Journal Lifestyle Travel

Gostra – The Maltese Tradition of Running Up a Greasy Pole










It’s awesome. The maltese game of Gostra is an age old tradition of greasing up a wooden pole with three flags attached at the end (each of religious meaning) and holding it over the sea. The aim of the game is for crazy brave men run up the pole and (attempt) to capture the flag.

The annual tradition stems back to the Middle Ages where this used to happen all around the islands of Malta and Gozo, but now it’s only held in one place – Spinola Bay – just down the road from where we’re staying in Sliema!

When we got there both sides of the bay were packed with locals, tourists and oversized camera lenses. The people anchored up on their boats definitely had a good view, but without question the best seat (or shall I say bed!) was the guy kicking back on his Lilo floating directly under the pole. DANGGEERR ZOONNEE!

Anyway, the highlight was definitely the nut shots, though the atmosphere when someone caught a flag was pretty cool too.

Then we went and binged on a cous cous chicken wrap, doughnuts and ice-cream.

Journal Lifestyle Travel

Cold Beers, Warm Seas

Well that's a big deck!

Down below.

Lexi, Theo, Eva and Steph

Lex, Theo, Eva, Steph, Yana, Charlotte and Anna

Lexi and Eva

Trail blazing

Theo and the kids in the deep blue

Stephan, Theo, Marcus and Charlotte

Nice place to park

Marcus and Eva

Lexi and Marcus

Stephan, Theo and Marcus

Cheeky kiss on the deck

Last Sunday Steph organised a day out on the boat with everyone. I’ve been before with Charlotte, Steph and Yana, but this time we also had Theo, Anna and their kids with us.

Life jackets for kids, check. Massive bowl of pasta salad, check. Beers, check. Cameras, check. Chill mode activated, check.

My niece and nephew have never been on a boat before, so it could have gone either way but they loved it! The waves were high and the boat taking to the sea at full speed must have made the whole journey seem like some sort of kick-ass roller coaster to them, giggling to each other as the boat bounced heavily up and down.

The sea that day was pretty rough so the captain suggested we go to the south of Malta where the sea would be protected from the high winds by the island. I’m not sure exactly the name of where we went, but it was this place. Not far off from the shore were fish farms – the captain mentioned that when the winds blow north, the smell of the fish food leaves a nasty smell making the bay not so popular, but as the winds were blowing in the opposite direction, we struck lucky.

As we pulled into the bay on the boat and while the captain was looking for a good place to drop anchor, we noticed water spewing out of one of the cliffs. Everyone was a bit grossed out thinking we were about to swim near a sewer, but it turns out that it’s just really warm sea water. The bay is set next to a power plant that sucks up the sea’s cold water to cool down the machinery and pours the warm, (still clean) sea water back into the bay essentially giving us a heated sea bay…


The seas were clear blue, warm and deep. Perfect for jumping and diving off of the boat. Swimming underwater with goggles was really cool. As the water was so clear, the light rays shone through the sea to create beams of light all the way to the seabed and watching the schools of fish swim around with that effect going on was like something out of a movie. Times like that I wish so hard that I had a GoPro (hint hint, GoPro!) – I’m planning to get one when I’m back in the UK before departing on more travel adventures.

Charlotte and I swam to the rocky shore nearby. Sea Urchins (uh oh) and jagged rocks made it hard to climb out, but once we managed that we saw this bay filled with so much sea life. All the little colourful fish in rock pools, small crabs darting in and out of holes in the rocks and the kind of sea shells you buy on a bracelet (though these ones were still occupied!). We played around there for a bit, then my brothers joined in for a little explore before we headed back to the boat for some lunch.

Lunch on a boat after a swim just always tastes better than anywhere else. Pasta salad, fresh baguettes, cheese, meat, beer and Nutella (it’s all about the Nutella). Then just a quick ray-catching session on the front of the boat and another dip to cool off before facing the waves of fury on the ride back.

