Sunday Sevens #49 18.9.16

Bus stop crochet

This week has seen me with actual free time during the day as all three Little Postcards went to school for full days for five whole days. I can’t tell you what a difference that has made for me in terms of being able to get things done. The house has been cleaned, the ironing is up to date and I even managed to fit in a bit of crochet too. I’m working away on my #sixtymilliontrebles blanket and trying to do a little bit every day.

When it’s finished it will be added to many other blankets to make the biggest crochet blanket in the world which is being created to raise awareness for the sixty million refugees in the world today. It will then go on to be a blanket for someone who needs it either in the UK or Syria. For more information on the project look out for sixty million trebles on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

Back to school for me

The time came this week for me to return to school myself. I’m now in my second year at the Dorcas Hammond Fashion Academy in Gibraltar. Last year it was all about skirts, this year I’m learning about tops and dresses. We hit the ground running this week with our first lesson in drawing our own pattern to make a vest top. It’s been interesting and challenging so far, although reassuring that I haven’t forgotten everything I’d learned last time!

Here comes the rain

If you’re a regular visitor to my blog, you may remember me banging on about the weather here in Gibraltar since we returned from our holiday in England in the summer. It’s been really unbearably hot with a scorcher of a heat wave. On Tuesday, the rain came in spectacular style with thunder and lightning and with it came cooler weather… what a relief!

Normal service is resumed…

Once the rain had cleared off the sun came back but with less ferocity. This is the kind of weather when it’s a pleasure to live here, clear blue skies and sunshine but actually being able to function without wilting and needing several showers a day! I took this photo on a walk by Rosia Bay on Thursday morning, it was just so blue and beautiful.

Back to painting class too

Another of my regular weekly classes started up again this week, my lovely, relaxing watercolour classes. Oh how I have missed these lessons over the long summer break. I had grand plans to paint when I was on holiday this year and managed to get to my destination with the correct paper but had forgotten to pack my paint and brushes! I had hoped to do a bit more painting during my Summer Craft Challenge, but as it requires a bit of space, time and equipment it didn’t really happen during the school holidays.

This week I finished off a watercolour of the Rock of Gibraltar and discussed some ideas about what my next project will be. I have been greatly inspired by our English seaside holiday this year, so hope to recapture that on paper soon. Whether it will look anything like I have in my head is another matter!

A Pokemon birthday

We have been celebrating a birthday again in the Postcard household this week. I was given a design brief of the Deathstar from Star Wars for the cake. After Googleing images of Death Star birthday cakes, I soon came to the conclusion that it may be slightly beyond my skill set. As Pokemon is currently on trend in our house I figured I couldn’t go too far wrong with a Pokeball cake instead. It went down very well with the birthday boy and tasted ok too. Everyone was happy and that’s another party out of the way – phew!

Bumper harvest


Here’s something to make you allotment holders and veg patch devotees chuckle… This year we treated ourselves to a fig tree, they grow like weeds here. There’s one at the end of our road which is cut back to a stump every year to stop it overhanging the road, and every year it grows back as big as ever and is laden with fruit.

Our little tree which is no more than a metre tall had about a dozen fruit on it earlier in the summer. ‘Not bad for the first year’ I thought. I watched the largest fruit swell to the size you see in the supermarket but it looked a little under ripe to pick. A day later, it was perfect – so perfect the ants had invaded and were devouring it.

What a shame – but never mind there were still plenty of others to have a go at. Each time I was on the patio hanging out washing I noticed that the remaining figs were growing fewer in number everytime I looked. Either something or someone had been pilfering our figs – they hadn’t fallen off as there was no sign anywhere in the garden of the fruit.

Yesterday while doing the laundry I spotted we had just two left on the tree, so I picked them – that way we can at least taste them when they ripen (I hope they ripen ok when they are picked!). It’s a mystery as to what’s happened to the rest of our crop… and to think I had envisioned making all sorts of recipes with our home grown figs. They are a rather puny couple of specimens, but at least they have done zero food miles 😉

 

Thank you for joining me for Sunday Sevens again this week, it’s been lovely to have your company!

Sunday Sevens is a weekly blog series created by Natalie at Threads & Bobbins

 

 

A stroll around Gibraltar No. 12 : Rosia Road to Camp Bay

There is a walking route which I do fairly regularly which isn’t really on the tourist map. It’s a really popular route for walkers, dog walkers and joggers especially in the evening. It starts just south of the end of Main Street and takes you almost to Europa Point (well you can carry on going if you want to, but on this stroll we end up at the seaside of Camp Bay). Care to join me?

