A Postcard from the Vatican


During the summer of 2017 we did a bit of travelling as a family and at long last I have got round to writing some blog posts about it and downloading a few of the many photos on my camera. Last week I published my Postcard from Rome, today here’s my Postcard from the Vatican.

Before setting off on our holiday to Rome last summer, Mr Postcard rather sensibly booked a couple of guided tours, one was to the Vatican City. Included in the price was entry to the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel and St Peter’s Basilica as well as the tour. We met our guide, Maria, on the steps outside the museum where we were fast-tracked through the crowds.

First stop after the ticket hall was a lovely viewing area which gave us a great position to look out across the Vatican gardens to the dome of St Peter’s Basilica. It was here that our lovely guide took us through many of the things which we were about to see and experience. Our tour was specifically tailored towards a family with young children and Maria showed photographs of various art works and sights we were soon to encounter.

It was here that the first stand out moment of the day happened…. one of the Little Postcards amazed us with his knowledge of Michelangelo and the Sistine Chapel. It turned out that he’d done work on it a couple of years before in school and he’d remembered it. Well I never.


After passing through the first part of the Vatican Museum, past ancient Egyption relics and other items from the ancient world, we found ourselves out in a large courtyard garden. The centre of it was dominated by this sculpture. The Sphere within a Sphere was created by Arnaldo Pomodoro and is one of several similar orbs dotted around the world. This one is exactly the same size as the one on the very top of St Peter’s Basilica (see photo above) so it really puts into perspective the scale of the church.

One of the benefits of being on the tour meant that Maria was able to invite the Little Postcards across the chain which roped off the sculpture and got them to help her push the sculpture round so that we could get a 360 degree view of it without moving ourselves. It was fun for the children to get ‘hands-on’ with this piece of art.


At this stage I must point out that I am not attempting to write a guide book about the Vatican – that would be impossible in a blog post plus I’m sure that many people far more qualified that I am, have already done just that. I just wanted to share a flavour of some of the things we enjoyed on our trip.

In the following photo you can see, not only the sphere at the top St Peter’s Basilica again (top right), but also evidence of the extensive restoration work which was being carried out on the historic buildings.


Some sections had already been cleaned up, while other parts were still in progress.


The most impressive aspect of the Vatican City was the beautiful art work which was everywhere. Every wall, every ceiling was covered in the most exquisite work.

And the colours of the paints used are stunning considering the ages of some of these pieces of work.

Now that is what I call a ceiling!

Along the walls of this amazing corridor (the likes of which I have never seen before in my life) was a series of maps. The unusual thing about these maps is that many of them were drawn upside down so that they were from the perspective of the Pope in Rome looking down towards the south. They were also created in the days long, long before satellite images so they were guestimated. Our guide, Maria told us that amazingly in many cases they are pretty accurate despite the lack of geographical knowledge of the time.

Of course, no old map is complete without a sea monster.

As a born and bred Mancunian, I have an affinity for bees (they were used in the coat of arms of the city to signify the industriousness of the workers during the Industrial Revolution and came to prominence again last year as a sign of solidarity following the terrorist attack in Manchester). As I walked along this elaborately decorated corridor, I found myself spotting more and more bees on all of these maps, both in the maps and on the ‘frames’.

I have done a bit of research (by no means comprehensive)  and it turns out that Pope Urban VIII came from the Barberini family and their coat of arms featured three bees, you can read about it here. You can also find other explanations for the existence of so many bees in the Vatican here. When you look at the maps on the walls of this corridor there seems to be a significance to the bees and where they are placed as if they are marking out churches or cathedrals.

If you can shed any light onto why there are so many bees buzzing about the Vatican, I’d love to hear from you! (I wish I’d asked more questions at the time!)

After this beautiful bee-filled corridor, lay the Sistine Chapel. Photographs are not allowed to be taken in there (although many people did) nor are you allowed to speak in there (although many people did). Therefore I have nothing to show you from in there. All I can say is that it was beautiful, indescribably detailed and mind boggling at how Michelangelo could have completed such an amazing peace of work. (You can see it for yourself on the Vatican website). It was also easy to see that on occasions when it is quiet and calm, that it could be an incredibly spiritual place. Sadly for us, it was more like a cattle market, I was shocked at so many peoples’ lack of respect for such an important religious site (despite the best efforts of the Vatican staff). What a shame.

