A Postcard from January & February

Sand dunes on Crosby beach yesterday

Hello there! I hope you’re doing ok. I kept meaning to post my postcard from January throughout the beginning of February but there seemed to be so many other things which needed my attention, so I was rubbish and let things slide. We are now on the cusp of another month though, and I’ve decided that it’s time to take the bull by the horns and stop procrastinating. So here you go, two for the price of one, a postcard from January AND February rolled into one.

I deliberated about whether I should even post at all, there is so much going on in the world at the moment that things like this seem very frivolous, but I think it’s important to keep going, as burying my head in the sand and veering between trying to block the outside world out and being glued to the news updates and fretting about the helplessness I feel about the plight of so many innocent people isn’t actually helping anyone. I thought it better to try to put some sunshine and positivity out into the world, so here goes, and if you have been affected by the terrible actions taken against Ukraine, please know that you are very much in my thoughts.

A New Year and a continued fitness quest…

A view from one of my January runs

Back in November I began my quest to get my weight down to a healthy number and get a bit fitter and began the Couch to 5K programme for the third time in the last couple of years. This time though, I managed to see it through. I am now over a stone lighter and I managed to complete the whole Couch to 5K programme. Not only that, I’ve kept going and am now running just over 5K in 35 minutes. I don’t want to sound like I’m blowing my own trumpet too much or that I’m building myself up for a fall, but I’m really rather proud of how far I have come.

I haven’t found the process too arduous and in fact have quite enjoyed getting out and pounding the streets and enjoying the beauty of sunshine and nature on my way around the neighbourhood. Who knows where it might lead me?

My couch to 5k graduation!

A New Year and a new hedge

The terrible plastic ‘hedge’

You might remember last year that I said goodbye to our old ‘fake’ plastic hedge which we inherited when we moved into our home the year before. Well, the intention was always to replace it with something else, of a more natural variety. It took me a while to decide what to do for the best, but in December I realised that winter was the perfect time to plant a hedge, so I did my research and ordered my new privet hedge which arrived early in January. Then came the hard work…

Our front garden is more of a carpark than a garden, we inherited an area covered in small stones which lie on top of black weed suppressing fabric. After a lot of scraping away of stones, and the lifting of not one, but two layers of fabric which had several inches of compacted dirt between them I was ready to dig the holes ready for the baby hedge plants.

It was quite a job. Fortunately the weather was favourable – it was cold, but the ground wasn’t frozen, and it stayed dry for most of the two days it took for me to plant these 22 specimens. Plus my very helpful neighbour offered me the use of this rather nifty device (on the right of the picture below) for digging holes.

They are in, and I’m really chuffed that I managed to do this – single-handedly! How many years it will be before it’s an actual hedge is anyone’s guess but it’s a vast improvement on what we had before! My next project is a flower bed out front, but I may wait a while before beginning that.

A lovely walk and coffee by the river

River Mersey

In the middle of January, the weather was being very kind to us indeed, so a really good friend and I decided to leave the jobs which needed doing one afternoon and put our muddy hiking boots on for a wander along the River Mersey and a coffee at the Riverside Café. It was such fun, and just what we both needed to have a chat and mull over stuff which was going on before heading back home in time for the school run.

Getting the garden kickstarted

Who needs a potting shed when you have a wheelie bin lid?!

I so enjoyed having sweet peas in my back garden last summer, so decided to have a go at planting them again. I had quite a few seeds left over from last year’s attempts so I went ahead and planted them up in loo rolls again like last year. Fingers crossed this year’s crop will be as successful!

Some of last year’s sweet peas

A Sunday walk

I don’t know if it’s because of memories of lockdown and being restricted on where we can go, but I often find that it’s suddenly Sunday afternoon and apart from going to Littlest’s football match and perhaps the shops, our weekends are passing without heading out of the house as a family. I decided to change that and am trying to get us out and about if the weather & teenagers allow!

