Our arrival at Malta airport was 35 mins late, unusual for Ryanair, and despite worrying our prepaid taxi would have given up and left the driver was waiting by the gate. On the flight we had been wondering aloud why everywhere said they were just 15 mins from the airport, knowing Malta was small it didn’t seem possible but a gentleman turned around in his seat and said the airport was central to all main roads it was true. He gave us his business card and said if we needed anything just call. The driver set out to prove this by going hell for leather through 50km tunnels at 80 minimum and taking round a bouts on two wheels. The hotel was a concrete high rise consisting of two building along side club land. The staff were friendly and courteous and we were quickly through the formalities and directed to the 2nd building. Unfortunately the loo didn’t flush properly, the air-conditioning hadn’t been connected and there was a distinct tom cat smell to the room. We asked for help and the maintenance man arrived and said we’d be moved in the morning, so windows wide open we managed the 1st night.

The next day we were given a room in the main building but this did not have the small kitchen we expected but being able to flush the toilet and run the air-con was a bonus and they gave us a kettle (normally an extra 10 euros a week) to compensate as we had paid for room only, but we could make coffee and tea which was fine by us.

Malta has more restaurants than cars it seemed, many many Sushi places, the Avenue had four different themed places to eat but all with the same menu, Iranian, Greek, Hungarian, Chinese, Indian (by the best one we’ve ever eaten at and they even made a side dish that wasn’t on the menu when over hearing us mention it was odd not to see it), French, Italian and Maltese. Th blackbull right by the hotel does traditional pub food but they also own the chinese take away along side so we decided to have a rack of gickory ribs and sweet and sour one night. They offered fish and chips but when asked was it cod they got the chef out who explained it was something called sea perch a little like pollok but the manager said the Scotsman did cod and chips that was very nice. We went there but again it was sea perch so ate a traditional Sunday lunch with all the trimmings for just 9.90 each. There were snack bars, juice bars, sandwich bars, all fresh. The local bread Ftah has a crisp crust all over, is shaped like a doughnut but is soft inside and easy to eat and is made traditionally at Rabat by Mdina. Fish and chip bars, Burger King, Mcdonalds, KFC and M&S food halls and we suspect we’ve missed a few too. In club land is Hugo’s, it seems to own almost everything and offer most things, many ‘gentlemen’s’ clubs featuring pole dancers, burlesque and other delights, place offering 60 shots (vodka etc) for just 20 euros which probably explained why we heard people staggering in at 5am and the cleaners at 6am.

We took a bus tour, discovering the touts were better value rather than paying at the hotel, around the middle section and slightly to the north os the island. We dashed through Valletta, although dash is not quite the word as the place is vertical going to the waterfront where the Templers hospital is and the views to the 3 cities. Got back on the next bus 9they ran on the hour so not difficult to work out) went through around Attard on the new by-pass on to Mdina (the silent city) but with hordes of tourists and horse drawn carriages ringing bells constantly to avoid collisions its far from quiet. The views of almost all the island are worth the visit as well as the wonderful architecture. Walked the 5 mins to Rabat and caught the next bus to Ta’Qali the old RAF base with the air museum and craft village in the Nissan huts. Mike went to look at the planes and I went shopping after a quick snack and drink. The place is falling into disrepair and no-one had mentioned it closed on a Saturday at 2pm as they run on factory hours so no demonstrations of glass blowing, filigree or pottery were to be had but there was lots to choose from and presents bought. On to Mosta where the cathedral reminded us of the Occulus in Rome and we saw a replica of the WW2 bomb that fell through the roof and landed in the sacristy without going off. The bus (the last one) went to meet the boat trip (Captain Morgan) that had sailed to Gozo and it was running late so we sat and cooked gently for 20mins. Lots were complaining but we took the view if it was us in the boat we’d be grateful the bus had waited for us and not left us looking for taxis in St Paul’s bay to get back to the hotels. As it turned towards Qawra on the way to Pembroke we were hit by strong winds that have been unusual all winter apparently, cooling but blustery, hats flying all over the open top deck.

