The stories of my life on a little island in the middle of the Mediterranean sea ... and my occasional adventures beyond these shores.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Sincerely, Loree

This is just a small reminder that I will no longer be updating this blog. I have moved to a new blog: Sincerely, Loree:

Hope to see you there. I promise it will be fun.

Sunday, 31 December 2017

2017: A year in review and an announcement

2017 started, as all years do, with a lot of high hopes but it went the same way as its predecessors. Looking over the international headlines for the year that is about to end does nothing to alleviate the perception that life for hundreds of thousands of people around the world was harsh and horrendous. From the racial cleansing of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, to a hurricane season from hell, 2017 delivered, but not in a good way.

On a local level, the murder of journalist and blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia that I wrote about in Dear Daphne, stopped  Malta in its tracks – if only for a few days. Our attention spans are short and we flit from one piece of tragic news to another the same way bees dance from flower to flower in a spring garden. Three men have been arrested in connection with Daphne’s murder but the motive remains unclear. In the meantime, an impromptu memorial in her honour has been set-up on the Great Siege memorial in front of our law-courts and thousands of people are still hoping that justice for Daphne will be done.

Valletta Christmas lights (30)

On a personal level, our trip to the US was the highlight of our year. I made my acquaintance with Florida and re-visited a few favourite haunts in Missouri. Unfortunately, the three weeks passed too quickly and we were soon back home, dealing with one of the hottest summers in the past few years. Having said that, Florida was hotter than I could have imagined but it rained every day in the afternoon (which is normal in the tropics) so that alleviated some of the heat – although it did nothing to help the humidity. During our trip to Disney’s Hollywood Studios we rode the infamous Tower of Terror, which was definitely the scariest part of our trip, for me, at least – much scarier than waiting for a tornado to pass overhead as we visited friends in Kissimmee.

During 2017 we got to discover Malta a bit more because we went on quite a few hikes off the beaten track. which helped us appreciate the last-remaining beauty spots of this island. This enthusiasm for discovery was triggered by the loss of the Azure Window and the concrete jungles that are springing up in so many of our towns and villages. It seems that what Nature has preserved, we are keen to destroy – which puts into perspective just how much some people really care about our environment, in spite of all the public rhetoric.

Valletta Christmas lights (28)

A little bit about our Christmas …

We had a lovely Christmas with colder-than-usual temperatures that added to the season’s spirit. On some days the air was so crystal clear that we could see Mount Etna snowy cap, which added a bit to the magic of the season, I baked four different types of cookies: peppermint chocolate chip, orange cranberry, mocha coconut crinkle and chocolate orange. I also made champagne chocolate truffles and a chocolate cherry cake accompanied by a boozy cherry syrup for tomorrow’s New Year’s Day lunch. The links will take you to the recipes but I might share some of them on my blog in the coming year. We spent Christmas day with family. My cousin moved to Malta from the UK this past autumn and my aunt and uncle, who would usually spend Christmas in the UK with him, stayed in Malta this year. So we really enjoyed our day and had some laughs over a game of Trivial Pursuit.

Valletta Christmas lights (29)

During the holidays (I was so happy to be off of work between Christmas and the New Year) we enjoyed an evening at MADC’s pantomime ‘Cinderella’ during which dames Dulcey and Duda had the audience, especially the children, in fits of laughter. We spent another evening at the newly refurbished Suq tal-Belt (I will write about it in 2018) and had some time to critique Valletta’s Christmas lights. I did not particularly like them as I thought they were too glitzy and kitschy for Christmas (you can see them in today’s post) and would have looked better in downtown Las Vegas than in a city that takes so much pride in the Mannerist and Baroque buildings that abound in its streets. But, as they day, to each his own, as the majority of people seem to like them.

Valletta Christmas lights (32)

An announcement

At just 18 posts, 2017 was my least productive year and there are many reasons for this. Foremost amongst them is my inability to stop (unfavourably) comparing my writing to that of others, coupled with a nagging feeling that something needs to change for me to recapture my spark. But I also had some major issues with technology and with Windows in general, and there were many days when I turned on my laptop which started to automatically update. Except that two or three hours later it would still be updating. Luckily, my cousin managed to fix whatever issues it had.

Valletta Christmas lights (33)

And so, we come to my ‘momentous’ announcement. I have decided to stop updating this blog and start a new one called Sincerely, Loree. The URL for this blog is new too. So those of you who would like to subscribe or follow along, please go to: (www(dot)sincerelyloree(dot)blogspot(dot)com)

The final layout is still not completely finalised so please have patience with me if you come across some strange things while I tweak the template.

I will dedicate my first entry (I hate calling them posts) on my new blog to why I felt that this change was required. My main hope is that I will really get back into the blogging groove. I have read up about blogging quite a bit and my aim is to write about subjects in a more realistic and informative manner, without forsaking a touch of whimsy every now and then.

And finally …

My best nine on Instagram

Since it is the end of the year, I want to share my best 9 on Instagram, as I feel that these photos usually bring back some wonderful memories. This year all the photos were from Malta. Five of them were taken during our forays onto the island’s coast but the other four are very close to home.


