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.

Gibraltar’s old buildings in beautiful watercolour : James Foot exhibition April 2016

Regular visitors to this blog will know I have a bit of a fascination with Gibraltar’s old buildings, the slightly shabbier ones in particular. So imagine my delight when I took a few moments to shelter from yesterday’s thunderstorms at the Fine Arts Gallery in Casemates Square and had time for a good look at the James Foot exhibition.

James is an English fine artist who splits his time between his homes in London and Lakonia in southern Greece. He has had a long association with Gibraltar and has held several exhibitions of his work here over the years.  

  

In this exhibition he included a few paintings of Venice and Greece, however the vast majority of his work on show is of Gibraltar. I’m mesmerized by the water in these paintings of Greek fishing boats. So many different shades of blue and reflections – just gorgeous!

  

Enough of Greece though, let’s get back to Gibraltar… I promise that I had no idea about James Foot and his work before going on my strolls around Gibraltar looking at balconies,  doors and windows.

  
 

It does rather seem that we are on a similar wavelength when it comes to our appreciation of Gibraltar’s colonial architecture. 

  
 
Sadly, that is where any similarities between myself and this immensely talented artist ends…

  

Just look at the shadows cast by those shutters! Oh to be able to paint like that!!

   

I fear the photos I took on my phone don’t do these beautiful watercolours justice. (I did get permission from the artist himself to take the photos by the way)
    
I would love to have a go at painting one of Gibraltar’s ornate ironwork balconies, but I fear that after seeing this great work I could never produce anything half as good – just stunning!

  

And look, do you remember the special door at the rear of Holy Trinity Cathedral with the special ‘Books for Seamen’ letter box which features in my Stroll No 5 about doors? Well even that has been reproduced in beautiful watercolours – can you see it peaking out from behind that palm tree? 

  

If you are in Gibraltar and want to have a look at these and the many other beautiful paintings in this exhibition (there are 47 in all), you’ll need to be quick. The exhibition’s open for just two more days. 

I’m so glad I got the opportunity to see this work, thank goodness it rained yesterday and gave me the excuse to stop and take shelter at the gallery!

For more information on James Foot and his paintings, do have a look at his website.

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 :-).