Thursday, 31 May 2018


Grand Master Knight of Malta
In 1301, the Order was organized in seven languages; by order of precedence, Provence, Auvergne, France, Aragon, Italy, England, and Germany. In 1462, the Langue of Aragon was divided into Castile-Portugal, (Castilian) and Aragon-Navarre (Catalan).

The English Langue went into abeyance after the order's properties were taken over by Henry VIII in 1540. In 1782, it was revived as the Anglo-Bavarian Langue, containing Bavarian and Polish priories. The structure of languages was replaced in the late 19th century by a system of national associations.

When the Knights first arrived, the natives were apprehensive about their presence and viewed them as arrogant intruders. The Maltese were excluded from serving in the order. The Knights were even generally dismissive of the Maltese nobility. However, the two groups coexisted peacefully, since the Knights boosted the economy, were charitable, and protected against Muslim attacks.

More information: IEC

Not surprisingly, hospitals were among the first projects to be undertaken on Malta, where French soon supplanted Italian as the official language, though the native inhabitants continued to speak Maltese among themselves. The Knights also constructed fortresses, watch towers, and naturally, churches. Its acquisition of Malta signalled the beginning of the Order's renewed naval activity.

Order of the Knights of St. John, Malta, 1722
The building and fortification of Valletta, named for Grand Master la Valette, was begun in 1566, soon becoming the home port of one of the Mediterranean's most powerful navies. Valletta was designed by Francesco Laparelli, a military engineer, and his work was then taken up by Girolamo Cassar. The city was completed in 1571. The island's hospitals were expanded as well. 

The Sacra Infermeria could accommodate 500 patients and was famous as one of the finest in the world. In the vanguard of medicine, the Hospital of Malta included Schools of Anatomy, Surgery and Pharmacy.

Valletta itself was renowned as a centre of art and culture. The Conventual Church of St. John, completed in 1577, contains works by Caravaggio and others.

More information: Saint John of Jerusalem-Eye Hospital Group

In Europe, most of the Order's hospitals and chapels survived the Reformation, though not in Protestant or Evangelical countries. In Malta, meanwhile, the Public Library was established in 1761. 

Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Malta
The University was founded seven years later, followed, in 1786, by a School of Mathematics and Nautical Sciences. Despite these developments, some of the Maltese grew to resent the Order, which they viewed as a privileged class. This even included some of the local nobility, who were not admitted to the Order.

In Rhodes, the knights had been housed in auberges, inns, segregated by Langues. This structure was maintained in Birgu (1530–1571) and then Valletta, from 1571.

The auberges in Birgu remain mostly undistinguished 16th-century buildings. Valletta still has the auberges of Castille, 1574; renovated 1741 by Grand Master de Vilhena, now the Prime Minister's offices, Italy, renovated 1683 by Grand Master Carafa, now the Malta Tourism Authority, Aragon/Catalonia, 1571, now Ministry for EU Affairs, Bavaria, former Palazzo Carnerio, purchased in 1784 for the newly formed Langue, now used as the Government Property Department, and Provence, now National Museum of Archaeology. In the Second World War, the auberge d'Auvergne was damaged, and later replaced by Law Courts, and the auberge de France was destroyed.

More information: Museum Saint John (United Kingdom)

Charity begins at home, 
and justice begins next door. 

Charles Dickens

Plan of Valletta, Malta, 1761
Their Mediterranean stronghold of Malta was captured by Napoleon in 1798 during his expedition to Egypt. Napoleon demanded from Grand Master Ferdinand von Hompesch zu Bolheim that his ships be allowed to enter the port and to take on water and supplies. The Grand Master replied that only two foreign ships could be allowed to enter the port at a time. Bonaparte, aware that such a procedure would take a very long time and would leave his forces vulnerable to Admiral Nelson, immediately ordered a cannon fusillade against Malta. The French soldiers disembarked in Malta at seven points on the morning of 11 June and attacked. After several hours of fierce fighting, the Maltese in the west were forced to surrender.

Napoleon opened negotiations with the fortress capital of Valletta. Faced with vastly superior French forces and the loss of western Malta, the Grand Master negotiated surrender to the invasion. Hompesch left Malta for Trieste on 18 June. He resigned as Grand Master on 6 July 1799.

