Sunday Sevens #20 28.2.16

Sunday Sevens is a weekly blog series created by Natalie at the  Threads & Bobbins  blog. It features seven photos from the past seven days. If you would like to join in, pop over to her blog to find out more. 

Saharan dust  

You may remember that in last week’s Sunday Sevens I had a rather dramatic photo of the waves crashing onto the rocks at Europa Point. Well, that stormy weather whipped up a lot of Saharan dust and on Sunday we were treated to a rather murky and strangely atmospheric day. We decided to go to the cinema in the afternoon and walked across the grass at Commonwealth Park on our way home. All our shoes were coated in orange dust by the time we got to the car. The car was pretty orange too – so glad I washed it at the end of last week!

 Curtain valance  

In my home furnishings class this week we began to make a curtain valance which  will be attached to a small pair of matching curtains. I love this cute boat fabric – I got it in a sale (even better). I’ve been working on my curtains as homework but they are proving to be problematic- I measured them and cut them accurately. Then I measured my seam allowance exactly and pinned the seams. Then when I remeasured them before machining them they were wonky and the measurements were way out. They have been put away in disgust…

And so it begins… 

 

In my dressmaking class I cut out the fabric for my full circle skirt. I love it so much – it has flowers embroidered on it in coordinating thread which you can’t see in the above picture. I have done my back seam and inserted my zip already. Just need to finish the waistband and hem and it’s sorted. I had a lot more success in this class than with my curtains!

Lemon curd 

 

We are lucky enough to be able to grow lemons on our back patio. Last year with our homegrown ones and a few gifted to us by friends & neighbours I ended up with a bit of a glut so made some lemon curd. I had never tasted it before that first time making it – it was delicious. So, as I found myself with rather a lot of lemons in the fruit bowl this week I thought I’d have another go. This photo doesn’t do it justice, believe me when I say it’s glorious.

Med steps, the revenge! 

 

Due to poorly children and wild weather conditions I haven’t made it up the Med Steps for a whole month. This week, though, accompanied by two crazy friends, we restarted our training for the Med Steps Challenge (which involves climbing them 5 times in the one day – yes I know, utter madness). Anyway, we set off and it was rather hard work after 4 weeks without training. It was a foregone conclusion that we would do it twice and at the end of the second circuit we were feeling pretty energized so decided to have a go at a third trip up – BIG MISTAKE. Cor blimey it was tough. If I hadn’t have been with my training buddies I truly would have laid down part way up and finished it on my hands and knees. It was utterly exhausting. I got home and only had the energy to kick off my shoes before flopping on the bed and falling asleep for over an hour!! I’ve been feeling like a very old woman ever since. Any pleasure at having completed the 3 circuits in 2 hours 50 minutes has been overshadowed with the terror of wondering how awful number 4 & number 5 will be… Anyway the above photos were taken one on each trip up the steps. I took loads of photos on the third trip just for an excuse to stop!!

Watercolour daffs 

 This week at my watercolour class I was planning to begin my next architectural painting. However, when I arrived for my lesson, my teacher had a beautiful vase of  daffodils in the middle of the table and I decided to put the ‘window’ picture off until next week and have a stab at the daffs. I’ve had some successes with painting flowers so I somewhat arrogantly thought ‘how hard can this be?’. How wrong I was – they are flipping hard in spite of their relatively simple shape. Perhaps their apparent simplicity is the hard part as they can very easily look out of proportion. They are gorgeous ‘spring-y’ colours though :-).

 Sunny skies 

Yesterday we enjoyed beautiful skies after the morning’s showers had cleared away. I think fluffy clouds like this against the blue are so beautiful. 
I’ve had a great week, although looking back through this post I realise I sound a bit moany as a few things were harder than expected – I don’t mean to be! I do hope the week has been good for you too. Thank you for stopping by and for those of you who take the time to leave a comment – thank you, it’s lovely to hear from you. 🙂 

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 🙂

Sunday Sevens #19 21.2.16

A special Sunday 

 Last Sunday was a rather special day for me, on a personal note, one of my best friends (who used to live in Gibraltar) came back to visit with her family for half term. Despite being on a flight at the crack of dawn, failing to land at Gibraltar due to 80km per hour winds and the plane being struck by lightning they successfully landed at Malaga and got the bus down to Gibraltar to meet up with nearly 30 friends for a great (late) lunch at Queensway Quay marina. It was so lovely to have the old gang reunited and there were a few emotional moments. The photo above was taken as we left the marina to head home between the storms! 

