Friday photo challenge (week 5) Nature

This week, I made a quick trip home to see my family. On Wednesday morning I awoke to find everything covered in a light blanket of snow.

It was beautiful to see everything brightened by the dusting. Little did I know what an impact nature would have on my day…

Not only did it mean a 20 minute journey to Manchester Airport would take 2 hours…

It also lead to a delay of 5 hours to come back home to Gibraltar… I was one of the lucky ones – at least I got home. Many didn’t.

It’s hard to believe that such a little bit of snow could cause such disruption. But it does remind you that nature is always capable of disrupting our well made plans.

Mersey Estuary

Nature is so beautiful though…

Severn Estuary

…don’t you think?

Weymouth

I’m linking with Alison in Andalucia for this weekly photo challenge #52Fridayphotos

A stroll around Gibraltar No. 23 : Skywalk (Upper Rock Nature Reserve)

Last week, we took advantage of the Bank Holiday for the Queen’s birthday and did the touristy thing. We took the cable car up to the top of the Rock with the intention of walking back down via Gibraltar’s newest tourist attraction; the Skywalk.

Opened in Spring, by none other than Luke Skywalker himself, I had been meaning to pay the Skywalk a visit. I figured it was something I really should do with the Little Postcards, as Star Wars is quite a thing in our house and they may not have appreciated me doing it before them.

Being local residents means that we are able to use the cable car at a discounted price and access the facilities on the Upper Rock for free. It’s something I forget about from time to time and really should make more use of.

We were lucky enough to be enjoying a sunny but reasonably cool day, just perfect for pootling about on the Upper Rock without it being too hot or too chilly.

We really should come up here more often!

Looking down upon Main Street and the rest of town reminds me how small Gibraltar is and how much of our lives are caught up in such a small area; school, work, home and leisure.

Gibraltar’s furriest residents were putting on a great show for the tourists.

We didn’t linger long amongst the apes, I caught one of them gazing admiringly at my backpack and didn’t fancy a fight. This trio of apes (siblings I think) were winding each other up and play fighting – it was very reminiscent of our house on most days!!

We headed off downhill towards the Skywalk taking in the views across the Bay of Gibraltar and the Strait to Morocco.

And there it was…

Now let me lay the cards on the table here, I’m not a fan of heights. I kind of put off this visit because of that, as much as because I wanted the Little Postcards with me. I was a little bit trepidatious as I climbed the stairs up to the platform.

The first platform is solid stone, and it’s from this vantage point that I could see the glass floored Skywalk below me as well as a new view North across the ridge (below).

The time had come to be brave and go onto the glass platform…

I did it! Look those are my toes!! And there’s Sandy Bay way, way down below…

I amazed myself! Here’s Sandy Bay again through the glass wall surrounding the Skywalk.

It wasn’t as scary as I imagined it would be!

It felt like a big achievement ticked off for me. Now time to head back down the Rock to have a celebratory cuppa at home! For some Gibraltar residents, these views are so boring though…

My Skywalk experience wasn’t my only ‘first’ on this trip, I also experienced dragonflies in numbers I have never witnessed before in Gibraltar. It reminded me of driving down country lanes in summer in Norfolk or Yorkshire back when we lived in the UK.

There were loads of them…

I loved seeing them!

Then, just as we were getting back down into South District, just below the Jews Gate entrance to the Upper Rock Nature Reserve, I spotted some small brown creatures rushing up an embankment out of the corner of my eye. My first thought was mice or rats…. but it was a mother Barbary Partridge and her brood of chicks!

Can you see the chicks in amongst the undergrowth?

They were so well camouflaged, there were about 5 or 6 of them in total. It was so lovely to see them up close. We are really lucky to have this nature on our doorstep.

Later on Monday, I was on Sir Herbert Miles Road, below the Skywalk. Look, I went on that!! It looks a lot worse from down there!

For more information about the Skywalk, you can check out its website.

2017 Weekly photo challenge (week 17) Nature

I love the great outdoors. Living in such a tiny, densely populated place as Gibraltar there is a very special place which I love to escape to from time to time; the Upper Rock Nature Reserve.

It’s looking at its best up there at the moment. The bees are buzzing about the wildflowers and the butterflies are fluttering about. 

If I need peace and quiet to think things through (plus excercise – it’s quite a hike up to the top) that’s the first place I head to.

The wildflowers are gorgeous at the moment…


I’m linking with Wild Daffodil and Nana Cathy for this weekly photo challenge throughout 2017.

If you would like to see more of my posts on the Med Steps and Upper Rock Nature Reserve, and you haven’t already come across them, you can see a few of them here:

The Med Steps; a few facts and figures

Wild flowers of the Med Steps

A stroll around Gibraltar No 13: The Windsor Suspension Bridge

On a walk over Christmas, Gibraltar gave to me…

The Med Steps: a sunny autumn walk

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It’s been a good few months since my trainers saw the light of day and my lax attitude to exercise has resulted in a few extra pounds being gained, so I decided that today was the day I’d set about doing something to rectify the situation. After a few grey and damp starts lately, we woke up to a beautiful day and there’s nothing like a bit of sunshine to lift the spirits and get you moving. This morning, once the rest of the family was ensconced in work and school I headed off on a walk up our lovely Rock of Gibraltar. There are a number of ways to travel to the top (most people opt for car, taxi, bus and cable car) but on two feet you can head up several different routes using paths, roads and steps. My favourite, and definitely the most scenic route I’ve tried, is the footpath known as the ‘Med Steps’. It’s a bit of a misleading name as it isn’t just made up of steps, although there are many, much of the route is over rough ground and rocky paths.

