It’s been a busy old week for me so this week’s Sunday Sevens is a little bit longer than usual and may have more than seven photos…
I hope you had a good week!
Oh hello there Mr Deep Blue Sky, how lovely to see you again!! What a gorgeous day Monday was, and what a gorgeous balcony – one of my favourites in Gibraltar.
I learned a valuable lesson this week at my sewing class… not to to run before I can walk. There I was merrily cutting out the fabric for my new dress… then when I pinned it together to begin sewing my seams… shock… horror: two sections were 4cm too short! I’d misdrawn my pattern pieces last week -eek!
I had to add an extra bit to the bottoms of the two pieces and hopefully you won’t see the joins within the hem. Whoops!
Another beautiful sunset
Tuesday evening brought us the most beautiful sunset…
It was too lovely for just one picture I thought …
Sunset inspired watercolour class
In my watercolour class this week our teacher got us to break out of our comfort zones and go abstract. Inspired by the lovely sunset this week I picked similar colours and slapped a bit of paint about. It was loads of fun and I ended up with some feathery bird like shapes. We’re going to add to them next week… I wonder what we’ll end up with!
I ended up down by the sea at Camp Bay on two consecutive mornings, Thursday and Friday. The weather was beautiful, a bit cold but gloriously sunny on Thursday.
But on Friday… it was looking a bit grim! What a difference a day makes…
Later on Friday I took a walk down Main Street and spotted these lovely hearts pinned to the trees. They were left for passers-by to take as part of the Free Heart Friday free art project.
What a fab thing to do – I hope they brought hope and joy to anyone who needed it.
Yesterday Gib Talks returned for a day of short inspirational talks on a whole range of subjects. To find out more about it, have a look at my post from yesterday.
On my hook this week
This little chap was on my crochet hook this week. The little amigurumi zebra has gone to his new home so I can share this. I hope his new owner will like him 😊
Thank you for stopping by! I hope you have a great week ahead.
Sunday Sevens is a weekly blog series created by Natalie at Threads & Bobbins
From being encouraged to draw a stick man version of myself by an artist who’s exhibited at the Royal Academy to laughing at anecdotes from the former Chief Minister of Gibraltar and being moved and inspired by the courage of an amazing young woman, my morning spent at this year’s Gib Talks event didn’t disappoint. The day-long event features speakers from all walks of life talking on subjects as diverse as the origin of Gibraltar’s name to becoming the first Gibraltarian to compete at the Olympic games.
Last year I had my first experience of Gib Talks, I called in for a short time to hear a friend of mine speak and found myself not wanting to leave. Ahead of this year’s event, I was able to catch up with the organiser Julian Felice when he took part in the Postcard from Gibraltar Podcast Episode 002 : Gib Talks, in it he described some of talks we would be able to hear, but that preview was nothing like actually being there yourself.
One of the joys of Gib Talks is that you don’t need to commit to the whole day, you can dip in and out just coming for the talks which interest you or as was my situation, just coming for the time you are able to fit in around the family. As a consquence I managed to see most of the morning’s session and was so glad that I did. Here’s my take on what I heard (it’s a bit long so feel free to dip in and out of it too!):
Samantha Barrass – My secret life as an amateur thespian and theatre impresario
The first talk of the day I saw was given by Samantha Barrass, the mother of three is CEO of the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission but it was her passion for acting and, as she put it, “non-professional theatre” which formed the subject for her talk. Samantha recalled her first experience of acting in a production of Snow White at the age of 10. She’d moved to New Zealand as a child and it was there that she’d been given the role of the wicked queen in her school production; a role which she joked had been a “forerunner for her role in financial services”.
While on the stage there had been a technical fault which meant that her magic mirror failed to reply when she asked it “who is the fairest of them all”. Her ability to stay in character and act out a “queenly strop” until the fault was rectified earned her a complement from her favourite teacher that “only a real actress could do that”. The comment sealed her fate and her love affair with the stage.
Samantha described how her love for acting and theatre had continued beyond school and despite considering going to stage school, she had pursued a career in finance while continuing as an amateur actress in her spare time. After a move to London, and the birth of her three children, she became involved in a non-professional theatre in Bromley and ultimately became chair, a role which was to see her merge her skills from her professional life and her hobby together.
Describing the theatre as “my third place” in addition to home life and work life, Samantha says she has made many friends through her hobby and that it is something which people can do at any age and with not much money. She ended by saying she is “pleased to be in Gibraltar where I have a very responsible job and I can also fit in some acting around it”.
Samantha Barrass won Best Actress at the 2016 Gibraltar Drama Festival.
Tito Vallejo – Naming the Rock
Next up was well-known local historian and all round personality Tito Vallejo. In his introduction to Tito’s talk, organiser Julian Felice joked that “If you have a pulse and you live in Gibraltar, you probably know this speaker!”
