Visit to Malta – The best nativity scenes in Europe?


Nativity scenes usually give people two very different ideas, tacky and naff or part of the very core part of Christmas to imagine a visual scene of Christ’s arriving into the world.    Was this horribly early?   No, actually I saw this first week of December.

Malta, which of course is a Catholic country actually takes this tradition very seriously, more than any other county I have visited (although I have yet to visit Italy)

nativity2 nativity3

As well as a complete scene, it seems you can instead buy all the bits separately, expanding your collection each year.   In this store, this place has the animals, figures and scenery next to a Nespresso machine and kitchen cleaners.


nativity4Best of all, are these nativity scenes which some local people can take up a whole garage!!

Notice the signs here and in others I have seen seem to make it clear what the object of it all.   :)

Malta has people from other religious groups here, but hasn’t put any silly restrictions on celebrating a very important day.  Merry Christmas!!

St Julians Bay – Quite homely for the British – Marsaxlokk – Valletta the old capital – Community in Malta – The best nativity scenes in Europe?

Trip to Malta – Community in Malta


Having greetings on a door frame like this, reminds me of the small diagonal things fixed to the frame of Jewish houses in Israel.

Incidentally particularly around Valletta, I saw small postcards with photos announcing a death of someone from their family.   Kind of like people used to do in newspapers in the UK.

This is also exactly whats done in Israel among Jews, Arab Muslims and Christians, to announce a bereavement to the local community.


Malta has the largest numbers of churches in the world, but seems there a few others as well as Catholicism.


I like the sense of community here in this island.   As I mentioned earlier, Maltese is a Semitic language, so its related to Hebrew and Arabic.   It actually sounds spoken about half way between Italian and Arabic.   When you consider its half way between Italy and Tunisia it shouldn’t really be surprising.   Its also the only Semitic language that uses ordinary Roman letters and not a right to left type system.


Beware of Jellyfish!!!

St Julians Bay – Quite homely for the British – Marsaxlokk – Valletta the old capital – Community in Malta – The best nativity scenes in Europe?


Trip to Malta – Valletta the old capital

Malta’s capital city is about a 3 kilometer walk from the hotel I was staying in St Julian’s


valetta street

This ancient streets look a world away from anything else!!

valetta pano - Copy

P1070344 2


There’s a lot of cafes and restaurants in this old city’s centre, but my camera decided it was broken possibly after being dropped earlier in the day, so not many pics here.

Plaque displayed proudly in the city centre square, showing its Commonwealth connections.

St Julians Bay – Quite homely for the British – Marsaxlokk – Valletta the old capital – Community in Malta – The best nativity scenes in Europe?

Trip to Malta – Marsaxlokk

Marsaxlokk is pronounced “Marsa shlock” is a picturesque fishing town with quite a few outdoor restaurants.

The market resembles half a fish market and half a car boot sale :)



marsaxlokk fish


My good friend Peter lives here, he was born in Malta, and lived for a while in my home town of Portsmouth, now hes back in Malta and teaching English.   He often takes his students out for a beer when they have finished studying.    This was a really pleasant afternoon in this small village.


This cacti look interesting, they look like a lot of the ones I’ve seen in Israel.   The Maltese take off the fruits (which is very difficult and dangerous due to thin razor spikes on them)  and make them into honey, well, its more of a flavoured syrup.   I bought some of this to take home which I think is a uniquely Maltese thing.

St Julians Bay – Quite homely for the British – Marsaxlokk – Valletta the old capital – Community in Malta – The best nativity scenes in Europe?

Visit to Malta – Quite homely for the British

IMG_20141128_085921718This is what I saw when I woke up in my hotel in St Julians.  Yeah my hotel room faced not the beach end :)


Its cheap too.  I had a beer and a F’tira which is a local sandwich made from Maltese own style of bread for about 6 Euros.   I think this must be one of the cheapest Euro-currency countries to live, although I don’t think the salaries here are all that great.  There are a lot of retired British people out here.

