Sunday Sevens #137 20.5.18

This Sunday Sevens is being sent by a rather worn out Postcard from Gibraltar, the reason why will become apparent in the sixth photo!

Sunday sunset

We had a beaut of a sunset on Sunday evening. So colourful. I’ve not included a sunset in Sunday Sevens for a while, so thought I’d put this one in.

It’s starting to look like a dress!

At last at my dressmaking class I am seeing progress. My dress is looking like a dress! Now time to fiddle with the frill!

A farewell lunch

An arty friend of mine is leaving Gibraltar and returning home to the Netherlands. This week I met her for lunch along with another arty friend to say farewell. We had Indian Tapas. It tasted as good as it looks.

Sunny morning walk by the sea

On Wednesday morning I went for a bit of a walk, I went for a coastal option rather than climbing up the Rock like normal. It was beautiful as I walked through Catalan Bay.

Experimenting with backgrounds

My next watercolour painting will be of nasturtiums, and I’ve been experimenting with the background to set them off nicely. I want a traditional Gibraltar stone wall, but how do I do that without drawing atttention away from the flowers? We’ll see if I can pull it off or not!

Med Steps

So yesterday was the Med Steps Challenge. It was really, really hard work – but then it wouldn’t be a challenge if it was easy would it? Not got much to add to that, still feeling rather tired!

Royal wedding fever

Royal wedding fever hit Gibraltar yesterday. I missed most of it slogging up the Rock, but had a quick trip to Ocean Village later on and there was a lot of well dressed people hitting the cava. One or two looked like they had started at breakfast time and were pushing on through to the FA Cup final. I think there may be a few sore heads around this morning!

That’s all for Sunday Sevens this week, thanks for stopping by! I’m linking with Natalie from Threads and Bobbins for this weekly blog series.

Friday photo challenge (week 20) Challenge

This, my friends is the Med Steps. Tomorrow it’s the Med Steps 5 Challenge, when around 200 brave/crazy people will attempt to walk it 5 times all in the name of charity.

The walk/climb takes you from the south west side of the Rock of Gibraltar, along paths, through a tunnel and up many, many steps round the south edge and up the west side to the summit of the Rock. It’s quite a climb.

I will be one of those walkers tomorrow morning, all of us raising much needed funds for the wonderful Cancer Relief Centre here in Gibraltar. Wish us luck!

(For more info on the Med Steps, this post may help you, and my experience of last year’s Med Steps 5 Challenge can be found here).

Challenge is the theme for this week’s Friday photo challenge, next week, it’s floral.

A Postcard from Carcassonne

Last summer, we visited Southern France and stopped off for a few days in the beautiful medieval city of Carcassonne. It’s taken me a while, but at last, I have finally got round to writing this long awaited postcard….

Fate brought me and Carcassonne together. Several years ago, while visiting family in the UK we found ourselves with babysitters for a couple of hours one evening so we visited a nearby pub. The establishment in question had shelves of second hand books for drinkers to read and Mr Postcard perused the books as we waited for our drinks. He handed me a rather dog-eared green book with a golden circular labyrinth image on the front and said “I think that’s up your street”.

He was right. I read the blurb on the back and was immediately drawn in (we were at the pub with Mr Postcard’s brother and I was very antisocial I’m afraid, because I became absorbed by the book which had found its way into my hands). I felt a bit  disappointed when the time came to leave and go home, reluctantly I replaced the book on the shelf and made a mental note to hunt down my own copy.

Fortuitously, as we walked through the airport to catch our flight back to Gibraltar, I spotted a brand spanking new copy of the book in a shop and had just enough time to buy it before catching our plane. The book was Labyrinth by Kate Mosse.

I loved it, both the characters and the setting of Carcassonne. It sounded like such a magical, special place. For the first time ever, I felt compelled to visit a place I had read about. I had no idea when that would happen, just that I really wanted to go there. I went on to read the next two books in the Languedoc trilogy (Sepulchre & Citadel) and thoroughly enjoyed them both. I even got the members of the book club I belong to to read Labyrinth (I had to spread the love). Then, in 2015, I had the good fortune to be able to see a talk with the author, Kate Mosse, when she came to the Gibraltar Literary Festival.

