An A to Z of Gibraltar 


Gibraltar seems to be dominating the news a lot these days, so for those of you who don’t know much about this Rock which we call our home, here’s a little ABC…

A is for Apes

Our furry friends who live (most of the time) at the top of the Rock are perhaps Gibraltar’s most famous inhabitants. They’re the only wild apes in mainland Europe and rumoured to be the reason why Gibraltar remains British – legend has it that if the apes were to leave, the UK would lose Gibraltar. (Winston Churchill reputedly imported some extra ones during World War II to make sure the Rock remained under the British flag). Legend also has it that they first arrived on the Rock via tunnels which link Gibraltar to northern Africa… not too sure about that one! 

B is for border


Gibraltar has only one land border to the north of the territory and shares it with Spain. It is across this border (or Frontier as it’s also known) that thousands of Spanish residents travel to work in Gibraltar each day and also which Gibraltar residents cross to access Spain and rest of the European mainland. 

Under the Franco regime the border was closed between 1969 and 1985. Gibraltarians found themselves with lots of vacant jobs to be filled as the cross-border workers were no longer able to work here and resources like food and fuel had to be sourced via alternative means. During this period, the Rock’s relationship with Morocco flourished and resulted in the diverse community we now enjoy today.

C is for cable car

Gibraltar’s main tourist attraction is the Rock itself and there are a number of different ways of getting to the top, on foot and by car or taxi, but perhaps the most dramatic way (and certainly the fastest) is by cable car. It has been a feature on the Rock for decades and takes just six minutes from the base station to the summit.

D is for defence


Due to it’s strategic position geographically at the gateway to the Mediterranean, it’s no surprise that Gibraltar has been a key British military base. Though fewer service personnel are based here now than in it’s heyday, there is still a considerable Army, Navy and RAF presence on the Rock.

E is for Europa Point

At Gibraltar’s southern most tip, you can find Europa Point lighthouse, the only lighthouse to be operated by Trinity House which is outside of the British Isles. It’s been keeping watch over the Strait of Gibraltar for over 175 years. On a clear day, you can see across the Strait to north Africa and the Rif mountains of Morocco.

Europa Point is also home to Gibraltar’s largest mosque (the Ibrahim-al-Ibrahim Mosque) as well as the Roman Catholic Shrine of Our Lady of Europe.

F is for Festivals


In recent years Gibraltar’s cultural life has flourished with the creation of a number of festivals, the biggest of which is the Gibraltar Music Festival or GMF as it’s become known locally. 2017 will see the festival run for the first time by MTV. Other musical festivals include the Festival of Colours and the World Music Festival. In addition to music another large annual event is the Gibraltar Literary Festival.

G is for Governor & Government 

Gibraltar Parliament building

Although key defence and strategic decisions about Gibraltar are made in Westminster, day to day affairs on the Rock are looked after by Government of Gibraltar. 

The Convent, official residence of the Governor of Gibraltar
We also have a Governor, who is the Queen’s representative here. Our current Governor, Lieutenant General Ed Davies, like all his predecessors lives in the official residence known as The Convent.

H is for history 

Tower of Homage aka Moorish Castle

Gibraltar is steeped in history, from cave men to the Phoenecians, Moorish invasions and the Great Siege. Gibraltar is filled with historic buildings and sites. There’s even a weekly historical reenactment.

I is for isthmus not an island


Despite popular misconception, Gibraltar is not an island. It is an isthmus of 5.8 square kilometres. If you are looking for a diverse and challenging 10k route to run, Gibraltar is the place for you, it’s exactly 10km all the way round on the main roads.

J is for Jebel Tariq

Gibraltar is regarded as one of the Pillars of Hercules, Jebel Musa across the Strait in Morocco being the other one. The name Gibraltar is believed to have come from it’s Moorish name of Jebel Tariq, meaning Tariq’s Mountain or Tariq’s Path. Tariq lead the Moorish Invasion of Andalusia.