Back home – tired and relaxed – we got takeaway pizza from one of our favourite Sliema Pizzeria’s, Vecchia Napoli.

Journal Lifestyle Travel

Baia Beach Club


Marcus, Theo and Stephan

Stephan and Theo

Lexi and Eva

Anna, Charlotte and Yana

Malta – being super hot and sitting on the Mediterranean sea – naturally has a whole load of beach clubs (like Café del Mar). Last Saturday we went to Baia Beach Club for the second time, but this time there were more of us.

My oldest brother, Theo (that cockney bloke from Masterchef), came to Malta with his wife, Anna, and two kids, Eva (4yo) and Lex (2yo). We’re all staying with my middle brother Steph and his girlfriend Yana.

Let me break that down.

Three bedrooms (technically two, we’re on a fold-out couch in the office), Six grownups, three different “target demographics”, two kids that are hooked up to an IV sugar drip that constantly feeds them with ruthless energy!

It’s actually pretty great. Me and my brothers don’t really hang out too often and it’s great to have a week together, the WAGS are all cool and the kids are ridiculously cute… and cheeky.

Back on topic – we went to Baia Beach Club located in Armier. It’s quite a drive from Sliema and feels like it’s right out in the sticks. When we arrived we saw that either side of Baia was absolutely packed with sun beds. Maybe 30-40 either side? They were so packed together that because of the shade umbrellas, those two whole sections of the beach were in shadows. Baia, on the other hand, was perfect.

There was a designated sandy beach with spaced-out sun-loungers, waiter service and a swimming zone cordoned off from the beautiful boats anchored nearby (because nothing ruins a trip to the beach like being ran over by a boat!). We chose the sandy beach over Baia’s concrete haven because kids fall over.

The water was nice – it’s always nice – I saw a couple set up towels on the beach and what looked like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s younger twin came over and told them to shimmy along. No arguments there.

The best thing about going to the beach with kids is that there’s always someone to go in the water with. They had their inflatable rings and armbands. Lex and Eva both had a go with my swimming goggles to see the fish, unfortunately around that area there weren’t any fish to be seen. Probably because they were hanging out by the rocks but I digress.

Lex and I had a kick-ass time playing mini-football, Eva and I spoke about pre-school and how she destroyed the sun by hosing it down with water but it was the bad sun which is why we still have a sun and the bad sun is in a different world. Then we sang, well, she sang and I copied but I couldn’t get the words right so I was told to stop. Then I tried to teach Eva to beatbox because I thought it’d be funny to see a 4 year old girl beatbox.

For lunch I had a Roasted Duck Salad. The salads come in massive bowls – most of us had salads. Stephan has this amazing mixed meat sandwich thing, with maybe Ftira (traditional Maltese bread) or focaccia bread. Either way, it looked amazing.

Later that evening we ordered Chinese Takeaway from Pavilion. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much because I hadn’t had a really good Chinese yet in Malta. That changed when the doorbell rang.

Ding Dong.

It was amazing.


Internet Detox Week

See ya later, internets!

Next week Charlotte and I are on an ‘Internet Detox’. That means no internet from Monday to Friday.

Usually when we go on holiday we don’t take our computers, but since we’re travelling and working, we’re constantly connected to everything and I feel like it’s important to hit the ‘off’ switch once in a while. Get back to basics, let the mind recover from some information overload.

Everything is coming together now.

My email’s out-of-office (lol, office!) reply is set.

We have films at the ready.

Books on the Kindle.

Cameras at the ready.

Let’s do this. Wish me luck. I may never return.

Journal Travel

Eating & Exploring in Rabat






















Yesterday Charlotte and I visited Rabat. Rabat is the village just opposite the silent city of Mdina and a great place to play around with my clip-on fisheye lens on my humble iPhone 4S (still going strong)!

