Review of the year : 2016

As the clock ticks inexorably towards midnight on 31st December and we close the door on 2016, I thought it was time to take a look back at the year we have just had. Most of the newspaper reviews I’ve read so far have focussed on the negative aspects, celebrity deaths, the seismic political changes afoot both in Europe, America and the rest of the world, and general doom and gloom.

I am very fortunate in that for us, in our little corner of the world, apart from the uncertainties of Brexit and what that could mean for us in the years to come, we’ve had a pretty good year. Looking back at all the interesting things we’ve done makes me think about how fortunate we are. If your 2016 has been a difficult one, I sincerely hope that 2017 will be better for you and your loved ones.

January 2016

The New Year saw us spending a few days up the coast from Gibraltar on the Costa del Sol, but we were back on the Rock in plenty of time to see the Three Kings Cavalcade. It was also back in January when I went for the first of my strolls around Gibraltar the first one was an homage to the many beautiful balconies, the second one paid tribute to the many steps we ‘enjoy’ here!

February 2016

February brought us some misty and stormy weather, but there was plenty of indoors activities to keep us busy here in Gibraltar. The second annual Gib Talks event saw speakers from all walks of life take to the stage for short talks on a huge range of subjects. Later in the month, the extraordinary Gibraltar Womens Association celebrated their 50th Anniversary, I found  their story fascinating.

March 2016

In March, we were blessed with some beautiful sunny days with bright blue skies. Along with completing a tin man outfit for World Book Day, I finally managed to finish my Attic 24 Cosy Stripe Blanket after a year of hooking! We made the most of the lovely spring weather and took a dolphin trip out into the Bay of Gibraltar. There was also a beautiful exhibition in Gib celebrating  women’s creativity.

April 2016

During April we made another short trip up the coast and headed inland to Ronda a beautiful Andalucian town. I was very productive at my dressmaking and home furnishing courses inserting my first invisible zip and producing curtain tie-backs for the public transport fan in my life. A tall ship called into port at Gibraltar and members of the public had the chance to go on board and have a snoop around.

May 2016

May meant Med Steps for me big time as I completed my final training sessions for, and then finished, the Med Steps 5 Challenge with my two stepping buddies. It was a rather intense day but we were so proud of ourselves for climbing to the top of the Rock five times in quick succession. We also managed to raise a fair amount of sponsorship money for the brilliant Cancer Relief Gibraltar. Some of my sponsors are readers of this blog and I am so touched that you took the time and effort to support our fundraising efforts – thank you.

As I spent so long prattling on about the Med Steps during my training, I figured I should tell you all about it:  The Med Steps: a few facts & figures . May also meant saying goodbye to a good friend to me and my blogging adventures. One of the sad things about living an expat life is that many of the friends you make are in the same boat as you and therefore may not be around for long Saying goodbye…

June 2016

June was a very eventful month not only for me but for Gibraltar and the rest of the UK as a whole as BREXIT loomed large (this post was my most read of all time and by a very long way). Six months on, we are still no further forward knowing what it all means.

Another unexpected thing to happen to me in June, was when I chose to go back up the Med Steps one foggy morning. I thought that the mist would make the climb cool as the summer heat had begun to build. I was wrong. As I climbed up the Rock, I climbed out of the mist and fog. I was nearly roasted alive, but I did manage to take a rather good photo of the Rock emerging out of the mist below (see second left image on the bottom row above). I got loads of likes and shares and retweets with that picture taken on  A mini stroll in the mist!

11th June 2016 marked International Yarnbombing Day 2016 and I had a little go myself with my first guerrilla crochet project as I attempted to Yarnbomb the Alameda Gardens to celebrate the park’s 200th anniversary.

July 2016

July equals the beginning of the very long school summer holiday in Gibraltar. As I stared down the barrel of 8 weeks of no school and the prospect of entertaining the three Little Postcards I felt a little overwhelmed. In an effort to find some way of surviving (with my marbles intact) I decided on day one that I would set myself the challenge of doing something crafty every single day of the holidays…. and the Summer Craft Challenge was born. One of our summer holiday outings took us up into the Upper Rock Nature Reserve to visit one of Gibraltar’s newest attractions, the  Windsor Suspension Bridge .

August 2016

August, for us, was mainly spent in England. I travelled back with the Little Postcards to spend two weeks based in the North West with my parents (with a lovely trip down to Berkshire to visit friends) and then two weeks with Mr Postcard visiting his family in East Anglia. We were blessed with the best of English summer weather. When the sun shines – there really is no better place to be. Our East Anglia holiday base was Southwold in Suffolk, it gave us the perfect opportunity for multiple visits to a special place for us Southwold Pier .

The end of the month brought the school summer holidays to an end. After eight weeks of full-time kiddiwinks and eight weeks of the summer craft challenge, I was very proud to still be in full possession of my marbles (I think) and I also managed to do something crafty on every day except for one (the day we travelled back to Gibraltar). The final instalment of my challenge is here.

