2017 Weekly photo challenge (week 26) wave

Living in a tiny place which is surrounded on sides by sea makes this week’s photo challenge a cinch. That said though, my first photos feature a rather choppy North Sea taken at one of our favourite places; Southwold in Suffolk. 

Although most of my childhood holidays were spent on the west coast of the British Isles, the temperature and colour of the sea in Southwold are the same as what I was used to as a child. Rarely was it a pleasureable experience to go paddling in the sea, but you still do it when you’re a child!

Now for some waves a little closer to our current home…

Just look at that turquoise water!

Quick! Out of the way!!


Aah that’s better!

Catalan Bay Beach, Gibraltar

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

Sunday Sevens #89 25.6.17

Hello there, I hope this week’s Sunday Sevens finds you well and happy. If you saw my last post, you will know that Postcard from Gibraltar is now the ripe old age of two years old! In some ways it feels like I have been writing these posts for ever, but in many other ways it feels like only recently I plucked up the confidence to start typing out my first blog post. Thank you to all of you for the positivity you have showed me over this last two years.

Now you see it… Now you don’t 


Well, Gib didn’t quite totally disappear, but you get the drift! Last Sunday we had talked about taking a trip into Spain, but we ended up staying a lot closer to home and heading down to Europa Point. We had visitors this week in the form of Mr Postcard’s parents and we went for a walk at Europa Point, the Little Postcards had a play at the park and I took my father-in-law for a walk down to the Europa Foreshore. 

While we sat chatting at the park I was watching the Levanter cloud coming and going over the peak of the Rock of Gibraltar. I kept taking pictures in the hope I would catch it completely obscured but this is as close as I got.

Dressmaking class 

In this week’s dressmaking class i actually managed to get some sewing done! I have lots track of the number of weeks I have spent drawing my new pattern. I am currently working on a blouse and boy, oh boy, it’s been a long drawn out affair. Well, the pattern is finished and this week I got the chance to actually sew. I made a sample collar ahead of the real thing. It was a relatively painless process, let’s see how the real thing turns out….

Chocolate cake and watercolours

We had a real treat at our watercolour class this week when one of my fellow students arrived bearing cake. She was weighed down with homemade flapjack and chocolate birthday cake from her daughter’s birthday party the day before. I was ‘forced’ to have a tiny sliver of flapjack and then was presented with this gorgeous piece of cake. It only slightly distracted me from finishing off my mussel shell…

Sports Day

I know I have featured a photo just like this one before in Sunday Sevens, but it never fails to amaze me when I take a seat at the Victoria Stadium for one of the Little Postcards’ Sports Days and see them running their races at the National Stadium with the Rock of Gibraltar as a back drop. It’s such a far cry from the school field behind a row of terraced houses that I competed on when I was trying to balance a clay egg on a table spoon!

Season of sea mists

We have had some belting sea mists this week. I know it is the season for it, and perhaps with the very hot weather we have been ‘enjoying’ of late, it has added to the phenomenon. Some days it has come all of a sudden and taken me by surprise, other days I have been able to watch it slowly creep up the Bay from the Strait and towards land. I love listening to the huge tankers almost singing to each other with their fog horns.

Dolphins!

As we had our special visitors this week, we decided to go out on a dolphin boat trip one afternoon when the Little Postcards had finished their half day at school. We were not disappointed as you can see. We saw literally hundreds of them. I took lots of photos on our trip and I will share some more of them in the next few weeks.

Against all odds…

You wouldn’t think that a pavement at the side of the beach would be the most fertile place for a flowering plant to thrive would you? One evening this week we took a trip to Catalan Bay to have dinner on a balmy summer evening and as we walked to the restaurant I spotted this plant growing up in a crack between the paving blocks. I am not completely sure what it is, but it does look a bit like the Hawaiian Busy Lizzies my Mum used to grow on her her kitchen windowsill and a woodier version of the Busy Lizzies I used to have in a hanging basket by my front door back in England  (I may be way off the mark with this). Anyway, whatever it is, it made me smile.

 

I hope that this has been a good week for you, whatever you have been up to. Thank you for stopping by, and thank you to everyone who has taken the time to post comments on my blog and who have responded to my Tweets this week too, that has made me smile as well.

