Friday photo challenge (week 12) Spring

Spring is my favourite time of the year for climbing the Med Steps. Everything is so lush and green after the winter’s rain and the wild flowers pop up in the dusty, dry soil.

It’s the time of year when one of Gibraltar’s national flowers, the Gibraltar Candytuft, comes into bloom…

All these beautiful plants and colours are just what you need to distract you from your aching muscles as you haul yourself up the steep climb!

For more on the beautiful wild flowers of the Med Steps (and how I attempted to recreate them with wool!) you can look here.

Spring is the theme for this week’s Friday Photo Challenge. Next week it’s ‘rainbow’.

Sunday Sevens #64 1.1.17

Happy New Year! Is it really only a week ago that we were celebrating Christmas? It feels like much longer!

Christmas Day Lunch


Mr Postcard reprised his role as Christmas Day chef and was so proud of his turkey, I was called into the kitchen to take a photo for Sunday Sevens! It was delicious.

We had a lovely day at home, joined by my parents. We were all very lucky and got lots of lovely things. Among my favourites were a new lens for my camera from Mr Postcard – watch out for loads more Postcard from Gibraltar sunsets… and some lovely fluffy yarn and an Amigurumi book from my little brother.

This year’s Christmas makes


I can share a few of my festive makes,  now they have been gifted. I was asked by a friend to make a mermaid blanket for her daughter. I made a couple of ring cushions ahead of two weddings next year and the wreath was a request for my Mum.

Polar bear swim


Boxing Day for us was dominated by turkey leftovers and the Catalan Bay Polar Bear Swim. If you haven’t already, you can read all about it in my post here. I’m so glad I did it – I was wavering until about two hours before hand and I just thought what the heck, life’s short and one day I may look back and regret not doing it.

Crochet, rosé & Dirty Dancing 


So in the space of a few days, we lost two people who played a big part in my formative years (and those of countless others) albeit via the silver screen and the radio airwaves. I think an awful lot of people from my generation really felt the loss of George Michael and Carrie Fisher this week. Sometimes only crochet, wine and Dirty Dancing on the telly will do… Thank you Channel 5 – I really needed that.

Legotastic 


Despite all the new toys which appeared in this house over Christmas, the trusty box of Lego featured heavily over the last week. We have had vehicle races and competitions and all sorts of creative fun. The lounge floor was awash with those sharp little bricks but it was a small price to pay for fraternal harmony (for a few hours) and a break from TV and gadget screens.

Beach walk


We revisited Catalan Bay on Thursday afternoon to stretch our legs. It was somewhat quieter than it had been on Monday… and I resisted the temptation to jump into the crashing waves and stayed on the sand. 😉

Shopping in Spain


On Friday we took a drive up the Costa del Sol coast for a brief shopping trip and lunch. We were away from the Rock for less than 6 hours but we enjoyed our mini-mini break!

New Year’s Eve Med Stepping


Yesterday, I ventured up the Med Steps for the first time in weeks. What a change those weeks have meant for the vegetation and wildlife up there. There were loads of delicate white narcissi lining the paths and on the roof of this old army look out post. There was also a lot of these wild clematis type of plants…


It was so pretty up there. The beautiful flowers took my mind off the fact I was out of breath!

One last sunset of 2016

I know I have gone way over the normal seven photos for a Sunday Sevens post, but there has been such a lot going on this week. As Gibraltar was gearing up for a big night of celebrations (see photo below) we headed home for a quiet celebration. Here’s a couple of shots of the last sunset of 2016 as seen in Gibraltar – can you see a sliver of moon among the clouds?


This photo shows the lights in Morocco across the Strait of Gibraltar from here we live. It’s slightly blurry (apologies for that) but it gives you a sense of just how close we are.

I do hope that you have a wonderful new year and that 2017 is a happy and healthy one for you. Thank you for taking the time to read this and for all the lovely comments I’ve received over the past year, it’s so nice to know that there are actually people out there (apart from my Mum and Dad) who want to read what I have to write. Thank you!

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

A stroll around Gibraltar No. 13 : Windsor Suspension Bridge 

Hello there, the school summer holidays are well underway here in Gibraltar, so today I took the little Postcards for a trip to the Rock’s newest visitor attraction; the Windsor suspension bridge. Construction of the bridge took many months and those of us who live on the Rock were able to see this bridge appear up high above the town and we were guessing exactly what it was for.