Next up was the final part of our tour.  At this point, our tour guide left us briefly and came back bearing gifts for our boys. Rather aptly it was a postcard for each of them to remind them of their time a the Vatican. We thought it was a lovely gesture. Thank you Maria, if you see this!

The final stop was St Peter’s Basilica itself. How’s this for an impressive porch?


What a place…


The Basilica was just mind blowing in it’s grandeur. Every surface was decorated.


The secret as to why these works of art have stood the test of time is that unlike in the Sistene Chapel, they aren’t paintings. They are made up of millions of tiny mosaic tiles. You may be able to make the tiles out in the photo below:


Everything here was on such a grand scale, the like of which I have never seen before. It was a beautiful building, if rather busy.

It was on the steps outside the Basilica that we said our goodbyes to our guide for the morning. Enlisting the help of a guide was a price definitely worth paying, especially with young children. They have a relatively short attention span (as do I to be fair) and were able to ask Maria questions that we wouldn’t have been able to answer. It also gave us the chance to learn so much more about our surroundings as, with the best will in the world, you cannot stand and read signs and notices next to exhibits when you are being pulled off in all directions to look at something else by smaller people. I would highly recommend the use of a guide if you are planning a visit yourself.


From the front steps of the Basilica, we were able to gaze up to the Pope’s balcony. I’m not a Catholic, but it was quite surreal to find myself in a place which is so well known around the world. There was a definite sense of reverence and peace in spite of the hoards of tourists.


It was upon leaving St Peter’s Basilica that we got our first full glimpse of the famous Swiss Guards. We did spy them at a distance while we were inside the complex but this time we got to see them in all their multicoloured glory.




At the end of our visit it seemed only right that we should visit the Post Office of the smallest nation in the world and send a postcard home…

I was blown away with the beauty of the Vatican City. I didn’t really know what to expect, of course I had seen bits on telly and in books but to actually experience it for real was another thing altogether. One thing’s for sure, I will never forget the day we went to look around the Vatican.


A Postcard from Rome

Last summer, we were lucky enough to do a bit of traveling. It was one of my New Years resolutions to finally get round to doing something with a few of the hundreds of photographs I took, so here goes… One of our destinations was Rome and are some of the highlights…


Until this summer, I had never been to Italy before. I have wanted to visit for so long, but the opportunity didn’t arise until last year. As there was a direct flight from Malaga to Rome we decided to bite the bullet and do a city break with three kids in tow. Before setting off we had the feeling it might be better in hindsight and I think perhaps we were right. It was mid summer, it was very hot, we did loads and loads of walking but we saw lots of the city and it was definitely worth it.


It is a truly beautiful city. Walking the streets of Rome felt like being on a film set. From grand palazos to higgledy piggledy alleyways, no two streets are the same.


It was very expensive though. We had been warned before our trip that everything would cost a lot more than we are used to. Breakfast on our first morning, which was nothing more than croissants, coffee and juice for a family of five came to more than €100.


Whatever corner you walked around there was something to catch your eye.


I did a double take as we walked down one street and all of a sudden I found myself in front of the Trevi Fountain. We weren’t alone though….. several hundred other folk had turned up too!


We rented a lovely apartment close to the Spanish Steps. It was amazing to be able to walk out of the front door and within 5 to 10 minutes be at such a famous landmark.


The view from the top was great, if incredibly over populated!


In order to escape the crowds in town we took a walk away from the city at the top of the Spanish Steps and soon found ourselves a much quieter vantage point.


The road we had taken led us to one of Rome’s parks, the beautifully cool and shady Villa Borghese park.


It was the perfect place to take stock, sit on a bench and rest our weary feet for a little while.


The Romans certainly know how to do a park on a grand scale!



We meandered through the park and found ourselves back amongst the throngs so thought we’d give the Rome Metro a whirl.