More information: Saint John International

The Knights were dispersed, though the order continued to exist in a diminished form and negotiated with European governments for a return to power. The Russian Emperor, Paul I, gave the largest number of Knights’ shelter in Saint Petersburg, an action which gave rise to the Russian tradition of the Knights Hospitaller and the Order's recognition among the Russian Imperial Orders

Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Malta
The refugee Knights in Saint Petersburg proceeded to elect Tsar Paul as their Grand Master, a rival to Grand Master von Hompesch until the latter's abdication left Paul as the sole Grand Master. 

Grand Master Paul I created, in addition to the Roman Catholic Grand Priory, a Russian Grand Priory of no fewer than 118 Commanderies, dwarfing the rest of the Order and open to all Christians. Paul's election as Grand Master was, however, never ratified under Roman Catholic canon law, and he was the de facto rather than de jure Grand Master of the Order.

By the early 19th century, the order had been severely weakened by the loss of its priories throughout Europe. Only 10% of the order's income came from traditional sources in Europe, with the remaining 90% being generated by the Russian Grand Priory until 1810. This was partly reflected in the government of the Order being under Lieutenants, rather than Grand Masters, in the period 1805 to 1879, when Pope Leo XIII restored a Grand Master to the order. This signalled the renewal of the order's fortunes as a humanitarian and religious organization.

More information: Saint Peter's List

On 19 September 1806, the Swedish government offered the sovereignty of the island of Gotland to the Order. The offer was rejected since it would have meant the Order renouncing their claim to Malta.

The Grandma is seeing the Knight's fortresses
In 1834, the order settled in Rome. Hospital work, the original work of the order, became once again its main concern. The Order's hospital and welfare activities, undertaken on a considerable scale in World War I, were greatly intensified and expanded in World War II under the Grand Master Fra' Ludovico Chigi Albani della Rovere, Grand Master 1931–1951.

The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta, better known as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM), is a Roman Catholic lay religious order and the world's oldest surviving order of chivalry. Its sovereign status is recognised by membership in numerous international bodies and observer status at the United Nations and others.

More information: Foreign Policy

The Order maintains diplomatic relations with 107 countries, official relations with 6 others and with the European Union, permanent observer missions to the United Nations and its specialised agencies, and delegations or representations in many other international organizations

It issues its own passports, currency, stamps and even vehicle registration plates. The Sovereign Military Order of Malta has a permanent presence in 120 countries, with 12 Grand Priories and Sub-Priories and 47 national Associations, as well as numerous hospitals, medical centres, day care centres, first aid corps, and specialist foundations, which operate in 120 countries. 

The Sovereign Order of Malta in the United Nations
Its 13,500 members and 80,000 volunteers and over 42,000 medical personnel, doctors, nurses and paramedics, are dedicated to the care of the poor, the sick, the elderly, the disabled, the homeless, terminal patients, lepers, and all those who suffer

The Order is especially involved in helping victims of armed conflicts and natural disasters by providing medical assistance, caring for refugees, and distributing medicines and basic equipment for survival.

The Sovereign Military Order of Malta established a mission in Malta, after signing an agreement with the Maltese Government which granted the Order the exclusive use of Fort St. Angelo for a term of 99 years. Today, after restoration, the Fort hosts historical and cultural activities related to the Order of Malta.

More information: Independent

True charity is the desire to be useful 
to others with no thought of recompense. 

Emanuel Swedenborg

Wednesday, 30 May 2018


Grand Master Knight of Malta
Today, The Grandma wants to talk about one of the oldest European orders: The Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem whose history in Malta has left lots of footprints in these islands. It's an amazing part of our history that The Grandma wants to share with their families in a two-parts story.

The Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem, also known as the Order of Saint John, Order of Hospitallers, Knights Hospitaller, Knights Hospitalier or Hospitallers, was a medieval Catholic military order that became the modern Sovereign Military Order of Malta, which remains a sovereign subject of international law, as well as the Protestant members of the Alliance of the Orders of Saint John of Jerusalem. It was headquartered variously in the Kingdom of Jerusalem, on the island of Rhodes, and in Malta, and it is now headquartered in Rome.

