Għajnsielem and Fort Chambray

Għajnsielem, found on the southern coast of the island of Gozo, is the first village one meets as he leaves Mġarr Harbour towards the capital city of Victoria. The name of the village means ‘Peaceful Spring’, in reference to a number of natural springs in the area which were probably the reason why people settled here in the first place.

fort-chambray

Għajnsielem became an official Parish in 1855, with its Patron Saint being Our Lady of Loreto, and the village feast being celebrated each year on the last Sunday of August. It is also interesting to note that the island of Comino falls under the responsibility of the local council of Għajnsielem.

Though Għajnsielem is not large, it contains many popular places of interest, most notably the Prehistoric Temples of ‘Tal-Imrejżeb’, ‘Tal-Qigħan’ Prehistoric Temple, Lourdes Chapel, Mġarr ix-Xini Tower, Saint Cecilia Tower and Chapel, and Fort Chambray amongst others.

fort-chambray-gozo

Fort Chambray is an old fortress built at the top of a hill called ‘Ras it-Tafal’, or Blue Clay Point, which is situated between Mġarr Harbour and x-Xatt l-Aħmar. It started to be constructed in the year 1722, during the reign of Grand Master Antoine Manuel de Vilhena (1722 – 1736) of the Order of Saint John. Originally, the idea for building the Fort was for it to be a starting point to build a new capital city to replace the Citadel (Ċittadella), however this plan never came to fruition, and in fact the actual completion of the fort was shelved for some time due to lack of funds. It was in 1749 that a Norman Count of the Order of Saint John named Francois Chambray offered to finance the full expense of the construction, which is why the fort was named after him. During that time, the islands were under the governance of the Grand Master Manuel Pinto de Fonseca (1741 – 1773). The Fort was built in order to safeguard the island of Gozo from pirates, and it was finally completed in 1758. It was used to house the Government’s Palace, administration buildings, and a chapel.

Fort_Chambray_3rd_phase

In 1798, Fort Chambray saw its first military use, during the French invasion of the Maltese Islands. The knight De Megrigny, who at the time commanded the Fort, offered it as a place of shelter for many Gozitans, who took refuge inside with their livestock and possessions.

Unfortunately, the Fort was later forced to surrender, after which it was manned by a French garrison. Months later, the Gozitans rebelled and re-took possession of the Fort…

Sudika_Fort_Chambray_panorama

This article was published on LivingInMalta – to read the rest of it, please go here.

Advertisements

Finally finished writing 5 articles on French Castles!

Finally I have finished writing five articles on five of the castles I visited during my holiday in Southern France last month. Will be uploading the link when they are published online.

For now, here are some pics 😀

Ohhh…. memories, memories. Wish I was still there!

1. The Lastours Castles – now that was ONE HELL OF A CLIMB! A once in a lifetime opportunity… thank all the gods lol

minervois_lastours_23

2. The Chateau de Peyrepertuse – Another Cathar Castle (and another climb) – beautiful!

Chateau bas de Peyrepertuse3. The Chateau de Queribus

images (1)4. Chateau de Comtal in the City of Carcassonne – Medieval wow!!

download5. The Fort de Salses – almost on the border with Spain! YES i do get around! ;p

download (1)And what’s more, I have more French architecture in store! Asked the publisher whether he was interested in more articles on France, since I visited many more places while I was there. Let’s see what he replies! Fingers crossed!

Round-up of Books read in February

It’s the first time I’m doing this, but I think it’s a fairly good idea to summarize both my ratings and my thoughts regarding the books read during each month. The books here are the ones I FINISHED during the month of February. This does not necessarily mean that it’s the first time I have read said books.

So here they are, by the order (date) in which they were finished, that is, read by me ;p I keep my goodreads account as updated as I can. There are 9 of them in all. Not bad, considering I spent a week abroad this month too (I took some books with me ofc).

1. The Death Cure – James Dashner – Maze Runner #3

2 Stars – Whether it’s because these dystopic novels all seem to end up the same, or whether I expected something more, I’m not sure to be totally honest. Suffice it to say that I was kind of dissatisfied by the way the trilogy ended. Thomas’ relationship with Teresa was cloudy and unrealistic to say the least. His whole character left something to be desired, and not just because of the memory loss (gods how I hate that too-facile writer’s construct). Also, the last ‘scene’, reminiscent of Kevin Costner’s movie ‘Waterworld’ was too good to be true, not to mention simplistically explained.

