This month for us, Gozo has been all about family. Sadly, though, it has only been our parents enjoying the Maltese spring while we’ve been nose to the grindstone back in Oxfordshire, our view a mixture of watery sunshine across the rooftops of Faringdon and a live WhatsApp window into the holidays of The Grandparents.
First The Significant Other’s Parents spent a fortnight in Gharb, making themselves at home, befriending the neighbours, and becoming regulars at Rangers bar. They explored the bays on boats and beaches on buses, and watched our local wild boar from the balcony with a beer in hand. (Cisk, of course.)
The Significant Other also has long lost family in Malta – in Birkirkara to be exact, a vibrant district on the edges of the Valletta conurbation where last month we were buying rugs and bikes, and eating pastizzi in the sunshine. Only three miles as the crow flies from Valletta’s city gates, I made the mistake of telling a Gozitan friend that this branch of the family lived in Valletta, on the Mosta side – the equivalent perhaps of describing Luton as a northern suburb of London – and his total bafflement opened my eyes to the way, that when a country is only the size of the Isle of Wight, you should pinpoint a mere neighbourhood or parish.
The Long Lost family were long lost and then rediscovered some years ago. The Significant Other’s uncle as a young man in the late sixties was married to and then separated from a Maltese girl, and unbeknown to him they had a daughter whom he only met when she was a young adult. Although Uncle P. died, this side of The Maltese Cousin’s family has stayed in touch and so The Significant Other’s Parents were delighted to be able to catch up with her and one of her sons on her home turf. We’re looking forward to meeting them all ourselves in coming months.
And now My Own Parents are ensconced in the laid-back Gozitan lifestyle, enjoying the leisure that retirement offers, walking the hills, exploring the towns and villages, gurning at me from the screen of my phone, back-lit by glorious blue skies, and swigging local wine. They’re even threatening to leave their belongings behind to save them carrying luggage every time they jet back and forth.
Whilst it’s great that they’re all loving Gozo, it also worries me. You see, the first thing that The Significant Other’s parents did on their return to the UK, as their feet touched British soil, was to invest in flippers and wetsuits (and not for the British weather though who could blame them) and book flights for their next trip. I just hope they’re coordinating their diaries with My Own Parents or we’re at serious danger of squabbling squatters in the spare room.