Aside from that on a Postcard from Gibraltar note I had my most successful day yet. My post from last Saturday, about Gib Talks went bananas on social media locally and my viewing figures went through the roof. I woke to find I already had 39 views that day and that grew every time I looked at my phone to the hundreds!!! Thank you to everyone who has supported me on my blogging journey so far and hello and welcome to anyone who’s new to Postcard from Gibraltar, it’s lovely to have you along for the journey!

Curtain 3 completed! 

 I’m very pleased to say I’ve managed to make up any lost ground in my Home Furnishings course and in this week’s lesson I started and completed a curtain! It was a standard tape topped curtain in a very bland sample material. I have already bought the fabric for my next project and I promise it’s a bit jazzier than the previous three off-white offerings as I’m bored of that colour now.

A new week, a new skirt 

 As soon as one skirt had been completed on my dressmaking course it was time to crack on with the next one. From gathers to a full-circle skirt. This week’s lesson saw no sewing at all, instead there was measuring, drawing, cutting out and sticking. Firstly I had to redraw the pattern for a plain simple skirt to my own measurements, then adjust it to make a full skirt. That’s my carefully drawn out pattern sliced into strips like a grass skirt and then fanned out and stuck onto a bigger piece of paper. Also in the picture is the material I’m using to make it. I love this fabric, I bought it from a reduced / special offer basket at a fabric shop near my parents’ home before we moved to Gibraltar – that makes it coming up to 7 years old. I liked it so much I was frightened of making a hash of it. Now I can make my skirt with the help of an expert dressmaker, and not just bodge it together on my own – I’m so glad I waited!

Watercolour florals 

 After finishing my door painting last week, I decided to take a floral break from architecture for a change. I’m happier with the top 2/3 of this painting of fuschias than I am with the buds at the bottom, but it made a refreshing change before I get architectural again next week. I think I’ll try a window next. 

A bit of flower power 

 Our bougainvillea is doing really well on our balcony at the moment. It’s been such a grey and damp week weather wise, but this shot of magenta is a real pick-me-up as you walk past!

Founder’s Day   Yesterday, Gibraltar’s Scouts & Guides joined together to celebrate International Founder’s Day & Thinking Day. It was so nice to see all the different sections of the groups out in force. There was a lovely ceremony attended by dignitaries including the Governor of Gibraltar and his wife, who are the patrons of the Scouts & Guides on the Rock. The young people had been due to parade along Main Street, as is the tradition on Founder’s Day, but strong winds meant that part of the event had to be cancelled sadly. 

Stormy seas  

Those same winds made for spectacular scenes on the Eastern side of Gibraltar and at it’s most Southerly point, Europa Point. As we drove along the coast we could see the sea was very rough and stopped to admire the huge breakers crashing into the cliffs. The road was soaked by the spray and you needed the windscreen wipers going in order to see where to drive! It was very dramatic although perhaps a little scary to see the true power of the sea.

Sisters are doing it for themselves: 50 years of girl power celebrated in Gibraltar

I’d like to tell you the tale of some amazing young women who decided enough was enough and took their concerns to the top. Until this week, I was unaware of this great story but following the news locally that the Gibraltar Women’s Association was marking its 50th Anniversary, I was intrigued and decided to dig a bit deeper. 

I came across this book: A woman’s place: Memoirs of a Gibraltarian Woman -A “Llanita” written by Mariola Summerfield, one of the founder members of the GWA (which at the time of its founding in 1966 was called the Housewives Association).

 

In it she tells her life story from her birth to the the time of publication in 2007. What an amazing life she has led, in the foreword, the book’s editor Germaine Britto Silva sums it up:

“Very few people can claim such a dramatic life – to have been exchanged at gun point as a prisoner of war, to have been excommunicated, to have co-founded and led Gibraltar’s oldest association, to have negotiated her way into Buckingham Palace and then been invited back to receive an MBE, to have been the first woman in Gibraltar to sit on a jury, and to achieve all this in such a glamorous and elegant way.”

