A stroll around Gibraltar No. 26 : All the way around the Rock

Today is 10th September which is Gibraltar National Day and I wanted to mark the occasion with a special blog post. As our family moved back to the UK this summer after over a decade in Gib, it will be a strange National Day for us. It will also be a ‘different’ one for the people of Gibraltar as this year, the traditional rallies and gatherings have been cancelled due to Covid-19.

This is my tribute to Gibraltar on National Day 2020, a post which I hope, will show my deep affection for the Rock and it’s people. It’s a place which will be forever in my heart, and I dearly hope I will be able to return to frequently in the years to come.

Gibraltar National Day rally – Casemates Square 10th September 2019

Way back in May, before we made our epic move back to the UK, I got the chance to do something I’d never done before…. walk the whole way round the Rock. It’s not something I’d done before because it takes quite a while and strictly speaking you aren’t allowed to walk through one of the road tunnels to complete the route.

However, during the waning weeks of lockdown while there was very little traffic on the roads many people were walking through and the authorities were turning a blind eye. Being someone who doesn’t like to bend the rules very often, I saw this new development as my opportunity and took it. (FYI it’s very busy on the roads again now, so I really wouldn’t recommend doing it now. PLEASE BE SENSIBLE AND DON’T WALK THROUGH).

Here goes…

Europa Road

I began my walk in South District not far from where we used to live on the (normally busy) Europa Road.

Past the beautiful blooms of bougainvillea and nasturtiums.

Rather than going the long way around via Queensway or Main Street, I walked above the Trafalgar Cemetery and popped through Prince Edward’s Gate and into Gibraltar’s old town that way.

Trafalgar Cemetery
Prince Edward’s Gate

And into town…

Town Range
Looking from St Mary’s School towards St Andrew’s Church

I walked along pavements I have walked countless times before over the years. It was strange to think that just a few weeks later, we would be saying goodbye to Gibraltar after 11 very happy years. During that time these streets, which once felt so alien and unlike where we had come from, became our home.

St Andrew’s Church of Scotland

I passed below the beautiful and historic Garrison Library.

Gibraltar Garrison Library

…and further on into town along the narrow Governor’s Street north towards Casemates Square.

Governor’s Street
Casemates Square

As you can probably tell from the bright blue skies in the photos – it was a rather warm day!

Casemates Tunnel

In the north east corner of Casemates is a tunnel which leads to…

Landport Tunnel

… Landport Tunnel which was, once upon a time, the only way to access Gibraltar by land. All the area beyond the city walls was once sea before a series of land reclamation projects were undertaken. At curfew each evening those big wooden doors would be closed and the drawbridge on the other side would be lifted sealing inhabitants of the Rock inside for the night.

The tunnel is steeped in history – walking through it you can imagine some of the people who must have come through here over the centuries. There is a bend in the middle for defence purposes I believe.

Northern Defences

As you come out of Landport Tunnel Gibraltar’s military heritage is in evidence on your right and above your head lies the Northern Defences – a place I would have loved to explore before we left.

Onwards and northwards I headed towards the airport and the sundial roundabout.

Sundial roundabout with the airport runway and air traffic control tower beyond

My path turned to the East at this point along Devil’s Tower Road.

This road (which is normally very busy but thanks to lockdown was extremely quiet) has a mix of older housing blocks, flashy new developments and industry. The Rock looms above it all.

At Eastern beach you pass the local vehicle licensing and MOT test centre, behind this military pill box.

As I passed by this spot I was rather taken by this little chap!

Gnome created by Gibraltar street artist Jupp
Can you spot the spy holes in a line on the Rock in the bottom third of the photo?

There are plenty of reminders on the East side of Gibraltar’s military past as well, apart from the spy holes in the Rock above your head is this cairn constructed in memory of the members of the Black Watch who worked here to create some of Gibraltar’s Defences. I wonder what they thought about the heat of the Med after traveling down from the Highlands of Scotland?!

Heading south towards Catalan Bay

The sun was rather intense at this spot beating down on my head (I’m glad I wore a hat!) and the crickets were chirping in the grass by my side.

Catalan Bay

All of a sudden after the industrial buildings the developments give way to a huge land reclamation project and on the other side – beautiful Catalan Bay. When we first arrived in Gib, this was our beach of choice in the summer. It’s small-ish and is less easy to lose children when you take your eyes off them for a millisecond! Plus there is ample parking if you arrive early enough in the day. Lately though, we moved to Sandy Bay which is a lot less densely populated and gives you much more space.

Beach protocol in Gib is something which you quickly learn as a newcomer to the Rock. Local families have their traditional pitches where they always set up camp on the beach and it can be quite easy to ruffle feathers if you plonk yourself down in a seemingly empty spot. At the height of summer beach umbrellas, deck chairs and tables appear on the beach at first light many hours before their owners appear to take up residence. It is quite a sight to behold.

