Hello there! My word it’s been a busy week this week as you will see. I hope it’s been a good one for you. Here’s this week’s Sunday Postcard…
Last Sunday we headed out to our local field to play frisbee. It seemed like a great idea at the time – we had a brief frisbee session the day before and the Little Postcards loved it – so we headed back for a longer session on Sunday. It was fun, I’ll give you that, but blimey I didn’t half ache afterwards!! My neck, shoulders, arms, back legs…. I’m showing my age!
After a bright Monday morning, the afternoon was a rather damp affair in our part of the world. Despite that, I thought the rain drops on this spiders web looked rather pretty.
Leaving on a jet plane
Eldest and I had an early start on Wednesday morning…. we were Gibraltar bound for the small matter of picking up GCSE results.
And there she is…
A postcard from Gibraltar
It had to be done… we left the two youngest Little Postcards behind under the care of grandparents, so we simply had to send a postcard back home on Wednesday when we arrived. I’m amazed to be able to tell you that it arrived in Manchester on Saturday just 4 days later!
Sunrise on results day
We were up early on Thursday so we could collect Eldest’s GCSE results (the reason for our visit). As we were staying on the East side of the Rock this time we were able to witness sunrise over the Mediterranean Sea. It was a lovely moment as we anticipated what might be coming that day.
I’m thrilled to be able to tell you the results were as sunny as the skies above us. I have been having a proud Mum moment ever since.
Friday evening meant meeting up with some old friends who I only said goodbye to last month! It was great to see them, tell them all our news and hear theirs.
Making waves on the beach
Our trip back to Gibraltar hasn’t exactly been a holiday, there have been things which needed to be sorted following our move back to the UK. A few admin jobs which had slipped through the net before we left and such like. Yesterday though, in the afternoon, I found myself alone and my to-do list was complete so I took my crochet hook, yarn & deckchair down to the beach at Sandy Bay.
I had a few blissful hours crocheting, watching the world go by and also had a solo dip in the sea. I can’t remember if I have ever been to the beach alone before. I normally always have young people with me. I can highly recommend it! It may only have been a few hours but it felt like a holiday after months of planning, packing, unpacking and everything else that moving countries with a family entails. I feel very lucky to have had this time away.
And that brings this week’s postcard to an end. We are now back in Manchester after a very long day of travel – more on that next week!
Hello all, this week I’m ringing the changes, Sunday Sevens is making an appearance a day early… I shall explain why at the end!
Last SundayI attempted to make a Spanish Tortilla or Torta de Patata as it’s know round these parts… I failed! It didn’t taste too bad with the burned bits cut off… my Gibraltarian friends will despair of me!
Blue skies in Blighty
I can’t take credit for this beautiful photo, it was sent to me by my Dad as he and my Mum took a walk along a canal tow-path in Cheshire. I have his permission to feature it in this week’s Sunday Saturday Sevens Fives. We have had some very humid weather in Gibraltar this week, but I know that it’s been sizzling in the UK, with temperatures higher than we’ve experienced.
Saharan dust sunset
This beautiful sunset caught my eye one evening this week – Wednesday I think. It was a stunner, thanks to the Saharan dust which is knocking about a lot at the moment.
Evening stroll by the sea
This week has been rather hectic in our apartment, we have got some contractors coming in to do some much needed work. As a consequence I have spent a lot of time over the past few days packing our things/junk and moving them into rooms which won’t be touched by the workers.
First world problems I know, but it’s been a bit crazy added to the fact I have 3 young men at home who were hoping to spend some time at the beach this week but were stuck indoors while I did jobs and Mr Postcard has been away with work. To try and make up for the fact we had been in a hot sweaty flat all day I took them out for a walk to Catalan Bay on Thursday evening and we stopped off for an ice cream after dinner. Not quite the beach day I’d promised them at the start of the week, but it will have to do!
Restful sleeping environment – not
And this, my friends is the view from my side of the bed. Most of the contents of the lounge are in our bedroom. The flat is in chaos and I’m a bit frazzled with it all, so I’ve decided to take a week off my phone and try to unwind a bit after a rather stressy week. That’s why this week’s Sunday Sevens is actually a Saturday Fives – and not the most uplifting one either – apologies for that!
