Hello! Postcard from Gibraltar is 5 years old today!
When I first launched this blog back in 2015, I had no idea where it would lead. It was an outlet for a slightly stir-crazy stay-at-home Mum with a desire to do more but unable at that time to go back to work, even on a part-time basis.
Little did I know the doors it would open or the confidence it would give me. It has brought me the opportunity to write for magazines; both online and in print. It gave me the confidence to return to the world of work after many years at home with children and now there is a new podcast ‘Making Stitches’.
It all started with this first blog post. Little did I know then, where it would lead and even if it would last as long as that first summer!
It has also brought me connections with many friends near and far. Friends I have never met and probably won’t ever meet, but friends nonetheless in ‘real life’ and living in my phone!
Thank you to everyone who has read my posts and cheered me from the sidelines over the past five years. I am very grateful for your support.
It seems rather appropriate that this milestone should happen now while things are in a state of flux for us. Not just because of the issues going on on the world stage but also those a little closer to home.
Next month we will be leaving Gibraltar after 11 very happy years here. Life is leading us back to the UK and a new life in the north of England. We leave with mixed emotions; great affection for Gibraltar and it’s people who have made us feel very welcome and sadness to be saying goodbye to good friends and this beautiful place.
However, looking forward we are thrilled to be heading back home to be close to family and friends (some of which I have known since primary school). Living so far from family has its limitations and that has been brought home more than ever during the past few months of lockdown.
I have thought long and hard about what to do about Postcard from Gibraltar after the move. Can there even be a Postcard from Gibraltar if I’m not in Gibraltar anymore?
But I would miss the community I have met online too much if I packed it all in. I also can’t quite face starting a new blog and going back to square one with it alongside the enormity of moving a family and all our belongings from one end of Europe to the other during a global pandemic, so Postcard from Gibraltar will continue after our move.
I can’t guarantee as many photos of blue skies or sea views. I’m not sure whether our sunsets will be quite as picturesque in the suburbs as they are across the Bay of Gibraltar but I will do my best.
I understand that a good proportion of readers of this blog will be doing so because of the Gibraltar connection, and if it no longer interests you in the future (in its UK based form) I won’t be offended if you fall away. Many readers though, I believe, do so because we have a shared interest in crafty things and trying to find a little bit of beauty in everyday.
And so, at the end of Postcard from Gibraltar’s first five years, I look back feeling proud of what it’s become and excited for the future and what it holds in store. Thank you for coming along on my journey with me, it’s been a pleasure to have your company on the ride!
Hello there, I hope that wherever you are reading this, you are well. It would appear that of late we have slipped into a parallel dimension where everything feels rather odd.
I’m sitting on our balcony at Postcard Towers looking across the Bay of Gibraltar to our neighbour, Spain. It’s terribly quiet over there. Under a State of Emergency there are very few boats out in the bay and none at the normally bustling port of Algeciras (which is normally still working on a Sunday).
Restrictions are coming into force here in Gibraltar, from tomorrow bars & restaurants will close, churches and other places of worship are closed until further notice, the planned referendum on abortion due next week is postponed and all sporting activities are off. Even the Drama Festival which was meant to happen behind closed doors next weekend is being suspended for now. At the moment, schools will remain open, but everyone is being encouraged to stay at home if they can.
It’s going to be a long and difficult road ahead for many, but thank goodness we have a way to communicate with the outside world through the wonders of technology and even in the adversity the best of humanity shines through with volunteers offering to help those isolated by the virus and of course the wonderful healthcare workers and staff who keep everything else going. Thank you to all our essential staff who will keep going to keep us all safe.
Hello there, I hope you’re well. I just wanted to explain my absence of late… life has rather got in the way of blogging recently. I’m still here, but my focus has been elsewhere. I will be back when the time is right, but for now I’ll leave you with this rather lovely photo from yesterday’s sunset.
Well here we are at the end of another year, it’s been a year of crafty and photo challenges, and on the whole a good one for the Postcard clan. It’s only now I’ve taken a look back at what we’ve done that I realised that we’ve packed a lot in! Here are some of my highlights from 2018…
I started the year off with a lovely walk up the Rock, those paperwhite narcissi were photographed on New Year’s Day. After enjoying participating in a photo challenge in 2017 under the stewardship of Sandra at Wild Daffodil, I decided to have a go at running one in 2018, so #postcardfromgibfridayphoto was born on Instagram and in Blogland. I also embarked on the Seaside Stash Busting Blanket CAL in January too. Little did I know what fun it would become.