IMG_20141128_151705081 IMG_20141128_151049539

It also appeals to boaty sort of people, being a tiny island, there are ordinary folk and the rich and the wealthy that live here.   The first day I got to see this marina with my good friend Peter who lives out here.

petrol station

Shops are quite old school here, less big stores and chains and more smaller type places, here this petrol station seems oldy worldy.   Might be to do with this island is quite tiny so petrol stations have to operate in smaller places I think.


Unlike all of mainland Europe, but like Britain, this country drives on the left!!    Sandy white walls remind me a lot of Israel.   I’d recommend renting a car like we did, which is as little as 12 Euros a day!!


valetta phoneboxSadly, only a few years before I visited, it seems Malta’s characteristic ancient yellow buses and no longer in service.   I think might be to do with them being less and less unreliable and not so feasible to run, occasionally I did see a few like this one re-purposed as a mobile gift shop.

St Julians Bay – Quite homely for the British – Marsaxlokk – Valletta the old capital – Community in Malta – The best nativity scenes in Europe?

Visit to Malta – St Julians Bay

Last year I visited Malta, a small island in the Mediterranean which sits half way between Europe and North Africa.

In actual fact, October of last year I was get fed up with my job and needed a break, I have meaning to visit Malta for years as I have a friend over there and lots of history to see.

st julians bay pano

This is the wonderful St Julians Bay.   I stayed here a lot of the time, I opted to go for a week, going wednesday to wednesday and staying at my friend’s flat at the weekend.

Malta is wonderful as its hot, is both Mediterranean with a slightly British flavour (drives on the left!), uses its own Semitic language (ie: part of the family of languages from Hebrew and Arabic) it seems quite cheap to eat out, and has a part to play in early Christianity when Paul visited.

St Julians Bay – Quite homely for the British – Marsaxlokk – Valletta the old capital – Community in Malta – The best nativity scenes in Europe?

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem

Israel is going through dark times, with dozens of terrorist incidents at the moment.

Often, in the western world people are tired of hearing what’s in the middle east and the media don’t always report what’s really going on.

Stabbings on a bus and ram cars at people.   More of this has been happening today.   I’m dreading reading the news on my phone during my lunch break at work now.

What is happening is hard to describe from a humanistic point of view.   I can only describe it as a demonic force that causes people with a lust for murder at the moment.

Psalm 122 : 6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May those who love you be secure. 7 May there be peace within your walls
and security within your citadels.”

What blogging for 8 years has taught me in Christian ministry  

Some of these things I’ve fallen foul myself and some I have seen in different parts of the web.

I’m mostly referring to Christians chatting about things that they are passionate about, travelling, charity and ministry projects, and maybe in troubled areas such as the middle east.

Blogging has become Civilian journalism which has brought books, publishing, fame, recognition and more to some.

Others like me just get 30 odd views a day.   I’ve got the chance to meet up with a few people, had coffee with and the odd person come and stay over.

Do you want to be public?  
Do you want to use your full real name, just your first name or some other handle.  Would you want your employer to see this?    Are you under 18?   would articles be ok with your parents or school?

A web site like “Whois” can trace your web site to your name, address, email and phone number.  Web addresses are not to expensive but need to renewed each year.   You often have to pay a bit more to get your domain name made not able to traced, otherwise http://www.<your_blog>.com could have the means for someone to turn up and your door unexpectedly which possibly might not be pleasant.    A link to your Facebook or Twitter gives someone more info about you which could come back to bite you if someone takes offensive about something.

Check spelling, grammar and context
It is easy to not only spell something wrong but write something wrong way round which shows something in the opposite context of what you really meant.

Make sure sources of information you quote from are reliable
Conspiracy sites and other things with sensationalist themes don’t look good.

Get a friend to oversee some articles
Especially if they are sensitive, emotionally and politically charged.   An extra set of eyes will pick up anything that might cause some regret and headache later.

As a rule of thumb, these days stuff on the internet usually stays around forever.   If you delete something there are ways of looking at expired/deleted content, or someone can make a PDF or screen shot of something.

Use timed publish
Wordpress lets your write an article an automatically make it live it a certain preset time if needed.   I think this means this item could be seen by a Google search in certain circumstances before its ‘official’ publish date though.