 

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

2 years of Postcard from Gibraltar 


This month, Postcard from Gibraltar celebrates it’s second birthday. I had no idea where it would lead me when I wrote my first post and if I had a crystal ball and could see my life in June 2017 I would have been very pleasantly surprised to see that it is still going!


It’s opened all sorts of doors for me and achieved just what I hoped it would – getting my brain working again after spending over a decade at home with my children. It has led to me being asked to contribute to an online publication and given me the to confidence to apply for a small part-time job which I actually got!


It has given me an excuse to keep taking loads of photos as I wander about, and allowed me to waffle on about all my crafty hobbies!


This past 12 months has seen the launch of another Postcard from Gibraltar series “Creative Gibraltar” to add to my “Stroll around Gibraltar” series and most excitingly I was able to launch the Postcard from Gibraltar Podcast which you can find through the blog as well as on PodOmatic and, wait for it, iTunes! How cool is that?


Blogging has not only helped me build my confidence, I have also met so many lovely people through it both virtually and in real life. Last September I met my crochet heroine Lucy, from Attic 24 at the Yarndale Festival in Skipton, North Yorkshire and through Instagram I met the very talented Marisa, a Gibraltar born crocheter who lives in London and who has now launched her own blog Mariwish.

Lucy from Attic24 at Yarndale with Llanita the Yarndale Sheep

If you are thinking about taking the plunge and having a go at blogging yourself I can highly recommend it! Do have a go, you never know where it will lead…. 


As Postcard from Gibraltar enters it’s third year, I would like to say a sincere thank you for coming along on my adventure with me!

 

A Quilt Story

In my Sunday Sevens over the past few months I have alluded to the fact that I was working on a special secret sewing project. I can now reveal what I was making was a wedding gift which was given last month. You have probably guessed by now from the title that it was a quilt…

It isn’t my first attempt at making a quilt, that happened when Eldest was about 6 months old. Coping with being a new parent, selling a house and moving to a new area, I fancied an additional challenge. I decided to make a quilt for his pram and as my sewing machine was well and truly buried under boxes of junk, I sewed it completely by hand. Using paper hexagons and some fabric I had bought on the local market I set to work, much to the bemusement of those around me.

It was rather a long winded affair but I managed to complete it while he was still young enough to need it in his pram! It lasted well, despite my hand stitching, and was used by both of his brothers.

I started and failed to finish a much larger quilt for a double bed after that, it still languishes in a box somewhere in the back of beyond I’m ashamed to say… My next attempt was completed using scraps of material I had in my stash; from new pieces of cotton and a few fat quarters bought many moons ago to salvageable parts of Mr Postcard’s old work shirts and even a pair of my Dad’s old pyjama bottoms!

I made this one especially for Mr Postcard to bring in his suitcase to Gibraltar when he moved here on his own a few months before we came to join him. It was a thin summery quilt and meant that he didn’t have to rush out and buy a whole load of new bedding in the interim before we arrived with the furniture van several months later.

Next was this starry affair for the astronomy fan in the family. Made using a large central panel featuring the solar system this was a quick make over a weekend and a perfect birthday present for a young man who still uses it 6 years on.

And that is where my quilt making endeavours end until my recent make, well apart from another unfinished project – my only other attempt at paper piecing aside from my first ever quilt. I am embarrassed to admit I started this for Middle Postcard when he was still small enough to like sea creatures (well he still does to be honest) and most specifically the Octonauts programme on CBeebies. Then I had another burst of activity when Littlest came along and when he had an interest in pirates and sea creatures. Then I ran out of steam…. Perhaps I will have a grandson one day who might like it?!

Now to the present day and the latest quilt. It was for a very special couple who like the colour green and the great outdoors. With those criteria in mind I ordered some fabric. 

It’s so difficult to order fabric online I find, especially if you want different fabrics to sit closely together – you could end up with something which looks good on the computer screen but in reality clashes hideously. I took a gamble and it paid off, the different fabrics looked just dandy next to each other. (It arrived the same day as a Little Box of Crochet- hence the photo).

So the fabric had arrived, but what to do with it? I had all sorts of grand plans for patterns, log cabins etc but thankfully common sense prevailed before I got scissor happy. I opted for the most straight forward design I could think of – squares. Don’t be fooled by squares though – I have discovered to my cost over the years that squares can be tricky little blighters especially if their corners don’t behave and join up with their neighbours in the right way.