I went to hear her talk about her latest book, the Taxidermist’s Daughter, but unfortunately I couldn’t stay on afterwards to meet her (as I had to dash off to collect a child). I rushed back later with said child in tow in the hope that I would be able to get my book signed.

I couldn’t believe my luck. As we arrived at the front door of the hall where Kate had been speaking, there she was, about to leave, alongside another literary heroine of mine, Joanne Harris. Totally star struck, and full of apologies for detaining her further I asked if she would mind signing my book. She was very gracious and obliged.

And so, several years had passed since I first laid eyes on Labyrinth and last summer we were planning a trip to France. There were two direct flights available from Malaga airport, to Paris and Toulouse. We opted for Toulouse as we fancied exploring somewhere we hadn’t visited before.

It was only after booking the flight that the penny dropped that Carcassonne wasn’t far from Toulouse. [I may have applied a little pressure for us to hire a car so we could have a day trip out to Carcassonne ;-)]. As it turned out, Mr Postcard surprised me by booking a gîte just outside the old city walls for a few nights so that we could explore Carcassonne properly. I can’t tell you how happy that made me!

I’m not sure I have enough superlatives to describe the medieval Cité. It’s just beautiful and as atmospheric as I imagined. We had a day or so to potter around the narrow streets by ourselves, before going on a pre-booked tour with a guide, so that we didn’t miss anything.

It’s taken me a while, but at last, I have finally got round to writing this long awaited postcard….

The ‘old’ Carcassonne sat on the hill above where we were staying, beckoning us up to explore…

The first thing I was struck by, was how well preserved the medieval Cité was. Sitting atop a hill with a clear view of the River Aude, it looked magestic. It hasn’t always been so though. After its heyday, the Cité fell into disrepair and locals moved out into the modern city on the opposite side of the river. Over time the stones of the Cité walls and its buildings began to be taken by scavengers who needed the stone for new buildings in the new city, effectively turning it into a quarry. It wasn’t until 1853 that Eugène Viollet-le-Duc was given the job of attempting to restore the Cité to its former glory. It is his Carcassonne which you see today when you visit.

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Although we did have plenty of time to explore the ancient streets and buildings ourselves, we decided to pay to join one of the official guided tours which left from the tourist office on a regular basis.

We gathered together under the giant horse chestnut trees outside the main entrance of the Cité to begin our tour. One of the first questions our guide asked was whether any of us English speakers had read Labyrinth. I was the only one and put my hand up. I just happened to have my copy with me (it was at this point that the Little Postcards died in embarrassment and ever so slightly disowned me! Cue the cry of “Muuuum! I can’t believe you brought that with you!”).

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We were led in over the drawbridge (which isn’t original, it was created during the renovation works).

Our first port of call was the Lices area between the two sets of ancient walls which encircle the Cité. Once filled with housing for the less well off in society, but now cleared to make a pleasant green area.

We then headed into the rabbit warren of streets and alleyways. Full of hidden corners and nookie holes and history. The architecture is really beautiful.

I won’t give you a blow by blow account of our tour, as I couldn’t do it justice. I’ll just share a few bits with you…

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I’m so glad that we did take the tour, the significance of certain buildings were highlighted and it put the Cité into a much clearer context both in medieval times and the intervening years. The most interesting thing I learned was that it became the Southern French HQ of the Gestapo during WWII and they took over the 5* Hotel de la Cité as they explored the surrounding mountains of Languedoc in search of buried Cathar treasure. In more recent times a host of celebrities from Michael Jackson to the Queen Mother have stayed there.

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The Basilica of Saint-Nazaire nearby is surrounded with some very ominous looking gargoyles. They must have seen some sights over the centuries!

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Inside the Cathedral are the most stunning stained glass windows.

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We bought tickets to go into the 12th Century Château Comtal, which is the only part of the Cité you have to pay to enter.

Another interesting fact is that the Château Comtal (which is where Alaïs, the heroine of Labyrinth lives at the start of the novel), was actually used as a location in the making of the Kevin Costner film; Robin Hood Prince of Theives. The exterior of the Château became the outside of Nottingham Castle, home to Alan Rickman’s Sheriff of Nottingham.

