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September 2018 | Issue 105


ALEXANDRA ALDEN HAS THE X FACTOR Issue 105 - September 2018 VIDA Magazine is a monthly lifestyle magazine distributed with MaltaToday on the first Sunday of the month. It aims to empower people to lead a better, healthier, and happier life. Publisher

EDITORIAL Better life, sustain it! The September issue is dedicated to encouraging a more environmentally-friendly industry. It feels like the right time to talk about the rise of fast fashion. Fashion trends have become insanely fleeting, with stores taking as little as one week to restock and new collections launching every month. Most of the unsold stock is sent to landfills, leading with a detrimental effect on our environment. Finally, however, it definitely feels we are at the start of a new phase - a phase where it is not odd to consider sustainability. In this issue we highlight the positive work of James Dimech, showcasing his creations made from recycled and sustainable materials. Brenda Casha also encourages our readers to change their attitude on second-hand clothing. At the moment, not only has the stigma about second-hand shopping faded, but there’s a serious demand for it.

Don’t expect change to happen overnight. Even if it is not always visible, it’s making more impact than you think.

Philippa and Claire

FKL OneOneO Pitkali Road, Attard ATD 2214 Malta, Europe Tel: (+356) 2339 2339


Philippa Zammit Claire Ciantar

Layout, design & illustration

Claire Ciantar Advertising Tel: (+356) 2339 2407/8

It is understood that all material supplied by agents (printed or otherwise) to promote their products is supplied with all necessary permissions for reproduction. Whilst great care and attention has been taken by the editorial team to ensure accuracy of text, advertising and other published matter, we disclaim all responsibility for any omissions and errors. The editor and publisher do not necessarily agree with views expressed in articles, adverts, letters, or other content appearing in this publication.

CONTENTS Gym-tastic


Up Close and Personal with Alexandra Alden


Making a Scene

The Story of Three Plastic Bottles Second-Hand Spree

James Dimech Turns Waste Into Wearable Art An Alternative Hobby: Penpalling

Fashion Spread: Lazy In The Light Food Jars: Green and Easy

In the Gluten-Free Kitchen

What is Post- Traumaric Stress Disorder? The World's Biggest Killer Magical Morocco Speaking of Stars

Symbolism of Colours in the Maltese Festa The Social Stigma Against Gamers The Calm Before the Storm Photos: Sasha Shumarayeva


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Humour STEVE HILI You may have seen him on stage, heard him on the radio, or laughed at his lack of colourcoordination (he’s the one walking down the street with the orange shorts and pink shirt). He is loud, hairy, controversial and… well… different!

GYM-TASTIC I recently took the plunge. I joined a new gym. Again. Regular readers of this column might be aware that I flirt with the idea of getting into shape every couple of months, but these attempts always end badly. I either get intimidated by men with big muscles, or end up eating Victoria Sponge in the conveniently located (and very well priced) cafés that always seem to be less than twenty metres from every single gym in the world. But this would be different. I would not eat cake, because I had will power. And I would refuse to be intimidated by the muscle machines doing the weights because I am man enough not to get hung up on those sorts of things. (And also, I would download a podcast and hence be lost in my own world, free of the judgements of those people who could blow me over with one puff.)

(I once pulled a muscle at line-dancing class because I thought I should make it more ‘gangsta’, so now I was going to go slow. Work my way up. First up, the treadmill, what harm could come of that? For the first 7 minutes, no harm at all. It was all going swimmingly. I was jogging away, listening to an interview with a person who once knew someone who thought he might have seen an alien (some podcasts can be very hit and miss), when all of a sudden, a man who looked like he was a gym regular (he was wearing a singlet) walked by with a Tupperware container and spoke to me. But because, of course, I had my headphones on, I couldn’t hear him. And in a strange way, that made me happy. Because I was on a mission. I wasn’t here to fall for intimidation-mind games, I was here to work out. I just smiled at him and carried on listening to my frankly quite weird podcast, but he wasn’t put off. Gym man kept talking to me. And now he was pointing at his container.

got slightly confused as to what I should do next. What I should have done, of course, was press the stop button on the treadmill and then proceed to pick up my phone. Like any normal person would do. I didn’t so that. Instead, I just stopped walking and bent over. Not realising that just because I stopped, it didn’t mean that the treadmill did. In fact, it kept going. The result (as anyone with even rudimentary knowledge of how motion works would be able to figure out), was that I immediately flew backwards off the treadmill through the door that was directly behind me and straight into a man who may or may not have been kissing his muscles whilst looking at them in the mirror.

It was obvious that he was not going away. Reluctantly, I made the decision to talk to him and see what was so important that he felt the need to interrupt the journey that my body had undertaken in order to become a walking, talking, work of art (ahem).So I pulled my headphones out. However, when I did this, I pulled so hard that I also pulled my phone out of my pocket. And it was here that my lack of treadmill experience meant that I

As Tupperware man (struggling to repress the laughter) helped me to my feet, I asked him why he had wanted to interrupt my workout. “My wife made some cakes, so I was wondering if you wanted any. I know some people can feel intimidated when they join a new gym. I was trying to be nice.” With muscle-kissing man looking like he wanted to flatten me, I took the whole container, and went home.


And it was with this mindset that I went to this flash new gym, ready to start a new chapter. I had even decided that I was going to do it sensibly this time. I know that I have a habit of trying to go too hard too fast


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MAKING A SCENE We had the pleasure of meeting up with the team at MAKA VISUALS, a production house made up of young creatives offering high-end audiovisual services... a young company with a big heart and great ideas. They sure know what they’re talking about.

YOU’VE BEEN INVOLVED IN DIFFERENT PRODUCTIONS SUCH AS MUSIC VIDEOS, COMMERCIALS ETC. HOW DOES THE ROLE OF PRODUCER CHANGE WHEN THE SCOPE OF THE PRODUCTION IS DIFFERENT? In essence, the role of a producer does not really change with different productions as the producer is in charge of making the particular production happen. Here at Maka Visuals, we work on different kinds of productions - mostly commercials, music videos, and corporate videos, which fall under the live action kind of projects. In our live action projects, we also have the possibility of incorporating animation and visual effects, or else a project can be completely animated. In any live action production, one is looking into bringing together a full crew, actors, required equipment, locations, permits, and other resources to make a production possible. It is also important to keep the whole production process, from pre-production through to post-production, on time and on budget. The most challenging part in a general local scenario is the production budget. The budget allows you to dare more, thus achieve more, however, locally we’ve taught ourselves to produce more with

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less, which even though, is a challenge, can be considered as a big plus – always challenge yourself, and never settle, is one of the mottos we work for. When it comes to an animation project, the process is different, as the external elements one would need are considerably less, so the producer’s role in that case would be to still make sure the production is on time and on budget, and in liaison with the concept and storyboard previously agreed upon with the client. What we strive for at Maka Visuals, however, is to make each process as easy as possible for all our clients. Even though it’s a tough process, we try our best to still make it an enjoyable one for you, and all the clients who choose our services. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS THE BIGGEST (MOST INTERESTING) TREND IN VIDEO PRODUCTION RIGHT NOW? It’s a bit difficult to pinpoint a trend in video production, because it’s an art form in itself, thus it can be subjective. Certain people might like something, while some others might actually hate that same thing. Our role as audiovisual producers is to research and study our clients’ diverse audiences, so that we can produce a video production which will be mostly effective for our client’s audience and brand. One will produce a different style of production, which Issue 105 September 2018


Videography photography can fit within a certain trend if they’re aiming to target the youths, as opposed to an older audience, for example. WHAT DO YOU CURRENTLY LOOK FOR IN A PROJECT WHEN YOU ARE CONSIDERING SIGNING ON TO PRODUCE? IS IT THE MATERIAL, THE LOGISTICS, OR A COMBINATION OF ELEMENTS? It’s a combination of elements, both the logistics side of it how much time we have available to produce it, taking into consideration other current projects - and also the kind of project in itself, play a very important part. We always love to take on a challenge, so the more exciting the project is and the more it allows us to be creative and push the boundaries, the easier it makes it for us to decide to take it on. WHAT DOES THE PROCESS OF PUTTING A VIDEO TOGETHER LOOK LIKE? When it comes to videos, it all starts from research. We research the client’s brand/product/song, the idea behind it, and the people we need to target. Our creative directors start brainstorming ideas until we agree on the concept with the client. Then the process would need to go into further detail to develop a storyline, script, and storyboard. Once everything is set and approved, this will be the green light for the production department to take over, so all the needed and necessary elements are brought together for the shooting days. Once the shooting takes place, everything moves to the post-production department, where all the footage is cut together, coloured, and


