Friday photo challenge (week 49) Sunset

We are incredibly fortunate to have a beautiful west-facing view from our home. We look out on the Bay of Gibraltar and the hills behind Algeciras in the distance. Each clear evening we get to see the sun plop down behind the hills and often, the sunsets are spectacular (the top one was taken on Sunday).

Sometimes we just get a quick glimpse as the sun comes out from cloud cover before disappearing!

We’ve been lucky enough to see some lovely sunsets while on holiday too. The one above was taken on a bridge across the River Garonne in Toulouse in Southern France, and the one below on the beach at Marbella on the Costa del Sol (Costa del Sunset on this occasion).

But my favourite sunset photo has to be this one….

…taken at a hotel a short drive along the Spanish coast from where we live in Gibraltar. I love how the dark silhouettes of the trees and bridge are reflected in the pool.

Next week’s Friday photo challenge is: ‘Decoration’.

Monthly meet-up July : Sculpture

July’s prompt for the monthly blogger’s meet-up arranged by Sandra at Wild Daffodil is sculpture.

Last summer we saw many, many sculptures on our travels, especially in Rome, but this one stuck with me most of all. It was a fountain in Toulouse, in southern France, and was erected to commemorate the 210 victims of a flood in 1875. It was beautiful and poignant.

The fountain can be found in Place Olivier in Toulouse.

Friday photo challenge (week 21) Floral

A week and a half ago, I published my latest ‘postcard from‘ and it featured the Carcassonne part of our trip to France last summer. We spent the rest of our holiday in Toulouse, a really beautiful green city in southern France. My favourite part has to be the floral footbridges linking the parks together for pedestrians in the city.

I had never seen anything like this before, and I loved them. There should definitely be more of these in the world!

This week’s Friday photo challenge theme is Floral. Next week, it’s challenge.

A Postcard from Carcassonne

Last summer, we visited Southern France and stopped off for a few days in the beautiful medieval city of Carcassonne. It’s taken me a while, but at last, I have finally got round to writing this long awaited postcard….

Fate brought me and Carcassonne together. Several years ago, while visiting family in the UK we found ourselves with babysitters for a couple of hours one evening so we visited a nearby pub. The establishment in question had shelves of second hand books for drinkers to read and Mr Postcard perused the books as we waited for our drinks. He handed me a rather dog-eared green book with a golden circular labyrinth image on the front and said “I think that’s up your street”.

He was right. I read the blurb on the back and was immediately drawn in (we were at the pub with Mr Postcard’s brother and I was very antisocial I’m afraid, because I became absorbed by the book which had found its way into my hands). I felt a bit  disappointed when the time came to leave and go home, reluctantly I replaced the book on the shelf and made a mental note to hunt down my own copy.

Fortuitously, as we walked through the airport to catch our flight back to Gibraltar, I spotted a brand spanking new copy of the book in a shop and had just enough time to buy it before catching our plane. The book was Labyrinth by Kate Mosse.

I loved it, both the characters and the setting of Carcassonne. It sounded like such a magical, special place. For the first time ever, I felt compelled to visit a place I had read about. I had no idea when that would happen, just that I really wanted to go there. I went on to read the next two books in the Languedoc trilogy (Sepulchre & Citadel) and thoroughly enjoyed them both. I even got the members of the book club I belong to to read Labyrinth (I had to spread the love). Then, in 2015, I had the good fortune to be able to see a talk with the author, Kate Mosse, when she came to the Gibraltar Literary Festival.

I went to hear her talk about her latest book, the Taxidermist’s Daughter, but unfortunately I couldn’t stay on afterwards to meet her (as I had to dash off to collect a child). I rushed back later with said child in tow in the hope that I would be able to get my book signed.

I couldn’t believe my luck. As we arrived at the front door of the hall where Kate had been speaking, there she was, about to leave, alongside another literary heroine of mine, Joanne Harris. Totally star struck, and full of apologies for detaining her further I asked if she would mind signing my book. She was very gracious and obliged.

And so, several years had passed since I first laid eyes on Labyrinth and last summer we were planning a trip to France. There were two direct flights available from Malaga airport, to Paris and Toulouse. We opted for Toulouse as we fancied exploring somewhere we hadn’t visited before.

It was only after booking the flight that the penny dropped that Carcassonne wasn’t far from Toulouse. [I may have applied a little pressure for us to hire a car so we could have a day trip out to Carcassonne ;-)]. As it turned out, Mr Postcard surprised me by booking a gîte just outside the old city walls for a few nights so that we could explore Carcassonne properly. I can’t tell you how happy that made me!

