Review of the year : 2016

As the clock ticks inexorably towards midnight on 31st December and we close the door on 2016, I thought it was time to take a look back at the year we have just had. Most of the newspaper reviews I’ve read so far have focussed on the negative aspects, celebrity deaths, the seismic political changes afoot both in Europe, America and the rest of the world, and general doom and gloom.

I am very fortunate in that for us, in our little corner of the world, apart from the uncertainties of Brexit and what that could mean for us in the years to come, we’ve had a pretty good year. Looking back at all the interesting things we’ve done makes me think about how fortunate we are. If your 2016 has been a difficult one, I sincerely hope that 2017 will be better for you and your loved ones.

January 2016

The New Year saw us spending a few days up the coast from Gibraltar on the Costa del Sol, but we were back on the Rock in plenty of time to see the Three Kings Cavalcade. It was also back in January when I went for the first of my strolls around Gibraltar the first one was an homage to the many beautiful balconies, the second one paid tribute to the many steps we ‘enjoy’ here!

February 2016

February brought us some misty and stormy weather, but there was plenty of indoors activities to keep us busy here in Gibraltar. The second annual Gib Talks event saw speakers from all walks of life take to the stage for short talks on a huge range of subjects. Later in the month, the extraordinary Gibraltar Womens Association celebrated their 50th Anniversary, I found  their story fascinating.

March 2016

In March, we were blessed with some beautiful sunny days with bright blue skies. Along with completing a tin man outfit for World Book Day, I finally managed to finish my Attic 24 Cosy Stripe Blanket after a year of hooking! We made the most of the lovely spring weather and took a dolphin trip out into the Bay of Gibraltar. There was also a beautiful exhibition in Gib celebrating  women’s creativity.

April 2016

During April we made another short trip up the coast and headed inland to Ronda a beautiful Andalucian town. I was very productive at my dressmaking and home furnishing courses inserting my first invisible zip and producing curtain tie-backs for the public transport fan in my life. A tall ship called into port at Gibraltar and members of the public had the chance to go on board and have a snoop around.

May 2016

May meant Med Steps for me big time as I completed my final training sessions for, and then finished, the Med Steps 5 Challenge with my two stepping buddies. It was a rather intense day but we were so proud of ourselves for climbing to the top of the Rock five times in quick succession. We also managed to raise a fair amount of sponsorship money for the brilliant Cancer Relief Gibraltar. Some of my sponsors are readers of this blog and I am so touched that you took the time and effort to support our fundraising efforts – thank you.

As I spent so long prattling on about the Med Steps during my training, I figured I should tell you all about it:  The Med Steps: a few facts & figures . May also meant saying goodbye to a good friend to me and my blogging adventures. One of the sad things about living an expat life is that many of the friends you make are in the same boat as you and therefore may not be around for long Saying goodbye…

June 2016

June was a very eventful month not only for me but for Gibraltar and the rest of the UK as a whole as BREXIT loomed large (this post was my most read of all time and by a very long way). Six months on, we are still no further forward knowing what it all means.

Another unexpected thing to happen to me in June, was when I chose to go back up the Med Steps one foggy morning. I thought that the mist would make the climb cool as the summer heat had begun to build. I was wrong. As I climbed up the Rock, I climbed out of the mist and fog. I was nearly roasted alive, but I did manage to take a rather good photo of the Rock emerging out of the mist below (see second left image on the bottom row above). I got loads of likes and shares and retweets with that picture taken on  A mini stroll in the mist!

11th June 2016 marked International Yarnbombing Day 2016 and I had a little go myself with my first guerrilla crochet project as I attempted to Yarnbomb the Alameda Gardens to celebrate the park’s 200th anniversary.

July 2016

July equals the beginning of the very long school summer holiday in Gibraltar. As I stared down the barrel of 8 weeks of no school and the prospect of entertaining the three Little Postcards I felt a little overwhelmed. In an effort to find some way of surviving (with my marbles intact) I decided on day one that I would set myself the challenge of doing something crafty every single day of the holidays…. and the Summer Craft Challenge was born. One of our summer holiday outings took us up into the Upper Rock Nature Reserve to visit one of Gibraltar’s newest attractions, the  Windsor Suspension Bridge .

August 2016

August, for us, was mainly spent in England. I travelled back with the Little Postcards to spend two weeks based in the North West with my parents (with a lovely trip down to Berkshire to visit friends) and then two weeks with Mr Postcard visiting his family in East Anglia. We were blessed with the best of English summer weather. When the sun shines – there really is no better place to be. Our East Anglia holiday base was Southwold in Suffolk, it gave us the perfect opportunity for multiple visits to a special place for us Southwold Pier .

The end of the month brought the school summer holidays to an end. After eight weeks of full-time kiddiwinks and eight weeks of the summer craft challenge, I was very proud to still be in full possession of my marbles (I think) and I also managed to do something crafty on every day except for one (the day we travelled back to Gibraltar). The final instalment of my challenge is here.