Tito began by saying “We all know how the Rock got it’s name” inferring that if you Google it, you will see that ‘Gibraltar’ is derived from ‘Jebel Tarik’ or Tarik’s Mountain after the Moor who first conquered it. That, however, is not the case according to Tito; first known as ‘Kalph’ the Phoenecian word for rock, then ‘Calpari’ or ‘hollow’ by the Romans and later ‘Calpe’ a name we recognise from insignias and local names today.
The Phoenecians were traders and set up camp nearby in the Bay of Gibraltar 4000 years ago, they were responsible for creating the Pillars of Hercules, or the Pillars of Melcartes as they called them. They also told everyone of the ‘abyss’ which lay beyond the pillars in an attempt to dissuade anyone else from venturing out of the Mediterranean and relying on their imports including tin from the south coast of England.
Later, the Moors staged an invasion of the land of the Vandals, which is now known as Andalusia. Their first port of call was Gibraltar. The leader of the invasion, Tariq landed in Gibraltar in 711 and burned all of his ships, telling his men “we win this land or we will drown in the sea as cowards”. Tito explained that here is “where the myth starts”; the Tarik in Djebel (or Jebel) Tarik does not stand for the man Tariq, but is the Moorish word for ‘path’ meaning the beginning of the path through Andalusia which the Moorish invaders took.
Tito was vehement in his defence of this claim saying that every place the Moors conquered was named for a reason and not after a person, as that would go against the Islamic religious teaching against idolatry. Hence the Alhambra is named after the red colour of the stone, Tarifa is named after the end of the world as it was at the edge of the ‘abyss’ and if you passed there you had to pay a toll or ‘tariff’ and Gibraltar was the start of the ‘path’ through Andalusia.
According to Tito it was the Spanish who coined the name Gibraltar.
Manar Ben Tahayekt – Living with a disability
I get looked down to and this annoys me because it’s like “Hello, I am a smart person you know”.
Described in her introduction as “truly inspiring” and a young woman who “faced every challenge head on” Manar Ben Tahayekt took to the stage and soon had the auditorium captivated. Manar, who was born with cerebral palsy, moved to Gibraltar at the age of 4, after her parents decided she would be better off living here than in her native Morocco. As she wasn’t a Gibraltar citizen, she was home schooled until the age of 11.
She said of her childhood, that it wasn’t easy and that she “started school late but came a long way” gaining 2 GCSEs, one in English, and the other in Spanish. She went on to say that “something I have learned is to never give up”. Despite the difficulties she has faced, Manar now works for the Department of Education and is studying for further qualifications.
Then Manar stunned the audience by asking the awkward question “How many of you said to yourself la pobre” when they saw she was going to speak. She went on to say “I can say poor thing in Arabic too and it irritates me. I wonder when these people will get the hint?…I get looked down on and it’s like ‘Hello I am a smart person you know'”.
Manar explained that although she is disabled, it doesn’t stop her being independent and “just doing what any normal 23 year old does, like falling in love, partying and travelling”. Last year saw her complete her Duke of Edinburgh Silver Award and after much training she conquered the Med Steps.
Finishing her talk, Manar asked the audience to “look beyond the disability” the next time they see a disabled person “and look for their ability”. She was given a standing ovation for her inspirational, and at times deeply moving speech. What a remarkable young woman.
Henry & Priscilla Sacramento – Making it work
For the first time ever, a couple was invited to take to the Gib Talks stage at the same time this year. Compere Julian Felice introduced them saying “the UK has Posh and Becks, the USA Barack and Michelle, Gibraltar and Morocco has ‘HenPris'”.
Retired Police Officer, and charity worker Henry stood with his arm around his wife throughout their talk about their relationship and their dream of buying a property in their beloved Morocco. Priscilla, a retired special needs teacher and dressmaker who made dresses for Miss Gibraltar contestants, took turns with her husband as they told the audience about their marriage, saying that rather than being described as a “golden couple”, they should be “a platinum one” on account of the colour of their hair.
The Sacramentos have been married for almost 30 years, or rather “29 years and 46 days” according to Henry. The recipe for such a long and happy partnership was “positive attitude and respect”. They told the interesting story of how they had fallen in love with a house in Morocco which they wanted to buy but had missed out on the purchase only to be able to buy it years later as Henry came up for retirement. They believe that their positive attitude had lead to them being able to fulfil their dreams.
Karl Ullger – To what extent can you learn to be creative?
Karl Ullger, described by fellow teacher Julian Felice as an “Artist, teacher, colleague and friend” is the second Gibraltarian artist to be invited to exhibit at the Royal Academy of Art (the first being Gustavo Bacarisas). He also featured in last year’s Sky Arts Landscape Artist competition getting through from a field of 600 applicants.
