Sunday Sevens #119 21.1.18

After last week’s sad demise of my trusty iPhone after 3 years of loyal service, I was very fortunate to have Mr Postcard buy me a new one (hooray!). As a result, normal Sunday Sevens service is restored and I have lots of photos to celebrate. Here’s this week’s edition of Sunday Sevens…

Sunshine after the rain

Last Sunday was a rather damp, grey and dull affair but we were treated to a rather lovely sunset. It’s amazing how a little bit of sunshine, even if it’s fleeting, can lift the spirits.

Joining squares

One of my many New Years resolutions was to finish some of the many on-going WiPs (works in progress) I have going on. This blanket was begun back in the summer of 2016, when I undertook my first Summer Craft Challenge.

The plan had initially been to create a blanket for our bed, but it soon became apparent that that would require a gazillion squares and I kind of ran out of oomph. Recently, I became aware of a place which is in need of small blankets for needy children, so I decided to pick up where I left off and get cracking with this again. When it’s complete I’ll show you how it ends up.

Dressmaking class

Over Christmas I was supposed to go shopping for some new fabric for my next dressmaking project in class. Unfortunately I failed in that matter. The local fabric shop in Gibraltar is up for sale and their stock is quickly dwindling. I had hoped to pop over to Spain to buy some fabric from a shop in La Linea, but unfortunately didn’t reckon on the whole 3 Kings holidays so that rather scuppered my purchase too. So, when it came to my dressmaking class this week, I decided to take one of my WiPs out of storage and use my time fruitfully pushing that towards the final straight.

Those of you who have been following my Sunday Sevens for a while may remember this skirt which was supposed to be made for me to wear to two special family weddings last year. I ended up falling in love with a dress in a shop window and that ended up being my wedding outfit, while this skirt was rather, well, forgotten about. Now it’s back out of its bag and ironed, I think I rather like it again, so I got busy on the hems. We’re not finished yet, but I’m heading in the right direction.

Med Steps training

I have managed to get up the Med Steps a couple of times this week. The first trip was on Wednesday, when it was gloriously sunny. Although we did have a water feature to get our socks wet in. A fresh water pipe which was coming out of the Rock high up above our heads had burst and for part of the route, the path had effectively become a stream. It made conditions a bit slippy underfoot. We reported it to the wardens but they were waiting for the appropriate authorities to come out and fix it. As it was high up on the Rock, it wasn’t a straight forward job.

The next day, Thursday, we went back up and what a difference a day makes! The two photos below were taken 24 hours apart. It was very blustery and grey but on a positive note, the water leak had been fixed, so we didn’t get wet feet this time!

Fabric shopping

On Wednesday, after my trip up the Steps I happened upon a good idea. I had been racking my brains on when I would get the chance to get into Spain to buy my dressmaking fabric whilst the Little Postcards were at school, and in between all my other commitments, when I suddenly realised it was Wednesday and that’s market day in La Linea. The market stands just on the other side of the border between Gibraltar and Spain, and is easily walkable from Gib in just a few minutes.

I keep meaning to visit the market but there always seems to be something which I need to do on a Wednesday morning, and I always forget until it’s too late. This week, though, I remembered. I’m ashamed to say that after eight and a half years of living in Gibraltar, this week was only my second visit to the market. Thankfully, my memory served me well and they did have fabric stalls. After much mooching I found some black stretchy satin and black crepey fabric for my next project. Here’s hoping I bought the right thing or I’ll be going back again next week!

My Year of Colour

Over on Instagram this week, there has been a mini trend of creating your year of colour. I thought I would have a go myself and was rather pleased with this rainbow of bright dots. The idea is, that the year of colour website sifts through all your photographs from the past year and picks out the predominant colours and weighs up how popular certain photos were before generating your year of colour. It’s just a bit of fun, but I enjoyed playing with the site.

Watercolour production line

I was on a bit of a roll at my watercolour class this week, working on three paintings at once! I finished last week’s jam jar posy, did some cyclamen in a pot and had a go at some purple foliage in another jam jar.

Another crochet project

I know, I know I didn’t need another new crochet project when I have others on the go (2 x blankets, 2 Little Box of Crochet projects, 2 shawls & 2 unicorns waiting in the wings) but I just couldn’t resist. I’m joining along with Eleonora of Coastal Crochet and her Seaside Stash-busting blanket CAL (crochet-along) well, it is stash-busting so it’s got to be a good thing right? Each week Eleonora will publish four rows of her pattern for you to crochet along with. I think I can manage 4 rows a week… maybe. Check out her blog or Instagram (@coastalcrochet) for all the details.