At one stage, once the main frame of the bridge was in place but the section you actually walk on wasn’t complete, we wondered whether it would have a glass bottom so you could walk ‘in mid-air’! I have to say, if that had been the case, I’m not sure I would have been brave enough to attempt it. I’m not great up a ladder at the best of times…

Last month the completed bridge was officially opened by Gibraltar’s Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo and since then many local residents and tourists alike have benefitted from being able to walk across it and take in the view of the town below from a new angle. Having seen many of my friends’ Facebook photos of them and their loved ones taking a trip up there, I figured it was high time I had a go myself. As it’s school holiday time, that meant taking my three boys with me too.

We began our walk from the Pillars of Hercules statue and spotted a large Royal Caribbean cruise ship approaching Gibraltar. The little Postcards thought it would be fun to try and race it. Would it dock at the cruise terminal before we reached the bridge? It was moving quite fast…

We soon picked up our path when we saw this new sign post marking the way where a road had previously been closed. (Can you see the cruise ship closing in on us in the background?). After quite a steep climb for little legs, the downward stretch was very welcome.

It was at this point I noticed something I don’t think I’ve seen before in Gibraltar. You may remember from my post On a walk over Christmas, Gibraltar gave to me… I make mention of the rings which were used by the military to haul the cannons up to the top of the Rock. You see them embedded into walls and the Rock itself all over the Upper Rock. We found one right in the middle of the road!

Our first port of call on this walk was Rooke Battery. It’s named after Sir George Rooke who commanded the British Fleet when Gibraltar came under British rule. It was the site of a large gun and was later used as the base for one of the huge search lights used during World War II.

The view from Rooke Battery this morning was just beautiful looking across to Morocco over the Strait.

The path led us on downwards past a small picnic area. I’m afraid picnic areas in the Upper Rock Nature Reserve bemuse me slightly bearing in mind the local hairy residents aka Barbary Macaques can hear a picnic bag unzipping from miles away and descend to steal your lunch! Anyway, as I was saying, the path led us to the southern side of the magnificent new Windsor Suspension Bridge.

As you can see above, the bridge stretches over a 50m gorge and is suspended between two batteries. It’s 75 metres long and most exciting of all, it moves with the wind and movement of people on it. This was a particular highlight for the two smallest Postcards, who despite warnings not to, took great pleasure in trying to make it vibrate as they stomped across.

The view you get from the bridge is just stunning (I guess the glorious weather this morning probably helped a bit). Regular readers of this blog will know I am a frequent visitor to the Upper Rock and I always enjoy spying down on the town below from a great height. This ‘new’ section of old path which has only just reopened gives you a completely different perspective on the town below and I really enjoyed seeing it from a new angle.

Despite the fact the sun had just popped up over the top of the Rock when we were on the bridge, being on the western side at this time in the morning with the cool sea breezes blowing, it was a really cool place to be (in more ways than one). The little Postcards enjoyed seeing three navy ships in the Naval Dockyard below. After a game of Battleship earlier this week, they were thrilled to be able to see the ‘real thing’.

To put the 75metre length of the bridge into context a helpful sign nearby points out that this is equivalent to 7 1/2 double decker London buses parked end to end.

I’m no bridge expert, but it’s a beauty in my book!

Along side the new bridge and improved pathways are some disused military buildings nearby. I find these kinds of things fascinating. Having never known Gibraltar when there was a large military presence here, my mind plays overtime wondering what it was like back in the military’s heyday here. What were these rooms and pipes hidden within a deep gorge used for?

The bridge was such a hit with the smaller members of the family, we crossed it not once but three times before climbing up the steps on the other side and onto the pathway.

There was yet another picnic area, the perfect spot to risk opening the rucksack for a drink – which we managed without any of our ape friends joining us. The dappled shade from the olive trees above was very welcome.

The lush green vegetation of the Upper Rock which was evident back in spring when I was doing my Med Steps 5 training is now all crispy and brown. Such a shame that the lushness has been parched by the hot sun. The threat of fires in the area were very close to home yesterday as a large wildfire burned on the mountains above our neighbours in La Linea across the border and threatened homes and lives in the San Roque, Santa Margarita and Alcaidesa areas. Homes had to be evacuated and planes and helicopters were used to fight the fire. It must have been a very frightening experience for all those involved.

So did we make it to the bridge before the cruise shipped docked a the cruise terminal? The answer is yes (just)! Did you spot it in the background of this photo?