I spent a very happy day planning and cutting. I had an unusually free day with absolutely nothing to do whist the Little Postcards were at school (well apart from the usual housework but that can wait). I had such fun listening to podcasts while I worked, it felt like bliss!

I even managed to get some sewing done as I made up the horizontal rows of the quilt. I worked right down to the bell and had to clear everything up as quick as a flash and run to school in time for pick up time. 

A week or so later I had the chance to get my machine out again and get the rows finished and then join them. I am so pleased with how they went together, clearly my almost two years of dressmaking classes with a very exacting teacher who has taught me the merits of careful measuring and 1cm seam allowances have paid off! Just look at the corners on THAT!

The quilt top then had to be put away for a while as things got too busy. In the meantime I bought a good quality king size white sheet for the backing of the quilt and ordered some nice cotton batting to go in the middle of the quilt sandwich. And finally the time came for me to make that sandwich. I had kind of been dreading it, thinking that this could be the point when I finally make a mess of the good work I had done patching the top together.

I was so so careful laying the three different layers out onto the lounge floor, trying my utmost to make sure there were no lumps, bumps or bulges anywhere. I carefully pinned all the layers together before tacking them all together both horizontally and vertically along all the seams. Perhaps this was a bit belt and braces and over the top but I didn’t want to come a cropper when it was time to machine quilt it and it all go wonky.

I machine quilted in the joins between the squares and held my breath for much of it. I have learned from experience that what looks good on the top of the quilt may look dreadful underneath. It worked though!

Next up, binding. I bought a fifth fabric at the same time as I chose the fabric for the top of the quilt. I had intended to use it in the pattern, but the dark grey looked too much of a contrast with the pale grey and acid green of the other patterns so I held on to it and decided to use it to bind the quilt together.

I have never made my own bias binding before but as a habitual reader of craft books over the years I had a pretty good idea of how to go about it. With a protractor to get my angles right I set about marking out the strips ready to be cut.

The whole process was really easy, the only problem I had with the whole thing came when I discovered that my iron shoots out steam horizontally and as I was holding the folds into place before steaming them my fingers got a bit sore!

The binding went on fine as well, although at times I found it a bit tricky to try and pick up all the fabric on the back of the quilt as well so a little hand stitching had to be done to make sure everything was neat and tidy.


And so it was done. Would you like to see it in all it’s glory?

I am really pleased with how it all turned out. What’s most important is that the recipients of the quilt liked it too. (And when I took it to my dressmaking teacher to show her – she said it was worth a gold star, so that was a real seal of approval 😊).

For interest I bought all of the quilting fabric for this project and the batting from Quilt Room. The staff were really helpful especially when I was slightly dim and did something daft at the online checkout – thank you ladies!

2017 Weekly photo challenge (week 25) fiction


All three of the Little Postcards have loved a bedtime story, just as I remember enjoying my Mum and Dad reading to me as a child. My Dad’s impressions of Len the Lighthouse keeper’s wife,  shouting for him to “Lower the rope!” to get his food deliveries in this Play School story book are as vivid to me 40 years on! 


I can remember giggling so much as the howling wind and crashing waves prevented his order of supplies from getting through so he got lemonade instead of marmalade and so on. In the days of online supermarket deliveries this must seem alien to children nowadays… (For reference, the story was Marmalade for Breakfast by Judy Whitfield).

How appropriate that I should remember this the day after Father’s Day…

Illustration by David Eaton of ‘Marmalade for Breakfast’ by Judy Whitfield

The bookshelf in the top photo is in Littlest Postcard’s bedroom and still features a few baby books which have been passed down from both of his brothers. They are no longer read but when I tidied the shelf recently and had a sort out I couldn’t bring myself to part with them. 

Twinkly Night by Helen Stephens was a favourite of all three when they were very small because of the glittery foil on the pages and was acquired for free from a Government book scheme Books for Babies when we still lived in England. 

I also secretly love the Thomas the Tank Engine stories I read endlessly to my eldest. I liked the idea of this little island of Sodor… (perhaps I should get out more). His two younger brothers had less interest in the adventures of the little blue train and his friends but similarly I was loathe to part with the books. Perhaps one of their children will like them one day?

