Sunday Sevens #29 1.5.16

Hello there, happy May Day to you all. I hope the sun’s shining where ever you are and that you’re enjoying a good Bank Holiday weekend. 

A message has just popped up to tell me this is my 100th blog post – how did that happen??

Sunday Sevens is a weekly blog series created by Natalie at Threads & Bobbins blog. It features seven photos from the last seven days. To find out more about it or to join in, pop over to Natalie’s blog.

Med Steps…

Well my Med Steps training has continued this week as we are now less than two weeks away from the Med Steps 5 Challenge on 14th May. There was a bank holiday in Gibraltar on Thursday (one of our usual training days) so training has had to be fitted in around the family a lot more than usual. My first trip up was on Monday and as you can see from the photo above it was very cloudy. That made for great stepping conditions, it was cool, there was no sun and there was a double bonus of climbing up into the cool, damp cloudy conditions at the top – just when you need it most. There was no one else about; I had the whole Med Steps to myself. The wild flowers were looking gorgeous even though there was no sunshine. They are so beautiful up in the Upper Rock at the moment and probably at their peak before the hot summer sun scorches the ground. I can feel a wildflower post coming on – only problem is I don’t know most of their names…. I’ll need to do a bit of research.

More Med Steps…

My BIG Med Steps training session had to be done  yesterday morning. I decided to forego my Saturday morning lie-in, and set my alarm so I was well on my way up the steps by the time the clock struck nine. I was also on my own and I’m very proud of the fact that without anyone with me to egg me on, I managed three times round solo for the first time. I’m feeling quite proud of myself but am feeling a little bit achey as I write this. The countdown is on now though so I need to step it up a gear next week I think…..
Watercolour class

Last week I had a bit of a go working on a looser style as I painted some bird of paradise flowers. I had another go at improving them this week but it didn’t go well so I gave up and started preparation work for my next project. You may remember from my post on doors that I had a go at painting one of the old doors I had photographed. I really enjoyed doing that so I decided that now is the time to start work on my next architectural painting based on a photo I took a while ago of a particularly beautiful window in the town centre.

The painting so far…

 

I found myself with a bit of time yesterday between climbing the steps, doing the washing and heading out to a kids birthday party, so I decided to crack out my paints while everyone was happy entertaining themselves. I’d been practicing how I was going to paint the reflections on the window panes – something I’d never attempted before. I had a lot of fun with it and am very happy with the result. I just hope I don’t make a mess of the rest of the painting now!!

1st holy communion season


Gibraltar, being a predominantly Catholic place, is currently in the middle of Communion and Confirmation season. My two eldest are of the ages that their school friends are celebrating these milestones of growing up. Being a non-Catholic family it’s not something we do, but it’s lovely to see their fellow students in all their finery heading into church for this big event. For those of their friends who were receiving their Holy Communions on Wednesday, the weather was beautiful and allowed for sunny photo shoots with friends and family in the park. They looked lovely.

Off the beaten track

Considering how small Gibraltar is, I find it amazing that even after almost seven years of living here, I am still discovering new things. On Friday I took a slight detour off Main Street along a side street I must have walked past hundreds, if not thousands of times during our time here and found these windows up above my head on a residential building.  I have never seen anything like this in Gibraltar before, where the windows have been bricked up and then images of windows painted over the bricks! That’s certainly one way to liven up your facade!

Cake!

Another discovery on that street was a lovely little cupcake shop. It would have been rude to return empty handed from there don’t you think? It tasted as good as it looks. The diet went a bit out of the window, but I reckon I burned it off on the Med Steps the next day 😉
Thanks for stopping by, I hope you have a great week!

A stroll around Gibraltar No 5: Doors

  A door is such an important part of the personality of a building don’t you think? Here in Gibraltar we’re surrounded by beautiful colonial buildings and in many cases they have kept their original style of doors if not their actual original doors. If you’ve seen any of my previous ‘strolls’ you’ll know I have a bit of a thing about the older style of buildings here and I like the look of a slightly neglected window/door/façade. I must, however, reinforce the fact that although I am partial to taking photos of things which are perhaps a little shabby, it’s done with respect and Gibraltar has many new, shiny and well maintained doors too :-). Cue the freshly painted door…. 

 Look at the shine on that fresh gloss paint! I do like that shade of blue very much, reminds me of my old school blazer!

 Many of the front doors of buildings here feature a beautiful decorative metal panel above the door (presumably to allow a cool breeze into the hallway behind in the heat of the summer). There are so many examples of this around town.

 
  These two doorways (above & below) have got glass behind the metalwork, I presume that’s a relatively recent addition. The one below is on a rather narrow road with a non-existent pavement, the scratches in the stonework are caused by passing lorries which passed a little too closely.   