I’ll be back again next Sunday, all being well, and between now and then I’m going offline – I’m not being rude – just reclaiming my sanity after a busy few days. See you on the other side x
I’m afraid it’s a very short Sunday Fives (rather than Sevens) this week. I’ve been super busy this week and unfortunately not had much time to stop, look around me, and take photos. The good news is that my work is now done, and I can have a break next week with the Little Postcards as they are off school for their Easter break, which is definitely something to be happy about.
Sunrise over the Rock
Well it’s not strictly sunrise, but it was the moment the sun appeared above the Rock on Tuesday morning. It was so calm and tranquil at the small boats marina.
It’s my least favourite part of Dressmaking on my course at the minute (pattern cutting). I love the sewing, but the patterns make my brain hurt! I’m not really very mathematical and it doesn’t come naturally to me. That said it’s getting easier each time I do it, and it’s beginning to make sense at last!
We’ve had a few lovely sunny days this week. It makes the spirit soar when you see blue skies doesn’t it? Sadly I haven’t had time for a Med Steps trip, so had to make do with walking to and from meetings, appointments and classes this week!
So if you are staring at a skein of yarn and are desperate to make something with it, but you don’t know what – does that mean you have an itchy hook? If so, I’ve got one of those…
And relax…. it’s been a long, and busy week which unfortunately left me with a migraine yesterday. As the sun went down, my focus came back long enough for me to take this pic, have some dinner and grab an early night.
I feel much better today…
That’s all for this week’s rather stunted Sunday Sevens, next week is a rest week for us all as the boys are off school and we’re planning some fun things, so I promise, next week’s edition with be far more interesting!
We’ve just had the midterm holidays and last week, we packed up the car and headed off to Portugal, Lagos to be precise. We’ve been to this part of the world a couple of times before but stayed closer to Portimão, this time we fancied a change of scenery and headed further west to Lagos.
We stayed in a lovely apartment on the western edge of Lagos. Sadly it was too nippy to make use of the outdoor pool (well for the softy grown-ups at least!). Can you see the Atlantic Ocean in the distance? It was a lovely spot.
Lagos has a rather pretty old town which is surrounded by city walls.
The archetypal Portuguese tiles are in abundance here.
Even the pavements are artistic…
And there are some gorgeous front doors too…
At the start of our visit to the city there was a craft fair going on in town. Housed in an old building which used to be a munitions store, it was the home for stalls selling needlework, jewelry, fused glass and cork items.
I was in my element and bought a few bits and bobs which will come in handy for Christmas presents.
Among the stalls was a marvelous collection of yarns and woven items.
The lady who runs this stall hand dyes all her yarns and weaves them into beautiful scarves and bags. She also sold balls of yarn…
She dyes the yarn using seeds, vegetables, bark (for the deep purple) and insects for the pink and red tones. I bought this gorgeous yarn which was coloured using tree roots.
If you would like to see more of her work, you can check out her Facebook page.
Another craft emporium had this fabulous window display;
It was run by a German couple who between them wrote books and poetry and whittled beautiful wooden jewelry. They had been living in Lagos for 20+ years and raised their children here. I bought some earrings made by the wife and a book of folk lore stories written and illustrated by the husband.
One morning we took a drive out to Lagos Zoo. I’m uncomfortable with the whole ‘zoo’ thing but at this one, the animals seemed well cared for.
It was a perfect small zoo for young children. In some areas there were no fences at all, and some of the creatures just wandered around at will.
These pelicans caused quite a stir as they just ambled along the path amongst the visitors. We even got to see them being fed a little while later…
There were plenty of primates, many of whom lived on this primate island. The noise of the calls and booming cries could be heard a good distance away in the car park!
This bird had a really funky hairdo…
I’m told that this Pygmy hippo bore a more than passing resemblance to me…
I loved the flying foxes, they were fascinating to see up close.
My absolute favorites had to be the rainbow coloured parrots (macaws to be precise) and this angora nanny goat!
At the western edge of Lagos seafront/riverfront stands an old fort-like building. Rectangular in shape, with lookout towers at each corner and with a drawbridge on the land side, it caught my eye the first time I saw it.
On our first trip into Lagos, we had tried to get in, but it was closed for lunch sadly. I made it my mission to be back in town one day while it was open to have a mosey inside.
Over the drawbridge and through the old wooden doors we went to buy our entrance tickets.
