Convent Garden Party 2016

 

dsc_0055
Entrance to the Convent

A couple of Saturdays ago, on 25th June, the Governor of Gibraltar opened the doors to his official residence for the annual Convent Garden Party. The event, which has been running for several years now, gives mere mortals like ourselves the chance to enjoy a wander around the beautiful Convent Gardens.
Before heading out into the gardens this year, we took a walk upstairs to have a mooch around the state rooms. This stunning dining room is adorned with shields and crests which (according to Wikipedia) form the most extensive collection of heraldry in the Commonwealth of Nations.

State dining room

In the ballroom there has been an art show in previous years but this time there was an exhibition of weapons by the Gibraltar Museum. I have to admit that weapons aren’t really my thing, either old fashioned ones or modern machine guns.

The one weapon of note which caught my eye was number 42, which is a relic from the Battle of Trafalgar.

Heading back downstairs we cut across the tranquil courtyard with it’s charity stalls.

Cloistered courtyard
Out in the garden we were entertained by jazz musicians playing by the fountain. There were bouncy castles for the children as well as a rope walk between the trees put on by the Scouts. (The Governor is the Chief Scout of Gibraltar and allows scouts to camp in his back garden occasionally).

The ladies of the Convent Charity Committee had a lovely stall with home-made cakes and other refreshments. The people you can see in the gazebo were sitting in the shade enjoying the tasty treats. The Convent staff also had their regular stall selling plants which have been propagated and grown in the garden itself.


The main attraction for me though, as always, is the plants. I’ll let them speak for themselves.

At the far end of the gardens this year there was a display of birds of prey – I don’t remember seeing this on our previous visits.

I really love coming to have a look around this garden – we have been going for about six  years now. Last year I wrote one of my first blog posts on the event A stroll up the garden path….

It’s a great fundraiser for the local community and it’s so nice to have the chance to have a look around. When I’m feeling homesick for the British Isles it reminds me a little of a National Trust garden (if you ignore the heat and the Mediterranean planting), in times of uncertainty (as we were feeling two weekends ago immediately after the EU Referendum result) it’s a constant which doesn’t really change. Whatever way you look at it, it’s a really beautiful colourful oasis in a very busy and hectic place.

Sunday Sevens #37 26.6.16

Well then, that was quite a week on all sorts of levels. I shall refrain from mentioning anything political in this post as it makes references to mundane everyday stuff, well err mundane and perhaps a little irrelevant. So here goes, it feels like a lot longer than seven days since my last Sunday Sevens, but it’s not. Who knew this time last week what was about to happen?

Sunday Sevens is a weekly blog series devised by Natalie at Threads & Bobbins. If you fancy joining in, pop over to her blog and find out how to have a go.

 

A crafty paradise

Last Sunday was Father’s Day in the UK and I spent it in England with my lovely Dad for the first time in years. My little Postcards took good care of their Dad when I was away and I think they really enjoyed their time with just Daddy. My Sunday was completely different from the usual routine. I wasn’t woken early with the pitter patter of small feet coming into the bedroom to ask for a cuddle/juice/breakfast/the TV remote. I had a lie-in (bliss) and after breakfast we jumped into the car and headed out into the Cheshire countryside to the fabulous Black Sheep Wools at Culcheth in Warrington.

It was wonderful to be surrounded with all this wool of every colour imaginable, there were fantastic books, fabric, sewing kits and all sorts of crafty delights. I was in heaven. We stopped for a tasty lunch in the cafe there aptly named ‘Tea Bags Full’ and before heading to our next destination I made use of the facilities.

On the way to the loo, I spotted these cute pompom sheep (above) and a fascinating series of maps on the wall. The maps were of the British Isles and also the world. People had written their names and where they were visiting from on tags. It was such a good idea as it showed how far their customers had travelled from. In the scheme of things Gibraltar wasn’t that far. South Africa and New Zealand featured tags from customers as well as many other exotic destinations. There were no spare tags for me to write on and say I was visiting from Gibraltar so this is my tag. Hello Black Sheep Wools, my crafty stash grew quite a bit thanks to you. I hope to be back again one day!

 
Back home

Monday meant time to head back home to Gibraltar. I had a really great time with my parents and was also able to see my little brother and his lovely fiancee. My weekend away flew by so quickly that I was on my way back to the airport before I knew it. On the flight I was blessed with a window seat on the right hand side which gave me a wonderful view as we circled the Rock. As we approached along the Spanish Mediterranean coast from Malaga, Gibraltar was shrouded in cloud caused by the levanter winds. Moments later, after we came around the southern tip of Europa Point I got this great view of the Rock  with it’s cloudy hat on. It’s amazing to think that these two pictures were taken just moments apart.