More information: Order of Malta

The Hospitallers arose in the early 11th century, at the time of the great monastic reformation, as a group of individuals associated with an Amalfitan hospital in the Muristan district of Jerusalem, dedicated to John the Baptist and founded around 1023 by Gerard Thom to provide care for sick, poor or injured pilgrims coming to the Holy Land

Grand Master Knight of Malta & The Grandma
Some scholars, however, consider that the Amalfitan order and hospital were different from Gerard Thom's order and its hospital. 

After the conquest of Jerusalem in 1099 during the First Crusade, the organisation became a religious and military order under its own Papal charter, charged with the care and defence of the Holy Land

Following the conquest of the Holy Land by Islamic forces, the knights operated from Rhodes, over which they were sovereign, and later from Malta, where they administered a vassal state under the Spanish viceroy of Sicily. The Hospitallers were the smallest group to colonise parts of the Americas; at one point in the mid-17th century, they acquired four Caribbean islands, which they turned over to the French in the 1660s.

More information: Knights Hospitallers

The knights were weakened in the Protestant Reformation, when rich commanderies of the order in northern Germany and the Netherlands became Protestant and largely separated from the Roman Catholic main stem, remaining separate to this day, although ecumenical relations between the descendant chivalric orders are amicable. 

Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Malta
The order was disestablished in England, Denmark, Sweden and elsewhere in northern Europe, and it was further damaged by Napoleon's capture of Malta in 1798, following which it became dispersed throughout Europe and Russia

It regained strength during the early 19th century as it redirected itself toward religious and humanitarian causes. In 1834, the order, by this time known as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, acquired new headquarters in Rome, where it has since been based.

In 603, Pope Gregory I commissioned the Ravennate Abbot Probus, who was previously Gregory's emissary at the Lombard court, to build a hospital in Jerusalem to treat and care for Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land

In 800, Emperor Charlemagne enlarged Probus' hospital and added a library to it. About 200 years later, in 1005, Caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah destroyed the hospital and three thousand other buildings in Jerusalem

In 1023, merchants from Amalfi and Salerno in Italy were given permission by the Caliph Ali az-Zahir of Egypt to rebuild the hospital in Jerusalem. The hospital, which was built on the site of the monastery of Saint John the Baptist, took in Christian pilgrims traveling to visit the Christian holy sites. It was served by the Order of Saint Benedict.

The Grandma at Wignacourt Tower, San Pawl il-Baħar
The monastic hospitaller order was founded following the First Crusade by Gerard Thom, whose role as founder was confirmed by the papal bull Pie Postulatio Voluntatis issued by Pope Paschal II in 1113. 

After centuries from place to place in Europe, the knights gained fixed quarters in 1530 when Charles I of Spain, as King of Sicily, gave them Malta, Gozo and the North African port of Tripoli in perpetual fiefdom in exchange for an annual fee of a single Maltese falcon, the Tribute of the Maltese Falcon, which they were to send on All Souls' Day to the King's representative, the Viceroy of Sicily.

More information: ESE

The Hospitallers continued their actions against the Muslims and especially the Barbary pirates. Although they had only a few ships they quickly drew the ire of the Ottomans, who were unhappy to see the order resettled. In 1565 Suleiman sent an invasion force of about 40,000 men to besiege the 700 knights and 8,000 soldiers and expel them from Malta and gain a new base from which to possibly launch another assault on Europe. This is known as the Great Siege of Malta.

Take this sword:

In Brightness Stands for Faith
Its point for hope,
Its guard for Charity,

Use it well...

Hospitaller Rite of Profession

At first the battle went as badly for the Hospitallers as Rhodes had: most of the cities were destroyed and about half the knights killed. On 18 August the position of the besieged was becoming desperate: dwindling daily in numbers, they were becoming too feeble to hold the long line of fortifications. But when his council suggested the abandonment of Birgu and Senglea and withdrawal to Fort St. Angelo, Grand Master Jean Parisot de Valette refused.

Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Malta
The Viceroy of Sicily had not sent help; possibly the Viceroy's orders from Philip II of Spain were so obscurely worded as to put on his own shoulders the burden of the decision whether to help the Order at the expense of his own defences. 

A wrong decision could mean defeat and exposing Sicily and Naples to the Ottomans. He had left his own son with La Valette, so he could hardly be indifferent to the fate of the fortress. 

Whatever may have been the cause of his delay, the Viceroy hesitated until the battle had almost been decided by the unaided efforts of the knights, before being forced to move by the indignation of his own officers.

