New neighbourhood in Ħaż-Żabbar

Ħaż-Żabbar was the summer residence of the knights of Malta, and received city status under the 71st Grand Master of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, the German Ferdinand von Hompesch zu Bolheim. He was unfortunate enough to only allow Napoleon's ships to enter the port in groups of two, which was received as a provocation and responded by the French invasion of Malta. But only shortly after, when the secular French started to loot the churches, Ħaż-Żabbar became a base for Maltese insurgence fighting the French. During the subsequent British era the region was heavily fortified and also the batteries close to our future home, in Fort Rinella, were installed.

We moved here for a month, and do only have a 20 minutes walk to our construction site in Kalkara. Also it allows us to experience Maltese village life and a so-called "house of character" for some time. The point of my new year resolution, not to eat food which comes with a bar code, is rather easy to fulfill here. There are vegetable and fruit traders which sell their goods from their trucks, small groceries, and driving bakeries. That's it. No rubbish sold. No barcode needed. Actually, I do have to confess sometimes not to care diligently about the bar code. For example, I was eating some chocolate recently which was also traded in more modern forms of retail. But as long as nobody beeps at you at the cash out, I am flexible. Our impression, that Maltese are very friendly people, is even topped here. They are wonderful. You ask for something at the vegetable truck and all the shopping women around will give advise, recommend modifications in the cooking style, and clarify the superiority of local Maltese products over anything else. And they are right.

The house we are living in, is an about 300 year old limestone building. In summer, it must be a perfect adaption to the hot season. In winter, which we are now in, it is damp and cold. These buildings need huge efforts to renovate. Well done, it is worth it. But when we were looking at real estate in Malta, I was hesitating to go that direction. And now I am sure, this was the right decision. It would need a complete rebuilt behind the outer walls, and that needs a much larger commitment than we have time at the moment.