Look to see if someone has blogged something similar to your idea
When I went to do ministry work in Israel in 2009, I looked around the web for any blogs of Christians who had gone out to live in Jerusalem and what challenges they would face.   I couldn’t find hardly anything.   Now everyone is doing it, so for Christians in the ministry field can learn and plan more of what to expect before a trip.

Use pictures
Large unbroken blocks of text aren’t readable for today’s short attention span as the internet is full of other things that people consume in less time than it takes to eat two biscuits.   Adding images makes your point that more pleasant to see.   Make sure pictures are not too big otherwise you site will open slow and large images use up more of the free allowance of cloud storage that WordPress lets you use.

Use maps
I like maps.   Google makes this easy to put chunks of maps from top end or street map view.    These are great for travel blogs.

Just don’t put pictures of your home or work place, m’kay?

Be nice and courteous.
Upset? Bad mood? maybe best to stay away from the internet and go for a walk.
Fed up, angry, lonely? You are better sharing your thoughts with a close friend instead. Pick up the phone and spill out to a friend. Maybe speak to your church group leader or pastor.

Seen some bloggers air all their personal problems online.   The internet isn’t good for that sort of thing.   Best to find someone to be a mentor and get help from one or a few close friends who are understanding.

Sort out severe disagreements by meeting up personally or by phone.
Seen friendships destroyed after some misunderstandings on the web.   The internet does not make emotions easily obvious over the web so this can easily cause something to not be understood right.

Before criticising someone, how would you feel if you met them later?
If you criticise someone in your work place, church, specific niche/line of ministry, would this be awkward?  Maybe you might see them at a trade exhibition or big worship event.    In specialist types of fields it’s a small world.

Don’t do “guilt by association”
If someone is a church or leader who works together on a project with someone dubious, they may just haven’t checked that person’s background. This should be sorted out in a quiet personal chat, rather than announce to the world someone is a bad person.

Don’t always focus on negative things
Show examples of what give you encouragement and comfort.

Don’t talk about certain things.
Like applying for visas.  These are an absolute taboo.

If you are Christian who is doing work in any other country, consider it likely government authorities do look at stuff and have automated Google searches to find certain things that want to keep an eye on.

Use links
Not everyone knows certain people, places, other blogs, organisations.   A link on something is a good way to get your audience an overview of something.

Not sure if this is a proper word.   Spell checker says its wrong as I have not used Americanized spelling. :)  I’ve written my travel articles over several sessions, so the public might stumble of the middle bit, there is a numbered collection of the parts of your story/trip they can get to the first section.

Do try and meet up with people you chat with
Providing its safe, you are in a public place, you are an adult and you are not a woman on your own.    I once met up with an elderly man who was a Universalist.   He believed that all religious were good and mixing up a few elements would make a custom faith based on your own preferences.    I got a chance to tell him the gospel instead, that salvation is only through Jesus sacrifice and resurrection because he loves us.   Not sure quite what he made of that though.

Doing Christian ministry work?    use scripture.
Lots of it.   Illustrate your point with parts of the bible relevant to your theme/teaching

ISIS poster discovered in Nazareth in 2011 by Google maps

Look at an old blog article of mine, and comparing it with a Google Steetmap view image from 2011.

This offensive banner arrogantly says not following Islam is for the losers.

But worse still, when I’ve been past this street corner three different times I didn’t realise the black logo with familiar Arabic on it.


Where as a politically correct thing people will say its only a minority of Muslims that promote terror the rest of the Islamic world will not challenge it.

Nazareth is an Israeli controlled city (not part of the West Bank) in the Galilee with a entirely Arab population, about 70% Muslim and 30% Christian.  I would say the Nazareth is still a safe area.  One of the hostels I did stay at was actually owned by an Israeli Arab policeman.    I think back in 2011 ISIS were not really known , so Israel’s police and security forces would remove such offensive posters, though not the idiotic banner above.

We are only saved thought Christ.   Not from being a cowardly liberal pretend Christian who think we are saved from being nice, or using a combination of bits of different faiths.

Muslims today have the freedom to reject this doomed system and accept the loving arms of their Lord and saviour Jesus, and more and more are doing so today.

Old blog post by me