Sunday Sevens #124 25.2.18

Hello there, I hope you’re having a nice weekend. We have been blessed with some lovely weather this week (I wore a T-shirt to do the afternoon school run on Friday), but – and it’s a big but, I have it on good authority that we are in for some very wet weather over the next seven days.

It’s funny you know, whenever there are severe weather warnings for the British Isles, that often means that for us down here on the southern most tip of the Iberian Peninsular get pretty rubbish weather too – admittedly not as cold as ooop north, but, still bad. So, as the UK grabs it’s thermals and digs out the shovels and grit to cope with a big freeze and snowy weather, we are digging out our wellies and rather fetching waterproof trousers to cope with an impending monsoon.

Anyway, weather talk aside, here’s this week’s Sunday Sevens…

Sunset across the Bay

Clearly last Sunday nothing of note occurred as I didn’t take any photos. This lovely sunset happened on Monday though. All of a sudden the apartment was bathed in the most beautiful orange glow and I looked out of the window to see that the sun was just about to set behind the hills directly opposite our apartment windows. Each day the sun is setting further to the right (north west) as we get closer to spring and it was a beautiful beam of orange which signalled the end of Monday’s daylight.

Seaside blanket silliness

I’m really enjoying the twice weekly instalments of the Coastal Crochet Seaside stash busting blanket Crochet Along. Last week, one of my fellow CAL-ers uploaded a cute photo to Instagram with a Lego diver, seaweed and fish on her blanket and I thought I’d join in with the silliness. I spent rather longer than I should have digging about in search of a Playmobil diver and his gear, but only managed to locate his breathing apparatus. I gave up and raided the bath toy box for this pair. I have a horrible feeling our diver has met a sticky end somewhere. (Note to self : I really must grow up).

Dressmaking class

At my dressmaking class this week I finished my slice and slide frill around the top of my toile dress. It was removed from the mannequin and converted from lots of jigsaw pieces of fabric to just two to check I had the correct drape for the frill. It’s not looking too bad. I’m awaiting instruction on what to do next….

Crochet confusion

I have been attempting to start a rainbow crochet blanket (requested by a Little Postcard) for a few weeks now, but I have really struggled with it. First of all, I tried a new ripple pattern, which required a lot of concentration by me. I really wanted something I could do without too much thought in front of the telly, but I kept getting so far and having to frog it because I’d made a mistake way back at the start of the row.

On top of this I wasn’t completely happy with the colours I had chosen. I picked them online and got them sent to Gib, but when they sat next to each other, they were a bit harsh. I finally relented and went to the wool shop here in Gibraltar and bought three complimentary shades which evened out the rainbow effect I wanted. I also found a new ripple pattern which worked better for me. Back to the drawing board, but I had a plan!

Blue skies

I mentioned a the start of this post that we have had some beautiful weather this week. This was the gorgeous blue sky on Wednesday lunchtime. I was supposed to meet a friend for lunch but she got a call from school to say one of her little ones was ill, so lunch was postponed and I got the bus home. This was the view from the bus stop over the top of the park and Trinity Cathedral to the top of the Rock in the distance.

Watercolour daffs

I managed to finish my latest watercolour painting at my watercolour class this week. I’m rather pleased with these daffodils. They go well alongside my iris painting from a couple of weeks ago. I have decided to have a go at another painting in this same style with pen and watercolour, and after a bit of a poll on Instagram, it’s been decided that tulips should be my next subject!

I love it when a plan comes together…

My persistence paid off I think, the rainbow blanket is coming along well (although not fast enough for the Little Postcard who wants it for his bed…. “When will it be finished Mummy??” “Errr, don’t hold your breath son.”) I’m finding these ripples so relaxing to make, with not too much counting required by me. I have enjoyed a couple of episodes of Wallander on Netflix as I hooked these rows during a few quiet moments. I have been wanting to work on this all the time and it has come with me to football training and a football match just in case I get the chance to hook a few extra rows! My kids are seriously considering disowning me….

Batman update….

Did you see Batman in my last Sunday Sevens? He’s still up there bless him – I took this photo at 10:30 last night. They must have good helium in Gibraltar!!!

That’s all for this week’s Sunday Sevens, I hope you have a good week. If you are in the snow, keep warm, if you are in the wet, keep dry and I’ll see you next week, same time, same place. Toodleooo!

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

2018 Friday Photo Challenge (Week 6) Wall Art

This majestic octopus is the main reason why I chose wall art as one of the prompts for this photo challenge. It appeared on the side of a building in the Upper Town in Gibraltar last year, but it wasn’t until early January that I found myself face to face with it for the first time.

I had seen it on so many Facebook, Instagram and local media posts but it was quite something to see it for real. Measuring 22 metres long, it was painted by artist Jessica Darch and took 10 days to paint. This isn’t the only piece of wall art in Gibraltar though, last spring this work created by the British artist Ben Eine appeared on the side of the Inces Hall…

It certainly proved to be a talking point over here, with divided opinions on it’s design and the appropriateness of its situation, on the side of one of the town centre’s historic buildings.