So there you have it, a rather longer than usual Sunday Sevens, but then I did have a new camera phone to play with. I hope you have had a good week this week and that the next seven days are kind to you. Thanks for stopping by!

I’m linking with Natalie from Threads and Bobbins for the Sunday Sevens weekly blog series.

2018 Friday Photo Challenge (Week 3) Me, Myself & I

It was a bit silly of me to put a category in the photo challenge that I wouldn’t be able to full join in with – I’m a bit camera shy, you see…

…so hello! This is me and my shadow…

I am often to be found wandering with small people…

Or in a pack of 5…

If you fancy joining in with the Postcard from Gibraltar Friday Photo Challenge – you can do it on your blog or Instagram. It’s not to late to join, and there’s no pressure to keep it up every week either – just as and when you can. Just tag me on your blog or add a link to the comments below. On Instagram, please use the tag #postcardfromgibfridayphoto and then I can keep track of all the pictures.

Thank you to everyone who’s joined in so far!

A Postcard from the Vatican

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During the summer of 2017 we did a bit of travelling as a family and at long last I have got round to writing some blog posts about it and downloading a few of the many photos on my camera. Last week I published my Postcard from Rome, today here’s my Postcard from the Vatican.

Before setting off on our holiday to Rome last summer, Mr Postcard rather sensibly booked a couple of guided tours, one was to the Vatican City. Included in the price was entry to the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica as well as the tour. We met our guide, Maria, on the steps outside the museum where we were fast-tracked through the crowds.

First stop after the ticket hall was a lovely viewing area which gave us a great position to look out across the Vatican gardens to the dome of St Peter’s Basilica. It was here that our lovely guide took us through many of the things which we were about to see and experience. Our tour was specifically tailored towards a family with young children and Maria showed photographs of various art works and sights we were soon to encounter.

It was here that the first stand out moment of the day happened…. one of the Little Postcards amazed us with his knowledge of Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel. It turned out that he’d done work on it a couple of years before in school and he’d remembered it. Well I never.

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After passing through the first part of the Vatican Museum, past ancient Egyption relics and other items from the ancient world, we found ourselves out in a large courtyard garden. The centre of it was dominated by this sculpture. The Sphere within a Sphere was created by Arnaldo Pomodoro and is one of several similar orbs dotted around the world. This one is exactly the same size as the one on the very top of St Peter’s Basilica (see photo above) so it really puts into perspective the scale of the church.

One of the benefits of being on the tour meant that Maria was able to invite the Little Postcards across the chain which roped off the sculpture and got them to help her push the sculpture round so that we could get a 360 degree view of it without moving ourselves. It was fun for the children to get ‘hands-on’ with this piece of art.

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At this stage I must point out that I am not attempting to write a guide book about the Vatican – that would be impossible in a blog post plus I’m sure that many people far more qualified that I am, have already done just that. I just wanted to share a flavour of some of the things we enjoyed on our trip.

In the following photo you can see, not only the sphere at the top St Peter’s Basilica again (top right), but also evidence of the extensive restoration work which was being carried out on the historic buildings.

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Some sections had already been cleaned up, while other parts were still in progress.

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The most impressive aspect of the Vatican City was the beautiful art work which was everywhere. Every wall, every ceiling was covered in the most exquisite work.

And the colours of the paints used are stunning considering the ages of some of these pieces of work.

Now that is what I call a ceiling!

Along the walls of this amazing corridor (the likes of which I have never seen before in my life) was a series of maps. The unusual thing about these maps is that many of them were drawn upside down so that they were from the perspective of the Pope in Rome looking down towards the south. They were also created in the days long, long before satellite images so they were guestimated. Our guide, Maria told us that amazingly in many cases they are pretty accurate despite the lack of geographical knowledge of the time.

Of course, no old map is complete without a sea monster.

As a born and bred Mancunian, I have an affinity for bees (they were used in the coat of arms of the city to signify the industriousness of the workers during the Industrial Revolution and came to prominence again last year as a sign of solidarity following the terrorist attack in Manchester). As I walked along this elaborately decorated corridor, I found myself spotting more and more bees on all of these maps, both in the maps and on the ‘frames’.

