2017 Weekly photo challenge (week 9) Seed

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Hmm, seed. This week’s photo challenge is a tough one, and one which I thought would be rather uninspiring. Would I photograph a packet of seeds or a loaf of seeded bread? I was really scratching my head on this one until I took a walk up the Med Steps to the top of the Rock of Gibraltar last week and I saw these feathery beauties.

They are all over the Upper Rock Nature Reserve at the moment. They are the seed heads (or are developing into seed heads) from a climbing plant which has wound it’s way around everything in it’s path.

I tried to figure out what it was, the seed heads almost look like feathery flowers in their own right, but I was pretty sure they must have had another flower before this developed. I set about trying to find a plant which still had the flowers attached. And found one….

But that didn’t look quite right, the leaves were different once I looked closer. Then on my way down the western side of the Rock, I spotted just three tiny creamy coloured flowers attached to the same stems which had the feathery seed heads on them. Could this be them?

I have done a brief Google search and I’m pretty sure it’s the seed head for the ‘wild clematis vine’, but don’t quote me on it! The leaves certainly look very clematis-y to my mind, and those creamy flowers look like clematis too… If you know for sure and can put me out of my misery, please let me know! 😊

I’m linking with Nana Cathy and the appropriately named Wild Daffodil for this weekly photo challenge throughout 2017.

Sunday Sevens #72 26.2.17

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This post goes way over the usual seven photos for Sunday Sevens… mainly thanks to my epic journey back from Manchester to Gibraltar last Sunday. So here goes…

Last Sunday in eight photos…

I ended my flying visit home to visit my parents with a walk on Sunday morning. It was just around the streets by their home, the streets where I grew up. Up this path is a pond where numerous adventures were had while I was growing up, from exploring and hide and seek to pond-dipping (or fishing as we called it then) for frog spawn to bring home in a jam jar. I can’t imagine letting my boys wander off over the road to a pond and telling them to be back in time for tea…. times have changed, and not necessarily for the better.

I’m so glad I got the chance to see some snowdrops while I was over. I love them. Also making an appearance were other spring flowers which were enjoying the unseasonably mild weather. These lovely dwarf iris were poking through last autumn’s leaves.

Then it was time to say goodbye and head to the airport once more… bye bye Manchester, until next time!

I know it’s a cliché but these clouds really did look like cotton wool from above…

I’m not altogether in my comfort zone while flying. I’m quite happy cruising along but I’m not over happy with take off and landing. I took my crochet into the cabin with me. I had heard it was allowed, but I had also heard about a knitter who had her needles taken off her. I took one of my least favourite hooks just in case it was taken away.

Nobody batted an eye lid, so I was fine. I continued with the quintuple trebles of my Spun Gold shawl to take my mind off the descent in to Malaga… yes Malaga. Stormy weather in Gibraltar meant that two of the three previous Monarch flights to Gibraltar had been diverted to the Spanish airport because they couldn’t land in the strong winds. Our pilot didn’t even attempt to land in Gibraltar as the air traffic control tower there told him the winds were beyond safe limits. It was going to be a very long trip home…

As chance would have it I bumped into an old friend at the Malaga baggage reclaim. She told me her husband was driving up to Malaga to collect her rather than wait for her to get onto one of the coaches laid on by the airline to ferry the stranded passengers back to the Rock. I was offered a lift back and I didn’t need to think twice about the offer. The lift must have saved me at least an hour travelling time.

Please excuse the grainy image, but I wanted to show you the flags on the Gibraltarian side of the border with Spain as I arrived in Gibraltar late on Sunday night. I was nearly blown off my feet as I crossed into Gib, I am so glad the pilot didn’t attempt to land as it would have been a very bumpy ride! My return journey took 8 hours door to door, a considerable time longer than usual but at least I got back safely and I’m extremely grateful for that!

