Postcard from Gibraltar Friday Photo Challenge (Week 41) Nocturnal

This week’s photo challenge theme is ‘nocturnal’ and here’s one of our little nighttime visitors. These geckos crawl around on our frosted glass windows on summer nights waiting to pounce on any moths which may pass by. It’s like watching a nature documentary unfolding on our kitchen and bathroom windows some nights, and rather gruesome at times.

We do have bats too, but they wouldn’t oblige and stay still long enough for me to photograph them!

Next week’s theme is: curve.

Sunday Sevens #149 12.8.18

We’ve had one full week back in Gibraltar after our trip to England, and blimey it’s hot here. The weather has been so humid that everything’s so exhausting and wearisome. I’m counting down the days to my next trip back to England!!! Here’s this week’s Sunday Sevens:

Back home

It’s been a few weeks since a sunset view like this has appeared in Sunday Sevens… the humid weather has brought with it lots of murky misty days and this evening last Sunday was no different.

Street Art

A new Government initiative to have legally created street art is underway in Gibraltar at the moment. Apparently a number of different murals will be appearing over the coming weeks and months. This one is being painted by a local artist and is meant to signify her childhood memories growing up in Gibraltar. It certainly brightens up this gloomy underpass, I’ll include an ‘after’ shot once it’s completed.

Gecko watch

Nothing represents hot steamy Gibraltar summer nights to me more than geckos on our kitchen windows. We’re having these windows replaced soon, so I do hope they still visit us on the new ones!

Sandblasted

Fancy having the beach to yourself in August?? Well the secret is to go on the windiest day of the summer… we didn’t last long. We looked like sand monsters when we gave up and packed up our stuff to head home, every exposed piece of skin had sand stuck to the suncream…. delightful!

Fun in the sun

The sandy beach day was rounded off nicely though, we were invited to a barbecue at some friends’ villa in Spain. It was a lovely evening and the Little Postcards loved the use of the pool!

Summer nights

Every summer for a night or two each week, the Government in Gibraltar lays on free performances with bands, local dancers and so on. For the first time in the nine years I have lived on the Rock, I attended one of these ‘Summer Nights’. There’s no particular reason why we haven’t gone before, it just hasn’t happened.

The event was great. Entitled Magic Circus, it featured acrobats and magicians and was fab for the children and grownups alike.

Dinner with a view

Last night, we were very fortunate to be invited to our second barbecue of the week. This time it was in Gibraltar on a roof terrace with this fabulous view! How lucky are we?

So that’s it for this week’s Sunday Sevens. I hope it’s been a decent week for you. Thank you to everyone who has commented on my recent posts, I haven’t had the chance to respond to several of them, but I will as soon as I can. Things have been a bit hectic with the boys off school and windows of peace and quiet seem to be few and far between at the moment!

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

Wild flowers of the Med Steps


You will have noticed that of late, the Med Steps have featured very heavily in my blog posts, mainly because I’ve spent quite a lot of time climbing them recently. The one thing which has really left an impression on me, apart from the aching muscles, is just how beautiful it looks at the moment with all the wild flowers in bloom. I believe in these last few weeks I have been lucky enough to see them at their absolute peak. The poppies, candytufts, and countless other flowers which have fleetingly made their presence known and brightened up my walks.

I have been taking lots of photos of them to share with those of you who haven’t seen them for real, and I had intended to do a blog post all about them, so here it is. 

The only problem is, I don’t know much about wild flowers and the idea of researching their names etc left me cold (it would most probably make the most boring blog post anyway), so that would just leave along stream of photos of random flowers (also boring). I thought long and hard about how I could bring them to life and capture their magic both for you and for me.


 

Then I came up with an idea, (a slightly strange idea perhaps) to try to recreate the flowers in yarn. I have a book of flower patterns 100 Flowers to Knit & Crochet by Lesley Stanfield and the internet is full of ideas and patterns for crocheting all sorts of wierd and wonderful things so I started investigating. Wow, the world was my oyster, there was so much potential out there that I thought I could really do this. 

But what would I make? A blanket? No, the last one took over a year to make – I’d lose interest. A bag? No, it would soon get battered and spoiled as I used it, plus, it may look a bit odd for everyday use. Then inspiration hit…Remember I made a wreath at Christmas?

Last summer, when I was in England and blessed with lots of fantastic craft supply shops to frequent, I bought two polystyrene wreaths but so far I’d only used one. Inspired by the beautiful wreaths made by Lucy of Attic 24, I thought what if I covered it in crochet to represent the Rock of Gibraltar? There’s the greenery of the steps, the sky and sea and then add the crocheted wildflowers to that? Oh my, that’s it! I have got loads of creative ideas fizz popping in my head now, I need to get cracking.

So first things first, how on earth do I chose which flowers to include? Well Gibraltar’s National Flower, the candytuft is an obvious choice.

Then we have the poppies, with their papery thin petals nodding gently in the sea breeze. They are so delicate and yet stunning against the other greenery of the Upper Rock.

There’s a fair amount of lavender too, and that’s one of my all time favourite plants. The fragrance is so calming and comforting.

So it’s time to get started. I began with crocheting the cover for the polystyrene wreath in shades of green, grey and blue.

And here it is…

It looks a little bare don’t you think? Time to decorate… first a daisy?

Next a thistle…


I made a couple of sprigs of lavender using this pattern.          