Valletta Issue 105 September 2018

videography combined with appropriate sound design and animation, or visual effects, if needed, to create the particular storyline of the video, until both ourselves and the client are happy with the final cut to be ready for release. WHAT SHOULD THE ARTIST/ONE EXPECT ON SHOOTING DAY? Every shoot is different from the next, but a general filming day is normally 12 hours long - sometimes it’s during the day, and other times we’d need to have a night shoot. The crew would be the first on set - making sure we have all we need for the day, and setting up lights, cameras, and all the necessary equipment for that particular shoot. Once everything is set and we start rolling, all the different departments work hand in hand to get the perfect shot. It’s a day filled with people buzzing around, but although it’s stressful most of the time, it’s something we love doing, so we try to enjoy it as much as we can. FOR SOMEONE WHO IS BRAND NEW TO VIDEO PRODUCTION OR FILMMAKING, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS THE NUMBER ONE, TOP THING THEY NEED TO LEARN? Video production and filmmaking is a collaborative process, so we’d say that the top thing one would need to learn is how to be a team player - to be able to understand, listen, and collaborate with others is key. Every person has his area of expertise, and is important to the process, so everyone’s ideas and opinions are an important contribution to the final video for a holistic and quality product. Issue 105 September 2018





ALEXANDRA ALDEN We had the pleasure to chat with Alexandra Alden during an interview in the light of her upcoming role as a judge on The X Factor Malta, as well as the release of her debut album ‘Wild Honey’. She speaks to us about it all, and gives us a few hints about what is yet to come.

GROWING UP, DID YOU ALWAYS WANT TO BE A MUSICIAN? The straightforward answer is yes, but it wasn’t a very clear and direct path for me. I hardly studied music formally, or felt like a career in music would be realistically possible. I just didn't think I had what it took. Growing up, I was always the creative, artsy one in school, dedicating my summer holidays to coming up with new projects to keep me busy. Drawing was my first big love, and the one that made sense to me first, because the result was tangible straight-away. It was easy - I had my crayons and my paper. I could see the lines as I drew them, and I could see the picture take shape before me. I was surrounded by art growing up, with both my mum and my granddad being painters their whole lives. Whilst living in Germany as a child, my brother and I always went with my mum to her exhibitions, keeping close to her, and curiously watching people walk around the galleries holding their wine glasses, and discussing the exhibits. I spent hours in my grandad’s studio too - sometimes lending a helping hand, or offering a creative thought. My grandmother and my dad, in the meantime, read me fairytales, and my brother and I had a thing for Lord of the Rings. So, naturally, I was inclined to become an illustrator for a number of years. I applied for a foreign art school and I got accepted. As fate had it, it all fell through, and in the meantime, I was already developing my music. I had begun recording my EP during that time, and I was also singing backing vocals for a band when I was 17. I finished my album at age 18, which gave me two

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number one songs on the local radio stations. The gigs started pouring in, and suddenly, I was playing on the biggest stages in Malta. It was a wonderful time, but I was also confused. I wanted to learn more, but I felt like I didn’t have all the tools I needed to make the music I wanted to make yet. YOUR CAREER IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY STARTED AT A VERY YOUNG AGE. WHAT LED TO YOUR MOVE TO THE NETHERLANDS? The feeling I mentioned earlier is what led me to seek out a music school to further improve my skills and knowledge. Having been mainly self-taught, I thought studying for a bachelor in music (jazz music at that), was something completely out of reach, but I had to try. With the help and encouragement of a few great local jazz musicians, I was able to prepare myself for the auditions abroad. I quit everything apart from music for a few months, and threw myself into the unknown to learn more about technique and theory of music. I haven’t looked back since. I've always been the intuitive type of musician, and I still am - preferring to figure out what it is that I'm doing after I've done it. Luckily, I was accepted into the school, although it was a very difficult process. I guess the teachers saw potential.

YOUR DEBUT ALBUM ‘WILD HONEY’ WAS RELEASED IN JUNE 2018. WHERE DID THE INSPIRATION FOR IT COME FROM? My album ‘Wild Honey’ was mostly written during 2017, when we first started recording at Rocktown Studios Issue 105 September 2018



INTERVIEW few months. I will be back in between my Scandinavian tour, for XFactor filming and maybe some local gigs! ARE THERE ANY BIG MUSICAL INSPIRATIONS YOU LOOK UP TO? WHO WOULD YOU ABSOLUTELY LIKE TO WORK WITH IN THE FUTURE? To name a few, there's Nick Drake right there at the top, as well as Fiona Apple, Bill Callahan, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Joni Mitchell, Eric Clapton, 10cc, Anne Briggs, Bert Jansch, Tinariwen, Chris's an endless list. I would absolutely love to work with Nick Cave. I wouldn't mind working with Robert Plant too. Well, you know…I'm up for anything should the opportunity arise. HOW DID YOUR ROLE AS A JUDGE/MENTOR ON THE X FACTOR COME ABOUT? My role as judge came about within a matter of days. It all went from asking about who was involved in the program to suddenly being told “you’re right for the job!” I had already booked my flight to Malta exactly during the time that filming was about to commence. It all fell impressively right into place, and it’s been a wonderful experience so far. I am bringing all that I've learned about making music to the forefront of my role. I do think I can be quite to the point with this at times.

in Rotterdam, together with producers Ocki Klootwijk, Hanyo Van Oosterom, and cellist Marien Okkerse. The songs seemed to just flow out of me during an intense grieving period after the death of a very close family member, but meanwhile, a new romance was budding too. Looking back, it was a delicate balancing act of trying to bid farewell, and welcome the new. I think the songs have a very searching quality to them. The songs ebb and flow, and at times my voice is nearly a whisper. The lyrics are all quite bittersweet and contradictory. There are the five stages of grief in there for sure, and trying to come to terms with the irreversible. Another theme is asking the loved one to ‘stay’ in some way, and wanting to fight for love. The opener song, 'Pilgrim', sets the stage for the journey of songs, which sometimes feel like a moonlit rocky path through the mountains, arriving to warm beautiful caverns for rest and shelter, then finally ascending the peak, and taking in a vast, rolling landscape with clouds floating along. In fact, the last song is a waltz called 'Keep Floating'. I find deep connections in dreams. I feel like writing songs is a bit like dreaming too - dreaming awake, and getting in touch with my subconscious mind. I lose track of time when I'm writing - I feel the past, present, and future in one instance. I've had instances when a song was a prediction of sorts too and I get the feeling that sometimes I think I know more than I do.

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Some have mentioned a ‘Mediterranean mysticism’ about the songs too, which is accurate enough. I was immensely inspired by the Mediterranean countryside while living in Rotterdam, and dreaming of Malta from far away, but also lamenting about the overdevelopment and destruction of everything that was once natural and beautiful, that is taking place currently.

WHAT SHOULD WE BE EXPECTING FROM THE X FACTOR? CAN YOU SPILL SOME DETAILS? Be prepared to laugh and cry, and for a TV production made at the highest quality. It’s amazing what Malta has to show for itself in such a program. I only hope that Maltese audiences are ready for it. There were some stand-out acts, definitely, and some really bad, yet innocent ones, too. The judges have a very interesting