As a child evacuee, Mariola was first sent to Morocco with her mother and brothers, then on to London (via Madeira and Jamaica) and finally up to Scotland. Her amazing life story would make a captivating film, however it was the time when she was a wife and mother and embarking on her public life which initially sparked my  interest. Little did I know what a rich vein of experiences her book would include.

Back to the GWA and it’s beginnings: life in Gibraltar in the mid-sixties was unrecognisable to how we live here today. Women on the whole didn’t work. Further education for girls was rare and soon after leaving school they tended to get married and start families. So-called women’s work like nursing and domestic service was done by Spanish ladies who came across the border for employment. They were living in a world of post war austerity and with the Rock facing an uncertain future regarding its relationship with our nearest neighbour, Spain.

A friend of Mariola’s, called Angela Smith, was concerned about the situation facing young families and invited a few friends round to her home to discuss whether they could do anything about it. Soon after, once word got around, between 200 and 300 women gathered for a meeting on 16th February 1966 and formed the Housewives Association. At the time, their main concerns were practical issues like safety outside schools but within weeks their lives were to take a very dramatic turn.

A news story broke which was about to set them down a very different course: the British Government announced it was preparing to speak to General Franco about the sovereignty of Gibraltar. Of course this worried the Gibraltarian people a great deal, they are British and they wanted to remain British. The ladies of the Housewives Association decided they should do something about it.  A petition was started and within a very short time around seven and a half thousand signatures were collected. They were all female signatories and all eligible to vote in Gibraltar – amazingly they made up more than 96% of the female electorate!

With the full petition collected, Angela Smith (the chair) and Mariola Summerfield (vice chair) flew to London with the sole intention of presenting the petition to the Queen. They wanted to tell the monarch, a mother herself, about what they were facing at home in Gibraltar and how anxious they were. After a few tense days and several attempts to get their petition into the right hands, they succeeded in getting it to Buckingham Palace and their message did indeed get to the Queen.

 

At the time it was very big news not just locally but much further afield. The ladies had succeeded in raising awareness about the plight of the Gibraltarian people.

Shortly after that triumph though, came the news that General Franco was preventing Spanish women from crossing the border in order to work. That meant the health service  and local businesses wouldn’t be able to function. The Housewives Association again sprung into action and within hours had rallied around 500 women who stepped in to fill the gaps left by the Spanish female workers. This in turn had a dramatic effect on the role of women on the Rock as things began to change forever and move towards the Gibraltar we see today.

To this day the Gibraltar Women’s Association still champions community causes and maintains pressure on the authorities to improve equality for the women of Gibraltar. At the age of 88, Mariola Summerfield is still involved in the organisation as a Life Honorary Chair. If you get the chance to read her book I would highly recommend it, as a woman and mother living in the 21st Century and having grown up during a time of relative peace, I find her memoirs utterly inspiring. 

 

Mariola Summerfield signing copies of her book at the 50th Anniversary celebrations of the Gibraltar Women’s Association earlier this week

What an inspiring tale of tenacity. Although Gibraltar is such a small place on the world stage, that’s also perhaps one of its strengths. If something needs doing, it just takes the will of a relatively small group of people who are strong enough to stand up for what they believe in and things can change dramatically.

The photograph & quote from the book A woman’s place: Memoirs of a Gibraltarian woman – “a Llanita” are included with the kind permission of Mariola Summerfield. Proceeds from the sale of the book are going to the Gibraltar Childline charity.

 

 

A stroll around Gibraltar No 5: Doors

  A door is such an important part of the personality of a building don’t you think? Here in Gibraltar we’re surrounded by beautiful colonial buildings and in many cases they have kept their original style of doors if not their actual original doors. If you’ve seen any of my previous ‘strolls’ you’ll know I have a bit of a thing about the older style of buildings here and I like the look of a slightly neglected window/door/façade. I must, however, reinforce the fact that although I am partial to taking photos of things which are perhaps a little shabby, it’s done with respect and Gibraltar has many new, shiny and well maintained doors too :-). Cue the freshly painted door…. 

