The longer we stay here the more I like it. The weather has changed and we had really bad storms last night. I have been up since 4 am - I went quietly into the sitting room and read so as not to disturb Onslow. Today is our tenth day on the island and things are beginning to make sense and slot into place. The fortifications are amazing and for anyone interested in history or art Malta is a good call for a winter break. I suspect I would not like it nearly so much in the summer.
The fabled yellow buses are brilliant and I am so glad that we came in time to see and use them. On 3rd July Arriva take over the transport and a new fleet will be arriving. The buses go absolutely everywhere and are incredibly cheap. They run all day from early in the morning until late at night and then there are a few nightbuses around the nightclub areas. A lady I met (an expat who has lived here for thirty years) told me that when she first came here the drivers would sit sideways because God really drove the buses and they did not need to pay any attention to the road. It is much busier these days so they are giving God a bit of help and looking at the road. Every bus we have been on has at least one religious picture above the driver's window and we have seen a few of the drivers just say a little prayer whilst waiting at traffic lights.
The churches I have been in so far are absolutely overwhelming - I have never seen such splendour anywhere else in the world. I went to Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Valletta and had to just sit for half an hour to try and absorb some of the magnificence. I am a big fan of both Butterfield and Pugin but they are austerity personified compared to Mount Carmel. Six different marble alters dedicated to different saints, lots of red lights and poinsettias decorating everywhere, brilliant light shining in through the dome windows. Yesterday was St Paul Shipwrecked and even though this is much darker the decor is stunning. The floor is composed of marble memorials with armorial mosaics and it seems a shame to walk on it. St Paul's wrist bone is contained in a glass case which was attracting a lot of attention. One chap sat there for the entire time I was in the church praying away to it.
Foodwise we are doing very well. As well as the supermarket I have found a lovely greengrocer and a nice butcher. I saw a chap selling fish on the promenade last week and had a chat before buying some but he has not reappeared. Or perhaps I have missed him whilst gallivanting. The butter available includes that lovely very pale Italian stuff so I am really enjoying plain Maltese bread and butter. The bread is absolutely fantastic, quite the best I have ever tasted. We ate out a couple of times last week but have not done so yet this week, I am enjoying pottering around trying local produce. There are men driving sort of open vans stuffed with fruit and vegetables, they just seem to park up somewhere, sell stuff to anyone who wants it and then move on. We have had new season potatoes and broad beans and I spotted artichokes yesterday so they might go on the menu. I am keeping my eyes peeled for asparagus - the stuff we get at home is fabulous but I would like to try local freshly picked stuff here.