Gibraltar Literary Festival 2016


Wow where do I begin? The Gibraltar Literary Festival went by in a blur for me, I managed to get to a few more talks this year but really would have liked to get to even more. It’s a time when the atmosphere of the place changes, you can wander down Main Street and see Maureen Lipman walk past or be waiting to cross the road and Nicholas Parsons pulls up in a car nearby. You can see someone and say hello to them because you think you know them, then realise they are off the telly!

This year was the fourth annual Gibunco Gibraltar International Literary Festival (to give it it’s full title) and for the first time it ran over four days instead of three. The Festival takes the form of a series of talks, conversations and lectures given by published authors with a few posh ‘dos’ and meals in-between. Here are my highlights…

Ceremonial guard at the Convent

On Thursday morning I attended my first talk given by Dr Sally Bayley on the subject of diaries. With the title of The Private Life of the Diary, it was billed as “an interactive lecture on the nature and art of diary writing”. It was based on her book: The Private Life of the Diary : From Pepys to Tweets and was utterly fascinating. The diarists covered ranged from Samuel Pepys to Virginia Woolf, Anne Frank to Gibraltar’s own Miss World; Kaiane Aldorino.

Dr Sally Bayley
I have written an article all about this event for the Gibraltar based online parenting magazine Mum on the Rock . If you would like to read the article,  please click on this link.

Making the most of my time while the Little Postcards were in school, I treated myself to a second talk on Thursday. This time it was about works of literature in which the Rock of Gibraltar had featured, from Spanish and North African chroniclers in the Middle Ages to more recently, John Le Carre and Stieg Larsson.

Boyd Tonkin

This talk was introduced by Gibraltar’s Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo who had taken time out between reshuffling his cabinet that morning and heading to Parliament later in the afternoon. In his introduction he talked about the Convent (the Governor of Gibraltar’s residence) which was the venue for the event, and said it was a “place of stories, nuns and soldiers in equal measure, masters and servants, colonialism and emancipation”.  Mr Picardo expanded, saying Gibraltar “is a place where legends have been created – where stories have been spun and stories are still being written”.

After such a big build up, the stage was set for Boyd Tonkin, a writer, broadcaster and Chairman of the Man Booker Prize judging panel. He took us way back into the Middle Ages reading excerpts of ancient literature from North Africa and Spain, then on to writers who have found inspiration here on the Rock including Samuel Taylor Coleridge who visited en route to Malta in 1894 and wrote that it’s “a most interesting place” where you can “sit astride the summit” of the Rock. James Joyce’s Ulysses featured heavily throughout his talk along with the character Molly Bloom whose statue can be found in the Alameda Gardens (you may remember I yarnbombed her earlier this year 😉 )

He went on to reference Gibraltar’s role in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, a series which I enjoyed immensely. I remember reading the final book The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest when we lived for a while in Queensway Quay and read to my amazement that one of the central characters, Lisbeth Salander, had visited the marina to see her solicitor. I couldn’t believe that the heroine of the book I was so immersed in should come to visit the place where I was living at that moment.

Tonkin read this excerpt from The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest:

At 7:00 she left the hotel and set out to buy mangos and apples. She took a taxi to the Peak and walked over to the apes. She was so early that few tourists had yet appeared, and she was practically alone with the animals.

She liked Gibraltar. It was her third visit to the strange rock that housed an absurdly densely populated English town on the Mediterranean. Gibraltar was a place that was not like anywhere else. The town had been isolated for decades, a colony that obstinately refused to be incorporated into Spain. The Spaniards protested the occupation, of course. (But Salander thought that the Spaniards should keep their mouths shut on that score so long as they occupied the enclave of Ceuta on Moroccan territory across the strait.) It was a place that was comically shielded from the rest of the world, consisting of a bizarre rock, about three quarters of a square mile of town and an airport that began and ended in the sea. The colony was so small that every square inch of it was used, and any expansion had to be over the sea. Even to get into the town visitors had to walk across the landing strip at the airport.

Gibraltar gave the concept of “compact living” a whole new meaning.

I’d say that’s a pretty accurate literary portrayal of Gibraltar!