September 2016

September is always a very busy month in Gibtraltar. Just after the children return to school, we all have a day off for Gibraltar National Day on 10th September. Around this time we now have the Gibraltar Music Festival to enjoy too. This year saw the Stereophonics headline and Europe played the air guitarist’s dream of The Final Countdown live on the Rock.

Towards the end of the month, I was able to fulfil an ambition of mine to visit the Yarn Festival of Yarndale. It was everything I had expected and more, with bells on. My absolute highlight was meeting my crochet hero Lucy from Attic 24 and being able to give her one of my Llanitas (Llanita, the Gibraltar Yarndale sheep that is). The sheep were made to raise funds to support a children’s hospice in North Yorkshire, I made two and they have both gone to live in Yorkshire!  My Yarndale 2016 (featuring Llanita’s Yorkshire adventures)

October 2016

In October I was still determined to keep up some of the crochet momentum I had achieved during the summertime and finished off my contribution to the Sixty Million Trebles project. I made a rainbow granny square blanket which will go towards the World Record breaking attempt to create a huge crochet blanket made up of sixty million treble stitches. Each treble stitch represents a displaced person or refugee. After the world record attempt the giant blanket will be made into smaller blankets and handed out to charities in the UK and those helping Syrian refugees. The organisers also hope to raise a considerable amount of funds too to help Syrian refugees.

A big event locally was the fourth annual Gibraltar Literary Festival 2016 I was lucky enough to be able to attend several events this year and really loved it.

November 2016

At the beginning of November we had just one Bunny in the Postcard household, then one Sunday afternoon during a walk through the Alameda Gardens, we found some abandoned rabbits. One of them, Blizzard, came home with us (Blizzard turned out to be a girl and she is now known as Snowflake). It was back in November when I had my first attempt at Podcasting I had such fun making it, and hope to be able to share another one with you soon.

December

In December we sadly said goodbye to Bunny Postcard. She had only been with us for 11 months but she’d quickly become a much loved member of the family.

This month I also headed out for my most recent stroll, to see some of the Christmas lights  we have on the Rock – amazingly it was the 16th stroll post I’ve written this year. I also took the plunge (literally) and joined with the annual Boxing Day Polar Bear Swim at Catalan Bay – I’m still feeling proud of myself for doing it!

 

Thank you so much for joining me this year, I have loved having your company and enjoy reading all the lovely comments. Here’s to next year, who knows what it will have in store for us all, here’s hoping it will be a good one.

Sunday Sevens #52 9.10.16

 

Despite the fact we are well into October now, it’s been very warm again here in Gibraltar. As I sit at the dining table writing this, I have steam coming out of my collar!!

This week has been a rather busy one for me, there’s been nothing in particular, just lots of different stuff going on, so there was no midweek post from me this week. I hope you’ve had a good week, whatever you’ve been up to. Without further ado, here’s this week’s Sunday Sevens:

Across the Strait

This photo kind of sums up the weather we’ve been having for about half of this last week. I took the photo on Sunday afternoon when we took the Little Postcards to Europa Point park to let off a bit of steam on their scooters. You know when they are bouncing off the walls that you need to get out and exercise them like dogs!! The sky was crystal clear overhead but in the distance across at Morrocco there was a hazy mist which looked like someone had taken an eraser to the bit where the mountains touch the sea!

So for most of this week, in the afternoons  it has been clear, bright and hot (especially when standing outside the school gates waiting for the bell to go!) but the mornings have been misty and town was sitting under a heavy Levanter cloud with gusty winds whipping up the dust.

Dressmaking class


Sewing continued on the sample top I’m working on in my dressmaking class. The photo doesn’t show it to advantage as the back is still unfinished and open. Part of the exercise for this sample is to make up the front, then remodel the arm holes and neckline. This is before the remodelling takes place.

In addition to working on my sample top, I have also been making a skirt for my Mum who has been over visiting at the moment. A straight skirt with a small slit at the back and in a colour to compliment her new winter coat is underway. After several fittings and alterations, I am now about to machine stitch the side seams and hand sew the hem. Hopefully it will be ready for her when she returns before Christmas.

Watercolour class

After two weeks of pencil sketches, I finally got around to mixing some paint colours and worked my current project at my watercolour class this week. I just love the brightly coloured beach huts at Southwold, and wanted to work on a painting to reflect that. I’m working from a photograph taken by Mr Postcard of a stretch of predominantly blue and white ones, but have used a little artistic licence and injected more colour based on photos I took on our visit in the summer. I’m really enjoying painting this one. 🙂

Sea mist


We had everything crossed on Friday evening. After dropping my parents off at the airport to fly home, we returned to find our home had been engulfed by a real pea-souper of a sea mist. Just as their plane was due to land it got thicker and thicker.