While much of the Château is just a network of empty rooms which tourists wander through on a trail from one section to another, the views were pretty spectacular from the windows. (There may have been some really interesting stuff in there but I had a slightly impatient 5 year old with me, who’s patience had run out, so it was a bit of a whistle stop tour for us).

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Inside the Château is a collection of archaeological exhibits from the Cité’s past.

The end of the Château tour led us out onto the inner ramparts, which afforded us lovely views across the valley and to the more modern city beyond the River Aude.

Every day we were in Carcassonne, it was busy with tourists. However, as we were staying nearby, we were lucky enough to be able to come back up to the Cité in the evenings and enjoy it while the streets were a good bit quieter, and really soak up the atmosphere among the medieval buildings.

I had high hopes for Carcassonne before I had arrived, and it didn’t disappoint. The atmosphere and the architecture are just lovely. As an old romantic who would love to live in a castle, it was marvellous to spend some time there. So that was last summer, and as luck would have it just two weeks ago this beauty was published….

…. another Kate Mosse novel which is partially set in Carcassonne. This time I can read it knowing exactly what the places are like which are described in it’s pages. I had to patiently wait for my copy to make it down to Gibraltar, but now it’s here, and I’m off to put the kettle on and start reading!

Thanks for stopping by, and if you made it all the way to the end of this particularly long postcard – thank you! You deserve a pat on the back!!

Sunday Sevens #136 13.5.18

Well it’s been a busy old week, and one, which when I looked back at my phone to compile this edition of Sunday Sevens appears to have been a bit thin on the ground for photos to include.  Apologies if this is a little repetitive! Here goes….

Pretty in pink

Last Sunday afternoon, we decided that the younger members of the Postcard family were in dire need of fresh air and a run around, so we headed to the Alameda Botanical Gardens and the great park there. We hadn’t visited for quite a while and fancied going back. As it turned out, I actually visited / walked through the Alameda gardens another three times this week, which was funny as I hadn’t been through it for quite a while. This blossom tree and the surrounding shrubs caught my eye. They are all so well co-ordinated – and pink!

Airport visit

Unfortunately our car isn’t too well at the moment and we aren’t able to use it. We arranged to hire a car from the airport to tide us over until ours is back on the road, as I would be lost without one (multiple children with multiple bags in multiple locations all at the same time for after school shenanigans are a tad tricky – although not impossible – on the bus). When I arrived to collect the car I was a bit early, so had a coffee in the airport cafe enjoying this great backdrop while I waited.

You’ve gotta love a good zip

After literally months of drafting patterns, making a toile, and cutting and tacking the real thing, this week, I finally did some proper sewing at my dressmaking class. I put my invisible zip in, and I have to say I’m rather pleased with it!

Circling out at sea

During the week, a good friend came to the Rock and needed to be picked up from the airport. I got there on time, but was rather puzzled that the plane hadn’t landed. Then when I checked Flight Radar to see where the plane was, it became apparent that the journey hadn’t quite gone to plan. After attempting to land at Gibraltar, the pilot had aborted the landing due to poor visibility and spent the next 35 – 40 minutes going round and round waiting to see whether the next plane which was due in, would manage to land ok, before attempting another landing himself.

At one point I was convinced that my friend was heading for a diversion to Malaga Airport and a long coach trip down to Gibraltar by road. Thankfully, after watching his colleague land successfully, the pilot on my friend’s plane landed successfully too. Much to the relief of my slightly concerned friend. (This kind of thing isn’t uncommon when landing at Gibraltar – but I hadn’t prewarned my friend in case it worried her). Anyway, she got here in the end, and it was lovely to see her.

Back to the Alameda Gardens

When you have a new visitor to the Rock, one of the places you simply have to visit (especially if it’s sunny) is the Alameda Botanical Gardens. We took a walk through the shady gardens and it was lovely to wander away from the crowds in town.

Med Steps

I dragged some friends up the Med Steps with me yesterday. It’s less than a week to go now before the Med Steps 5 Challenge and I wanted to pack another training session in. This one was a bit different from normal though, as they had never done it before – we stopped for snacks and drinks en-route (safely far enough away from the apes – who would have loved our crisps!). There seemed to be so many more flowers in bloom this week than last week, and I spotted these beautiful irises for the first time, just sprouting up from a crack in the rock.

