Review of the year : 2016

As the clock ticks inexorably towards midnight on 31st December and we close the door on 2016, I thought it was time to take a look back at the year we have just had. Most of the newspaper reviews I’ve read so far have focussed on the negative aspects, celebrity deaths, the seismic political changes afoot both in Europe, America and the rest of the world, and general doom and gloom.

I am very fortunate in that for us, in our little corner of the world, apart from the uncertainties of Brexit and what that could mean for us in the years to come, we’ve had a pretty good year. Looking back at all the interesting things we’ve done makes me think about how fortunate we are. If your 2016 has been a difficult one, I sincerely hope that 2017 will be better for you and your loved ones.

January 2016

The New Year saw us spending a few days up the coast from Gibraltar on the Costa del Sol, but we were back on the Rock in plenty of time to see the Three Kings Cavalcade. It was also back in January when I went for the first of my strolls around Gibraltar the first one was an homage to the many beautiful balconies, the second one paid tribute to the many steps we ‘enjoy’ here!

February 2016

February brought us some misty and stormy weather, but there was plenty of indoors activities to keep us busy here in Gibraltar. The second annual Gib Talks event saw speakers from all walks of life take to the stage for short talks on a huge range of subjects. Later in the month, the extraordinary Gibraltar Womens Association celebrated their 50th Anniversary, I found  their story fascinating.

March 2016

In March, we were blessed with some beautiful sunny days with bright blue skies. Along with completing a tin man outfit for World Book Day, I finally managed to finish my Attic 24 Cosy Stripe Blanket after a year of hooking! We made the most of the lovely spring weather and took a dolphin trip out into the Bay of Gibraltar. There was also a beautiful exhibition in Gib celebrating  women’s creativity.

April 2016

During April we made another short trip up the coast and headed inland to Ronda a beautiful Andalucian town. I was very productive at my dressmaking and home furnishing courses inserting my first invisible zip and producing curtain tie-backs for the public transport fan in my life. A tall ship called into port at Gibraltar and members of the public had the chance to go on board and have a snoop around.

May 2016

May meant Med Steps for me big time as I completed my final training sessions for, and then finished, the Med Steps 5 Challenge with my two stepping buddies. It was a rather intense day but we were so proud of ourselves for climbing to the top of the Rock five times in quick succession. We also managed to raise a fair amount of sponsorship money for the brilliant Cancer Relief Gibraltar. Some of my sponsors are readers of this blog and I am so touched that you took the time and effort to support our fundraising efforts – thank you.

As I spent so long prattling on about the Med Steps during my training, I figured I should tell you all about it:  The Med Steps: a few facts & figures . May also meant saying goodbye to a good friend to me and my blogging adventures. One of the sad things about living an expat life is that many of the friends you make are in the same boat as you and therefore may not be around for long Saying goodbye…

June 2016

June was a very eventful month not only for me but for Gibraltar and the rest of the UK as a whole as BREXIT loomed large (this post was my most read of all time and by a very long way). Six months on, we are still no further forward knowing what it all means.

Another unexpected thing to happen to me in June, was when I chose to go back up the Med Steps one foggy morning. I thought that the mist would make the climb cool as the summer heat had begun to build. I was wrong. As I climbed up the Rock, I climbed out of the mist and fog. I was nearly roasted alive, but I did manage to take a rather good photo of the Rock emerging out of the mist below (see second left image on the bottom row above). I got loads of likes and shares and retweets with that picture taken on  A mini stroll in the mist!

11th June 2016 marked International Yarnbombing Day 2016 and I had a little go myself with my first guerrilla crochet project as I attempted to Yarnbomb the Alameda Gardens to celebrate the park’s 200th anniversary.

July 2016

July equals the beginning of the very long school summer holiday in Gibraltar. As I stared down the barrel of 8 weeks of no school and the prospect of entertaining the three Little Postcards I felt a little overwhelmed. In an effort to find some way of surviving (with my marbles intact) I decided on day one that I would set myself the challenge of doing something crafty every single day of the holidays…. and the Summer Craft Challenge was born. One of our summer holiday outings took us up into the Upper Rock Nature Reserve to visit one of Gibraltar’s newest attractions, the  Windsor Suspension Bridge .

