A lucky find

You know how it is. You move house, and you unpack all the good and/or essential stuff. But there are always a few (or a lot of) boxes left over, filled with miscellaneous ‘stuff’ that’s too good or important to throw out, but that you don’t want on display and have no idea what to do with. So you shove the boxes in the loft, or the cupboard, or the back of the garage, and forget about them.

Well, that. We last moved house over *cough* ten years ago but had a cupboard filled with those very boxes. Over the last few weekends, whenever the weather’s been too crap to bother going out, we’ve been tackling them a few at a time. Mostly, they’re full of junk. We’ve recycled vast quantities of paperwork, sent some bits and pieces to charity shops, and thrown out some of what was left. But here and there we’ve rediscovered a few forgotten gems, too.

One of those was an entire folder of holiday photos dating from the early days of digital photography, when everyone took digital pics but then bought glossy paper and printed them out. These particular ones were from a stay in Malta, and included pics of a day trip to the neighbouring island of Gozo. And I was delighted to unearth them again, because one or two were from a wonderful little seaside village on Gozo called Xlendi Bay (that’s pronounced Shlendi, roughly, if you’re not familiar with Maltese). We’ve visited a couple of times, and fallen in love with it on both occasions. It’s staggeringly scenic: a small huddle of old houses at the end of a narrow slot in the rocky cliffs, filled with indigo water and with a handful of fishing boats moored up alongside water-front cafes and bars.

We had lunch at one such cafe (the one with the red awning in the photo), then strolled along the coastal path towards a headland with an old Knights Hospitaller watchtower perched on it. The whole place has a magical feel that stayed with me long after we came home – so much so that I used it as the setting for Making Waves, a short, steamy story involving a stranded English tourist and a local lad offering tours around the bay.

I recently polished the story and included it in my collection of summer and/or heat themed stories Heat Haze: Summer Sizzlers and it was lovely to find a reminder of the scenery that inspired the tale. This is the best of the pictures I took, which shows the harbour, the town huddling behind, and even a sea cave. Not the one the story is set in, I hasten to add, or the characters would have sore heads! But there were other, bigger caves further out towards the open sea, and the story could easily have happened in one of them. And yes, there were even “jelly-fishes”!

He swung the boat in then, heading towards the shore. The cliffs rose in an unbroken wall and at first I thought we would dash against the rocks, but at the last moment a dark hole yawned and he steered the craft inside. The cave was small, an indentation, no more, carved by the endless slap of the waves on a susceptible stretch of rock. Inside there was just room for the boat, and a small stone ledge where we could sit and dangle our feet, assuming the jelly-fishes permitted it. A perfect spot for a picnic, and judging by the polish on the spike of rock Thomas tied up to, it had been used for that purpose many times. Or another, less innocent, one perhaps?

If you’d like to read Making Waves, and the other four stories in the collection (which are set in a variety of locations including Salzburg and an abandoned railway carriage) then why not treat yourself to the book, which is available for only £1.99 (or your local equivalent) at Amazon? I hope you enjoy it, and if you ever get a chance to visit Malta and Gozo, I can thoroughly recommend both the cafe with the red awning, and that seaside walk!

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