Beforehand, we were all given a piece of paper and a pencil, which we were told we would be required to use during Karl’s talk – but more on that later…
“Creativity is the act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality” however “being imaginative does not mean you are creative” said Karl. He gave the examples of things which evolve over time with creativity like the gramophone, which eventually led to record players, the Walkman and the iPhone and “chalk drawings on a cave wall” which then evolved to the ink well, pencil, pen and ultimately an ink free stylus for drawing on a tablet.
Karl said that by using experimentation and breaking from the norm, things don’t always turn out right but don’t give up and keep trying. He told us of the time he went for a jog down by the dockyard and spotted a piece of metal lying in a bus stop. He said he “liked the look of the rust” so he took it back with him to his workshop.
Weeks later, while cleaning his brushes, some of the acid he was using splattered on the sheet of metal and he liked the effect it made. That piece of discarded waste metal later became a piece of art work with a painting of Sacred Heart Church and the Upper Town of Gibraltar on it and it stood beside him on the easel on the stage.
As a teacher, Karl was well qualified to explain that all children can be artists but as we grow older we develop inhibitions and other qualities which restrict our creativity. He went on to say that the left side of the brain which favours logical thought is what powers professions like accountants, and lawyers and the that right side is creative and is stronger in professions like artists, musicians and chefs.
That doesn’t mean that you have to be just one thing or the other though, as Karl gave examples of great men through history who had great creative and logical minds; Einstein, Da Vinci and Michelangelo. He gave us all a method to “keep yourself intact – brain gyms”. An example of a brain gym is when you doodle while speaking to someone on the phone.
Here’s where the paper and pencil comes in…
Karl then asked us to take our pencils and paper and get creative. He asked us to draw a house, with windows and a door and a path. To add some weather to the picture and then draw a sketch of ourselves. He then grilled the audience as to what we had added to our picture, did it have a roof or chimney? Were there curtains in the windows? Were we pictured inside or outside the house? Did we have a big head? Were there flowers in the garden? All of which would reveal a meaning behind the picture we had just drawn.
We were invited to either speak to him after the talk as he was willing to give feedback on the meaning of our drawing or we could send him our picture online. So I did and here’s what he had to say…
Apart from the bit which says I take care over my appearance (I normally look like I have been dragged through a hedge backwards) it is actually very accurate. The point of all this? Karl said that these basic and very quick sketches were to prove that all the audience members can be creative even if many think they can’t.
Sean Vincent Acris – Pride, not Prejudice
Introduced as the reigning Mr Gibraltar after being crowned in September 2016, Sean Vincent Acris has used the time since to work with charities and causes through his new role. He began his talk with a series of shocking quotes on Islamophobia, violence towards women and sexual inequality made by current world leaders. He described himself as a “firm believer in equality for all and a proud Gibraltarian”. He said that the democracy we enjoy here in Gibraltar, the diversity we represent and issues like the rights of women to vote and for cultures to be accepted shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Sean also spoke of the recent change in the law in Gibraltar for gay couples to be married and explained it had been an issue he had campaigned for in the past and he was thrilled to be able to attend the first gay wedding on the Rock in December last year. Sean said he knew some people in the audience may not agree with the new law and asked that they wouldn’t “just tolerate it but understand”.
He then took us back in time to his childhood here in Gibraltar, explaining that he had attended a first school and became good friends with another boy he referred to as ‘Michael’. They had been best friends and enjoyed lots of fun times together. When the time came for them to move up to middle school, although nervous about what lay ahead, Sean had felt lucky that ‘Michael’ would be going to the same school and that they would be together.
However their friendship changed and Michael became distant and was almost a stranger by the end of their first year at middle school. Sean said he was labelled as “different” called “queer and spat at”. He believed “there must be something wrong with me”. He continued; “Today I am happy and proud as well as being Gibraltarian I am also gay”.
Sean impressed the importance of education to eliminate phobias of people who are regarded as different saying “In the world we live in today, there’s a change of mood in where we’re going with Brexit and the new President Trump… the freedoms we enjoy today are not guaranteed forever”.
Georgina Cassar – From Rock to rings: My Olympic journey
Setting the scene for Georgina Cassar’s talk, Julian Felice described London in 2012. “The world gathered for the greatest sporting event” among them were two Gibraltarians, one was a hockey umpire, the other a rhythmic gymnast. She was Georgina and she would become the first Gibraltarian Olympian.
Georgina walked on stage in her Team GB uniform and began her talk telling us how she had followed her older sister into ballet and had done that for several years before deciding to try gymnastics. It was at the age of 13 that her coach had suggested she opt for rhythmic gymnastics rather than the more traditional type she’d been learning to that point. It was unheard of for a gymnast “to start so late and still make the Olympic team” said Georgina, however she was to prove the critics wrong.
