Helen Menhinick (ML) of Bryn Walking giving her presentation about how she "Planned, Managed and Reviewed" her recent high altitude trek in Ladakh.
Brecon: October 12th/13th 2022
Six outdoor professionals completed this course to an exceptionally high standard - well done everyone!!!
1. The course should be part of the ML syllabus.
2. Great tempo with great interaction - great.
3. Excellent tutor.
4. Relevent to outdoor work with groups.
5. Good visual aids, Powerpoint and group tasks.
6. Very useful in my work where I run lots of off site events.
7. Great - very interactive - great Powerpoint.
8. Tutor was above and beyond - absolutely super.
9. Good range of information and support.
10. Relaxed and informative. Good visual aids. Plenty of opportunity for questions.
11. Very useful for running events.
12. Lots of delegate input, Powerpoint good, humour good.
13. More examples of UK based activities where things have gone wrong would have been useful.
14. Good balance of presentations.
15. Alan creates an excellent learning environment.
16. Excellent course.
October 1st: As we'd stayed overnight in Newbury it wasn't more than an hour's drive to LHR T4 and the car was soon dropped off with Purple Parking, a company we've used for many years for airport parking.
Air Malta check in was open three hours before the flight departure so we wandered through the shops and enjoyed a lounge breakfast, courtesy of Air Malta. Boarding was on time and the seating in the A320 NEO was 3x3 with a friendly crew on board. Sadly Yolande's GF meal wasn't on board but she managed to eat some of what was offered but the Purser took it very personally and apologised profusely whilst messaging his head office to complain.
The flight was comfortable and we landed in Malta ahead of schedule, passing through non-Shengen immigration with ease before collecting our luggage and meeting our driver for the transfer to the centrally located Cumberland Hotel in Valletta on St. John's Street.
The Cumberland Hotel occupies an old palace building almost right next to the St John's Co-Cathedral. It is managed by the NEU Hotel Group of Malta.
Room 205 was fabulous but I can't remember if I'd booked such a room or if we'd been upgraded. The room was split level with the main level being the sleeping area, office desk and bathroom whilst the upper level was a spacious and comfortable lounge area with fridge and brew facilities. The main level even had a traditional Maltese enclosed balcony with seating area.
Whilst exploring Valletta we found the Valletta Food Market with a useful basement supermarket so picked up a few items for dinner in our room. The main level in the Valletta Food Market contains lots of interesting food outlets which we used during the week.
October 2nd : After a good breakfast we walked to the Barrakka Gardens and the Barrakka Lift to descend almost 60m to the waterfront to catch a tradional Dghajsa (a small colourful gondola-like boat) across the Grand Harbour to the Maritime Museum in Vittoriosa. The museum was closed but our primary objective was the impressive Fort St. Angelo which overlooks the Grand Harbour so we walked along the waterfront and spent about two hours exploring the fort which is well worth the visit.
Vittoriosa (Birgu) is so named as a reminder of the First Great Siege in 1565 where the Grand Master La Valette and his troops had their last line of defense against the Ottoman Turks.
The fort visit was followed by a walk around the town and then out along the busy yacht moorings to the western ond of the Senglea Peninsula where, just around the corner, we found Le Regatta Restaurant. This restaurant was a hidden gem and we enjoyed a light lunch with drinks looking out over the Grand Harbour towards the cruise terminal.
Another Dghajsa took us back to Valletta where we prelaxed in our room until an evening walk with a sushi dinner at the Valletta Food Market
October 3rd: After breakfast we caught the Gozo Fast Ferry which was an exciting 45 minute ride through Force 5 waves with some passengers being quite unwell. After realising the deck/cabin crew were Indonesian I spoke at length with then in Bahasa Indonesia which they really enjoyed and my langauge skills weren't too bad considering I hadn't been in Indonesia since just before Covid struck.
After disembarking from the ferry we caught a crowded bus into Gozo's capital, Ir-Rabat Victoria to visit the Cittadella fortress complex which sat majestically on a hill overlooking most of the island. The Cittadella dates back to pre-Roman times but was destroyed during the Ottoman invasion of 1551 but later rebuilt by the Knights of St John at the end of 16th century.
After lunch at a pleasant cafe adjacent to the bus station we caught the bus back to the ferry terminal but decided on a different route back to Valleta by using the slow car ferry over to Cirkewwa Port and the bus back to Valletta which was a tiresome hour and a half.
Dinner was /Nepalli/Indian food back at the Valletta Food Market which was very good.