Thanks for stopping by, I hope you enjoyed this trip up the Rock with us today 🙂

A Postcard birthday

 

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It’s been a whole 12 months since my first blog post on Postcard from Gibraltar and what a fun and busy year it has been. I started out publishing my first post and wondering if anyone out there in cyberspace would actually read it but I soon discovered a lovely community who share my interest in craft and want to hear about this lovely Rock I live on.

Thank you very much for all the lovely comments and likes over the past year, I appreciate you taking the time to leave them. I read them all although sometimes it can take me a while to reply.

I know that an important part of being in this community is that it’s not just a one way street and we should all take the time to read each others posts and sometimes I’m not too great at that as life tends to get in the way a bit. Please know that I always mean to, and I usually get around to taking a look at my fellow bloggers posts eventually!

I’m afraid I’m being very lazy this week with my midweek post and I’m just going to share a few of my highlights from the last year with you. I hope you enjoy this trip down Memory Lane 🙂

 

Expat life:

Moving countries with two small children and leaving all our family and friends behind was no small feat. I have to admit that when I was faced with the prospect of moving here (due to Mr Postcard’s work relocating) I wasn’t impressed. I had my life sorted and was happy where I was, the prospect of having to start all over again didn’t fill me with joy.

Back in September last year the annual cardboard boat race in Ocean Village reminded me of what life was like back when we first arrived and that the warm welcome we received as a family helped us on the road to settling in: Cardboard boats and memories of moving

Apart from arriving here and making a fresh start, one of the hardest things about being an ‘expat’ is that many of our community are transient. For those who come with work or their partner’s job, rather than just making the choice to move here for good, their tenure in Gibraltar can be short.

However short that stay may be, friendships can develop fast. In the absence of family nearby friends very soon become each other’s support network and that makes saying goodbye all the harder: Saying goodbye…

 

Crafty highlights

I love, love, love making things. If you’ve caught any of my Sunday Sevens posts you’ll know that most of my weeks are dominated by crafty things including watercolour lessons, dressmaking lessons and of course, my love of crochet. In May, I was inspired to make a wreath celebrating the wild flowers I’d seen this Spring while I trained for the Med Steps 5 Challenge : Wild flowers of the Med Steps

 

Along with the Med Steps I have become very fond of the Alameda Botanical gardens during our almost seven years here in Gibraltar.  International Yarnbombing Day 2016 proved too much of an opportunity to miss paying homage to the Alameda Gardens bicentennial celebrations.

 

Gibraltar highlights

Last Saturday was the Convent Garden Party, an annual event which the Postcard family usually attends. It’s the one chance in the year for ‘normal’ folk to have a wander around the beautiful back garden which belongs to the Governor of Gibraltar. My post about last year’s event ended up being my first ever blog post based on a walk (a theme which has featured heavily in the last few months): A stroll up the garden path…

As I mentioned earlier, I am a bit of a fan of the Med Steps. So much so that I climbed them five times in the one day last month as part of the Med Steps 5 Challenge. If you have never had the pleasure of climbing them yourself, here’s what you’re missing! The Med Steps: a few facts & figures

 

On 9th June, Gibraltar woke to find itself wrapped up with a blanket of fog. I thought it was the perfect opportunity to climb the Med Steps again (as it had been getting a bit warm to do it in recent weeks). On that walk I experienced the most amazing view (the one you can see above). I had been misguided in thinking that the fog would help me with its cool damp air, as I climbed the steps I soon realised that I had, in fact, climbed up out of the fog and was viewing it from above.

At one of my many rest points on that morning, I witnessed this stunning view of the Rock swathed in fog. It was otherworldly and truly mesmerising. I was also only one of a handful of people who had braved the Med Steps that morning, we were incredibly lucky to see this weather phenomenon from such an elevated vantage point.

As soon as I got home I posted this photo online and got the most amazing response. So far, more than 12,000 people have viewed it on Facebook! I also wrote a post about my foggy walk and featured a lot more photos: A mini stroll in the mist

 

A year on the Rock

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One of the great things about living in Gibraltar is that despite it’s size (which is really quite tiny) there is so much to do. The social calendar includes the Three Kings Cavalcade, the Calentita food festival, the Gibraltar Fair, National Day, the Gibraltar Music Festival, the Gibraltar Literary Festival, and the Christmas Light switch on to name just a few.