First of all making the team going to the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010, Georgina said that she began to focus on the Olympics two years later. However the road to London was not a smooth one for her and she doubted she would “make the trials let alone make the Olympics”.
The journey to the trials in Swindon meant flying to the UK but bad weather led to flights being cancelled and she just managed to catch the last train to the venue only to be told that the trials were cancelled because poeople hadn’t been able to travel due to the poor weather. Georgina was indignant “We had come all the way from Gibraltar!” The judges agreed to test her the following day and she did well enough to qualify.
The qualification meant that she had to move to England mid way through her AS Levels. As a 17 year old that was a big deal, but she chose to take a year out of education in order to train. She still had to qualify and there were 13 girls on the rhythmic gymnastic team at that point, which had to be whittled down to 7.
“It was eat, train, sleep, repeat for 9 months” says Georgina, she suffered homesickness and managed to wangle a flying trip back to Gibraltar during training to celebrate her 18th birthday in return for agreeing to wear her contact lenses when she competed (she had competed without her glasses or lenses at the Commonwealth Games).
Georgina explained that the team was self funded and although she had some sponsorship from the Kusuma Trust in Gibraltar, they still needed to find more funding and put on multiple displays and even packed bags in Morrisons.
When it came to the crunch Olympic qualification took place over three days. On the first day the team’s ball routine exceeded the score required to qualify. On day two a knot in one of display ribbons meant that they missed out on the score needed by 0.02 marks. They believed that they had a third day to make up the deficit but they were told that it was the end of their dream and they had failed to qualify.
That evening their coach took them out for a commiseration vodka and lemonade and even gave them a square of chocolate each before going out to perform the next day. They were determined to prove their governing body wrong and did their best performance ever and scored 2 points more than was required to qualify. A court case followed and the rhythmic gymnastic team triumphed against British Gymnastics.
In celebration, the seven-strong team took a week off and ate and drank as much as they wanted. On their return to the gym their coach made them stand on the scales. Between them, they had gained enough weight for a whole other team member; 60kg. Their coach wasn’t happy! Georgina described a harsh “ten hours plus” training programme to lose the excess weight and get ready for the Games with a “minimal diet” with limited fluids.
The hard work and deprivation paid off though, on the day of the contest Georgina said she “woke up excited… we were the first [rhythmic gymnastic] team from GB to make the games … I was the first Olympian from Gibraltar”. She described life in the Olympic Village, sitting down for meals with the likes of Mo Farrah and Sir Chris Hoy and being escorted by officials to speak to GBC.
It was on the parade around London after the Olympics though which made her most proud. Falling on September 10th, Gibraltar National Day, she was able to wave the Gibraltar Flag from the top of the open topped bus as it passed Gibraltar House.
A hip operation in 2014 meant that she can no longer compete, but she is grateful for the experience and all the opportunities in media and sport which have come her way since. Her parting message was that “everything happens for a reason and every choice you make along the way… creates our own fate”.
Sir Peter Caruana QC
Gibraltar’s second longest serving Chief Minister, and the first Knight of the Realm to grace the Gib Talks stage brought the morning session to an end. Sir Peter Caruana chose today to make his second public appearance since his retirement from public life in 2011.
He began by humourously stating that the British system of politics meant that the change over of power was a “sharp execution”. The first clue that things had changed on that fateful night in November 2011 was that the man who had chauffeur driven him to the John Macintosh Hall for the election count on the previous evening “was no longer holding the door open for you and is doing it for someone else and you’re walking home”. He described his immediate situation after losing the election as “having nothing to do and nowhere to go but interfere with the domestic arrangements at home”.
The former Chief Minister’s talk was peppered with anecdotes of his political life from having dinner with Margaret Thatcher who told him “two professions end in tears, boxing and political leaders” and holding a political surgery with a lady from Glacis estate complaining about her boiler while taking a call from the Foreign Secretary at the same time, “this is what being Chief Minister of Gibraltar is all about” he added.
He mentioned being asked at a dinner at Lancaster House following the Royal Wedding of Prince William to Catherine Middleton, if it wasn’t “all looking a bit North Korea in Gibraltar” suggesting that perhaps the time had come for a change at the top. Sir Peter said that political office was “a temporary job” and “losing to the will of the people was as important as winning”, although in 2011 he “lost by not very much…which meant you didn’t think I was the worst Chief Minister”.
“There are few professions where you can retire early and try something new… you made the decision for us” was his way of alluding to his change of professions back into legal life after his long political sojourn. One lesson he had for the audience was not to bear grudges, “if you do, they don’t know – it just burns you up”. “So many political leaders find it hard to make it to the wings… I slipped back into obscurity and open my mouth only when invited to do so” he said.