There are some really dainty wild sweet pea kind of plants up there at the moment:


We can’t forget the poppies (this one I had to knit):

So to one of Gibraltar’s national flowers… The Candytuft. Could I find a pattern for one anywhere? Could I heck. I had to ‘invent’ one. Based on a pattern in my flower book but with a candytuft twist:


And of course, I can’t forget the little critters who enjoy the wild flowers too…

The butterfly came from the flower book and the bumble bee was made using this pattern from Attic 24. One of my favourite critters in this part of the world though is the lizards, I used this free Ellie Skene Ravelry pattern to make Gordon the gecko:

Next it was time to assemble the wreath…

I played about with the arrangement for a while and added a dandelion, a buttercup and various different shaped leaves before sewing them into place. Are you ready? Here goes :


Time for a few gratuitous close ups ;-)… The wildlife:

Florals:

Perhaps the world’s first ever crocheted Gibraltar Candytuft!:

I’m pleased with how it turned out, it’s currently hanging on the back of my front door. It brightens up my hall and reminds me of the many hours I’ve spent walking past the gorgeous wild flowers of the Med Steps and the fun I had making it. I now promise I’ll stop banging on about the Med Steps for a little while, I know I’m getting boring ;-).

Thanks for stopping by! 

Sunday Sevens #27 17.4.16

Sunday Sevens is a weekly blog series created by Natalie at the Threads & Bobbins blog. It gives you a chance to reflect some of the things you’ve been doing in your week through a series of seven photographs. To find out more, or to join in, pop over to her blog for more information.

I hope you’ve had a good week, it’s been a busy one here and I can’t believe Sunday’s come around so quickly again!


Med Steps training

A certain seriousness has come into our training for the Med Steps challenge this week with the realisation that we have just a month left to build up our stamina to manage 5 times up the steep climb to the top of the Rock in one day. The charity event, which raises money for the Cancer Relief Centre here in Gibraltar, is open to individuals and teams (some of whom actually run up!?). You can enter a team of 5 and each individual can do  it once or like us (in our little team of 3) you can all do it 5 times. We won’t be breaking any records and the event is open from 9 until 5 on the day so there’s a very good chance we’ll take a long time to complete it. 

One morning we all got together for a team training session – our first collective one for weeks, and did twice round. It’s starting to get really rather hot and this photo was taken on our second circuit (not too far from the top) when I stopped for a breather and some water. We are praying for overcast weather on the big day so we don’t all keel over from exhaustion and sun stroke – I fear some unflattering head gear may be de-rigeur. I’ll keep you posted on our progress, we are stepping up our training this week….

Postcard family bake-off 

We have a Postcard family birthday coming up soon and one of the little Postcards thought we should have a baking competition to decide on the birthday cake of choice ahead of the event. Sadly it was not in the luscious English countryside and neither Paul Hollywood, Mary Berry nor Mel or Sue were in attendance (probably for the best). 

Now, I do enjoy eating cakes but am not the world’s best baker by any means. In the interest of family harmony, I ‘threw’ the competition (shh – don’t tell anyone) by making millionaire’s shortbread ably assisted by the smallest Postcard while another young Postcard made a chocolate fudge cake with a garnish of sweets! The chocolate fudge cake won as it was a ‘cake’ and did taste rather good. The millionaire’s shortbread was incredibly sickly although it did improve on chilling. Now I have to make another cake in time for the birthday celebrations!! Just as well I’m doing the steps a lot in order to burn all of this off!

Final home furnishings class

This week, we had the last of our 12 home furnishings classes and we made curtain tie-backs. You may notice they are the same fabric as the cushion I made last time for the transport fan in my life – I hope he likes them!  The Transport for London inspired material came into my possession after reading  Nana Cathy’s blog post about The Remnant House (a great fabric shop in York). I had a look at their website and bought myself some great fabric to make things for my boys. So thank you Nana Cathy for telling me about this fab shop. I hope one day to visit it for real, although I fear I’ll end up adding considerably to my stash and to-do list when that time comes! 

If you are in Gibraltar or nearby, and fancy having a go at learning to make curtains, cushions and tie-backs, I was taught by Dorcas Hammond of Dorcas Hammond Designs. She’s very experienced and a great teacher. Pop into her shop on Governor’s Street or find her on Facebook to get more info on her classes.

Dressmaking class

Sewing has begun in ernest on my first ever lined skirt in my dressmaking class. I had to unpick and re-sew my invisible zip but apart from that it was a good lesson this week and I’m pleased with the progress I made. Fingers crossed the rest of the skirt will go well 🙂

Watercolour class

  
In watercolour class this week, we focused on skies and the different techniques you can use to paint them. One of the most interesting finds was that by painting a thin wash of raw sienna first even under blue you can get a really nice glow. I’ve got work to do on my cloud formation as they are a little sausuge shaped for now but it was fun.

A nocturnal visitor

Spring must be here because for the first time this year I spotted one of these little chaps on the bathroom window. You can see the lizards or geckos even in the middle of winter here if it’s a sunny day. They crawl out from their hibernation place and bask in a sheltered sunny spot, but they disappear long before the sun goes down and the temperature drops. This week though, we have started to have a few warmer evenings and so this little chap was lying in wait for an unsuspecting moth to come fluttering next to our bathroom window and pounce! It’s quite spectacular when it happens – like a mini version of ‘Wildlife on One’ on your window!

Bunny update

Bunny’s doing well and his fringe is continuing to grow, however because of his long hair/fur he has a tendency to get dreadlocks and matted areas despite regular brushing so we are going to  have to take him to the vets soon to have a bit cut out near his tail. It’s a bit close to his tail for us to want to attempt to cut in case we hurt him. He also needs some injections so that he can have a hop about on our back patio too… poor bunny it’s as bad as having to hoodwink kids into going to the clinic for jabs 😦 not looking forward to that.

I hope you have a great week, goodbye for now!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then we arrived!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  

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

 

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

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