All three of the Little Postcards have loved a bedtime story, just as I remember enjoying my Mum and Dad reading to me as a child. My Dad’s impressions of Len the Lighthouse keeper’s wife, shouting for him to “Lower the rope!” to get his food deliveries in this Play School story book are as vivid to me 40 years on!
I can remember giggling so much as the howling wind and crashing waves prevented his order of supplies from getting through so he got lemonade instead of marmalade and so on. In the days of online supermarket deliveries this must seem alien to children nowadays… (For reference, the story was Marmalade for Breakfast by Judy Whitfield).
How appropriate that I should remember this the day after Father’s Day…
The bookshelf in the top photo is in Littlest Postcard’s bedroom and still features a few baby books which have been passed down from both of his brothers. They are no longer read but when I tidied the shelf recently and had a sort out I couldn’t bring myself to part with them.
Twinkly Night by Helen Stephens was a favourite of all three when they were very small because of the glittery foil on the pages and was acquired for free from a Government book scheme Books for Babies when we still lived in England.
I also secretly love the Thomas the Tank Engine stories I read endlessly to my eldest. I liked the idea of this little island of Sodor… (perhaps I should get out more). His two younger brothers had less interest in the adventures of the little blue train and his friends but similarly I was loathe to part with the books. Perhaps one of their children will like them one day?
This photo (above) featured in Sunday Sevens over Christmas time and was a rather clever way to display books in the foyer to the building which houses the public library here in Gibraltar. People were invited to guess how many books were used to build the alternative Christmas tree and win a prize.
For this week’s photo challenge I have found four ‘spirals’; two man made and two natural.
The first one is the staircase inside the lovely lighthouse at Southwold in Suffolk which we visited last summer. I wish I had a photo of the interior of the Europa Point lighthouse here in Gibraltar but sadly that’s not open to the public.
For more on our visit to the Southwold lighthouse, you can read a bit more about it in my Sunday Sevens #45 post.
Another man made spiral, and slightly less dramatic is this one on the engine of a plane on the runway at Gibraltar airport (you can just about make out the Rock in the background).
Now for the natural ones…
I tried to find a spiral shell when we were on the beach this weekend but failed, so here are a couple of ammonite fossils we have in our house. The Little Postcards got interested in fossils during their dinosaur phase.
Over the years we have lived in Gibraltar, and particularly since the park was opened there a few years ago, Europa Point has been a frequently visited destination for our family. During those visits I have taken many photos around the place and thought it high time that I share with you some of the pictures I have taken there. You will notice from this post that they were taken at different times of year and you can see the changes in the weather throughout.
Europa Point and it’s Trinity Lighthouse are at the southernmost tip of Gibraltar. It’s not quite the most southerly tip of Europe, Tarifa (which is a bit further West along the coast) can claim that title, but it is an amazing vantage point and stands at the gate of the Mediterranean Sea. Just a few miles across the Straits of Gibraltar you can see the coast of Morocco.
The Trinity Lighthouse is the only lighthouse operated remotely by Trinity House in London which is outside of the British Isles. It has stood on the site since 1841.
It’s guiding light can be seen up to 18 miles away and is much needed to guide sailors safely through the Straits of Gibraltar.
The original Lighthouse keepers cottages are still occupied and I believe they have the claim to fame of being the most southerly houses in Europe as the southern most tip of Tarifa doesn’t currently have houses on it.
What an amazing place to live though… especially on a sunny day. I’m not sure whether I’d fancy it so much during a storm when the spray from the waves is hitting the windows!
The lighthouse isn’t the only tall building to dominate Europa Point, it’s also the site of the largest of Gibraltar’s mosques; Ibrahim-al-Ibrahim Mosque. It’s relatively new, being inaugurated in 1997 and is the most southerly mosque in continental Europe.
In the photo above you can see Gibraltar’s trademark levanter cloud forming on the top of the Rock in the background. Unless it’s very overcast or foggy, you are pretty much assured of sunshine at Europa Point because the cloud (if there is one) stays over the town area.
When we first arrived in Gibraltar back in 2009, the area around Europa Point was pretty much wasteland. There was the mosque and lighthouse of course plus a cricket pitch but the rest of the land was pretty rough. The promenade was originally laid out by the military many years ago and had decayed to a very sorry state but in recent years the whole area has had a massive facelift. It was sorely needed as it’s a popular stop off point for the dozens of tourist buses which visit every day.
One of the best viewing points across the Straits of Gibraltar is Harding’s Battery. The Battery is the site of a huge cannon and in the weapon storeroom beneath there is a small museum area with displays telling visitors about the history of Gibraltar, it’s wildlife and it’s relationship to the sea.
The wide open flat space behind Harding’s Battery is perfect for scooters, bikes and anything with wheels. We are pretty frequent visitors there with the Little Postcards. On a dry sunny Sunday afternoon though, you can take your life in your hands trying to navigate across it through the learner cyclists, confident scooter riders flying down the slope from the cannon and chuck in a few remote control cars zooming madly about!