Dressmaking class


I’m growing to love this fabric. After buying it I was worried it was a bit too Hawaiian shirt-esque but it’s so bright and summery it’s really growing on me. This week the side seams of my final skirt project were stitched, the lining was attached to the skirt and front pleats stitched into place. In theory there’s just a waistband and hem standing between me and a finished garment. It doesn’t sound a lot if you just say it quickly but I have a feeling it may not be straightforward…

Another dinosaur gets a new home

Meet Wonkysaurus. He’s my fourth dinosaur crocheted from a pattern in Simply Crochet magazine. I do rather like him, he’s got slightly wonky spikes, hence the name. This week he went to his new home to meet his new owner. I’m not sure what his new owner makes of him yet (he’s just 4 weeks old) but his Mummy approves.

Time for another one…

No sooner had one dinosaur left me and I received a request for another one. This one’s for a baby not yet born so I have a little while yet to make him, however as the little Postcards are on summer hours at school (i.e. they finish at lunchtime) my crafting time is vastly reduced so I’m making hay while the sun shines, or should that be making heads while the sun shines? (Sorry – couldn’t resist that one 😉 )

Convent Garden Open Day

Saturday saw the annual Convent Garden Open Day in Gibraltar. It’s a regular event on the Gibraltar social calendar and gives us mere mortals the chance to wander round the Govenor’s back garden. The planting is gorgeous and a riot of colour beneath the lovely shade giving trees – many of which were planted by visiting Royals in years gone by. It was hot hot hot so that shade was very welcome. I’ll share a few more photos of this soon.

Postcard birthday

IMG_4348

I’m amazed to be saying this but yesterday Postcard from Gibraltar had it’s first birthday. I can’t believe a whole year has gone by since I made my first post. It’s been such fun. I have come into contact with so many lovely, encouraging people during the past 12 months both online and in person. Thank you to all of my new friends as well as my old friends and family who have supported my fledgling blogging adventure so far. Here’s to the next 12 months! Now it’s time for cake don’t you think?

A stroll around Gibraltar No 4: Gardens 

  Convent Garden fountain

Space is at a premium here in Gibraltar so very few people are lucky enough to have gardens. Nevertheless, it would appear that for many, lack of space is not a problem for would-be gardeners. Whichever road or street you go down, you will find keen green-fingered Gibraltar residents making the most of the space we’ve got.   

 St Jago’s

Whether it’s a window box, a row of pots outside the front door or a verdant balcony or roof terrace, those of us who love plants will NOT be beaten! 

 Upper Town

Gibraltar has it’s own Horticultural Society – did you know that? It’s been running for over sixty years. It was founded by Lady MacMillan, the then Governor’s wife back in 1953. Two flower shows are held each year with categories including; balconies, patios, courtyards, terraces, gardens, schools, corridors and estates. So no matter how much or how little space you’ve got, you can still have a go – even if it’s a single geranium plant in a pot. 

 Upper Town

It would seem that the British love affair with gardening persists even in these sunbaked and at times, rather unforgiving climes. There’s a Facebook page for Gibraltar home gardeners which boasts nearly 300 members and is a forum for gardeners to share hints and tips as well as sharing pictures of their horticultural successes and failures. 

 Upper Town

Sourcing plants isn’t too much of a problem here thankfully as there is a (small) garden centre – possibly the smallest in the world! The supermarkets here also stock some plants, although we have found to our cost that a few of them are a bit too ‘British’ for the Gibraltar climate and haven’t necessarily done too well here like hydrangeas and raspberries. 

 Garrison Library garden

We are also lucky enough to have a few garden centres situated a short drive away in Spain, so if we can’t find what we’re looking for here, we don’t  have too far to go to get new stock. 

 Europa Point Lighthouse keepers cottage gardens

Also, in my experience, I have found Gibraltar’s gardeners very generous in parting with their plants. In the last year I’ve been gifted nasturtiums and two types of lily. I have also bought a few plants from the Convent Garden at it’s annual garden party. 

 Upper Town

For some people, of course, their gardens can’t be on ground level and a roof terrace is their only outside space. 

 Town centre roof terrace 

One of the greatest upheavals of moving to Gibraltar (apart from leaving friends and family) was leaving my garden. I was a keen gardener and an avid watcher of Gardener’s World. I attended Gardener’s World Live at the NEC in Birmingham twice and made a wonderful trip to the Chelsea Flower Show. We may not have a beautiful display of bulbs in Spring, a lush green lawn in Summer or a beautiful show in Autumn with our Acers in our old front garden, but in Gibraltar we can embrace a different form of gardening. 

 South District

One plant which has always failed for me after at least half a dozen attempts, both in the UK and here in Gibraltar is agapanthus. I would just love to have some in our patio and lust after these beauties in the Governor’s own back garden:   

 Convent Garden

We have, however, had great success with our geraniums and pelargoniums which we inherited when we moved into our place. I was, at first, filled with trepidation about becoming custodians of such mature plants, but  so far, we’ve succeeded :-), we haven’t lost one yet! They grow so big here as they don’t lie dormant long in the winter like they do back at home (or indeed get killed by frost), as long as they are regularly dead headed and have a bit of plant food every now and again, they give us a wonderful show. They look their absolute best at sunset after a sunny day as the just seem to glow!

  I do hope you’ve enjoyed this short stroll around Gibraltar’s ‘gardens’, please call in again soon as I’ll be heading out for another stroll next week!