So what did I take from my morning spent at Gib Talks 2017? To be positive, keep trying and never give up, look beyond first impressions to see people’s ability and don’t hold a grudge! Valuable life lessons for anyone I think.
In this episode of the Postcard from Gibraltar Podcast we hear from the organiser of the Gib Talks 2017 event. School teacher and playwright, Julian Felice hosted the first Gib Talks two years ago.
Now in it’s third edition, the series of short talks, based on the TED Talks model, is going from strength to strength. Former speakers have included politicians, historians, writers and artists. For more information on Gib Talks, please check out the website.
As the clock ticks inexorably towards midnight on 31st December and we close the door on 2016, I thought it was time to take a look back at the year we have just had. Most of the newspaper reviews I’ve read so far have focussed on the negative aspects, celebrity deaths, the seismic political changes afoot both in Europe, America and the rest of the world, and general doom and gloom.
I am very fortunate in that for us, in our little corner of the world, apart from the uncertainties of Brexit and what that could mean for us in the years to come, we’ve had a pretty good year. Looking back at all the interesting things we’ve done makes me think about how fortunate we are. If your 2016 has been a difficult one, I sincerely hope that 2017 will be better for you and your loved ones.
The New Year saw us spending a few days up the coast from Gibraltar on the Costa del Sol, but we were back on the Rock in plenty of time to see the Three Kings Cavalcade. It was also back in January when I went for the first of my strolls around Gibraltar the first one was an homage to the many beautiful balconies, the second one paid tribute to the many steps we ‘enjoy’ here!
February brought us some misty and stormy weather, but there was plenty of indoors activities to keep us busy here in Gibraltar. The second annual Gib Talks event saw speakers from all walks of life take to the stage for short talks on a huge range of subjects. Later in the month, the extraordinary Gibraltar Womens Association celebrated their 50th Anniversary, I found their story fascinating.
In March, we were blessed with some beautiful sunny days with bright blue skies. Along with completing a tin man outfit for World Book Day, I finally managed to finish my Attic 24 Cosy Stripe Blanket after a year of hooking! We made the most of the lovely spring weather and took a dolphin trip out into the Bay of Gibraltar. There was also a beautiful exhibition in Gib celebrating women’s creativity.
During April we made another short trip up the coast and headed inland to Ronda a beautiful Andalucian town. I was very productive at my dressmaking and home furnishing courses inserting my first invisible zip and producing curtain tie-backs for the public transport fan in my life. A tall ship called into port at Gibraltar and members of the public had the chance to go on board and have a snoop around.
May meant Med Steps for me big time as I completed my final training sessions for, and then finished, the Med Steps 5 Challenge with my two stepping buddies. It was a rather intense day but we were so proud of ourselves for climbing to the top of the Rock five times in quick succession. We also managed to raise a fair amount of sponsorship money for the brilliant Cancer Relief Gibraltar. Some of my sponsors are readers of this blog and I am so touched that you took the time and effort to support our fundraising efforts – thank you.
As I spent so long prattling on about the Med Steps during my training, I figured I should tell you all about it: The Med Steps: a few facts & figures . May also meant saying goodbye to a good friend to me and my blogging adventures. One of the sad things about living an expat life is that many of the friends you make are in the same boat as you and therefore may not be around for long Saying goodbye…
June was a very eventful month not only for me but for Gibraltar and the rest of the UK as a whole as BREXIT loomed large (this post was my most read of all time and by a very long way). Six months on, we are still no further forward knowing what it all means.
Another unexpected thing to happen to me in June, was when I chose to go back up the Med Steps one foggy morning. I thought that the mist would make the climb cool as the summer heat had begun to build. I was wrong. As I climbed up the Rock, I climbed out of the mist and fog. I was nearly roasted alive, but I did manage to take a rather good photo of the Rock emerging out of the mist below (see second left image on the bottom row above). I got loads of likes and shares and retweets with that picture taken on A mini stroll in the mist!
11th June 2016 marked International Yarnbombing Day 2016 and I had a little go myself with my first guerrilla crochet project as I attempted to Yarnbomb the Alameda Gardens to celebrate the park’s 200th anniversary.
July equals the beginning of the very long school summer holiday in Gibraltar. As I stared down the barrel of 8 weeks of no school and the prospect of entertaining the three Little Postcards I felt a little overwhelmed. In an effort to find some way of surviving (with my marbles intact) I decided on day one that I would set myself the challenge of doing something crafty every single day of the holidays…. and the Summer Craft Challenge was born. One of our summer holiday outings took us up into the Upper Rock Nature Reserve to visit one of Gibraltar’s newest attractions, the Windsor Suspension Bridge .