Friday lunchtime meant a trip to the Sunborn to see the great Just a Minute panel show. I went last year and it was so good, I was keen to get to see it again. I was particularly excited to see Pam Ayres, someone I had grown up seeing on the telly and who I find very funny. She was scheduled to speak later in the day at a time I couldn’t make so was looking forward to seeing her in this.

Unfortunately she had been delayed on her way to Gibraltar and wasn’t able to attend. The BBC Radio 4 presenter Sue McGregor from Woman’s Hour and the Today programme filled in for her instead. She was very good replacement, but I was a little bit disappointed to miss Pam Ayres. A friend of mine got to see her solo talk later on and said she was brilliant and very funny.

Nicholas Parsons
Nicolas Parsons, who had celebrated his 93rd birthday recently was on sparkling form and the rest of the panel too. Alongside him and Sue McGregor was the author and comedian Tony Hawks, actress and writer Maureen Lipman and author Felix Francis. After a very funny hour long session which saw the panel discussing subjects like champagne, Casablanca and cruise ships, Nicholas Parsons pledged his intention to return to the festival again next year.

The talk named ‘The Gibraltar Book Club’ piqued my interest as I am a member of a book club and wondered how this would translate to an hour long chat with an audience rather than a cosy evening out with friends and maybe a bottle or two of wine ;-). This book club had three members, Sue MacGregor, Maureen Lipman and Tony Hawks, all of whom had chosen a book for the two other panellists to review.

The Gibraltar Book Club
Maureen Lipman went first with her choice; a selection of essays by the playwright JB Priestley called ‘Grumbling at Large’. She said she’d been drawn to this book in particular as a friend of hers had put the collection together and written the foreword. Saying that when we have such busy lives it’s nice to have something to read which you can pick up and put down easily, and a collection of essays can do just that as you can read some of them in a few minutes. Essay writing is a really good way of “finding your literary voice” she added. The rest of the panel agreed that it was a good book, Sue MacGregor even gave an anecdote of the time when she had met the author.

Next up was Tony Hawkes, his choice was Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. He decided to pick it because he’d been a regular visitor to the Daphne du Maurier Literary Festival and realised to his shame that he had never actually read any of her books. Despite the initial impression that this was a “woman’s book” he said he’d enjoyed it. He liked how the author “led you in” and changed the pace of the story from romance to a whodunit style of thriller.

Maureen Lipman said she’d read it as a young woman and loved it but when she reread it recently, she was disappointed by the “wet woman” in the role of narrator. Sue MacGregor in comparison loved it and enjoyed how the “characters leapt off the page”.

Finally, Sue MacGregor introduced her choice which was Naples ’44, by the travel writer and former intelligence officer Norman Lewis. A great fan of Naples herself, she told the audience that the book was written after Lewis had spent time in the city in 1944 as an intelligence officer. He recounted his experiences in a city where people were starving to death and desparately trying to survive.

Maureen Lipman described it as “fabulous” and “the best type of journalism”. Tony Hawks said Lewis was a “keen observer of everything” and “clearly a compassionate man” but he didn’t reveal much about himself. In summary, the panel said they’d enjoyed the chance to read something they otherwise wouldn’t have picked up, which is definitely one of the joys of book club for me.

During the festival there were a number of events especially for families, all of which were free. Last year I took the Little Postcards along to see Christopher Lloyd and his ‘Complete Plays of Shakespeare in 60 minutes‘ and they enjoyed it immensely. This time we went along to see his latest offering ‘The History of Britain in 60 Minutes‘.

Christopher is a very engaging speaker and manages to hold the young audience’s attention with a series of props he produces from his cloak (not in this picture). Again this time, his talk was great as he picked up on common themes throughout British history like architecture and maritime history. He has a way of making the historical figures come alive and was very well received by both the younger and older members of the audience.

Sunday afternoon was a real highlight for me, I had arranged to go with a few of my book club friends to see the author of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernières.

Louis de Bernières

This hour long conversation between Louis and regular festival host, Paul Blezard was just wonderful. He read several of his poems, including one written in Spanish, and was questioned on whether he would consider rewriting the ending of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin as he was a bit dissatisfied with how it finished. “No!” was the reply to that, as it would make the book an awful lot longer! Louis also revealed that he’s being doing some research while in Gibraltar as the Rock will feature in his next book. I cannot wait to read that!