Here are a couple of my highlights from the last 12 months: Rock stars & heart throbs: Gibraltar Music Festival 2015 & So many books, so little time… Gibraltar Literary Festival 2015

Looking back at all that makes me realize we’ve packed a lot into our last year on the Rock. I know we are very lucky to live in such a great place and to have the opportunity to experience all we have. 

I first started this blog after being encouraged to do so by friends and family and I’m really glad I did. Postcard from Gibraltar has opened doors for me both virtually and in real life, it’s been a great adventure so far, here’s hoping the next 12 months are as good if not better!

Thank you for dropping by!

 

Wild flowers of the Med Steps


You will have noticed that of late, the Med Steps have featured very heavily in my blog posts, mainly because I’ve spent quite a lot of time climbing them recently. The one thing which has really left an impression on me, apart from the aching muscles, is just how beautiful it looks at the moment with all the wild flowers in bloom. I believe in these last few weeks I have been lucky enough to see them at their absolute peak. The poppies, candytufts, and countless other flowers which have fleetingly made their presence known and brightened up my walks.

I have been taking lots of photos of them to share with those of you who haven’t seen them for real, and I had intended to do a blog post all about them, so here it is. 

The only problem is, I don’t know much about wild flowers and the idea of researching their names etc left me cold (it would most probably make the most boring blog post anyway), so that would just leave along stream of photos of random flowers (also boring). I thought long and hard about how I could bring them to life and capture their magic both for you and for me.


 

Then I came up with an idea, (a slightly strange idea perhaps) to try to recreate the flowers in yarn. I have a book of flower patterns 100 Flowers to Knit & Crochet by Lesley Stanfield and the internet is full of ideas and patterns for crocheting all sorts of wierd and wonderful things so I started investigating. Wow, the world was my oyster, there was so much potential out there that I thought I could really do this. 

But what would I make? A blanket? No, the last one took over a year to make – I’d lose interest. A bag? No, it would soon get battered and spoiled as I used it, plus, it may look a bit odd for everyday use. Then inspiration hit…Remember I made a wreath at Christmas?

Last summer, when I was in England and blessed with lots of fantastic craft supply shops to frequent, I bought two polystyrene wreaths but so far I’d only used one. Inspired by the beautiful wreaths made by Lucy of Attic 24, I thought what if I covered it in crochet to represent the Rock of Gibraltar? There’s the greenery of the steps, the sky and sea and then add the crocheted wildflowers to that? Oh my, that’s it! I have got loads of creative ideas fizz popping in my head now, I need to get cracking.

So first things first, how on earth do I chose which flowers to include? Well Gibraltar’s National Flower, the candytuft is an obvious choice.

Then we have the poppies, with their papery thin petals nodding gently in the sea breeze. They are so delicate and yet stunning against the other greenery of the Upper Rock.

There’s a fair amount of lavender too, and that’s one of my all time favourite plants. The fragrance is so calming and comforting.

So it’s time to get started. I began with crocheting the cover for the polystyrene wreath in shades of green, grey and blue.

And here it is…

It looks a little bare don’t you think? Time to decorate… first a daisy?

Next a thistle…


I made a couple of sprigs of lavender using this pattern.          

There are some really dainty wild sweet pea kind of plants up there at the moment:


We can’t forget the poppies (this one I had to knit):

So to one of Gibraltar’s national flowers… The Candytuft. Could I find a pattern for one anywhere? Could I heck. I had to ‘invent’ one. Based on a pattern in my flower book but with a candytuft twist:


And of course, I can’t forget the little critters who enjoy the wild flowers too…

The butterfly came from the flower book and the bumble bee was made using this pattern from Attic 24. One of my favourite critters in this part of the world though is the lizards, I used this free Ellie Skene Ravelry pattern to make Gordon the gecko:

Next it was time to assemble the wreath…

I played about with the arrangement for a while and added a dandelion, a buttercup and various different shaped leaves before sewing them into place. Are you ready? Here goes :


Time for a few gratuitous close ups ;-)… The wildlife:

Florals:

Perhaps the world’s first ever crocheted Gibraltar Candytuft!:

I’m pleased with how it turned out, it’s currently hanging on the back of my front door. It brightens up my hall and reminds me of the many hours I’ve spent walking past the gorgeous wild flowers of the Med Steps and the fun I had making it. I now promise I’ll stop banging on about the Med Steps for a little while, I know I’m getting boring ;-).

Thanks for stopping by!