A murky Monday 

Monday morning was decidedly murky, the winds from the day before had dropped quite a bit but it was rather gloomy looking. Can you spot the mahoosive super yacht in the background? It’s called ‘Yacht A’ and cost a reported £83 million pounds. It was ginormous, the highest mast is 100 metres tall. It was arrested by the Gibraltar Police because of a debt and we were able to enjoy seeing it moored out in the Bay for a few days.

Dressmaking success


Apologies for the uninspiring picture, but it’s a plain black dress I’m making so can’t really jazz that up. What I can say is that on Tuesday I more than made up from my catastrophic boo boo at last week’s class by cutting out fresh pieces for the back of my dress and I completed all 4 of my princess-line seams. So my front and back pieces are ready for a zip and lining. Then there’s the small matter of sleeves….. hmmm not looking forward to that part.

A blustery day for the Med Steps 

I climbed the Med Steps on Wednesday with one of my Med Steps 5 pals. It was another blustery day as you can see from the sea. We did wonder whether we would get blown off the side of the Rock but fortunately it was really sheltered on the Med Steps.

Saharan Dust

Why oh why did I leave my washing out on Wednesday night? The Saharan dust came back, with a vengeance. Still at least I hadn’t washed the car!

Watercolour class 

Our watercolour teacher is still encouraging us to explore our inner abstract. I have to admit that I am having mixed results with this… I did like the rainbow splodgey effect of the bottom painting. It reminds me of tie-dyed T shirts.

More Med Steps 

Friday morning was much nicer weather wise, it was less grey and you could just about feel the warmth of the sunshine peaking through the clouds above. I set off on a solo trip up the Med Steps and took my time seeing as I was on my own. It was lovely to enjoy my beautiful surroundings, it felt very spring like up there.

Sunday Sevens has been rather a long one this week, I do hope you didn’t nod off in the middle! Thank you for stopping by and thanks for sticking with it to the end!!

Sunday Sevens is a weekly blog series created by Natalie from Threads & Bobbins.

Creative Gibraltar: Crafting & Upcycling with Sue Orfila 

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Crafting and making is something which Sue Orfila has always done, from making clothes for her Sindy doll and making her own crib at Christmas at the age of 5. “I’ve always made something from nothing” says Sue “I’m a thrifty kind of artist”, something which is evident when you take a look around Sue’s workspace and shop; OriginArta.

When Sue left school, she went to work in an office “that went against the grain, I wanted to be a hairdresser and be creative, I should have stayed on at school but I wanted money to buy clothes”. That office based work continued until Sue came to live in Gibraltar with her husband, an advert for a part time job at the Caleta Palace Hotel at Catalan Bay was the catalyst for a change in direction.

Acrylic on canvas
The job advertisement was for a hotel gardener but also offered the chance to do some flower arranging for weddings and that pushed Sue’s creative buttons. She got the job and after 2 years it became a full time position. “I realised my creative side” says Sue, “the pinnacle was at Christmas when they asked me to dress the Christmas tree on a tight budget – I was in my element”.

Sue (centre) with husband David & son Adam
After having her son, Adam, Sue stopped working but continued her creativity by returning to drawing, something she hadn’t done much of since childhood. As Adam got older, Sue went into partnership with another girl in the early 1990s and and opened ‘Suzie Willow’, a shop selling dried flower arrangements. In 2000 Sue left the shop but she continued drawing and making things for herself in the meantime.


Then, ten years later, the time was right for Sue to open another shop and OriginArta was born. It’s first location was on Governor’s Street, just a short distance from it’s current spot and was “a great little shop, but when it rained it leaked like a sieve” reminisces Sue. When her current shop became available she was really happy “I got a window to dress!”


Sue’s shop window is an absolute delight (regular readers of the Postcard from Gibraltar blog may remember seeing it featured before in Sunday Sevens). Following the same principles of form and depth as in flower arranging, Sue takes great care in dressing her shop window to reflect the seasons.