On 23 August came yet another grand assault, the last serious effort, as it proved, of the besiegers. It was thrown back with the greatest difficulty, even the wounded taking part in the defence. The plight of the Turkish forces, however, was now desperate. With the exception of Fort Saint Elmo, the fortifications were still intact. 

More information: Medieval Warfare

Working night and day the garrison had repaired the breaches, and the capture of Malta seemed more and more impossible. Many of the Ottoman troops in crowded quarters had fallen ill over the terrible summer months. Ammunition and food were beginning to run short, and the Ottoman troops were becoming increasingly dispirited by the failure of their attacks and their losses.

The Grandma in Malta's Knights of St John Hall
The death on 23 June of skilled commander Dragut, a corsair and admiral of the Ottoman fleet, was a serious blow. 

The Turkish commanders, Piali Pasha and Lala Mustafa Pasha, were careless. They had a huge fleet which they used with effect on only one occasion. They neglected their communications with the African coast and made no attempt to watch and intercept Sicilian reinforcements.

On 1 September they made their last effort, but the morale of the Ottoman troops had deteriorated seriously and the attack was feeble, to the great encouragement of the besieged, who now began to see hopes of deliverance.

More information: St John's Co Cathedral

The perplexed and indecisive Ottomans heard of the arrival of Sicilian reinforcements in Mellieħa Bay. Unaware that the force was very small, they broke off the siege and left on 8 September. The Great Siege of Malta may have been the last action in which a force of knights won a decisive victory.

The Grandma at Saint John's Cathedral, Valletta
When the Ottomans departed, the Hospitallers had but 600 men able to bear arms. The most reliable estimate puts the number of the Ottoman army at its height at some 40,000 men, of whom 15,000 eventually returned to Constantinople

After the siege a new city had to be built: the present capital city of Malta, named Valletta in memory of the Grand Master who had withstood the siege. In 1607, the Grand Master of the Hospitallers was granted the status of Reichsfürst, Prince of the Holy Roman Empire, even though the Order's territory was always south of the Holy Roman Empire. In 1630, he was awarded ecclesiastic equality with cardinals, and the unique hybrid style His Most Eminent Highness, reflecting both qualities qualifying him as a true Prince of the Church.

More information: Malta Uncovered

Having gained Malta, the knights stayed for 268 years, transforming what they called merely a rock of soft sandstone into a flourishing island with mighty defences and a capital city, Valletta, known as Superbissima, Most Proud, amongst the great powers of Europe. However, the indigenous islanders had not particularly enjoyed the rule of the Knights of St John. Most Knights were French and excluded the native islanders from important positions. They were especially loathed for the way they took advantage of the native women.

To be continued... 

In Malta, the Wars of Religion reached their climax. 
If both sides believed that they saw Paradise in the bright sky above them, they had a close and very intimate knowledge of Hell.

Ernle Bradford

Tuesday, 29 May 2018


The Grandma is walking across Valetta streets
The Grandma has just arrived to La Valetta after saying goodbye, only for few days, to The Jones and The Beans

She has an appointment with Paqui Bean and Silvia and Michelle Jones in a month and she doesn't forget this date.

Meanwhile, The Grandma has decided to travel to Malta to search Corto Maltese, his great lover, and she's waiting for the arrival of some friends who are going to help her in this searching: Claire Fontaine, Tina Picotes and Joseph de Ca'th Lon. It's better staying surrounded by friends when you're doing something special.

The Grandma loves Malta and she is taking profit of this travel to visit the island again and enjoy one of the most beautiful places around the world.

More information: Visit Malta

Valletta is the capital city of Malta, colloquially known as Il-Belt, The City, in Maltese. Geographically, it is located in the South Eastern Region, in the central-eastern portion of the main island of Malta having its western coast with access to the Marsamxett Harbour and its eastern coast in the Grand Harbour

The Grandma is walking across Valletta streets
The historical city has a population of 6,444, while the metropolitan area around it has a population of 393,938. Valletta is the southernmost capital of Europe and the second southernmost capital of the European Union after Nicosia.

Valletta contains buildings from the 16th century onwards, built during the rule of the Order of St. John also known as Knights Hospitaller. The city is essentially Baroque in character, with elements of Mannerist, Neo-Classical and Modern architecture in selected areas, though the Second World War left major scars on the city, particularly the destruction of the Royal Opera House

The City of Valletta was officially recognised as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1980.