Naturally, being in Rome, it had to be decorated with mosaics…


It’s not just the people who are stylish in Rome, their homes are elegant too. As is often the case in Gibraltar, people feel the need to cultivate some greenery in whatever small outdoor space they have. I spotted quite a few balcony gardens.


Next to the Roman Forum there were lots of green balconies….


One of the new things I learned about Rome on our visit was that it has a castle…


Castel Sant’Angelo was built as a mausoleum from the Roman Emperor Hadrian but later was converted into a papal fortress as it’s located a short distance from the Vatican. Nowadays it is the site of a museum.

On one of our long circuitous walks we found ourselves outside Quirinal Palace,  the Italian President’s residence. It was only when we spotted the rather grand garden in the distance and the guard of honour that we realised we were somewhere important.


One thing you cannot escape in Rome is the profusion of fountains, both large like the Trevi fountain and the Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Fountain of the Four Rivers) in Piazza Navona (below)….


…to the smaller drinking fountains dotted around the city providing fresh, clean drinking water for anyone who should need it. The water gets into the centre of the city thanks to a network of underground aqueducts built by the ancient Romans.

At this point I must address the elephant in the room. You may be aware that there are a lot of marble statues in Rome, a good proportion of them had their marble nether regions on display. Travelling with young ones, meant that these were frequently pointed out and giggled about…


Roman food was a great hit with the whole family. Pizza and pasta rate highly in the favourite foods list for all three Little Postcards, as does ice cream, or should I say gelato?

We managed to visit one gelateria which boasted 150 different flavours…. what a dilemma. (I opted for cappuccino in the end in case you were wondering).

You can’t visit Rome without seeing some of the magnificent ancient Roman architecture which has stood the test of time. The Pantheon was utterly mind blowing. I will share more pictures of this in a couple of weeks when I focus on the ancient side of Rome.


We also enjoyed a fabulous tour of Vatican City. I will share a Postcard from there next week.


I hope you have enjoyed this little snippet of our lovely few days spent in Rome. Thanks for reading 🙂

Review of 2017

Crumbs, it’s looking awfully like we are on the cusp of another New Year, it surely can’t be a whole year since the last one, it’s gone far too fast. I guess now’s as good a time as any to have a look back at some of my Postcard from Gibraltar highlights from the past 12 months….

January 2017

A new year meant a new challenge for me this year, a photo challenge. Last year I read Nana Cathy’s blog and was intrigued by her weekly photo challenge. When January came around I thought I’d join in myself. It’s been such fun and quite inspiring throughout the year to have weekly prompts to find pictures for. If you fancy joining in check out Wild Daffodil’s blog for more information.

Also in January I joined forces with my friend Kate of H and FlossieDoodle to start the Gibraltar Crochet Collective. We did meet weekly to crochet and chat over coffee although our meetings have got less and less frequent due to other commitments lately. Our mascots Gib and Rocksy went for a bit of an adventure.

Another new project for me this month was my podcast, you can find my blogposts and the related podcasts here.

February 2017

In February I ran my Creative Gibraltar series looking at some of the very talented craftspeople who live in Gibraltar. I began with my lovely watercolour teacher Deborah M Lawson and ended with local craftswoman and up-cycling guru Sue Orfila. February also brought us the 2017 installment of Gib Talks. I was also fortunate to be able to speak to Gib Talks organiser Julian Felice before the event for one of my podcasts.

March 2017

March was a month for Lenten crochet (far easier than giving up chocolate) which helped support the Sixty Million Trebles effort, a beautiful Suffolk family wedding and a sad goodbye to our rescue bunny Snowflake.

April 2017

April began for us in Southwold in Suffolk, one of our favourite places and involved a lot of Med Steps training, which was very handy for burning off those seaside fish and chips! I was also able to finish another Sixty Million Trebles blanket – this one from the Gibraltar Crochet Collective.

May 2017

May meant Med Steps 5 Challenge again this year and I even managed to beat my time from last year! You can hear my podcast about it here. We also flew back to the UK for our second family wedding of the year.