Catalan Bay
Looking down over Catalan Bay village

Rather than dashing down to the beach to feel the sand and waves on my toes I kept on going along Sir Herbert Miles Road which hugs the back of Catalan Bay village (Sir Herbert Miles was Governor of Gibraltar from 1913-1918).

Catalan Bay rooftops

Catalan Bay was once solely populated by ex-pat Genoese fishermen and their families. Until about 100 years ago the village was cut off at high tide and the only access was via the beach when the tide was low. Genoese was the language spoken here and Caletaños (Catalan Bay villagers) are responsible for a lot of the Genoese words which have become a fixture in the Llanito dialect in Gibraltar.

Traditional wooden fishing boats at Catalan Bay (Photo: Postcard from Gibraltar archives)

Traditional wooden boat building is still a skill which is passed down through the generations in this village. The beautiful handcrafted rowing fishing boats are used daily by village fishermen to catch fish, they are also used for a traditional annual boat race in the Bay.

Brightly coloured Little Genoa

Along Sir Herbert Miles Road is the pretty and colourful development of Little Genoa (can you see what they did there?).

All the while the huge Rock is there above you!

After Catalan Bay is Black Strap Cove, a small stretch of undeveloped land between Catalan Bay and Sandy Bay. As with much of the Gibraltar coastline you can see now abandoned military installations amongst the rocky cliff side. It is a haven for wild flowers in spring and I’ve seen Barbary Partridges here at times too. A lovely spot.

Next stop Sandy Bay…

When we first arrived in Gibraltar 11 years ago, there was a tiny pebble beach here at Sandy Bay. The winter before we arrived brought tremendous storms and sea swells and washed the beach away (as well as running a huge tanker aground by Europa Point and causing damage elsewhere in Gibraltar). Maybe 5 years ago (my memory may be wrong here) the Government completed the project to build a couple of groynes to protect the beach and shipped in tones of sand to replace what had been lost in the storms.

Sandy Bay is now a large beautifully sandy stretch of beach and thanks to the rocky arms stretching out to hug the beach, the water here can be calm where the conditions are choppy elsewhere for swimming. The perfect spot to spend a day with the family! It’s now our beach of choice.

The housing development of Both Worlds which forms a barrier between the main road and the beach was built just over 50 years ago and opened just around the time the border between Gibraltar and Spain was closed by General Franco. Overnight Gibraltarians couldn’t cross over for holidays and trips into Spain, and Both Worlds became a holiday destination for many local people.

When it opened there were shops here, food delivery services (much like what many of us rely on these days) and even a mini buggy taxi service which would give residents a lift along the length of the resort. I happened upon a fabulous newspaper supplement advertising the new Both Worlds development in a 50 year old Gibraltar Chronicle at the National Archives a while ago. It made for fascinating reading!

It is now a residential block, half of which is for over 50s and the rest is sold on the open market. Some of the apartments can be rented as holiday lets.

Old military buildings south of Sandy Bay
Looking north towards Sandy Bay
Dudley Ward Tunnel

A short way south of Sandy Bay is Dudley Ward Tunnel. This is the tunnel which isn’t supposed to be used by pedestrians but during lockdown became a regular pedestrian route around the Rock because of the greatly reduced traffic on the roads.

Goodbye sunshine… into the cool darkness. I had my fluorescent gear on so I could be seen clearly walking along the side of the road (fortunately just two cars passed me by). I didn’t hang about for long, it felt very naughty to be in there. I don’t mind telling you that was a bit relieved when I popped out into daylight at the other end!

The coastline here is different to the other end of the tunnel, the cliffs are steeper and go right down to the sea below.

Cliffs covered in wildflowers (can you spot the nesting gull?)

You get a clear view of the clay pigeon shooting range which was built for the Island Games last year.

2019 Island Games Clay Pigeon shooting range

This section of the Rock is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the photo below you get a true sense of the magesty of the cliffs looking northwards. Down at just above sea-level is the Gorham’s Cave complex which is full of important archaeological research.

It truly is a beautiful spot.

Looking south towards Europa Point and the Moroccan coast beyond

When I could see the lighthouse at Europa Point, I felt like I was on the final leg of my journey. Not long now before I could have a cold drink and a sit down!

Out at sea, as I was walking, I spotted a bit of argy-bargy between a Guardia Civil boat and a Royal Navy rhib. That’s a common sight round these parts as there is an ongoing dispute about who the British Gibraltar Territorial Waters actually belong to. Sometimes skirmishes make the British news, one day I saw a flare being fired by the British after a Spanish vessel continued on a collision course towards a submarine. That was quite a sight I can tell you!