This photo (above) featured in Sunday Sevens over Christmas time and was a rather clever way to display books in the foyer to the building which houses the public library here in Gibraltar. People were invited to guess how many books were used to build the alternative Christmas tree and win a prize.

I’m linking with Nana Cathy & Wild Daffodil for this weekly photo challenge throughout 2017.

More Stories from Play School was published by Piccolo & BBC in 1976 it was edited by Sheila Elkin & illustrated by David Eaton

Sunday Sevens #88 18.6.17

Hello from a very warm Gibraltar. Blimey summer has definitely arrived. The temperature has risen considerably and I don’t mind admitting I’m wilting a little! It’s ok in this temperature when you are on holiday and doing nothing in particular but it’s hard work when you still have to cook and clean and rush around doing things. 

Anyway, enough moaning – we are never happy with the weather are we?! Here’s this week’s Sunday Sevens…

Sixty Million Trebles corner to corner complete 

This blanket was started during Lent when I was crocheting a granny square each day. On days when I was super keen and wanted to do more crochet I did a bit of this. Once Lent was over I put it aside to do a few other bits and pieces and only revisited this last week when I headed back to Manchester to visit my parents. 

It was completed on Sunday and I took it to the pool for an arty photo shoot 😉 it’s comprised of 10,608 treble stitches and brings my total Sixty Million Trebles tally up to 33,864 for my three blankets to date. 

For those of you who haven’t heard of Sixty Million Trebles before it’s a charity and awareness raising appeal to make crochet blankets totalling sixty million treble stitches (one treble stitch represents one refugee in the world – figures from the UN in 2016). The blankets will be sent to Syrian child refugees. For more information see: the Sixty Million Trebles Facebook page.

Walking 

I abandoned the car for most of this week and decided to walk whenever I could. It meant that I wasn’t able to fit quite as much into my child free hours while the Little Postcards were in school, but I did enjoy being able to appreciate my surroundings a lot more. There are so many interesting buildings and nooks and crannies here in Gibraltar which you can drive past in a blur so easily. 

I won’t have a body fit for a bikini, but I have walked a good few miles this week!

Watercolour seashells 

I put the finishing touches to some of my seashells this week at my watercolour class. I have really enjoyed painting them and have come to the conclusion that perhaps I’m better at small focused pieces than larger landscapes and compositions. 

Trumpet flowers

I have to confess that I don’t know what these flowers are called but I have seen quite a few about of late. In fact there are a lot of gorgeous plants in bloom around Gibraltar at the moment. They seem to be at their peak before getting frazzled in the hot summer sun. 

A new hobby?


“Not another one?” I hear you say. Well there is blogging, taking loads of photos (although I am not a photographer by any means), sewing, painting, crochet, reading… I really don’t need another one but I may have found a new way to dodge doing housework! 

A friend of mine is a rather accomplished ‘felter’ – is that a word? (Well someone who makes delightful pictures with felted yarn). This week she very kindly showed me how to do it too over the course of two lovely lunches and afternoons. 

I took loads of photos and at some point in the next few weeks I hope to be able to share my foray into felting with you too. Ooh it’s such fun! 

Summer hours

The time has finally come, that time of the year where you no longer have to make school packed lunches, but you do have to come up with afternoon entertainment for the kiddiwinks. Friday saw the end of full days for school children in Gibraltar. With just three weeks left until the end of the summer term, it’s half days from here on in. 9am to 12 noon for first schools and 9am to 12:45 for the older children. 

Hmmm, I will be so happy not to have to figure our what tasty delights to put in the lunch boxes of an evening until mid September, but crikey, what am I going to do with them for all that extra time? I don’t remember constantly asking my Mum what her plans for the day were as far as entertaining me and my brother were concerned, but that seems be the norm for me and the mums I’ve spoken to. We may be exploring boredom and room tidying in the coming weeks… I cannot face the beach everyday! 

A roof with a view

I shall round up this week’s Sunday Sevens with a photo of last night’s Saharan Dust sunset. It was lovely and completely different from the rainbow sunsets we’ve had in recent weeks. I grabbed my camera as I spotted some seagulls sitting on a nearby roof enjoying the view as much as me!

