Going abroad

October 16, 2019 by Fraser Beath McEwing
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J-Wire’s music reviewer Fraser Beath McEwing has added another string to his bow as he takes J-Wire readers on his travels…today he reports from Malta.

The Diamond Lagoon with rock cliffs and wonderful water

Since it was Michelle’s special 0 birthday, I’d hired a motor yacht for the day, along with a youthful captain who, as it turned out, doubled as food and beverage waiter. Our fist obstacle was getting from the jetty to the boat via a wobbly plank that kept getting longer as the boat, keen to leave, eased away from the jetty. To lighten the fear of falling in the drink even before we’d started, we all told weak jokes about walking the plank.

Having passed that test we moved through the calm marina out into the not-so-calm waters around Malta. The low rocky cliffs of the coastline blended with the buildings – all in various shades of sand, with very little foliage. The British have been blamed for cutting down most Malta’s trees, but after Malta became independent in 1966, the locals haven’t shown much interest in replanting them.

We were headed to lagoon territory, a must for visitors to Malta, but quite a voyage through choppy seas. The boat had both sail and snoring diesel motor, slept six, with three toilets, a shower and a table below deck as well as one on top. We quickly learned the folly of going below while the boat was zigzagging through the waves. It produces instant nausea. Even on the deck we felt on the verge of a throw but warded it off with heavy sea-air breathing and eating the salad lunch and drinking the chardonnay provided. 

Finally, we reached nirvana – the Diamond Lagoon, where we anchored and swam in the bracing water that began as aquamarine and graduated to emerald and finally to Prussian blue as you looked down. This was undoubtedly the highlight of the day and we stayed there for a couple of hours. Not far away was the better-known Blue Lagoon, where the high-density tourist boats tie up while the more enterprising of their passengers swim and play water games. If you want to see overloaded boats, Malta is the place, remembering that this is the end of the holiday season and can be much busier. Our captain told us that the locals like the economic benefits of tourism but hate the intrusive, and often overwhelming waves of eager visitors.

The trip back to the marina was quite a bit rougher than the outgoing one. We fought off embarrassing upthrows and didn’t even dare to look below, knowing that the porcelain buses were down there wanting to be driven. Back on terra firma it refused to be firm firma, especially when we got to bed where we were immediately returned to the motion of the boat as soon as we closed our eyes. I awoke still riding the waves and trying to recover from something difficult to digest in the captain’s lunch.

Hotel toaster report


The old six slotter that can cause trouble

I would have thought that the Intercontinental Hotel, St Julian, would have had a better toaster that this old six slotter veteran in the club lounge. But no, there it stood, in need of a good clean and possibly some panel beating. In one of his many books on hotel toasters, Derek Breadchamber mentions this type of six slotter as causing the Great Toaster Affray of 2012 in Japan, when a dispute erupted at breakfast and bread was thrown. The toast captain stepped in and took control of the situation with a fire extinguisher. The problem is that the is-it-ready? knob raises all six pieces of toast at once, with the likely outcome of one satisfied toastor and five enraged toastees who don’t like their toast being inspected by strangers.  

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