The Forte da Ponta da Bandeira is a restored 17th Century maritime fortress. On the ground floor are a series of small rooms which were being used as galleries displaying a photographic exhibition.
There was also a very small chapel, dedicated to Santa Barbara. It may be small, but there was such a calming, yet powerful atmosphere in there, and as you can see it was totally covered with traditional Portuguese tiles.
Up the ramp, to the upper floor…
… and the many wind sculptures…
They were so striking.
In each corner of the fort, as I mentioned, there is a little lookout turret, and we were able to go into three of them.
The narrow slit windows perfectly framed the views they looked out on…
…. both inland….
….and out to sea.
It was such a lovely spot.
Back downstairs, we found another small gallery featuring more work from the artist who had created the sculptures on the roof…
José Maria Silva Pereira is the artist who created these installations and the sculptures on the roof are called Caminhos do Vento (which I think translates of Paths of Wind). They were specially designed to be moved by the north wind which is common in Lagos during the summer months.
And that, is just about it for this postcard from the Algarve. We had a lovely few days, and mainly good weather, if you’re ever in this neck of the woods I’d definitely recommend a visit.
Sunday again, I was supposed to post midweek all about the Music Festival last weekend but unfortunately time got the better of me, perhaps I’ll manage it this week…. here’s this week’s Sunday Sevens:
It’s been quite a week for me this week, we have had visitors over – which has been lovely (and I couldn’t have managed without their help), I’ve been doing a bit of extra work too this week and it’s been a bit non-stop at times. It has made realise that there’s no way I could work full-time. I take my hat off to all those parents out there who hold down a full-time job as well has looking after children.
There wasn’t a lot of sewing going on at my dressmaking class this week but my jacket pattern is moving on apace.
Under a cloud…
The hot and sweaty Levanter weather conditions have continued for most of this week. As you can see, up above the thick cloud (which sits above Gibraltar at the minute) there’s some lovely blue sky. Everyone’s complaining about the humidity at the moment, I hope it comes to an end soon.
A lovely lunch
As I alluded to before, we have special visitors over at the minute, my parents are here for a visit. That gave us the perfect excuse to go out to lunch while the Little Postcards are at school. It’s amazing being able to hold uninterrupted conversations!!
I’m on the final push for my Coastal Crochet CAL. The Seaside Stash Busting Blanket has seen a bit of action this week, but as you can see, I got it a bit wrong…. it took me 4 rows to realise that I’d made a mistake – whoops! Thankfully it’s sorted now!
The end of summer…
It looks like summer beach season is over… I was at Sandy Bay on Friday and although there were quite a few people on the beach and in the sea, work was underway removing the net from the family end of the beach. It doesn’t feel like autumn yet, that’s for sure!
A new arrival in Gibraltar
There’s much excitement in our household about the arrival of a new eatery in Gibraltar. When we visited Sidmouth and Lyme Regis on our Easter trip to the south coast of England, we first encountered the delights of the Cornish Bakery. Then, on our trip to Southwold in Suffolk, we discovered a branch had just opened there too. Imagine our surprise when this signage appeared in Casemates Square… is this an anti-diet conspiracy??!! Is the Cornish Bakery stalking the Postcard family? Methinks a few pasties may be consumed…
Thanks for stopping by to visit this week, that’s all for this Sunday Sevens. As always, I’m linking with Natalie from Threads and Bobbins for this weekly blog series.
Hello and welcome to this week’s edition of Sunday Sevens. The first of July… how on earth did we get to this point already? I feel full of excitement about what the summer might have in store for us.
Without further ado, here’s this week’s round up of what I’ve been up to…
Enforced tidy up!
It’s been needed for a long time, but at last, thanks to the arrival of tradesmen to sort out our rather old fashioned floor tiles, I was forced to sort out my sewing/ crafty broom cupboard. I can just fit a chair in when the door’s open to sew at my machine. Let’s see how long this new tidy arrangement lasts…
Sports day season
So as time marches on towards the end of term, sports day season is well underway. This week I had one to go to. It’s a rather warm affair as you sit on the stand at the Victoria Stadium in direct sunlight toasting nicely like a rotisserie chicken. At least the view is stunning, even if you can’t make out which one of those many children actually belong to you!! There can’t be too many places in the world with a more impressive setting for their school sports days…
Morning sun, again
I realise that this photo is rather a lot like the last one, in that it features the Rock and the morning sunshine. I was parking my car one morning and glanced up to see the sunshine casting long shadows formed by the chimneys across Casemates Square from where I was and thought it worthy of a photograph. I was en-route to my sewing class, unfortunately as I am working on something which is a surprise for someone who may see this, I can’t share it just yet. I will though, later on in the summer.
