- Just when I d decided I d seen all I was going to see of the sights of Malta, along came a request from Commander Simon of Speedy for me to accompany him onMessage 1 of 1 , Aug 1, 2002View Source
Just when I’d decided I’d seen all I was going to see of the sights of Malta, along came a request from Commander Simon of "Speedy" for me to accompany him on some sightseeing on Tuesday. He hadn’t been in Malta before and wanted to see what he could of the island in the short time he had available. I suggested a compromise - I show him some of my favourite places on the island, and he come swimming with me, and maybe my two young gentlemen. I knew Simon like fishing as does my young Bailey the Elder, and both the youngsters like to swim as well. I had tried to persuade Tony as well, but he was too busy seeing to his duties as Senior Captain. Thankfully, I do not have those responsibilities, only to my ship, my crew and my squadron.
What a splendid day it turned out to be. We never did get to the places I thought Simon might like to see like the walled city of Mdina and the other prehistoric temples at Mnajdra at the foot of the hill on which stands Hagar Qim. Instead we settled for a quick look round Valetta itself as the idea of swimming appealed more to both of us. Managed to borrow a small ketch, and took along my midshipmen Baileys, who more than proved their capabilities at sail handling which came as somewhat of a surprise to me. Maybe those two are maturing more than I thought. Simon paid me the compliment of remarking that their "maturity" is due to me. I think not, its more likely due to their own efforts, more than mine, I'm sure.
All of us enjoyed a swim in the deliciously cool clear blue water - a respite from the blazing sun. As usual, Bailey the Elder's talents outshine his brother yet again as demonstrated by his swimming skills. Moves like a fish, that one - can certainly out swim me any day. Not that I’m a great swimmer, I just enjoy being in water. The younger Bailey enjoys it too but at a more moderate pace. He kept company with me, while his brother enjoyed some rivalry with Simon. Wonderful place that cave, the limestone fashioned by the elements into two arches, more like a grotto; with its crystal clear blue water, it was a perfectly magical place
Simon's cook, Dewney, Doodney, or some such name, had provided his "master" with something akin to an exotic chicken meal. I'm not that much fond of chicken, but the way "Dewney/Doodney" disguises it, I found it extremely acceptable. Simon says it’s the herbs and spices he uses. He has the imaginative notion of selling such ideas in England; like Simon, I cannot see the average Englishman taking much to them. Haffner, my cook, has no imagination whatsoever - still he hasn't killed us all yet, and for that I should be grateful, I suppose. While reflecting on such matters - the first spell in close company with Simon for any real length of time - I was somewhat taken aback at his scientific theories regarding diseases which the body can pick up; quite frightens me, it’s a wonder we all survive some of the food and drink we are obliged to consume. I reckon that young man could easily have found an alternative living if the King’s service had not claimed him.
Wednesday was a day of much activity for the ships in our squadron with the three of us, plus the bomb vessels and the transport, "Sir Robert" preparing to sail on the morrow. The water lighters came alongside "Erie" late in the aftrnoon after attending to the requirements of the vessels departing first. The water, and extra last supplies of fresh fruit and perishables completed our provisioning. The crew have been a credit to the ship and have all come back more or less in tact. No formal complaints have been laid at my door but I have heard the master-at-arms stifling some, apparently, "happy" people as they have returned.
Earlier today, I went on deck to see the departure of the first four ships and returned Simon’s salute, and wave, as he swung "Speedy" round to lead his cumbersome companions out of Grand Harbour. With the brisk easterly blowing, as good a speed, as they would make, the bomb vessels are ponderous vessels and I didn’t suppose it would take long before Tony and I caught up with them.
With the ship abuzz with expectation ever since the departure of "Speedy" and her consorts in the morning, it was our turn to weigh anchor a few hours later following "Bodmin" out of Grand Harbour and into the Med. This visit to Malta had been particularly pleasurable - a time for my crew to relax after two battles, and for myself, three in almost as many months. I have been fortunate in coming through them relatively unscathed. I sometimes wonder how long this may last, but to think like this does no good, only makes me maudlin - doesn’t pay to think too much. I love these beautiful islands, and their equally beautiful people, not only fair in face, but in their nature too. I hope Britain will enjoy a long and last relationship with them. I turned once more as the islands began to slip over the horizon and raised my arm in farewell to no one in particular, but to everyone in general, and then got on with the job in hand - preserving peace, and if necessary, waging war against His Majesty's enemies.Cookie- Captain -HMS Erie (38)at sea - The Med - steering a course for Algiers