Europa Advance Road

Onwards in the full heat of the sun heading south…

Trinity Lighthouse

… there she is – Trinity Lighthouse. Doesn’t she look magestic?

The lay-by which offers this stunning view also has a touching memorial for a young soldier.

As you round the bend in the road, in front of you is the dramatic sight of the Mosque.

Ibrahim-al-Ibrahim Mosque

Between the mosque and the lighthouse, Europa Point is a rather iconic part of the Rock. It’s also home to a fabulous play park for young children, a heritage information centre, Gibraltar University, the Shrine of Our Lady of Europe and the recently built Europa Point stadium which is home to Gibraltar Rugby & Gibraltar Cricket and was used to house the Nightingale facility to cope with Covid-19 patients (although, so far, thankfully, it hasn’t needed to be used).

Looking towards the lighthouse, park & stadium between the mosque and university accommodation.

The road swings round to the north again after Europa Point offering great views of the Rock.

Europa Road looking north
View from Europa Road down to Little Bay, the Nuffield Pool and Camp Bay beyond

Looking westwards out to see you see both the Moroccan coast (on the left of the photo below) and the Spanish coast (on the right) the strip of water between them is the famous Strait of Gibraltar and the gateway to the Mediterranean.

Europa Road here gets quite narrow as it was once crossed by an archway and policed by an army sentry.

It was a defence point to stop invaders approaching from the south getting access to the town.

And finally I had reached my destination… almost home, I was back in South District!

Two hours on from when I’d set off, I had completed my circuit of the Rock. I am so pleased I managed to tick this walk off on my to-do list in Gibraltar. Despite living there for over a decade, there are still some things I didn’t manage to achieve, like visiting the Lower St Michaels Cave and exploring the Jungle and the Northern Defences. I hope one day I will be able to do those things.

In the meantime, when I’m in my new home in the UK I have some truly wonderful memories of our time in Gib, and feel truly blessed that we had our time there, and that the Little Postcards could enjoy some of their childhood there too.

Thank you Gibraltar and happy National Day 2020! 🇬🇮

Lindsay x

Friday photo challenge (Week 50) Decoration

Sacred Heart Church needs little additional decoration, it’s beautiful to start with, but it’s currently sporting some Christmas wreathes.

We are a bit slow off the mark in our house and haven’t yet put up our decorations… that’s job for this weekend I think. But Gibraltar has all its decorations up and looking splendid!

Next week is the penultimate week for this photo challenge, and the theme will be ‘star’.

Sunday Sevens #166 9.12.18

Hello! Here’s Sunday Sevens again, a great week for us and full of sunshine. Here goes….

High pressure parking maneuvers

As we headed out on Sunday morning, I spied a submarine heading into port. HMS Astute to be precise. On our travels we went down to the waterside to see the sub up close.

If you’ve ever driven in Gibraltar you’ll know that parking can be a bit tricky at times, on hills, against rocky walls and just inches from the passing traffic. That said, I don’t fancy trying to park one of these… even with the help of a couple of tugs!

Dressmaking booboo

Arghh! As I started sewing this week a spied a terrible thing – a hole in one of my back panels which had already been attached to my collar! The hole must’ve been in the fabric when I bought it but as it was cut double I didn’t see it until too late. It had to be unpicked, then another panel cut and reattached. So glad I did it though, no one wants a jacket with a hole in!

Wanderers return

Last weekend we were a bit depleted in the Postcard household. Two members of the family were overseas on school/work trips. I’m pleased to say both came home safe and well.

Watercolour class

I’m making slow progress with my painting of the ceiling at Sacred Heart Church. That said I don’t want to rush at it a make a hash of it… baby steps!

Winter sun

We’ve had a belting week weatherwise. Mornings have been misty but by lunchtime we’ve had beautiful blue skies and sunshine – we’ve been so lucky!

#Elfy

So, we have an elf… up until this point we’d dodged this current fascination but this week, the pester power was too much and #Elfy arrived.

The tree’s up!

Not our personal one of course 😉 We walked past this huge one in Casemates Square last night and saw it lit up for the first time. It looked lovely.

So that’s it for this week’s Sunday Sevens, I hope it’s been a good week for you. Until next week, bye for now.

As always I’m linking with Natalie from Threads and Bobbins for this weekly blog series.

Calentita! 2018

Calentita, Gibraltar’s annual food festival came to town on Saturday. Started back in 2007 (before we arrived on the Rock), the festival just gets better and better, and this year, attracted chefs from much further afield.

In our early years on the Rock, we attempted to ‘do’ Calentita on a few occasions, but found it tricky with small children. Now, with older children and a bigger, more spacious format for the festival, it’s much more do-able for us as family. (You can read about our experience of last year’s festival here.)

This year’s Calentita was a special one for me, as an article I wrote featured in the specially published Calentita Press magazine.