I have done a bit of research (by no means comprehensive)  and it turns out that Pope Urban VIII came from the Barberini family and their coat of arms featured three bees, you can read about it here. You can also find other explanations for the existence of so many bees in the Vatican here. When you look at the maps on the walls of this corridor there seems to be a significance to the bees and where they are placed as if they are marking out churches or cathedrals.

If you can shed any light onto why there are so many bees buzzing about the Vatican, I’d love to hear from you! (I wish I’d asked more questions at the time!)

After this beautiful bee-filled corridor, lay the Sistine Chapel. Photographs are not allowed to be taken in there (although many people did) nor are you allowed to speak in there (although many people did). Therefore I have nothing to show you from in there. All I can say is that it was beautiful, indescribably detailed and mind boggling at how Michelangelo could have completed such an amazing peace of work. (You can see it for yourself on the Vatican website). It was also easy to see that on occasions when it is quiet and calm, that it could be an incredibly spiritual place. Sadly for us, it was more like a cattle market, I was shocked at so many peoples’ lack of respect for such an important religious site (despite the best efforts of the Vatican staff). What a shame.

Next up was the final part of our tour.  At this point, our tour guide left us briefly and came back bearing gifts for our boys. Rather aptly it was a postcard for each of them to remind them of their time a the Vatican. We thought it was a lovely gesture. Thank you Maria, if you see this!

The final stop was St Peter’s Basilica itself. How’s this for an impressive porch?

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What a place…

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The Basilica was just mind blowing in it’s grandeur. Every surface was decorated.

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The secret as to why these works of art have stood the test of time is that unlike in the Sistene Chapel, they aren’t paintings. They are made up of millions of tiny mosaic tiles. You may be able to make the tiles out in the photo below:

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Everything here was on such a grand scale, the like of which I have never seen before. It was a beautiful building, if rather busy.

It was on the steps outside the Basilica that we said our goodbyes to our guide for the morning. Enlisting the help of a guide was a price definitely worth paying, especially with young children. They have a relatively short attention span (as do I to be fair) and were able to ask Maria questions that we wouldn’t have been able to answer. It also gave us the chance to learn so much more about our surroundings as, with the best will in the world, you cannot stand and read signs and notices next to exhibits when you are being pulled off in all directions to look at something else by smaller people. I would highly recommend the use of a guide if you are planning a visit yourself.

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From the front steps of the Basilica, we were able to gaze up to the Pope’s balcony. I’m not a Catholic, but it was quite surreal to find myself in a place which is so well known around the world. There was a definite sense of reverence and peace in spite of the hoards of tourists.

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It was upon leaving St Peter’s Basilica that we got our first full glimpse of the famous Swiss Guards. We did spy them at a distance while we were inside the complex but this time we got to see them in all their multicoloured glory.

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At the end of our visit it seemed only right that we should visit the Post Office of the smallest nation in the world and send a postcard home…

I was blown away with the beauty of the Vatican City. I didn’t really know what to expect, of course I had seen bits on telly and in books but to actually experience it for real was another thing altogether. One thing’s for sure, I will never forget the day we went to look around the Vatican.

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Sunday Sevens #118 14.1.18

Hello there, I hope you’ve had a good week. This week my trusty iPhone gave up the ghost and packed in after 3 years of loyal service. I managed to limp it through most of the week with a battery pack but it conked out for good (I think) on Thursday. As a consequence, I haven’t taken too many photos, so that’s why there are clusters rather than pictures of more events.

Here’s this week’s Sunday Sevens…

Med Steps training

On Sunday I went for a gentle climb up the Med Steps accompanied by Eldest. It was nice to wander up leisurely and stop for more breathers than I do usually. It gave us the chance to admire the interesting clouds which were about as well as some of the wildlife.

Weird weather

This pink sky, complete with a rather strangely coloured rainbow is the sight that greeted us first thing on Monday morning. The first school run of 2018 was a rather soggy affair as the heavens opened just in time for us leaving home! I guess we have been very lucky over the Christmas break to be blessed with some fabulously sunny days so I can’t complain too much.

As the day wore on the skies cleared and school pick up just about stayed dry for us. In the afternoon we were faced with a sky of two halves!

MedSteps training

Wednesday was a beautiful day and in the morning I headed up the Med Steps for the third time in this Sunday Sevens week (I also did Tuesday). This was the beautiful view which me and my training buddy enjoyed near to the top.