When we arrived by bus, it was a short walk across the road before entering the village. Straight away we saw a little sign directing us towards a cafe called Toffee & Co. We went there for some food, after a 45 minute bus ride we needed something! Toffee & Co. was a quaint family run place with outside and upstairs seating. We picked up a couple of menus and took a look at the wide selection of food. When we were ordering I noticed a family photo on the fridge which was nice.

Charlotte and I both ordered the Turkish Chicken Wrap. Man, that was a good wrap! Cous Cous, loads of chicken, coleslaw a bit of veg, all tightly rolled together in a roasted wrap. On the side were crisps and a dressed salad. I also had a latte, a cup of tea and some Toffee and Apple cake. It’s making my mouth water just thinking about it again. The best bit was that all of it, including Charlotte’s food, drinks and cakes came to something like €12 – less than a tenner in the UK and the portions were massive!

We sat outside, and enjoyed the tranquility of the place. If you’re ever in Rabat, make sure to visit Toffee & Co. It was so nice that we went back again before going home. The lady was really friendly and she even gave us our tea on the house. She was very kind. The feeling you get compared to a coffee shop in London, it feels less like a business focused on the profit margins and more like a business focused on family, good food and the community.

After we filled up, we went exploring. The streets are similar to Mdina in that they’re very tight with buildings and walls making you feel like you’re walking through a maze in Game of Thrones.

We ended up at a museum that let you freely walk through the underground catacombs and WWII shelters. Squeezing though the dimly lit tunnels we got lost. It was kind of spooky but also quite inspiring to see where people lived, died and fought for their lives and countries. The shelters were really interesting, one small room with a door number above the entrance hole. Some of the rooms were just a hole, but others had decorative tiles on the floor and a step for sleeping or sitting carved at the back or on the side.

After going up and down stairs (some that led into darkness, but was actually just because it was closed off) we managed to figure the way out. Coming out we went through St. Paul’s church. It started underground. We saw a little cave with St. Paul’s statue (there were shawls for women to use to cover up as it was a sacred place). We carried on up the stairs which we’re took us into a beautiful church. I love looking at old churches, they’re always grand with incredible attention to detail. We soaked up the atmosphere and left got a move on.

Outside we carried on walking and ended up in Miami. Not really, but the houses looked just like those from films set in Miami. Not sure where they were exactly because we got lost.

We carried on walking, saw a landmark and headed for that.

Back in a recognisable place, we head for some tea and cake (again) at Toffee & Co. Lovely.

Journal Lifestyle Travel

Café del Mar Malta










On Sunday we went to Café del Mar Malta. I didn’t realise but there are Café del Mar places located in a few other locations around the world. If their views are as nice as the one in Malta – sign me up!

During the day there are three types of sun loungers set around a beautiful infinity pool with a view overlooking the stunning Mediterranean sea with Comino and Gozo in the distance. We had the basic sun loungers, which were comfortable and definitely better than those you’d usually find on the beach, but their other ones were literal sun beds. Seriously, one was like a folding single bed and with an accompanying parasol resembling a photographers diffuser, and the third looked was a four-poster bed with a waterproof mattress. Luxurious.

There was of course a restaurant, dance floor with a DJ booth/stage and a bar, but don’t worry about getting up as there’s a pretty decent waiter/waitress service that’ll serve you while you’re soaking up the sun. We got up to eat though and the food looked really good. I ordered a Shrimp Salad. If I’m honest, I was expecting a nice refreshing salad, but when it came out it was essentially that but everything was covered is a prawn mayo type sauce. Still very tasty though but I’d probably get their hummus wrap next time like Charlotte had. That looked really good.

The pool was good. It was refreshingly cold, like, once you’re in, you’re not cold anymore, just refreshed. The best part of the pool was definitely the view which IMO is where Café del Mar really shines. Not a bad place to pop my infinity pool cherry!

The only real downside of the place was the organisation and layout of the normal sun loungers. They’re all squashed together quite tightly and it’s hard to actually sunbathe. If you moved or took down one of the parasols, because of how close everyone is, you’re likely to upset a few of the people around you. The reason for the congestion is obvious though. Mo’ beds, mo’ money – but as Biggie says; “mo’ money, mo’ problems”.