I’m not sure I have enough superlatives to describe the medieval Cité. It’s just beautiful and as atmospheric as I imagined. We had a day or so to potter around the narrow streets by ourselves, before going on a pre-booked tour with a guide, so that we didn’t miss anything.

It’s taken me a while, but at last, I have finally got round to writing this long awaited postcard….

The ‘old’ Carcassonne sat on the hill above where we were staying, beckoning us up to explore…

The first thing I was struck by, was how well preserved the medieval Cité was. Sitting atop a hill with a clear view of the River Aude, it looked magestic. It hasn’t always been so though. After its heyday, the Cité fell into disrepair and locals moved out into the modern city on the opposite side of the river. Over time the stones of the Cité walls and its buildings began to be taken by scavengers who needed the stone for new buildings in the new city, effectively turning it into a quarry. It wasn’t until 1853 that Eugène Viollet-le-Duc was given the job of attempting to restore the Cité to its former glory. It is his Carcassonne which you see today when you visit.

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Although we did have plenty of time to explore the ancient streets and buildings ourselves, we decided to pay to join one of the official guided tours which left from the tourist office on a regular basis.

We gathered together under the giant horse chestnut trees outside the main entrance of the Cité to begin our tour. One of the first questions our guide asked was whether any of us English speakers had read Labyrinth. I was the only one and put my hand up. I just happened to have my copy with me (it was at this point that the Little Postcards died in embarrassment and ever so slightly disowned me! Cue the cry of “Muuuum! I can’t believe you brought that with you!”).

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We were led in over the drawbridge (which isn’t original, it was created during the renovation works).

Our first port of call was the Lices area between the two sets of ancient walls which encircle the Cité. Once filled with housing for the less well off in society, but now cleared to make a pleasant green area.

We then headed into the rabbit warren of streets and alleyways. Full of hidden corners and nookie holes and history. The architecture is really beautiful.

I won’t give you a blow by blow account of our tour, as I couldn’t do it justice. I’ll just share a few bits with you…

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I’m so glad that we did take the tour, the significance of certain buildings were highlighted and it put the Cité into a much clearer context both in medieval times and the intervening years. The most interesting thing I learned was that it became the Southern French HQ of the Gestapo during WWII and they took over the 5* Hotel de la Cité as they explored the surrounding mountains of Languedoc in search of buried Cathar treasure. In more recent times a host of celebrities from Michael Jackson to the Queen Mother have stayed there.

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The Basilica of Saint-Nazaire nearby is surrounded with some very ominous looking gargoyles. They must have seen some sights over the centuries!

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Inside the Cathedral are the most stunning stained glass windows.

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We bought tickets to go into the 12th Century Château Comtal, which is the only part of the Cité you have to pay to enter.

Another interesting fact is that the Château Comtal (which is where Alaïs, the heroine of Labyrinth lives at the start of the novel), was actually used as a location in the making of the Kevin Costner film; Robin Hood Prince of Theives. The exterior of the Château became the outside of Nottingham Castle, home to Alan Rickman’s Sheriff of Nottingham.

While much of the Château is just a network of empty rooms which tourists wander through on a trail from one section to another, the views were pretty spectacular from the windows. (There may have been some really interesting stuff in there but I had a slightly impatient 5 year old with me, who’s patience had run out, so it was a bit of a whistle stop tour for us).

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Inside the Château is a collection of archaeological exhibits from the Cité’s past.

The end of the Château tour led us out onto the inner ramparts, which afforded us lovely views across the valley and to the more modern city beyond the River Aude.

Every day we were in Carcassonne, it was busy with tourists. However, as we were staying nearby, we were lucky enough to be able to come back up to the Cité in the evenings and enjoy it while the streets were a good bit quieter, and really soak up the atmosphere among the medieval buildings.

I had high hopes for Carcassonne before I had arrived, and it didn’t disappoint. The atmosphere and the architecture are just lovely. As an old romantic who would love to live in a castle, it was marvellous to spend some time there. So that was last summer, and as luck would have it just two weeks ago this beauty was published….

…. another Kate Mosse novel which is partially set in Carcassonne. This time I can read it knowing exactly what the places are like which are described in it’s pages. I had to patiently wait for my copy to make it down to Gibraltar, but now it’s here, and I’m off to put the kettle on and start reading!

Thanks for stopping by, and if you made it all the way to the end of this particularly long postcard – thank you! You deserve a pat on the back!!