Anyway, down to business… Calentita. Being English and having kids with us, we turned up early. Over the years turning up early for events hasn’t always gone our way (like when it seemed like the rest of Gibraltar got the memo to come half an hour to an hour later for something), on this occasion though, we were in luck. We found a prime location for a base (one of the Casemates pubs which allowed us to buy drinks from them, but bring our own food from the stalls to the table) and we managed to get served at a few of the stalls before the, at times, humongous queues formed. Win, win!

Another perk of being early meant we could have a good nosey around at everything before it got too crowded.

There was so much variety to choose from. From the biggest barbecue I had ever seen…

To gorgeous cakes…

…And lots more besides, like craft gins and food from all four corners of the globe.

And so to the food… first stop for us was the cake stall (above), unfortunately I forgot to photograph the Oreo and Black Forest cupcakes I bought. I went there early before they sold out and saved them until we got home. You’ll have to take my word for it that they were beautiful both to look at and eat!!

For our first foray into the stalls we went for meat, (the huge barbecue hadn’t yet begun serving so we headed to another barbecue stall) the Iberian Secreto of pork (above) was just melt in the mouth and these mini burgers were lovely too. They came from the Gourmet Grill stall in Casemates.

Next came the taste of Asia with Chicken biryani and kebabs cooked by the Gibraltar Hindu Community.

The Little Postcards sampled hot dogs (which were available from a number of different stalls) and these rather tasty hot waffles smothered in Nutella….

As you can see, the food came on paper plates (you could bring your own plates and cutlery if you were organised – I wasn’t) and the cutlery was wooden. This year, Calentita was free from disposable single use plastic items in a bid to help the environment.

A few drinks may have been drunk too… ;-).

The atmosphere was brilliant, busy but not overly so, and it was very friendly and there were lots of families about. Among the non-edible attractions was the Casemates stage which had performances from local dance and musical groups, although this hadn’t properly got going while we were there… I did spot a couple of rather snazzily dressed witches behind the scenes…

And in Market Place, there was a stage for chefs (some local and others from further afield like Malta and London) to carry out demonstrations for the audience of diners sitting at the nearby tables and the people queueing at the stalls.

Calentita, yet again was a really well organised event and drew large crowds to come along and sample some of the many different foods on offer.

We only stayed for about 2 hours, as by that time tummies were full and we had played Top Trumps several times so the younger members of the party were ready to head home. If we had been there without children, we would most definitely have stayed longer. I can imagine the atmosphere being lovely after sunset, as the stalls began to light up. Maybe next year…

And finally, confession time. I have lived in Gibraltar for almost 9 years and until Saturday, I had never before tasted the Gibraltarian national dish of calentita (after which the food festival is named). It’s a kind of flan made with chickpeas, and was probably brought over to Gibraltar by the Genoese fishermen who migrated here (it’s known as farinata there, although a similar dish, known as karantita is served in nearby Northern Africa).

I decided the time had come to finally sample this local delicacy. Now, I’m not sure whether I will have to return my ID card and pack up and head back to England, but I’m afraid it wasn’t for me. I’m a fan of flans and custards and quiches and this was kind of a savoury combination of all of the above, but no, I’m not sure I’d go in for another slice. I don’t know what I was expecting, but perhaps after the lovely spices of the Hindu community’s gorgeous biryani it was a bit bland. Sorry!

And so that was our experience of Calentita 2018. A great evening, a lovely atmosphere and lots of tasty treats to eat. I think it may be time to hit the Med Steps again though to burn off those extra calories, it’s beach season again after all!!!

Sunday Sevens #135 6.5.18

Hello, and welcome to this week’s Sunday Sevens, a little later than usual, but I still made it on Sunday! It’s been a busy day with lots of boring jobs to do. You don’t want to hear about that, so without further ado, here’s this week’s series of seven (or perhaps slightly more) photos from the last seven days.

Bank holiday getaway

Last weekend was a bumper long weekend for us here in Gibraltar. We had Monday off work and school for Worker’s Memorial Day and then Tuesday too for May Day (as it was 1st of May). We have the first of May off here rather than waiting for the first Monday in May as is the tradition in the UK. To all of my readers in the UK, I hope you are being blessed with some of the gorgeous Bank Holiday weather I have seen on the telly over these past couple of days.

We headed out of Gibraltar for a few days and went along the coast to Estepona. The above picture was of the queue of traffic trying to leave Gibraltar last Sunday, the photo below was taken on a tranquil evening stroll at the end of the day, along the coast in Spain.

A hole in one!

This mini golf course was the site of the greatest golfing moment ever seen in Andalucia. Forget Valderrama and the European Open, this is where I scored a hole in one! It took hours of practice too ;-).