Isn’t this a fab paint job? I love the magenta/purple door surround!

 

 A beautiful (modern) door & (old) stained glass window combination just behind Main Street:

 
 They just don’t make doors like this anymore. Just look at the workmanship that’s gone into this… 
The next photograph (below) is of the rear entrance to the Law Courts. When we first arrived in Gibraltar this building was in a very poor state. When the Court House behind it was extended a few years ago, the old building was demolished leaving just the façade which was restored and incorporated into the new extension. It’s a beautiful example of how the existing architecture can be maintained and preserved for future generations.

 Gibraltar’s churches have rather fine examples of doors too. Here’s the front door of St Andrew’s Church of Scotland: 

 

And the very imposing entrance to the Catholic Cathedral of St Mary the Crowned: 

 
And this is a back door of the Anglican Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. I have walked past this countless times and have been a regular visitor to the cathedral during my time in Gibraltar but I never noticed this was here until I spotted a photograph of it on Instagram on the @zuzamarecka account. Can you see it has a very wide letterbox? 

 Here’s a close-up. 

 It says ‘books for seamen’. The Cathedral is the base for the Gibraltar Seamans’ Mission to this day and there’s a dedicated Port Chaplain based here who can be called on to offer support and guidance to visitors to Gibraltar’s Territorial Waters. I asked about the letter box for books and it’s no longer used, but if anyone wants to donate books for seamen, they can post them through the Cathedral’s main letterbox (to the right of this door). Please make sure they are labelled for the seamen.

I think that’s enough of the well maintained doors, back to my ‘old’ favourites…

  
Whoops – sorry I couldn’t resist taking that photo! 😉

   Oh what stories they could tell about the comings and goings in these buildings…
 
They would make such a great subject for a painting don’t you think? What about this one? 

 
That metalwork and the magnificent letter box are a bit special…. Here’s my interpretation of it from my watercolour class:

  Not an exact representation but it was fun having a go. I used candle wax and cling film to get the paint effect on the door and bubble wrap and natural sponge on the window. It gave me several very happy hours doing that on :-).

Thanks for joining me on my stroll, I do hope you’ll join me on my next one – it promises to be a little bit more energetic next time!

 
 

A stroll around Gibraltar: No. 1 Balconies

Gibraltar’s a pretty special place, unique in so many ways. A slice of Britishness on the Med, within sight of two continents. One of the mythical Pillars of Hercules which stood either side of the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea. It’s a melting pot of cultures, religions and styles with a rich history dating from the Neanderthals to the Phoenecians, the Battle of Trafalgar to World War II and beyond. As many of you lovely visitors to my blog aren’t from Gibraltar and perhaps have never visited, I thought I’d share a few aspects of the Gibraltar I love with you. Today I’m looking at balconies:

  South District

For a place where the vast majority of people live in apartments, outside space is incredibly precious here in Gibraltar. Balconies for the lucky few who have them, are a very precious bit of the outdoors attached to their homes. Our family is lucky enough to have a balcony, which is effectively our ‘front garden’ (British readers will get what I mean – I’m sure), it also works as a space to dry laundry and a place to just ‘be’ especially on a warm evening with a cool glass of vino in your hand. 

  Irish Town

Of course, balconies can take many forms including late twentieth century concrete ones and the glass and chrome of the last few years, but by far my favourite are the Colonial style wrought iron balconies which can be found around the Rock.

   Governors Street

If you walk around town with your head down or just look around at eye level, you are sure to miss some absolutely stunning architectural beauties. They have such charm and grace, almost reminiscent of New Orleans. 

These green beauties can be found on Main Street where thousands of shoppers, commuters and tourists pass daily, how many of them have actually looked up and noticed they’re there?

 Main Street
  Main Street

These days a lot of this style of balcony are no longer ‘outdoor spaces’ being enclosed by glass and absorbed into the internal buildings. I still think they look beautiful though.

  Market Lane

How about this for some ornate glazing?!

  Main Street

Look a whole street of them!    Georges Lane

Check out that stained glass…

 Main Street

What a façade!
  Main Street

And another…

  Main Street
  Main Street (again)

These beautiful examples are just a small selection of what you can find here. Some are in a better state of repair than others. I just hope they are preserved for many more generations to enjoy. I just can’t get enough of them! 

This balcony is perhaps the most photographed in Gibraltar. Most days as you pass, you find tourists standing across the road taking pictures. It truly IS a front garden!
  Main Street (next door to Kings Chapel)

So you’ve probably guessed I am a huge fan of balconies, perhaps because I am a huge fan of gardens and this is as close as many people get here. They are so beautiful and romantic and so unlike anything you would get back at home in Blighty. 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this short jaunt around the place where I live. I’ll have another stroll around Gibraltar for you soon. Thank you for stopping by :-).