A stroll around Gibraltar No 17 : Europa Point

 

Over the years we have lived in Gibraltar, and particularly since the park was opened there a few years ago, Europa Point has been a frequently visited destination for our family. During those visits I have taken many photos around the place and thought it high time that I share with you some of the pictures I have taken there. You will notice from this post that they were taken at different times of year and you can see the changes in the weather throughout.

Europa Point and it’s Trinity Lighthouse are at the southernmost tip of Gibraltar. It’s not quite the most southerly tip of Europe, Tarifa (which is a bit further West along the coast) can claim that title, but it is an amazing vantage point and stands at the gate of the Mediterranean Sea. Just a few miles across the Straits of Gibraltar you can see the coast of Morocco.

The Trinity Lighthouse is the only lighthouse operated remotely by Trinity House in London which is outside of the British Isles. It has stood on the site since 1841.

It’s guiding light can be seen up to 18 miles away and is much needed to guide sailors safely through the Straits of Gibraltar.

The original Lighthouse keepers cottages are still occupied and I believe they have the claim to fame of being the most southerly houses in Europe as the southern most tip of Tarifa doesn’t currently have houses on it.

What an amazing place to live though… especially on a sunny day. I’m not sure whether I’d fancy it so much during a storm when the spray from the waves is hitting the windows!

The lighthouse isn’t the only tall building to dominate Europa Point, it’s also the site of the largest of Gibraltar’s mosques; Ibrahim-al-Ibrahim Mosque. It’s relatively new, being inaugurated in 1997 and is the most southerly mosque in continental Europe.

In the photo above you can see Gibraltar’s trademark levanter cloud forming on the top of the Rock in the background. Unless it’s very overcast or foggy, you are pretty much assured of sunshine at Europa Point because the cloud (if there is one) stays over the town area.

When we first arrived in Gibraltar back in 2009, the area around Europa Point was pretty much wasteland. There was the mosque and lighthouse of course plus a cricket pitch but the rest of the land was pretty rough. The promenade was originally laid out by the military many years ago and had decayed to a very sorry state but in recent years the whole area has had a massive facelift. It was sorely needed as it’s a popular stop off point for the dozens of tourist buses which visit every day.

One of the best viewing points across the Straits of Gibraltar is Harding’s Battery. The Battery is the site of a huge cannon and in the weapon storeroom beneath there is a small museum area with displays telling visitors about the history of Gibraltar, it’s wildlife and it’s relationship to the sea.

The wide open flat space behind Harding’s Battery is perfect for scooters, bikes and anything with wheels. We are pretty frequent visitors there with the Little Postcards. On a dry sunny Sunday afternoon though, you can take your life in your hands trying to navigate across it through the learner cyclists, confident scooter riders flying down the slope from the cannon and chuck in a few remote control cars zooming madly about!

Close by is the Sikorski memorial. It’s a fairly recent addition, having been moved here from the Eastside of the Rock. It’s to commemorate a plane crash in 1943 which killed General Władysław Sikorski, the commander-in-chief of the Polish Army and Prime Minister of the Polish government in exile. The crash also claimed fifteen other lives. The stone which forms the base of the monument was specially shipped to Gibraltar from Poland to build it.

By far and away the best addition for us and countless other families when the whole Europa Point area was renovated several years ago, was the addition of a large and fantastically maintained park. Known in our house as the ‘Lighthouse Park’ for obvious reasons, it has been the scene of many a picnic, play and sibling dispute.

We really are lucky to have such a lovely place right on our doorsteps. It’s lovely whatever time of day you visit.

View from Europa Point to Algeciras

It was the perfect vantage point to catch a good view of the super moon which appeared late last year.

But there’s more to Europa Point that the bit the tourists see…. there’s the coastlline too.

On a rainy afternoon late last year on a walk past the University of Gibraltar, I went for an explore and discovered a path which took me down to the sea.

To the Europa Foreshore…

The area of land directly beneath the Europa Point complex feels like a world away. In parts it’s shabby and unloved, but it’s really special even on a grey damp day like the one when I visited.

As I approached the foreshore I spotted an elderly man standing very still and looking out to sea. I stood back and tried to spot what he was looking at but couldn’t see. He suddenly turned on his heel and walked towards me saying ‘What a magnificent pod of dolphins… they’ve been coming past a lot these past few days.’ Oh how I wish I’d seen them myself!

This area of rock and rough scrub land is a nature reserve, as I was visiting in winter time there wasn’t a great deal for me to see plant wise. I will definitely need to make another trip down there in spring.

Like much of the rest of Gibraltar, the foreshore is dotted with military buildings from years gone by. This was the outer wall of the Rock’s military defences.

It must be very exposed to be down here on a stormy day!

I love the sliver of sunshine breaking the clouds on this photo, but can you see the rain coming down? Within a few minutes that rain was falling on me. Time to run back to the bus stop!

Europa Foreshore, I will be back again on a brighter, sunnier day with my camera. I feel like I have just unearthed a secret world no one else knows about!