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The start of the route is close to Jews Gate at the entrance to the Upper Rock Nature Reserve where a rather unassuming shady wooded path leads upwards and south around the edge of the Rock. This (apart from the summit) is my favourite part of the walk as it feels so cool and secluded there and you could almost be on a woodland walk in the British Isles (I do still get homesick sometimes). As you continue, you come out of the trees and you’re greeted by this fab view –  the Straits of Gibraltar in all it’s glory with Morocco in the distance. See I told you it was a beautiful morning!

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The temperature rose dramatically once I reached the eastern side of the Rock, the sun was belting down and it’s light was reflected off the Mediterranean below. Perhaps I should have waited to clear the breakfast things and make the beds after the walk rather than before, I don’t think I’ll leave it so late in future to set off on such a trip!

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One of the slightly disheartening things about this route, is that a little way into the walk, once you have climbed to quite a height, you are faced with some downward steps. The thing is, you know that you need to climb to the very top of the Rock, so it seems such a shame to be heading downhill at this point knowing you’ll have to regain the height a little bit further along.

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Quick stop for a sip of water and to take in the view…

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There are plenty of things to see when you are on this walk, there are even caves to explore. Well they don’t got very far back, but a cave’s a cave isn’t it?

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Onwards and upwards, these steps look very steep from down here don’t they?

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One big highlight for me this late morning was this short tunnel, I was beginning to regret setting off just before 11am by this point and my water bottle was already nearly half empty, knowing I had a good bit further to walk, I took sanctuary for a few moments in the gorgeous, cool shade of this tunnel. Thank you, who ever built it, it was most welcome today!

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It’s the military who we have to thank for creating this lovely footpath. Much of it is cut out of the side of the Rock itself and dotted along the route are a few little plaques like this one reminding us of it’s history.

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Another reminder of days gone by and the Rock’s role as a fortress are the various military look out points built along the side of the path.

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Isn’t this a stunning view (below)? From this part of the walk, you are facing north and can see the beaches along Gibraltar’s eastern side (Sandy Bay in the forground, Catalan Bay and Eastern Beach), beyond these you can see Spain and the Costa del Sol stretching out into the distance.

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I saw a bit of wildlife on my walk, bugs, birds and a good few lizards making the most of the warm sunshine. All bar one were too fast for me to photograph, but I caught a snap of this little chap before he skittered away into the cover of the plants.

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More steps…

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Nearly there, I’ve just climbed up all of those!

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The final push.

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Made it!

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Now for the descent. With the road underfoot, it’s a lot less arduous on this side of the Rock which is just as well, as the views of the town below can sometimes be a bit of a distraction. No accidents allowed!

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On the descent, I passed through the tourist hotspot of St Michael’s Cave, there were literally dozens of taxis and tour buses parked there bringing tourists up the Rock to take in the view and of course pay a visit to Gibraltar’s most famous, hairy inhabitants.

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As you can see the apes obliged and came out in in large numbers to greet their visitors.

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It’s on mornings like today I feel very lucky to be living in such an interesting and beautiful place as Gibraltar. Less than an hour’s walk from my front door and I’m up the Rock and in amongst the wildlife. As you have seen, the views from the top and on the way up and down are amazing. Add to that the gorgeous weather we have had today – hotter than an English summer’s day I reckon, and it’s easy to get over the twinges of homesickness I get from time to time.

Thank you for stopping by, I do hope you have enjoyed this little walk with me from the comfort of your armchair or wherever in the world you may be!

Daisy chains, buttercups & damsel flies

  

 

We’ve had a great time today doing something I like to do every summer. We drove out into the stunning Cheshire countryside and visited the lovely Marbury Park. There’s wide open green spaces for a picnic and a kick about with a football and a beautiful woodland walk.
  

It’s so nice to be able to share some of the things I previously took for granted with my boys. We don’t get daisies in Gibraltar, nor do we get buttercups. They had never heard of a daisy chain before today – let alone seen one, and as for shining a buttercup under your chin to check whether you like butter? They had no idea such scientific tests were possible!

  

I have to warn you that I adore trees, and green leaves…. There are quite a few photos of trees coming up!

Our woodland walk took us through the mature Northwich Woodlands to the edge of Budworth Mere (below).

   
  

It was quite a nature trail we were on, seeing rabbits and squirrels (including a fast-moving white squirrel which I was too slow to get a photo of). By the water’s edge, on a stretch of greenery was a mass of damsel flies. Their blue bodies stood out brightly against the green leaves.

  
I took so many pictures of the beautiful things we saw, trying to store them away, so that I can remember them when we get back home to Gibraltar. The foxgloves were so pretty.

 
Now it’s time for my green tree appreciation bit… I just LOVE trees!

   
    
 
And I love ferns!

  
    
  

Get a load of those leaves with the sunlight shining through them!

  
  

On the edge of Marbury Park is the Trent and Mersey Canal. It was looking a little murky today but there were a couple of lovely narrow boats moored further along looking pretty.

  
  
Along with the delights of daisy chains and buttercups, my boys were introduced to the delights of ‘sticky willy’ on our woodland adventure today. I spent much of the walk adorned with bits of it stuck to my clothing – much to the delight of the smaller members of the party. I got a few weird looks from passers-by!

  
 After our walk, the best reward for small people with tired legs has to be ice cream. Where better to get one than an ice cream farm? 

 
A short drive from Marbury Park is the Great Budworth Ice Cream Farm. It tasted as good as it looks! We were even able to see the cows responsible for providing the cream and say thank you!
  
For more information about Marbury Country Park & the Great Budworth Ice Cream Farm, click on these links:

Northwich Woodlands
Great Budworth ice cream farm