End of summer catch-up

Hello everyone, sorry for the radio silence for the last few weeks. It’s been a hectic time with one thing and another so Postcard from Gibraltar took a bit of a back seat, all being well Sunday Sevens will be back this weekend and normal service will be resumed!

In the meantime, here’s a bit of a catch-up from the last few weeks…

Mid August I took the Little Postcards away with me to visit my parents in Manchester.

We had a great time. It was so lovely to see them as they haven’t been able to make it over to see us this year and they noticed a big difference in the Little Postcards and how much they’ve grown. Aside from seeing friends and family it’s also lovely to do things we can’t do in Gibraltar. Like foraging for berries, and then enjoying them in the tastiest Apple & bramble crumble. (We jettisoned the elderberries- not sure what to use them for).

It’s become a bit of an annual tradition on our summer trips back home to visit Marbury Park for a picnic and then call into the Great Budworth Ice Cream farm for ice creams on the way home. I wouldn’t have felt right if we hadn’t done it this year, so we did!

And of course, the reward for the walk was some super duper raspberry ripple!

We took a trip into Lancashire to visit my lovely little brother and his wife. They drove us to Rivington Terraced Gardens where we had a picnic and a fabulous woodland walk climbing up a huge hill. We could even see Blackpool Tower in the distance!

After our week or so up north, we took the train down south to visit some very dear friends of ours who used to live in Gibraltar.

Grey’s Court National Trust property is just a short drive from where our friends live and we enjoyed a lovely trip there in the summer sunshine!

All too quickly though, our time in England came to an end…

Bye bye England!

As we headed home from Malaga airport, it didn’t take long before the sweaty Levante cloud came into view….

A couple of weeks ago it was the annual Gibraltar Fair with the usual churros, rides and this year Jedward too… we didn’t stay late enough to see the former Eurovision & X Factor pair. I hear they were ‘entertaining’.

As the fair drew to a close, so did the school summer holidays for many young people including my 3. Lots of others though, are still waiting for their new school buildings to open next week.

Last weekend the Gibraltar Calling Music Festival was on. A highlight for me was Liam Gallagher. I’ve seen Oasis play live a couple of times and I was really looking forward to seeing Liam. He didn’t disappoint.

And there he was up on stage in his trademark coat even though it was swelteringly hot!!

I will share another highlight of the music festival in Sunday Sevens….

Sunday Sevens #152 2.9.18

Last week began for us with a bank holiday weekend back in Manchester, and ended on a Ferris Wheel in Gibraltar! Without further ado, here’s this week’s Sunday Sevens…

Manchester Pride

Last weekend it was Manchester Pride. On Monday I took the Bee in the City Trail in central Manchester with the Little Postcards, it was the last day of Pride and we snuck through the barriers on the hunt for bees and soaked up a bit of the after party atmosphere.

Bee in the City

As I just mentioned, we went on the Bee in the City Trail on Monday too. This is the first one we encountered at Manchester Piccadilly station. A post all about it will hopefully appear soon…

Mold

On Tuesday we took a trip to North Wales to visit family members. It was a lovely trip and the Little Postcards loved meeting up with their second cousins.

Worden Park

We had a recommendation from a friend to visit a park in Lancashire called Worden Park. It’s on the outskirts of Leyland and is just perfect for a visit with small people. We played crazy golf, had a lovely lunch in a courtyard surrounded by craft workshops (below), visited a lovely walled garden run by a local charity (below below) and the Little Postcards loved the adventure playground. It got the Postcard from Gibraltar family seal of approval.

A-mazing fun

If you read my Friday photo challenge at the beginning of August about gardens, you may remember the subject of the challenge as Somerleyton Hall in Suffolk. When we visited we had hoped to try our hands at the maze on the estate, sadly we ran out of time and had to leave.

Imagine my surprise, that while visiting Worden Park, we found another maze, made by the very same man who had designed the one at Somerleyton! He obviously travelled a bit, Suffolk and Lancashire…. so we got our fix of a maze this summer after all.