Heading home

Our long weekend came to an end on Tuesday and it was time to head home and back to reality, but not before another round of crazy golf and the chance to admire some of the beautiful blooms on show in the hotel gardens. Isn’t this one a beauty?

Seaside blanket makes it to the beach!

I took my hook and yarn away with me on our short break and managed to catch up on the rows I had fallen behind on with the Coastal Crochet Seaside Stash-busting Crochet Along. I really enjoyed working on it while I was away from all the usual distractions of being at home. I even took it down onto the beach at Estepona with me for a photo shoot. And that shot made it into Eleonora’s weekly round-up of the CAL on Instagram. It’s slap bang in the middle – that made my day!

May Day Celebrations

We headed back into Gibraltar in time to catch the end of the May Day celebrations in Casemates Square. There was a political rally (which we missed) followed by a number of local bands and dance schools performing on the stage for the crowds. As you can see, we were blessed with some beautiful weather.

Say what you see…

Apologies in advance for the toilet humour, but one day this week I found myself sitting at the bus stop (our car is rather unwell and has been into the garage this week) and I spotted a sign for parking which I have passed countless times and not really looked at before. It’s funny that you can suddenly see something for the first time, years after looking at it. It made me chuckle anyway…

Gibraltar International Comic Con

The second Gibraltar International Comic Con came to the Rock this weekend. We went along yesterday and hung out with stars of Star Wars (there was a real life Ewok there), three Game of Thrones actors (yes, I know – how cool is that??) and Star Trek amongst other shows. One of the things which I really enjoyed seeing was the art work. These amazing comic-style illustrations were drawn by a local artist  (@liam_p_art on Instagram).

And that brings this week’s Sunday Sevens to a close. Thanks very much for stopping by! I’m linking with Natalie at Threads & Bobbins for this weekly blog series. I’ll leave you with a few photos from April including Gibraltar and our trip to London & the Jurassic Coast.

Calentita 2017


Calentita This is a baked pancake-like dish, the Italian farinata, also known in Genoa as fainá. It is made with chickpea flour, water, olive oil, salt and pepper. The word calentita is the informal diminutive of the Spanish word caliente which means “nice and warm (or hot)”. 
Wikipedia

Visitors to Casemates Square early on last weekend couldn’t fail to spot the signs that something interesting was about to happen. The Calentita food festival is now in it’s 11th year and after a hiatus of six years, we decided to pay it a visit this time. On our return to Casemates on Saturday evening it was clear that many others had decided to come too.

Back when we had our first Calentita experience, seven years ago, it was a much smaller event to the one we visited this weekend. It featured a number of food stalls selling a wide variety of foreign food choices and was centered around a stage in Casemates Square. 

On the night, we joined some friends on a large table at one of the nearby restaurants and made an odd foray towards the food tents. With two small children (one in a buggy) the whole thing was an assault on the senses, loud, crowded and really not the best or easiest environment to steer little people through, and the long queues at the food tents put us off waiting to try the various delicacies on offer.

That said, many of our fellow festival goers had a thoroughly good night. Those with older children (who revelled in being trusted to head off to the stalls without parental supervision and buy their own dinner) and those who came without children had a great time. 

We tried one more time, the following year, and gave it up as a bad job. Fast forward to 2017 and we had three children to bring with us and they were all a good deal older. The venue itself had changed as much as our family in the intervening years – it had grown bigger. 


Now the event not only covers Casemates Square (albeit in a less crowded way and with a  less densely populated tent arrangement) and spills over into the area beyond the Grand Casemates Gates and into the Market Place, Bus Station and beyond. My word, what a difference that means for overcrowding – a huge improvement for us to start with.

This next photo isn’t very clear but you should be able to make out the large stage at the far end (complete with performers) and a very long table in the foreground. It was busy with people but there was room to move – what a huge improvement.


Now down to the nitty gritty – food! (Well it is a food festival after all.) There were over 40 different food tents to choose from catering for all tastes from hot dogs to hog roasts, Pad Thai to popcorn and Calentita to craft beers.

We decided that the best way to deal with the queues and three hungry boys was to split up, I queued for Margarita pizza slices (we have one Little Postcard who isn’t overly adventurous in the food stakes) while Mr Postcard headed to an Asian stall and returned with a lovely samosa for me (below) and quite possibly the best onion bhaji ever to have tickled my tastebuds.

We headed out of the Square and into the Bus Station area beyond, which now had craft stalls standing where the buses usually wait. All along the road were many more stalls on both sides. 

I was on a mission; one Little Postcard was adamant he wanted noodles. I joined the queue at the Phillipino food stall and waited for my turn only to discover they had run out! I got a couple of pork kebabs though and they were delicious. One kept the wolf from the door for our noodle lover as we continued on our quest.

Bingo! Noodles!