Miraculously the plane landed. The two photos above were taken 30 minutes apart. The first one is of a tree about 100 metres from our apartment – there was no point taking one of the sea, it would have just been grey!

I’m very pleased to say that Mum and Dad made it back home safely and we look forward to seeing them again just before Christmas.

Autumn leaves


It’s October, and of course that means autumn. I do love autumn in the UK in a kind of bitter sweet way. It’s such a beautiful season with the colours of the leaves on woodland walks but it also spells the end of summer and all the fun which that season promises. Back when we lived in England, I kind of dreaded winter with the grey damp urgh kind of weather it could spell for weeks between the odd beautiful crispy frosty day.

One benefit of living here in Gibraltar is that although we do have seasons, they aren’t quite as noticeable as in England. Summer is undboubtedly hot and sunny and winter is often damp and grey but not quite as cold and depressing as I remember English winter days to be. That does mean though that spring and autumn aren’t quite as obvious as what’s experienced in the UK.

I remember feeling a bit homesick that first autumn after we moved to Gibraltar and I just couldn’t put my finger on what the problem was. Suddenly it hit me, the vast majority of the trees here on the Rock are evergreen and that meant there are very few leaves to crunch through and collect with little people. Autumn always used to mean Sunday afternoons spent at one of our nearest National Trust sites or parks collecting sticks, conkers and brown, red and golden leaves of all shapes and sizes to bring home. That just isn’t an option here.

In recent years though, a few new trees have been planted here and some of the ones in Commonwealth Park (which was built a couple of years ago) are deciduous. It was so nice to sit under the browning leaves on a bench for a while yesterday as the Little Postcards played football. We were all in T-shirts and shorts so it’s not really like autumn, but it was nice to pretend.

A new crochet project


After finishing my sixty million trebles blanket last week, I was free to crack open some of the lovely new yarn I bought at Yarndale a fortnight ago with a clear conscience. The gorgeous mohair and bamboo Louisa Harding Yarn I bought from Esgair Fibres had been calling me from my stash and really needed to be worked on as soon as possible! I’m using it to make a shawl/scarf for when the weather here turns a little bit fresher. It’s so lovely to use, the constantly changing colours which change even within just one treble stitch are gorgeous and it feels so nice between my fingers as I hook up another row.

 
PS : just one more thing…

A couple of people asked to see the finished picture that I posted two weeks ago from my watercolour class, here it is, mounted and ready to go to its new home in England.

 

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

(Natalie, if you’re reading this I hope you’re ok! You’ve been very quiet lately.)

Sunday Sevens #43 7.8.16

It may be our summer holidays at the moment but we’ve packed a lot in this week: three train journeys, two big cities, two woodland walks and two trips to the coast (one on the Irish Sea, the other on the North Sea).

All aboard!

The Abbotsfield Park Miniature Railway is a must-do destination on our stays in Manchester. Myself and my brother were regular visitors to the Sunday-only train track and it’s grown in size over the years. 

Manned by enthusiastic volunteers who charge just 30p each for a ride around the circuit of track. It’s great value for money and really good fun. I may have to borrow some children when mine are too old to be interested in it any more so I can still go for a ride 😉

Sale Water Park

I’ve not visited Sale Water Park in years so we made the most of a dry sunny afternoon and headed there for a waterside woodland walk. 

Another train trip…


Monday morning meant another train trip for us, this time it was a short hop over to Liverpool to visit some friends (another family who once lived in Gibraltar and  have moved back to England with work). We had a fantastic day out visiting museums and seeing the sights. The trip deserves a whole post of its own so there will be one on its way soon.

Dandelions


I’ve not blown a dandelion clock for years. It was 12 o’clock apparently. The Postcard family did their bit for dandelion propagation at the local park.

A trip to the beach…

It’s August, we’re on our holidays – let’s go to the beach! We drove to Formby Point National Trust on the Lancashire coast to see the sand dunes and red squirrels. It was rather windy and we got well and truly sandblasted. My face was tingling hours later! We had a lovely walk though through the pine forest and it stayed dry so I’m not complaining.

A long journey 


On Friday morning we were up with the larks and off on the next leg of our trip. Mr Postcard checked Bunny into his health farm and flew to join us the night before. 8am saw us in central Manchester catching the train south & east. By late afternoon we’d finally arrived in beautiful Southwold our home for the rest of our holiday. 

RNLI Lifeboat week

The RNLI celebrated lifeboat week off the beach at Southwold yesterday. The local lifeboat crew was joined by the one from nearby Lowestoft and rescued surfers, swimmers and fishermen from peril in the dramatic display. The great weather brought crowds to the beach and the promenade above to watch the spectacle. What an amazing job these hero volunteers do. 

Sunday Sevens is a weekly blog series created by Natalie at Threads & Bobbins blog. It gives bloggers the chance to link up and feature seven photos from the last seven days. To find out more about it, pop over to Threads & Bobbins for more info. 

Until next time, thanks for stopping by 

🙂