February saw plenty more crochet and a fair bit of watercolour painting, along with the arrival of HMS Queen Elizabeth to Gibraltar. The huge Royal Naval aircraft carrier was quite a sight to behold.
March, very fortunately for us was a month for travel, first to attempt skiing for the very first time in the Italian Dolomites – it was amazing, and second to take the Little Postcards on an Easter trip to the South of England.
We began April on Easter Sunday on the Jurassic Coast in Devon, then headed to London for a few days before heading home. It was a fun trip.
May meant Med Steps 5 Challenge, Gibraltar’s Comic Con and some lovely spring weather.
June brought with it the Calentita! food festival and my very first printed article in the Calentita! magazine. We celebrated World Environment Day and I had a go at Yarnbombing the Alameda Gardens!
Summer holidays we the order of the day in July (along with my now traditional annual Summer Craft Challenge). We headed off to Suffolk to help celebrate a big birthday for a member of the Postcard family. We traveled by plane, old trains and kayak! Which reminds me, we went to a fabulous country fair at Worstead, I really should get a post written about that…
August was spent in Suffolk, Gibraltar and visiting my family in Manchester. We watched acrobats and magicians in Gib and followed the Bee trail around Manchester.
At midterm in October we headed off for a short break in Portugal. We’re so lucky to be able to drive to so many lovely places from where we live. This was also the month that I finished my Sandy Bay blanket.
November began for us in Portugal and ended with the Christmas light switch on with the fabulous Gibraltar Literary Festival in between. It’s a truly wonderful festival which happens right on our doorstep.
Thank you to everyone who has followed and read my posts this year, it’s been lovely to know that there’s someone out there actually reading them! I hope that 2018 has been a good year for you and that 2019 is too!
Crumbs, it’s looking awfully like we are on the cusp of another New Year, it surely can’t be a whole year since the last one, it’s gone far too fast. I guess now’s as good a time as any to have a look back at some of my Postcard from Gibraltar highlights from the past 12 months….
A new year meant a new challenge for me this year, a photo challenge. Last year I read Nana Cathy’s blog and was intrigued by her weekly photo challenge. When January came around I thought I’d join in myself. It’s been such fun and quite inspiring throughout the year to have weekly prompts to find pictures for. If you fancy joining in check out Wild Daffodil’s blog for more information.
Also in January I joined forces with my friend Kate of H and FlossieDoodle to start the Gibraltar Crochet Collective. We did meet weekly to crochet and chat over coffee although our meetings have got less and less frequent due to other commitments lately. Our mascots Gib and Rocksy went for a bit of an adventure.
Another new project for me this month was my podcast, you can find my blogposts and the related podcasts here.
In February I ran my Creative Gibraltar series looking at some of the very talented craftspeople who live in Gibraltar. I began with my lovely watercolour teacher Deborah M Lawson and ended with local craftswoman and up-cycling guru Sue Orfila. February also brought us the 2017 installment of Gib Talks. I was also fortunate to be able to speak to Gib Talks organiser Julian Felice before the event for one of my podcasts.
March was a month for Lenten crochet (far easier than giving up chocolate) which helped support the Sixty Million Trebles effort, a beautiful Suffolk family wedding and a sad goodbye to our rescue bunny Snowflake.
April began for us in Southwold in Suffolk, one of our favourite places and involved a lot of Med Steps training, which was very handy for burning off those seaside fish and chips! I was also able to finish another Sixty Million Trebles blanket – this one from the Gibraltar Crochet Collective.
May meant Med Steps 5 Challenge again this year and I even managed to beat my time from last year! You can hear my podcast about it here. We also flew back to the UK for our second family wedding of the year.
June started for us in Wigan in Lancashire, the location of our latest wedding and the perfect setting for a lovely walk. It was also the Calentita! food festival in Gibraltar. (For some reason the same aerial photo of Gibraltar appeared in May and June’s collages – not sure why that was. It is a good photo though don’t you think?).
This has got to be my most cosmopolitan of all months, featuring travel in Portugal, Rome, France and of course good old Gibraltar. Which reminds me, I have loads of holiday photos on my phone and camera SD card which are crying out to become blog posts – watch this space in the New Year.