Summer Craft Challenge 2017 (week 9)

Welcome to the slightly late final edition of my Summer Craft Challenge 2017. A return to school for the Little Postcards and the wonderful MTV Gibraltar Calling music festival this weekend slightly threw me off track… here goes!

Day 57 : Saturday 26th August

Saturday was our last night in beautiful Carcassonne.  I will always remember Carcassonne when I wear this shawl once it’s finished.

Day 58 : Sunday 27th August

Back in Toulouse on Sunday the colour blue began to emerge in the yarn. I’m really enjoying the colours of this Scheepjes Whirl yarn.

Day 59 : Monday 28th August

With a few hours to kill between checking out and heading to the airport it meant a little while in one of Toulouse’s gorgeous public parks crocheting on a bench…

….and then more time for hooky on the plane. I ended up sitting next to a lovely Spanish lady who loves to crochet too. She showed me her bag which she had made herself.

Day 60 : Tuesday 29th August

Back at home in Gibraltar now, with just the chance for a couple of rows between the multiple loads of post holiday laundry!

Day 61 : Wednesday 30th August


Time for a change today and a return to this lovely ‘Jenny’s Mandala’ from Little Box of Crochet. I know I have said it before but I just love how the pattern and look of the mandala changes with each new row.

Day 63 : Thursday 31st August

More mandala time, and as the sun went down on Thursday, it went down on the school summer holidays and indeed my summer craft challenge for this year. I felt a glass of wine was in order to celebrate over 60 days of craftiness (I missed just 2 days this year) and to spare a thought for all the wonderful teachers who will be nurturing all our kiddiwinks over the next academic year.

My Summer Craft Challenge this year has been such fun and has come with us all over the place on a mini European tour. Europa the Unicorn, who I made on the very first day of the challenge back on 1st July has been to the U.K., France, Portugal, Spain and Italy. I have been getting weird glances from not just my children, but passers-by as I have been attempting to take photos of her in various locations, I have been disowned on more than one occasion.

Thanks so much for joining me! 

Sunday Sevens #97 20.08.17

This is probably going to be my most cosmopolitan Sunday Sevens ever… featuring photos taken in Italy, Spain, Gibraltar and France! Are you ready to join me for a Sunday Sevens European tour?

The Pantheon

Last Sunday, after two days of tours around some of the amazing sights of Rome, we had a quiet day to potter about the city. There were a few more places we really wanted to visit before leaving and the Pantheon was top of the list.

It is such a beautiful building, and just mind blowing to think that the ceiling, the largest unsupported dome in the world, was made using cement by the Ancient Romans!! It’s now used as a church, so we waited until noon before being allowed in so that Sunday morning Mass could be celebrated before the crowds of tourists invaded.

Back home

Monday meant waving goodbye to Rome and catching a flight back to Malaga, then driving home to Gibraltar. It was so warm and sunny as we left Italy, but Gibraltar had  Levante winds and the heavy cloud that brings. 

You may be fooled for thinking it was cool when we got home but it wasn’t- it was sweltering and incredibly humid.

Sea mist

Another common weather phenomenon at this time of the year is sea mist. We had a couple of days this week when we could hear the boats in the Bay singing to each other with their fog horns.

Autumn already?


A walk into town and through the lovely Commonwealth Park took me by surprise when I spied leaves on the ground. It is one of the few places in Gibraltar with trees which actually lose their leaves. It looked like autumn is on it’s way even if the weather didn’t feel like it!!

Beach life


I am slightly ashamed to admit that we managed to get to mid August without a proper trip to the beach in Gibraltar this year. We have had walks along the sand but this was our first trip with deck chairs, buckets and spades and swims in the sea. Sandy Bay is such a lovely beach to spend time with children, calm and not too deep, and of course it’s great for sandcastles. 

We only stayed a couple of hours though as I needed to head home to pack…. again!

Bonjour Toulouse! 

We have been so lucky this summer to be able to do a lot of traveling, normally we have a couple of weeks in England visiting family, but this year we’ve been lucky enough to enjoy a mini European tour (while we are still allowed in before Brexit). Yesterday we headed back to Malaga airport and caught a flight up north to southern France.

Toulouse is such a beautiful city and our first visit to this part of France. We had a walk around some of the city centre and the architecture is so beautiful. I can’t wait to go back out again later on today with my camera to get snapping! This shot is the view from where we are staying. Isn’t it amazing?!

In the meantime, here’s a quick picture of a pretty fountain close to where we ate last night. It is dedicated to the victims of a flood many years ago.

Thanks so much for joining me this week for Sunday Sevens! I’m linking with Natalie from Threads & Bobbins who created the Sunday Sevens series of blog posts.