It’s a pleasure to welcome Sue Moorcroft as my guest to the blog today. Sue’s latest book, Summer on a Sunny Island, was published by Avon yesterday, 30 April, and is available in ebook, audiobook and paperback (some purchase links are below for assistance). I’ll be taking part in the blog tour celebrations later this month with a review but in the meantime, here’s Sue with some background on the book’s setting of Malta.
Five Places in Summer on a Sunny Island – now and then
by Sue Moorcroft
I love Malta so it was a joy to make it the setting for my new book, Summer on a Sunny Island.
I spent several years of my childhood on the island as we were an army family and Dad was attached to General Headquarters in the Auberge de Castille et Lyon in Valletta. Our time on the island was divided into two postings and we lived in various areas.
I’ve chosen five places that figure in Summer on a Sunny Island – how they are now and then my childhood memories.
I don’t believe there’s a direct English phonetic pronunciation but ‘Tashbeesh’ is close – not, as Zach tells Rosa, ‘Tax B X’. Ta’ Xbiex ix-Xatt is the seafront, and where Lazaretto Creek, Msida Creek and Pietà Creek meet up with Marsamxett Harbour is a lovely residential street, ir-Rampa (The Ramp) elevated from the seafront road. The main characters in Summer on a Sunny Island live here in two apartments facing the glorious blue Mediterranean.
We lived in a top-floor flat in Ta’ Xbiex but nearer Sliema, opposite the yacht marina. We caught the school bus outside, where a teeming junction stands now, and played in Gzira Gardens. I remember trying to explore The Ramp but a lady came out and shouted at us. I also remember falling into the sea and disturbing fishermen. I could swim so my main concern was going home and facing Mum. Then someone wrote a letter to the Times of Malta about the incident and naughty army kids and she was mortified.
Rough translation ‘south harbour’ and the X is pronounced sh, so ‘Marsa-shlock’. A beautiful but busy area, firmly on the tourist map. The tour buses stop there. There are markets and fishing boats in the traditional blue with red and yellow bands have eyes painted on the prow. Rosa and her mum Dory eat there because Dory’s a celeb food writer spending writing a book on Mediterranean cooking. Rosa, her world in England having collapsed because of her ex-boyfriend’s gambling is acting as Dory’s PA and KP – personal assistant and kitchen porter.
Oddly, the south end of the island seemed a long car journey away though the island’s only 17 miles by 9 miles so it can’t have been! It was a fishing village and my clearest memory is Mum buying a fan there decorated with pictures of fishing boats.
The capital city of Malta, home to beautiful buildings and baroque architecture. Rosa visits with Dory, who shows her all her old haunts (spookily similar to mine) and with Zach, who’s fascinated by the history. There are too many wonderful things about Valletta to list, from historic buildings and tunnels to the Upper Barrakka Gardens and its spectacular view of Grand Harbour. One of my favourite places is the open air Caffe Cordina in the centre, near the Grand Master’s Palace. A cold Cisk beer, a pastizzi (flaky pastry encasing ricotta cheese) followed by pudina (a cake made with bread in place of flour) and I am one contented lady.
Dad worked in Valletta. We weren’t allowed inside the building so if we met him out of work I sat on the cannons outside. There are a lot of cannons in Malta, in parks and even set upside down in concrete as mooring posts. Across Castile Place was the NAAFI, where Mum shopped for food and household goods. When we lived in Floriana at the foot of the hill I’d get an orange lolly from the kiosk on the NAAFI steps if I’d walked all the way without whinging.
Pavement cafés in Sliema
Rosa and Zach visit various outdoor eating and drinking areas in busy Sliema. I really enjoy eating outdoors. It seems as if whoever I visit Malta with wants to eat in the shade, while I prefer the sun, so I’m adept at spotting tables that are half-and-half.
It wasn’t an era when people ate or drank out much. If you were away from home for a meal you took sandwiches! However, I do remember special days when we’d visit the Magic Kiosk on Pjazza Sant’Anna (St Anne Square). We’d sit at green-painted tables and drink Fanta or 7Up. I wasn’t keen on the Maltese drink Kinnie but a lot of the army kids loved it. If Mum and Dad were feeling expansive we might get granita too – like slush but not particularly slushy.
On the edge of Sliema and now highly developed into an extensive shopping area, restaurants and nice apartments. The Eighteenth Century Fort Tigné is preserved there to no particular purpose because unless you’re in certain apartments you can’t see much of it. Some of the old barracks, including part of Tigné Barracks School, have been incorporated into the newer buildings.
We pronounced it ‘Teeny’, which was a highly Anglicised version. It’s more like ‘Ten-yay’. We lived in Tigné Barracks for a while and I went to school there. The parade ground was across the road – more cannons, with pyramids of cannonballs on each corner – and soldiers drilled there. It was also our sports ground. I tried to avoid slipping over when playing rounders because crushed limestone is not a child-friendly surface. Come to think of it, I used to try and avoid rounders altogether. Our dining hall was the other side of the parade ground and we walked there and back in twos as army and civilian vehicles rumbled by. We could see the sea from one side of the school and I remember either toasting through the windows or watching massive storms roll in.
It was in Tigné Barracks School that I learned to read and write and realised someone created what went between the covers of a book. I decided to be one of those people.
And now I am.
ABOUT THE BOOK
The #1 bestseller is back with an uplifting, happy read that will raise your spirits and warm your heart!
This summer, sparks are flying on the island of Malta… When Rosa Hammond splits up from her partner Marcus, her Mum Dory suggests a summer in Malta. Not one to sit back and watch her daughter be unhappy, Dory introduces Rosa to Zach, in the hope that romance will bloom under the summer sun. But Rosa’s determined not to be swayed by a handsome man – she’s in Malta to work, after all.
Zach, meanwhile, is a magnet for trouble and is dealing with a fair few problems of his own. Neither Rosa or Zach are ready for love – but does fate have other ideas? And after a summer in paradise, will Rosa ever want to leave?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sue Moorcroft is a Sunday Times and international bestselling author and has reached the coveted #1 spot on Amazon Kindle. She’s won the Goldsboro Books Contemporary Romantic Novel Award, Readers’ Best Romantic Novel award and the Katie Fforde Bursary. Sue’s novels of love and life are currently released by publishing giant HarperCollins in the UK, US and Canada and by an array of publishers in other countries.
Her short stories, serials, columns, writing ‘how to’ and courses have appeared around the world.
Born into an army family in Germany, Sue spent much of her childhood in Cyprus and Malta.