September is a big month on the Rock, this year more than most as Gibraltarians celebrated the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum when they voted overwhelmingly to remain British. Gibraltar National Day on 10th September coincidentally happened to be the day of my 100th Sunday Sevens. We also had a fabulous music festival.
October brought with it some interesting weather, beautiful sunshine, murky mists and exciting lightning storms.
November was a good crochet month for me as I finally got around to making last year’s Little Box of Crochet autumn wreath. I also greatly enjoyed this year’s Gibraltar Literary Festival with talks by Nicholas Parsons, Patrick Gale and local photographers and naturalists Clive, Geraldine and Stewart Finlayson.
December seems to have rushed by in a flurry of end of term carol concerts and panicked making of Christmas presents (some of which failed to get finished in time). There have been some opportunities for peace and quiet though, namely the last Saturday before Christmas when we avoided the shops and headed for the beach for peace and tranquility.
Summer craft challenge
For the second year running, during the long summer holiday we get in Gibraltar, I decided to set aside a little time each day to do something crafty and I documented this with my Summer Craft Challenge. Each day I featured a photo on Instagram and each week I wrote a blog post on my progress.
At the beginning of the challenge I made a little amigurumi unicorn which I got the kit for in an edition of Simply Crochet magazine. I christened her Europa and she became my Summer Craft Challenge mascot and came on our travels with us. There were several occasions when the Little Postcards thought Mummy had lost her marbles posing a crocheted unicorn in various European locations for photographs…
This year, I returned to work part-time after 13 years as a full-time, stay at home Mum. I have to admit that during the last few months I have found it hard to make time for Postcard from Gibraltar alongside my new commitments and at times I’ve wondered whether I can actually keep it up. I have had some really lovely comments and support from my online friends and that’s kept me going. Thank goodness I have Sunday Sevens and the weekly photo challenge to keep me ticking over during ‘dry’ spells.
I think I would really miss the community I have ‘met’ through Postcard from Gibraltar, and if I’m honest, it’s you and the support you’ve given me which gave me the confidence to apply for the job in the first place. Thank you very much to everyone who’s taken the time to read my posts over the past 2 and a half years, and for the virtual friendship you have given me too – it’s not taken for granted. Every comment and like is very much appreciated.
Here’s to 2018 and all the wonderful challenges it may bring!
A couple of weeks ago I was very pleasantly surprised to be nominated for a Blue Sky Tag by Jane of the Candelo Blooms blog. Thank you Jane very much for thinking of me! The tag is a fun event which runs throughout June, and requires me to answer 11 questions about myself and Postcard from Gibraltar and then nominate 11 other bloggers for the same award.
It feels slightly self indulgent for me to spend all this time writing about me rather than talking about experiences or events I have visited which is my usual style of blog post, for that reason it’s taken me a while to complete this post. Here goes nothing…
1. What do you enjoy most about blogging?
I love that it gives me an excuse to take loads of photos and ask questions. I’m a naturally nosy person and before having children I worked as a journalist so this gives me the excuse to be more than just someone’s mum!
I also love that it has brought me opportunities which otherwise wouldn’t have happened. I now contribute to an online publication and have become part of a craft group all brought about by my blogging.
2. What other hobbies and pastimes do you enjoy?
Oh my word I have so many hobbies! Regular readers to my blog will know that I love to crochet. I also attend weekly watercolour classes and dressmaking classes. I love taking phtotos, which is probably obvious if you read my blog regularly, and I have recently tried wet felting for the first time (a blog post will be appearing on that soon!) I know, I know, I really don’t need another hobby! 🤣
3. Given your time over, without any restrictions, what would be your ideal job? Why?
Well I did have a pretty perfect job for me, I was a journalist which meant I got to visit special places where the public wasn’t allowed and I got to meet so many interesting people and was able to tell their stories. Aside from the (at times) long working hours and unpredictable shifts it was a dream job.
If I could do anything at all though, I would love to be a craftsperson with a talent great enough to make a living from it. I’d love my own workshop (ideally in the countryside or at the end of a large garden) and be surrounded by my crafty things whatever they might be. As it is, I live in an apartment in the fifth most densely populated place in the world (or so I’m told) so it’s not likely – I’m very happy as I am though.
