Animalcouriers left the UK a few days ago, having collected Camille’s handsome Persian cat Vladi from his mum Sylvie. Vladi travelled with us to Paris, as Camille has returned there after working in London.

We then headed through France and Switzerland to Italy, and took a ferry from the toe of Italy to the Sicilian port of Messina. We were going to take the catamaran from Sicily to Malta, but it wasn’t available, so we made alternative plans to use the EuroMed Freight route. We were told that our van could go but only one passenger, so courier J volunteered to fly to Malta instead.

At check-in it transpired that the ferry sailing was delayed. So we left the van to make the ferry crossing by itself (as there are no pets on board), and courier M took the same flight as courier J.

On Malta we booked in to the lovely Corinthia Palace Hotel where we’ve enjoyed staying before. The staff were eager to tell us about their new policy of welcoming dogs to the hotel with their owners. They’ve created a thoughtful programme of dog-related services and even built a swimming pool for dogs!

Camille all smiles at being reunited with Vladi

Camille all smiles at being reunited with Vladi

And who can blame him? Vladi is a very handsome ball of fluff!

And who can blame him? Vladi is a very handsome ball of fluff!

Our van squeezed in alongside the trucks and lorries on the ferry for the crossing to Sicily

Our van squeezed in alongside the trucks and lorries on the ferry for the crossing to Sicily

Getting close to the Sicilian coast

Getting close to the Sicilian coast

Doggy swimming pool at the Corinthia Palace Hotel on Malta

Doggy swimming pool at the Corinthia Palace Hotel on Malta

'Palace Pups' — the hotel's leaflet about its dog-friendly policy, which includes doggy room service; in-room bowls, beds, treats and toys; and walking, grooming and massage services!

‘Palace Pups’ — the hotel’s leaflet about its dog-friendly policy, which includes doggy room service; in-room bowls, beds, treats and toys; and walking, grooming and massage services!

You can't miss this postbox!

You can’t miss this postbox!

If you ever wondered what happened to Tin Tin’s mate Captain Haddock — he retired to Malta! (And perhaps that's Tin Tin himself, all grown up, on the left?)

If you ever wondered what happened to Tin Tin’s mate Captain Haddock — he retired to Malta! (And perhaps that’s Tin Tin himself, all grown up, on the left?)

Walking around Malta one becomes aware of a huge stray cat population, many of whom have to forage for food. But not this one-eared, grubby-faced chap — someone cares about him enough to have made him a neat little house and to have fed him quite recently.

Walking around Malta one becomes aware of a huge stray cat population, many of whom have to forage for food. But not this one-eared, grubby-faced chap — someone cares about him enough to have made him a neat little house and to have fed him quite recently.

He's quite a magnificent fellow, despite his battle scars

He’s quite a magnificent fellow, despite his battle scars

This good-looking feline is lucky enough to be looked after by one of the groups of volunteers who watch out for street cats.

This good-looking feline is lucky enough to be looked after by one of the groups of volunteers who watch out for street cats.

Here are a few more of the gang, basking in the winter sunshine in Independence Gardens

Here are a few more of the gang, basking in the winter sunshine in Independence Gardens

There are various home comforts all around —cat boxes, tents and plenty of bedding to keep them warm in the sometimes biting wind

There are various home comforts all around —cat boxes, tents and plenty of bedding to keep them warm in the sometimes biting wind

Someone obviously takes a lot of care of these cats — the bedding all looks clean and fresh

Someone obviously takes a lot of care of these cats — the bedding all looks clean and fresh

A wonderful origami boat we spotted on the Valetta waterfront

A wonderful origami boat we spotted on the Valetta waterfront

Looking down on the crusader castle from Valetta

Looking down on the crusader castle from Valetta

A view across Valetta

A view across Valetta

The clock tower of the Grandmaster Palace in Valetta

The clock tower of the Grandmaster Palace in Valetta

Fortifications built by the Knights Templar

Fortifications built by the Knights Templar

A typical brightly coloured Maltese fishing boat in St Julien's Bay

A typical brightly coloured Maltese fishing boat in St Julien’s Bay

This boat has eyes!

This boat has eyes!

Stale bread doesn't get wasted — it goes into the lobster and crab pots

Stale bread doesn’t get wasted — it goes into the lobster and crab pots