If you are still with me, thank you for reading this post – it’s been an lot longer than my usual ones! There was so much to see and experience at this year’s festival. 

I couldn’t help noticing that a very large percentage of the audience at all the events I attended (apart from the children’s one) were around retirement age. Quite a few had travelled over to Gibraltar, specifically for the festival, from Spain and the UK. How lovely to be able to spend that much time listening to wonderful speakers and expanding your mind!

I loved my time at the festival, I was lucky enough to see more this year than on my previous two visits. The whole event is growing each year and while it attracts very welcome return visitors, it also brings fresh new speakers each time. Both Nicolas Parsons and Christopher Lloyd said at their talks they’d like to return to Gibraltar next year for the fifth edition, I wonder just who else will be coming to the Rock to entertain us next time?

If you are interested in reading my experiences at the Literary Festival last year, you can find it here : So many books, so little time… Gibraltar Literary Festival 2015

 

 

Sunday Sevens #54 23.10.16

1 Spectacular speed boats

Last Sunday afternoon Catalan Bay played host to the ThunderCat Racing UK team and their rather fast speed boats. We took the Little Postcards down to the beach for a while to watch the proceedings.

There were plenty of people out to see what was going on and the beach side restaurant’s were full of spectators viewing while they are their Sunday lunches.

The boats roared off from the edge of the beach at the start of each race and bounced about over the waves on the course out at sea.

We’ve watched the boats on previous occasions when they’ve visited Gibraltar, although this is the first time we’ve seen them in this venue. It was a great way to spend the afternoon.


2 A day at home


Monday meant a day at home – I had a poorly Little Postcard to look after. We made the best of it with a picnic in front of the tv and watched a couple of movies. On a very quick trip to the patio to hang out some washing I spied the bougainvillea in bloom. It looked so great against the cloudless sky.

3 Dressmaking class


My poorly Postcard was well enough for school on Tuesday so work began in earnest on the second top in this academic year’s dressmaking class. The first was a sample sleeveless fitted top, now it’s a princess line, lined sleeveless top. I have made my pattern (as you can see above) and the fabric has been purchased (cream broderie anglaise) next week, I’ll be back in the hot seat behind my sewing machine!

4 Autumn florals


It may be the latter part of October, but the flowers in Gibraltar are still looking glorious. I don’t know whether the cooler damp and misty weather has revived some of them but there are so many blooms out at the moment and they are looking fabulous.

5 Gibraltar Literary Festival

The fourth annual Gibraltar Literary Festival began on Thursday with a bang. This year it’s running over four days for the first time and the organisers have done a great job filling the days with loads of great events. I took this photo outside the Convent (the Governor of Gibraltar’s residence) there can’t be too many literary festivals in the world with a ceremonial guard can there?

I turned  up nice and early to my first talk on Thursday morning and asked the speaker to pose for photographs. I took  some great ones (or so I thought) little did I know the Littlest Postcard had mucked about with  very kindly reset the shutter speed….. blurry pictures galore! Note to self always take a few trial pictures before an event gah!

I will share more about my Gibraltar Literary Festival 2016 experiences soon, I promise!

6 Down in the dell

It’s been so murky and gloomy weather-wise for most of the week here but a sneaky short cut through the beautiful Alameda Gardens gave me the shot of colour to break the greyness. You just can’t beat it!

7 Peek-a-boo boats


The misty weather continued yesterday and things were decidedly murky in the Bay. You could just see the tops of the boats above the sea mist. I love seeing the Bay like this, it’s so atmospheric, it reminds me how lucky we are to live here.

Sunday Sevens is a weekly blog series featuring seven photos from the last seven days. It was created by Natalie of Threads & Bobbins blog, to find out more pop over to her site for all the info.


A Postcard birthday

 

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It’s been a whole 12 months since my first blog post on Postcard from Gibraltar and what a fun and busy year it has been. I started out publishing my first post and wondering if anyone out there in cyberspace would actually read it but I soon discovered a lovely community who share my interest in craft and want to hear about this lovely Rock I live on.

Thank you very much for all the lovely comments and likes over the past year, I appreciate you taking the time to leave them. I read them all although sometimes it can take me a while to reply.

I know that an important part of being in this community is that it’s not just a one way street and we should all take the time to read each others posts and sometimes I’m not too great at that as life tends to get in the way a bit. Please know that I always mean to, and I usually get around to taking a look at my fellow bloggers posts eventually!