They were even cooked in front of us…


They got a big thumbs up, as did this rather tasty spring roll!


For the grown ups there was plenty of choice in the beverage department, with any amount of drinks to wet your whistle.

There was even a cocktail bar sited atop the old sea walls which encircle this part of town (below). Needless to say we didn’t visit and made do with a rather nice lager in a plastic cup.

Heading back into Casemates Square, and the crowds were growing. A number of local bands took to the stage to entertain the Calentita-ites and the atmosphere was buzzing. We did sample other culinary delights but I can’t for the life of me remember what they were – suffice to say, we didn’t go home hungry.

As the sun began to set, we took our leave of Calentita for 2017. Little legs were wilting and it was time for our exit.

Calentita 2017 was by far our best Calentita to date as a family. As an event it was barely recognisable from our previous encounters and overwhelmingly for the better. Hats off to the organisers who clearly have honed the festival over time.

As a family with young-ish children, this year’s event doesn’t compare to our previous failed attempts at gastronomic family unity. I would recommend anyone who hasn’t tried it before to give it a go next year.

PS I have one shameful admission… almost eight years living in Gibraltar and I have yet to sample actual Calentita (hangs her head in shame). I promise I will put that right.

Postcard from Gibraltar Podcast Episode 008: Superhero artist Aaron Seruya

In this episode, I meet Aaron Seruya, a barrister who put his legal career on hold to follow his dream of creating an exhibition of paintings featuring comic book heroes.

Iron Man and Wolverine painted by Aaron A Seruya
In his Superhero Experience Exhibition, Aaron marries two of his life long passions; art and superheroes. But what made him put his career on hold to follow his passion? A real life meeting with Superman here in Gibraltar.

You can see Aaron’s 71 paintings at his exhibition at the Fine Arts Gallery in Casemates Square from 3rd to 16th May.

***To hear the podcast with Aaron, please click here***

Why not subscribe to the Postcard from Gibraltar Podcast on iTunes or PodOmatic? That way you won’t miss the next episode.

The theme music for the Postcard from Gibraltar Podcast is Happy Me by Twisterium.

This podcast is recorded and edited by Postcard from Gibraltar.

A stroll around Gibraltar No. 18 : Moorish Castle

After a long school holiday at home with the Little Postcards, I escaped for a couple of hours on Saturday afternoon and headed out for a walk. Main Street was busy with bargain hunters hitting the sales so I decided to climb up out of the bustling town centre of Gibraltar and visit Moorish Castle.

The Tower of Homage, which can clearly be seen by visitors to Gibraltar as they approach from the airport is one of the last remaining buildings left by the Moors from when they controlled Gibraltar back in the 11th Century.

It’s a much visited destination on the usual Gibraltar tourist trail but, believe it or not, despite living here for so long, I haven’t been inside since our first ever visit to the Rock when we came for a look round and to find somewhere to live almost 8 years ago.

I climbed up higher and higher into the Upper Town leaving the shops and crowds enjoying the post Christmas sales on Main Street and found parts of Upper Town I’d never visited before. The street names refer to the Rock’s military past.

Wandering around the Moorish Castle Estate, I discovered great examples of community painting  projects from National Days gone-by.

I have to admit that I got lost a couple of times taking alleyways and paths assuming they would lead up to the castle and discovering dead ends! I have a feeling I will be visiting again soon as there are so many lovely examples of architecture which are crying out to be photographed… there are even headless men and children crossing the roads (see the sign below).

Never before have I seen such a festive washing line. I hope whoever the clean laundry belongs to doesn’t mind me sharing this, but wow what a lovely collection of Christmas table cloths, tea towels and aprons! Obviously being laundered to put away until next year!

As you walk up these roads and paths, you don’t realise how high you are climbing until you turn to look back at where you came from!

Nestled in amongst the post war government housing estate is an ancient structure which has a sign detailing it’s past. This building with battlements is probably the oldest building in Gibraltar. It was the original gatehouse for Moorish Castle and was occupied successively by Moorish, Spanish and British troops for over eight hundred years.

Just a little further up hill and there was the Castle.

You can completely understand why it was built in this position, what a great vantage point to observe our neighbours to the north. And just check out that cannon with it’s sight firmly set.

It was time to go inside..

The sign above the door reads:

When the Moors recaptured Gibraltar from the Spaniards in 1333 they rebuilt an earlier tower, ruined in the fighting, into this solid Tower of Homage, which has since withstood ten sieges.

After making your way through a steel gate, you reach the inner stairwell. Modern stairs lead the way up and down the tower now, but it’s clear to see what’s left of the original Moorish stairwell with arched sections left on some of the walls. The tower you see today was built at the same time as the Alhambra in Granada.

The first part you come to is an original Moorish bath house. The interlinking rooms are cleaned back to the stone and the subtle lighting means you can see the lovely brick work and arches which feature so heavily in the design.