We are enjoying a Bank Holiday weekend this weekend, schools and many workplaces are closed tomorrow in honour of the Queen’s birthday. That means that many Dads who are able to enjoy Father’s Day today, can get a second lie in tomorrow too! However you spend your day, I hope it’s a good one for you.

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

Calentita 2017


Calentita This is a baked pancake-like dish, the Italian farinata, also known in Genoa as fainá. It is made with chickpea flour, water, olive oil, salt and pepper. The word calentita is the informal diminutive of the Spanish word caliente which means “nice and warm (or hot)”. 
Wikipedia

Visitors to Casemates Square early on last weekend couldn’t fail to spot the signs that something interesting was about to happen. The Calentita food festival is now in it’s 11th year and after a hiatus of six years, we decided to pay it a visit this time. On our return to Casemates on Saturday evening it was clear that many others had decided to come too.

Back when we had our first Calentita experience, seven years ago, it was a much smaller event to the one we visited this weekend. It featured a number of food stalls selling a wide variety of foreign food choices and was centered around a stage in Casemates Square. 

On the night, we joined some friends on a large table at one of the nearby restaurants and made an odd foray towards the food tents. With two small children (one in a buggy) the whole thing was an assault on the senses, loud, crowded and really not the best or easiest environment to steer little people through, and the long queues at the food tents put us off waiting to try the various delicacies on offer.

That said, many of our fellow festival goers had a thoroughly good night. Those with older children (who revelled in being trusted to head off to the stalls without parental supervision and buy their own dinner) and those who came without children had a great time. 

We tried one more time, the following year, and gave it up as a bad job. Fast forward to 2017 and we had three children to bring with us and they were all a good deal older. The venue itself had changed as much as our family in the intervening years – it had grown bigger. 


Now the event not only covers Casemates Square (albeit in a less crowded way and with a  less densely populated tent arrangement) and spills over into the area beyond the Grand Casemates Gates and into the Market Place, Bus Station and beyond. My word, what a difference that means for overcrowding – a huge improvement for us to start with.

This next photo isn’t very clear but you should be able to make out the large stage at the far end (complete with performers) and a very long table in the foreground. It was busy with people but there was room to move – what a huge improvement.


Now down to the nitty gritty – food! (Well it is a food festival after all.) There were over 40 different food tents to choose from catering for all tastes from hot dogs to hog roasts, Pad Thai to popcorn and Calentita to craft beers.

We decided that the best way to deal with the queues and three hungry boys was to split up, I queued for Margarita pizza slices (we have one Little Postcard who isn’t overly adventurous in the food stakes) while Mr Postcard headed to an Asian stall and returned with a lovely samosa for me (below) and quite possibly the best onion bhaji ever to have tickled my tastebuds.

We headed out of the Square and into the Bus Station area beyond, which now had craft stalls standing where the buses usually wait. All along the road were many more stalls on both sides. 

I was on a mission; one Little Postcard was adamant he wanted noodles. I joined the queue at the Phillipino food stall and waited for my turn only to discover they had run out! I got a couple of pork kebabs though and they were delicious. One kept the wolf from the door for our noodle lover as we continued on our quest.

Bingo! Noodles!


They were even cooked in front of us…


They got a big thumbs up, as did this rather tasty spring roll!


For the grown ups there was plenty of choice in the beverage department, with any amount of drinks to wet your whistle.

There was even a cocktail bar sited atop the old sea walls which encircle this part of town (below). Needless to say we didn’t visit and made do with a rather nice lager in a plastic cup.

Heading back into Casemates Square, and the crowds were growing. A number of local bands took to the stage to entertain the Calentita-ites and the atmosphere was buzzing. We did sample other culinary delights but I can’t for the life of me remember what they were – suffice to say, we didn’t go home hungry.

As the sun began to set, we took our leave of Calentita for 2017. Little legs were wilting and it was time for our exit.

Calentita 2017 was by far our best Calentita to date as a family. As an event it was barely recognisable from our previous encounters and overwhelmingly for the better. Hats off to the organisers who clearly have honed the festival over time.

As a family with young-ish children, this year’s event doesn’t compare to our previous failed attempts at gastronomic family unity. I would recommend anyone who hasn’t tried it before to give it a go next year.

PS I have one shameful admission… almost eight years living in Gibraltar and I have yet to sample actual Calentita (hangs her head in shame). I promise I will put that right.