dynamic, and it's great what each one brings forward since we all have such different, but also similar experiences in music. I’ll leave it up to the viewers to judge for themselves come October! ARE THERE ANY OTHER PROJECTS IN THE WORKS YOU CAN TELL US ABOUT? A second album is in its early stage of writing, and I'm also developing a few side projects. I hope to bring these to Maltese audiences too, eventually. Recently I've jumped into the world of film-making. I’m working on visual storytelling in the form of my own self-directed and edited music videos, and short videos to accompany my songs during live shows. On my Instagram page ( alexandraaldenn), one can find 30-second short movies, which I created highlighting a particular lyric from each song. They’re very evocative, even though they are so short. It’s fun to compress everything that needs to be said and shown in such a short amount of time, without sending the viewer into an overstimulated fit. This is also a quality I enjoy in lyric writing, too. I'm a big fan of Bill Callahan in that way. I really enjoy working with colour, light, symbolism, and sound. I have plans to design storybooks relating to my songs and albums, as well as designing unconventional merchandise. I guess I am still a painter too, of sorts. I was recently blown away when a nail artist created a set of nails inspired by my song ‘Ladybird’, and its backstory. I think that’s a very creative approach. If only I had more time for all of this! There is so very much to do.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR MUSIC TO SOMEONE WHO MAYBE HASN’T HEARD IT BEFORE? My usual go-to line when describing my music to people is that I am a songwriter and singer, and that I accompany myself on the guitar, using mainly fingerpicking. A bit Nick Drake-ish, and a bit Joni Mitchell-ish. But I take inspiration from everywhere. In fact, I was inspired by some West-African fingerpicking patterns for a few songs on ‘Wild Honey’. DO YOU HAVE PLANS TO PERFORM IN MALTA ANYTIME SOON? Although I've shifted my focus abroad, I do play in Malta as often as possible, and whenever I'm back, I always organise a few gigs. Most recently, I performed with my jazz and tango trio 'Fleur De Gin', which was created in the Netherlands. I also supported Ira Losco at her Women in Music concert at Teatru Rjal. I do see some concerts coming up in the future, but nothing is concrete yet. Do keep an eye out on the events pages of the venues Cafe Society and Kennedy in Valletta, though within the next Issue 105 September 2018




THREE PLASTIC BOTTLES Three plastic bottles, empty and discarded. Where do their journeys take them and how do they impact the fate of our planet? First things first: where do they come from? The plastic found in those countless empty water bottles in your car was formed by the chemical bond between oil and gas molecules called monomers (actually called Polyethylene Terephtalate). These bond together into longer shapes called polymers. They were then melted and reformed into molds and voila – water bottles! You then proceeded to buy that bottle (or more realistically, a 12-pack) from a store, opened it, drank its contents and threw it away. What happens next?

BOTTLE 1: Like hundreds, thousands, even millions of others, bottle 1 ends up in a landfill, just like Magħtab. Said landfill expands on a daily basis, taking up more and more valuable space with its potent heaps. What’s more, on those particularly windy days, all kinds of plastic can be carried by the wind into the sea and even onto the streets nearby! As time wears on and bottle 1 is compressed amongst all the other garbage, rain falls and flows through it all, absorbing water-soluble compounds, some of which are incredibly toxic and dangerous.A harmful stew called leachate is created, which moves into the soil and sea, poisoning ecosystems and killing wildlife, including that adorable baby turtle you saw on the news that time.

#Zibel is an eNGO dedicated to reducing waste and making the world we live in greener. We believe that even the smallest changes to everyday life and habits can leave a large impact on the world around us. 14 Issue 105 September 2018

Help us further our cause and make our home greener, by making these small but significant changes. Issue 105 September 2018 Follow us on Facebook and Instagram



Environment BOTTLE 2: Bottle 2’s journey into the unknown differs from the first but isn’t a happy tale either. It floats on a trickle, which eventually leads to the sea because as you may have noticed, we are completely surrounded by water.

Under the impression that this doesn’t affect you or your family? Think about it this way: A shrimp eats a brightly coloured bottle cap, thinking it’s a piece of food. The shrimp is then eaten by a herring fish. The herring is eaten by salmon and the salmon is eaten by US. Due to the fact that most plastics do not biodegrade, they continuously break down into smaller pieces called microplastics and are thus destined to rotate in our oceans forever. BOTTLE 3: Bottle 3’s story differs from the rest. You finish up that Coke Zero, rinse the bottle and throw it into a recycling bag. Trucks bring bottle 3 and all his recycled friends to a plant, where they are squeezed flat into a block. The blocks are shredded into small pieces, washed and melted. They are transformed into raw materials that can be used again (and again and again).

After months of bobbing around, bottle 2 is slowly drawn into one of the worlds’ five massive garbage vortexes, known as gyres. Trash accumulates in these gyres, as millions of pieces of the oceans’ debris are trapped, turning the surrounding water into a cloudy plastic soup. Animals get caught and entangled in the mass, unable to break free and often mistake the brightly coloured plastic pieces for food. Consuming plastic tricks the animal into thinking they are full, when in fact they are only full of bottle caps and plastic bags, which results in them starving to death and passing plastic toxins up the food chain.

Did you know it can take a plastic bottle over 1000 years to decompose? Did you know that every single piece of plastic ever created still exists on this planet? When taking these things into consideration, wouldn’t you consider recycling your goods properly, or better still, using less in the first place? #Zibel is an eNGO dedicated to reducing waste and making the world we live in greener. We believe that even the smallest changes to everyday life and habits can leave a large impact on the world around us. 16 Issue 105 September 2018

Help us further our cause and make our home greener, by making these small but significant changes. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram Issue 105 September 2018


SECOND-HAND SPREE Initially, when I had started getting second-hand clothes home, my mum used to disagree with my purchases - telling me that they are ‘dirty’ clothes. The funny thing is that I had the same mindset a couple of years ago, and what’s even funnier is that, eventually, my mum even started wearing my own second-hand clothes. Before I went on a voluntary experience in India, I had bought a big and thick cardigan for only one euro. My intention was to leave the clothes I had with me behind and to make space in my backpack for new ones. I ended up wearing this cardigan so much that I really didn’t want to leave it behind. “That one euro was so worth it!” I thought. “I have clothes that cost much more and I don’t wear them as much.” During one night in India, we gathered up in a group to watch a documentary about the deep, dark secrets of the fashion industry - the accidents, the deaths, the little pay and the bad working conditions which the people who make our clothes go through. This was something that I did not know about before. When I returned home, a seed of change was growing into a plant inside of me. I liaised with my friend and we created a Facebook group as an online space to buy and sell second-hand clothes in Malta. Although I still buy new stuff, I started doing it consciously. I started asking myself “Who did this? How much money did they get? Will I wear it enough to get its value back?” Although I still buy new stuff, I do it whilst being aware of the repercussions and the impact it has on the world and on my wallet. To increase awareness about this, today I decided to sit down, reflect, and write about why I personally love buying second-hand clothes because really and truly I absolutely do love it. AFFORDABILITY I think the biggest advantage there is to buying second-hand is the price. The clothes are much cheaper than if you were to buy them new. If you love shopping, but you are trying to save up for a dream you have, buying second-hand clothes is one of the options. If, on the other hand, you do not need to save up, buying second-hand gives you the opportunity to buy double or triple the amount of clothes with the same price. UNIQUENESS This type of shopping gives you the opportunity to wear something different, and to find something special and unique. I have a couple of dresses which I bought from charity shops that always get complimented when I wear them, because fashion is always changing, and sometimes it goes around in a circle. Think about it - the 1960s clothes are now considered as vintage, whilst the 1990s high waisted jeans and dungarees became a fashion staple again a couple of years ago. So why not try to buy the original ones from that time? THE GOOD-OLD QUALITY I don’t know if it’s just me, but the quality of today’s clothes feels really cheap. They get torn really quickly, and they change shape and form after a couple of washes. The clothes that were made years ago were completely different. Two years ago, I found a vintage coat that I liked and bought for four euro. I was so surprised at how warm it kept me 18 Issue 105 September 2018

that I decided to look into it. I found a label saying that it was made of Irish tweed, which is a handwoven material that is super expensive to buy nowadays. No wonder I ended up wearing it nearly everyday! REDUCING WASTE We recycle glass, metal, plastic, paper, and maybe compost. We don’t recycle textiles. Buying second-hand induces more sustainability in your life. It decreases manufacturing demands and avoids waste. If a dress is a waste to you, in reality, it is four euro to a stray dog or to a person in need. MAKING A DIFFERENCE I also love buying second-hand clothes because I feel like I am helping reducing the exploitation of the workers in the fashion industry in third world countries. As I’ve already mentioned, these people work very hard to earn a few cents for a sweater that we would buy for a lot of euros. A LIFE LESSON Once I started buying second-hand clothes, I decided to try and sell my own second-hand clothes. Originally, I started doing this to fundraise and donate the money to the organisation with which I went to India. I sold the clothes I didn’t used to wear and made about 100 euro. I continued selling my clothes when I got back and that taught me such a big lesson. To me 100 euro was better than nothing, but honestly, I wasn’t getting half of what I originally paid for them. From seeing and experiencing how hard it was to sell my own clothes, I started thinking twice before actually buying something. Before, I used to be too impulsive - sometimes I didn’t even try the clothes on before buying them and would end up leaving them in my wardrobe because they didn’t fit. That is just a loss - a loss for the people who work so hard to make the clothes and a loss for my savings account. THE FEELING Last but not least, I wanted to share a guilty pleasure. After washing the clothing really well, I really love the feeling of wearing it myself. I start wondering and dreaming, “Who owned this before? What did they look like? What was their character like? How old is this?” For some reason, giving preloved clothes new lives and souls gives me a huge feeling of happiness. As the English proverb says, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure!” If after reading this you still think they are dirty, remember that we reuse plates and cutlery when going to eat at a restaurant, we reuse bed sheets when sleeping at a hotel, and we use the same seats in an aeroplane as everybody else. They too were ‘dirty’ one time, but we trust that they were washed properly. What do you think? I’d love to hear different experiences and opinions. If you want to share yours, or if you want more information about fast fashion and second-hand clothes feel free to drop me a message on Facebook. I would really love to speak to you!