August 2016

August, for us, was mainly spent in England. I travelled back with the Little Postcards to spend two weeks based in the North West with my parents (with a lovely trip down to Berkshire to visit friends) and then two weeks with Mr Postcard visiting his family in East Anglia. We were blessed with the best of English summer weather. When the sun shines – there really is no better place to be. Our East Anglia holiday base was Southwold in Suffolk, it gave us the perfect opportunity for multiple visits to a special place for us Southwold Pier .

The end of the month brought the school summer holidays to an end. After eight weeks of full-time kiddiwinks and eight weeks of the summer craft challenge, I was very proud to still be in full possession of my marbles (I think) and I also managed to do something crafty on every day except for one (the day we travelled back to Gibraltar). The final instalment of my challenge is here.

September 2016

September is always a very busy month in Gibtraltar. Just after the children return to school, we all have a day off for Gibraltar National Day on 10th September. Around this time we now have the Gibraltar Music Festival to enjoy too. This year saw the Stereophonics headline and Europe played the air guitarist’s dream of The Final Countdown live on the Rock.

Towards the end of the month, I was able to fulfil an ambition of mine to visit the Yarn Festival of Yarndale. It was everything I had expected and more, with bells on. My absolute highlight was meeting my crochet hero Lucy from Attic 24 and being able to give her one of my Llanitas (Llanita, the Gibraltar Yarndale sheep that is). The sheep were made to raise funds to support a children’s hospice in North Yorkshire, I made two and they have both gone to live in Yorkshire!  My Yarndale 2016 (featuring Llanita’s Yorkshire adventures)

October 2016

In October I was still determined to keep up some of the crochet momentum I had achieved during the summertime and finished off my contribution to the Sixty Million Trebles project. I made a rainbow granny square blanket which will go towards the World Record breaking attempt to create a huge crochet blanket made up of sixty million treble stitches. Each treble stitch represents a displaced person or refugee. After the world record attempt the giant blanket will be made into smaller blankets and handed out to charities in the UK and those helping Syrian refugees. The organisers also hope to raise a considerable amount of funds too to help Syrian refugees.

A big event locally was the fourth annual Gibraltar Literary Festival 2016 I was lucky enough to be able to attend several events this year and really loved it.

November 2016

At the beginning of November we had just one Bunny in the Postcard household, then one Sunday afternoon during a walk through the Alameda Gardens, we found some abandoned rabbits. One of them, Blizzard, came home with us (Blizzard turned out to be a girl and she is now known as Snowflake). It was back in November when I had my first attempt at Podcasting I had such fun making it, and hope to be able to share another one with you soon.

December

In December we sadly said goodbye to Bunny Postcard. She had only been with us for 11 months but she’d quickly become a much loved member of the family.

This month I also headed out for my most recent stroll, to see some of the Christmas lights  we have on the Rock – amazingly it was the 16th stroll post I’ve written this year. I also took the plunge (literally) and joined with the annual Boxing Day Polar Bear Swim at Catalan Bay – I’m still feeling proud of myself for doing it!

 

Thank you so much for joining me this year, I have loved having your company and enjoy reading all the lovely comments. Here’s to next year, who knows what it will have in store for us all, here’s hoping it will be a good one.

A cosy blanket story

  
Back in the autumn of 2014 I embarked on my latest blanket, an Attic24 Cosy Stripe Blanket blanket to be precise. I ordered my wool pack in time to join in with the online crochet-along or CAL. The plan was to keep up with crocheters around the world as they hooked up the cosy lines of triples and be part of something ‘bigger’.