K is for Kaiane

Front cover of Gibraltar Panorama 5.4.17

Irrespective of your views on beauty pageants, Kaiane Lopez (née Aldorino) achieved something remarkable for Gibraltar. In 2009, was crowned Miss World. She was a great ambassador for Gibraltar during her year-long reign and has continued to fly the flag for the Rock ever since. Yesterday she became the youngest ever Mayor of Gibraltar as well as being the first ever Miss World to take mayoral office.

L is for lifestyle 

Gibraltar boasts a great climate, healthcare modeled on the NHS, schools which follow the UK system and a thriving community. Plus everything is within a short distance so activities/entertainment especially for children are more achievable than our experience in the UK. As an ‘incomer’ I’ve had a really positive experience living here and was welcomed by locals and expats alike.

M is for Mediterranean 


The Eastern side of the Rock is lapped by the tides of the Mediterranean Sea and the three Mediterranean beaches we have on the Rock are hugely popular in summer (Gibraltar has other beaches on the Western side too).

N is for Neanderthal 


The first Neaderthal skull ever to be found was discovered at Gorham’s Cave in Gibraltar in 1848. The find, which is celebrated on Gibraltarian pound coins, has led to Gibraltar recently being granted UNESCO World Heritage status.

O is for ornithology


A hot spot for twitchers, Gibraltar is a haven for wildlife and, in particular, migratory birds. Volunteers from the British Trust for Ornithology travel to Gibraltar to study the migration of birds from the southern hemisphere where they have over wintered, up to northern Europe and Russia. Vultures, and eagles can often be spotted along with other smaller birds.

P is for port


Gibraltar has long been a stop off for seagoing travellers, from the Phoenicians who dropped anchor here before setting off into the Atlantic and up as far north as Cornwall. These days Gibraltar’s marine trade includes dry docks for maintenance, as well as bunkering services for ships which are mid voyage.

Q is for queues 


We do spend quite a while in queues here in Gibraltar at times, especially if you choose the wrong moment to cross the runway – you can get stuck waiting for planes to land or take off. 

We also have to queue to enter and leave Gibraltar at the border with Spain, which can at times be problematic. Thorough checks by the authorities across the border can mean long waits in rather uncomfortable conditions (like the height of summer) at it’s worst it can take several hours to cross. 

R is for runway

Gibraltar Airport is famous for it’s stunning backdrop and for the fact that the main road to and from the Rock runs straight across it. It makes for an interesting commute to work for those who live over in Spain!

S is for St Michael’s Cave

St Michael’s Cave
The Rock of Gibraltar itself is full of holes, with natural caves and manmade tunnels carved through it. The largest and perhaps most dramatic of which is St Michael’s Cave which as well as being a popular tourist destination is also a venue for shows and concerts.

T is for tunnels 

In order to get around the Rock we need to travel through a few tunnels. The World War II Tunnels (which include a war time hospital ward) and the Great Siege Tunnels are popular tourist attractions. 

There are miles and miles of military tunnels excavated through the Rock most of which are out of bounds to the public. They are used for military exercises and there was even a plan during World War II for some military personnel to be bricked into a tunnel so they could spy on the enemy in case of an invasion.

U is for Upper Rock

Windsor Suspension Bridge

The Upper Rock is a Nature Reserve, home to the Barbary Macaques and other native species like the Barbary partridge and national flowers like the Gibraltar Candytuft and Gibraltar Campion.

Gibraltar Candytuft

The Med Steps or Mediterranean Steps to give them their proper name, is a footpath and several sets of steps which lead from the southern tip of the Upper Rock Nature Reserve, at the Pillar of Hercules monument and round the Eastern side of the Upper Rock before emerging at the summit. 

Med Steps

It’s a place of outstanding natural beauty and affords walkers stunning views across the Strait to Morocco, along the Mediterranean coast to Spain and onto the Costa del Sol on a clear day, and across the Bay of Gibraltar to Algeciras. 

V is for visitors


Gibraltar is a very popular destination for cruise liners and coach tours. At peak times in the summer, the population of the Rock can almost be doubled for a day, when several large cruise ships arrive all at once. Those are the times when it’s wise to give Main Street a wide berth, especially if you have small children and pushhairs to steer through the crowds.