Heading home!

All too soon, our time in Manchester came to an end, and we headed to Malaga (to avoid a shockingly early flight to Gibraltar).

And at last, we were home!

Gibraltar Fair

Last night was the final night of the Gibraltar Fair, and we arrived home just in time for a visit.

This year, it had a new addition of a Ferris Wheel. I was ever so brave and went on it, but crikey it was high up!!

That’s it for Sunday Sevens for this week, slightly long winded this week (apologies!) as always, I’m linking with Natalie from Threads and Bobbins for this weekly blog series.

The adventures of Llanita, the Gibraltar Yarndale sheep

Llanita, the Gibraltar Yarndale sheep

Introducing Llanita, Gibraltar’s very own Yarndale sheep. For those of you unfamiliar with Yarndale, it’s a festival of all things woolly which takes place in Skipton, North Yorkshire in September. It’s in it’s fourth year now and each year, the organisers ask for crocheters and knitters to contribute a little item to decorate the festival, and as with last year’s event, those items will be used to generate funds for a local charity.

Baa!
 
In past years they have asked for bunting triangles, mandalas and flowers. This year, they have asked people to contribute little knitted or crocheted sheep. I have contributed to this effort in the past and couldn’t resist sending a Gibraltar representative to Yarndale again. 

The charity they are supporting this year is the wonderful Martin House Hospice for children & young people. Many years ago before having small people of my own, I was lucky enough to visit this marvelous place through my job. It is a magical place where everyone is greeted with a smile, so positive and uplifting. 

Before Llanita was packaged up and sent off, I couldn’t resist having a little bit of fun with her … she’s been around the Rock on a bit of an adventure, and even got lost! Here’s what she’s been up to:

Visiting the Convent

You can’t fly the flag for Gibraltar without a visit to the Convent, the official residence of the Governor of Gibraltar. She popped in for afternoon tea and a chat about her important job representing the Rock at Yarndale. 😉

Hanging out in Casemates Square
She loved hanging out in Casemates Square, it’s quite the place to be seen, especially on a Friday night when the bars and restaurants are busy.

Admiring the art at the Gibraltar National Gallery
Quite the sheep about town, Llanita decided to soak up some culture on a visit to the Mario Finlayson National Art Gallery at City Hall.

Llanita likes nothing more than a sheep dip in the pool on a very hot day…

You just can’t beat an early morning frolic in the luscious grass at Commonwealth Park. A little nibble of that for breakfast sets her up for the day, but please don’t tell the park keepers!

Frolicking in the grass at Commonwealth Park

So here’s the thing… I discovered to my horror, shortly after taking the above photo, that Llanita was missing. No!!! Cue: little Bo Peep tune.

I could only assume she must have loved the feeling of the grass on her hooves so much that she didn’t want to leave Commonwealth Park. 

But we still need a Gibraltar Yarndale sheep I hear you cry… Drum roll please: in a Dolly the sheep type cloning exercise we have a replacement…. Llanita Mark II.

Continuing the good work done by Llanita Mark I, Llanita carried on her pre-Yarndale tour of Gibraltar. Next stop: the beach!

Llanita loves it at Catalan Bay but isn’t a fan of the sand on her hooves. She loved it so much that she’s been twice!

She also really enjoyed her trip to the Gibraltar Fair but the candy floss at the family pavilion was more her thing than the noisy rides…

The imposing Trinity House Lighthouse at Europa Point is right up her street. It even matches her woolly jumper!

Just like all beauty queens who represent Gibraltar on the international stage, Llanita posed for a photo on the runway in front of the Rock before flying off to join the flock of woolly sheep at the Yarndale Festival.

She packed her very own postcard from Gibraltar so that the other Yarndale sheep know her name and where she’s from.

Bye bye Llanita, have a safe trip! Keep the Gibraltar flag flying!