As well as selling items she has made and upcycled, Sue offers a range of craft classes from flower arranging and ‘stencil and stitch’ to decoupage and still life drawing. “I don’t want to influence my students” says Sue, “I want them to find their own style”.

Daffodil Teapot, painted with enamels “In celebration of Spring”
In her stencil and stitch classes, students make their own design and cut out the negative before painting it onto fabric to creative a positive image. They then use embroidery to embellish it further. The designs can be used to make cushions and soft furnishings like trims for curtains.

Stencil & stitch sunflowers
Another passion for Sue is upcycling things which are no longer wanted, from picture frames to pieces of furniture.  She says “I like to take a photo before and after the process”. Using things like tissue, paint or wrapping paper and pieces of tile or pottery found on the beach.

Stencil & Stitch upcycled footstool
Beach walks are a regular feature of Sue’s routine. During the summer months she takes morning walks from her home in town round to Catalan Bay and forages along the beach for anything interesting the sea has washed up. “I love it in summer, I get everything from Catalan Bay – I’ve got bags of stuff” says Sue, although she just collects man-made items leaving the shells and pebbles behind.

Gibraltar National Day window display
Having her own workspace and shop means that Sue is free to please herself about what she creates, “inspiration can come from anywhere, it might result in a painting, up cycled piece or a new stencil design. What’s brilliant is if someone likes it enough to buy it, that’s a real buzz”. Sue also takes commissions.

Upcycled LP storage case
For more information about OriginArta and the lessons Sue offers, please check out her  OriginArta Facebook page

Also in the Postcard from Gibraltar series:

Creative Gibraltar : Paper crafts with Sarah Devincenzi

Creative Gibraltar : Fashion Design & Dressmaking with Dorcas Hammond

The Postcard from Gibraltar Podcast Episode 004: Rebecca Faller 

Creative Gibraltar : Watercolour painting with Deborah M Lawson

2017 Weekly photo challenge (week 8) Traffic

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This week’s photo challenge was a bit of a no brainer for me. Living in Gibraltar, a place where the only exit by road involves crossing a working airport runway, means you can get stuck in traffic every now and then. Whether you are heading north to get to Gibraltar’s second supermarket, the airport or across the border into Spain (as above) … or heading south and towards town (see below), as soon as you hear the siren and spot the lights flashing you know you are going to be waiting a little while before you can get to your destination.

You just hope that the red light is only for the FOD Squad (Foreign Object Detection Vehicle) to cross over and check the runway and not an impending landing or take off if you are in a particular rush to get to where you’re going…

Gibraltar is unique in many ways….

I’m joining with Wild Daffodil and Nana Cathy for this photo challenge.

Sunday Sevens #71 19.2.17

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Hello there, this Sunday Sevens is being sent from sunny (well ok then, cloudy but dry) Manchester today as I am back in the UK on a flying visit to see my parents. Mr Postcard is back at home in Gibraltar with the Little Postcards and awaiting my return later today. It’s been such a luxury to be back in my childhood home again – just me, and to be spoiled by my Mum and Dad.

A new crochet project

Last Sunday really wasn’t up to much weather wise and we found ourselves sheltering indoors to stay dry. The highlight of our Sunday afternoon was a trip to Morrison’s supermarket café just so we could get out of the house for an hour! What else is there to do when you are house bound than start a new crochet project? 😉 I just can’t help myself.

This lovely yarn is Luisa Harding Pittura which I bought online a few months ago and was just waiting for the right project to come along for it. That project is the Spun Gold shawl by Kat Goldin of the Crochet Project. You can find it here: Kat Goldin’s blog. It’s working up really fast thanks to the quintuple trebles which pop up every six rows or so. It’s my first attempt at this stitch and so far so good, they are looking pretty even.

February weather

It’s been a bit grey and gloomy in Gibraltar all week, although it hasn’t rained all the time, it has threatened it for most of the week. This was the scene across the Bay of Gibraltar as we headed out to school on Monday, we rushed out and I rushed back home quickly in the hope of dodging the shower which was dumping it’s load across the Bay.