W is for weather

We are blessed with pretty mild winters (although there was some snow a few miles up the coast this winter) and long hot sunny summers. Thankfully because of our location surrounded on three sides by sea we don’t get such high temperatures as they do further up the coast or inland in Spain.


We can get a rather large cloud developing on the top of the Rock called the Levanter. It’s formed by the easterly wind and just sits above us creating humid conditions below. Some people refuse to have their hair done on Levanter days and it’s been blamed for meringues failing to rise and paint from drying properly.

X is for BreXit (sorry couldn’t think of anything beginning with X)

Well this is the main reason why everyone’s talking about Gibraltar at the moment isn’t it? 96% of the Gibraltar electorate voted to remain in Europe and no one knows what Brexit will mean for us all here on the Rock (or the UK for that matter).

Y is for Yanito or Llanito 

Yanito or Llanito is the dialect which is spoken by Gibraltarians. Anyone wandering along Main Street will hear locals speaking a mixture of English and Spanish with a few Genoese or Maltese words thrown in too. 

Z is for zebra crossings (post boxes and red telephone boxes)

We may live at the very south of Iberian Peninsular and we can see Africa from our windows but there are a lot of familiar British sights around Gibraltar. There are often tourists posing for photos by the phone boxes and and post boxes trying to catch a little of Britain in the Med.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this Gibraltar A to Z, if you only take one thing from it, can it please be that Gibraltar’s NOT an island? (I have read two articles today which described it as one) Thank you!

Rocksy & Gib’s Med Steps Adventure

Do you remember Rocksy & Gib the mascots of the Gibraltar Crochet Collective? Last week, when the sun was shining they ran off and left the balls of yarn and hooks behind for a Med Steps adventure… do you want to see what they got up to?

It was hard work climbing up the hill to the start of the Med Steps. First pit stop was to admire one of the new signs which have appeared recently… This spot is 160 metres above sea level and this is just the beginning of the trail.

Ahh, time for a breather before the real work begins. So lovely to the feel the sunshine on your back after what feels like weeks of grey, damp and windy weather. These two posed for photos in the sun… admiring the view.

First climb completed and Gib soaked up a few rays at the entrance to the Twin Caves. Rocksy looked completely composed … not even a spot of perspiration yet! Next up… more steps and then the tunnel. Surely everyone who climbs this trail has their picture taken here by the sign? Not Rocksy, she was powering on through to the next bit!

Ahh, now that’s what you call a VIEW!

Knowing what lay ahead of them, Gib and Rocksy took a few moments to chill before attempting the final climb to the summit…

Here goes… these steps weren’t built for little crochet ape legs were they?

Phew, collecting themselves for the next mega step ahead….

Slowly but surely…

What more steps??

Holy Moly, I can see the top! But there’s a heck of a lot of steps to get up there!!

Did we really climb all that way up??

Time for another breather before the final push! What a great view of the Mediterranean…

They didn’t get very far before the next pit stop… Gib was looking a bit overwhelmed. Little did they know that they weren’t alone…

Literally seconds later, look who was sitting in exactly the same spot!

Better not monkey around any more then (sorry couldn’t help myself), last few steps and they were at the summit!

Phew – made it! That’s enough adventuring for one day… back home now for a cup of tea and some crochet!

If you are interested in joining the Gibraltar Crochet Collective, please check out our Facebook page for details of our next get-together. Beginners are welcome as well as experienced crocheters.

Our current project is a blanket for the Sixty Million Trebles project, the project aims to raise awareness about the plight of refugees worldwide. Today’s the first day of Lent, how about making a crochet square each day of Lent to help us make as many blankets as possible? (It’s far more pleasurable than giving up chocolate don’t you think?😉)

If you want to find out more about the Med Steps you can read all about it in my post: The Med Steps: a few facts & figures

And for some Med Steps inspired crochet you might like this: Wild flowers of the Med Steps.