4. Which new country would you like to visit?
I have had a bit of a fascination with Australia since the magical day I was off sick from school and Neighbours came on the TV in the U.K. for the first time! Back then (when I was around 11 yrs old I think) I started saving 50p of my pocket money each week towards my dream holiday to Ramsay Street and the rest of Australia. I had a page cut out from a holiday brochure I’d snaffled from a travel agents with a 3 week tour of Oz including a trip to Melbourne and was saving up for that (it cost over £2000 back in the late 80s) needless to say I never saved enough!
5. What is your favourite quotation?
I have to confess that I didn’t have a favourite quotation in my back pocket ready for this occasion, it took a bit of googling. This is the one which I think best sums up my view on life: “I choose to make the rest of my life the best of my life” by Louise Hay. I have been lucky enough to have had a great life so far, a happy childhood, a great career until I had a much wanted family, however onwards and upwards…. who knows what lies ahead?
6. If you were an animal, what would you like to be and why?
This is a tricky question to answer, to be honest I am not a great animal lover. I abhor cruelty to animals but I’m just not a huge animal fan. Just the other evening as Mr Postcard and I were sitting on the balcony at dusk, enjoying the golden moment between the cool dusk breeze arriving and the mosquitos arriving we were watching the seagulls swirling around over our heads calling out to each other. Now I’m not saying I fancy being a seagull eating rubbish out of people’s bins and pooping on the people down below, but it would be fab to be able glide on the thermals and take in the views.
7. What is your favourite time of year and why?
Ooh, another tricky one. It rather depends on where I am. In Gibraltar it has to be spring, the days are often warm and sunny, very much like an English summer’s day but it’s not too hot and you can get stuff done without needing several showers to cool down.
In Britain, I love all the seasons and I miss them dreadfully living here in Gibraltar. I love winter for its cosiness, crunchy frost underfoot and Christmas. Spring is so full of promise with bulbs breaking through the soil and the bright acid green of the newly opened leaves on the trees.
Summer is just wonderful when it’s sunny and dry. I love woodland walks and picnics. And Autumn is magical for it’s colourful leaves, conkers and misty cobwebs. Sorry, that doesn’t really answer the question does it?
8. What is your favourite film?
I don’t really have a favourite film as such, I have had a few favourites over the years, The Sound of Music and Dirty Dancing featured heavily in my formative years. As an adult I have to admit to a James Bond addiction….
9. What are the 3 most important character attributes to you?
Honesty, I can’t be doing with having to second guess what people are really thinking. Kindness, there is no need to be mean and a little kindness helps the world go round, don’t you agree? Creativity, nothing fires my own creativity than having creative people to inspire me.
10. What is your favourite book and why?
My favourite book tends to be the one I am reading at the moment. I am a member of a book club and I love that it introduces me to different genres I wouldn’t normally choose for myself. I am slowly working my way through George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series at the moment, in-between my book club books. I am currently on Book 4, A Feast for Crows. I have watched the TV series up to the point where I am reading, but want to read the books before seeing the series.
11. What is your favourite garden and why?
I love pretty much all gardens. My favourite one here in Gibraltar has got to be the Governor’s gardens at his official residence, the Convent. It’s open to the public once a year for the annual Convent garden party and it’s lovely to take a stroll along the shady agapanthus lined paths and enjoy the beautiful trees. It’s a real oasis in a rather built up environment.
Now to my Blue Sky nominees….
I would like to nominate the following people for this Blue Sky Tag:
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.
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!
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.
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.
It’s been a whole 12 months since my first blog post on Postcard from Gibraltar and what a fun and busy year it has been. I started out publishing my first post and wondering if anyone out there in cyberspace would actually read it but I soon discovered a lovely community who share my interest in craft and want to hear about this lovely Rock I live on.
Thank you very much for all the lovely comments and likes over the past year, I appreciate you taking the time to leave them. I read them all although sometimes it can take me a while to reply.
I know that an important part of being in this community is that it’s not just a one way street and we should all take the time to read each others posts and sometimes I’m not too great at that as life tends to get in the way a bit. Please know that I always mean to, and I usually get around to taking a look at my fellow bloggers posts eventually!
I’m afraid I’m being very lazy this week with my midweek post and I’m just going to share a few of my highlights from the last year with you. I hope you enjoy this trip down Memory Lane 🙂
Moving countries with two small children and leaving all our family and friends behind was no small feat. I have to admit that when I was faced with the prospect of moving here (due to Mr Postcard’s work relocating) I wasn’t impressed. I had my life sorted and was happy where I was, the prospect of having to start all over again didn’t fill me with joy.