Whoops – spot the mistake…

So dressmaking class this week didn’t exactly go according to plan, last week’s faux pas is obvious above (note the extra bits which had to be added to the hem of two panels of my princess-line dress to-be). 

Can you spot the other mistake? Yes, I managed to sew both sides of the back of the dress the same way, so I have two left back sections instead of a left and a right….. Cue trip back to the fabric shop to buy some more gabardine (I couldn’t face unpicking the princess-line seam and the double row of zig zag I’d sewn to neaten the internal seam edge) and a good deal of catching up to do next week. Whoops!

Feeling virtuous

I don’t normally post pictures of food, but I am trying to be good at the moment, we have two family weddings coming up in the next few months and I really could do with shedding a spare tyre or two. This week I have been mainly eating salad and soup and lots of fruit and veg but no pasta, rice, spuds or bread. 

I got the chance to go out to lunch to Wagamamas in Ocean Village one lunchtime (my first visit) and I had this gorgeous chicken salad. It was soooooo nice and ticked all the right diet boxes too. 🙂

Off to a flyer


Thursday morning was looming ahead of me. I had an appointment and my watercolour class both at different ends of Gibraltar and no car so I set off walking in my wellies (it had been wet and was threatening more rain) and loaded up with bags containing everything I needed for the morning ahead. Imagine my joy when a friend pulled up next to me as I felt the first spit of rain and shouted ” Do you want a lift?” Thank you! I didn’t think twice. I made it into town dry and with time to spare for a coffee! Hurrah!

(There’s no watercolour featuring in Sunday Sevens this week as what I produced needs more work… I’ll share what I’ve been doing next time).

The weekend starts here…


On Friday evening I ran off and left Mr Postcard and the Little Postcards. I flew out of Gibraltar to Manchester to visit my Mum & Dad. I have never sat out on the viewing platform at the airport before, because I’ve usually got small people with me. This time though I was able to sit and relax with a G&T before take off… such luxury! 

Shopping!


I had a lovely time at the Trafford Centre yesterday shopping with my Mum. We don’t get the chance to do that kind of thing very often and we both really enjoyed it. We both had success and got most of what we’d gone for… hurrah!

Sunday Sevens is a weekly blog series created by Natalie from Threads & Bobbins blog.

The Postcard from Gibraltar Podcast Episode 005: Finding community online with Polly Lavarello

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In this episode of the Postcard from Gibraltar Podcast I catch up with Gibraltar based blogger and founding editor of parenting e-magazine Mum on the Rock, Polly Lavarello.

After moving to Gibraltar from the UK, Polly set up her blog Polly Mixtures and soon found herself climbing the UK parenting blog charts as she documented her experiences of having her first child. A problematic pregnancy meant Polly had to be hospitalised in Cadiz, miles away from friends and family.

After her blog took off, Polly decided to turn her attention to the wider parenting community in Gibraltar and created Mum on the Rock. Now into it’s second year, the online magazine is a valuable resource for parents in Gibraltar. It offers a ‘What’s On’ diary for family friendly groups and events along with features written by locally based parents and grandparents.

****To hear the podcast click here!****

You can also listen and subscribe to the Postcard from Gibraltar Podcast on iTunes. I would love it if you would also take the time to leave a review as that means more people will be able to find me in future. This Podcast is also available on the PodOmatic App for Android and iOS devices.

Useful links:

Mum on the Rock

Polly Mixtures

You can find Polly on Twitter as @Polly_Mixtures and on Instagram as @pollymixtures

PodOmatic
Theme music is Happy Me by Twisterium

Creative Gibraltar : Paper crafts with Sarah Devincenzi

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Born and brought up on the south coast of England, a cross Europe road trip in her early twenties brought Sarah Devincenzi to Gibraltar for the first time. She loved it so much that she came back and made it her home. Now married and with three children in school here, Sarah has been able to devote some of her time to her first passion; arts and crafts.