More information: UNESCO

The official name given by the Order of Saint John was Humilissima Civitas Valletta—The Most Humble City of Valletta, or Città Umilissima in Italian. The city's fortifications, consisting of bastions, curtains and cavaliers, along with the beauty of its Baroque palaces, gardens and churches, led the ruling houses of Europe to give the city its nickname Superbissima—Most Proud.

The Grandma is arriving at home in Valetta
The peninsula was previously called Xaghret Mewwija. Mewwija refers to a sheltered place. The extreme end of the peninsula names Xebb ir-Ras of which name origins from the lighthouse on site. A family which surely owned land became known as Sceberras, now a Maltese surname as Sciberras. At one point the entire peninsula became known as Sceberras.

From 1566 to 1798 the Island was under The Order of Saint John. In 1798, the Order left the islands and the French occupation of Malta began. After the Maltese rebelled, French troops continued to occupy Valletta and the surrounding harbour area, until they capitulated to the British in September 1800. 

In the early 19th century, the British Civil Commissioner, Henry Pigot, agreed to demolish the majority of the city's fortifications. The demolition was again proposed in the 1870s and 1880s, but it was never carried out and the fortifications have survived largely intact.

The Grandma in a Maltese-style balcony, Valletta
Eventually building projects in Valletta resumed under British rule. These projects included widening gates, demolishing and rebuilding structures, widening newer houses over the years, and installing civic projects. 

The Malta Railway, which linked Valletta to Mdina, was officially opened in 1883. It was closed down in 1931 after buses became a popular means of transport.

In 1939, Valletta was abandoned as the headquarters of the Royal Navy Mediterranean Fleet due to its proximity to Italy and the city became a flashpoint during the subsequent two-year long Siege of Malta. 

German and Italian air raids throughout the Second World War caused much destruction in Valletta and the rest of the harbour area. The Royal Opera House, constructed at the city entrance in the 19th century, was one of the buildings lost to the raids.

More information: World War II-Visit Malta

The entire city of Valletta has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1980, along with Megalithic Temples of Malta and the Hypogeum of Ħal-Saflieni.

The architecture of Valletta's streets and piazzas ranges from mid-16th century Baroque to Modernism. Buildings of historic importance include St John's Co-Cathedral, formerly the Conventual Church of the Knights of Malta. It has the only signed work and largest painting by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio

The Grandma is walking to the harbour, Valleta
The Auberge de Castille et Leon, formerly the official seat of the Knights of Malta of the Langue of Castille, Léon and Portugal, is now the office of the Prime Minister of Malta. 

The Grandmaster's Palace, built between 1571 and 1574 and formerly the seat of the Grand Master of the Knights of Malta, used to house the Maltese Parliament, now situated in a purpose-built structure at the entrance to the city, and now houses the offices of the President of Malta.

The National Museum of Fine Arts is a Rococo palace dating back to the late 1570s, which served as the official residence of the Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet during the British era from the 1820s onwards. The Manoel Theatre was constructed in just ten months in 1731, by order of Grand Master António Manoel de Vilhena, and is one of the oldest working theatres in Europe.

More information: Daily Mail

The Mediterranean Conference Centre was formerly the Sacra Infermeria. Built in 1574, it was one of Europe's most renowned hospitals during the Renaissance. The fortifications of the port, built by the Knights as a magnificent series of bastions, demi-bastions, cavaliers and curtains, approximately 100 metres high, all contribute to the unique architectural quality of the city.

More information: City of Valletta

Min jistenna jithenna.
He who waits is rewarded. 

Maltese Proverb

Monday, 28 May 2018


The Grandma & The Broom, Sant Boi de Llobregat
After buying a new house in Zarautz for The Jones, The Grandma is thinking about her own future again. Last Saturday, when she was in Sant Boi with her families, she remembered her childhood. Sant Boi was an important place for her when she was a child, first, and a teenager, later. She spent the most unforgettable moments of her life in this city with many loved friends. 

It was when she was arriving to her appointment with her families that she crossed a beautiful little forest full of broom and, suddenly, all the memories returned like if all of them were the real life. She remembers Marianao Park, the Montbaig range, Sant Ramon Mountain, the Ateneu, the almond trees, the cherry trees, the rosemary, the carob trees, the lignum trees...