Baa baa!

But that’s not the end of Llanita’s story, no sooner than she was ready to set off, who should put in an appearance?

The original Llanita turned up in a totally inexplicable place, under a beach towel at the bottom of the beach bag! She must have been hiding in there all along. What a happy ending to the Llanita the Yarndale sheep story – now one Llanita can fly off to Yarndale and the other can stay at home with me!!

Llanito or Yanito is the dialect spoken in Gibraltar and includes a mixture of English, Spanish, Genoese and words borrowed from other languages.

A Llanita (pronounced Yanita) is a female Gibraltarian.

Sunday Sevens #46 28.8.16

Catalan Bay


It was so hot in our apartment last Sunday, there was a heavy Levanter in town and strong winds there too but up in our corner of Gibraltar  it was still and hot and very humid. We escaped round to Catalan Bay in the afternoon for a short walk and most importantly for ice cream for the smaller folk. You wouldn’t believe the difference in tempterature on other side of the Rock. 

The beach was very quiet for a Sunday, but then perhaps people had been put off by the overcast weather. We enjoyed the cool anyway 🙂

Animal rescue


This little chap found himself trapped in our lounge on Monday, he must have flown in through the window. He got stuck between the two sashes as I tried to open them more to let him out. My little animal lover (Middle Postcard) stepped in to rescue him from between the two parts of window while I held them still. 

He flew out of the window and sat on the balcony to get his breath back for a few moments before flying off to find his Mum. My Dad tells me he’s probably a Great Tit chick. Whatever he is, he’s cute and was happy to be close to us after his rescue. I hope he found his Mum ok. 

Beach day


We had a lovely beach day on Wednesday. We’d arranged to meet a family there and ended up seeing another two families from school, so the Little Postcards had a fab time with their friends. All in all, our trip to Sandy Bay was a huge success.

All the fun of the fair


The fair’s in town at the moment. It can only mean one thing… The school summer holidays are coming to an end. We made our annual pilgrimage to look at the rides but not go on any and I am  amazed and pleased to say that we did partake of a couple of rides. 

We went in a group with friends and peer pressure may have had something to do with it. Nothing was too ‘wild’ but it’s progress on last year’s visit where the only thing we tried was the food!! 

An evening in Catalan Bay part 1


On Friday evening I went to Catalan Bay to meet a new friend (more on that shortly). When I arrived, it was a muggy overcast evening but the Bay looked as beautiful as ever. As the evening wore on and darkness fell the sky was lit by lightning and there were a couple of rumbles of thunder. 

When I got home and mentioned the storm out at sea, the Postcard family had been completely oblivious on this side of the Rock! 

An evening in Catalan Bay part 2 : Gin & Crochet


I went to Catalan Bay to meet up with the crochet guru Marisa also known as @mariwish on Instagram. We spent a lovely evening chatting, eating tapas, drinking gin and crocheting. Marisa teaches crochet in London but is visiting her native Gibraltar to see her family and decided to offer some crochet classes while she’s here on holiday too. 

I got tips and advice on making lacy shawls – not that I needed to start another project, but I’m well and truly hooked. It’s been great fun learning a new technique 🙂


Luscious lavender 


The lavender in Commonwealth Park is just lovely at the moment. I have walked through in the evening several times this week and the scent has been just lovely. It’s one of my favourite scents!

Sunday Sevens was created by Natalie at Threads & Bobbins if you fancy joining in, check out her blog. 

Until next time, thanks for stopping by 

🙂



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

IMG_6071

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!

 

Sister Sledge, treasure hunts & a praying mantis: August Bank Holiday fun

 
Wow, wow, wow! I had a fantastic night on Saturday entertained on the Sunborn yacht hotel by the amazing Sister Sledge. I was well and truly star struck (my first ever single was Frankie back in 1985). They were great and put on a fantastic show.  