We stayed until the sun began to set (which looked amazing) and finished the day off with Gelato. Obvs. And in case you’re wondering, my awesome striped swimming trunks were from River Island.

Oh, and something that my brother told me which initially I didn’t believe; Gelato and Ice Cream are two completely different things. It’s all to do with the fat content, air and serving temperature. True story. Look it up.

Journal Travel

15 Photos from the Sliema Street Art Festival 2014

Sliema Street Art Festival

Single woman dancing to the live band

Onlookers from the walkway above

Looking through an optic on a tripod placed by the roof artists through it

Charlotte enjoying the art through the optic

Street artists doing what they do along Sliema promenade

A police officer smiling after looking back at the the live painting

One of a few trucks being spray painted

Temporary Skate Park set up along Sliema beach front

Publicity material on a fully hand-painted car

Painted Cling-Film - Add More Colors

Beach party from above

Light suit - the party is about to begin

Spicy Chickpea Burger

Behind the band

At the weekend, Sliema hosted its annual Street Art Festival. I went down with Charlotte, Steph and Yana to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the art.

Sliema’s promenade is usually a nice place to be in the evening as everyone is out enjoying the food and drink. The festival just amplified that atmosphere. Stages were set up for live bands, singers and DJs, and walking down the beach front were artists spray painting cars and vans (with incredibly detailed artwork), live floor, roof, and wall paintings, some healthy and not-so healthy food stalls, beach parties, a temporary skatepark and small markets where art and crafts were being sold.

For dinner, Charlotte and I stopped by The Grassy Hopper’s Food Van. They offer a selection of vegetarian delights, we ordered the Spicy Chickpea Burger and the Beet n Bean Burger. I’m not usually one for vegetarian meals, especially burgers, but damn, it was so tasty and filling. They fried ’em up just like normal burgers, added the cheese and whatever else, stuck it in a fluffy wholewheat bun and served it on a bed of salad. Then we ate them on the beach.

To end the evening we went to get ice cream but the queue was huge, so we left it.

I filled the void with yogurt and honey when we got in.

Journal Travel

Yesterday I stepped on a Sea Urchin. Twice.

Black Sea Devil

Original photo by Pavlo Boyko

What’s an Urchin even doing in the Sea? At first I was like, ow, and then I was like, oh man I gotta get those spikes out.

Whilst having a paddle along the seafront in Sliema, I had unknowingly (at least the first time) stepped on a sea urchin. I thought it was a sharp rock at first – one leg sharply raises, the other one sharply drops, that’s when I figured it out. Right heel, left toes. Impaled.

The general consensus on the internet is to remove all spikes (I think I still have one or two buried), soak the area in hot water or vinegar. I soaked in vinegar because apparently it dissolves the spikes left in. I’m not sure about this, but it stunk the place up. It’s like i’m living in a bag of Salt & Vinegar crisps.

I couldn’t sleep last night because I went on the internet to see what damage those cute little hell balls could really do. You know, some life preserving research.


I’m going to die.

I’m experiencing none of the symptoms and the areas didn’t and haven’t swell up, get red, go pussy or anything. Yet. But after reading about a guy in the exact same situation that just removed the spines and then a month later ended up paralysed from the waist down (which was the good outcome!), it kind of freaked me out. That and the stories from people say that their injury healed perfectly but then 3/4 weeks down the line there were complications. I don’t want any complications! How can a doctor even diagnose a future complication?!

There’s nothing I can do and that freaked me out. Today I’m a bit sore, but most likely that’s from me playing surgeon.

Let’s all take a minute to look at some of these creatures with a quick Google search.

Damn my will for seafaring adventure.

Journal Lifestyle Travel

Quitting my job: the story so far

Quitting my job: the story so far

It’s been over two months since I threw caution to the wind, quit my job and set out to travel the world with Charlotte. Let me catch you up on the story so far and living in Malta.