The_Death_Cure2. Coraline – Neil Gaiman

4 stars – I just love Gaiman’s style. He does not write books ‘for kids’, HE IS one of them! Apart from that, his plot-lines are so full of different layers and psychological innuendos that even when they are aimed at children, you know that there are things only an adult will realize too. Each book is a real treasure. WE WANT MORE!

51AbFcmM+mL

3. The Lady of the Rivers – Philippa Gregory – The Cousin’s War #3

4 stars – Philippa Gregory’s recount of British history is mesmerizing. Weaving a coloured tapestry made up of real known historical events, mashed with the imagined account of individuals’ everyday emotions and passions, her writing-style is a very interesting blend of magical motives and the intricate psychology behind human nature.

download

4. The White Princess – Philippa Gregory – The Cousin’s War #5

4 stars – I had purchased all the Cousin’s War books online, unfortunately they didn’t arrive all at the same time, so I ended up reading some books before others, and not in their intended sequence. This is not as bad as it sounds, since the narrator of each novel is different, so the plot-lines, though interlocking, still make sense no matter which sequence you read them in. That being said, like the rest of the series, I loved the political yet individualistic tribulations.

download (1)5. A Wheel of Stars – Laura Gilmour Bennet

3 stars – This wasn’t the first time I had read this novel, though quite some years had passed since I read it first. I took it with me during my trip to France as I knew I would be visiting various Cathar Castles, and since the novel takes us back to the Cathar crusade, I knew it would be quite interesting to read in that particular setting. That being said, the writing is ‘okeyish’, as are the characters, nothing more.

download (2)6. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer – Michelle Hodkin

3 stars – I already wrote my own review of this novel in details https://ddmoonsong.wordpress.com/2015/02/20/the-unbecoming-of-mara-dyer-michelle-hodkin-book-review-spoilers/

download (3)7. The Evolution of Mara Dyer – Michelle Hodkin

4 stars – Wrote a more in detail review of this one too here https://ddmoonsong.wordpress.com/2015/02/23/book-review-the-evolution-of-mara-dyer-michelle-hodkin/

download (4)8. The Retribution of Mara Dyer – Michelle Hodkin

3 stars – And for this one too https://ddmoonsong.wordpress.com/2015/02/25/book-review-the-retribution-of-mara-dyer-michelle-hodkin/

157684099. Daughter of the Blood – Anne Bishop – The Black Jewels #1

3 stars – I had kind of forgotten this series, even though I had bought them ages ago. Was curious to see whether I would evaluate them differently now that I am older. The fact that unlike most books, the main character is not the narrator is very freshening. There are multiple narrators, all of whom revolve around the main ‘heroine’ however we only ever see her through other people’s eyes, and never actually hear her own narrative voice. This is very original, yet can be frustrating too!

download (5)

Anyways, there’s the haul! Next month will probably continue Bishop’s series, as well as a couple of more Philippa Gregory Books. Also have got a brand new copy of Gaiman’s ‘Good Omens’ waiting for me and calling to me sonorously from my sitting room table ^^ So much to look forward to! ❤

New Writing Commission!! Vive la France!!

I’m back! Back from beautiful Southern France. Back from the Cathar castles, Medieval cathedrals, rich countryside, cute coffee shops and romantic evenings with my one and only.

12800_10153137636614343_336465736584582671_n

Back to work after a week of awesome delight.

Having begun writing in a Polish tourist website focussing on castles and historical cultural sites as of last month, I contacted my editor and asked him whether he would be interested in pieces on French castles… needless to say, he was ecstatic (and who wouldn’t be?!)