Sunday Sevens #67 22.01.16

Hello and welcome to this week’s edition of Sunday Sevens. It’s been a funny week weather wise here in Gibraltar, it started off gloriously sunny and relatively warm for January and then the rain and the cold came…

Sunny Sunday afternoon


The weather last Sunday was truly glorious. We had a lot of stuff to do so we couldn’t properly get out but we popped to Commonwealth Park for an hour to let the Little Postcards run off a bit of steam. It was so lovely to sit on a bench in the sunshine for a while.

Dressmaking class

After two weeks of drawing out a pattern, rubbing out, remeasuring, then cutting and sticking, I finally have a paper pattern for a DRESS! I’m really excited about starting this one. It’s based on the pattern I used for my princess-line top but has been lengthened to become a dress. Sorry for the uninspiring photo… you can’t really jazz up pattern paper on a grey desk!

Crochet fun


May I introduce Gib, the amigurumi ape. I hope you will be able to see a bit more of him in the future, as he’s going to help a friend of mine and I do something crochety (if that’s a word?!). I will keep you posted on Gib and his upcoming adventures.

I forgot to include this photo last week… it’s the crochet project I completed before beginning Gib. These shark slippers were made for a friend.

A cold snap


The sunshine of the weekend and early part of the week ran off and left us midweek. The rain came and brought the cold with it too. For those of you up north in the British Isles, 4.5 degrees C may not sound cold but for us southern softies it’s a tad nippy. This was the temperature when I got into the car at 8am one morning.

I was talking to one of the granddads outside school one afternoon and he was saying he was shocked to see his dashboard tell him to beware of black ice! That is something you really don’t expect to see living in Gibraltar. The cold weather did bring snow to the region. Sadly not to Gibraltar (much to our disappointment) but you could see the snow on the tops of the hills along the coast from up the Rock. There was a lot of snow in Malaga, and along the Costa del Sol. It was the first time Marbella had seen snow for decades.

Grrrr!


I don’t make a habit of wearing skirts, tights or heeled shoes but I had an important meeting to attend this week and I needed to be smart. Feeling very far out of my comfort zone I headed off up the street to my meeting when – squelch – I stood on one of those really annoying wonky paving slabs with dirty water hiding underneath.

Dirty water sprayed right up the front of one leg, and another load up the back of the other one. Fortunately I managed to clean myself up and headed onwards. Help my goodness if I didn’t stand on exactly the same paving slab on the return journey (photo is of the second dowsing which wasn’t as bad). To any passers-by on the outward trip when an expletive may have slipped from my lips, you have my utmost apology.

Sunset 

Thursday evening’s cold repaid us with the most beautiful sunset. I was rather trapped between buildings at the time for football training, but even so, you can see it was a belter.

Seagull sentries

I went for a bit of a wander one afternoon this week and ended up climbing up into Upper Town. I passed this sentry box which had been claimed as an ideal lookout for these two seagulls.

Final make of the week

I was a bit crochet crazy this week, after a long hiatus without my hook. This ‘Bunny Ballerina’ was made using the same pattern book as Gib, the ape. It was a Christmas gift from my lovely little brother. The book’s called ‘Amigurumi’ and is by Lan-Anh Bui & Josephine Wan. It’s full of lovely patterns of all sorts of animals. I think I’ll be making a few more of these…. This one is off to her new home shortly to live with a newborn baby girl.

That’s all for this week, I hope it has been a good one for you. You may have noticed I haven’t done any painting for a long time (since well before Christmas). I have missed my first two watercolour lessons of 2017 by being poorly last week, and then this week I had a poorly Little Postcard off sick on watercolour day… Everyone is fit and healthy now (touch wood) so hopefully I’ll get the chance to get my paintbrushes out again next week!