- Love, Brenda Casha




and I do my best to contribute to the environment. However, to be honest, I do think we are living a fast life, and this is due to the fact that most people are self-centred and require everything instantly. It’s true, awareness is indeed growing, but I do believe that more should be done. From my end, I try to make something beautiful out of waste materials.

We catch up with JAMES DIMECH, who speaks to us about his passion for wearable art using waste materials, an art form separate from mainstream fashion, yet related to it. It’s like the marriage of fashion and visual arts, taking them both outside what they are independently, and creating a new artistic platform. James Dimech proves that all masterpieces shouldn’t be hung on walls.

HOW ARE ESTABLISHED FASHION BRANDS WITHIN THE INDUSTRY TRYING TO BECOME MORE SUSTAINABLE? IS THERE ANY NEGATIVITY TOWARDS THE TOPIC? For my upcoming fashion project, I did lots of research and was surprised by how many fashion brands are taking this issue seriously - in different ways, starting from the packaging to the materials used. I guess the negative part is that not everyone is aware of this. For these brands to succeed in their venture, they need to promote what they are doing even more, and in doing so, attract people to their products.


WHY CAN YOUR WORKS BE CALLED UNIQUE AND UNUSUAL? I guess unique means one of its own. So far, all the garments I produced are made from different materials; paper, plastic, rubber, and metal. The artistry comes out in the way I mount them. If I had to replicate a garment, it may look similar but never identical. WHAT KINDS OF MATERIALS DO YOU USE TO MAKE CLOTHES? As a base to some of my garments, I’ve worked with used

YOU INITIALLY STARTED OFF YOUR CAREER AS AN INTERIOR DESIGNER. WHAT FIRST DROVE YOU TO BECOME A FASHION DESIGNER? First of all, I would like to point out that I don't like to call myself a fashion designer. I’m an artist with a passion for wearable art. During my foundation year at the Arts and Design Institute, we covered basics in all aspects of design; from interiors and graphics to fashion. 28 years ago, I never thought of fashion design as my main focus, as I always knew I wanted to become an interior designer. However, I started out in the industry as a model when I was 18 years old, and went on to win a couple of contests. I kept working till recent times as a commercial model with local agencies.

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curtain lining in good condition, with different metal and plastic additions on top. For the White Paper Star collection I used paper or paper related material. For the bases, I used paper cotton which is the material of giveaway bags used in most supermarkets. YOUR COLLECTION CALLED WHITE PAPER STARS WAS SHOWN AT THE MALTA FASHION CHAMBER’S INTERNATIONAL EVENING OF CULTURE THROUGH FASHION. WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND THIS COLLECTION? Knowing that the Gran Gala was happening at the Verdala Castle, my inspiration was the White Lady - according to the legend of the ghost of the white lady, she is seen wearing a long white flowing dress. I added the tulle to my white paper dresses, to give them a more flowing feel. WHAT ARE YOU FASCINATED BY AT THE MOMENT AND HOW DOES IT FEED INTO YOUR WORK? Well, I’m taking the paper folding technique a step further, and, at the moment, I’m in the experimental phase of something more innovative but more complex, yet still using sustainable and recycled materials. Please don't make me reveal more. I must admit that all this is happening thanks to The Chamber of Fashion Malta Foundation. The girls managing this non-profit organisation have showed so much trust in me from day one and continue to support me by giving me the right push at the right time.

ARE YOU SELF-TAUGHT OR DID YOU STUDY FASHION DESIGN? Even if I covered the basics of fashion design at school, I still learned a lot from my aunt, a professional seamstress. I used to spend time in her workshop, creating carnival costumes for my friend. I guess those were my first pieces of wearable art. My aunt taught me how to create dress patterns which I used to practise using my mother's sewing machine. ECO-FRIENDLY FASHION SEEMS TO GROW MORE POPULAR EVERY DAY. CAN YOU TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT HOW THE ISSUE OF SUSTAINABILITY INFLUENCES YOU AS A DESIGNER? As I’ve explained before, my intention was never to become a fashion designer by profession, so I wanted to do something different. As a person, I am very environmentally conscious Issue 105 September 2018



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fashion Issue 105 September 2018

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lifestyle RACHEL SPITERI With a passion for all things beauty, fashion and travel (and a soft spot for cute ginger cats), Rachel is a researcher and freelance content writer, who loves blogging, exploring new places, and trying out new baking recipes. Visit:



Many of us remember having pen friends back when we were at school. However, in spite of the developments of social media, emails, text messages and other technology, the pen friends community is still very much alive nowadays – and not just for school children.

After getting back into penpalling earlier this year, I re-discovered my love for hand writing letters the old fashioned way. Here are five reasons to get (back) into penpalling this autumn. YOU IMMERSE YOURSELF IN SOMETHING TECH-FREE The main reason I re-discovered penpalling was because I wanted to do something that did not involve looking at a computer or phone screen. Corresponding with pen

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as it used to be! Most of what we write nowadays is on our computers or phones, and typing has fast become more commonplace than actual writing. However, there’s something special and more personal about actually putting pen to paper and hand writing a letter on some pretty looking stationery. Which brings me to… YOU HAVE A GREAT EXCUSE TO BUY MORE AMAZING STATIONERY! I know I’m not the only one out there who appreciates great stationery. Different pens, paper, and notepads I never knew I needed are just some of the items I cannot resist whenever I step into a stationery shop. Penpalling is not only a great excuse to buy more stationery, but you actually get to enjoy using all the pens and paper that have been gathering dust over the years. And of course, it’s also a great excuse to get

your hands on even more stationery! YOU GET EXCITED ABOUT RECEIVING LETTERS IN THE POST Nowadays, we rarely experience the joy and excitement that comes with receiving something in the post that’s not a bill! Penpalling is a great way to guarantee receiving something positive and exciting in the post, from like-minded people in different countries. YOU CONNECT WITH LIKE-MINDED PEOPLE FROM DIFFERENT COUNTRIES Of course, one of the best things about penpalling is that you get to make friends and connect with people from all over the world. Nothing quite beats the feeling of discovering similarities you’ve got with someone who lives half way around the globe and building a friendship through your letters!

friends involves no technology at all – you hand write your letter on (actual!) stationery, and post it off at your local post office. It’s great for slowing things down, and a good reminder of the times when you wouldn’t expect to hear back from someone in an instant – something that many of us are hardly familiar with these days! YOU ACTUALLY GET TO PUT PEN TO PAPER …And realise that your handwriting isn’t anywhere as neat Issue 105 September 2018



Bershka earrings Mango dress

Mango suit

Stradivarius earrings River Island dress

Full look Stradivarius Polo-neck & gloves stylist’s own Stradivarius skirt

Stradivarius top Bershka shirt Mango trousers

Full look Mango


Some say they’re a bunch of snobby creatives passionate about Food and Wine. Others say they're a bunch of passionate creatives who became food snobs. The majority think they’re the first food and wine advertising agency that combine creatives, sommeliers, and gastronomes. One thing is sure: JacLeRoi has departed from the heart of the Italian Food Valley and is landing here in Malta.




