Bugibba, Malta


Rachel Dodd

At the end of November I left the sleet-filled, -2° Leeds Bradford Airport to head for the sunny and considerably warmer Malta. Not only did I get to leave behind the rain, I got to spend the week with nine other incredible people who I’d spent three years alongside in University, including a good quarter of the Lighter Journal Team.

I’ve never been on a girls’ holiday. I spent a booze-fuelled haze in Ireland when I was seventeen and that was my first ever holiday away from parents, but that was an even fifty-fifty split. Not that Malta was much different; there was enough booze (at €2 a glass) to satisfy the average Brit Abroad.

Too many amazing memories were made (and lost under that €2 vodka) to fit into one Lighter Journal article, and some of them I’m not sure I want to share with the world.


Others I definitely want to share, including what I think was the best night of the holiday.

Our beautiful founder, Mara, organised the holiday – found the apartments, booked the flights, created the Facebook group. She made the holiday what it was. She delivered us all to Malta… and in return, Malta became Mara’s stage.

We’d found a local ‘club’ on the corner of the street where our apartments were. It was called Incognito. They gave us free food, cheap booze, shitty music and a dark place to sit for those of us who wore heels. Now, the night Mara made her debut to the world had quite a build-up.

The night before had been one of drinking, chatting and drinking. A couple of us (Chiara – I’m not afraid of calling people out) were feeling a little worse for wear. It was meant to be a quieter evening. We were going to head out after food, and hit Incognito for karaoke. We ended up in a bar just opposite while we waited for it to start – believing it was karaoke in there as well.

It wasn’t. It was a tribute band for someone’s birthday. They just sounded like bad karaoke. After ordering drinks and awkwardly singing ‘Happy Birthday’ to a regular we didn’t know, we decided to sit outside, hoping to avoid the festivities. Circled around a couple of tables pushed together, the smokers were smoking, while the drinkers nursed glasses of wine, G&T’s and a coke for Chiara.

That’s when the cake showed up and the bet was made.

An elderly gentleman who worked at the bar (we assume he worked there, but maybe it was his birthday – it’s hard to tell) came out at least three times with plates of cake. Eight or nine plates of cake were brought to us. Now, I don’t know about you, but I was brought up to never eat strange food or drinks brought to you by an older gentleman in Central Europe. We politely thanked him, a couple of tentative bites of cake were eaten and then left. I’m not sure how it came about, but one of our company, Nikki, decided she could easily eat every slice of cake.

General outrage, debates whether she could – and then Chiara said the fatal words.

“If you eat all of it, I’ll drink tonight.”

Nikki is not one to walk away from a bet.

It was hard to watch. By plate six, laughter had turned to sympathy, but she wasn’t giving up. It was a feat. If I’m being honest, I tried some of the cake and it wasn’t great. But she did it, and Chiara reluctantly had to admit defeat and go get herself a drink.

By the time we got to Incognito (which was only down the road) we were already debating whether it was worth it. Nikki was feeling uneasy, and Chiara wasn’t looking forward to drinking. But it was Mara’s debut! We had to at least make an appearance.

What a debut it was. I think before she took the stage she downed at least three shots of Sambuca. She was the only one who climbed up onto the stage; everyone else took a humble singing stance on the sticky floor. Liquid courage only makes Mara (who is already courageous enough) ready to throw down. So when a gentleman tried to chat up one of our party, he was yelled at on microphone for interrupting Mara’s song.


The best thing of it? Mara really took to karaoke. We couldn’t get her off the stage until the club was shutting. The quiet night didn’t go as quiet as expected, which I’m glad for. It was only the second night of a fantastic week of memories and stories I’ll tell for as long as I can.

I wish we could go back every weekend. I’m still waiting for Mara’s Second Act.


Editor: Floss Hafter-Smith


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