  
I did really well for that first week! Then the rot set in. The plan had been to complete the blanket by the end of 2014 that meant we’d having a snuggly warm blanket to cosy up with as we faced a nippy Gibraltarian winter. Yes, I know I sound soft but it does get cold here in winter and we don’t have central heating or double glazing. The cold Atlantic breezes get through the cracks in our old wooden sash windows you know… I’m not getting any sympathy here am I?!

 

Back to the crochet… so the thing is, quite early into the CAL I fell off the wagon and failed to keep up. I think my problem is that I like so many different crafts that I don’t like to keep on at the one thing all the time. In other words I’m easily distracted… Holiday times meant that I had more time to sit and hook up a few rows and it meant I was more focused on the job. So it came on holiday with us, a few times…

 …. to Marbella…

 

….out for a drink at the poolside bar….

  

…and to Puerto Banús.

  
It’s been a regular companion through two series of Downton Abbey! Both on Sunday nights and on catch-up sessions.

  

 It’s grown bigger.

  
And bigger.

 
It’s done a spot of sunbathing on our balcony back at home…

  
And entertained me at coffee break time as I worked (very slowly) through all those colourful rows.

  
And then the end was in sight, it was time to darn in all those fiddly endy bits. 

 
 
I shared that photo on Instagram and you’ll never guess who ‘liked’ it? Only Lucy at Attic24! STARSTRUCK!!!

  

Phew, that was exciting!

And so, the time had come to begin the border…

  
But I must have got my tension wrong… I didn’t have enough wool – noooo! So I unpicked it and chose an alternative colour and started again:

  
Not again… just 25 cm short this time! So I had to do half of the original colour and half of the second colour – sorry Lucy, I went a bit off piste! It’s a multicoloured border.

  
I’m on the home straight at last, it’s the Easter holidays 2016, 17 months after I started my Cosy Stripe CAL, time for a final push at the park.

  
 
And it’s finished…. Drum roll please!

  
Ta-dah!! Looking glorious on a sunny, blustery day with Gibraltar’s Trinity lighthouse as a backdrop. 

Thank you Lucy for sharing this brilliant pattern, I have really enjoyed working on it and love the end result. I shall miss snuggling up under it’s colourful rows as it grew slowly on my lap. 

What next? Another blanket perhaps, but don’t expect to see it finished for a very long time!

 

Sunday Sevens #22 13.3.16

Sunday Sevens is a weekly blog series inspired by Natalie at  Threads & Bobbins blog. If you fancy joining in pop over to her blog to find out more. 

This week, we’ve had company…

Cake!! 

 Remember that lemon curd I made a couple of weeks ago? Well the last of it was used to fill this sponge to celebrate a visit by my Mum & Dad this week. Mmmm it was yummy and it was so lovely to have a visit from these very special people. The little Postcards do miss out on ‘grandparent time’ by living so far away from them, but we have absolutely made the most of our time together. 

Pattern creation for a new skirt.

There wasn’t any sewing to show for my dressmaking class this week. After last week’s triumph of completing my full circle skirt, it was time to embark on the latest adventure and that is a panelled skirt which will flare out from the hip. I have still got a bit of cutting and sticking to do for my homework adding my seam allowances etc, but I’m looking forward to doing some fabric shopping soon and getting cracking at my next lesson. (My home furnishing class didn’t yield anything exciting either this week but hopefully I’ll be ready to reveal my current curtain soon!)

Freesias

 One evening this week, I attended a function at the Rock Hotel. When I was walking up the path to the front door I was struck by the strong scent of freesias. I love freesias – both my Mum and myself had them in our wedding bouquets. I couldn’t understand why I was smelling them though as I was walking along outside until I spotted these unassuming white blooms. If only I could convey the gorgeous smell that was in the evening air at that moment – it was so lovely!

A sunset swimming lesson  Normally my mid week early evening routine involves taking children to after school activities. This week however, as my parents were over visiting I didn’t need to drag the non-participating children to their sibling’s activities. This meant that I was able to spend that time appreciating  the surroundings and having a few moments to myself. While watching a little postcard having his swimming lesson, I spotted this fab view and sunset.

