Kyrle Probus Club
   of Ross-on-Wye


Malta - 21st March 2013


MEMBERS heard about the charm and the frustration of living in Malta when member Victor Downing gave a talk at Kyrle Probus’s recent meeting on his years as an ex-pat on the Mediterranean island.
Victor told members that he and his wife decided to move to Malta when he retired as they had spent several enjoyable holidays there. They further believed it would be a good place, because everyone would be speaking English, they drove on the left side of the road, the health system was not unlike the NHS in Britain and the climate, while hot in Summer, would be quite temperate in Winter.

The reality, they soon discovered, was quite different. The Maltese did not speak much English; consultations with the GP had to be paid for, while not all GPs kept records, so it was not unknown for some Maltese to consult as many as three GPs to see if the first one had got the diagnosis right.

Driving on the left is the law, but because of the state of the roads, most Maltese tended to 'drive down the middle and pray.'  As for the weather, the first Winter they were there, was the coldest for years, while torrential rain would turn the roads into rivers in minutes. Summer temperatures did reach 30-40 degrees.

They bought a house in a village in central Malta in a well-known olive-growing region, but getting the essential services connected proved a time-consuming process, with the public offices closing at 12.30 pm.  Obtaining an ID card and taxing the car proved an equally drawn-out procedure.

Victor recalled the general election in Malta of 2008, when at nine o’clock in the morning, there were large queues waiting to vote outside their local polling station and there were still large queues waiting outside, at nine in the evening. The newspapers complained of a low turnout at 90 per cent, the norm being over 95 per cent!

The national flag of Malta, which Victor stood beside to deliver his talk, displays the George Cross, which he explained, was awarded to Malta by George V1, for the enormous bravery shown by its people in the face of constant bombardment by the German Luftwaffe during the first six months of 1942.

After eight years in Malta and having thought hard and long about it, Victor said he and his wife decided to sell up and they returned to England a year ago. They managed to sell their house in Malta within a year, but guess what? The completion process again proved to be a very long drawn-out affair!

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