Fortunately, the lovely National Trust property; Dunham Massey is a short drive from our home and once the youths are corralled into the car, we can be in amongst the deer within half an hour. As long as there’s the promise of ice cream or hot chocolate involved in the outing, it’s generally a goer!

Another WIP begun…

Back in September last year, you may remember that I made the trip across the Pennines to the Yarndale festival in Skipton – it was a truly amazing day which you can read about here. While I was there I bought some lovely hand dyed yarn from Michelle at Woolly Wumpkins. I’ve been debating what to make with it; another pair of hand-knitted socks? A bobble hat? I settled on a shawl/scarf as that is the item of woolly clothing I wear most of all.

Unlike in my previous experience of winding a skein, this time it was a painless experience (perhaps because It hadn’t been sitting in my stash for years first) and I got to work on this pattern for a one skein crochet shawl which I bought from Annie Design on Etsy. I’m rather happy with the colours and look forward to enjoying wearing it when I eventually finish it. I have a feeling it will be something I dip in and out of while working on other things.

Llanita’s Travels continue…

Llanita in Catalan Bay in the summer of 2016

Long time readers of Postcard from Gibraltar may remember my little friend Llanita the Yarndale Sheep. I made her back in 2016 for that year’s Yarndale charity appeal. You can read all about Llanita’s adventures with me here.

Can you spot Llanita in Karen’s sewing room?

Well when Llanita arrived at Yarndale back in 2016, she was bought by Karen (aka WakeyMakes on Instagram). Karen’s sisters have recently been to Gibraltar on holiday and they took Llanita back to her homeland for a visit!

Llanita in Ocean Village

I had a lovely treat when I logged into Instagram one day to see that Llanita was back in the sun!!

Llanita on the Windsor Suspension Bridge

Stormy weather


We got off rather lightly when Storms Eunice and Franklin came to town. Just a couple of wobbly fence panels which are rather worse for wear and this one almost bit the dust. Thankfully my lovely Dad came round with his bag of tricks and some timber to patch it up until it can be replaced.

A sunny seaside walk

Crosby beach beckoned on Sunday when the sun came out and I found myself with an empty diary. The ironing and housework could wait, living back in Manchester makes you realise that you need to grab sunny days by the hand and make the most of them. I got the Little Postcards in the car and headed off west to Crosby on the Merseyside Coast.

We first visited Crosby last year after it was recommended to me by my lovely friend across the road. It’s pretty much the nearest beach to where we live and it takes under an hour to drive there. Plus the beach is home to a load of Antony Gormley statues so that makes it even more special. It’s a favourite with the Little Postcards – as is the ice cream reward at the end of the walk.

And that just about brings this postcard to an end. Thank you so much for stopping by. Where ever you are in the world and whatever you are facing, I hope that you can find some positivity in the days ahead.

Love,

Lindsay x

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.

Countdown to Yarndale 2016

Yarndale


I have been a follower of the inspiringly colourful Attic24 blog for a few years now. Back in my early days living here in Gibraltar when my homesickness for the north of England got me yearning for lush green countryside, I could get my fix of the passing seasons from Lucy’s lovely woodland walks.

It was, though, the crochet which introduced me to Attic24 first of all. I don’t know what made me pick up a crochet hook so many years after being taught as a child by my lovely Gran. In the intervening years between learning the skill on my summer holidays at Gran’s house and our arrival in Gibraltar, I really can’t remember ever feeling the need to pick up a hook and yarn again. (My love of sewing and embroidery continued but not that.)

 

My Attic24 inspired tin & jar

One day, for some long forgotten reason, I found myself trawling the Internet for crochet inspiration and I happened upon Lucy’s lovely post about crochet covered tins. Over the next few months whenever I did a hapless online search for crochet patterns and tips, sure enough Attic24 would appear in my search results.

I soon found myself actively seeking out the blog and looking for new posts about yarn as well as family life in Yorkshire. (I’m familiar with this part of the world as we lived in West Yorkshire before moving to the Rock.) When Lucy announced that she was part of a group of people organising a new festival of yarn in her home town of Skipton, I watched from afar glued to the updates and wishing the project well knowing full well I wouldn’t be able to attend.