For those interested, I had already posted the itinerary we were going to follow before https://ddmoonsong.wordpress.com/2015/02/06/curious-wanna-come-too-revealing-all-about-next-week-p/

Obviously things cropped up, we missed some places and discovered others, so I’m not gonna follow that exactly HOWEVER I AM going to start by drafting something about the Chateau de Lastours, which, I think, was my favourite (the Gods know how much we walked, climbed and slithered on chilly rocks to get to the darn place lol). Though I’m not totally sure, they were all so amazingly picturesque! French history is really interesting!

lastours-880x483

It will take some time before it’s up on the Polish website perhaps… but I can’t wait to start! Collected leaflets full of interesting facts wherever I went and I also bought a very interesting book on the Cathars, so that should help as background reading.

For those who want to take a peek at the website, where there are already some of my articles on Maltese Historical Structures, here it is http://castles.today/en/castles/castles/malta/

I have fallen in love with SOMEONE ELSE… in France!!

When one talks or thinks about France, one usually associates it with chic couture, smartly dressed divas sipping martinis under sun-protecting umbrellas, handsome men driving fast convertible cars, or high heels tapping moonlight-kissed pavements while inebriating red, white and rose wines are consumed by the bottle.

You think that this is what my one week long holiday in France (which I’m in the middle of right now) is all about?

LOL WRONG!!

All I packed were three changes of clothing, some underwear, and the usual hand-luggage-load of books, and the clothes consist mainly of two pairs of trousers, three long warm cardigans and one pair of very flat, very strong boots. Why? Because this is a CULTURE ie. CASTLE-oriented holiday – meaning days of walking, climbing, hurrying and walking even more, in order to see as many castles, cathedrals, museums, monuments, abbeys and ruins as possible. And if a couple of coffee shops or bars get thrown in randomly, fine, but the main aim is to actually enjoy the COUNTRY of France, meaning its rich history, culture and natural environment, NOT waste time in shopping, wine tasting, and wannabe snobbish pursuits (which i can do well enough in my own country anyways, thanks very much). Sure if i wanted to go sway my ass in St Tropez or the Cote d’Azure i could have, we are not that far away (only around an hour and a half by car), and my ass is not so bad either ;p But really, I’m not interested.

What interests me are the Cathar castles in the Languedoc area, which are around two and a half hours away, but worth the drive (not to mention the climb, since most of them are situated on rocky mountains, only accessible on foot – thank all the Gods for my good boots).

This morning, we visited the County of Orange, most notable for its HUGE Roman amphitheatre, one of the only three in the world which still has an intact stage wall. The place is magnificent, and photos truly don’t do it justice.

10599537_10153131970354343_6989272134693966133_n

10550949_10153131965419343_7597573490622264866_n

Between visiting Orange and the next castle on our itinerary (this was the picturusque Chateau Grignan), we walked around a bit, and amidst the kisses and laughter, spotted one of the cutest little teashops i have ever seen in my life.

16785_10153132146454343_3905598045726429801_n

10991358_10153132148374343_7305733930550455247_n

We stopped for a strong coffee (in my bf’s case) and a ‘French’ hot choc + slice of lemon merengue + strawberry + blueberry cake = HEAVEN for moi.

10390575_10153132156734343_2229289097146866831_n

Seriously – O…M…G

10372563_10153132157784343_4185356179293371712_n

I’m in love 🙂

10952409_10153109580109343_7338578925720310018_n

x2

‘Reign’ has gone down the Drain! Beware SPOILERS

Two days ago, I finally finished watching Season 2 of ‘Reign’ – another ‘one of those’ semi-historical, yet fictional dramas on court life in baroque 14/15/16/17th century something. Now I admit, these kind of serieses are a guilty pleasure, even though I’m aware of the fact that the viewer is lucky if she actually gets 5% of actual historical material which really happened.

reign

Season 2 of ‘Reign’ however, was just too much. Apart from the awfully NON-HISTORICAL… not even REMOTELY SO (seriously, they were not even trying) clothes, which really emit a discortant screeching sound in my ears, seeing as to how I’m a Medieval re-enactor and costuming, at this point, is in my veins. So, apart from the fact that the queen and all her courtiers are dressed as if they are going to a Prom.

fd76675887254ca1cc0ae4969990101f

Apart from the blatant historical fibs (the King, for example, didn’t even have a bastard brother – and this guy plays a major role in the series). Apart from Mary’s inexpressive face, Kenna’s Indie get-ups which get weirder and weirder (wtf), the costumists’ disregard of headresses (they turn them into hairbands when they actually remember of their existence), and apart from the winding never-ending plot which sees the same five or six characters romancing, having sex with, and fighting with each other alternately.

images (1)

Seriously, WHAT’S WITH MARY ACCEPTING HER HUSBAND’S MISTRESS AND MOTHER OF HIS BASTARD-SON BACK AS ONE OF HER BEST FRIENDS??

images (2)

I say it again… SERIOUSLY?

images (3)

She even has a role as godmother to her husband’s bastard child! She’s just gotten raped and fakes everything is ok in order not to botch the baptism!!