The bougainvillea is looking fab throughout Gibraltar at the moment and it looks at its best set off against a cloudless blue sky. This great swathe of red / pink blossom caught my eye as I was walking in South District this week, it looked lovely against Parsons Lodge.
Last watercolour lesson
It’s approaching the end of the academic year for children in Gibraltar and this week, I went to my last watercolour class until September. I spent the lesson working on an exercise by William Newton. It didn’t quite turn out like the picture in the book, but it was good fun. I’ll miss my lessons over the summer break, but am determined that I will find time to pick up my brushes at some point before September.
A new perspective
One evening this week, I visited a building I hadn’t been to before – one of the towers at Brympton. I find it amazing that despite Gibraltar being so small, it can be quite easy to find yourself face to face with a view of Gib that’s completely new to you. My trip coincided with a meteorological phenomenon which is rather unusual for this part of the world. The cotton wool ball effect strip of clouds are called Altocumulus Floccus, and looked rather fantastic.
Happy birthday Postcard from Gibraltar!
I didn’t actually realise it on the day, but this Tuesday Postcard from Gibraltar turned three! In some ways it feels like Postcard from Gib has been with me for a lot longer than that. It has opened doors for me, like giving me the opportunity to write for a couple of publications and websites but most important of all, it’s introduced me to a whole host of lovely people around the world, for which I am most grateful for.
Thanks so much for stopping by this weekend, I hope that wherever you are in the world, you are having a lovely weekend. I’m linking with Natalie from Threads & Bobbins for this weekly blog series.
This is probably going to be my most cosmopolitan Sunday Sevens ever… featuring photos taken in Italy, Spain, Gibraltar and France! Are you ready to join me for a Sunday Sevens European tour?
Last Sunday, after two days of tours around some of the amazing sights of Rome, we had a quiet day to potter about the city. There were a few more places we really wanted to visit before leaving and the Pantheon was top of the list.
It is such a beautiful building, and just mind blowing to think that the ceiling, the largest unsupported dome in the world, was made using cement by the Ancient Romans!! It’s now used as a church, so we waited until noon before being allowed in so that Sunday morning Mass could be celebrated before the crowds of tourists invaded.
Monday meant waving goodbye to Rome and catching a flight back to Malaga, then driving home to Gibraltar. It was so warm and sunny as we left Italy, but Gibraltar had Levante winds and the heavy cloud that brings.
You may be fooled for thinking it was cool when we got home but it wasn’t- it was sweltering and incredibly humid.
Another common weather phenomenon at this time of the year is sea mist. We had a couple of days this week when we could hear the boats in the Bay singing to each other with their fog horns.
A walk into town and through the lovely Commonwealth Park took me by surprise when I spied leaves on the ground. It is one of the few places in Gibraltar with trees which actually lose their leaves. It looked like autumn is on it’s way even if the weather didn’t feel like it!!
I am slightly ashamed to admit that we managed to get to mid August without a proper trip to the beach in Gibraltar this year. We have had walks along the sand but this was our first trip with deck chairs, buckets and spades and swims in the sea. Sandy Bay is such a lovely beach to spend time with children, calm and not too deep, and of course it’s great for sandcastles.
We only stayed a couple of hours though as I needed to head home to pack…. again!
We have been so lucky this summer to be able to do a lot of traveling, normally we have a couple of weeks in England visiting family, but this year we’ve been lucky enough to enjoy a mini European tour (while we are still allowed in before Brexit). Yesterday we headed back to Malaga airport and caught a flight up north to southern France.
Toulouse is such a beautiful city and our first visit to this part of France. We had a walk around some of the city centre and the architecture is so beautiful. I can’t wait to go back out again later on today with my camera to get snapping! This shot is the view from where we are staying. Isn’t it amazing?!
In the meantime, here’s a quick picture of a pretty fountain close to where we ate last night. It is dedicated to the victims of a flood many years ago.
