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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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

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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

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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! ❤

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.

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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.

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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.

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Seriously – O…M…G

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I’m in love 🙂

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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

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

Tuesday

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Chateau de Lastours
Medieval City of Carcassone
Chateau de Montsegur

Wednesday

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

Thursday

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

Friday

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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

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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)