 Look at the shine on that fresh gloss paint! I do like that shade of blue very much, reminds me of my old school blazer!

 Many of the front doors of buildings here feature a beautiful decorative metal panel above the door (presumably to allow a cool breeze into the hallway behind in the heat of the summer). There are so many examples of this around town.

 
  These two doorways (above & below) have got glass behind the metalwork, I presume that’s a relatively recent addition. The one below is on a rather narrow road with a non-existent pavement, the scratches in the stonework are caused by passing lorries which passed a little too closely.   

Isn’t this a fab paint job? I love the magenta/purple door surround!

 

 A beautiful (modern) door & (old) stained glass window combination just behind Main Street:

 
 They just don’t make doors like this anymore. Just look at the workmanship that’s gone into this… 
The next photograph (below) is of the rear entrance to the Law Courts. When we first arrived in Gibraltar this building was in a very poor state. When the Court House behind it was extended a few years ago, the old building was demolished leaving just the façade which was restored and incorporated into the new extension. It’s a beautiful example of how the existing architecture can be maintained and preserved for future generations.

 Gibraltar’s churches have rather fine examples of doors too. Here’s the front door of St Andrew’s Church of Scotland: 

 

And the very imposing entrance to the Catholic Cathedral of St Mary the Crowned: 

 
And this is a back door of the Anglican Cathedral of the Holy Trinity. I have walked past this countless times and have been a regular visitor to the cathedral during my time in Gibraltar but I never noticed this was here until I spotted a photograph of it on Instagram on the @zuzamarecka account. Can you see it has a very wide letterbox? 

 Here’s a close-up. 

 It says ‘books for seamen’. The Cathedral is the base for the Gibraltar Seamans’ Mission to this day and there’s a dedicated Port Chaplain based here who can be called on to offer support and guidance to visitors to Gibraltar’s Territorial Waters. I asked about the letter box for books and it’s no longer used, but if anyone wants to donate books for seamen, they can post them through the Cathedral’s main letterbox (to the right of this door). Please make sure they are labelled for the seamen.

I think that’s enough of the well maintained doors, back to my ‘old’ favourites…

  
Whoops – sorry I couldn’t resist taking that photo! 😉

   Oh what stories they could tell about the comings and goings in these buildings…
 
They would make such a great subject for a painting don’t you think? What about this one? 

 
That metalwork and the magnificent letter box are a bit special…. Here’s my interpretation of it from my watercolour class:

  Not an exact representation but it was fun having a go. I used candle wax and cling film to get the paint effect on the door and bubble wrap and natural sponge on the window. It gave me several very happy hours doing that on :-).

Thanks for joining me on my stroll, I do hope you’ll join me on my next one – it promises to be a little bit more energetic next time!

 
 

Sunday Sevens #18 14.2.16

Happy Valentines Day! Welcome to my eighteenth Sunday Sevens post. Sunday Sevens is a weekly blog series created by Natalie at Threads & Bobbins. If you fancy joining in check out her blog for more information.

Tab-top curtain finished!  I finished the second of my sample curtains at my home furnishings class this week. I did fear that I’d fail to reach this milestone, as last week (when I was at class I was feeling a bit under the weather) I managed to sew my tabs on the wrong side! I began this week’s  lesson unpicking them all, remeasuring the spaces between, and having to reattach them -only to discover that the bottom thread spool was loaded in the machine wrong and there was a delightful row of loopy knotted stitches below so I had to unpick it again!!! Persistence paid off and I got there in the end. I proudly showed it off to my boys at home to which they said ‘so which window will you hang it in?’ When I said none -it’s just a sample, were very unimpressed at this total waste of my time! 

Pancakes! 

 Tuesday of course was Shrove Tuesday, and that means pancakes! We are a house-full of pancake lovers – well me and the boys are. As Mr Postcard was away in England on business and therefore didn’t need to be fed by me, I decided that we should have pancakes for dinner. Cheese and ham savoury ones followed by sweet ones (think sugar & lemon or chocolate sauce & sprinkles) for dessert. We loved them. I followed the pancakes with a Creme Egg just to make myself feel really sick and convince myself that giving up chocolate for Lent is a good idea. Here goes… wish me luck!