Thanks so much for joining me this week for Sunday Sevens! I’m linking with Natalie from Threads & Bobbins who created the Sunday Sevens series of blog posts.
Sunday Sevens number 90?? Crumbs have I really been doing it that long? I hope I’m not boring you! Thanks for coming along for the ride! 😊
So here’s this week’s installment of Sunday Sevens…
Another beautiful evening sky
I thought the clouds looked particularly pretty on Sunday evening last week. Unfortunately the camera on my phone didn’t quite do them justice. We are being really spoiled with gorgeous sunsets this summer.
End of term for dressmaking class
I can hardly believe that I have reached the end of my second year of dressmaking classes with the immensely clever Dorcas Hammond (you can read all about Dorcas in this post). It may seem a silly thing to do to end the year with the beginnings of a new project, but for various reasons I got a bit behind with my work this year.
I am now all ready to get cracking in September stitching this gorgeous Kafe Fassett fabric into a blouse.
Last watercolour lesson of the term
Similar to dressmaking I had my last watercolour lesson this week and again I spent my lesson working on a new project. I am attempting to paint a sunset I photographed a couple of weeks ago. I enjoyed playing with the colours to find the right tones for the sky and sea. I do fear that the trial run may turn out better than the real thing though!! You can also see my post about my hugely talented watercolour teacher Deborah M Lawson here.
Life seems to be very hectic at the moment, it shouldn’t surprise me but it always is at this time of year. As the school year draws to a close and we are inundated with notes and emails detailing special days and meetings and a flurry of birthday party invitations for children whose birthdays fall during the long summer break.
There have been days when I am sure I have had steam coming out of my ears and I’ve been contemplating running away and locking myself in a darkened room until September. However, I did make it to the weekend and next week is the last week of term for the Little Postcards. I did realise this week that I need to keep crafting to retain my sanity, so whenever I could, I grabbed a crochet hook and got busy on the border for this blanket.
Something which has gone in our favour this week is is the fact that the wind direction changed. Of late we have ‘enjoyed’ a Levante (easterly) wind which has brought with it hot and humid weather, this week we received a welcome break with Poniente (westerly) breezes bringing much cooler weather.
You could see the North Moroccan coast really clearly on Friday but blimey the water in the Strait was choppy. I don’t fancy being on that little boat!
Another blanket finished
TA-dah! The latest Sixty Million Trebles blanket is completed. This one is the result of a collaboration and was created by the Gibraltar Crochet Collective, I just joined it and added the border. This is a slightly smaller baby blanket and will go with two others to a drop off point in England when I am over visiting family this summer. For more on Sixty Million Trebles, you can see their website here.
Yesterday the organisation revealed the big news that they have reached the 3/4 point in their goal of reaching 60 million treble stitches. Hopefully they will hit 60 by the time the blankets are shipped to help Syrian refugee children in September.
Summer craft challenge 2017
Last year during the school summer holidays I challenged myself to do a little bit of craft every day in order to maintain my sanity. I amazed myself at managing to fulfill the challenge on all bar one day over the eight week long school break.
This year, I have decided to do the same thing. I began my challenge yesterday seeing as it was the first of July and it felt like the start of summer proper. I wonder whether I’ll be able to maintain my challenge again this year? Fancy joining in? If you do, you can follow my progress on Instagram, just use the tag #summercraftchallenge2017 with your creations.
Thanks for joining me this week. Sunday Sevens is a weekly blog series created by Natalie from Threads & Bobbins
A couple of weeks ago I was very pleasantly surprised to be nominated for a Blue Sky Tag by Jane of the Candelo Blooms blog. Thank you Jane very much for thinking of me! The tag is a fun event which runs throughout June, and requires me to answer 11 questions about myself and Postcard from Gibraltar and then nominate 11 other bloggers for the same award.
It feels slightly self indulgent for me to spend all this time writing about me rather than talking about experiences or events I have visited which is my usual style of blog post, for that reason it’s taken me a while to complete this post. Here goes nothing…
1. What do you enjoy most about blogging?
I love that it gives me an excuse to take loads of photos and ask questions. I’m a naturally nosy person and before having children I worked as a journalist so this gives me the excuse to be more than just someone’s mum!
I also love that it has brought me opportunities which otherwise wouldn’t have happened. I now contribute to an online publication and have become part of a craft group all brought about by my blogging.