The most impressive piece of wall art I have seen though, has to be this creation in Toulouse in Southern France. While on holiday in the city last summer, we were wandering aimlessly along the old streets when all of a sudden, we were face to face with this:

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Wall art in Toulouse

 

2018 Friday Photo Challenge (Week 4) Hobby

It couldn’t just be one photo for this week, I guess I have too many hobbies…

Since putting my career on hold to start a family, and then moving to Gibraltar, I have been lucky enough to be able to carve out a bit of free time to do fun stuff as the children have got older. I was always quite crafty as a young girl and enjoyed sewing and creating things, these days I love to crochet and do some embroidery in my spare time. I also attend watercolour and dressmaking classes during school term times (following the path of creative study I would have liked to do in my youth but opted for the ‘sensible’ academic option which came up trumps and got me a job to pay the for mortgage).

But that’s not all, my other hobby is wandering round Gibraltar taking loads of photos and then turning those into blog posts about where we live. It is that hobby which has broadened my horizons as a stay-at-home Mum and reconnected me to the outside world after over a decade out of the workplace. It also gave me the confidence to go back to work on a part-time basis, something which I am really enjoying.

If you fancy joining in with the Postcard from Gibraltar Friday Photo Challenge, you can do that on your blog or via Instagram. Just tag me in your post or post your blog link into the comments below, or use the tag #postcardfromgibfridayphoto on Instagram so we can all see each other’s photos.

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.

Sunday Sevens #104 8.10.17

Good morning, I hope you are having a good weekend. This week has seen a return to my watercolour class after a very long summer haiatus. It was so nice to be back…

Sunday afternoon on the beach

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Last Sunday we did something rather out of character — we went to the beach. We aren’t huge beach goers normally as we don’t enjoy the crowds or the heat at the height of summer. We do, though, rather like sneaking down there out of season.

As you can see from the photo above, we weren’t alone, but there was loads of open space where we could sit, chat, splash and dig without upsetting anyone else. 

My neighbours may not agree with me but I really do try to keep a lid on the level of noise coming from our apartment (I don’t think I’ll ever get used to living so close to other people). Being somewhere where the Little Postcards can scream and shout without upsetting anyone is a very valuable space for me.

Oh, and I got a bit of crochet done too…

Monday Med Steps

Last week on one of my Med Steps trips I was surrounded by a pack (troop?) of apes, on Monday it was Barbary Partridge bingo! There were loads about. This pair were very tame and I got very close before they scarpered.

Dressmaking whoops

Don’t you just hate it when that happens? I was making great strides with attaching my collar to my blouse at Dressmaking class when I managed to accidentally sew my underarm seam to the collar by accident – whoops!

Med stepping into the Levanter 


These two photos were taken about 20 minutes apart. One below the cloud in bright (and rather hot) sunshine. The other at the top of the Rock and slap bang in the middle of the Levanter cloud.

I started Wednesday morning’s walk in hot sun but was relieved to hit the cool, damp Levanter near the top. I almost took an amazing photo at the top… as I gazed up at the misty summit, on that low bit of wall to the right of the fence was the silhouette of a mother ape with a baby on her back. By the time I’d got my phone camera on, they’d vanished into the mist. Never mind…

Watercolour refresher

Thursday morning saw my return to watercolour class.  I didn’t realise how much I’d missed it over the summer. Our teacher began the new term with a refresher lesson on washes. It came just in time for me to get back to a picture I was working on before summer which had a very dodgy wash for the sky. My new aim for this term is to be less wishy washy with my colours – I need to embrace BOLD!

Beautiful Botanic Gardens 

You may have noticed that my excercise levels have gone up in recent weeks. After a rather sedentary summer I have a good few kilos which I need to shed. On Friday I took a trip into town and on the way home I opted to walk rather than catching the bus. I was rewarded by with a walk through the beautiful Alameda Botanical Gardens.

Autumnal WIP-along

On Instagram recently I have noticed lots of  crafty people publishing photos of the WIPs (work in progress) they have completed as part of a WIP-along with Gosling & Plumb. Check out the blog post in the link above  to find out more about it.

When I finished my last crochet project (Jenny’s Mandala from Little Box of Crochet) I almost started something new but I could hear some of my many WIPs calling me from carrier bags hidden in my secret hidey hole. So far I have worked on three; circles in granny squares (see beach crochet photo), a green granny square blanket and a cute crochet cactus pin cushion from a Simply Crochet Magazine kit.

Thanks so much for stopping by for a read about my week. It’s been lovely to have your company.

I’m linking with Natalie of Threads & Bobbins for the Weekly Sunday Sevens series.

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.