The ViVa! Blog : how it all began

The best ideas always come to me either when I’m on holiday, or when I am in the shower. In this particular case, I was showering whilst on holiday!

Years ago, an idea stuck into my head of investing in historic buildings in Malta and converting them into wonderful places to stay. I was working within market research at the time, and I had come across the activities of the National Trust in the UK, where they actually held a catalogue of some of their most exceptional restored properties, which they were offering as tourist accommodation to those discerning lodgers looking for something truly different. Their catalogue contained mansions, palaces and town houses, but they also featured some bizarre buildings such as lighthouses, country barns or wind mills. This idea never quite abandoned me, and it came back to torment me on many an occasion, often resurfacing when I come across an interesting house or place in my travels.

Time waits for nobody, and I have been busy following an international career path which saw me living in London and Paris over the last six years. In reality, the historic holiday homes project became a sort of subconscious dream and a favourite pass time, where I would spend many late afternoons and evenings pondering on how I would decorate or adapt the interiors of a space to make it habitable. The more atypical the space, the bigger the challenge, and I would enjoy scribbling and drawing plans on scraps of paper, visualising imaginary spaces of how I would turn up a place had it been mine……

So, it is within this context, that I found myself thinking, last year, under the shower at my own little flat in Paris and saying to myself, ‘if I had to baptise this project with a name, what would I call it?’ 

…and there, suddenly, ViVa!

But of course! Why did I not think of this before? ViVa! for Vittoriosa and Valletta, Malta’s key historic cores. ViVa! for Vintage and Vacations, ViVa! for Vision and Values, and finally ViVa!…. because it is a feast and a celebration, because it conjures up the spirit of the Maltese people, ever so lively and spontaneous in their temperament!

I was seeing V’s everywhere that day. That morning, I woke up with a girl next to me whose name started with a V. I decided it was a good omen. I later went for a walk to the Louvre, and there, as I was going in through the ‘loggia’, leading onto the majestic square which houses the famous pyramid-like glass structures of the Louvre, I saw a big inversed ‘V’ staring at me in the face, as if wanting to tell me that the name had always been there but I never cared to see it!  I was relieved. Finally I had a name for my ambitious and imaginary pastime project…. but what now? 

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Ambitious and imaginary it was meant to stay, as I had no intention to abandon everything and indebt myself to the neck simply because I had found a nice name to my pet project. So there was little I could do really, other than tell my friends about my wonderful discovery under the shower! 

And so I did. I spoke about it with much enthusiasm and energy, as though it were some life-changing extraordinary experience, a great discovery, at par with Newton’s theory of gravity, or Colombus’s feat in discovering the new world. Most of my friends who know me well enough did not give much attention to this over-enthusiasm of mine, knowing all too well that this is another one of my ‘fads’, which come and go like a migrating bird, until I dream up some other pastime project. To my surprise, one of my friends took an interest, and we would discuss further and evolve my idea. He thought it would be a pity to let it go just like that, so he suggested that I should immortalise it under the name of a blog… a space where I would write about my interest in all things vintage , my travel experiences, my vacations.  The project was hatched. The ViVa! Malta Blog came to see the light of day in September 2012….

And for those of you who are still wondering what this is all about, you may wish to read on to better understand the raison d’etre of my writings on this blog….

I am a restless traveller enjoying the journey. Over the last 12 years, I have lived in 4 different countries, often spending 3 to 4 years in a place, before work and life circumstances change, only to find myself in a new and even more exciting place.

Throughout my travels, I have learnt that my internal state of mind accompanies me wherever I go, and that travel is not an escape pill which I can take to change the things which really matter. However, places have shaped me, and the set of experiences I have encountered in far-flung places and others closer to home have moulded me into who I am today. In fact, I try to visit as many new places as possible, knowing all too well that the sensory & emotive experiences acquired when I am on the move are vital to my existence.

I now live across three different spheres – the place where I live & work, a semi-permanent space which never quite becomes home to me, but which I thoroughly enjoy – it is almost always an urban metropolis with excellent connections to anywhere around the world.  Then there are the places I visit out of the normal routine, be it for work or pleasure. Finally, there is the place I still call home, even though I hardly spend more than 10 days in a year physically there these days. This is Malta, an arid wind-swept island in the centre of the Mediterranean with a very special sense of place, a melting pot and a cradle of culture, commerce and all forms of human expression and life.

In this blog, I will share some of my experiences across these three planes which make up my life. All those meaningful moments which drove me to write and register a note somewhere. A blog is wonderful because it allows us to share and connect almost instantly.

However, the good old fashioned Moleskin travel note-book still holds its place in my travel bag. There is a beauty about doing things the old way, as we have always done them. You may argue that the practice of sending a postcard through the post office to a friend is long passé. I beg to differ.

There are many products and brands which have been used in the past and which are today completely forgotten and have fallen into oblivion. There are others which have been elevated to a ‘vintage status’, often because of their clever design and functionality.

 These products are symbols and representations of by-gone era. The best of vintage are those items which can still be used today, timeless in their design, form and function. They may not be the most efficient (like sending a postcard or using a Moleskin diary) but they are far more amusing, fun and special when used, simply because they break today’s norm and take us back to another era.

Perhaps, vintage objects are vehicles which allow me to venture into a fourth sphere or dimension I live in, a non-physical one made up of imagination and dreams of a world I never lived in, well before my days and my generation. Travelling back in time trough the things of the past, the best objects which have made it though the hardest test of all, the test of time, and which I treasure and cherish.