Now say: "The broom tree blooms,
everywhere the fields are red with poppies.
With new scythes we'll thresh
the ripened wheat and weeds."

The Grandma has considered these memories as a message. She must continue her searching of happiness and she has decided to search Corto Maltese, the man who stole her heart some decades ago and one day disappeared in Stonehenge. The Grandma hasn't got news since that moment and although she has never stopped the searching, she thinks that perhaps she was taking a wrong path. If Corto Maltese was born in Malta, perhaps she must start to search in this Mediterranean island. This is the reason because of The Grandma is going to travel to Malta to find her old friend.

Ah, young lips parting after dark, 
if you only knew how dawn 
delayed us, how long we had to wait 
for light to rise in the gloom!

The Jones are going to continue with their lifes. The Grandma is totally sure that they are going to be happy, find good jobs and enjoy their new families without forgetting this one, because, whatever happens, they will be always a Jones and they are predestined to write great pages in our history.

Good Luck, Dear Jones and No Surrender!

The Grandma & The Broom, Sant Boi de Llobregat
The broom is considered the national plant in Catalonia because two of its most important poets have written about it: Joan Maragall and Salvador Espriu. These poems are considered vital messages of hope about future, resistance about difficulties, faith in changes and the deep desire of surviving as a culture. To sum up, broom is a symbol of no surrender.

Genisteae is a tribe of trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants in the subfamily Faboideae of the legume family Fabaceae. It includes a number of well-known plants including broom, lupine (lupin), gorse and laburnum.

The tribe's greatest diversity is in the Mediterranean, and most genera are native to Europe, Africa, the Canary Islands, India and southwest Asia. However, the largest genus, Lupinus, is most diverse in North and South America. Anarthrophytum and Sellocharis are also South American and Aryrolobium ranges into India.

But we have lived to save your words, 
to return you the name of every thing, 
so that you'd stay on the straight path 
that leads to the mastery of earth.

The Genisteae arose 32.3 ± 2.9 million years ago in the Oligocene. The members of this tribe consistently form a monophyletic clade in molecular phylogenetic analyses. The tribe does not currently have a node-based definition, but several morphological synapomorphies have been identified.

The Grandma and The Fennel, Sant Boi de Llobregat
Brooms tolerate, and often thrive best in, poor soils and growing conditions. 

In cultivation they need little care, though they need good drainage and perform poorly on wet soils. 

They are widely used as ornamental landscape plants and also for wasteland reclamation, e.g. mine tailings, and sand dune stabilising. Many of the most popular brooms in gardens are hybrids, notably Kew broom and Warminster broom.

We looked beyond the desert, 
plumbed the depth of our dreams, 
turned dry cisterns into peaks 
scaled by the long steps of time.

The Plantagenet kings used common broom, known as planta genista in Latin, as an emblem and took their name from it. It was originally the emblem of Geoffrey of Anjou, father of Henry II of England. Wild broom is still common in dry habitats around Anjou, France.

Charles V and his son Charles VI of France used the pod of the broom plant, broom-cod, or cosse de geneste, as an emblem for livery collars and badges.

The flower buds and flowers of Cytisus scoparius have been used as a salad ingredient, raw or pickled, and were a popular ingredient for salmagundi or grand sallet during the 17th and 18th century. There are now concerns about the toxicity of broom, with potential effects on the heart and problems during pregnancy.

Now say: "We hear the voices 
of the wind on the high sea of crested grain." 
Now say: "We shall be ever faithful 
to the people of this land." - Salvador Espriu

We made a promise we swore we'd always remember:
No retreat, baby, no surrender.

Bruce Springsteen

Sunday, 27 May 2018


Selfie in Zarautz's entrance
After an intensive day with Cambridge University Exams, The Jones are preparing their new objective. The family has decided to establish their central residence in Zarautz, in Euskalherria. Although they are the owners of other residences, they have chosen this as the main one.

Meanwhile The Jones are finishing their last exam about occupational hazards, The Grandma has travelled to Zarautz to buy a house and talk to Zarautz City Hall to announce their arrival. They are going to be excellent neighbours. Zarautz's inhabitants can be sure that they are going to welcome a fantastic family.

