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

 

1

 

 

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!

 

So many books, so little time… Gibraltar Literary Festival 2015

 The past four days has seen Gibraltar at the centre of the literary universe (well sort of) as it hosted the 3rd Gibraltar International Literary Festival. This was only my second experience of the event as, I’m ashamed to admit, the first one passed me by. Last year though, I was determined to get a bit of the action and I was lucky enough to meet two of my literary heroines, Kate Mosse and Joanne Harris. I am still star-struck to this day. Kate Mosse borrowed a pen from Joanne Harris to sign my copy of The Taxidermist’s Daughter at the end of a very long queue! (It’s a great atmospheric read by the way).


The Festival brings with it a real buzz to the town and there’s always the chance you may bump into someone famous in the street, on Thursday while waiting to meet my son from school, Maureen Lipman walked past and Nicholas Parsons got out of a car in front of us.

I think the reason why I find the Literary Festival so energising and magical is that not only does it all take place within the small sphere that makes up my day-to-day life here in Gibraltar, but these clever individuals come all this way to speak to us about their work and do it in our everyday venues which my sons have done school plays and sung concerts in! Imagine if a big literary name came and gave a talk in your local village hall or church, it just doesn’t happen – except for here that is.

My first talk this year was at the Garrison Library and was given by William Chislett. Entitled ‘The Curiosos Impertinentes: 19th and 20th-century British Travellers in Spain’ Chislett looked back at accounts by eight British writers who travelled at length in Spain and documented their experiences. The term ‘curiosos impertinentes’ translates in this instance to mean the ‘annoyingly curious’ and comes from Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote. The writers in question ranged from Richard Ford who travelled across the country in the 1830s on horseback wearing a lambskin coat and with two layers of brown paper lining his hat during the summer (presumably to protect it from his sweat) to Michael Jacobs, who died last year, and relied on public transport to traverse the nation as he couldn’t drive and felt it was a better way of meeting real Spaniards than travelling everywhere by car.

The well received talk covered Spain’s clichéd representation as a land of conquistadors, flamenco, and bull fights before touching on more subtle aspects of the Spanish character like the sense of belonging to one’s village, town or city of birth, ahead of a sense of national identity and the national obsession with food, which according to one author was beyond that of the French or Italians. It was interesting to note that in some cases the observations and paintings recorded by the early British travel writers are the earliest documents available on certain parts of Spain, particularly within the rural centre.


(Photo courtesy of  gibraltar-stamps.com)

Friday morning saw the launch of  a commemorative set of stamps to mark the 800th Anniversary of the Magna Carta. Minister for Business and Employment, Neil Costa officially launched the stamps as an introduction to Dr Dan Jones’ talk on Magna Carta – The Making and Legacy of the Great Charter.

With a backdrop of the beautiful King’s Chapel, Dr Dan Jones’ conversation with Paul Blezard was highly entertaining and really brought to life what happened 800 years ago. His insight into the character of the “warlord and despot” King John was at times highly amusing and put a human narrative into the story rather just being a staid history lesson. He told how the Magna Carta was created in an attempt to halt a civil war (which it did, but only for two months) and that the King made promises ‘to his faithful subjects and free men’ which are still of legal importance today. Dr Jones spoke of how the ideas within the Magna Carta have “transcended the Middle Ages” and are believed to have formed the thinking behind the United States’ Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence.

In February this year, all four known remaining 13th Century copies of the Magna Carta were brought together for the first time, and Dan Jones was invited to see them. He explained how each one was very different as they were written on vellum (animal skin) and as animals come in different shapes it leads to different sized and shaped pieces of vellum. Also the styles of writing differ due to the use of different scribes and some are in much better condition than others. There could though, still be more copies out there just waiting to be discovered in library archives.

Dan Jones also discussed his newest book; Realm Divided – A Year in the Life of Plantagenet England which looks at what was going on six months before and after the Magna Carta was drawn up at Runnymede. Among the events he mentioned was the siege of Rochester Castle when King John broke through the castle walls by having his soldiers mine underground and fill the tunnel with wooden struts smeared with pig fat before setting fire to it and collapsing the walls above. He asked us to imagine what it must have been like for the desperately hungry people stuck inside, who had been without fresh food or water for weeks, to smell the roasting pig fat burning below them!

Last year, a number of my friends (who are also Mums) spoke very highly of Christopher Lloyd and his What on Earth? wallbooks. This year was his third visit to the Gibraltar Literary Festival and this time he brought his newest books The What on Earth? Wallbook Timeline of Shakespeare and The Magna Carta Chronicle. The presentation I went to, along with my offspring, was The Complete Plays of William Shakespeare in 60 minutes… at the John Mackintosh Hall. The festival shows which are directed at children are offered free of charge and I can certainly say that the one we experienced was fantastic.

Presented by a man who is clearly passionate about his work and in front of the colourful backdrop of his Shakespeare wallbook, the audience of reception aged children through to grandparents were enthralled.

From early in his presentation, Christopher Lloyd had the audience participation cracked, picking out children (and amazingly remembering their names) to help illustrate his points and bring the stories of Shakespeare’s 38 plays to life. He talked about themes which run through the stories they tell like ghosts and death, love, doubt and fear.

