he "and follow me. For the water is clear and the fish are many." He then proceeded to attempt to put on his underpants while wearing his robe and surrounded by inquisitive onlookers. A miracle of sorts.


What a great name for an island. It could be from a cartoon. It's the second island of Malta, small enough to walk around in a weekend where one can see the whole island from the Cittadel of Victoria/Rabat the main town.  As usual it has an old walled city and a church. Not a particularly impressive church on the outside but marvellous inside. Like St John's of Valletta it has the whole floor made of inlaid marble commissioned by various Knights of Malta. Here's a few:


 Gozo also has some lovely coastal villages, one of which, Xlendi, we visited and had a swim as well as a drink with Jo Burden's brother, Jim. He was great and shared with us his take on being a person with Maltese/Scottish heritage and the dislocation that involves particularly when, with a Maltese mother he was told at his British run school he attended in Malta "don't speak or play with the Maltese children - they're not like us." In fact his mother pretended to be Italian such was the attitude to the Maltese natives.

In my window 17.

From my window 16 - PM

From my window 15 - AM

Wednesday 25 June 2014

St Lawrence/Lorenzo/Lawrence

I had an uncle Lawrence. I have a cousin Laurie. My grandfather was named Lawrence (known as Larry). His Italian father, my great grandfather, was named Lorenzo. And my brother and I attended St Laurence's (different spelling but same saint)college for an accumulated sixteen years.

On the Vittoriosa peninsula is the church of St Lawrence. He was a young Spanish  fella who became a priest in the late 200s. He was chosen by Pope Sixtus the something to be one of seven deacons of Rome and was responsible for the management of the wealth of the Church. He also had a commitment to the poor. On the death of Sixtus, the Prefect of Roma, a heathen, made his move and demanded that Lawrence hand over the treasures of the Church to him within three days. In response Lawrence gathered the poor of Rome together, and said to the Prefect these are the treasures of the church. A little cheeky and perhaps dumb.He paid for it. The prefect was not amused and ordered Lawrence to be killed - slow cooked in fact, goes the story. He was manacled to a toasting rack and grilled over hot coals. He is said to have taunted the Romans with: "That side is done you can turn me over now."

On the other hand, as with many historical events the story may be better than the truth. One historian suggests that this story may be based on a typo. His death should logically have been acknowledged with the phrase: "passus est", 'he suffered' or 'he was martyred'. He postulates that the transcript accidentally became "assus est", dropping the 'p' and translated as 'he was roasted'.
A copy of the skull of Lawrence, the original of which is in Rome.

A beautiful Maltese Cross in the Church of St Lawrence.
A madonna fir the benefit of my sister in law who has a fascination for these things.

The feast day for St Lawrence is the week leading up to the date I leave Malta, 10 August. I'll be there in the flesh with my grandfather and great grandfather in spirit.

Pigeons of St Dominic's - evidence

 My niece in law (is that a category of inlawness?) asked where the pigeons came from. Here is some evidence.