Sarah says she has always been creative: “Always… it’s my default setting! I’ve always been creative in a visual way”. As a child, in her free time, when she wasn’t at school or competing in athletics, she was to be found drawing. She was sporty but teachers forced her to choose between sport and art – art won out. Sarah continues, “after A-levels I got a bit disillusioned at school, so decided not to go to art school like my friends”.

Instead of taking the academic path, Sarah began an apprenticeship with a sign writer who was a friend of the family. “I went along reluctantly,” she said “but I had an amazing 3 or 4 years, it was really creative stuff; we painted murals by hand”. It was after this apprenticeship, that along with her two best friends, Sarah set off on the adventure which was to become documented by Rebecca Faller in her book Renault 5 (which Sarah designed the cover for). “It was an escape from reality for all of us – we just thought what now?”

When Sarah first came back to Gibraltar to live, it was hard for British citizens to get ‘proper’ jobs, so she spent several years waitressing before landing a job at a sign writing company here. Sarah says that her time working with lettering forged her love with letters and type “and that morphed into art”. When Sarah’s children were born though, she said that the creativity stopped for her “I couldn’t be creative and have kids”.

Sarah found her stifled creativity frustrating so began making cakes but says it was a lot of hard work. Then three years ago, a friend suggested that she should get involved with Gibraltar Arts & Crafts Association, she says “it gave me a purpose and reignited everything! I had always drawn and painted, so I started on paper maché”.

Sarah began experimenting with paper maché “I love getting dirty so I enjoyed making it”. She was soon producing bowls, brooches and other items for the Gibraltar Arts & Crafts Association’s two shops in Casemates Square and the cruise liner terminal. One of her best sellers has been fridge magnets with collages of the Rock of Gibraltar, of which she has sold “hundreds” – there may be one lurking on a fridge near you….

Along with the Arts & Crafts Association, Sarah has been a stall holder at the annual Convent Christmas Fair. Her beautiful Gibraltar baubles are a real hit at the fair and in the shops as visitors like to have a souvenir from their holiday to hang on their tree.

Sarah became part of the committee which runs the Arts & Crafts Association, although she has now stepped down to allow her to follow her creative journey to the next stage. “I feel torn” she says, having to produce a lot of stock for the shops limited her time for other creative endeavours but “it was a catalyst for me, I got clients through being with the Association and they wouldn’t have known about me otherwise”.

Sarah’s paper maché creations led onto collage, another passion of hers.

Sarah has been able to put her love of all things paper to good use and recently created a piece of work to raise funds for a very worthy cause. After attending a talk given by Dan Teuma, a Gibraltarian who has worked in migrant camps in Greece, Sarah decided to make something to raise funds for the cause  The World Wide Tribe on the Rock. She covered a chair with découpage made of Beano comics and managed to raise a substantial amount of money.

The power of Facebook meant that the chair was seen by thousands of people. Sarah says she now plans to make more items like this and donate the proceeds to The World Wide Tribe on the Rock and support the work they do.

The future looks bright for Sarah, who is currently working on a project she has always fancied having a go at “I’ve been asked to illustrate a children’s book, I’m really excited by that”. Sarah also teaches craft classes to middle school aged children at the Gibraltar Heritage Trust. Working alongside Eli Farrell, a retired teacher, she says the children are taught about a subject from Gibraltar’s history and then they create something along that theme, be it a mural of the Battle of Trafalgar “with water skiers and piranhas or cannons which the boys really enjoy!”

You can find Sarah on Facebook  and for more information about the Gibraltar Heritage craft classes for children, please contact Gibraltar Heritage Trust.

Other posts in the Creative Gibraltar series:

Creative Gibraltar : Watercolour painting with Deborah M Lawson

The Postcard from Gibraltar Podcast Episode 004: Rebecca Faller 

Creative Gibraltar: Fashion Design & Dressmaking with Dorcas Hammond