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!