Back after 10 hours we went to get the room key to be asked for our slip. What slip? The one given you on registration. No we weren’t given a slip. Everyone has a slip its security or anyone could just ask for your key. At this point 2 others announced they didn’t have slips either and when had this rule started? Friday. We had all booked in several day prior to the new rules the new owner had instigated. We all agreed it was a good rule but unreasonable to expect those registered before to produce a slip we hadn’t been given. Fortunately we had our passports and hotel receipts on us to prove we were actually clients and our key was produced. We declined to hand it in for the rest of the holiday.

We met up with our friend Alistair, whom we’ve not seen for over 12 years, went for lunch is a very posh French place in Balluta bay and met his wife and children and got a tour of their apartment. He’s building a designer place in land so the next time we visit we hope to see that. Had a tour of some house by the agent we’ve been in touch with, discovered we’ll not be able to afford a sea view as lots of new companies have arrived on the isle in the last 5 years and brought hundreds of employees who earn more than the locals and pay vast sums in rent and have quadrupled the prices. We did get to see several different types of building and think either a traditional or town house will suit us but we’ll probably have to rent for a year with furniture in storage to find what we want and get builders in to add en-suit and divide the very large bedrooms to make studies and hobby rooms. By being inland we should also get outside space anything from a small courtyard to a garden to sit in. We’d rather not have a car, they’re all barmy and drive like maniacs and the bus service is wonderful and cheap, 1.50 for 2hours and the buses run every hour but you have to know the name of the bus stop to get back to your starting pont, so why bother? But a garage for storage or hobby use would be an advantage. Supermarkets include Carrfore, M&S, Q market, Russian mini, Waitrose subdivision Arcadia, Lidl, all offering every spice, herb Uk foods, Mediterranean and exotic plus many privately owned outlets, fresh veg and fruit stalls by the road and several shopping malls the largest being the Point where Debenhams and other UK outlets reside, down the road is M&S with a good restaurant on the 4th floor with outstanding views, Matalan and a Label outlet. We spent a whole day exploring the shopping scene and were astonished by the choice. Maltese wines are very good too.

On our return we were greeted by a the car having had a flat battery but the car park had boost charged it so we could get home, no stopping on route and we arrived at about 2am to be greeted by a disbelieving Mach1. He forgave us until our lovely house sitters Ing-marie and Keith left at the end of the week when he decided then to sulk. We had apparently missed a heck of a storm that threw the bins and plants all over the place, they had to re-pot the geraniums in the window boxes. The good thing was the new wood store for suffie wood survived and the windows hadn’t leaked despite the tempest. It turns out the battery failed as we had to be jump-started again. We got in touch with the supplier through Amazon where we’d purchased it 18 months ago.

Ann had made the decision to move into a rented flat to complete her clearing out of her house so viewers could see the size without her clutter in preparation of moving back to the UK. It is quite remarkable how much she has sorted out and we dread doing the same thing when the time comes to move.

Got into promoting our property on free sites and checking costs on fixed rate websites and agency fees. In response to that we had an inquiry from an investment agency who look for properties for clients to buy as the interest rates in the banks are negligible and its also a good way for out of Europe people to get a toe hold . The other was from a chap who is making a series following ex-pats who are selling up in Europe to return to the UK. We had to say we are looking to move to Malta but knew of 2 friends who haven’t lived in the UK for 50 and 25 years, so it will be a real shock to see all the many changes in shopping, transport, traffic levels population, TV and so on.

It was also a month of things needing mending. The rose arch blew down 2x despite working on it in 3 hour stints, its now pinned to the floor with long bolts and we hope the wood supports don’t rot too fast. The sink developed a leak, the large lawn mower snapped a cable.

We were also saddened to learn that dad Rance had been into hospital to have a tumor removed and dad Harvey had again been back in with heart problems, although they have said a by-pass is of no use but he can have the lesion in the bladder dealt with next month. A good friend also ended up on the heart ward with an angina attack which came as a surprise as he thought his breathlessness was due to a virus, fortunately he was discharged quite soon. Then we learnt Mike’s uncle had passed away after 12 months of battling with ill health.Mike was struck down with a tummy bug which he passed along so not a good month health wise.

On a positive the sun sets have been astonishing

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