Back in September last year the annual cardboard boat race in Ocean Village reminded me of what life was like back when we first arrived and that the warm welcome we received as a family helped us on the road to settling in: Cardboard boats and memories of moving
Apart from arriving here and making a fresh start, one of the hardest things about being an ‘expat’ is that many of our community are transient. For those who come with work or their partner’s job, rather than just making the choice to move here for good, their tenure in Gibraltar can be short.
However short that stay may be, friendships can develop fast. In the absence of family nearby friends very soon become each other’s support network and that makes saying goodbye all the harder: Saying goodbye…
I love, love, love making things. If you’ve caught any of my Sunday Sevens posts you’ll know that most of my weeks are dominated by crafty things including watercolour lessons, dressmaking lessons and of course, my love of crochet. In May, I was inspired to make a wreath celebrating the wild flowers I’d seen this Spring while I trained for the Med Steps 5 Challenge : Wild flowers of the Med Steps
Along with the Med Steps I have become very fond of the Alameda Botanical gardens during our almost seven years here in Gibraltar. International Yarnbombing Day 2016 proved too much of an opportunity to miss paying homage to the Alameda Gardens bicentennial celebrations.
Last Saturday was the Convent Garden Party, an annual event which the Postcard family usually attends. It’s the one chance in the year for ‘normal’ folk to have a wander around the beautiful back garden which belongs to the Governor of Gibraltar. My post about last year’s event ended up being my first ever blog post based on a walk (a theme which has featured heavily in the last few months): A stroll up the garden path…
As I mentioned earlier, I am a bit of a fan of the Med Steps. So much so that I climbed them five times in the one day last month as part of the Med Steps 5 Challenge. If you have never had the pleasure of climbing them yourself, here’s what you’re missing! The Med Steps: a few facts & figures
On 9th June, Gibraltar woke to find itself wrapped up with a blanket of fog. I thought it was the perfect opportunity to climb the Med Steps again (as it had been getting a bit warm to do it in recent weeks). On that walk I experienced the most amazing view (the one you can see above). I had been misguided in thinking that the fog would help me with its cool damp air, as I climbed the steps I soon realised that I had, in fact, climbed up out of the fog and was viewing it from above.
At one of my many rest points on that morning, I witnessed this stunning view of the Rock swathed in fog. It was otherworldly and truly mesmerising. I was also only one of a handful of people who had braved the Med Steps that morning, we were incredibly lucky to see this weather phenomenon from such an elevated vantage point.
As soon as I got home I posted this photo online and got the most amazing response. So far, more than 12,000 people have viewed it on Facebook! I also wrote a post about my foggy walk and featured a lot more photos: A mini stroll in the mist
A year on the Rock
One of the great things about living in Gibraltar is that despite it’s size (which is really quite tiny) there is so much to do. The social calendar includes the Three Kings Cavalcade, the Calentita food festival, the Gibraltar Fair, National Day, the Gibraltar Music Festival, the Gibraltar Literary Festival, and the Christmas Light switch on to name just a few.
Looking back at all that makes me realize we’ve packed a lot into our last year on the Rock. I know we are very lucky to live in such a great place and to have the opportunity to experience all we have.
I first started this blog after being encouraged to do so by friends and family and I’m really glad I did. Postcard from Gibraltar has opened doors for me both virtually and in real life, it’s been a great adventure so far, here’s hoping the next 12 months are as good if not better!
During the last week one of my friends left Gibraltar for good and I’ve just discovered that another one is planning to leave this summer. We are entering into the time of year which is a rather painful part of being an expat (here at least), the time when families relocate back to the UK or elsewhere because of work or family reasons in time for the new school year starting.
For many of us, when we first arrive we know nobody. For those of us who are parents who don’t ‘work’ we forge a network of friends at the school gates and through contact with other families connected to our partner’s place of work. Because we are all in the same boat, friendships become strong quickly. If you land in a place where you know no one and your family are thousands of miles away, you soon learn that your friends are your support network.
I remember during our first winter in Gibraltar, my husband was overseas with work and I’d had the most uncomfortable night of my life (apart from childbirth) with a dreadful tummy upset. I waited until 7am to call the person I knew the most to ask for help. She dropped everything and came to get my eldest ready for school and took my youngest away with her (we only had two children then) and left me to alone to try to sleep and get better.