August, for us, was mainly spent in England. I travelled back with the Little Postcards to spend two weeks based in the North West with my parents (with a lovely trip down to Berkshire to visit friends) and then two weeks with Mr Postcard visiting his family in East Anglia. We were blessed with the best of English summer weather. When the sun shines – there really is no better place to be. Our East Anglia holiday base was Southwold in Suffolk, it gave us the perfect opportunity for multiple visits to a special place for us Southwold Pier .
The end of the month brought the school summer holidays to an end. After eight weeks of full-time kiddiwinks and eight weeks of the summer craft challenge, I was very proud to still be in full possession of my marbles (I think) and I also managed to do something crafty on every day except for one (the day we travelled back to Gibraltar). The final instalment of my challenge is here.
September is always a very busy month in Gibtraltar. Just after the children return to school, we all have a day off for Gibraltar National Day on 10th September. Around this time we now have the Gibraltar Music Festival to enjoy too. This year saw the Stereophonics headline and Europe played the air guitarist’s dream of The Final Countdown live on the Rock.
Towards the end of the month, I was able to fulfil an ambition of mine to visit the Yarn Festival of Yarndale. It was everything I had expected and more, with bells on. My absolute highlight was meeting my crochet hero Lucy from Attic 24 and being able to give her one of my Llanitas (Llanita, the Gibraltar Yarndale sheep that is). The sheep were made to raise funds to support a children’s hospice in North Yorkshire, I made two and they have both gone to live in Yorkshire! My Yarndale 2016 (featuring Llanita’s Yorkshire adventures)
In October I was still determined to keep up some of the crochet momentum I had achieved during the summertime and finished off my contribution to the Sixty Million Trebles project. I made a rainbow granny square blanket which will go towards the World Record breaking attempt to create a huge crochet blanket made up of sixty million treble stitches. Each treble stitch represents a displaced person or refugee. After the world record attempt the giant blanket will be made into smaller blankets and handed out to charities in the UK and those helping Syrian refugees. The organisers also hope to raise a considerable amount of funds too to help Syrian refugees.
A big event locally was the fourth annual Gibraltar Literary Festival 2016 I was lucky enough to be able to attend several events this year and really loved it.
At the beginning of November we had just one Bunny in the Postcard household, then one Sunday afternoon during a walk through the Alameda Gardens, we found some abandoned rabbits. One of them, Blizzard, came home with us (Blizzard turned out to be a girl and she is now known as Snowflake). It was back in November when I had my first attempt at Podcasting I had such fun making it, and hope to be able to share another one with you soon.
In December we sadly said goodbye to Bunny Postcard. She had only been with us for 11 months but she’d quickly become a much loved member of the family.
This month I also headed out for my most recent stroll, to see some of the Christmas lights we have on the Rock – amazingly it was the 16th stroll post I’ve written this year. I also took the plunge (literally) and joined with the annual Boxing Day Polar Bear Swim at Catalan Bay – I’m still feeling proud of myself for doing it!
Thank you so much for joining me this year, I have loved having your company and enjoy reading all the lovely comments. Here’s to next year, who knows what it will have in store for us all, here’s hoping it will be a good one.
Last Sunday was a rather special day for me, on a personal note, one of my best friends (who used to live in Gibraltar) came back to visit with her family for half term. Despite being on a flight at the crack of dawn, failing to land at Gibraltar due to 80km per hour winds and the plane being struck by lightning they successfully landed at Malaga and got the bus down to Gibraltar to meet up with nearly 30 friends for a great (late) lunch at Queensway Quay marina. It was so lovely to have the old gang reunited and there were a few emotional moments. The photo above was taken as we left the marina to head home between the storms!
Aside from that on a Postcard from Gibraltar note I had my most successful day yet. My post from last Saturday, about Gib Talks went bananas on social media locally and my viewing figures went through the roof. I woke to find I already had 39 views that day and that grew every time I looked at my phone to the hundreds!!! Thank you to everyone who has supported me on my blogging journey so far and hello and welcome to anyone who’s new to Postcard from Gibraltar, it’s lovely to have you along for the journey!
Curtain 3 completed!
I’m very pleased to say I’ve managed to make up any lost ground in my Home Furnishings course and in this week’s lesson I started and completed a curtain! It was a standard tape topped curtain in a very bland sample material. I have already bought the fabric for my next project and I promise it’s a bit jazzier than the previous three off-white offerings as I’m bored of that colour now.
A new week, a new skirt
As soon as one skirt had been completed on my dressmaking course it was time to crack on with the next one. From gathers to a full-circle skirt. This week’s lesson saw no sewing at all, instead there was measuring, drawing, cutting out and sticking. Firstly I had to redraw the pattern for a plain simple skirt to my own measurements, then adjust it to make a full skirt. That’s my carefully drawn out pattern sliced into strips like a grass skirt and then fanned out and stuck onto a bigger piece of paper. Also in the picture is the material I’m using to make it. I love this fabric, I bought it from a reduced / special offer basket at a fabric shop near my parents’ home before we moved to Gibraltar – that makes it coming up to 7 years old. I liked it so much I was frightened of making a hash of it. Now I can make my skirt with the help of an expert dressmaker, and not just bodge it together on my own – I’m so glad I waited!