I’m afraid I’m being very lazy this week with my midweek post and I’m just going to share a few of my highlights from the last year with you. I hope you enjoy this trip down Memory Lane 🙂

 

Expat life:

Moving countries with two small children and leaving all our family and friends behind was no small feat. I have to admit that when I was faced with the prospect of moving here (due to Mr Postcard’s work relocating) I wasn’t impressed. I had my life sorted and was happy where I was, the prospect of having to start all over again didn’t fill me with joy.

Back in September last year the annual cardboard boat race in Ocean Village reminded me of what life was like back when we first arrived and that the warm welcome we received as a family helped us on the road to settling in: Cardboard boats and memories of moving

Apart from arriving here and making a fresh start, one of the hardest things about being an ‘expat’ is that many of our community are transient. For those who come with work or their partner’s job, rather than just making the choice to move here for good, their tenure in Gibraltar can be short.

However short that stay may be, friendships can develop fast. In the absence of family nearby friends very soon become each other’s support network and that makes saying goodbye all the harder: Saying goodbye…

 

Crafty highlights

I love, love, love making things. If you’ve caught any of my Sunday Sevens posts you’ll know that most of my weeks are dominated by crafty things including watercolour lessons, dressmaking lessons and of course, my love of crochet. In May, I was inspired to make a wreath celebrating the wild flowers I’d seen this Spring while I trained for the Med Steps 5 Challenge : Wild flowers of the Med Steps

 

Along with the Med Steps I have become very fond of the Alameda Botanical gardens during our almost seven years here in Gibraltar.  International Yarnbombing Day 2016 proved too much of an opportunity to miss paying homage to the Alameda Gardens bicentennial celebrations.

 

Gibraltar highlights

Last Saturday was the Convent Garden Party, an annual event which the Postcard family usually attends. It’s the one chance in the year for ‘normal’ folk to have a wander around the beautiful back garden which belongs to the Governor of Gibraltar. My post about last year’s event ended up being my first ever blog post based on a walk (a theme which has featured heavily in the last few months): A stroll up the garden path…

As I mentioned earlier, I am a bit of a fan of the Med Steps. So much so that I climbed them five times in the one day last month as part of the Med Steps 5 Challenge. If you have never had the pleasure of climbing them yourself, here’s what you’re missing! The Med Steps: a few facts & figures

 

On 9th June, Gibraltar woke to find itself wrapped up with a blanket of fog. I thought it was the perfect opportunity to climb the Med Steps again (as it had been getting a bit warm to do it in recent weeks). On that walk I experienced the most amazing view (the one you can see above). I had been misguided in thinking that the fog would help me with its cool damp air, as I climbed the steps I soon realised that I had, in fact, climbed up out of the fog and was viewing it from above.

At one of my many rest points on that morning, I witnessed this stunning view of the Rock swathed in fog. It was otherworldly and truly mesmerising. I was also only one of a handful of people who had braved the Med Steps that morning, we were incredibly lucky to see this weather phenomenon from such an elevated vantage point.

As soon as I got home I posted this photo online and got the most amazing response. So far, more than 12,000 people have viewed it on Facebook! I also wrote a post about my foggy walk and featured a lot more photos: A mini stroll in the mist

 

A year on the Rock

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One of the great things about living in Gibraltar is that despite it’s size (which is really quite tiny) there is so much to do. The social calendar includes the Three Kings Cavalcade, the Calentita food festival, the Gibraltar Fair, National Day, the Gibraltar Music Festival, the Gibraltar Literary Festival, and the Christmas Light switch on to name just a few.

Here are a couple of my highlights from the last 12 months: Rock stars & heart throbs: Gibraltar Music Festival 2015 & So many books, so little time… Gibraltar Literary Festival 2015

Looking back at all that makes me realize we’ve packed a lot into our last year on the Rock. I know we are very lucky to live in such a great place and to have the opportunity to experience all we have. 

I first started this blog after being encouraged to do so by friends and family and I’m really glad I did. Postcard from Gibraltar has opened doors for me both virtually and in real life, it’s been a great adventure so far, here’s hoping the next 12 months are as good if not better!

Thank you for dropping by!