 
They sang loads of their old hits, except Frankie (what a disappointment) but apart from that it was a great night. Everyone was up dancing and there was a real party atmosphere. It was a fun musical prelude ahead of the great Gibraltar Music Festival which happens next weekend. For such a small community, we really are lucky with the amount of entertainment we get to experience here. 

Sunday, by comparison, was a rather quieter affair in the Postcard household, it was a dull humid day again which didn’t inspire us to venture far from home until evening. There was a bit of pottering on the patio in the afternoon, tidying up and cutting back some of the summer growth in the garden. While attending to an Oleander bush, my husband spotted this little fellow:

  
The praying mantis caused much excitement for the boys, especially our young bug enthusiast. Field notes were taken and research done.

   

Many of our patio plants are past their best now unfortunately but this sunflower, which has multiple flowers and buds up its stem just keeps going! I do love sunflowers, they are so cheery.
  
After dinner we decided to pay the Gibraltar Fair one last visit. It ran for nine days and Sunday was its last night. Could we entice one of our boys to have a go on one of the rides this time? (See this post for more on our previous trip to Gibraltar Fair)

  
The answer is ‘Yes we could!’ The youngest of the family not only had a trip round on a carousel, he also had a great time on a bouncy castle. Perhaps we are a family of doers rather than watchers after all? Watch this space!

I reckon the weather here in Gibraltar got the memo that it was a British bank holiday here too, because it was yet another grey and gloomy day on Bank Holiday Monday. I had rather hoped we could fit in a final trip to the beach before school starts next week but I wasn’t inspired by the clouds. What could we do to tire out three boys who need to start going to bed early again ahead of the fast approaching start of term? A treasure hunt! A friend of mine had mentioned geocaching to me once a while ago and I’d downloaded the app to my phone but didn’t do anything with it, until today. 

If you haven’t heard of geocaching before I’ll explain; (if you have heard of it, apologies for this bit!) the aim of the exercise is to try and find a cache. A cache can be just a piece of paper in a box or other container which is well hidden from view in sometimes quite obvious places. You use the app to find them, it tells you which direction to walk in and roughly how far you are from your destination using GPS and offers clues for where to look. When you find the cache, to mark your discovery you update the app to say you’ve found it and sign and date the piece of paper before hiding it back in it’s original hiding place. These caches are hidden all over the world by folks who presumably enjoy purting their puzzle and problem solving skills to the test.

There are quite a few of these caches dotted around Gibraltar so I decided to try the area around the Botanic Gardens as there are three nearby and if we failed in our mission, at least we could have a trip to the small zoo there.  

 
The gardens really are lovely, although the grey sky and murkiness in this photo don’t  show it off to it’s best advantage! We ambled through the gardens and paid a visit to the Alameda Wildlife Park or ‘zoo’ as we like to call it. It’s tucked away in a small corner of the gardens and offers a home to a small and eclectic collection of animals, many of which have been rescued from smugglers.

  
The pot-bellied pigs are big favourites for us, as are the tortoises.

   
Of course there a few of Gibraltar’s most famous residents, the Barbary Macaques.


Check out this little guinea pig – it’s got such a lot of hair! (Or perhaps that should be fur)

  
Back down through the gardens we headed over this gorgeous bridge over the sunken garden.

  

The garden is beautiful and a real green oasis in a rather built up environment- I do enjoy spending time here.

 
We were, of course, on a mission to find treasure or at the very least a bit of paper in a plastic box so we set off on our first mission. It was unsuccessful. Hunting around looking for something I had never seen before in grotty holes reminded me of the frustration I’m faced with daily as a mother of young boys who constantly lose toys (or bits of toys). I was not really enjoying this geocaching lark, so we gave up and went to the nearby shop and ate ice cream.