 

 

Sunday Sevens #52 9.10.16

 

Despite the fact we are well into October now, it’s been very warm again here in Gibraltar. As I sit at the dining table writing this, I have steam coming out of my collar!!

This week has been a rather busy one for me, there’s been nothing in particular, just lots of different stuff going on, so there was no midweek post from me this week. I hope you’ve had a good week, whatever you’ve been up to. Without further ado, here’s this week’s Sunday Sevens:

Across the Strait

This photo kind of sums up the weather we’ve been having for about half of this last week. I took the photo on Sunday afternoon when we took the Little Postcards to Europa Point park to let off a bit of steam on their scooters. You know when they are bouncing off the walls that you need to get out and exercise them like dogs!! The sky was crystal clear overhead but in the distance across at Morrocco there was a hazy mist which looked like someone had taken an eraser to the bit where the mountains touch the sea!

So for most of this week, in the afternoons  it has been clear, bright and hot (especially when standing outside the school gates waiting for the bell to go!) but the mornings have been misty and town was sitting under a heavy Levanter cloud with gusty winds whipping up the dust.

Dressmaking class


Sewing continued on the sample top I’m working on in my dressmaking class. The photo doesn’t show it to advantage as the back is still unfinished and open. Part of the exercise for this sample is to make up the front, then remodel the arm holes and neckline. This is before the remodelling takes place.

In addition to working on my sample top, I have also been making a skirt for my Mum who has been over visiting at the moment. A straight skirt with a small slit at the back and in a colour to compliment her new winter coat is underway. After several fittings and alterations, I am now about to machine stitch the side seams and hand sew the hem. Hopefully it will be ready for her when she returns before Christmas.

Watercolour class

After two weeks of pencil sketches, I finally got around to mixing some paint colours and worked my current project at my watercolour class this week. I just love the brightly coloured beach huts at Southwold, and wanted to work on a painting to reflect that. I’m working from a photograph taken by Mr Postcard of a stretch of predominantly blue and white ones, but have used a little artistic licence and injected more colour based on photos I took on our visit in the summer. I’m really enjoying painting this one. 🙂

Sea mist


We had everything crossed on Friday evening. After dropping my parents off at the airport to fly home, we returned to find our home had been engulfed by a real pea-souper of a sea mist. Just as their plane was due to land it got thicker and thicker.

Miraculously the plane landed. The two photos above were taken 30 minutes apart. The first one is of a tree about 100 metres from our apartment – there was no point taking one of the sea, it would have just been grey!

I’m very pleased to say that Mum and Dad made it back home safely and we look forward to seeing them again just before Christmas.

Autumn leaves


It’s October, and of course that means autumn. I do love autumn in the UK in a kind of bitter sweet way. It’s such a beautiful season with the colours of the leaves on woodland walks but it also spells the end of summer and all the fun which that season promises. Back when we lived in England, I kind of dreaded winter with the grey damp urgh kind of weather it could spell for weeks between the odd beautiful crispy frosty day.

One benefit of living here in Gibraltar is that although we do have seasons, they aren’t quite as noticeable as in England. Summer is undboubtedly hot and sunny and winter is often damp and grey but not quite as cold and depressing as I remember English winter days to be. That does mean though that spring and autumn aren’t quite as obvious as what’s experienced in the UK.

I remember feeling a bit homesick that first autumn after we moved to Gibraltar and I just couldn’t put my finger on what the problem was. Suddenly it hit me, the vast majority of the trees here on the Rock are evergreen and that meant there are very few leaves to crunch through and collect with little people. Autumn always used to mean Sunday afternoons spent at one of our nearest National Trust sites or parks collecting sticks, conkers and brown, red and golden leaves of all shapes and sizes to bring home. That just isn’t an option here.

In recent years though, a few new trees have been planted here and some of the ones in Commonwealth Park (which was built a couple of years ago) are deciduous. It was so nice to sit under the browning leaves on a bench for a while yesterday as the Little Postcards played football. We were all in T-shirts and shorts so it’s not really like autumn, but it was nice to pretend.

A new crochet project


After finishing my sixty million trebles blanket last week, I was free to crack open some of the lovely new yarn I bought at Yarndale a fortnight ago with a clear conscience. The gorgeous mohair and bamboo Louisa Harding Yarn I bought from Esgair Fibres had been calling me from my stash and really needed to be worked on as soon as possible! I’m using it to make a shawl/scarf for when the weather here turns a little bit fresher. It’s so lovely to use, the constantly changing colours which change even within just one treble stitch are gorgeous and it feels so nice between my fingers as I hook up another row.

 
PS : just one more thing…

A couple of people asked to see the finished picture that I posted two weeks ago from my watercolour class, here it is, mounted and ready to go to its new home in England.

 

Sunday Sevens is a weekly blog series created by Natalie from Threads & Bobbins blog.

(Natalie, if you’re reading this I hope you’re ok! You’ve been very quiet lately.)