Close by is the Sikorski memorial. It’s a fairly recent addition, having been moved here from the Eastside of the Rock. It’s to commemorate a plane crash in 1943 which killed General Władysław Sikorski, the commander-in-chief of the Polish Army and Prime Minister of the Polish government in exile. The crash also claimed fifteen other lives. The stone which forms the base of the monument was specially shipped to Gibraltar from Poland to build it.
By far and away the best addition for us and countless other families when the whole Europa Point area was renovated several years ago, was the addition of a large and fantastically maintained park. Known in our house as the ‘Lighthouse Park’ for obvious reasons, it has been the scene of many a picnic, play and sibling dispute.
We really are lucky to have such a lovely place right on our doorsteps. It’s lovely whatever time of day you visit.
It was the perfect vantage point to catch a good view of the super moon which appeared late last year.
But there’s more to Europa Point that the bit the tourists see…. there’s the coastlline too.
On a rainy afternoon late last year on a walk past the University of Gibraltar, I went for an explore and discovered a path which took me down to the sea.
To the Europa Foreshore…
The area of land directly beneath the Europa Point complex feels like a world away. In parts it’s shabby and unloved, but it’s really special even on a grey damp day like the one when I visited.
As I approached the foreshore I spotted an elderly man standing very still and looking out to sea. I stood back and tried to spot what he was looking at but couldn’t see. He suddenly turned on his heel and walked towards me saying ‘What a magnificent pod of dolphins… they’ve been coming past a lot these past few days.’ Oh how I wish I’d seen them myself!
This area of rock and rough scrub land is a nature reserve, as I was visiting in winter time there wasn’t a great deal for me to see plant wise. I will definitely need to make another trip down there in spring.
Like much of the rest of Gibraltar, the foreshore is dotted with military buildings from years gone by. This was the outer wall of the Rock’s military defences.
It must be very exposed to be down here on a stormy day!
I love the sliver of sunshine breaking the clouds on this photo, but can you see the rain coming down? Within a few minutes that rain was falling on me. Time to run back to the bus stop!
Europa Foreshore, I will be back again on a brighter, sunnier day with my camera. I feel like I have just unearthed a secret world no one else knows about!
As all the little postcards returned to school this week fit and well, I was able to return to my sewing and watercolour classes. Home furnishings and dressmaking didn’t yield any inspiring photos this week so I only have watercolour represented here today. Inspired by the photos I’ve been taking for my Stroll around Gibraltar posts I have decided to have a go at painting some of the things I’ve been snapping. In this photo I was trying out different techniques including cling film, wax, bubble wrap and salt to get watercolour effects for my current painting. So far it’s going well but I want to wait until it’s finished to show you. 😉
A big noisy plane At football training this week we were entertained by watching this huge RAF plane take off. It was enormous, the photo doesn’t do it justice. The noise was pretty awesome too. How on earth it got off the ground – I have no idea!!
Fairies at the bottom of our patio?
On a trip to hang out the washing this week I spied a couple of cheeky toadstools which had popped up in one of the flowerbeds on our patio. As they are associated with cool damp weather, winter/spring is a good time for them here as the autumns tend to be pretty dry.
The bougainvillea on our patio’s doing well too at the moment.
And just look – the orange and lemon trees are blossoming! We have just 3 or 4 flowers open so far but the smell… Ahh it’s divine!
EuropaPoint in the sunshine Saturday was a beautiful day again and we took the scooters out for a trip to the park at Europa Point. Our eldest opted out of the trip so that meant I was able to use his scooter and joined in the fun!!We scooted round the park, past the lighthouse and along the promenade above the crashing waves below. It was great fun and of course ended with ….
It would have been very rude not to, don’t you think?? I can personally vouch for the chocolate variety – it was delicious!
I hope you have had a good week. Sunday Sevens is a weekly blog series created by Natalie at Threads & bobbins.
Sunday sevens is a weekly blog series in association with Natalie at Threads & Bobbins.
‘Special’ Christmas card production line Well if the technological option has let me down (or at least my operation of the technology) I’ll go back to what I can do! Scrap the home produced printed versions and bring out the watercolours! I have to say it was so nice to be able to sit calmly one morning in amongst the chaos of end of term plays, parties and concerts and just play with my paints guilt free (because they were necessary!).
Christmas cards … Tick! And for the other 50+ recipients on my Christmas card list, sadly it was shop bought ones this year. But they are all in the post now and sigh, it feels like a weight has been lifted! Aaahhhh!