June 2017

June started for us in Wigan in Lancashire, the location of our latest wedding and the perfect setting for a lovely walk. It was also the Calentita! food festival in Gibraltar. (For some reason the same aerial photo of Gibraltar appeared in May and June’s collages – not sure why that was. It is a good photo though don’t you think?).

July 2017

In July our big summer of travel began with a trip up to the North West of England and a flying visit to North Wales. We also drove to Portugal.

August 2017

This has got to be my most cosmopolitan of all months, featuring travel in Portugal, Rome, France and of course good old Gibraltar. Which reminds me, I have loads of holiday photos on my phone and camera SD card which are crying out to become blog posts – watch this space in the New Year.

September 2017

September is a big month on the Rock, this year more than most as Gibraltarians celebrated the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum when they voted overwhelmingly to remain British. Gibraltar National Day on 10th September coincidentally happened to be the day of my 100th Sunday Sevens. We also had a fabulous music festival.

October 2017

October brought with it some interesting weather, beautiful sunshine, murky mists and exciting lightning storms.

November 2017

November was a good crochet month for me as I finally got around to making last year’s Little Box of Crochet autumn wreath. I also greatly enjoyed this year’s Gibraltar Literary Festival with talks by Nicholas Parsons, Patrick Gale and local photographers and naturalists Clive, Geraldine and Stewart Finlayson.

December 2017

December seems to have rushed by in a flurry of end of term carol concerts and panicked making of Christmas presents (some of which failed to get finished in time). There have been some opportunities for peace and quiet though, namely the last Saturday before Christmas when we avoided the shops and headed for the beach for peace and tranquility.

Summer craft challenge

For the second year running, during the long summer holiday we get in Gibraltar, I decided to set aside a little time each day to do something crafty and I documented this with my Summer Craft Challenge. Each day I featured a photo on Instagram and each week I wrote a blog post on my progress.

At the beginning of the challenge I made a little amigurumi unicorn which I got the kit for in an edition of Simply Crochet magazine. I christened her Europa and she became my Summer Craft Challenge mascot and came on our travels with us. There were several occasions when the Little Postcards thought Mummy had lost her marbles posing a crocheted unicorn in various European locations for photographs…

This year, I returned to work part-time after 13 years as a full-time, stay at home Mum. I have to admit that during the last few months I have found it hard to make time for Postcard from Gibraltar alongside my new commitments and at times I’ve wondered whether I can actually keep it up. I have had some really lovely comments and support from my online friends and that’s kept me going. Thank goodness I have Sunday Sevens and the weekly photo challenge to keep me ticking over during ‘dry’ spells.

I think I would really miss the community I have ‘met’ through Postcard from Gibraltar, and if I’m honest, it’s you and the support you’ve given me which gave me the confidence to apply for the job in the first place. Thank you very much to everyone who’s taken the time to read my posts over the past 2 and a half years, and for the virtual friendship you have given me too – it’s not taken for granted. Every comment and like is very much appreciated.

Here’s to 2018 and all the wonderful challenges it may bring!

Best wishes to you and yours for the New Year x

2017 Weekly photo challenge (Week 51) Window

I was a bit spoiled for choice for this week’s challenge. We had an amazing summer this year and were lucky enough to do some traveling. The above photograph was taken as we took off from Gibraltar at the start of our summer adventures.

The following window pictures were taken in the beautiful Saint-Nazaire Basilica in Carcassonne in Southern France. They were the most beautiful stained glass windows I have ever seen and the photographs sadly don’t do them justice.

Seeing all these reminds me that I still have a trillion photos on my camera which are crying out to be featured in blog posts about our summer trips. They will follow at some point – I promise!

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

Sunday Sevens #100 10.9.17

Welcome to the 100th Postcard from Gibraltar Sunday Sevens! I can’t quite believe this little weekly Sunday post has reached such a big milestone, and it couldn’t have landed on a more appropriate day than Gibraltar National Day could it? What’s more, this isn’t any ordinary Gibraltar National Day, it’s the 50th Anniversary of the Referendum in 1967 in which almost 100% of the Gibraltarian population voted to remain British. (I didn’t plan this by the way, I’m not that clever, it’s just a happy coincidence).