The blanket border has begun: After 15 months of making my cosy stripe Attic 24 blanket I’m on the border… The end is nigh…

 Bunny update Bunny was a bit off colour last weekend but he’s back in the pink and eating his way through his fair share of carrots and red peppers! He’s really enjoyed watching a bit of late night TV and having evening cuddles this week.

Boat trip  We had a beautiful day yesterday. It’s a long weekend in Gibraltar this weekend as it’s Commonwealth Day tomorrow. We thought we’d make the most of our time off and decided to hop on a boat and take a trip out into the Bay. It was glorious and I promise I will tell you all about it soon…

Thanks so much for stopping by! Until next time, bye for now.
 

Sunday sevens #15 24.1.16

Processionary caterpillars  At this time of year we see this interesting phenomenon – the march of the progressionary caterpillars. They are pine caterpillars which live in pine trees (as the name suggests) and when they are on the hunt for food they head off for a walk to the next nearest pine tree in a long line. They are not as cute as they appear though as they give off a poison in the hairs on their backs which can cause irritation to humans and be very dangerous to animals. A good friend of mine almost lost her family dog after she tried and eat one of these. Anyway, these were taking a walk across one of the paths in the Alameda Botanical Gardens last Sunday and Mr Postcard took the photo for me.

Med Steps challenge update  I only managed one trip up the Med Steps this week but I am very pleased to say that I reached a huge personal milestone and did the double. I managed to climb them twice in one hour and forty minutes. I’m very pleased with that effort and delighted that I have overcome the hurdle of being able to do it more than once. I am still a long way off managing the five times required for the Med Steps challenge but I’m closer to achieving it than I was this time last week!

Curtain no 1 finished In my home furnishings class I completed my first sample curtain this week – a rod pocket curtain. Here it is in all it’s glory. Next stop a tab top version…
Meet the newest member of the Postcard family  Please allow me to introduce you to our newest family member. He’s cute, fluffy and doesn’t say much. We’ve only ever kept goldfish before now, so we’re on a steep learning curve with bunny.  He’s going to be a ‘house rabbit’ as both our balcony and patio get a lot of direct sunlight so we worry it would be too hot for him to stay outside permanently. He’s currently residing indoors in the biggest cage we could find in the pet shop but we are hoping to make him a bigger ‘run’ so that he can stretch his legs without us having to watch him constantly. So far his trips out of the cage have seen him making bee line for the edge of rugs and electric wires for a bit of a nibble! It feels so mean to keep him locked up but there are too many hazards for him at the moment to let him have free reign. Any tips on indoor rabbit keeping you can share would be gratefully appreciated. You may be seeing more of him…🐰

Skirt number 2 underway Two weeks into term and my second skirt is coming together quickly in my dressmaking class. This time it’s a corduroy gathered skirt. Its pockets, seams & zip are done. Bring on the waistband, gathers & hem :-). I shall do a big reveal once it’s completed (and if I’m happy with the finished article 🙂 ).

Star struck
I got a little bit star struck this week. I posted this photo on Instagram of me darning in my endy bits on my Attic 24 Cosy Stripe blanket and just look at who liked it… only Lucy from Attic 24. Oh my word – how exciting is that??? I told Mr Postcard and Number 1 son, their reaction to this momentous bit of news was total bewilderment…. Well I was chuffed anyway!

Watercolour door

 Well folks, the cling-film came off and it left me with nice textured stripes on my door. I’m not sure how happy I am with the whole picture but it was just a practice. I cannot take any credit for the techniques or the composition, as I mentioned last week, I was copying an exercise in a Jean Haines book called Atmospheric Watercolours (it’s based on a building in Venice). I would love to try painting a real Gibraltar doorway and I’m just gearing myself up for it!

 

That’s all from me this week for Sunday Sevens. I do hope you have had a good week and are enjoying a nice weekend. Sunday Sevens is a blog series and I’m linking with Natalie at Threads & Bobbins. Have a great day! 🙂