Early on in the climb we were overtaken by a team of military men, some running up the route, naturally we stood to the side and let them past. When we reached the top, they were waiting there and congratulated us for completing the steep walk. It turned out they were waiting for a few of their party which had yet to finish. I’ll take that as a win!

Watercolour class

It was so nice to get back to my watercolour painting class this week. It had stopped over the Christmas break and it was great to get back to it again. I thought I’d have a go at painting a glass jar and was quite pleased with how it turned out. I still need to finish the flowers next week.

Car fire drama

We had a bit of drama on Thursday lunchtime. A car caught fire right next to my friend’s apartment. The flames came up to the height of her first floor windows so we had to hide behind the wall for fear that the car engine might explode. The fire brigade arrived pretty quickly and had the fire under control within minutes. Thankfully no one was hurt, but it was rather scary.

That’s all there is for Sunday Sevens this week. What ever you are up to in the next seven days I hope they are good ones for you.

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

2018 Friday Photo Challenge (Week 2) Home

I have two homes. The one above of course is Gibraltar, our home for over eight years now and where our children have spent all or most of their lives. It’s a close community, welcoming to outsiders, especially if you are willing to contribute to the community effort yourself. We are very happy to be here in this mostly sunny tiny British outpost.

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My other home, the place of my birth, is the North West of England. I was born just outside Manchester and did all my growing up there. This is a photo of the North Cheshire countryside where I have lots of happy memories of family days out, walks and picnics. Both of these photos were taken on the same journey between Manchester airport and Gibraltar airport last spring.

If you fancy joining in with this weekly photo challenge, it’s not too late to take part. If you write a blog post, be sure to tag me in it so I don’t miss it or put a link in the comments below. Alternatively you can play along on Instagram too with the tag #postcardfromgibfridayphoto

Next week’s prompt is ‘Me, myself & I’ – I cannot wait to see your pictures 😊

A Postcard from Rome

Last summer, we were lucky enough to do a bit of traveling. It was one of my New Years resolutions to finally get round to doing something with a few of the hundreds of photographs I took, so here goes… One of our destinations was Rome and are some of the highlights…

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Until this summer, I had never been to Italy before. I have wanted to visit for so long, but the opportunity didn’t arise until last year. As there was a direct flight from Malaga to Rome we decided to bite the bullet and do a city break with three kids in tow. Before setting off we had the feeling it might be better in hindsight and I think perhaps we were right. It was mid summer, it was very hot, we did loads and loads of walking but we saw lots of the city and it was definitely worth it.

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It is a truly beautiful city. Walking the streets of Rome felt like being on a film set. From grand palazos to higgledy piggledy alleyways, no two streets are the same.

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It was very expensive though. We had been warned before our trip that everything would cost a lot more than we are used to. Breakfast on our first morning, which was nothing more than croissants, coffee and juice for a family of five came to more than €100.

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Whatever corner you walked around there was something to catch your eye.

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I did a double take as we walked down one street and all of a sudden I found myself in front of the Trevi Fountain. We weren’t alone though….. several hundred other folk had turned up too!

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We rented a lovely apartment close to the Spanish Steps. It was amazing to be able to walk out of the front door and within 5 to 10 minutes be at such a famous landmark.

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The view from the top was great, if incredibly over populated!

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In order to escape the crowds in town we took a walk away from the city at the top of the Spanish Steps and soon found ourselves a much quieter vantage point.

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The road we had taken led us to one of Rome’s parks, the beautifully cool and shady Villa Borghese park.

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It was the perfect place to take stock, sit on a bench and rest our weary feet for a little while.

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The Romans certainly know how to do a park on a grand scale!

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We meandered through the park and found ourselves back amongst the throngs so thought we’d give the Rome Metro a whirl.

Naturally, being in Rome, it had to be decorated with mosaics…

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It’s not just the people who are stylish in Rome, their homes are elegant too. As is often the case in Gibraltar, people feel the need to cultivate some greenery in whatever small outdoor space they have. I spotted quite a few balcony gardens.

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Next to the Roman Forum there were lots of green balconies….

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One of the new things I learned about Rome on our visit was that it has a castle…

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Castel Sant’Angelo was built as a mausoleum from the Roman Emperor Hadrian but later was converted into a papal fortress as it’s located a short distance from the Vatican. Nowadays it is the site of a museum.