September 2016

September is always a very busy month in Gibtraltar. Just after the children return to school, we all have a day off for Gibraltar National Day on 10th September. Around this time we now have the Gibraltar Music Festival to enjoy too. This year saw the Stereophonics headline and Europe played the air guitarist’s dream of The Final Countdown live on the Rock.

Towards the end of the month, I was able to fulfil an ambition of mine to visit the Yarn Festival of Yarndale. It was everything I had expected and more, with bells on. My absolute highlight was meeting my crochet hero Lucy from Attic 24 and being able to give her one of my Llanitas (Llanita, the Gibraltar Yarndale sheep that is). The sheep were made to raise funds to support a children’s hospice in North Yorkshire, I made two and they have both gone to live in Yorkshire!  My Yarndale 2016 (featuring Llanita’s Yorkshire adventures)

October 2016

In October I was still determined to keep up some of the crochet momentum I had achieved during the summertime and finished off my contribution to the Sixty Million Trebles project. I made a rainbow granny square blanket which will go towards the World Record breaking attempt to create a huge crochet blanket made up of sixty million treble stitches. Each treble stitch represents a displaced person or refugee. After the world record attempt the giant blanket will be made into smaller blankets and handed out to charities in the UK and those helping Syrian refugees. The organisers also hope to raise a considerable amount of funds too to help Syrian refugees.

A big event locally was the fourth annual Gibraltar Literary Festival 2016 I was lucky enough to be able to attend several events this year and really loved it.

November 2016

At the beginning of November we had just one Bunny in the Postcard household, then one Sunday afternoon during a walk through the Alameda Gardens, we found some abandoned rabbits. One of them, Blizzard, came home with us (Blizzard turned out to be a girl and she is now known as Snowflake). It was back in November when I had my first attempt at Podcasting I had such fun making it, and hope to be able to share another one with you soon.

December

In December we sadly said goodbye to Bunny Postcard. She had only been with us for 11 months but she’d quickly become a much loved member of the family.

This month I also headed out for my most recent stroll, to see some of the Christmas lights  we have on the Rock – amazingly it was the 16th stroll post I’ve written this year. I also took the plunge (literally) and joined with the annual Boxing Day Polar Bear Swim at Catalan Bay – I’m still feeling proud of myself for doing it!

 

Thank you so much for joining me this year, I have loved having your company and enjoy reading all the lovely comments. Here’s to next year, who knows what it will have in store for us all, here’s hoping it will be a good one.

Sunday Sevens #35 12.6.16

Wow, it’s been quite a week for me, it started off quietly but built to a crescendo after I posted a photo I took on a walk up the Rock. More on that later…

#gotgotneed

I’m sure I’m not the only Mum to be swamped with Panini football stickers at the moment. In a family of five I’m the only one without an album. Somehow that doesn’t excuse me from the delights of having to try to peel the backs off the awkward ones! 

A sunset walk

When I escaped one evening this week for a walk after the little Postcards were in bed, I saw this gorgeous sunset. The tower in the photo is the Royal Naval dockyard here in Gibraltar, it looked so pretty lit from behind. 

New skirt


Work has commenced on my final skirt for my dressmaking course. I took a drive across the border to La Linea last week and bought some rather bright floral fabric (think pink and orange orchids). I’ll save the delights of the fabric choice until next week, as I don’t think I’ll have too many other crafty things going on. 

Anyway, the design was drawn, the pattern made and now the fabric’s been cut and sewing the seams has begun – I do hope it turns out ok! 

Sports Day part 1


This week we have experienced the first of two school sports days we have on the calendar. Because there’s no such thing as large school playgrounds or school sports fields in Gibraltar, the teachers, pupils and parents all decamp to the Victoria Stadium for the event. There can’t be too many places in the world where school sports days take place in the national stadium can there?

That photo…

On Thursday morning I set off for a walk as soon as the little Postcards were safely deposited at school. As I set off I wasn’t necessarily intending on climbing up the Rock but my feet just took me there (force of habit perhaps). It appeared to be a perfect morning for the Med Steps, cool and foggy. If you’ve read my Mini stroll in the mist post you’ll know my reading of the weather conditions were way off the mark, as I climbed higher I climbed out of the fog and into the baking sunshine! 

One positive from that predicament was this view. I snapped it and then posted it as I got home. That’s when the crazy stuff happened… As I write it’s been seen by more than 12,000 people on Facebook and a good few more on Twitter. That sort of thing doesn’t happen to me everyday!!! 

Summer’s here


In between the foggy and misty days we have enjoyed some high temperatures and sunshine. The municipal areas like parks, traffic roundabouts and flower beds are looking glorious in town. Perhaps at their best, as they are not yet wilting under the intense heat of the mid-summer sun. This plant (it’s name is a mystery to me) grows close to a car park I frequent regularly and it’s blooms are looking glorious at the minute. It looks rather tropical don’t you think?