When he donned his trademark ‘coat of many pockets’ he engaged the young members of the audience by getting them to guess the emotions connected to the colours and find out what symbolic item lay inside; a rose to symbolise love (pink pocket), a magician’s wand to symbolise magic (black pocket) and confetti to symbolise happiness (yellow pocket).

After collecting an ensemble cast of willing actors (adults and children) he put on a couple of performances, a potted version of Macbeth and another of Much Ado about Nothing. A rather stunned couple of middle school-aged pupils got married in Much Ado and a suitably attired trio of witches in pointy hats got to cast the famous spell of “Double, double, toil and trouble/ Fire burn and cauldron bubble” from the Scottish play.

I can now see what my friends were talking about when they raved about Christopher Lloyd’s previous performances at the festival. He was funny, engaging and brought the things he was talking about to life, whether it was the Big Bang, the extinction of the dinosaurs or Bottom in Midsummer Night’s Dream being turned into a donkey. I do hope he returns to next year’s festival as personally I’d like to see him again, never mind the kids!

The climax of my Gibraltar Literary Festival experience was a special edition of the BBC Radio 4 panel show ‘Just a minute’. It was held at lunchtime today (Sunday) onboard the Sunborn Yacht Hotel in Ocean Village. Despite being the ripe old age of 92 years old, the show’s chair for the past 48 years, Nicholas Parsons, held court brilliantly and was ably assisted with the stopwatch and whistle by his wife Annie.

The panel of Dame Esther Rantzen, novelist Felix Francis (son of the late Dick Francis) and comedians Marcus Brigstocke and Miles Jupp (who’s best known in our house as Archie the Inventor on Balamory) were welcomed by a sell-out audience packed into the Aurora Ballroom on the yacht. (Many apologies for the grainy quality of these photos but the lighting wasn’t particularly conducive for a phone camera!).

The show was kicked off by Marcus Brigstocke who was given 60 seconds to talk about the subject of Gibraltar without hesitation, repetition or deviation. He began a humourous monologue about being able to buy a bottle Advocaat on Main Street for £8 before being interrupted by Miles Jupp. During the performance, which lasted for well over an hour, the starting subjects were diverse (cricketing phrases in everyday use, Hallowe’en and conkers) although somehow the topic of Gibraltar, and it’s resident barbary apes made frequent appearances, much to the delight of the crowd.

On the subject of  Literary Festivals, Brigstocke commented that “they are ten a penny” and allowed “bookworms to come together and pretend they’re ok with social interaction” which was much appreciated by the audience.

Felix Francis’s background was obviously taken into consideration when he was asked to speak about the subject of Thoroughbreds. This was hilariously turned around by Marcus Brigstocke who changed the meaning completely to ‘thorough breads’ and talked about toasted Hovis rather than racehorses. Also Miles Jupp’s account of school conker matches brought howls of laughter from the crowd.

Esther Rantzen won over the audience with her witty and very sharp knowledge of grammar and found every excuse to interrupt the other contestants on account of their misuse of the English language.

During the second half of the performance (it was separated into 2 ‘shows’) Marcus Brigstocke took a slightly more risqué approach on the subject of Getting up in the morning, much to the delight of the sell-out crowd. The topic in question was touched on again several times by other panellists and each time brought titters and howls of laughter. Nicholas Parsons described the comments as “suggestive naughtiness” and was grateful for the fact this edition of the show wasn’t being recorded to be broadcast on BBC Radio 4.

On the subject of the ‘real’ Just a Minute shows, Parsons said it was probably the least edited show on radio, as you can’t edit something that’s timed and commented that he’s “incredibly proud of the fact he’s part of such a show”. Today’s performance was testament to the fact it’s a great format and with such witty contestants it’s no wonder it’s clocked up 1,200 recorded shows over 48 years.

Looking back over the festival this year, it’s been great fun for me and I’ve only been to four events. There was such a diverse range of talks to chose from and I was spoiled for choice on what to attend, it was family commitments and timings which stopped me going to more. Well done to the organisers, the festival really does appear to be going from strength to strength and I can’t wait to see what the Gibraltar International Literary Festival 2016 has to offer. Thank you, it’s been a blast.

Sunday Sevens #6 15/11/15


This week’s Sunday Sevens started rather flowery, but ends sadly with Gibraltar’s tribute to those affected by the terrible events in Paris on Friday.

Sunday Sevens is a blog series created by Natalie at Threads and Bobbins. It features 7 photos from the past week.


1 Watercolour class

This week has been a little bit thin on the ground for inspiring photos, so I decided to have a theme, no prizes for guessing that it’s flowers. Monday, for me, meant a return to my watercolour class after the midterm break. We worked on a number of pieces but this is the only one which I managed to complete, a little anemone.

2 A surprise on the balcony

My dressmaking class on Tuesday didn’t yield anything in the photographic sense but I did make some progress, I am hoping to be able to reveal what I’ve been working on soon… Meanwhile, while hanging out the washing this afternoon I was surprised to find this beautiful hibiscus bloom. The plant hasn’t given us many flowers lately so I presumed it was having an autumn/winter rest but this beauty opened up without me noticing.

