Marie Louise McConville: So glad I got to visit Malta's Azure Window before erosion stole it away
I'm the first to admit that I'm not the best traveller in the world.
The fact of the matter is, I don't like travelling and I'm not very good at being away from home but I try very hard not to let that stop me.
Now and again, I magically venture to Oz and the wizard gives me a dash of bravery which allows me to go on some adventures.
I'm proud to say I have been to a few places in the world and while I've always have a sense of panic about being away, I've still enjoyed the breaks.
However, there is one trip which stands out as being mostly a bit of a thumbs down for me. (Sorry to anyone who may be offended).
Now, I know many people will not agree with me on this but I didn't really enjoy Malta.
I can't really tell you why. Basically, it just didn't really click for me when Darren and I ventured there for a week in 2012.
Despite the beautiful architecture and friendly people, I couldn't wait to leave and I'm pretty confident I won't be back.
That said, there is one particular part of the trip which stands out for me because it was simply breathtaking.
While we got to take part in many planned trips and activities, it was our journey to the beautiful Azure Window which just hooked me.
Formed millions of years ago, Tieqa tad-Dwejra, as it is know in Malta, is a 28-metre-tall limestone natural arch on the island of Gozo, located in Dwejra Bay.
One of Malta's major tourist attractions, the arch, which has been featured in a number of international films including Clash Of The Titans, The Count Of Monte Cristo and the first season of Game of Thrones, was created when two limestone sea caves collapsed.
It really was one of the most spectacular sights I have ever seen and I remember just standing still and taking in the view.
Darren and I were very lucky as we were able to board a small boat and travel all around the window and into the beautiful caves attached, which made me hold my breath momentarily but I felt really privileged to have been able to get so up-close-and-personal with this world renowned site.
As we ventured through the window, I noticed that the water was pure blue and almost see-through and it sparkled and I remember reaching my hand into the sea and feeling the refreshing laps of the ocean. It was kind of magical.
To be honest, this experience really saved our holiday to Malta and I have always been very grateful that I got to see it because I don't travel that much.
Even more so now because sadly the Azure Window has collapsed into the sea following heavy storms.
Witnesses said there was a raging sea under the window and suddenly it collapsed, throwing up a huge spray and making a huge noise.
Not only did the arch fall but the stacks either side of it also gave way, disappearing into the sea..
Apparently, geologists had warned that the structure was eroding fast but it is just such a pity that it has now been lost.
Maltese prime minister Joseph Muscat described what had happened as "heartbreaking".
"Reports commissioned over the years indicated that this landmark would be hard hit by unavoidable natural corrosion. That sad day arrived", he said.
I really am so saddened by this news and I feel disappointed for the many people who never got the chance to see this natural phenomenon up close. You missed a pretty brilliant sight.
I suppose we have to accept that there is very little we can do about natural erosion but maybe we should try to explore what options are out there to try and maintain some of the world's most important sites.
For now, at least I have my memories of the Azure Window.
And maybe it's time I head off on a new adventure to see a bit more of the world - before it's too late to see some wonderful sights.
Time to click the red shoes...
Spring is here, so it's time to start filling up our social calendars – so how do you fancy winning a pair of tickets to see one of Ireland's top performers and meeting him too?
Country star, Mike Denver, who has been voted `Entertainer of the Year', is coming to north Down for the first time and promises to give his fans a night to remember.
The Galway-born singer, who also won Album of the Year at the Irish Country Music Awards for `Cut Loose', is due to play Bangor Elim Complex on Thursday, May 4.
The singer said: "I'm really looking forward to my first ever concert in Bangor and meeting my North Down fans, who regularly travel across Ireland and the UK to my gigs. The Elim complex is a great, intimate concert venue with fantastic acoustics".
The Irish News is giving two lucky readers the chance to get up-close-and-personal with this singing sensation.
Each winner will receive a pair of tickets to this concert, a meet and greet with Mike and a signed CD.
If you're not lucky enough to win tickets, they can be purchased online at www.ticketsource.co.uk/bangorelimcomplex or directly from Bangor Elim on 028 9127 1800.
If you fancy winning, simply email your name, address and telephone number – along with the answer to the question below – to email@example.com
Closing date for entries is Tuesday, March 21, 2017.
(Q) Where is Mike Denver playing on May 4?
Normal Irish News Rules Apply
Mother's Day - Mother's Day takes place on Sunday, March 26 and if you're on the look-out for the perfect pressie check out Asda's range of gorgeous gifts, which includes Raspberry & Mallow Fudge, Cosmo Planters and beautiful bouquets. I love this beautiful cushion, which is just £5. Get shopping now.
Return - If you were left devastated when it came to an end, you will be overjoyed to learn that The Night Manager will be returning for a second series. Director Susanne Bier confirmed that the script is 'slowly being developed'. However, it is not yet known if the original cast will appear in the follow-up.
Spring - Is anyone else loving the bright mornings and bright evenings? Isn't it so nice to be driving home from work when it is light outside. Evening walks will soon be upon us. #lovingspring
Switching off - Is anyone else getting really fed up with the Adam Barlow character in Coronation Street? For some reason, I just find him really annoying to watch and he is putting me right off the cobbles. #switchingoff
Axed - Fans of ITV's World War II drama, The Halcyon, have been left disappointed after the broadcaster announced the period drama has been axed after just one series. ITV said on occasion it had to make "tough decisions, and not all drama can be recommissioned".
Work-Out Wrong - Apparently, if you're in search of a flat tummy in time for the summer, sit-ups are not the way to go. Nope, the best way to achieve abs of steel is weights, planking and diets. You have been warned.
The winners of the Beauty and The Beast competition are Sarah Laverty, from Armoy, Mairead Donnelly, from Bellaghy, and Christine Steele, from Belfast
Easy Peasy Recipe
This week's Easy Peasy Recipe is Vegetarian Korma
You will need:
1.5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small diced onion
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger root
4 cloves minced garlic
2 potatoes cut into cubes
4 sliced carrots
1 seeded and sliced jalapeno
3 tbsp ground unsalted cashews
1 can tomato sauce
2 tspn of salt
1.5 tablespoons curry powder
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 chopped green pepper
1/2 chopped red pepper
1 cup of cream
Naan bread or rice for serving
In a pan, mix the onion, ginger and garlic and cook for one minute.
Add the potatoes, carrots, jalapeno, cashews, and tomato sauce and stir. Then add salt and the curry powder. Cook for 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
Stir in the peas, green pepper, red pepper, and cream.
Reduce to heat to low. Cover and allow the simmer for 10 minutes.
Serve with naan bread or rice.
Do you have an Easy Peasy recipe you would like to share?
Are you the queen of quiches, magnificent at muffins or can you turn out some nice scones?
If so, then we want to hear from you.
You can send your name, address, contact number and recipe (plus photo if possible) to:
Easy Peasy Recipes,
Marie Louise McConville,
113-117 Donegall Street,