After finishing my door painting last week, I decided to take a floral break from architecture for a change. I’m happier with the top 2/3 of this painting of fuschias than I am with the buds at the bottom, but it made a refreshing change before I get architectural again next week. I think I’ll try a window next.
A bit of flower power
Our bougainvillea is doing really well on our balcony at the moment. It’s been such a grey and damp week weather wise, but this shot of magenta is a real pick-me-up as you walk past!
Founder’s Day Yesterday, Gibraltar’s Scouts & Guides joined together to celebrate International Founder’s Day & Thinking Day. It was so nice to see all the different sections of the groups out in force. There was a lovely ceremony attended by dignitaries including the Governor of Gibraltar and his wife, who are the patrons of the Scouts & Guides on the Rock. The young people had been due to parade along Main Street, as is the tradition on Founder’s Day, but strong winds meant that part of the event had to be cancelled sadly.
Those same winds made for spectacular scenes on the Eastern side of Gibraltar and at it’s most Southerly point, Europa Point. As we drove along the coast we could see the sea was very rough and stopped to admire the huge breakers crashing into the cliffs. The road was soaked by the spray and you needed the windscreen wipers going in order to see where to drive! It was very dramatic although perhaps a little scary to see the true power of the sea.
Happy Valentines Day! Welcome to my eighteenth Sunday Sevens post. Sunday Sevens is a weekly blog series created by Natalie at Threads & Bobbins. If you fancy joining in check out her blog for more information.
Tab-top curtain finished! I finished the second of my sample curtains at my home furnishings class this week. I did fear that I’d fail to reach this milestone, as last week (when I was at class I was feeling a bit under the weather) I managed to sew my tabs on the wrong side! I began this week’s lesson unpicking them all, remeasuring the spaces between, and having to reattach them -only to discover that the bottom thread spool was loaded in the machine wrong and there was a delightful row of loopy knotted stitches below so I had to unpick it again!!! Persistence paid off and I got there in the end. I proudly showed it off to my boys at home to which they said ‘so which window will you hang it in?’ When I said none -it’s just a sample, were very unimpressed at this total waste of my time!
Tuesday of course was Shrove Tuesday, and that means pancakes! We are a house-full of pancake lovers – well me and the boys are. As Mr Postcard was away in England on business and therefore didn’t need to be fed by me, I decided that we should have pancakes for dinner. Cheese and ham savoury ones followed by sweet ones (think sugar & lemon or chocolate sauce & sprinkles) for dessert. We loved them. I followed the pancakes with a Creme Egg just to make myself feel really sick and convince myself that giving up chocolate for Lent is a good idea. Here goes… wish me luck!
Gathered skirt finished!
At last I have finished the second skirt of my dressmaking course. A week of poorly children and a week with a brain fuddled by the germs passed on by said children meant I’d fallen well behind on progress with this course. One fellow student is on her fourth skirt already!!! I’m pleased with the workmanship of it but not so much with the style. It rather accentuates my widest part, so perhaps it won’t become a wardrobe staple. But at least I can now fit gathers in a waistband, incorporate ‘invisible’ pockets and attach a centred zip so that’s something to be pleased about. Next project: a half-circle skirt (I fear some maths is involved to draw the pattern for this -not my strong point, so watch this space).
A walk in the clouds Thursday was supposed to be Med Steps morning but the weather had other ideas. I woke to hear the rain lashing against the windows. The wind and rain ruled out the steps as it would have been too dangerous, so I took a trip up the Rock via the roads instead. I got a few strange looks from passing drivers (I was the only loony out on foot) and I got completely soaked but I felt better for it!
Sneaky peak at my latest painting
This was a practice for my current watercolour painting based on one of my photos from my strolls around Gibraltar. It’s a bit like the finished article but not quite, you’ll have to wait until next week for that one ;-)…
This is the John MacIntosh Hall, venue for the Gib Talks event which was held there yesterday. It was a great event and just one example of the vibrant range of cultural happenings which we enjoy here in Gibraltar. Eighteen speakers talked for 15 minutes each on a wide range of topics from depression to dragon trees, bike-riding to premature babies. For more information on it, see my last post A little bit of Gib Talks 2016.
I’ve not shared any photos of our little bunny lately so here he is. He got a clean cage last night and for the first time we replaced his wooden litter with straw and he loved it! He sat there eating it for ages, I hope he stopped before he got a tummy ache! He really is a sweetheart and a great addition to the family. He loves being cuddled and stroked which is fortunate as number 3 son is totally besotted with him and makes a beeline straight for him after school.
