Rocksy & Gib’s Med Steps Adventure

Do you remember Rocksy & Gib the mascots of the Gibraltar Crochet Collective? Last week, when the sun was shining they ran off and left the balls of yarn and hooks behind for a Med Steps adventure… do you want to see what they got up to?

It was hard work climbing up the hill to the start of the Med Steps. First pit stop was to admire one of the new signs which have appeared recently… This spot is 160 metres above sea level and this is just the beginning of the trail.

Ahh, time for a breather before the real work begins. So lovely to the feel the sunshine on your back after what feels like weeks of grey, damp and windy weather. These two posed for photos in the sun… admiring the view.

First climb completed and Gib soaked up a few rays at the entrance to the Twin Caves. Rocksy looked completely composed … not even a spot of perspiration yet! Next up… more steps and then the tunnel. Surely everyone who climbs this trail has their picture taken here by the sign? Not Rocksy, she was powering on through to the next bit!

Ahh, now that’s what you call a VIEW!

Knowing what lay ahead of them, Gib and Rocksy took a few moments to chill before attempting the final climb to the summit…

Here goes… these steps weren’t built for little crochet ape legs were they?

Phew, collecting themselves for the next mega step ahead….

Slowly but surely…

What more steps??

Holy Moly, I can see the top! But there’s a heck of a lot of steps to get up there!!

Did we really climb all that way up??

Time for another breather before the final push! What a great view of the Mediterranean…

They didn’t get very far before the next pit stop… Gib was looking a bit overwhelmed. Little did they know that they weren’t alone…

Literally seconds later, look who was sitting in exactly the same spot!

Better not monkey around any more then (sorry couldn’t help myself), last few steps and they were at the summit!

Phew – made it! That’s enough adventuring for one day… back home now for a cup of tea and some crochet!

If you are interested in joining the Gibraltar Crochet Collective, please check out our Facebook page for details of our next get-together. Beginners are welcome as well as experienced crocheters.

Our current project is a blanket for the Sixty Million Trebles project, the project aims to raise awareness about the plight of refugees worldwide. Today’s the first day of Lent, how about making a crochet square each day of Lent to help us make as many blankets as possible? (It’s far more pleasurable than giving up chocolate don’t you think?😉)

If you want to find out more about the Med Steps you can read all about it in my post: The Med Steps: a few facts & figures

And for some Med Steps inspired crochet you might like this: Wild flowers of the Med Steps.

A stroll around Gibraltar No. 13 : Windsor Suspension Bridge 

Hello there, the school summer holidays are well underway here in Gibraltar, so today I took the little Postcards for a trip to the Rock’s newest visitor attraction; the Windsor suspension bridge. Construction of the bridge took many months and those of us who live on the Rock were able to see this bridge appear up high above the town and we were guessing exactly what it was for.

At one stage, once the main frame of the bridge was in place but the section you actually walk on wasn’t complete, we wondered whether it would have a glass bottom so you could walk ‘in mid-air’! I have to say, if that had been the case, I’m not sure I would have been brave enough to attempt it. I’m not great up a ladder at the best of times…

Last month the completed bridge was officially opened by Gibraltar’s Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo and since then many local residents and tourists alike have benefitted from being able to walk across it and take in the view of the town below from a new angle. Having seen many of my friends’ Facebook photos of them and their loved ones taking a trip up there, I figured it was high time I had a go myself. As it’s school holiday time, that meant taking my three boys with me too.

We began our walk from the Pillars of Hercules statue and spotted a large Royal Caribbean cruise ship approaching Gibraltar. The little Postcards thought it would be fun to try and race it. Would it dock at the cruise terminal before we reached the bridge? It was moving quite fast…

We soon picked up our path when we saw this new sign post marking the way where a road had previously been closed. (Can you see the cruise ship closing in on us in the background?). After quite a steep climb for little legs, the downward stretch was very welcome.

It was at this point I noticed something I don’t think I’ve seen before in Gibraltar. You may remember from my post On a walk over Christmas, Gibraltar gave to me… I make mention of the rings which were used by the military to haul the cannons up to the top of the Rock. You see them embedded into walls and the Rock itself all over the Upper Rock. We found one right in the middle of the road!

Our first port of call on this walk was Rooke Battery. It’s named after Sir George Rooke who commanded the British Fleet when Gibraltar came under British rule. It was the site of a large gun and was later used as the base for one of the huge search lights used during World War II.

The view from Rooke Battery this morning was just beautiful looking across to Morocco over the Strait.

The path led us on downwards past a small picnic area. I’m afraid picnic areas in the Upper Rock Nature Reserve bemuse me slightly bearing in mind the local hairy residents aka Barbary Macaques can hear a picnic bag unzipping from miles away and descend to steal your lunch! Anyway, as I was saying, the path led us to the southern side of the magnificent new Windsor Suspension Bridge.

As you can see above, the bridge stretches over a 50m gorge and is suspended between two batteries. It’s 75 metres long and most exciting of all, it moves with the wind and movement of people on it. This was a particular highlight for the two smallest Postcards, who despite warnings not to, took great pleasure in trying to make it vibrate as they stomped across.