2. What other hobbies and pastimes do you enjoy?
Oh my word I have so many hobbies! Regular readers to my blog will know that I love to crochet. I also attend weekly watercolour classes and dressmaking classes. I love taking phtotos, which is probably obvious if you read my blog regularly, and I have recently tried wet felting for the first time (a blog post will be appearing on that soon!) I know, I know, I really don’t need another hobby! 🤣
3. Given your time over, without any restrictions, what would be your ideal job? Why?
Well I did have a pretty perfect job for me, I was a journalist which meant I got to visit special places where the public wasn’t allowed and I got to meet so many interesting people and was able to tell their stories. Aside from the (at times) long working hours and unpredictable shifts it was a dream job.
If I could do anything at all though, I would love to be a craftsperson with a talent great enough to make a living from it. I’d love my own workshop (ideally in the countryside or at the end of a large garden) and be surrounded by my crafty things whatever they might be. As it is, I live in an apartment in the fifth most densely populated place in the world (or so I’m told) so it’s not likely – I’m very happy as I am though.
4. Which new country would you like to visit?
I have had a bit of a fascination with Australia since the magical day I was off sick from school and Neighbours came on the TV in the U.K. for the first time! Back then (when I was around 11 yrs old I think) I started saving 50p of my pocket money each week towards my dream holiday to Ramsay Street and the rest of Australia. I had a page cut out from a holiday brochure I’d snaffled from a travel agents with a 3 week tour of Oz including a trip to Melbourne and was saving up for that (it cost over £2000 back in the late 80s) needless to say I never saved enough!
5. What is your favourite quotation?
I have to confess that I didn’t have a favourite quotation in my back pocket ready for this occasion, it took a bit of googling. This is the one which I think best sums up my view on life: “I choose to make the rest of my life the best of my life” by Louise Hay. I have been lucky enough to have had a great life so far, a happy childhood, a great career until I had a much wanted family, however onwards and upwards…. who knows what lies ahead?
6. If you were an animal, what would you like to be and why?
This is a tricky question to answer, to be honest I am not a great animal lover. I abhor cruelty to animals but I’m just not a huge animal fan. Just the other evening as Mr Postcard and I were sitting on the balcony at dusk, enjoying the golden moment between the cool dusk breeze arriving and the mosquitos arriving we were watching the seagulls swirling around over our heads calling out to each other. Now I’m not saying I fancy being a seagull eating rubbish out of people’s bins and pooping on the people down below, but it would be fab to be able glide on the thermals and take in the views.
7. What is your favourite time of year and why?
Ooh, another tricky one. It rather depends on where I am. In Gibraltar it has to be spring, the days are often warm and sunny, very much like an English summer’s day but it’s not too hot and you can get stuff done without needing several showers to cool down.
In Britain, I love all the seasons and I miss them dreadfully living here in Gibraltar. I love winter for its cosiness, crunchy frost underfoot and Christmas. Spring is so full of promise with bulbs breaking through the soil and the bright acid green of the newly opened leaves on the trees.
Summer is just wonderful when it’s sunny and dry. I love woodland walks and picnics. And Autumn is magical for it’s colourful leaves, conkers and misty cobwebs. Sorry, that doesn’t really answer the question does it?
8. What is your favourite film?
I don’t really have a favourite film as such, I have had a few favourites over the years, The Sound of Music and Dirty Dancing featured heavily in my formative years. As an adult I have to admit to a James Bond addiction….
9. What are the 3 most important character attributes to you?
Honesty, I can’t be doing with having to second guess what people are really thinking. Kindness, there is no need to be mean and a little kindness helps the world go round, don’t you agree? Creativity, nothing fires my own creativity than having creative people to inspire me.
10. What is your favourite book and why?
My favourite book tends to be the one I am reading at the moment. I am a member of a book club and I love that it introduces me to different genres I wouldn’t normally choose for myself. I am slowly working my way through George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones series at the moment, in-between my book club books. I am currently on Book 4, A Feast for Crows. I have watched the TV series up to the point where I am reading, but want to read the books before seeing the series.
11. What is your favourite garden and why?
I love pretty much all gardens. My favourite one here in Gibraltar has got to be the Governor’s gardens at his official residence, the Convent. It’s open to the public once a year for the annual Convent garden party and it’s lovely to take a stroll along the shady agapanthus lined paths and enjoy the beautiful trees. It’s a real oasis in a rather built up environment.