Reinvigorated and energized after a sugary treat we decided to push on and try to find a different cache. This was a short walk away and hidden in a wall. There are a lot of walls in Gibraltar and this particular one is over 100 metres long. After much rooting about in undergrowth and worried looks from passers-by I sat on a bench for a sip of water feeling defeated. That wasn’t the case for the rest of the team and the cache was discovered. There was much high-giving and congratulations. Feeling rather pleased with ourselves  we carried on and found a second one a short walk further along the road. 

I have to admit I’m intrigued by this geocaching business and would like to have another go soon. It’s interesting to see the names of the other people who have found them before you and signed the logs and also see where they have come from.  Have you had any experience of it? If so I’d love to hear from you. I haven’t included any pictures of the caches or where we found them as you may want to have a go at finding them yourself one day. That’s all for now, happy September to you all!

Hook-a-duck, happy kids & Hank Marvin: Gibraltar Fair week 2015

  

Hot on the heels of the cardboard boat race on Saturday afternoon (see this post for more on that), saw the opening of the 2015 Gibraltar Fair on Saturday night. Another regular feature in the Gibraltar social calendar which we like to dip our toes into each year. Normally, we turn up early in the evening (ie well before 8pm) forgetting that the fair doesn’t start until around 8, and like a handful of other families with young children prowl around the fairground checking out which rides we might have a go on.

  
Over the years (this is our 7th Gibraltar Fair), it’s become apparent that we are a family of observers rather than ‘doers’. Usually after an hour or so of watching other people enjoying themselves, we manage to coerce our offspring to ‘have a go’ on the tame children’s version of the dodgems. Then we get a portion of calamares and chips in the Family Pavillion before heading home.

  
Every year we stand by this ride, a train which loops in a circle through a tunnel, and look on mesmerised. The ride itself is nothing remarkable (well we’ve never been on so we wouldn’t know) but the chap who performs on top of and around it certainly is! He wears a rather snazzy flamenco/disco dress with coordinating tights and Plimsoll shoes and dances about whacking the train passengers with a small broomstick! At times he rides along on the roof of the locomotive ducking under the tunnel at the very last minute, at others he juggles the two tennis balls masquerading as bosoms, tossing them high into the air and catching them in his top! He really has to be seen to be believed. If anything says Gibraltar Fair to me it’s him.

 
  
This year, despite much encouragement our children refused to partake in any of the rides at all. The fair however, isn’t just about the rides there are stalls as well run by local charity and voluntary groups. The Lions had a raffle as usual, there was a plant raffle and the Girl Guides were selling cupcakes among a few others. But there’s one stall which is bound the attract our boys, hook-a-duck!

  
As we have done every year since we arrived in Gibraltar, our youngest two handed over their money to the ladies and merrily hooked their way to win their prizes. They may not have wanted to go on a ride but they experienced all the fun of the fair as they fished their yellow plastic ducks out of the water! They were thrilled with their prizes of a ping-pong ball pistol and a puzzle cube. 

   
Armed with juice, a plastic tub of candy floss (it doesn’t taste the same as it did when I was a kid) and a couple of lagers for Mum and Dad, we took our seats in the Family Pavillion. Each night different acts perform shows on the stage there, singing dancing and magic have all featured before now. In previous years we’ve stayed until the beginning of a show and then something’s happened, a poorly child, a tired child, a frightened child and so we have had to up and leave just as the fun starts. This year that wasn’t the case, not only did we see the start of the show, we saw the middle and the end! We had happy kids, who despite being embarrassed at their old Mum singing along to ‘Sounds of the Sixties’, were quite happy to stay put and enjoy the evening. 

 
We were even serenaded by a Hank Marvin tribute (although I thought he was a bit more Austin Powers than Hank Marvin)!

  
And so it ended, with one child asleep in a buggy, and the other two content and awake. Our route home required that we pass the churros stand…

  
   

  
… It would’ve been rude not to have some don’t you think?! Churros and hot chocolate was the perfect way to end our longest and most successful trip to the Gibraltar Fair yet. And who knows, next time we might actually ride on something!