The view you get from the bridge is just stunning (I guess the glorious weather this morning probably helped a bit). Regular readers of this blog will know I am a frequent visitor to the Upper Rock and I always enjoy spying down on the town below from a great height. This ‘new’ section of old path which has only just reopened gives you a completely different perspective on the town below and I really enjoyed seeing it from a new angle.

Despite the fact the sun had just popped up over the top of the Rock when we were on the bridge, being on the western side at this time in the morning with the cool sea breezes blowing, it was a really cool place to be (in more ways than one). The little Postcards enjoyed seeing three navy ships in the Naval Dockyard below. After a game of Battleship earlier this week, they were thrilled to be able to see the ‘real thing’.

To put the 75metre length of the bridge into context a helpful sign nearby points out that this is equivalent to 7 1/2 double decker London buses parked end to end.

I’m no bridge expert, but it’s a beauty in my book!

Along side the new bridge and improved pathways are some disused military buildings nearby. I find these kinds of things fascinating. Having never known Gibraltar when there was a large military presence here, my mind plays overtime wondering what it was like back in the military’s heyday here. What were these rooms and pipes hidden within a deep gorge used for?

The bridge was such a hit with the smaller members of the family, we crossed it not once but three times before climbing up the steps on the other side and onto the pathway.

There was yet another picnic area, the perfect spot to risk opening the rucksack for a drink – which we managed without any of our ape friends joining us. The dappled shade from the olive trees above was very welcome.

The lush green vegetation of the Upper Rock which was evident back in spring when I was doing my Med Steps 5 training is now all crispy and brown. Such a shame that the lushness has been parched by the hot sun. The threat of fires in the area were very close to home yesterday as a large wildfire burned on the mountains above our neighbours in La Linea across the border and threatened homes and lives in the San Roque, Santa Margarita and Alcaidesa areas. Homes had to be evacuated and planes and helicopters were used to fight the fire. It must have been a very frightening experience for all those involved.

So did we make it to the bridge before the cruise shipped docked a the cruise terminal? The answer is yes (just)! Did you spot it in the background of this photo?

Thanks for stopping by, I hope you enjoyed this trip up the Rock with us today 🙂

A stroll around Gibraltar No 9: A trip on the cable car 

Hello there, I’ve not taken you out for a stroll for a few weeks, so I thought it was high time we went for another explore around the place I call home. A few weeks back, my parents came over for a visit and we took the opportunity to do a few of the touristy things in Gibraltar which we haven’t done for a while. 

When we first arrived in Gibraltar, we used to frequently take a trip up in the cable car to the top of the Rock and take a leisurely walk down the roads on a Sunday afternoon. When we were suffering from homesickness it felt almost like we were in the English countryside on a summer’s day (well if you don’t look too closely at the olive trees and other Mediterranean vegetation!). 

We hadn’t done that for a while so one weekend day during their visit, the whole Postcard family accompanied by the Grandparents bought our tickets for the cable car and went for a ride.

I took this photo of a poster at the cable car base station. Not the best map I’m afraid and there’s a nice bit of product placement on the modes of transport but it gives those of you unfamiliar with Gibraltar a clearer idea of where we went. 

To the right of the centre of the picture is the label Alameda Gardens that was the subject of my Stroll around Gibraltar No 7 and is right next to the cable car base station. Follow the line (or cables) from there up to the Upper Rock and that’s the destination for the cable car.

The photo above shows the main entrance to the Alameda Gardens as the cable car begins its ascent up to the top of the Rock. I’m afraid I didn’t get the chance to take too many pictures as it was rather busy and we were packed in a bit!

It also just takes about six minutes to rise from the base station to the summit, during that time it’s very easy to get transfixed by the view, trying to spot out familiar sights, schools, houses and parks which we visit regularly.

It was such a lovely day and we had a slightly hazy view of Morocco across the Straits of Gibraltar ahead.

And then we arrived!

Of course there’s no show without punch, and naturally the moment you step off the cable car, the apes are waiting to pounce and one did. A tourist on our trip up carrying a plastic bag full of food got off behind us. An ape used our eldest’s head as a springboard to grab the bag. It was all over in seconds and so quick I didn’t even see it despite being about a metre away! 

There are many signs warning you not to take food up to the top, and to keep your bags closed and not to feed the apes etc etc, but of course there are always a few people who don’t bother taking notice and then get a fright when their sandwiches or sweets get pinched!

It’s well worth taking your chances with the apes though, because check out the view! This is looking north, to the left of the Rock you can see the Gibraltar airport runway and beyond that is La Linea de la Concepción the nearest Spainish town to us.

I can’t make my mind up whether Gibraltar looks smaller or bigger than it feels from up here, a bit smaller I suppose because it’s all so tightly packed. Down below us here in this picture is the town centre with M&S, British Home Stores and all the delights Main Street has to offer. Also Commonwealth Park, Morrisons supermarket, St Bernard’s Hospital, several schools and housing for thousands, not to mention the cruise ship terminal, a new marina for dozens  of small boats and offices for countless businesses.

Beyond Gibraltar in this picture shows Campamento (which lies beyond La Linea) and the delightful oil refinery at the head of the Bay of Gibraltar.