The Grandma has visited one of her old friends, Kepa Junkera, a Basque composer and music, who she adores. In her opinion, he's one of the biggest genius in folk music nowadays. She remembers him playing his accordion while Ginesa Ortega, a Catalan Gypsy artist, was singing Maitia nun zira, one of the most beautiful Basque songs that talks about absence and love.

More information: Zarautz

Zarautz is a coastal town located in central Gipuzkoa, in Euskalherria. It is bordered by Aia to the east and the south and Getaria to the west. It has four enclaves limiting the aforementioned municipalities: Alkortiaga, Ekano, Sola, and Arbestain. It's located about 15 kilometres west of Donostia

The Grandma is arriving to Zarautz's City Hall
As of 2014, Zarautz has a population of 22,890, which usually swells to about60,000 in the summer.

The Palace of Narros, located adjacent to Zarautz's 2.8 km long beach, is where Queen Isabella II and Fabiola of Belgium once spent their summer holidays.

The beach is known for being the longest in the Basque Country and one of longest of the Cantabrian cornice.

-1237: The city is awarded status as fuero by king Fernando III of Castile.

-1857: The beginning of the Industrial Revolution in Zarautz, thanks to the enterprise Fabril Linera. An era of economic growth and development begins.

-1936: The Civil War begins and Zarautz overwhelmingly supports the Republican cause.

-1937: The province falls to Falangist forces in the Spanish Civil War, who carry out reprisals against the Basque nationalists.

The Grandma is leaving The Jones' new home
At the end of the 19th century, and the beginning of the 20th century, the popularity of Zarautz as a luxury tourist destination grew, and many well-known people began to holiday there. 

A number of lavish houses and mansions sprang up, particularly along the beach. Nowadays, many of these buildings have become public buildings or have been demolished and replaced by chic apartment buildings.

During the 1970s and 1980s, Zarautz became a more affordable destination, and is now perhaps best known for its surfing and water sports.

As it is tradition in the Basque Country, gastronomy is a very important part of Zarautz. Many restaurants can be found in Zarautz, offering traditional as well as modern fine cuisine.

More information: Turismo Zarautz

Zarautz is home town of one of the most famous cooks, Karlos Arguiñano, whose restaurant can be found right in front of the beach. He also created a prestigious cooking school called Aiala. As in all cities around The Basque Country there are a lot of gastronomical societies in Zarautz. They are very traditional and called Txoko in Basque.

There are two museums in Zarautz, the Photomuseum and the Art and History Museum of Zarautz. In Dorre Luzea there are frequent art exhibitions. The town also has many other picture galleries.

The Grandma in Zarautz beach
Zarautz has first class sporting facilities, such as an old and elegant Golf Club. But Zarautz is renowned worldwide as a surfing destination. Over the last few years, it has become incredibly popular among surfers, and even a number of surfing schools have been established.

Zarautz is the birthplace of the Basque Weightlifting Federation as well as the Gipuzkoa Weightlifting Federation. Since 1968 weightlifting, ZKEhalterofilia, has been one of the sports that can be practiced at the local sports club, Zarautz Kirol Elkartea. Since then, every summer an international weightlifting event has taken place in the town. At first, very famous athletes took part in that competition such as Serge Reding and Alain Terme to name a few.

More information: Hotelka

The town is also famous as one of Basque's most popular surfing spots. Its 2.5 km beach offers highly consistent surfing with many different peaks for all standards of surfers. The town is a great place to learn how to surf. Zarautz is one of the places where the world championships in surfing takes place.


Maitia, nun zira? Nik ez zaitut ikusten,
ez berririk jakiten, nurat galdu zira?

Where are you, my Love? I do not see you,
I don't know anything, anymore, are you lost?

 Kepa Junkera & Ginesa Ortega

Saturday, 26 May 2018


The Grandma is waiting her families
Today, The Jones have met The Beans. They had a common objective: a Cambridge University Exam

The families have been working very hard for some months and today they have done a fantastic work. The Grandma is very proud of all of them. 

It's not an easy goal but they have trusted in their work and effort and they have demosntrated themselves how much English they have learnt in these intensive months.

More information: Cambridge University

Thanks Jones. Thanks Beans. Thanks for trusting in this project and work with all your effort and illusion and thanks for sharing these wonderful and unforgettable days with The Grandma, a person who loves words and names and music and old stories and who takes profit of them to try to create connections between things, people and places. 