From top to bottom, left to right, they are: the cliffs at Fomm ir-Rih, the view from the balcony at the back of our house, the geological formations at the bay in Fomm ir-Rih, a pair of colourful doors in the neighbouring town of Rabat, red balconies in Valletta, Crown Daisies at Fomm ir-Rih, looking down from the cliffs at Ghar Lapsi, poppies in a field in front of my parents’ house, and Kalanka Bay.

I sincerely thank those of you who take the time to like or comment on my photos. Anybody that would like to find me on Instagram may click here. incidentally, as from tomorrow, my user name on Instagram will change to Sincerelyloree. The URL will remain the same,

Dear Readers, I would like to wish you and your families a wonderful year. May 2018 be kinder to people everywhere. and may we all do our little part to make it more joyful to those around us.

Thursday, 21 December 2017

The most wonderful time of the year

Christmas is here once again and, as it does every year, it brings with it hope of peace, joy and good things. In these two short weeks before the year is born anew, I find myself living in a self-created bubble of optimism – as if the beauty we create within our homes and our towns, and the hundreds of twinkling lights that shine out of our windows can somehow make their way into the world and into the hearts of men and women. Beauty and light. We need more of them in our  lives. May we each do our utmost to spread them far and wide.

Natalis Notabilis (23)

I was planning on writing a totally different and much longer post than this, but the preparations for Christmas, the baking, the cleaning, the decorating, the shopping, the wrapping, took much more time than I expected – even though I had promised myself that this year would be different; that this Christmas season I would be organised. But, once again, it looks like everything will be done in the nick of time, leaving me frazzled and breathless. But I will  have a week off to recuperate. Then January will be upon us and it always seems a bit dreary and drab after all the glitz and glitter that Christmas brings with it.

Natalis Notabilis (29)

But for now we’re counting down the days to the most magical day of the year. I wish you all good things, wonderful moments, a dash of glitter and a soupcon of sparkle..

Natalis Notabilis (11)

Merry Christmas to you all.

All photos were taken during the Natalis Notabilis Christmas market in Rabat, December 2017

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Penhaligon’s Lothair: My new favourite scent

I’ve been on the hunt for a new scent for close to a year, trying different fragrances every time I entered a perfumery. But although most of them smelt nice, they either did not last long enough on me or the scent lacked that something special that I was seeking.

Then, last Saturday, almost as an afterthought, I tried Penhaligon’s Lothair. The initial whiff was a bit fruity, nice but not too memorable, I thought. Two hours later the scent had evolved into something more earthy, reminiscent of fragrant, exotic woods. And that is what made me decide to buy it. That rather mysterious, seductive, almost powdery, base note.


The nose behind Lothair is Bertrand Duchaufour and, in the company’s own words, it is:

“Inspired by the famous Tea Clipper Ships that navigated the globe to bring exotic wares to British shores, Lothair opens with the salty tang of grapefruit and juniper, and a brilliant green sensation from fig leaf. The smoky heart of black tea is softened by fig milk and magnolia, sailing into an ambergris, cedar and wenge woods base, reminiscent of the varnished decks of these elegant ships.”

I first heard of Penhaligon’s Perfume House on Travel Channel’s ‘Jenny’s Streets of London’ and soon after I visited their store in Covent Garden, where I was drawn in by the enticing scents that wafted out of their open door. Penhaligon’s was established in 1870 by William Penhaligon in a store on Jermyn Street. The shop was destroyed during the war but the fragrances endured. Penhaligon’s has been granted two Royal Warrants: one by the Duke of Edinburgh and the other by the late Diana, Princess of Wales. It’s nice to learn that I share my perfumer with royalty.

Related links:

- Penhaligon’s: A Short History

- Lothair reviews

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

November days

I want to start off by thanking all those of you who left a comment on my last post. I didn’t reply to each of you individually but just left a general comment to express my gratitude. A month has passed since Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination and, to date, we have no answers. Not even one single suspect, if any exists, has been questioned by the police. The silence is deafening. Frighteningly so. And yet, life goes on for the living and November has all but flown by. Lots of people here love to hate this month because it brings with it shorter days and cooler weather and also because, in the not too distant past, it was dedicated to the dead.

Autumn colours

I look at November as a month of transition: from autumn to winter and, personally, I enjoy its anticipatory feel. Some Christmas lights have already gone up in places, even in our neighbourhood, and I am looking forward to decorating the house, baking cookies and other naughty treats, lighting candles and making home-made mulled wine, while dreaming about Vienna. Because Vienna is absolutely magical and breath-taking at this time of year and it smells of roasting chestnuts and gluhwein and spice and all things nice.

Autumn colours

But back to the present and back to reality. Because before Christmas there is Thanksgiving and, even though it it not a holiday in Malta, in this house it is celebrated. So I’ll be making some lists, doing some shopping and remembering all the people and things that I am so thankful for. It’s not easy, sometimes when so much of the world seems shrouded in darkness. to sit back and reflect on all that is good and beautiful and wholesome, But we have to do it. For the sake of our sanity and for our children, we have to let go of all that’s ugly and rotten and, instead, give thanks for our multitude of blessings and look with hope towards the future..

Nov 2003 - autumn 003 (5)

Happy Thanksgiving

These photos were taken a long time ago (in 2003) when we lived in the US and I experienced my only Thanksgiving in America.


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