A parcel for me! I love it when crafty things arrive here and these little beauties took a rather circuitous route south to Gibraltar. I’d been hunting for some fabric to complete a WIP patchwork quilt for a young man in my life as well as fabric for other projects and on reading a Sunday sevens post from fellow blogger Nana Cathy some weeks ago about her trip to a wonderful looking fabric shop in Harrogate I browsed their website and found just what I was after. An inconvenient consequence of living so far away means that shipping costs can often be very expensive, so I arranged to have the parcel shipped to an office Mr Postcard often visits in London. Unfortunately his pre-Christmas trip to London got cancelled so the parcel sat on a desk in London going nowhere until a kind colleague visiting Gibraltar this week brought it for me in her hand luggage. Thank you Mariana from The Copper Kettle blog for bringing it over for me! Once Christmas has passed, I shall set to work on the quilt :-).
Another beautiful sunset
I rarely pass the Europa Point lighthouse in the evening but on Tuesday, our trip between football training and a piano lesson took us that way. Dusk was approaching and the lighthouse looked very atmospheric with a backdrop of misty clouds shrouding the hills of Morocco across the Straits. The photo I took unfortunately didn’t quite do it justice. The sunset which happened literally minutes later was a real beauty, I just wish I’d had the time to sit down and fully appreciate the colours before dashing off to our next engagement.
Panic! There has been a bit of baking going on in the Postcard kitchen this week. In amongst the chaos of end of term and the Christmas countdown I had a moment of sheer panic when I ran out of icing sugar at 9:45pm… Morrisons shuts at 10… The cakes needed to be at school for the cake stall at 9am the following day… Would I get there in time?!! Yes, yes I did- phew! A lie down in a darkened room was required!
Gibraltar gets ready for a winter party
Saturday (yesterday) saw the Winter Party come to Casemates Square in Gibraltar culminating in a Queen tribute act on stage. There was music and dancing, craft stalls and other entertainment on offer. It showcases something Gibraltar is really good at – putting on events. Despite being such a small place, we have Calentita!, Summer Nights, National Week and the Gibraltar Music Festival in summer and the Gibraltar Literary Festival and Christmas Light switch on in autumn. There really is rarely a dull moment around here!
Wonky weather … nasturtiums in December!
I’ve been reading and hearing about how mild the weather is at the moment in Britain. Well it’s been unseasonably mild here too. I think 22 degrees C was mentioned one day this week as a high. It does mean that it doesn’t feel very Christmassy, well we never get frost and snow, but it’s normally a good deal cooler than it is right now. One happy accident of the warmer temperatures we’re experiencing is that my pot of nasturtiums has bloomed for a third time, these blooms are coming from the seeds dropped by the second flush of flowers in late summer/ early autumn. They are haphazardly climbing up the back of the bench on our balcony.
In case, dear reader, you don’t know much about Gibraltar, here’s a brief outline. Despite being an isthmus adjoining the southerly tip of the Iberian peninsular, (in other words a narrow strip of land/rock attached to the bottom of Spain) it is part of the United Kingdom. The main language here is English, although local people speak an interesting mix of English and Spanish as well as the local dialect of Llanito.
We are surrounded on almost all sides by sea, apart from the narrow strip of land at the northerly tip where there is a land border with Spain. This is also the location of Gibraltar Airport. The runway is bisected by the main road from the town centre to the border (also known as the ‘Frontier’). When planes are due to land and take-off, the traffic comes to a standstill to let them past!
At the most southerly tip of Gibraltar is the Trinity lighthouse at Europa Point. It stands guard looking out across the Straits of Gibraltar towards Morrocco in the distance.
In order to travel by road around the circumference of the Rock, you have to travel through it at times. There are miles and miles of tunnels within the Rock, all carved and blasted out by the military over the years. The general public can only access a very small percentage of them.
There are also many natural caves within Gibraltar, St Michael’s Cave (below) being a stunning example. The huge cavern has been used to stage musical and theatrical productions and provides a uniquely atmospheric backdrop to performances.
Gibraltar is perhaps most famous for it’s furry inhabitants. The apes, which live in the Upper Rock nature reserve, are sought out by tourists. From time to time, they come down the Rock into town to seek out more interesting meals than the nutritious fruit and veg put out by the Government of Gibraltar in an attempt to keep them healthy. They like to rifle through bins and snatch food from passers-by. Legend has it that as long as the apes stay in Gibraltar, the territory will remain British.
The Upper Rock, as well as being home to the apes, is a haven for wildlife and plants. It is a beautiful place and offers solitude away from the hustle of town.
The town is centred around Main Street and offers many familiar British brands as well as independent local retailers.
A regular sight on Main Street is the Historical Re-enactment March, which takes place at around midday on Saturdays and on special occasions. The volunteer soldiers re-enact the Ceremony of the Keys, which dates back to the Great Siege of Gibraltar from 1779-1783.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this quick insight into the place that we’ve made our home. It’s barely scratched the surface of what goes on and the history of the place, I’m sure I’ll tell you much more about it in future. Thanks for stopping by!