The Grandma in Marianao, Cuba
Places and names like Marianao, the beautiful place where two  families have met each other, and a special place for The Grandma, who has an unforgettable and special story which connects her with Sant Boi, a city very important in her life, a city that she loves eternally.

Marianao, which means the ship of Maria, it’s a place in Cuba where a Catalan family, The Samà, created a big fortune. They were Indians.

An Indian, often cited with the popular names of Indian or American, is how the adventurers and traders in Catalonia knew each other who, having emigrated to the Spanish colonies in America, returned to the metropolis after having done fortune. This is the origin of the expression made the Americas.

Their dress was of great elegance and they gave them a gentle breath that distinguished them from the rest of the population. Typically American clothing: clear trousers, vest with gold-plated rings, a large silk scarf in the neck and the jipi, a hat from Panama.

Old pictures of Palau Marianao, Sant Boi
Some, when returning, built large mansions, houses of Indians, who, despite being daughters of ostentation of what had prospered, nowadays are an excellent example of the best architecture of the second half of the nineteenth century and first third of the twentieth century.

In fairness, it must be said that they were often generous with their people, and they became promoters of actions and works that could benefit the impoverished contemporary society of the overseas empire. Thus, lighting, railroad or schools were built in many places thanks to their patronage and will. The municipalities expressed their gratitude towards their benefactors by naming their favorite children and christening the building with the name of the Indian, or by dedicating a street to them in order to perpetuate their memory.

The phenomenon was very important in Catalonia, which after the lifting of the monopoly of trade in the exclusive Indians of Castile could obtain some compensation for the military defeat of 1714 and the brutal subsequent cultural repression.

Palau Marianao, an Indian building in Sant Boi
Catalan community in Cuba grew very fast thanks to their habilities in commerce. They were great sellers and made great fortunes with the exportation of sugar, cacao, rom, tobacco and anise. 

They inverted in their hometowns and Catalan cities like Badalona, Arenys de Mar, Torredembarra, Vilanova i la Geltrú, Sitges, Begur, or Cambrils became Indian cities thanks to new factories dedicated to manufacture and export rom and anise. Indians expanded from Cambrils to Begur across all the coast and their presence is easy to discover nowadays because they are an important piece of our recent history.

More information: Office of the Historian

During the War of Independence of Cuba, the Catalan community helped the Cuban one against the Castilian power. Repression and prosecutions against Catalan people increased in Spain and Catalan were forced to fight against Cuban but they denied and were accuses of disloyalty and dishonour and prosecuted, even with death penalty. Castilian government wanted to take possession of these factories and enterprises and Catalan enterpreneurs decided to not return and stay in Cuba forever, mainly by two reasons: help Cuban people, who were their workers, in their reclaims and protect their businesses in the Caribbean island.

Marianao Gardens and its palm trees, Sant Boi
Marianao is the result of an Indian, Salvador de Samà i Torrents, Marquis of Samà, Marianao and Vilanova i la Geltrú. The name of the land evocate a Cuban one. The characteristics of Palau Marianao are Cuban ones. Marianao gardens are full of plants which have a Caribbean origin in the same way that Palau Novella, in Sitges, or Parc Samà in Cambrils.

The origin of Catalan Havaneres is also in Cuba. Havaneres comes from Havana, the name of the Cuban city, and the lyrics of these songs always talks about homesickness. This homesickness was the main cause of the architecture of Indian houses. Indian wanted to evocate the life in the island and they built houses similar to Cuban ones with gardens full of Caribbean plants, the most important of them, the tree palm.

There are some famous havaneres in Catalan like El meu avi, which talks about the Cuban Independence Wars, La barca xica or La Gavina and in Castilian, Yo te diré, which talks about the Philipines Independence Wars, La bella Lola or La paloma, a popular song created by Basque Sebastián Iradier Salaverri which was versionated in English by Elvis Presley

These havaneres are love metaphors because although it seems they are dedicated to a woman's love, this woman is really Cuba, and the singers are crying its absence, its memories and its lifestyle.

More information: Visit Palafrugell

Darling, I love you so, and my heart forever,
will belong to the memory of the love that we knew before.
Please, come back to my arms; we belong together.
Come to me; let's be sweethearts again and then let us part no more.

Elvis Presley