“In Gibraltar, we pride ourselves that we all know each other. Yet, this is far from the truth. We know a public persona, or we know someone by reputation. We do not actually know much about the experiences, the thoughts and idiosyncrasies that make every person unique.” Julian Felice – organiser of Gib Talks
Today, the second ever Gib Talks took place in Gibraltar. It is a series of talks of 10 and 15 minutes in duration, in which, people can speak on subjects which are important to them and perhaps shed a different light on their personalities and interests. The event, which is run by the Gibraltar Cultural Services department, ran from 10am until 5pm and featured 18 different speakers.
A wide range of people took to the stage from the world of politics (including the Chief Minister of Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo), broadcasters, artists and writers. There were talks on subjects as diverse as depression and dragon trees. Unfortunately for me, I was only able to attend the final hour or so of the event, but in that time I heard 3 brilliant talks so it was well worth me attending.
Each speaker was introduced by the event’s organiser, Julian Felice, a teacher and playwright (above). Their time was strictly monitored by an adjudicator in control of a large traffic light at the side of the stage which signalled when their time was up when it turned red.
The first speaker I heard was Tomasz Zakrzewicz on the topic “Life on bikes”. A passionate advocate for the use of bicycles for pleasure, exercise and commuting to work, Tomasz told the audience that there was much more to bikes than “just a piece of metal and two wheels”. Telling of the health benefits that cycling can bring like lowering blood pressure and stress relief, he said “I want to change the world a little bit” by getting more people out of cars and onto bikes. During the talk, Tomasz, who’s originally from Poland, apologised for his English saying he was still learning the language. I have to take my hat off to him for not only having the courage to stand on stage and speak publicly about a subject he’s clearly passionate about, but also to do it in a language he didn’t grow up speaking.
Next on the stage was Polly Lavarello (above) from Polly Mixtures a lifestyle and parenting blog and the founding editor of Mum on the Rock a parenting e-magazine. She told of her experience of arriving in Gibraltar with her then boyfriend, getting married and becoming an expectant mother. She felt that on her arrival here, there had been a dearth of information for people newly arrived on the Rock and that a central website with information about facilities and events locally would be a great addition to Gibraltar’s online community. However, it was her own experience of motherhood, which almost began 11 weeks early when her waters broke prematurely, which led her to seek help from the online community and eventually took her down the path of starting her own website; Mum on the Rock.
Polly says she wanted the site to be accessible to parents whenever they need it and for it to be dynamic and interactive, appealing to to new mums (and dads), parents of teens and grandparents. It was launched with the intention of having articles on a wide range of subjects including parenting, food, lifestyle, travel and health. Initially Polly approached people asking them to write for Mum on the Rock, once it went live though, she says she was overwhelmed with offers of help from people who wanted to get involved and contribute articles too. Polly says that since it’s launch in September last year, “47 different people have written for the website”and that while it’s for the community she “couldn’t do it without the support of the community”. In the coming months, Polly is looking forward to the arrival of her second child, and some exciting new developments for Mum on the Rock.
The final talk of the day was made by Fabian Vinet, a lawyer and former Government minister, and had the title ‘Eleven weeks too soon’. In his speech, Fabian told of his first life-changing experiences of fatherhood, when his baby son, James, was born eleven weeks early. From describing his frightening journey from Gibraltar to a special hospital in Malaga chasing two ambulances, one carrying his wife, the other containing an incubator in case their baby came en-route, to the birth of his son and visits to the large neonatal ward, the visibly emotional father moved the audience and there were sniffs all around.
He also shared his experience of the day when his son was due to have a second brain scan to check if the “something there” had got any worse or could be diagnosed. Being a Government minister at the time, he had to attend a meeting back in Gibraltar, so he left his wife and son in Malaga to drive back to the Rock, only to break down on the road out of the Spanish city. Whilst in the tow-truck heading to Gibraltar, he received a phone call from his wife to say that whatever had shown on the previous brain scan had now disappeared. The news resulted in him crying all the way back to Gibraltar making “the most eventful journey of the tow-truck driver’s career”.
Ending his speech, Mr Vinet showed a photograph of his, now 8 year old son, James along with his younger daughter Sophie (see above photo) and said he hoped that his story had been one of “hope” and that this being Valentine’s weekend, he impressed the importance of any future parents to be vigilant for the signs of a premature birth. He went on to say that perhaps his son hadn’t been born eleven weeks too soon after all, because the experience he and his wife had been through as new parents had changed them forever and perhaps he was born at just the right time.
Drawing the day’s event to a close, Julian Felice told the audience “Gib has talked and has had a lot to say”. Nominations are now open for anyone who would like to speak at next year’s event. I shall look forward to buying my ticket for that!