Sunday Sevens #143 1.7.18

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.

Bright bougainvillea

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.

A stroll around Gibraltar No.19 : Whithams Cemetery

I may be had up for trade descriptions on this one, it’s more of a dig around Whithams Cemetery than a walk… (and no, it’s not what you think!).

If you have followed Postcard from Gibraltar for a while, you may remember that last year I took you for a stroll along Rosia Road and down to the sea; A stroll around Gibraltar No. 12. During that walk I went slightly off piste and showed you the fascinating place that is Whithams Cenetery.

I’ve become rather bewitched by this atmospheric place since the first time I happened to look over the wall which stands above it. The large abandoned graveyard is boxed in on all sides by buildings and looked so unloved and sad yet mesmerizing to me.

Since that first time I laid eyes on it a year or two ago, I have pressed my nose up to the cemetery gates many times craning to see more of what lay inside. Over the months, it became obvious that it hadn’t been completely forgotten about as the trees were pruned back and there was evidence that some work was underway to clear the area and attempt to restore it to its former glory.

A chance conversation with a friend of mine back in November revealed that she was one of the team of volunteers who are currently trying their best to wrestle the graveyard back from the brink of ruin. I went along one morning to lend a hand and join in.

I arrived dressed for the job, in old clothes and boots, brought my own spade and gardening gloves – which are necessary as there are lots of nettles and prickly weeds (the Heritage Trust did have a supply of gloves and tools for volunteers too).


We worked for just over 2 hours in the cool morning light. Thankfully, because of it’s position, it was only starting to get really sunny as we packed up. My grave digging (joke) pal and I made great progress clearing a stretch of about 3 metres across to about 6 rows of graves deep.

The team of volunteers bagged up a large pile of sacks containing weeds and unwanted shrubs to be taken away off site. A lot of progress was made, but as it’s such a large plot and the weeds keep coming back, it’s going to take quite a few more mornings like this one.

Sadly, a lot of the graves are in a very poor state of repair and some have been vandalised in the years that the cemetery was left abandoned. The Trust is planning to use a grant to repair some of them once the clearance work has been completed.

It really is a beautiful, atmospheric place, and not at all eery.

If you are in Gibraltar, are free on Monday mornings and fancy joining in with the rescue work going on at Whithams Cemetery, please get in touch with Gibraltar Heritage. You can get hold of them on: (+350) 20042844 or at their headquarters at the Main Guard in John Mackintosh Square – they would love to hear from you. 

 

 

 

A stroll around Gibraltar No. 16 : Christmas lights 2016


Gibraltar does do Christmas lights well, so I thought I’d take you on a little nocturnal stroll with me to show you some of them. 

Back in November there was the now annual event of the Festival of Lights, when school choirs and dance groups put on a large extravaganza before the big Christmas light switch on. You can read all about 2015’s Festival of Light here.

As is the tradition, the area of John MacIntosh Square (also know locally as the Piazza) is the scene of the Festival of Light, and after the event, the square is given over to a small Christmas Fair complete with fairground rides for smaller children. This year, the area has been illuminated with these arches of fairy lights which are really quite stunning as you round the corner and see it.

The square is flanked on three sides by brightly lit buildings too: Gibtelecom

The City Hall:

And opposite the City Hall, is the Gibraltar Parliament Building.

Main Street, the main shopping area is of course lit up too. The lights extend from beyond Southport Gates and past the Governor’s residence, the Convent (which you can see with the Christmas tree above the porch).

The lights continue along past the shops.


Even the smaller streets off Main Street have Christmas lights too.

Away from the pedestrianised shopping areas, the traffic islands haven’t been immune to the Christmas light treatment too.

This one, even features a luminous Santa Claus, who just hours before this photo was taken was face down in the plants. It looked like he’d had a heavy night at a Christmas party! He’d been restored to his former position by the time I returned with my camera, so his blushes were spared.

Aside from the municipal illuminations, the residential estates have put on a fair show this year too. Here’s the offering at Beach View Terrace near Eastern Beach…

…the residents of South District have put on a show too…

…as have the Alameda Estate.

I think the collective prize for best effort has got to go to the residents of Catalan Bay. Several houses have made a big effort, both those facing the road …

…and facing the sea.

Even the gardeners at the Alameda Gardens have jazzed up their main entrance gates.

To my mind though, there is one stand out winner this year and that is the City Fire Station. They get an A* for effort and win this year’s Postcard from Gibraltar prize for Best Christmas Lights by a mile.

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!
 

A stroll around Gibraltar: No. 1 Balconies

Gibraltar’s a pretty special place, unique in so many ways. A slice of Britishness on the Med, within sight of two continents. One of the mythical Pillars of Hercules which stood either side of the entrance to the Mediterranean Sea. It’s a melting pot of cultures, religions and styles with a rich history dating from the Neanderthals to the Phoenecians, the Battle of Trafalgar to World War II and beyond. As many of you lovely visitors to my blog aren’t from Gibraltar and perhaps have never visited, I thought I’d share a few aspects of the Gibraltar I love with you. Today I’m looking at balconies:

  South District

For a place where the vast majority of people live in apartments, outside space is incredibly precious here in Gibraltar. Balconies for the lucky few who have them, are a very precious bit of the outdoors attached to their homes. Our family is lucky enough to have a balcony, which is effectively our ‘front garden’ (British readers will get what I mean – I’m sure), it also works as a space to dry laundry and a place to just ‘be’ especially on a warm evening with a cool glass of vino in your hand. 

  Irish Town

Of course, balconies can take many forms including late twentieth century concrete ones and the glass and chrome of the last few years, but by far my favourite are the Colonial style wrought iron balconies which can be found around the Rock.

   Governors Street

If you walk around town with your head down or just look around at eye level, you are sure to miss some absolutely stunning architectural beauties. They have such charm and grace, almost reminiscent of New Orleans. 

These green beauties can be found on Main Street where thousands of shoppers, commuters and tourists pass daily, how many of them have actually looked up and noticed they’re there?

 Main Street
  Main Street

These days a lot of this style of balcony are no longer ‘outdoor spaces’ being enclosed by glass and absorbed into the internal buildings. I still think they look beautiful though.

  Market Lane

How about this for some ornate glazing?!

  Main Street

Look a whole street of them!    Georges Lane

Check out that stained glass…

 Main Street

What a façade!
  Main Street

And another…

  Main Street
  Main Street (again)

These beautiful examples are just a small selection of what you can find here. Some are in a better state of repair than others. I just hope they are preserved for many more generations to enjoy. I just can’t get enough of them! 

This balcony is perhaps the most photographed in Gibraltar. Most days as you pass, you find tourists standing across the road taking pictures. It truly IS a front garden!
  Main Street (next door to Kings Chapel)

So you’ve probably guessed I am a huge fan of balconies, perhaps because I am a huge fan of gardens and this is as close as many people get here. They are so beautiful and romantic and so unlike anything you would get back at home in Blighty. 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this short jaunt around the place where I live. I’ll have another stroll around Gibraltar for you soon. Thank you for stopping by :-).