Using Mason jars is the latest environmentally friendly food fad. What is it all about? They’re on the go grub that’s prepared in jars, like those used for tomato sauce or jam. They work well for fresh salads and snacks that are ideal for the workplace or on a day out, effectively banishing the need of buying a costly premade brunch or lunch. There is also a slightly different technique called ‘vasocottura’, which simply put, is cooking in a jar. You layer all of the ingredients into the jar, close the lid, and cook the recipe in a hot water bath, the oven, or in the microwave. Many love this practical and speedy way of cooking because it allows you to create healthy and wholesome recipes with

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minimal effort and mess. When preparing these in-jar delicacies, it doesn’t matter whether the ingredients are raw or cooked. The most important thing is to arrange the ingredients in layers, ideally using bright colours to make it appealing on the eye. For a healthy grab-n'-go breakfast or a filling, nutrition packed lunch during an adventurous road trip, a meal in a mason jar is the perfect sidekick to take along with you on your travels. Here are two quick, easy, and delicious mason jar recipes for you to try out. Trust us, you won’t be disappointed! Issue 105 September 2018





3 cups oats/grains

2 cups hazelnuts

1 teaspoon cinnamon


1 ¼ cup spelt

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

¼ teaspoon salt


1 teaspoon salt

½ cup coconut oil

1/3 cup honey 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive

1 cup dried blueberries

1 cup raisins

1 red onion, chopped

METHOD 1. 2.

3. 4.

Preheat the oven to 135°. Line a large baking tray with a sheet of baking paper and put it to one side. In a bowl, mix oats, hazelnuts, blueberries, raisins, cinnamon, adding a pinch of salt. Add the coconut oil and honey and stir until incorporated. Spread out granola on baking

5. 6.

2 ½ tablespoons vinegar

½ cup red and yellow cherry tomatoes (halved)

10 tablespoons grilled tofu

5 cups lettuce

5 cucumbers, sliced

Sunflower seed (optional)

METHOD sheet. Bake for 45 minutes until golden brown, stirring halfway through. Let the granola cool on a cooling rack for 20 to 30 minutes. Store it in a large mason jar. Best served with greek yogurt and fresh fruits.

1. 2. 3. 4.

Using a medium saucepan, cover the prerinsed spelt with water. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until it’s tender. Drain and mix in the extra virgin olive oil and salt. Set aside to cool. In each of the mason jars


6. 7.

divide all the ingredients starting with dressing. Then layer tomatoes, lettuce, onion and cucumbers with the grilled tofu on the top. Finish with a sprinkle of sunflower seed. Close lid tightly. Shake before eating.



IN THE GLUTEN-FREE KITCHEN Try Jacqui Farrugia’s mouthwatering Nutella Brownies and BBQ Pulled Pork to see how delicious eating gluten-free can be. For a variety of glutenfree recipes be sure to check out her website

NUTELLA BROWNIES For all Nutella Lovers! Making brownies cannot get any easier! NO flour, NO butter, NO added sugar! Lovely on their own or else served topped with a scoop of ice-cream for a quick and easy dessert! These can be made plain with just two ingredients, or else add puffed rice and chopped hazelnuts to make them even more decadent.

INGREDIENTS • 4 eggs • 330g Nutella OPTIONAL • 1/2 cup gluten free puffed rice • 1/3 cup chopped hazelnuts

METHOD 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.


Preheat oven to 180C. Break the eggs and beat until they thicken and triple in volume. Heat the Nutella in the microwave for 1 minute in bursts of 20 seconds, stirring each time. Add the Nutella slowly to the eggs beating on low speed until it is combined. Add the chopped hazelnuts and puffed rice if using. Pour mixture into rice paper-lined 22cm x 22 cm pan and bake till a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the middle. When cool, dust with icing sugar, cut into squares and enjoy! Issue 105 September 2018 Issue 105 September 2018



BARBECUED PULLED PORK A crockpot, budget-friendly and easy recipe for Barbecued Pulled Pork! So flavourful and tender. Delicious in a bun, as it is usually served, but is also great on creamy polenta with a fried egg on top! Heaven! INGREDIENTS • • • • • • • • •

1 pork shoulder 1 large onion, chopped 1/2 cup red wine 2 tbsps tomato paste 1/4 cup soft brown sugar 1/4 cup cider vinegar 3-4 garlic cloves, minced 1 tsp ground coriander 1 tsp ground cumin

• • • • • • •

1 tsp turmeric 1 tbsp smoked paprika OR 1 tbsp sweet paprika with 1 tsp liquid smoke 1 tsp powdered chilli 1 tsp mixed spice 1 cup gluten free vegetable, beef or chicken stock 1 sprig of fresh thyme or 1 tsp

• • • •

dried thyme 2 bay leaves 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce* 1/2 cup tomato ketchup* 2 tbsp honey

* Ensure the brand you use is Gluten Free

METHOD 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9.


In a large pan, sear the pork shoulder on all sides in a little olive oil. Remove and set aside. Saute the chopped onion until translucent and then add the half cup red wine, a tbsp tomato puree and about a quarter cup brown sugar. Leave to cook on a very low flame for some minutes so it caramelizes slightly. Add the vinegar and the garlic and cook for a couple minutes. Start adding the spices, the ground coriander the cumin, turmeric, smoked paprika (or sweet paprika with a tsp of liquid smoke) the chilli powder and the mixed spice. Add a little stock so it will not dry up, about half cup. Add also the herbs, the fresh or dried thyme and bay leaves and about a tbsp of Worchestershire Sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Finally, add about half a cup of tomato ketchup and also 2 tablespoons of honey. If it is too thick, thin it down with a little stock but do not add too much. Place the pork shoulder in a crockpot and pour in the sauce. Cook on low until when tested the pork shreds quickly. This can take up to 8 hours. Occasionally turn the pork shoulder in the sauce. Once it is very tender, grab two forks and shred it, still inside the crockpot. Mix the shredded pork into the sauce. Your pulled pork is now ready! Issue 105 September 2018 Issue 105 September 2018



health Georgiana Farrugia Bonnici She is a 27 year old, diagnostic radiographer and 5th year medical student at the University of Malta.


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric condition that is triggered by a terrifying event in one’s life, either via experiencing or witnessing it. Individuals who are at a higher risk for developing PTSD include emergency health care workers, medical students, soldiers, victims of natural disasters, terrorist attacks, rape, kidnapping, sexual or physical abuse, childhood neglect as well as those experiencing the sudden death of a loved one. After a traumatic experience, it is expected for a person to feel frightened, anxious, or disconnected from society, however PTSD may develop if these rigid feelings do not gradually fade away, or start interfering with one’s activities of daily living. PTSD symptoms may develop within months to years after a traumatic event, and are typically grouped into four distinct types: INTRUSIVE MEMORIES Symptoms may include distressing flashbacks or upsetting dreams of a traumatic event, as well as severe emotional distress or physical reactions to something that reminds a person of the event. AVOIDANCE Symptoms may include avoiding places, activities or people that remind a person of a particular traumatic event. NEGATIVE CHANGES IN THINKING AND MOOD Symptoms may consist of an inability to experience positive emotions, lack of interest in previously enjoyable activities, memory glitches or difficulties in maintaining close relationships.

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CHANGES IN EMOTIONAL REACTIONS Symptoms of changes in emotional reactions could result in troubled sleep or lack of concentration, aggressive behaviour, feelings of overwhelming guilt, as well as being easily startled and constantly on guard for danger. PTSD can leave an individual feeling powerless and vulnerable, however, it is important for one to realise that they are not helpless. Getting effective treatment after PTSD symptoms develop can be critical to reduce symptoms and improve overall function. The first self-help tip would be to engage in any rhythmic exercise routine that helps to release endorphins and unwind the nervous system. Secondly, spending time in the midst of nature, mindful breathing and social interaction with close family or friends can help in alleviating anxiety. Moreover, volunteering can turn out to be a great way to reclaim one’s sense of power, whilst joining a PTSD support group can help an individual feel less isolated and also provide invaluable information on coping with symptoms as well as working towards recovery. The symptoms of PTSD can be excruciating on one’s body so it is vitally important to take care of oneself and develop healthy lifestyle habits. When struggling with difficult emotions and traumatic memories, one may be tempted to indulge in alcohol or drugs, however substance abuse worsens many symptoms of PTSD, interferes with treatment as well as building sound relationships. Types of professional treatment for PTSD include trauma-focused cognitive behavioural therapy, as well as prescribed medications to relieve secondary symptoms of depression or anxiety if the need arises. Issue 105 September 2018



interview health


is the Superintendent of the Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Directorate. She is a senior lecturer at the University of Malta and is active in the field of public health. T: 23266000


Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death and disability in the world, killing 17.5 million people a year

• • • • •

rise, and legumes. Cut down on sugary beverages and fruit juices and opt for mineral water instead. Include five daily portions of fruit and vegetables, as these are high in vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants. Keep the amount of alcohol you drink within recommended guidelines. Try to limit processed and pre-packaged foods that are often high in salt, sugar, and fat Make your own healthy school or work lunches at home. Use smaller plates and follow guidelines for portion sizes.