The walk starts at the northern most end of Rosia Road and follows the line of the old sea wall until you reach the sea and the popular summertime destination for many Gibraltarians of Camp Bay. It begins with the lovely pedestrianised area you can see above – pedestrianised areas and even pavements can be few and far between here in Gibraltar – so it’s quite a big deal! The railings you can see on the left mark the edge of the old sea wall, and there’s a considerable drop on the other side. It’s hard to believe that once upon a time, the sea once lapped the base of this wall and the naval dockyard (below) wasn’t there!

The dockyard often hosts visiting Royal Naval ships and submarines, some of which the public are allowed to visit. A couple of years ago, we all went onto HMS Bulwark when it was in visiting. The little postcards loved exploring the bowels of the ship and even got to sit inside a helicopter and wear a helicopter pilot’s helmet. I’m not sure whether they will be signing up to join though, they were happy with a look around, less so about disappearing off to sea for months on end! 

Looking south from this point you can see the path continues for quite a distance, it also features a lovely Italian restaurant which we have been known to frequent occasionally.

It’s not that terribly long ago that this area was home to many families housed in Nissen Huts. They must have been incredibly hot to live in during the summer months.

A short walk along from here is Whitham’s Road on the left, at this point I am going to take you on a slight detour…

We had lived in Gibraltar for almost 5 years before I had the need to walk up Whitham’s Road towards St Josephs’s Church and I was amazed with what I discovered. Not only a derelict Middle School (which is now being converted into luxury housing) but also a cemetery. A cemetery which looked like it had been completely forgotten about.

(Old St Josephs school in the background)



The cemetery which is also described as Sand Pits Cemetery in some documents (due to it’s proximity to the Sand Pits area) is the final resting place of around 300 people, many of whom were the wives and children of military personnel based here between 1765 and 1850.

A large proportion of those who are buried here lost their lives in a small pox epidemic in 1787. The graveyard has been largely abandoned over the years although there have been several attempts by volunteers to clean up the area. At the moment the Gibraltar Heritage Trust are organising a programme of works which began in March when a visiting squadron began clearing the vegetation and improving the paths. There is a sponsorship programme underway to restore some of the headstones which have been damaged as well as plans to open up a pathway through the cemetery.

As you can see from the photos, it’s in a very poor state right now and is bordered on most sides by blocks of flats. It’s such a shame it has been left to rack and ruin in the past, but at least now it’s getting some attention. It is a really atmospheric place, although I’m not sure I’d like to spend too long there at nighttime!!

 

Retracing our steps and heading back on to Rosia Road you can soon see the top of the church tower of St Joseph’s poking out above the housing here. The view of the other side of the road is a little uninspiring (hence the lack of photos) as there’s an industrial estate here. The estate backs up to the GibDock dry docks. It’s here that ships from all over the world come to be repaired. It’s interesting to see where they have come from, I’ve seen ships from Panama, Scandinavia and Africa.

The docks are dominated by this lovely clock tower.

Also in this area is the main police headquarters for the Royal Gibraltar Police. If you watched the UK Channel 5 programme Gibraltar: Britain in the Sun, you may recognise it as the location of some of the interviews.


A little further on and you reach the 100 ton Victorian Supergun. Which is one of two which were based Gibraltar (the other one is no longer there but stood on the site of the City Fire Station). The 100 Ton Gun is a tourist attraction and quite an interesting summer holiday visit with bored children for half an hour or so! We may be going this summer, so I’ll tell you more about it if we do!

The huge cannon sits right beside Rosia Bay, which you can see in the photo below. It has an important part in the story of the Battle of Trafalgar as it’s where Nelson’s ship HMS Victory was moored after the victorious battle. It is a lovely spot, but in need of a little tlc – there are plans to smarten it up and make it more than just a fishing and diving destination as it is now. Sitting guard above the bay is Parson’s Lodge, a Victorian bastion which is now a field centre for the Gibraltar Museum.

Also above the bay is the 200 year old Naval Victualling Yard, and the home to one of Gibraltar’s veterinary practices.

The crest above the entrance to the yard was restored in 2012 to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.

Here the road narrows considerably around the yard and sandwiched between that and Parson’s Lodge appears a little tunnel – the narrow tunnel offers one of the two routes south to Europa Point on the western side of the Rock. It sees a fair amount of traffic and can be a little treacherous for pedestrians at busy times.