International Yarnbombing Day 2016


In case you missed my post yesterday on my little Yarnbomb, well I did one. It was my homage to one of the most beautiful places in Gibraltar, the Alameda Botanical Gardens, which is celebrating its 200th birthday this year. 

I have had a truly amazing week in the world of blogging. All of a sudden my tiny corner of the Internet came to the attention of many people who’d never heard of Postcard from Gibraltar before. It’s been incredibly flattering and I’m very grateful for all the lovely comments I’ve read over the last few days. 

Sunday Sevens is a weekly blog series devised by Natalie at Threads & Bobbins blog and features seven photos from the last seven days. 

International Yarnbombing Day 2016

Being a big fan of crochet and pretty colours I have found my head turned of late by yarnbombing. To the uninitiated Yarnbombing is also known as guerrilla knitting and yarn graffiti, and is growing in popularity across the globe. Of the accounts I follow on Instagram, one of my favourites is @queen_babs. She is a well established and rather well known yarn bomber who’s based in Sydney, Australia, the following photo (used with @queen_babs’ permission) features one of her latest creations, a series of yarn bombed trees. Aren’t they stunning? She’s  inspired me to have a go myself.

 

Today, Saturday 11th June, is International Yarnbombing Day – so what better time to dip my toe in the colourful pool of yarnbombing. After a bit of research it became clear to me that most yarn bombs are put together by a collective of people. I decided to have a go just 2 weeks before the big day. That didn’t really give me the time to find a team of people to join me, so I decided to go it alone for the first time, perhaps it would raise awareness about the event for next year and a team of us could have a crack at it together in 12 months time?

So what to Yarnbomb? As it’s all a bit last minute, I couldn’t attempt anything too big. One friend suggested yarnbombing all of Gibraltar’s cannons – errr perhaps not this year. I didn’t want to go for the most common yarn bombs of a tree or a lamppost as that would require some planning – like how do you stop it slipping down the lamppost and ending up like an unloved Christmas jumper in a pile at the bottom. It had to be quick and easy to make and it had to be reasonably small and easy to attach.

I thought perhaps the back of a park bench would be a good start. I could sit on it while measuring it, and later while attaching it so I didn’t look like a complete loony. Ok then, we have a bench idea. But which one and where? Main Street is an obvious choice but is REALLY public and noticeable. Then a germ of an idea came to me as I was editing my recent post  A stroll around Gibraltar No.11 : Alameda Gardens Part 2. This year is the 200th Anniversary of the Alameda Gardens – what better than to make a special yarn bomb to commemorate this big birthday.

This gardens connection also meant I had an obvious colour scheme (green) and decoration theme of flowers. It was time to get hooking!

In order for this mini granny stripe blanket to look more than just a granny stripe blanket I thought it needed a bit of Gibraltar incorporated. What’s more obvious than the flag? So I set about trying to design an intarsia pattern for the castle on the flag. It turned out terribly, I unravelled it and tried again, that was rubbish. I gave up on that and embroidered the towers on later.

To balance out the Gibraltar flag on one side I thought I’d better knock out a union jack flag as well. That was much easier!

Next came the message – I thought just putting 200 on it wasn’t enough so I settled on the dates, 1816 – 2016 and to make them in orange so that they really stood out against the green background. It also needed a label saying it was made for the Alameda Gardens too.


Then it was time for the flowers – these were so quick and fun to make. I was able to carry a bag with me on after school activities and surreptitiously produce bloom after bloom. I don’t think the other parents thought I was too crazy….

The time came for me to go for a recce to find the exact destination for the yarn bomb. An evening walk to the Alameda Gardens was in order. I waited until the smallest Postcards were in bed before heading out, silly me I managed to get myself locked in!!! Well at one end of the park anyway – I had to walk the long way around to get out and back home again!! Anyway, I did settle up on a bench, both physically and metaphorically. This one looked perfect. It’s on the main avenue at the top of the gardens and is just below the beautiful new glass house which was built to commemorate the bicentenary.

 

As I continued on my walk, a couple of other things caught my eye which were calling out to be yarn bombed….

 The Molly Bloom statue


The Guiseppe Codali bust


The Alameda Gardening Club garden

They have a Bee Hotel  – it really needs a yarn bee don’t you think? That’s the first thing I did on my return home. I was late to bed that night!!

Ta dah! I think I’m a little bit in love with Mr Bumble.

So do you want to see what I did? Here goes…


Mr Bumble’s just waiting to check into the Bee Hotel.

Giuseppe Codali’s neckwear has got more of a Gibraltar flavor today.

Molly Bloom’s got a necklace of rainbow blooms to brighten her outfit a little.

And finally this bench has been given a woolly makeover.


I gave each yarnbomb a label explaining that it’s International Yarnbombing Day, so people ‘get’ what it’s all about. They won’t be there for long though, so if you want to see them for real, you’ll have to be quick. If you do visit them, please let me know what you think.

So who’s going to join me for International Yarnbombing Day 2017?