Riki-Rewind back to May. It’s my last day at work (and coincidentally everyones first day in our new office), I handed in my equipment the previous week to the office move so with nothing to work with and everyone busy unpacking their stuff and settling in, I had the day to get tweaked on ‘Goodbye Coffees’, frolic around the new building (which btw was a fantastic upgrade to the previous office) and check out the area.

It was a good last day.

That evening I had strategically planned (after wrongly assuming my office was still going to be in King’s Cross…) a trip to Paris on the Eurostar. I figured if I’m going to leave work, I’m going to leave in style. Going from a full time job in London to being unemployed in Paris within the space of a few hours felt incredible. Charlotte and I were on our way to the world’s most romantic city.

We stayed for three days and walked EVERYWHERE. Like, 8-10 hours a day exploring kind of walking. It was great, but man, that’s too much. Still, we unintentionally saw all the main sites and had a Nutella crêpe by the Eiffel Tower. We loved every minute of it, even if we were staying in the sex district, a 5 minute walk from the Moulin Rouge.

The feeling of not having to go back to the UK was a feeling of freedom. There was nothing stopping us from carrying on round Europe, but alas, we headed back to the UK, stocked up on chocolate that didn’t make it past the border… because we ate it. All of it.

A few weeks pass, we bought a one-way ticked to Malta and we’re packing only hand luggage for a three month stay. We figured just taking hand luggage would be good practice for backpacking South East Asia. And it was. Most of the stuff I thought I’d need I haven’t touched, so that’s good to know.

I have a Brother living with his girlfriend, Yana, in Malta. They’ve been enjoying our company for about a month now and I got to say, Malta is an amazing place and for short holidays from the UK, return flights for under £100 per person is a no brainer.

An all day bus-pass here is €1.50 and I recommend going to Valetta – Malta’s capital city and Mdina – Malta’s old capital (walled) city which has a population of less than 300 people and they put rubber horse shoes on their horses to reduce noise. While in Mdina, have lunch Fontanella, their cakes are as good as the view.

So anyway, in Malta we were going to spend time preparing for our travels and sorting stuff out, though we haven’t really planned anything yet, I’ve definitely ticked some things off my list:

  1. Finished my portfolio website (mobile responsive and super sexy, of course).
  2. Got this blog up and running again. Still working on the look and feel.
  3. Topped 10,000 points on Treehouse (where I learn programming).
  4. Built Sweat Roulette, a simple fitness web-app with Charlotte.
  5. Had a press interview about Sweat Roulette.
  6. Made the news (half a page!) with Sweat Roulette.
  7. Joined some freelancing websites to make money while travelling.
  8. Got a tan.
  9. Read some books.
  10. Jumped off a cliff. Everyone else was doing it.

And that’s all taken place in Malta within the space of a month when I’m not at the beach – there’s something to be said for having time to do things.

And that brings us up to now.

I’m still looking for potential revenue streams so I can become location-independent, being a designer/developer is a good start due to only needing a laptop, prime for remote work.

Being ‘always on’ is taking its toll though, so I’m probably going to take a week off from the internet soon which I’m definitely going to blog about.

I’d love to hear comments about what you want to hear more of – my travels, making money travelling, the geeky bits – let me know below, yo!

Not everything makes the blog, so follow me on Twitter and Instagram and say hey 🙂

To be continued…

Makings Travel

Malta’s Grand Harbour Marina Polyscape

Malta Grand Harbour Marina Polyscape

Malta Grand Harbour Marina Polyscape

So this is pretty fun. It’s not original and yes, I’m late to the polyscape party – but hey, if nothing else, I’ve made a couple of cool new wallpapers for my laptop.

The photos were taken from the boat as we were coming out of The Grand Harbour Marina in Malta. The angle of the wall leading all the way down to the lighthouse was incredible.