• • •

• •

If you are overweight or obese, or you have been yo-yoing with your weight over some time, seek support. The Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Directorate offers free weight management programmes.

KNOW YOUR RISKS By taking the steps above, you and your family can reduce the burden of heart disease and stroke. It is important to keep a regular check on your heart health.

SAY "NO" TO TOBACCO One in every two smokers will eventually die of tobaccorelated diseases. Second-hand smoke (tobacco smoke inhaled by non-smokers) kills more than 600,000 nonsmokers world-wide every year - including children. Quitting smoking and avoiding second-hand smoke reduces risk of cardiovascular disease. Quitting is the single best thing you do to improve your heart’s health. •

Cardiovascular disease generally refers to conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain (angina), or stroke. According to the Global Atlas on cardiovascular disease prevention and stroke, over 17.5 million deaths occur each year due to cardiovascular disease. 7.3 million of these are from ischaemic heart disease and 6.2 million from stroke. There are some factors which cannot be modified. These include: AGE The risk of stroke doubles every decade after age 55. GENDER As a man you are at greater risk of heart disease than a premenopausal woman. Once past the menopause stage, a woman’s risk is similar to a man’s. Risk of stroke is similar for men and women. ETHNICITY People with African or Asian ancestry are at higher risks of developing cardiovascular disease than other racial groups. SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS Being poor increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. A chronically stressful life, social isolation, anxiety and depression, also increase the risk. However, there are other risk factors which can be modified. Small lifestyle changes can make a powerful difference to our 46 Issue 105 September 2018

cardiovascular health: 30 minutes of activity a day, giving up smoking and eating a healthy diet can help prevent such disease. GET ACTIVE Physical activity enhances health and the chances of a better quality of life. 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity five times per week reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke. It is important to set realistic goals. Building up levels of activity gradually will seem less overwhelming and is safer than trying to run a marathon on the first go. Think how you can fit physical activity into your daily lifestyle; use the stairs instead of taking the lift, walk or cycle instead of driving, park some distance away from your destination or stop one bus stop earlier and walk that extra distance. Take up a form of physical activity which suits you best such as walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, dancing, aerobics, or zumba. Some evidence shows that monitoring your physical activity can help. Therefore, make use of an exercise application on your smart phone or use a pedometer to keep track of your progress. EAT A HEALTHY DIET A healthy diet which is rich in fruit and vegetables helps prevent cardiovascular disease. Some tips are: • • • •

Swap cakes and other sweets for alternative sweet treats such as fruits. Avoid adding salt to food or during its preparation. Avoid trans and saturated fats. Choose good fats found in olive oil, sunflower seed and nuts, tuna, salmon, and sardines. Eat complex carbohydrates such as wholegrain bread, pasta,

Within 15 years, the risk of cardiovascular disease returns to that of a non-smoker. Exposure to second-hand smoke is also a cause of disease in non-smokers. It is crucial to ban smoking in your home and car to protect your family. Quit smoking or at least smoke outside until you quit the habit. Educate children on the dangers of tobacco use. If you are finding it hard to stop smoking, ask your healthcare professional for advice or consider attending a smoking-cessation support organised by the Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Directorate.

Visit your doctor who can measure your blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels, waist circumference, and Body Mass Index. Speak with your doctor to develop a specific plan of action to reduce the risk factors and to improve your health.

For more information contact the Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Directorate on or call on 23266000.

Within two years of quitting, the risk of coronary heart disease is substantially reduced.

Donate Blood

save a life Blood Donation Centre

i n G u a r d a m a n g i a o p e n s 7 d ay s a w e e k f r o m 0 8: 0 0 t i l l 18: 0 0 . E: T: 220 66 209 | M: 79 307 307 2nd September

Xewkija Berġa from 8:00am till 1:00pm.

Xewkija Gozo – mobile team – in Xewkija Berġa from 8:00am till 1:00pm.

23th September

9th September Attard - mobile unit – behind Parish Church from 8:30am till 1:00pm. 16th September Senglea - mobile unit – in front of Parish Church from 8:30am till 1:00pm. Xewkija Gozo – mobile team – in

Mellieħa - mobile unit – in front of Parish Church from 8:30am till 1:00pm. 30th September Birżebbuġia - mobile unit – next to Primary School from 8:30am till 1:00pm. Xewkija Gozo – mobile team – in Xewkija Berġa from 8:00am till 1:00pm.

w w w.facebook .com/bloodmalta

30mins is all it takes



travel SASHA SHUMARAYEVA is a travel blogger at She loves “slow travel� and living like a local. Travel aside, she loves making videos, living sustainably and she just might be a mermaid.



The ancient cities of Marrakesh, Chefchaouen, Fez, and Essaouira are exciting, beautiful, and simply musts for first timers to Morocco - with no trip to the North African country truly complete without an overnight camping excursion in the Sahara desert. With a carefully planned itinerary, taking advantage of Morocco's extensive train network, busses and affordable taxis, it is possible to have the feeling that you have experienced a lifetime in just a one or two week trip. Get lost in the winding medina of Fez, fall in love with the many shades of Chefchaouen's blue streets, and take part in the sheer craziness that is Djemaa el-Fna in Marrakesh (snake charmers, sheep brains, snail soup, and need I say more?). No matter where you decide to stay in Morocco, your

day begins Moroccan style over a delectable breakfast of fresh squeezed orange juice, mint tea, Turkish style coffee, fresh figs, an assortment of homemade jams, and soft breads. You're sure to feel like true royalty lounging in the courtyards of 17th century palaces that have been turned into luxury boutique riads. With a hot mint tea and a great book in hand, let the morning slowly pass before stepping into the hot buzz outside. Your days will be a mix of admiring the kasbah's striking architecture and intricate detail, riding camels because why not, taking a cooking class to master the art of the tagine and shopping that lives up to its reputation in the medina's labyrinth of souqs.

Morocco, a world away, and yet just at our doorstep, is the mystical and dizzying gateway to Africa.

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travel • End your day at a traditional hammam for a treatment that leaves you glowing and softer than a newborn baby. Expect to be washed with olive soap and rose water, steamed and scrubbed like there's no tomorrow, and finally massaged with argan and essential oils. From navigating the souqs in ancient cities to indulging in a Berber ‘whiskey’ (the special brewed Moroccan mint tea) in the Sahara desert, Morocco is an exotic destination for the traveller who seeks an experience they will never forget. THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: • Know your prices before you start haggling. In the souqs it is a common practice for merchants to sell goods at 60% above their value.

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• •

Being a conservative Muslim country, it is respectful for female travellers to cover their shoulders and knees. Opt for long airy clothes rather than the Western style short shorts and tank top. Don't fall for the "let me show you the way" scam. If you let a seemingly helpful Moroccan show you the way to a restaurant or hotel, expect to pay them for this service. Luxury products like argan oil and saffron are commonly faked with merchants selling sunflower oil as the costly argan, and even dyed mouse hair as saffron. Always agree on a price before hopping into a taxi or getting a service. Many Moroccans don't like their photo taken so be respectful. Issue 105 September 2018


Travel MANDY FARRUGIA Following her studies in business and languages, she had the opportunity to work and travel for international companies in the tourism industry. Since then, she indulged in her passion for photography, travel writing and scuba diving with lots of destinations yet to discover.