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

The Med Steps: a sunny autumn walk

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It’s been a good few months since my trainers saw the light of day and my lax attitude to exercise has resulted in a few extra pounds being gained, so I decided that today was the day I’d set about doing something to rectify the situation. After a few grey and damp starts lately, we woke up to a beautiful day and there’s nothing like a bit of sunshine to lift the spirits and get you moving. This morning, once the rest of the family was ensconced in work and school I headed off on a walk up our lovely Rock of Gibraltar. There are a number of ways to travel to the top (most people opt for car, taxi, bus and cable car) but on two feet you can head up several different routes using paths, roads and steps. My favourite, and definitely the most scenic route I’ve tried, is the footpath known as the ‘Med Steps’. It’s a bit of a misleading name as it isn’t just made up of steps, although there are many, much of the route is over rough ground and rocky paths.

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The start of the route is close to Jews Gate at the entrance to the Upper Rock Nature Reserve where a rather unassuming shady wooded path leads upwards and south around the edge of the Rock. This (apart from the summit) is my favourite part of the walk as it feels so cool and secluded there and you could almost be on a woodland walk in the British Isles (I do still get homesick sometimes). As you continue, you come out of the trees and you’re greeted by this fab view –  the Straits of Gibraltar in all it’s glory with Morocco in the distance. See I told you it was a beautiful morning!

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The temperature rose dramatically once I reached the eastern side of the Rock, the sun was belting down and it’s light was reflected off the Mediterranean below. Perhaps I should have waited to clear the breakfast things and make the beds after the walk rather than before, I don’t think I’ll leave it so late in future to set off on such a trip!

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One of the slightly disheartening things about this route, is that a little way into the walk, once you have climbed to quite a height, you are faced with some downward steps. The thing is, you know that you need to climb to the very top of the Rock, so it seems such a shame to be heading downhill at this point knowing you’ll have to regain the height a little bit further along.

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Quick stop for a sip of water and to take in the view…

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There are plenty of things to see when you are on this walk, there are even caves to explore. Well they don’t got very far back, but a cave’s a cave isn’t it?

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Onwards and upwards, these steps look very steep from down here don’t they?

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One big highlight for me this late morning was this short tunnel, I was beginning to regret setting off just before 11am by this point and my water bottle was already nearly half empty, knowing I had a good bit further to walk, I took sanctuary for a few moments in the gorgeous, cool shade of this tunnel. Thank you, who ever built it, it was most welcome today!

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It’s the military who we have to thank for creating this lovely footpath. Much of it is cut out of the side of the Rock itself and dotted along the route are a few little plaques like this one reminding us of it’s history.

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Another reminder of days gone by and the Rock’s role as a fortress are the various military look out points built along the side of the path.

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Isn’t this a stunning view (below)? From this part of the walk, you are facing north and can see the beaches along Gibraltar’s eastern side (Sandy Bay in the forground, Catalan Bay and Eastern Beach), beyond these you can see Spain and the Costa del Sol stretching out into the distance.

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I saw a bit of wildlife on my walk, bugs, birds and a good few lizards making the most of the warm sunshine. All bar one were too fast for me to photograph, but I caught a snap of this little chap before he skittered away into the cover of the plants.

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More steps…

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Nearly there, I’ve just climbed up all of those!

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The final push.

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Made it!

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Now for the descent. With the road underfoot, it’s a lot less arduous on this side of the Rock which is just as well, as the views of the town below can sometimes be a bit of a distraction. No accidents allowed!

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On the descent, I passed through the tourist hotspot of St Michael’s Cave, there were literally dozens of taxis and tour buses parked there bringing tourists up the Rock to take in the view and of course pay a visit to Gibraltar’s most famous, hairy inhabitants.

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As you can see the apes obliged and came out in in large numbers to greet their visitors.

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It’s on mornings like today I feel very lucky to be living in such an interesting and beautiful place as Gibraltar. Less than an hour’s walk from my front door and I’m up the Rock and in amongst the wildlife. As you have seen, the views from the top and on the way up and down are amazing. Add to that the gorgeous weather we have had today – hotter than an English summer’s day I reckon, and it’s easy to get over the twinges of homesickness I get from time to time.

Thank you for stopping by, I do hope you have enjoyed this little walk with me from the comfort of your armchair or wherever in the world you may be!