On one of our long circuitous walks we found ourselves outside Quirinal Palace,  the Italian President’s residence. It was only when we spotted the rather grand garden in the distance and the guard of honour that we realised we were somewhere important.

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One thing you cannot escape in Rome is the profusion of fountains, both large like the Trevi fountain and the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) in Piazza Navona (below)….

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…to the smaller drinking fountains dotted around the city providing fresh, clean drinking water for anyone who should need it. The water gets into the centre of the city thanks to a network of underground aqueducts built by the ancient Romans.

At this point I must address the elephant in the room. You may be aware that there are a lot of marble statues in Rome, a good proportion of them had their marble nether regions on display. Travelling with young ones, meant that these were frequently pointed out and giggled about…

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Roman food was a great hit with the whole family. Pizza and pasta rate highly in the favourite foods list for all three Little Postcards, as does ice cream, or should I say gelato?

We managed to visit one gelateria which boasted 150 different flavours…. what a dilemma. (I opted for cappuccino in the end in case you were wondering).

You can’t visit Rome without seeing some of the magnificent ancient Roman architecture which has stood the test of time. The Pantheon was utterly mind blowing. I will share more pictures of this in a couple of weeks when I focus on the ancient side of Rome.

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We also enjoyed a fabulous tour of Vatican City. I will share a Postcard from there next week.

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I hope you have enjoyed this little snippet of our lovely few days spent in Rome. Thanks for reading 🙂

Sunday Sevens #117 7.1.18

Hello and welcome to the first Sunday Sevens of 2018. After all that build up, the festivities seem to have passed in a flash and we’re one week into the New Year already. Schools in Gibraltar go back tomorrow (hooray!) and life is returning back to normal. Let’s rewind a bit though and look back at New Year’s Eve…

Happy New Year!

We brought in the New Year in Spain. We ran away for a few days and did things like play Cluedo, table tennis, swimming and chilling out. It was a really lovely break. The hotel next to our resort laid on the most impressive fireworks display. We have stayed in the same place a couple of times before and in the past the only fireworks locally were a few rockets set off by families living nearby. This time it was something else.

Starting as I mean to go on!

Within half an hour of us arriving home in Gibraltar on Monday morning, I had my trainers on and I headed up the Med Steps for my first of many climbs (I hope) this year. It’s been a few months since my last visit and the first signs of spring were in evidence with these beautiful narcissi dotted along the pathway.

The view from the top was so clear, Africa looked so close!

Morning moonlight

I believe it’s a ‘wolf moon’ that we had on New Year’s Day and into the 2nd. Here it is just as it was about to disappear behind the hills above Algeciras on Tuesday morning. This beautiful image was captured by Mr Postcard on his way to work. Just as well he took it – I was fast asleep!!

Child cruelty

As the schools in Gibraltar haven’t started back yet after the Christmas break, I have had three Little Postcards at home this week. We had beautiful weather for much of it and it felt criminal to stay indoors, so I dragged them out with me and took them for a steep walk up the Rock.

We started from the centre of town and walked up to Princess Caroline’s Battery from where we could spy on the city below and watch the comings and goings at the airport. I was an awful mother, taking them away from their devices, making them walk miles and miles up a ‘vertical hill’ (their words not mine). But I did get them ice cream at the top and in hindsight they said they enjoyed it ;-).

Being tourists

Last month, Gibraltar’s newest tourist attraction opened – a viewing platform to see the entrance to Gorham’s Cave and Vanguard Cave. They are part of the UNESCO World Heritage site we have here in Gibraltar and the site of significant archaeological discoveries relating to the Rocks earliest inhabitants. We decided to pay it a visit this week and enjoyed a really informative talk by our guide. It’s well worth a visit.

Three Kings Cavalcade

Friday was 5th January and that meant it was time for the annual Three Kings Cavalcade in Gibraltar. After a decline in the number of floats in recent years, there was a lot more out in time for the 61st Cavalcade. Local businesses, community groups and even families put on elaborate floats to delight the crowds. This marvelous fish was on a float made entirely of recycled materials – what a fabulous idea!

That’s all for Sunday Sevens this week, a week in which I launched my Friday Photo Challenge and was overwhelmed by the response. Thanks very much to everyone who’s taken part so far!

I’m linking with Natalie from Threads and Bobbins for this weekly blog series.