The apes are clearly unimpressed with the view – they get to see it every day after all. A bit of mutual grooming and flea picking is far more preferable!

Down on the eastern and less densely populated side of the Rock you can find Catalan Bay (home to a fishing village and the Caleta Hotel) in the picture  above, and Sandy Bay, home to a retirement village and a few holiday homes, in the one  below.

After taking in the views and admiring our home from above, we decided to begin the leisurely walk down the hill  and homeward bound. In order to get down though, you have to walk through one of the official ape feeding stations where they get their fruit and veg 5-a-day from the conservation workers who look after them and keep them healthy.

For obvious reasons this is a big hot spot for tourists and we had to negotiate quite a few taxis and tourists stopping to take photos, so I thought it would be rude not to pap a few of the performers myself.

It’s so much easier walking downwards than climbing up!

We were really lucky to have a lovely warm day for our ramble down the Rock, almost like a British summer’s day. This really is my favourite time of year in Gibraltar, not too hot and not too wet!

Despite there being a fair few other visitors to the Upper Rock that day, it didn’t take us long to have the meandering roads down to town to ourselves, it was so peaceful.

This little chap was making the most of the sunny weather and was doing a bit of sunbathing on a rock as we passed. I have seen quite a few lizards (or geckos – I’m not entirely sure what their correct title is) so far this spring, it’s so nice to see them out and about, scuttling away into the undergrowth or into cracks as soon as they sense they are no longer alone!

There was a fair bit of flora on show as well as fauna, these strongly perfumed wild freesias were in abundance and have been for weeks now, although they are less common in the last week or so, there were also some beautifully scented lavenders in flower too.

  

And finally, do you remember this picture from my Stroll around Gibraltar No 6: from sea to summit (in the rain!)…  

 

…well, it was a much clearer day when we took our trip up the cable car – just look at the view now!!

Thank you so much for joining us on this stroll down the Rock, do pop back again soon!

On a walk over Christmas, Gibraltar gave to me…

  
I escaped this afternoon for nearly two hours away from the video games, toys and being beaten over the head with a cardboard tube light saber. I used my time wisely to burn off a few calories consumed over the past week or so and set off for a walk up the Rock. It was a bit blowy to attempt the Med Steps so I settled for the less treacherous western side along the roads used by the many taxi cabs and tour buses which ferry tourists to the summit daily.   As I strode purposefully up this great Rock a tune was turning over in my mind, a festive tune, known in our house as ‘A parsnip in a pear tree’ (The Twelve Days of Christmas).

A few new lyrics started popping into my head too, if you don’t mind a little festive corniness read on….

  On a walk over Christmas, Gibraltar gave to me: a most amazing view.

  On a walk over Christmas, Gibraltar gave to me: two cable cars and a most amazing view. 

  On a walk over Christmas, Gibraltar gave to me: 3 taxi cabs, two cable cars and a most amazing view. 

  
On a walk over Christmas, Gibraltar gave to me: 4 boats in the harbour, 3 taxi cabs, 2 cable cars and a most amazing view.

  On a walk over Christmas, Gibraltar gave to me: 5 cannon rings, 4 boats in the harbour, 3 taxi cabs, 2 cable cars and a most amazing view.

  On a walk over Christmas, Gibraltar gave to me: 6 stalagmites (and the rest!), 5 cannon rings, 4 boats in the harbour, 3 taxi cabs, 2 cable cars and a most amazing  view.

  On a walk over Christmas, Gibraltar gave to me: 7 winter flowers, 6 stalagmites, 5 cannon rings, 4 boats in the harbour, 3 taxi cabs, 2 cable cars and a most amazing view.

 On a walk over Christmas, Gibraltar gave to me the Mediterranean Steps, 7 winter flowers, 6 stalagmites, 5 cannon rings, 4 boats in the harbour, 3 taxi cabs, 2 cable cars and a most amazing view.

  On a walk over Christmas, Gibraltar gave to me 9 road signs, the Mediterranean Steps, 7 winter flowers, 6 stalagmites, 5 cannon rings, 4 boats in the harbour, 3 taxi cabs, 2 cable cars and a most amazing  view.

  On a a walk over Christmas, Gibraltar gave to me Hercules’ Pillar, 9 road signs, the Mediterranean Steps, 7 winter flowers, 6 stalagmites, 5 cannon rings, 4 boats in the harbour, 3 taxi cabs, 2 cable cars and a most amazing view.

  On a walk over Christmas, Gibraltar gave to me: postcards from Gibraltar (sorry I couldn’t resist!), Hercules’ Pillar, 9 road signs, the Mediterranean steps, 7 winter flowers, 6 stalagmites, 5 cannon rings, 4 boats in the harbour, 3 taxi cabs, 2 cable cars and a most amazing view.

  On a walk over Christmas, Gibraltar gave to me dozens of Barbary apes, postcards from Gibraltar, Hercules’ Pillar, 9 road signs, the Mediterranean steps, 7 winter flowers, 6 stalagmites, 5 cannon rings, 4 boats in the harbour, 3 taxi cabs, 2 cable cars and a most amazing view!