It’s worth taking the walk though because it opens up into Camp Bay, the end of our stroll. Here you can smell the ozone from the waves lapping on the pebble shore and see the huge boats close by in the Bay of Gibraltar.

This spot, with it’s access to the sea and couple of swimming and paddling pools for children is incredibly busy in the summer months. Whole families decamp here for long days of relaxing, swimming, eating and having fun.

I do hope you’ve enjoyed this little stroll, thanks so much for stopping by!

A stroll around Gibraltar No 6: from sea to summit (in the rain!)

  A couple of weeks ago I had a date to climb the Med Steps with a friend. It had been planned for weeks and things had been rearranged to make way for the walk. That morning I awoke to hear the rain lashing against the windows. The steps were out of the question as not only was it wet, it was also quite windy. We rearranged for the following week and that was that. 

After half an hour of stomping around the apartment in a huff (I had been really looking forward to the steps!) I thought – ‘blow it – I can still go out for a walk!’ So I did! I thought I’d see how long it would take me to walk from sea level to the top of the Rock. I walked down to the edge of the sea at Rosia Bay (that’s it in the picture above). 

 It wasn’t completely sea level (about 1 metre above) but it’ll do. Then it was time to set off on my quest, the stop watch was started and I was off. Up out of the bay, and the climb began. 

 Look – you can’t even see the top of the Rock! It’s hidden up in the clouds. By the time I’d reached Jew’s Gate at the entrance to the nature reserve, visibility was a bit limited and it was rather blowy too. I was walking into the wind and even the sweet sound of Duran Duran in my ears wasn’t helping me ignore how difficult it was.  

 The inner dialogue then started “just turn round and go home, have a nice cup of coffee and get the crochet out!” Then I remembered a recent remark from a certain person who shall remain nameless who asked ‘Are you pregnant Mummy? Your tummy’s really fat!’ And that was enough encouragement to keep going! Children say the nicest things don’t they?

 The views weren’t great I have to admit- being up above the clouds rather impedes them! I doubt the Queen would have been impressed surveying this rocky part of her kingdom had her visit been on a day like this! A couple of tour buses  and taxis passed me on my travels but no other loonies on foot – just me. It’s such a shame when people visit the Rock on wet misty days. They thankfully aren’t too common but it must be frustrating to get to the top of the Rock for a great view and just see cloud. 

 Even the apes weren’t impressed with the damp! But even though it was wet and grey, it was still beautiful as the silhouettes of the trees loomed out of the mist. 

 You can still find beauty even on the gloomiest of days. I was rather taken by this little flight of stairs, I think it would make a nice painting…

 Anyway, eventually I got to the top! Ta dah! 

 This is the top of the Med Steps, not looking too appealing on this occasion. I was being really buffeted by the wind blowing at me from both directions. We had indeed made the right choice not to do the steps it would have been dangerous with the gusty wind and wet stones underfoot.  And the time it took me? 46 mins 25 seconds. It was a lot quicker than I expected, I guess the psychological effect of walking from bottom to top makes you think it’s a lot further than it is. 

On my way back down, the cloud began to lift and I caught a brief glimpse of where I’d started. That’s Rosia Bay with the hook shaped jetty curving out to sea.  

 The hot shower and cup of tea was very welcome when I got home! 

Thanks for stopping by 🙂

Not much strolling getting done this week

  Illness has struck the Postcard household this week so therefore there won’t be a Stroll around Gibraltar until next week. I have been housebound with two small patients who’ve been rather under the weather. I have gone a bit stir crazy at times but it’s not been all bad, I managed a bit of crochet in the sunshine between Calpol administration and cuddles. 
At the weekend, I read an intriguing review of the book Castles in the Air by Alison Ripley Cubitt on the  Rough Seas in the Med blog. As I was stuck on the sofa trapped under fever-stricken children I decided to give it a go and downloaded it to my device. It was an excellent read, I managed to finish it in 24 hours which those in my book group will know is pretty rare for me these days. If you’re interested in reading an account of expat family life (far more glamorous and exciting than mine I hasten to add) I would highly recommend it.   

  I escaped the apartment this evening for a short walk (my sanity depended on it), I walked along to Rosia Bay where Nelson’s ship HMS Victory was brought after the Battle of Trafalgar. There were no big sailing ships there tonight but a few big tankers were bunkering in the bay (the floodlights belong to one of them). The lights in the distance are the Spanish port of Algeciras. Oh, and I found some more steps….