Back in England my parents lived about an hour away and I imagine I would have called them had I still been living there, as I had no one else I could call who was nearby. We lived in an area which was chosen simply because it was between our places of work, we pretty much put a pin in a map and decided on that location. We had our first home there but we both worked in different cities so knew very few people locally. We spoke to our neighbours and exchanged Christmas cards, but as we were out working most of the time in different cities we didn’t have any friends there.
Of course I have friends I have known since the first days at primary school, from secondary school and University but we are now all spread out pretty much across the world. As our jobs took us away from friends and family, I found it got increasingly difficult to make proper friends until we arrived here in Gibraltar.
Back in England, I remember my Mum telling me, as soon as the baby goes to school you’ll meet people, and I did, they were friendly, we chatted about our plans for the weekend, birthday parties etc as we waited for the kids to come out at the end of school, but that’s where it ended. I’d moved into an area where everyone else seemed to be established. They didn’t feel the need to take it a step further.
The other mums had their families down the road and knew many of the other parents at the school already. I guess I could have made the first move but I wasn’t brave enough to invite anyone to do anything because they all seemed so sorted and busy. I remember the excitement at being invited on my first girls’ night out a whole year after my son started at the school. Finally, I thought, I’m in. That was the week we found out we were moving to Gibraltar, needless to say I didn’t want to come.
After much angst and packing we landed in Gibraltar a couple of weeks before the start of term. On the first day at the new school, as I waited for my son to come out of class, a local mum approached me and apologised, saying it was her son’s birthday soon and she hadn’t sent an invitation for my son because she didn’t know he’d be in the same class. The following day he came home with an invitation to the boy’s party and that was our welcome into the community.
The Gibraltarian people are lovely and welcoming of us newbies. They didn’t mind helping me with my endless questions about where to go to register for this thing or that class. Or how to find birthday party venues which don’t feature on any maps and have just a string of initials for a name. But the people I forged the deepest friendships with were other incomers.
Over time, I soon realised that many of the other expats here were in exactly the same boat as I was with no family nearby and we looked after each other. If someone was ill, had a sick child or was without a car, we’d chip in and do a bit of shopping or help with the school run. Gibraltar was the first place since being away at University that I had true friends. Like University, the nature of our lives here meant that those friendships were on fast forward and developed very quickly.
Also, because we have all been in the same situation, arriving here and knowing no one, if we spot someone new outside school or are introduced to a new arrival, we invite them to join us for coffee or to meet up at a later date. We introduce them to our other friends and soon (hopefully) they settle in and feel more at home.
As with any friendships, we are there for each other at the births of children, the deaths of loved ones and relationship breakdowns. We help were we can and if we can’t help, we may know someone who can – the community here is so small there’s usually a friend of a friend who we can call on. You may think that sounds perfect, and it is, kind of but then come the goodbyes.
Gibraltar seems to be a pretty transient place for many non-locals. Some people are here for the long haul, setting down roots and with no intentions of moving back, but lots of folk arrive here with the aim of doing a few years in post to improve their careers and then move on. Perhaps they want to live a few years in the sunshine before returning ‘home’ to the UK or heading off to their next exotic destination.
That of course means that we lose friends at a much faster rate here than we would at home in the UK, and that’s really not nice. Two years ago, my best friend and her family moved back to England after about 4 years here. We were very close. We were on a similar wavelength, with similar arty interests and with children of similar ages. When she left it was really hard, I feel emotional right now thinking about it.
Last summer, another good friend left and returned to her home town. That left another empty seat at our coffee mornings. Then, over the Bank Holiday weekend another friend, (who is one of those responsible for me taking up this blogging lark), got on a plane to the country of her birth to set up a new life for herself and her family. She is a mum who has great confidence in what she can achieve, she also has a magical gift of making you think you can achieve great things as well (she’d make a great boss).
She is the first person who suggested I should take up blogging (there were a few believe it or not), so I did – but I didn’t tell her. Afraid of looking stupid if the whole endeavour flopped I decided to blog anonymously (and to spare the blushes of my kids). Despite her not knowing it was me, I was thrilled to see she was liking my posts on Facebook and even shared one. Once I came clean and admitted it was me, she was so encouraging of my blog – and I value her views as she’s very smart.
So I guess this post is dedicated to this lovely lady, thank you for your friendship and encouragement, it’s meant a lot. I wish you every success and happiness in the next exciting chapter of your life. Please don’t forget us coffee morning girls, we’ll raise a cappuccino to you at our next gathering!