A much larger example of a Moorish bath house can be found in the basement of the Gibraltar Museum. That is a truly atmospheric place and well worth a visit if you are over here.

Back into the stair well and this tiny window gave a great view of the town below. I wonder how many soldiers have stood with their weapons pointed out of there over the centuries?

These walls have stood the test of time and many attacks, in addition to the many sieges, in 1540, hundreds of people headed to the castle to shelter safely while Turkish pirates attacked the Rock.

Don’t look down!

I headed on up the stair well and up out of a little door at the top…

…to the roof and the most amazing panoramic view.

The Union Jack flapped in the breeze as gusts blew the clouds across the moody sky. In 1704 Admiral Rooke hoisted the British flag at this spot when he captured Gibraltar, one has flown here ever since.

Here’s Gibraltar’s famous runway which is bisected by the only road off the Rock, the Spanish town of La Linea lies on the other side of the border. Despite the fact many people mistakenly think Gibraltar is an island, you can clearly see we are well and truly attached to the rest of mainland Europe!

Down below the castle you get a good view of Casemates Square (bottom centre of the photo). In it’s heyday the Moorish Castle complex stretched all the way down to where Casemates is today.

Immediately below the tower is the remains of the former Gibraltar Prison. The Prison was still in use here when we arrived to live on the Rock, but it has now relocated to a purpose-built facility above Europa Point.

It wasn’t just me and a handful of tourists who were taking a moment to appreciate the view up there.

Can you can see the old building with scaffolding around in the centre of the picture? That is the orginal gatehouse which I mentioned before – it’s hard to imagine now, but the castle must have covered a really large area.

In addition to the town below, you get a brilliant view of the sea and the coast further north. It was looking a bit blustery on the Mediterranean coast up towards Santa Margarita.

In the Bay of Gibraltar, it was more sheltered, but this small group of yachts was making the most of the breeze off the western end of the runway.

I enjoyed my visit to Moorish Castle, I’m so glad I decided to forgo the joys of Saturday afternoon sales shopping in town in favour of this.

Goodbye for now Moorish Castle, I promise I won’t leave it so long before visiting you again!

 

The adventures of Llanita, the Gibraltar Yarndale sheep

Llanita, the Gibraltar Yarndale sheep

Introducing Llanita, Gibraltar’s very own Yarndale sheep. For those of you unfamiliar with Yarndale, it’s a festival of all things woolly which takes place in Skipton, North Yorkshire in September. It’s in it’s fourth year now and each year, the organisers ask for crocheters and knitters to contribute a little item to decorate the festival, and as with last year’s event, those items will be used to generate funds for a local charity.

Baa!
 
In past years they have asked for bunting triangles, mandalas and flowers. This year, they have asked people to contribute little knitted or crocheted sheep. I have contributed to this effort in the past and couldn’t resist sending a Gibraltar representative to Yarndale again. 

The charity they are supporting this year is the wonderful Martin House Hospice for children & young people. Many years ago before having small people of my own, I was lucky enough to visit this marvelous place through my job. It is a magical place where everyone is greeted with a smile, so positive and uplifting. 

Before Llanita was packaged up and sent off, I couldn’t resist having a little bit of fun with her … she’s been around the Rock on a bit of an adventure, and even got lost! Here’s what she’s been up to:

Visiting the Convent
 

You can’t fly the flag for Gibraltar without a visit to the Convent, the official residence of the Governor of Gibraltar. She popped in for afternoon tea and a chat about her important job representing the Rock at Yarndale. 😉

Hanging out in Casemates Square
She loved hanging out in Casemates Square, it’s quite the place to be seen, especially on a Friday night when the bars and restaurants are busy.

Admiring the art at the Gibraltar National Gallery
Quite the sheep about town, Llanita decided to soak up some culture on a visit to the Mario Finlayson National Art Gallery at City Hall.

Llanita likes nothing more than a sheep dip in the pool on a very hot day…

You just can’t beat an early morning frolic in the luscious grass at Commonwealth Park. A little nibble of that for breakfast sets her up for the day, but please don’t tell the park keepers!

Frolicking in the grass at Commonwealth Park
 

So here’s the thing… I discovered to my horror, shortly after taking the above photo, that Llanita was missing. No!!! Cue: little Bo Peep tune.

I could only assume she must have loved the feeling of the grass on her hooves so much that she didn’t want to leave Commonwealth Park. 

But we still need a Gibraltar Yarndale sheep I hear you cry… Drum roll please: in a Dolly the sheep type cloning exercise we have a replacement…. Llanita Mark II.

Continuing the good work done by Llanita Mark I, Llanita carried on her pre-Yarndale tour of Gibraltar. Next stop: the beach!