October 4th: More utilisation of our bus passes followed after breakfast with a visit to Marsaxlokk Bay which was filled with colourful fishing boats and seafront cafes and restaurants. We didn't stay for lunch so an hour or so was long enough there but finding the right bus stop to get us back to Valletta was a bit troublesome and it appeared that the regular (every 20mins) buses take lengthy breaks at around midday.
October 5th: Another bus ride after breakfast but this time to the western central area of Malta to visit Mdina where our guidebook referred to car-free streets in a "Fantastic location known as the Silent City where are few prettier places in which to escape the sress of modern-day life". I guess the author of our guidebook wasn't aware that the MSC Seaview was in port today and I think most of the 5331 passengers had chosen to visit Mdina today. The narrow streets were pleasant enough though and were familiar from the Game of Thrones series. We didn't stay as long as the suggested 2 hours before catching a bus back to Valletta for an onward bus to Sliema where we had an excellent lunch at a restaurant called Tommy's where we both chose salads and accompanying drinks.
After lunch we caught the Three Cities Ferry back over to Valletta for a hotel siesta. I'd found out that the MSC Seaview woulld sail at 5pm so we walked over to the Lower Barrakka Garden to watch this huge cruise liner sail. It was delayed whilst an Italian frigate entrered port assisted by two tugs but the MSC Seaview simply moved away from the cruise terminal with no tugs and sailed right past us, squeezing between the St Elmo Lighthouse and Ricasoli Point with not much room to spare.
October 6th: No buses after breakfast but a pleasant walk down to Fort St Elmo at the tip of the Sciberras Peninsula instead. The star-shaped fort location dates back to Phoenicians but was later taken over by the Romans. The Knights of St John extended the fort to protect the entrance to the Grand Harbour although it was overwhelmed by the Ottoman Turks in 1565. The meticulously restored Fort St Elmo houses the National War Museum which tells the story of Malta during World War 2, a story enhanced by the excellent range of exhibits and interpretation.
We sat for a long time on the benches above the Fast Ferry Terminal watching some smaller marine traffic using the Grand Harbour before enjoying a sushi lunch at the Valletta Food Market and this was followed by another siesta period in our hotel room. I wrote much of this blog during the afternoon and we didn't really need dinner so enjoyed a Haagen Daas treat before spending an hour or so watching over the Grand Harbour from the Upper Barrakka Gardens as the small French liner, Le Jacques-Cartier (up to 184 guests in 92 staterooms and suites with 118 crew members on board) came in and squeezed alongside in between The World and the Azure. The World is an interesting vessel and the only residential type of this vessel in the world. With only 165 private residences aboard The World, an international community of residents can spend as much time on board as they like as the vessel cruises the world. The Azure is a more typical type of cruise vessel with up to 3737 passengers on board. We waited for its 2100 departure but it didn't depart on schedule so we walked back to the hotel.
October 7th: With breakfast over we walked over to the Barrakka Lift and descended to catch a Dghajsa over to the Maritime Museum only to find it was closed for refurbishment as was the Grand Master's Palace at Valletta yesterday.
We spent the rest of the morning exploring Senglea and walking along the fortified ramparts to the pretty Gardjola Gardens on the tip of Cabo Isla with great views over the Grand Harbour towards the Barrakka Lift and the cruise terminal. All that was needed in the gardens was a bar serving cold drinks as it was quite a relaxing place to enjoy the sunshine and views. We crossed back over to Valletta for lunch at the Valletta Food Market before heading back to the hotel.
For our last night on Malta we took the bus over to Sliema for dinner where we'd enjoyed a really good lunch there yesterday at a restaurant called Tiffany's. Our final dinner in Malta was excellent and Tiifany's is to be highly recommended. We caught a very over crowded bus back to Valletta and a final stroll through the Upper Barrakka Gardens watching a small Italian RoRo vessel sail out to sea.
October 8th: With checkout time at midday we had our last wander around Valletta before going back to the hotel to collect our bags for our transfer to the airport which the hotel had arranged for us.
One last stroll around the Upper Barrakka Gardens before visiting St. John's Co-Cathedral which dates back to 1572 with the most striking interior and I often wonder how such artwork on high curved ceilings was ever achieved.
The Cumberland Hotel had been a good choice with an excellent room for the week and good breakfasts included although there was only one type of cereal available which was a bit repetetive.
We were early at the airport so popped down to the very good basement Food Court which was quite good. After checking in we still had time to wait until boarding which was a bit manic but we eventually boarded but were late taking off for the uneventful flight back to LHR.
Following on from retirement, more time will be available for hill and mountain walking on a personal basis with friends.