Some of the world’s most astonishing night sky views are found in very remote areas, and are perhaps quite difficult to reach. When thinking about the skies, my all-time favourite phenomena are definitely the northern lights, which I was very lucky to admire on various occasions, while I was living in Iceland. I was similarly impressed a few months after, while at a starlight reserve on the Canary Islands. Here it is not possible to admire this natural spectacle, but it is still regarded as one of the world’s top locations for star-gazing, while relaxing on the soft coral sand dunes with the sounds of the ocean in the background. However, it was only last December, while visiting the Isle of Wight that I succeeded in learning further about this subject. While on this family visit, I met with Kurt who is dedicated to astrophotography, and there we spent evenings speaking about stars! Kurt Calleja, who is currently living in the United

Kingdom, spoke to me about his consuming interest in this field of photography, the techniques he utilises to achieve the best imagery, and the natural elements which he sometimes has to face. “Living on the Isle of Wight, a small Island on the South Coast of the United Kingdom, I feel lucky enough to have breath-taking views on my doorstep. Apart from being able to capture images of beautiful landscapes and coastlines, I also enjoy photographing the night sky. Being in a part of the country where I can escape the light pollution that cities cast into the skies, and having an interest in space, I was always drawn to long exposure photography. This is the technique whereby the camera’s shutter is kept open for as long as possible to absorb as much light as it can.

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Travel education


The goal is to reproduce the scene as accurately as possible using the light that is available. My inspiration comes from the feeling of seeing the Milky Way core next to a roaring ocean, in the middle of the night, and just generally being outside and spotting interesting compositions. A lot of the world does not get to see these sights, with over a third of humanity not being able to see the Milky Way as well as only a fraction of the stars that can be viewed from dark sky locations. The hope that someone might see these images and be inspired to experience it for themselves is another reason I enjoy capturing these images.” Just like Impressionist Artists, who tried to capture different moods of specific scenes in different times of the day, Kurt is very interested in achieving different shots of the Milky Way at different times. He explained that in

reality this is an intriguing line of light in the centre of our galaxy. It is the galaxy that contains our solar system. The descriptive word used “Milky” is a result of its appearance from the earth - a sash of light as seen in the night sky, formed by stars that cannot be individually distinguished by the naked eye. Watching a clear sky full of stars, getting glimpses of the Milky Way rising over the horizon, or hunting for the Aurora Borealis are very exhilarating and fascinating experiences. Especially when considering that most of us have been raised and live in urban areas, surrounded by ever-rising buildings, where we can never see clearly such marvels and cannot imagine the hindrances and damages that light pollution can cause.


The data is stored as a RAW file, which can be opened and processed in computer software to correct exposure, white balance, shadows, highlights and saturation. It can also be used to stack multiple exposures, to get more detail in the sky, or to expose the foreground separately.

It does not take much to experience such a magical night! Discover the best spots, get out of the city and venture into the darkness. It may reward you with the most celestial event you could ever imagine!

Follow Kurt Calleja on Instagram: @freezingphotons


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Photos: Kurt Calleja (Astrophotography on the Isle of Wight) Issue 105 September 2018





IN THE MALTESE FESTA The colour used during some of the Maltese feast celebrations is contingent, whose meaning, like language, lies in the particular context in which band club aficionados experience and interpret. Words by Simon Farrugia.

The Maltese festa is highly important in Maltese and Gozitan localities. Here one can find a band club or two, and in some cases, even a third one. The highlight of festivity produced by these bands is displayed during the summer months, where, amongst other traditions, one notices wind bands performing new marches, exceptionally decorated churches, and streets packed with people. In several localities, a particular colour is assigned to one band club. This is highly evident in the Maltese festa - some using red and others blue, while others green and white, so as to distinguish them from one another. So one may say that the Maltese band club is a representation of the Maltese society, but in a much smaller space. This depiction includes the committee (the president and the members forming the same committee), band aficionados, and the band which forms the club itself. As each country has a national anthem (patriotic musical composition), band clubs in Malta have an anthem which represents their society that evokes and eulogises the traditions and its past experiences. In this context, the colour is even used to represent the ‘każin’. Colour is not only the characteristic of human visual perception which is described through colour categories

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(named as red, blue, green, white, orange and so on), but holds an array of meaning to people around the world with different cultural backgrounds, and can inspire people’s emotions. Additionally, colour denotes meaning in several religions. In fact, it signifies aspects of religion, and it is even used in religious ceremonies for instance the red which symbolises the blood of Jesus Christ and sacrifice. The colour blue in the Maltese feast, for instance, represents the Blessed Virgin Mary. According to scholars, the colour blue signifies biblical roots, and is specifically mentioned in the book of Numbers where it refers to the people of Israel. This means that blue is a very important colour in the artistic traditions of Christianity, and thus reminds us of Mary’s faithfulness, and her privileged role in the history of salvation. Other colours frequently used in feasts are yellow/gold which symbolise the glory, faith and joy of God; and white indicating surrender, righteousness, and conquest. If these two colours are combined (gold/yellow and white), they form the flag of the Vatican City. Nevertheless, colours do not always signify religious meaning to all Maltese, since they also have other connotations. Issue 105 September 2018


entertainment The two colours, red and blue as examples, are used by several band clubs in Malta. In parallel, these colours are also used by Malta’s two main political parties; red used by the MLP while blue is used by the PN. The use of these colours by the two political parties is very evident during mass political activities organised by the same parties. This distinction may be noted in several villages that have two or three band clubs. Underlying these colours used during the festa celebration, there are past ingredients which have become part of the way in which we Maltese celebrate. These may have been integrated with the tradition since some band clubs have had relations with certain political parties. In fact, 70 years since the beginning of bands in Malta (circa 1860s till the 1930s), several band clubs in Malta have supported a political party or a specific politician. However, nowadays, club members are not to express political views in the club, and the club cannot be used as part of the political campaign to display posters, leaflets, and any other material related to politics. It may be a coincidence to have two band clubs in the same locality - one assigned to red, and the other to blue. However, present is a continuation of the past, and thus the use of these colours may imply a belonging to one political party or the other. Colours used during feasts indicate local communality

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entertainment among the people active in the same band club. Generally, people belonging to the same community speak the same language and have, more or less, a common cultural setup. Maltese band clubs are filled with people coming from different strata of society. They do not only meet in the club to discuss things related to the feast. The club is also a place where they can feel that they belong, a place which their own relatives were also a part of. The club may also be a place to discuss national politics casually. Then, on festa day, everyone waves the same flag and thus endorses the same mentality, beliefs and safeguards the band club’s historical experiences. Therefore, the colour used during some of the Maltese feast celebrations is contingent, whose meaning, like language, lies in the particular context in which band club aficionados experience and interpret. Undeniably, colours used during the Maltese festa devour symbolism. To some, the colours yellow, white and blue signify biblical meaning, whereas to others the use of colours such as the red and blue represent a sense of communal belonging among the locals and serve as representations of past national politics which ended in partisan politics. However, this theory stands to be corrected. Issue 105 September 2018





AGAINST GAMERS Most of the time, when an adult tells someone that they’re into video games, they’re immediately met with a frown or puzzled look. Society has deemed this is not an activity to be looked highly upon. This is despite the amount of mental exertion, and sometimes critical thinking, required in some games. Words by Matt Brown

doesn’t necessarily mean you sit there on a console. I’d argue the majority of people who own mobile phones have played, or do play some form of game on them, whether it was Snake on a Nokia 3310, or Candy Crush on a modern smart phone, tarnishing themselves with the gamer label. Gaming is an active pastime, not a passive one. Around the water cooler on a Monday morning, it is accepted when someone talks about spending the weekend binge watching a TV series on Netflix – a passive activity, which, depending on the series, can require no thought whatsoever, but just a coma like daze with image and sound washing over them. Whereas, if I were to try to discuss how I spent the weekend trying to beat a boss in Dark Souls, well, it wouldn’t be the best idea.

Not all games are Call of Duty, like not all cinema is Scarface, and not every novel is American Psycho. Gaming can take the player on wondrous personal adventures and journeys, and that’s a key point - they are always personal. No other medium can come close to this. I’ve had many idle discussions with friends about a game we are both playing, and how drastically different our experience with the world and inhabitants has been- how through our choices we have crafted different stories, meaning and adventures. That seldom happens with other mediums. Video games have grown up with their audience, and maybe it’s time those who don’t indulge, grow up a little, too.

Video games are active entertainment - they require mental thought, concentration, and reflexes. Of course, this can depend on what game you are playing, but regardless, the point still stands. Videogames are not all violent, nor do they lead to actual violent acts. Let’s get over the second point now; violent video games don’t make people violent. Rock n’ Roll in the 50’s didn’t destroy an entire generation. Violent cinema doesn’t make everyone who watches it a killer. The list is endless, and video game content is as diverse and eclectic as any medium you can think off.