In the run up to that first Yarndale, 3 years ago, Lucy made an appeal to readers of her blog to contribute granny bunting to decorate the auction mart where the festival is held. I felt compelled to have a go and send one in. Following the detailed and clear instructions I created a ‘Gibraltar’ bunting triangle featuring the national colours of the Rock.

I was thrilled to be sending my little triangle to Yarndale, safe in the knowledge that although I was unable to attend, a little bit of Gibraltar would be there anyway. My bunting even got a mention in the post festival bunting roll call, look at number 20!!

 

That first year, like each one since, I have avidly checked all the crafty blogs I follow to scour them for information about what the festival was like, trying to soak up a little bit of the atmosphere.

The following year, the crochet appeal for decorations was inspired by the fact the Tour de France would be coming through Skipton, so a call went out for mandalas to represent bicycle wheels. I need to point out that the request was for bright colours – hence the slightly clashy choice I made… Perhaps if I was to do it again, I would have selected a different colour palette! Oh, and it was my first attempt at a mandala too – so don’t look too carefully! 😉

A lot more intricate than the bunting this time, the mandala was hooked up and popped in the post to wing it’s way over to Skipton again in time for the Yarndale festival.

Last year, sadly, I failed to contribute to the Yarndale appeal, which was for flowers to create a display raising funds and awareness for the Alzheimers Society. I am sorry I failed to join in – the deadline for submitting anything passed me by and it was too late to join the party again.

In addition to reading accounts of the festival, I have over the years collected a few souvenirs…. programmes, bags…

… and I even have the current Yarndale calendar hanging in my crafty broom cupboard.

This year, my crochet contributions resumed; first of all was the #woollyheartsforyarndale. I first heard about this on Instagram, when @bonnies_little_crafts announced that she wanted to collect 7000 woolly hearts to give out to visitors to her home town of Skipton when they visit Yarndale 2016. 7000 is rather a tall order, so I thought I’d like to join in and send some woolly love over from Gibraltar. I hooked a few hearts up under the bright spring sunshine.

…and then posted them off to ‘Bonnie’ along with a postcard from Gibraltar (naturally). She created this beautiful photo collage when she received the parcel through the post.

Those little hearts are really quite addictive to make you know, during a bit of down time between other crochet projects, I felt the need to hook up a few more. So a second shipment of Gibraltar hearts found their way over to Skipton.

So did she reach the target of 7000? Well this is the latest update from woolly heart HQ and she’s within touching distance. Congratulations @bonnies_little_crafts!!! 

The ‘official’ appeal for crochet and knitted items this year was for little woolly sheep. They are going on display in the festival venue and will be auctioned and sold off to raise much needed funds for the Martin House children’s hospice in Boston Spa. This appeal struck a chord with me, as I was fortunate enough to visit Martin House with my job in the days before having Little Postcards of my own. It’s a truly wonderful place, so positive and friendly and a very much needed resource for the families who use it’s services.

In the spirit of my Gibraltar bunting from three years ago, I created Llanita, the Gibraltar Yarndale sheep. You can read all about her in this post : The adventures of Llanita, the Gibraltar Yarndale sheep.

Well, you can probably gather I am a keen (if distant) supporter of the Yarndale festival and I have really wished I could attend each year it has been held. This year, my patience has paid off because I’M GOING TO YARNDALE!!!!! Sorry – did that come over a bit shouty? I’m more than a little bit giddy at the prospect. I have Mr Postcard to thank for it, it’s my birthday present from him you see.

So on Friday I am going to follow in Llanita’s footsteps and fly off to Yarndale myself – I cannot wait!! I promise I’ll take loads of pictures when I’m there and share them on my return. I will have to really rein myself in and not be paying for excess baggage on the return flight – we don’t want the plane weighed down with too many yarny purchases do we?! 😉

Until next time, thank you for stopping by!

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.