Gathered skirt finished! 

 At last I have finished the second skirt of my dressmaking course. A week of poorly children and a week with a brain fuddled by the germs passed on by said children meant I’d fallen well behind on progress with this course. One fellow student is on her fourth skirt already!!! I’m pleased with the workmanship of it but not so much with the style. It rather accentuates my widest part, so perhaps it won’t become a wardrobe staple. But at least I can now fit gathers in a waistband, incorporate ‘invisible’ pockets and attach a centred zip so that’s something to be pleased about. Next project: a half-circle skirt (I fear some maths is involved to draw the pattern for this -not my strong point, so watch this space).

 A walk in the clouds Thursday was supposed to be Med Steps morning but the weather had other ideas. I woke to hear the rain lashing against the windows. The wind and rain ruled out the steps as it would have been too dangerous, so I took a trip up the Rock via the roads instead. I got a few strange looks from passing drivers (I was the only loony out on foot) and I got completely soaked but I felt better for it!

Sneaky peak at my latest painting

  This was a practice for my current watercolour painting based on one of my photos from my strolls around Gibraltar. It’s a bit like the finished article but not quite, you’ll have to wait until next week for that one ;-)…

Gib Talks 

 This is the John MacIntosh Hall, venue for the Gib Talks event which was held there yesterday. It was a great event and just one example of the vibrant range of cultural happenings which we enjoy here in Gibraltar. Eighteen speakers talked for 15 minutes each on a wide range of topics from depression to dragon trees, bike-riding to premature babies. For more information on it, see my last post A little bit of Gib Talks 2016.

Bunny capers 

 I’ve not shared any photos of our little bunny lately so here he is. He got a clean cage last night and for the first time we replaced his wooden litter with straw and he loved it! He sat there eating it for ages, I hope he stopped before he got a tummy ache! He really is a sweetheart and a great addition to the family. He loves being cuddled and stroked which is fortunate as number 3 son is totally besotted with him and makes a beeline straight for him after school.

A little bit of Gib Talks 2016

“In Gibraltar, we pride ourselves that we all know each  other. Yet, this is far from the truth. We know a public persona, or we know someone by reputation. We do not actually know much about the experiences, the thoughts and idiosyncrasies that make every person unique.” Julian Felice – organiser of Gib Talks

Today, the second ever Gib Talks took place in Gibraltar. It is a series of talks of 10 and 15 minutes in duration, in which, people can speak on subjects which are important to them and perhaps shed a different light on their personalities and interests. The event, which is run by the Gibraltar Cultural Services department, ran from 10am until 5pm and featured 18 different speakers.

 A wide range of people took to the stage from the world of politics (including the Chief Minister of Gibraltar, Fabian Picardo), broadcasters, artists and writers. There were talks on subjects as diverse as depression and dragon trees. Unfortunately for me, I was only able to attend the final hour or so of the event, but in that time I heard 3 brilliant talks so it was well worth me attending.


Each speaker was introduced by the event’s organiser, Julian Felice, a teacher and playwright (above). Their time was strictly monitored by an adjudicator in control of a large traffic light at the side of the stage which signalled when their time was up when it turned red.

The first speaker I heard was Tomasz Zakrzewicz on the topic “Life on bikes”. A passionate advocate for the use of bicycles for pleasure, exercise and commuting to work, Tomasz told the audience that there was much more to bikes than “just a piece of metal and two wheels”. Telling of the health benefits that cycling can bring like lowering blood pressure and stress relief, he said “I want to change the world a little bit” by getting more people out of cars and onto bikes. During the talk, Tomasz, who’s originally from Poland, apologised for his English saying he was still learning the language. I have to take my hat off to him for not only having the courage to stand on stage and speak publicly about a subject he’s clearly passionate about, but also to do it in a language he didn’t grow up speaking.