4ad72bec6dc14afdca79b8c67da23047

Is this woman a martyr, a saint, or just a plain bloody pussy? That being said, do the writers of ‘Reign’ actually know the meaning of the word ‘realistic’? NO WOMAN would ever happily accept her husband’s one time mistress back in her life, her palace, her friendship, or her heart! Mary accepts her not only as part of her husband’s life, but as a member of her ‘posse’, one of her beloved ladies. She even helps her, tells Francis about the child, and tries to find her a wealthy husband!

images (5)

Throughout it all, I was like COME ON!! Do they really expect us to believe something like that could actually happen? Ok, maybe Mary was too good a person to let Lola die of the plague, she did not want to lie to her husband about the baby, and she did not want to leave Lola penniless… I can sort of get that… if I squeeze my eyes very tight and let my mind roam a bit… but taking her back as a best friend as if nothing had happened? Telling her all the realm’s secrets, even that she, the Queen was raped, when she told no one else in court apart from a very select few? Hugging and kissing her and smiling at her fondly?

images (4)

NO WAY

And it’s not that I’m hard-hearted, or jaded, or dont have any mercy. It’s that, this is totally unrealistic – NO ONE, not even Mother Theresa, would behave as though this ex-friend had never betrayed them, had never slept with her life-long partner and gotten a child, behind her back. NO ONE.

As such, I think I’m still going to watch Season 3 of ‘Reign’ since I started it, however my respect and enjoyment for the show has definitely gone a lot downhill.

adelaide-kane-toby-regbo-reign-cw-shoot-01

Curious? Wanna come too? Revealing ALL about next week ;-p

Have you ever been to France? Do you know of any great historical or picturesque places, and will you please comment and advise me if there is somewhere important in the area that I’m missing?

Finally, Monday is the BIG DAY. We’ll be going off to Southern France for a whole week! I’ve been looking forward to this for so long, and now that it’s finally here, I can’t begin to assimilate it. So, in order for me to gloss over the particulars (again) and for you to have an idea about where I’m going, I am going to list all the places we have researched, found on the map, inserted in the SatNav and in our day-by-day itinerary (because yes, that is how we roll). However do not think that everything is or will go as planned – we always seem to find ourselves in strange places, exploring stuff we had never heard about, and not just the things we planned.

                                                                      Monday

fort-saint-jean-marseille-1368907478

   Marseilles
Cathedrale de la Major
Le Fort Saint Jean
Abbaye Saint Victor
Notre Dame de la Garde
Musee des Beaux-Arts

Tuesday

lastours91

Chateau de Lastours
Medieval City of Carcassone
Chateau de Montsegur

Wednesday

orange

Caderousse
Orange
Ancient Roman Theatre
The Triumphal Arch of Orange
Chateau des Adhemar
Chateau de Suze-de-la-Rousse
Chateau de Grignan

Thursday

peyre

Fort de Salses
Chateau de Querbius
Chateau de Peyrepertuse
Beziers
Cathedrale Saint Nazaire

Friday

arles

Arles Amphitheatre
Abbaye Saine Pierre de Montmajour
Barbedal Aqueduct
Tarascon Chateau
Chateau des Baux de Provence
Chateau de Gordes

Saturday

rhine river

Catellum Aquae
Arena of Nimes
Valeinte’s Half-Day Cruise and Lunch on the Rhone River
Papal Palace
Rocher des Doms

Sunday

fontfroide2

Anywhere which takes our fancy
Abbaye de Fontfroide
St Fulcran Cathedral
Saint Michel de Grandmont Priory

Have I missed anything? I DO plan to visit Northern France, Paris, etc in future too :0)

Church Massacres 7,000 in the name of Catholicism

No, it did not happen today. It did not happen yesterday. It happened more than 800 years ago in 1209. Does that make it ok?