This week’s Sunday Sevens is rather neatly bookended by two amazing musical events…

End of the party…

Bearing in mind this is such a milestone, you would have thought I would have packed it full of gorgeous photos wouldn’t you? Sadly, this week hasn’t been the most photogenic one for me! I begin this post with the last photo from my previous post taken in the early hours of Monday morning (thankfully it was a Bank Holiday here in Gibraltar!). 

This year’s Gibraltar Music Festival (known as MTV Presents Gibraltar Calling) came to a climax in the early hours of Monday morning. I took this photo as we were leaving in the middle of Fat Boy Slim’s set (we were being sort of responsible and getting Eldest back home before he or we turned into a pumpkin). For more on the festival, you can find yesterday’s post all about it here.

Moody skies

Things got back to normal again on Tuesday, children went back to school, and a bit of a routine developed again. This long summer break has been lovely but it is nice to have some structure back in our lives again after so long without it! I spotted this cruise ship coming into Gibraltar on Tuesday morning as the Little Postcards were getting ready to head out to school. The tourists on board didn’t get the best of Gibraltar’s weather that day sadly.

Almost missed it!

We had a couple of nice sunsets midweek, I was sitting out on the balcony after dinner and found myself gazing off into the distance in a world of my own when I suddenly realised the sky was looking pretty. I hadn’t even noticed the sun was setting until the last moment. I grabbed my camera quickly before the sun slipped down behind the hills.

Happy post! 

Oh I do love it when I get my monthly subscription from Little Box of Crochet. This lovely little box contained not just a crochet kit, but a cross stitch kit too curtesy of the Geeky Stitching Club! Oh dear, looks like my To-make List is getting longer and longer…

More crochet…

Talking of crochet, I’ve kind of lost my crochet mojo this week. After over 60 days of Crochet during my Summer Craft Challenge, I lost my momentum this week. I’ve only picked up my hook once. I’m hoping this little cactus kit from Simply Crochet Magazine will work its magic and get me back into my rhythm. 

A hole with personality 😉

Please tell me I’m not going mad and this hole has a face… it caught my eye as I walked past and I had to go back and look at it again. From a different angle it looks nothing like a face but straight on it has a pair of shades, a nose and a mouth!! 

It’s on a wall close to The Mount on Europa Road if you fancy having a look yourself. I reckon he has a look of Elvis don’t you?! 

All set for National Day

Gibraltar is resplendent in red and white all ready for this weekend’s celebrations. On Friday I took a walk into town for the first time in ages and ages and got to see all the decorations up close rather than from a car window. Gibraltar really does go to town each September and this year more than most.

Classical celebrations 

Last night I was lucky enough to return to Victoria Stadium, the scene of the first of this week’s photos for another musical concert. This one was by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. It was amazing. Titled ‘A celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the 1967 Referendum’ it had the feel of Last Night at the Proms. There was a mix of well known classical pieces such as Pomp & Circumstance and Nimrod from the Enigma Variations and movie soundtracks including Star Wars and Harry Potter. 

In addition to the orchestra, we were entertained by the Gibraltar Regimental Band and a local choir. The solo singers were amazing too – they performed a few opera pieces and rousing renditions of Rule Brittania, Jerusalem etc. The female soloist, Laura Wright is a regular at major sporting events singing anthems, the male soloist is perhaps one of the best known opera singers in Britain today; Wynne Evans of the Go Compare adverts. What an amazing night and wonderful atmosphere, and a world away from what we experienced a week before. At just £5 for a ticket it was a fab opportunity to hear some first class musicians.

And that brings this week’s Sunday Sevens to a close. (I know it should be seven photos from the past seven days and not nine, but it’s a special edition!)

I’m linking with Natalie at Threads & Bobbins for this post, as Sunday Sevens was  first created by her. Thanks Natalie for such a great idea – who would have thought I’d get to 100!

Summer Craft Challenge 2017 (week 9)

Welcome to the slightly late final edition of my Summer Craft Challenge 2017. A return to school for the Little Postcards and the wonderful MTV Gibraltar Calling music festival this weekend slightly threw me off track… here goes!