Now to my Blue Sky nominees….
I would like to nominate the following people for this Blue Sky Tag:
Calentita This is a baked pancake-like dish, the Italian farinata, also known in Genoa as fainá. It is made with chickpea flour, water, olive oil, salt and pepper. The word calentita is the informal diminutive of the Spanish word caliente which means “nice and warm (or hot)”. Wikipedia
Visitors to Casemates Square early on last weekend couldn’t fail to spot the signs that something interesting was about to happen. The Calentita food festival is now in it’s 11th year and after a hiatus of six years, we decided to pay it a visit this time. On our return to Casemates on Saturday evening it was clear that many others had decided to come too.
Back when we had our first Calentita experience, seven years ago, it was a much smaller event to the one we visited this weekend. It featured a number of food stalls selling a wide variety of foreign food choices and was centered around a stage in Casemates Square.
On the night, we joined some friends on a large table at one of the nearby restaurants and made an odd foray towards the food tents. With two small children (one in a buggy) the whole thing was an assault on the senses, loud, crowded and really not the best or easiest environment to steer little people through, and the long queues at the food tents put us off waiting to try the various delicacies on offer.
That said, many of our fellow festival goers had a thoroughly good night. Those with older children (who revelled in being trusted to head off to the stalls without parental supervision and buy their own dinner) and those who came without children had a great time.
We tried one more time, the following year, and gave it up as a bad job. Fast forward to 2017 and we had three children to bring with us and they were all a good deal older. The venue itself had changed as much as our family in the intervening years – it had grown bigger.
Now the event not only covers Casemates Square (albeit in a less crowded way and with a less densely populated tent arrangement) and spills over into the area beyond the Grand Casemates Gates and into the Market Place, Bus Station and beyond. My word, what a difference that means for overcrowding – a huge improvement for us to start with.
This next photo isn’t very clear but you should be able to make out the large stage at the far end (complete with performers) and a very long table in the foreground. It was busy with people but there was room to move – what a huge improvement.
Now down to the nitty gritty – food! (Well it is a food festival after all.) There were over 40 different food tents to choose from catering for all tastes from hot dogs to hog roasts, Pad Thai to popcorn and Calentita to craft beers.
We decided that the best way to deal with the queues and three hungry boys was to split up, I queued for Margarita pizza slices (we have one Little Postcard who isn’t overly adventurous in the food stakes) while Mr Postcard headed to an Asian stall and returned with a lovely samosa for me (below) and quite possibly the best onion bhaji ever to have tickled my tastebuds.
We headed out of the Square and into the Bus Station area beyond, which now had craft stalls standing where the buses usually wait. All along the road were many more stalls on both sides.
I was on a mission; one Little Postcard was adamant he wanted noodles. I joined the queue at the Phillipino food stall and waited for my turn only to discover they had run out! I got a couple of pork kebabs though and they were delicious. One kept the wolf from the door for our noodle lover as we continued on our quest.
They were even cooked in front of us…
They got a big thumbs up, as did this rather tasty spring roll!
For the grown ups there was plenty of choice in the beverage department, with any amount of drinks to wet your whistle.
There was even a cocktail bar sited atop the old sea walls which encircle this part of town (below). Needless to say we didn’t visit and made do with a rather nice lager in a plastic cup.
Heading back into Casemates Square, and the crowds were growing. A number of local bands took to the stage to entertain the Calentita-ites and the atmosphere was buzzing. We did sample other culinary delights but I can’t for the life of me remember what they were – suffice to say, we didn’t go home hungry.
As the sun began to set, we took our leave of Calentita for 2017. Little legs were wilting and it was time for our exit.
Calentita 2017 was by far our best Calentita to date as a family. As an event it was barely recognisable from our previous encounters and overwhelmingly for the better. Hats off to the organisers who clearly have honed the festival over time.
As a family with young-ish children, this year’s event doesn’t compare to our previous failed attempts at gastronomic family unity. I would recommend anyone who hasn’t tried it before to give it a go next year.
PS I have one shameful admission… almost eight years living in Gibraltar and I have yet to sample actual Calentita (hangs her head in shame). I promise I will put that right.