While we still bemoan awful events like the 9/11 twin tower bombings and the disappearance of Madeline McCann, society in general seems to have conveniently forgotten the atrocities done in the name of Catholicism, preferring instead to foist all the blame and religious fanaticism on Islamic belief.

crusades4

In 1209 the then-current Pope declared a ‘crusade’ against a sect of the Catholic church known as Cathars, branding them as heretics because of their differences in practiced creed. Papal knights and delegates were sent to Southern France to exterminate and eradicate all of the Cathars (of which there were thousands), while confiscating their properties, palaces and money.

When they arrived at the outskirts of Beziers, a city in the County of Languedoc, the Papal legate wrote a list of 222 names and sent it to the Mayor, demanding that these people would be sent over to him to be hanged, or else all would die. The city as one refused. After a siege, the ‘Papal knights’ entered the town slaughtering men, women and children right and left. The routiers rampaged through the streets, killing and plundering, while those citizens who could run sought refuge in the churches — the cathedral, the churches of St Mary Magdalene and of St Jude. Yet the churches did not provide safety against the raging mob of invaders. The doors of the churches were broken open, and all inside were massacred. It is estimated that 7,000 people died in the Church of St Mary Magdalene alone.

4791579-Cathedrale_Saint_Nazaire_Beziers

The building of the church itself was not even respected as sanctuary… which goes to show what the ‘Papal legate’ and his ‘knights’ were really after.

After the massacre it came to the distribution of the city’s spoils. The crusader knights became enraged that the rabble of the army had already taken the plunder. They took control of the situation, chased them from the occupied houses and took their booty away. In turn, the angry and disappointed soldiers responded by burning down the town.

Nice.

Real religious and brave.

bullshit_detector

The cherry on the cake? The papal legate himself knew that there were many innocents being killed – that is, non-Cathar worshippers. He is known to have told the knights to kill everyone anyway. His famously cited words were:

“Kill them all, God will know His own”

images

I will be going to the Languedoc region and visiting Cathar castles and other related places next month. Can’t wait to learn more about them.

Lazy Sundays – Castles in France and Cuddles

I love lazy Sundays – in a world where every day is a constant battle with time, they are a real jewel. After working full time for five days, Saturday is always a hectic day too since all the chores and friend/family stuff tend to take place then. However Sundays are days to laze around with one’s partner, enjoy hours in bed, then getting up for lunch, and, in my case, play PS4 or read or watch a favorite T.V series.

laze

THIS particular Sunday we have some homework to do. However it is an exciting type of homework.

1. Measure furniture in order to be sure it will fit in the new house, when this is selected.
2. Plan for our Valentine’s week holiday to Southern France. We’ve already selected the spots we wanna see, but now we’ve gotta decide how we are gonna visit them in sequence, depending on their location and opening times, as well as insert the details into the SatNav.
3. Peruse a number of links of house-selling sites and talk about whether we should go view them or not.

There – that’s the kind of ‘homework’ I like 🙂

01

Btw, this is one of the castles we are DEFINITELY gonna visit. It is one of the castles which belonged to the Catholic sect of the Cathars. Never heard of them? Perhaps it’s because, since their creed ‘differed’ from the main accepted Catholic one, they were hunted down, eradicated and burned by the Roman Catholic Church first in a trumped up crusade, and then for heresy. Hint: all the wealth, castles, lands and money belonging to the Cathars was ‘confiscated’ by the Church when these massacred them… tolerance and love aye? lol

Robert-Bougre-Heretics

In an aside, the Cathars had women priests and thought that males and females were of equal importance and should have equal opportunities and power in life… obviously, for the ‘accepted’ Church, this too was heretical… righttt…

The Languedoc, which is a region in the South West of France, is full of Cathar Castles, which are the most beautiful castles in France, since the region itself was one of the most rich and fruitful (obviously, since the Church took so much bother and killed so many innocent people to get to it).

languedoc-villas---carcassonne---cathars_subteaserimg