Another walk through the gardens…

Just for a change 😉 I found myself walking through the Alameda Gardens again yesterday and spotted something I hadn’t noticed before. These figures along with a number of other pieces of art work (produced using recycled materials I think) were made by local secondary school pupils. This figure really caught my eye as the whole thing is suspended from the tree branches above and gently bobs about on the breeze.

So that’s it from me for this week’s Sunday Sevens, I hope my multiple Alameda Gardens photos didn’t bore you too much… I’m linking with Natalie of Threads & Bobbins for this weekly blog series.

Sunday Sevens #135 6.5.18

Hello, and welcome to this week’s Sunday Sevens, a little later than usual, but I still made it on Sunday! It’s been a busy day with lots of boring jobs to do. You don’t want to hear about that, so without further ado, here’s this week’s series of seven (or perhaps slightly more) photos from the last seven days.

Bank holiday getaway

Last weekend was a bumper long weekend for us here in Gibraltar. We had Monday off work and school for Worker’s Memorial Day and then Tuesday too for May Day (as it was 1st of May). We have the first of May off here rather than waiting for the first Monday in May as is the tradition in the UK. To all of my readers in the UK, I hope you are being blessed with some of the gorgeous Bank Holiday weather I have seen on the telly over these past couple of days.

We headed out of Gibraltar for a few days and went along the coast to Estepona. The above picture was of the queue of traffic trying to leave Gibraltar last Sunday, the photo below was taken on a tranquil evening stroll at the end of the day, along the coast in Spain.

A hole in one!

This mini golf course was the site of the greatest golfing moment ever seen in Andalucia. Forget Valderrama and the European Open, this is where I scored a hole in one! It took hours of practice too ;-).

Heading home

Our long weekend came to an end on Tuesday and it was time to head home and back to reality, but not before another round of crazy golf and the chance to admire some of the beautiful blooms on show in the hotel gardens. Isn’t this one a beauty?

Seaside blanket makes it to the beach!

I took my hook and yarn away with me on our short break and managed to catch up on the rows I had fallen behind on with the Coastal Crochet Seaside Stash-busting Crochet Along. I really enjoyed working on it while I was away from all the usual distractions of being at home. I even took it down onto the beach at Estepona with me for a photo shoot. And that shot made it into Eleonora’s weekly round-up of the CAL on Instagram. It’s slap bang in the middle – that made my day!

May Day Celebrations

We headed back into Gibraltar in time to catch the end of the May Day celebrations in Casemates Square. There was a political rally (which we missed) followed by a number of local bands and dance schools performing on the stage for the crowds. As you can see, we were blessed with some beautiful weather.

Say what you see…

Apologies in advance for the toilet humour, but one day this week I found myself sitting at the bus stop (our car is rather unwell and has been into the garage this week) and I spotted a sign for parking which I have passed countless times and not really looked at before. It’s funny that you can suddenly see something for the first time, years after looking at it. It made me chuckle anyway…

Gibraltar International Comic Con

The second Gibraltar International Comic Con came to the Rock this weekend. We went along yesterday and hung out with stars of Star Wars (there was a real life Ewok there), three Game of Thrones actors (yes, I know – how cool is that??) and Star Trek amongst other shows. One of the things which I really enjoyed seeing was the art work. These amazing comic-style illustrations were drawn by a local artist  (@liam_p_art on Instagram).

And that brings this week’s Sunday Sevens to a close. Thanks very much for stopping by! I’m linking with Natalie at Threads & Bobbins for this weekly blog series. I’ll leave you with a few photos from April including Gibraltar and our trip to London & the Jurassic Coast.

May Monthly meet-up: Flower

This beautiful lily is flowering, as I type, beside my front door. May is such a beautiful month for blooms. These ‘trumpet flowers’, as we call them in our house, were glorious at a place we visited in Spain at the weekend.

Isn’t this floral wall display I saw in Spain on Tuesday delightful? They were all genuine geraniums and they were gorgeous.

And of course, the Med Steps is gearing up to be in full bloom any moment…

Which reminds me of my attempts to translate them into yarny creations

I’m linking with Sandra at Wild Daffodil for this monthly meet up.