3 Armistice Day

My only crochet since our return from Spain last week has been this little poppy (pattern from Simply Crochet Issue 24). Being over the border last week I was unable to buy a poppy to mark Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday so I made this. I did manage to find a Poppy Appeal pot to make my donation though afterwards.

4 Gibraltar Literary Festival Day 1

Thursday saw the start of the 3rd Gibunco Gibraltar Literary Festival and I attended a talk at the Garrison Library. I am in the midst of writing about my experiences at the festival for a post coming soon, so in the meantime, here’s a lovely lantana flower from the Garrison Library garden.

5 Gibraltar Literary Festival Day 2

Friday was a history sort of a day for me at the Literary Festival, so here’s a Tudor Rose from the cover of Dan Jones’ book ‘The Hollow Crown’ (one of my purchases – shh it’s our little secret!).

6 Lilies 

I LOVE flowers and when we lived in the UK I had cut flowers in the house most weeks. When we moved to Gibraltar, I soon discovered that cut flowers don’t last five minutes before they droop and look a bit worse for wear. Now we’re in November though and the heat of the summer has subsided, I treated myself to some lilies and lisianthus this week and they look fab.

7 Tribute to Paris

 

Last night Gibraltar paid tribute to the victims of Friday’s dreadful events in Paris by lighting Moorish Castle with the French tricolore.

Gibraltar Garrison Library

The Gibraltar Garrison Library is an impressive colonial building in the centre of town opposite the Elliott Hotel. It’s a building I pass almost daily during the week and one I have been meaning to pay a visit to for years but just hadn’t got round to it. The Gibraltar Literary Festival begins tomorrow and the place to get tickets is here (if you don’t take the online option), so a couple of weeks back when I ventured in to make my ticket purchases it reminded me of my intention to visit it properly. So while my parents were over, before the midterm holiday, a tour around the Garrison Library was a lovely way to spend a morning.

  
The tour began in the ‘Gibraltar Room’ (above) which, as the name suggests, holds all the books pertaining to Gibraltar.

The Garrison Library is a beautiful building (as the photos illustrate) and steeped in history. It was founded in 1793 by Colonel Drinkwater after the Great Siege of Gibraltar. During  the siege it became obvious to him that there was a dearth of decent reading material. So in an attempt to keep officers attentions away from the unseemly pursuits of women and drink, the library was established.

  
Reading rooms were initially set up at a different location and work began on the construction of the current building in 1800. The materials used were locally sourced, exceptionally strong cork oak flooring was used which looks as good today as when it was laid and the fireplaces were designed to burn coke which could be found in the Campo area across the border in Spain.

Some books were purchased when the library first opened but most of the collection of up to 50,000 volumes and artifacts were gifted to the library by officers from their own private collections as they headed home or onto their next posting. A considerable section though, was ‘acquired’ by the navy when they seized ships and passed on any books found onboard. For this reason there is a sizable Napoleonic Collection (all in French) taken from French ships.

These photos show the edition of the Gibraltar Chronicle (our local newspaper) reporting on  the Battle of Trafalgar and, as you can see (on the right hand side of the photos) shows the article in both English and French as the editor of the Chronicle was a Frenchman.

This impressive staircase leads upstairs to the upper reading room, which is now used for public events like Government press conferences and lectures by visiting academics. The portrait in this room is of Colonel Drinkwater the founder of the library.

Among the many volumes on its shelves are first editions of novels, major works of science and religion of the time and even Ghengis Khan’s Autobiography! There is every edition of the Gibraltar Chronicle since 1800 to the present day. Some of the books, due to their age, are in a pretty fragile condition. The library relies on a team of volunteers to support the staff in the care and recording of the books.

Also on the top floor of the building is a ballroom (a strange room to find in a library don’t you think?). The rules governing the library meant that only men were allowed in, so in order to get around this, and allow ladies to join the officers when they held balls and parties in the ballroom, they built a special stair and rear balcony so that the female guests could join, them avoiding the main entrance and staircase.

I’m not sure how easy it would have been to negotiate that metal spiral staircase in a big ballgown and dainty shoes, it was clearly designed by a man!

A telescope sits before a window at the front of the ballroom so that officers could keep an eye out at sea and make sure no funny business was going on in the bay while they were enjoying their R&R. It’s hard to imagine there used to be a sea view from the window as today the development of the town and harbour area (not to mention the trees) rather obscure any view of the sea from here today.


The flooring up here in the ballroom is particularly beautiful, especially in the window recesses and door thresholds.

   
 
To the rear of the library lies a tranquil garden.

   

It would be a lovely peaceful place to just come and sit. Unfortunately for us it was a little damp on the day we visited so it wasn’t quite the weather for such lazing about, but hopefully I’ll get the chance to take advantage of the garden at some point in the future.

  

If you ever find yourself in these parts I would highly recommend a visit to the Garrison Library, the guided tours are free and begin at 11am each Friday.