SPONSORED BY: When asked what my hobbies are, the honest answer is that first and foremost, in my spare time, I am a gamer. This isn’t the answer I generally give, though. Video games have had, and continue to have a social stigma attached to them. They are childish pastimes, beholden to socially awkward teenagers who sit in their darkened bedrooms, playing nothing but Call of Duty for hours on end. As a child, I was guilty of this - idling long hours away, 60 Issue 105 September 2018

exploring fantasy worlds such as Hyrule (Zelda series) or trying to best Sephiroth (Final Fantasy 7). As I grew older, my love of gaming never subsided - just the amount of free time I had to indulge in my favourite past time. The stigma around it hasn’t changed much in the 30 some years I’ve been playing, though. My partner also plays video games, and, in fact, she’s quite taken with a series from Bethesda, called the Fallout series. But, games aren’t for girls apparently, despite the fact that women make up almost half the gaming demographic. Of course, being a gamer

This month we are giving away a copy of MIRROR MIRROW BY CARA DELEVINGNE Which Comic character did Cara Delevingne play in the movie SUICIDE SQUAD? 1. Harley Quinn 2. Enchantress 3. Katana

Send your entries to

by no later than 15th September. Last month's winner is MARIA RITA MUSCAT Issue 105 September 2018



motor sports JOE ANASTASI

Available from John Bull Tel: 21571025, 99448738

started competing in local motorsport in 1964 with a Mini Cooper S. He also took part in numerous races in Sicily, including the famous Targa Florio, winning on seven occasions. Now retired, Joe helps Malta's young drivers to compete in Motorsport events in Sicily.

THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM Difficult to lose your way around the Targa Florio these days.

It’s been pretty quiet in recent weeks on the local motorsport front in so far as sporting events are concerned, though that does not mean that race cars have just been locked up in garages awaiting for the return of winter. Far from it. The five-week break since mid-July, has seen an unbelievable amount of activity going on in preparation for the very busy next few weeks. In fact, as I scribble these lines on the 20th of August, things are pretty much at fever pitch, for in just two days’ time, six local hill climb enthusiasts will be boarding the Virtu Ferry for Pozzallo again, and from there to the lovely little hilltop village of Chiaramonte Gulfi, to participate in the 61st edition of the now famous Salita dei Monti Iblei. The 5.5km hill climb from the exit of the SS514 to Chiaramonte, way up in the Iblei mountain range of Southern Sicily, is nowadays considered by many as our very own ‘gara di casa’ home race, and rightly so too, since the first recorded Maltese entries in this event, date back to May 1978 and the 22nd edition of the Coppa Monti Iblei. On that wonderful May weekend, my brother in law, Alex Zammit and I, participated in our first overseas hill climb. A mile stone? Perhaps. A contagious disease? Definitely. Chiaramonte 1978 may have been my first CSAI hill climb, but it certainly wasn’t the first event in Sicily which I had participated in. That dubious honour goes to the famous Targa Florio, a World Championship event in those days, and on reflection almost half a century down the road, an event in which I was way out of my depth in every possible sense of the word. The Targa Florio was run for the first time in 1906 when Count Vincenzo Florio organised a road race along some 110 miles of mountain roads, in the beautiful Madonie mountain range in North Western Sicily. The race grew in popularity, to the extent that immediately post war, it was given the World Sports Car Championship status. Nowadays, it is recognised as one of the most famous races in motor sport history, on an equal level with the Le Mans 24 hours in France, the Monaco Grand Prix, and the Indianapolis 500 in the USA. The ‘Targa’ lost its World Championship status after 1973, and continued as a round of the Italian National Championship till 1977, when, following a tragic accident, it was decided that such an event, then run on the 47 mile ‘Piccolo circuito’, was pretty much impossible to run in

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Winners in 1972 were Mrezario and Munari in the works Ferrari 312.

safety. ‘My’ Targa happened in 1972. Three years earlier, a friend had bought a beautiful, yellow, Ford GT40, and plans were being hatched for us to take part in the Targa Florio with it. Now, the Targa was nothing new to us as spectators. My brother David and I had driven my Mini Cooper across Sicily to watch the famous race as far back as 1966, when I was just 20 and David was just 17. We drove there every May after that, till it lost its World Championship status in 1973, and mixed well with the British contingent that trekked across the continent to participate in the great race each year. It became a very convenient relationship the Brits using us as interpreters, and we in turn, managing to get into all the interesting areas. My friend sold the GT40 in 1971, but I had decided I wanted to do the race somehow, and as luck would have it, it was then that I met up with the late Matteo Sgarlata, a Sicilian racer of repute, who had already taken part in previous editions of the ‘Targa’. It was agreed that I would prepare my Mini for the event, and he would see to entries, paperwork, documentation, and all the other red tape which has always been part and parcel with Italian motor racing. In May 1972, my girlfriend Carolyn and I boarded the ferry for the eight hour crossing to Sicily and the Targa Florio. Matteo was at the port in Syracuse to greet us, complete with trailer. We loaded the Mini up and started the long trek across Sicily. And boy was it long. No autostradas - his tired Lancia tow car, with five people on board, making very slow progress, till we eventually reached Cefalu in the dead of night. Scrutineering was a nightmare. As the Mini was entered in the prototype class, I was asked to produce a manufacturer’s certificate for the car, a certificate for the fuel tank, and dozens of other bits of paper which I had no idea even existed. However, by noon on Friday we had procured a fuel tank certificate from Angelo Giliberti’s car and some stiff cardboard to make up some wheel arches. With help from Maureen Laferla, who was a dab hand with a typewriter, and a little printers shop in Cefalu, we even managed to produce some remarkably authentic looking John Bull Racing letterheads on which we printed – forged – a manufacturer’s certificate in English. And the Italian scrutineers thought it was all wonderful. They probably couldn’t read a word

That glorious Saturday lap.

Porsche built the nimble 908/3 expressly for the Targa Florio.

The Mini made it to the centre spread of that week's Autosprint magazine.

My brother David and Adrian Zammit Tabona were soon on the scene. Issue 105 September 2018


MOTOR SPORTS of English, but they must have thought it was pretty good, for in no time at all, they gave me my scrutineering pass, complete with rubber stamp and signature. And this, my friends, was a World Championship motor race. Try doing that today! I managed two laps of practice on Friday afternoon, but of course learning 47 miles of mountain roads is not something you do in two laps. The Mini felt good, even if it was a bit frustrating seeing Porsche 908Ts flash past as thought I was standing still. The story ends 40 miles down the road! It was quite an uneventful lap, even if half the time I had no idea which way the circuit went. Mostly, I was being overtaken by Porsches, Ferraris, and Alfa Romeos, and the many seasoned locals who knew the circuit blindfolded. I did manage to enjoy the odd exciting dice, though it was one such dice which was to be my undoing. Having covered most of the inland mountain region, I was making good progress towards the North Coast. Racing down the main road at Collesano, I spotted a blue dot a fair distance ahead. With every turn, I realised this blue dot was getting bigger, and soon that dot was recognisable as a French Alpine. It’s amazing how one’s adrenaline increases in such circumstances. By the time we got to Campofelice di Rocchella, the Alpine was well in my sights. From Campofelice, the road twists and turns in a combination of fast downhill curves to the five mile Bonfornello straight, by which time I had caught right up and tucked into his slipstream for the pass. What I didn’t

My Targa Florio medal. My smallest but most important trophy.

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realise, of course, was that with his five speeds, he had far more speed than I had. Before I knew it, the rev counter needle had gone ‘way off the clock’, and the engine suddenly went on two cylinders. I found the first exit, which was at the Esso filling station and parked the Mini there. Word soon got around that I had stopped out on the circuit, and shortly after qualifying ended, my brother David and other friends, turned out to see what the problem was. We removed the cylinder head, hoping that we would be able to find some quick fix, and be ready for the race the following morning. The news wasn’t good. The two centre pistons had detonated. Game over. It was a great disappointment of course, but the Targa is one of the most gruelling races in the World, and we were totally out of our depth, totally inexperienced, and totally underfinanced to even have dreamt of participating in such an event. Still, today I have my Targa Florio medal and a few photos as reminders. It is a small medal, but it takes pride of place in my collection since there are not many people that have one of those. I could write a book about that weekend, with all the anecdotes and heartaches, but I have no regrets. The Targa Florio is no more, but if I had to participate in such an event again today, the engine in my Mini would be a very different beast, a much tamer, more reliable one that would be guaranteed to go the distance. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, isn’t it.