Malta Part 1

I don’t think I’d been this exhausted since teaching. I’d forgotten what it felt like to be so tired your bones ached. Actually I do remember; I’ve just enjoyed not feeling like that.

But, I had deadlines to meet, essays to write and Chistmas knitting to prep. Studying has been my focus for the last three months with a very brief, but awesome, mini adventure in November. Kane and I escaped to my home turf, my old favourite, Wye Valley and exciting new crags in Gilwern. Otherwise I’ve been back in London, the van has been office and emergency accomodation, and I’m full time in the Uni quarter at Bloomsbury: studying sociology, politics and history of science. All those responsible things I’d given myself a year off thinking about in 2016-17, for the last three months I’ve been learning the terminology, asking questions and looking at the nitty gritty nasty.
Of all the times to try and lift your head out of the sand…. I’ll be honest there are moments when I’m trying to understand the world but there’s good science, bad science, there’s plastic, and the climate and Brexit and Trump and seriously l look around and think, well what the fk am I meant to do with this?!’
(Sorry for swearing Mim)

So I had deadlines. So I did that thing where you work all hours you can to make sure you’ve done the best you can. And then you escape.
Carol, Kane’s Mum, is a legend and drove us to Gatwick. Which was a relief as l have never been so unprepared to travel. l had passports and a credit card and I was pretty certain that Kane had packed the climbing kit. I knew we were going to Malta as our lovely friends Pete and Carolina had given us a ‘hits’list briefing over dinner the week before; other than that I had no idea what to expect.

The Island of Malta is a beautiful Microcosym of multicultural history. Roman, Islamic, Spanish, Catholic Knights, the British; and yet there’s something utterly unique here. The landscape, a little like its people, is rugged, beautiful and suprisingly friendly. Especially to climbers, walks are quick, to warm beautiful walls of pocket dimpled limestone. It isn’t easy climbing, nor is it familiar, but it is sticky if you learnt to trust your feet,
After a day of travel we arrived in our flat for the week and promptly went out for pizza, fyi Melliha does really good pizza -look for where the locals are going for takeout.

Sunday was an 8 minute drive and a short warm walk to a sea cliff scramble (which I did not enjoy), to Irdum Irxaw, a deep gully with steep clean walls (which I loved). I managed half a lead and two seconds (seconding on sport just means going up the wall on the rope that your partner has put up and retrieving all the quick draws / protection they’ve used) before remembering that I haven’t climbed for a month and my brain was not forgiving me. Kane had sufficiently tired himself out fighting a 6c+ (hard!) so we called it a short day and went and got overexcited by local Christmas food at the supermarket.

On Monday we drove the surprisingly short distance (40mins) to the other side of the Island. On the south coast between Zurrieq and the Blue Grotto is Wied Babu, a beautiful limestone valley. The walk to the crag is a bit of an odd climb down metal steps from the road, but then a clear path with steps well cut into the rock leads your gutty down to the valley. Another half a lead and belaying in a chill breeze and I was exhausted. l belayed Kane whilst he worked a particularly terrifying overhanging flake which he nailed clean and from the ground up after lunch. Then I just needed coffee and sunshine.

Rather than heading straight back we drove around the coast hoping that the sunset would find it’s way through the clouds. We came to a tower by a beautiful Olive gone overlooking one of the strangest geographical features the seen. Il-Karraba is a strange yellow escarpment reached by crossing an edge of blue gray clay dunes. You can scramble around and even through the crumbling yellow and pink rock, the colours picked out by the sunset and each corner brings another view, athough be wary, enclosed tunnels disguise deep crevasses. The sun had set by the time we walked back across the dunes above the bay, it had been too cold to venture near the blue and the wind had cold all day.
Tuesday was meant to be a sunny day. Wednesday we were due for rain. What can you do?

Fortunately it turns out that Kane has a sanity button and looking at me on monday called ‘rest day’. So we’ve spent today being tourists. I made sure he wasn’t too hard done by, we spen the morning in Malta’s Classic Car Museum, which it turns out is excellent. In the afternoon we meandered around the walled city of Mdina looking at views, chistmas lights and crafts.

Tonight is a lazy night and tomorrow we’re taking the ferry to explore Gozo. We’re taking the climbing kit of course, after all one rest day is enough surely? and it might not rain. ..

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