Day 57 : Saturday 26th August

Saturday was our last night in beautiful Carcassonne.  I will always remember Carcassonne when I wear this shawl once it’s finished.

Day 58 : Sunday 27th August

Back in Toulouse on Sunday the colour blue began to emerge in the yarn. I’m really enjoying the colours of this Scheepjes Whirl yarn.

Day 59 : Monday 28th August

With a few hours to kill between checking out and heading to the airport it meant a little while in one of Toulouse’s gorgeous public parks crocheting on a bench…

….and then more time for hooky on the plane. I ended up sitting next to a lovely Spanish lady who loves to crochet too. She showed me her bag which she had made herself.

Day 60 : Tuesday 29th August

Back at home in Gibraltar now, with just the chance for a couple of rows between the multiple loads of post holiday laundry!

Day 61 : Wednesday 30th August

Time for a change today and a return to this lovely ‘Jenny’s Mandala’ from Little Box of Crochet. I know I have said it before but I just love how the pattern and look of the mandala changes with each new row.

Day 63 : Thursday 31st August

More mandala time, and as the sun went down on Thursday, it went down on the school summer holidays and indeed my summer craft challenge for this year. I felt a glass of wine was in order to celebrate over 60 days of craftiness (I missed just 2 days this year) and to spare a thought for all the wonderful teachers who will be nurturing all our kiddiwinks over the next academic year.

My Summer Craft Challenge this year has been such fun and has come with us all over the place on a mini European tour. Europa the Unicorn, who I made on the very first day of the challenge back on 1st July has been to the U.K., France, Portugal, Spain and Italy. I have been getting weird glances from not just my children, but passers-by as I have been attempting to take photos of her in various locations, I have been disowned on more than one occasion.

Thanks so much for joining me! 

Sunday Sevens #99 3.9.17

Last Sunday we woke up in Carcassonne and packed up and headed back to Toulouse for our final day and night in France. One week on, we are back at home in Gibraltar and school has restarted, the events of a week ago, almost feel like a dream already! 

Back in Toulouse

On our final afternoon in Toulouse we went out for a walking tour once we had returned the hire car and done our packing. We headed past the museum (above) and into the beautiful cathedral of St Sernin. I haven’t had the chance to download any photos off my camera yet, so sadly this is the only one I snapped on my phone. You can just about spot the spire of St Sernin poking up on the left.

One last trip to the park

Between checking out and going to the airport, we had a few hours to kill on Monday morning, so we headed back to the beautiful parks. I can’t get enough of these floral bridges linking them together. The play park was beautifully equipped for the youngest Postcards, what a wonderful place to end our holiday, there was even a coffee bar and cafe under the shady trees.

Back to the queues

Once back home, we had to head into Spain to do a spot of back to school shopping. The long queue back into Gib reminded us why we don’t do it very often…


This week, I was very honoured to be featured as Your Gibraltar TV’s Instagrammer of Gibraltar. It made my day! 

End of the summer…

Thursday’s sunset marked not just the end of  August, but also the end of the school summer holidays in Gibraltar. Rather annoyingly, the children returned to school on Friday for 3 or 3 and 3/4 hours depending on their ages, and they won’t return until Tuesday as we have a bank holiday this weekend. Doesn’t strike me as being the best planning, but what do I know?! 

Dinner out

Friday night meant a lovely dinner out for me with my Mum and Dad. They arrived in Gibraltar on Wednesday and are over for a few weeks. It was so nice to catch up with their news and fill them in on all our holiday adventures. 

Gibraltar calling …

It’s that time of the year again – Music Festival time. This year it’s been run by MTV, and is being broadcast all over the world. Yesterday was the first day and featured artists as diverse as The Amazons, Jonas Blue, the Village People And Ricky Martin. Doing the YMCA dance with the Village People has to be my highlight of the day!

It’s hard to believe that we are into September already, the long summer holiday has flown really quickly for me. Mind you, we have beeen incredibly lucky to be able to have several trips away to amazing places; Portugal, Rome, and France in just one month! Watch out for up coming posts with loads of photos of these beautiful places.

I’m linking with Natalie from Threads & Bobbins for this weekly blog series.