Llanita loves it at Catalan Bay but isn’t a fan of the sand on her hooves. She loved it so much that she’s been twice!

She also really enjoyed her trip to the Gibraltar Fair but the candy floss at the family pavilion was more her thing than the noisy rides…

The imposing Trinity House Lighthouse at Europa Point is right up her street. It even matches her woolly jumper!

Just like all beauty queens who represent Gibraltar on the international stage, Llanita posed for a photo on the runway in front of the Rock before flying off to join the flock of woolly sheep at the Yarndale Festival.

She packed her very own postcard from Gibraltar so that the other Yarndale sheep know her name and where she’s from.

Bye bye Llanita, have a safe trip! Keep the Gibraltar flag flying!


Baa baa!

But that’s not the end of Llanita’s story, no sooner than she was ready to set off, who should put in an appearance?

The original Llanita turned up in a totally inexplicable place, under a beach towel at the bottom of the beach bag! She must have been hiding in there all along. What a happy ending to the Llanita the Yarndale sheep story – now one Llanita can fly off to Yarndale and the other can stay at home with me!!

Llanito or Yanito is the dialect spoken in Gibraltar and includes a mixture of English, Spanish, Genoese and words borrowed from other languages.

A Llanita (pronounced Yanita) is a female Gibraltarian.

Sunday sevens #10 20.12.15

Sunday sevens is a weekly blog series in association with Natalie at Threads & Bobbins.

‘Special’ Christmas card production line  
 Well if the technological option has let me down (or at least my operation of the technology) I’ll go back to what I can do!  Scrap the home produced printed versions and bring out the watercolours! I have to say it was so nice to be able to sit calmly one morning in amongst the chaos of end of term plays, parties and concerts and just play with my paints guilt free (because they were necessary!).

Christmas cards … Tick!  And for the other 50+ recipients on my Christmas card list, sadly it was shop bought ones this year. But they are all in the post now and sigh, it feels like a weight has been lifted! Aaahhhh!

A parcel for me!  I love it when crafty things arrive here and these little beauties took a rather circuitous route south to Gibraltar. I’d been hunting for some fabric to complete a WIP patchwork quilt for a young man in my life as well as fabric for other projects and on reading a Sunday sevens post from fellow blogger Nana Cathy some weeks ago about her trip to a wonderful looking fabric shop in Harrogate I browsed their website and found just what I was after. An inconvenient consequence of living so far away means that shipping costs can often be very expensive, so I arranged to have the parcel shipped to an office Mr Postcard often visits in London. Unfortunately his pre-Christmas trip to London got cancelled so the parcel sat on a desk in London going nowhere until a kind colleague visiting Gibraltar this week brought it for me in her hand luggage. Thank you Mariana from The Copper Kettle blog for bringing it over for me! Once Christmas has passed, I shall set to work on the quilt :-).

Another beautiful sunset 

 I rarely pass the Europa Point lighthouse in the evening but on Tuesday, our trip between football training and a piano lesson took us that way. Dusk was approaching and the lighthouse looked very atmospheric with a backdrop of misty clouds shrouding the hills of Morocco across the Straits. The photo I took unfortunately didn’t quite do it justice. The sunset which happened literally minutes later was a real beauty, I just wish I’d had the time to sit down and  fully appreciate the colours before dashing off to our next engagement.

Panic!  There has been a bit of baking going on in the Postcard kitchen this week. In amongst the chaos of end of term and the Christmas countdown I had a moment of sheer panic when I ran out of icing sugar at 9:45pm… Morrisons shuts at 10… The cakes needed to be at school for the cake stall at 9am the following day… Would I get there in time?!! Yes, yes I did- phew! A lie down in a darkened room was required!

Gibraltar gets ready for a winter party  

 Saturday (yesterday) saw the Winter Party come to Casemates Square in Gibraltar culminating in a Queen tribute act on stage. There was music and dancing, craft stalls and other entertainment on offer.  It showcases something Gibraltar is really good at – putting on events. Despite being such a small place, we have Calentita!, Summer Nights, National Week and the Gibraltar Music Festival in summer and the Gibraltar Literary Festival and Christmas Light switch on in autumn. There really is rarely a dull moment around here!

Wonky weather … nasturtiums in December!  

 
I’ve been reading and hearing about how mild the weather is at the moment in Britain. Well it’s been unseasonably mild here too. I think 22 degrees C was mentioned one day this week as a high. It does mean that it doesn’t feel very Christmassy, well we never get frost and snow, but it’s normally a good deal cooler than it is right now. One happy accident of the warmer temperatures we’re experiencing is that my pot of nasturtiums has bloomed for a third time, these blooms are coming from the seeds dropped by the second flush of flowers in late summer/ early autumn. They are haphazardly climbing up the back of the bench on our balcony.