Next on the stage was Polly Lavarello (above) from Polly Mixtures a lifestyle and parenting blog and the founding editor of Mum on the Rock a parenting e-magazine. She told of her experience of arriving in Gibraltar with her then boyfriend, getting married and becoming an expectant mother. She felt that on her arrival here, there had been a dearth of information for people newly arrived on the Rock and that a central website with information about facilities and events locally would be a great addition to Gibraltar’s online community. However, it was her own experience of motherhood, which almost began 11 weeks early when her waters broke prematurely, which led her to seek help from the online community and eventually took her down the path of starting her own website; Mum on the Rock.

Polly says she wanted the site to be accessible to parents whenever they need it and for it to be dynamic and interactive, appealing to to new mums (and dads), parents of teens and grandparents. It was launched with the intention of having articles on a wide range of subjects including parenting, food, lifestyle, travel and health. Initially Polly approached people asking them to write for Mum on the Rock, once it went live though, she says she was overwhelmed with offers of help from people who wanted to get involved and contribute articles too. Polly says that since it’s launch in September last year, “47 different people have written for the website”and that while it’s for the community she “couldn’t do it without the support of the community”. In the coming months, Polly is looking forward to the arrival of her second child, and some exciting new developments for Mum on the Rock.

The final talk of the day was made by Fabian Vinet, a lawyer and former Government minister, and had the title ‘Eleven weeks too soon’. In his speech, Fabian told of his first life-changing experiences of fatherhood, when his baby son, James, was born eleven weeks early. From describing his frightening journey from Gibraltar to a special hospital in Malaga chasing two ambulances, one carrying his wife, the other containing an incubator in case their baby came en-route, to the birth of his son and visits to the large neonatal ward, the visibly emotional father moved the audience and there were sniffs all around.

He also shared his experience of the day when his son was due to have a second brain scan to check if the “something there” had got any worse or could be diagnosed. Being a Government minister at the time, he had to attend a meeting back in Gibraltar, so he left his wife and son in Malaga to drive back to the Rock, only to break down on the road out of the Spanish city. Whilst in the tow-truck heading to Gibraltar, he received a phone call from his wife to say that whatever had shown on the previous brain scan had now disappeared. The news resulted in him crying all the way back to Gibraltar making “the most eventful journey of the tow-truck driver’s career”.

Ending his speech, Mr Vinet showed a photograph of his, now 8 year old son, James along with his younger daughter Sophie (see above photo) and said he hoped that his story had been one of “hope” and that this being Valentine’s weekend, he impressed the importance of any future parents to be vigilant for the signs of a premature birth. He went on to say that perhaps his son hadn’t been born eleven weeks too soon after all, because the experience he and his wife had been through as new parents had changed them forever and perhaps he was born at just the right time.

Drawing the day’s event to a close, Julian Felice told the audience “Gib has talked and has had a lot to say”. Nominations are now open for anyone who would like to speak at next year’s event. I shall look forward to buying my ticket for that!

 

 

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!
 

Sunday Sevens #17 7.2.16

Back to class 

  As all the little postcards returned to school this week fit and well, I was able to return to my sewing and watercolour classes. Home furnishings and dressmaking didn’t yield any inspiring photos this week so I only have watercolour represented here today. Inspired by the photos I’ve been taking for my Stroll around Gibraltar posts I have decided to have a go at painting some of the things I’ve been snapping. In this photo I was trying out different techniques including cling film, wax, bubble wrap and salt to get watercolour effects for my current painting. So far it’s going well but I want to wait until it’s finished to show you. 😉

A big noisy plane  At football training this week we were entertained by watching this huge RAF plane take off. It was enormous, the photo doesn’t do it justice. The noise was pretty awesome too. How on earth it got off the ground – I have no idea!!

 Fairies at the bottom of our patio? 

On a trip to hang out the washing this week I spied a couple of cheeky toadstools which had popped up in one of the flowerbeds on our patio. As they are associated with cool damp weather, winter/spring is a good time for them here as the autumns tend to be pretty dry.

Hot pink!

The bougainvillea on our patio’s doing well too at the moment.   

Blossom’s out
And just look – the orange and lemon trees are blossoming! We have just 3 or 4 flowers open so far but the smell… Ahh it’s divine! 

Europa Point in the sunshine
Saturday was a beautiful day again and we took the scooters out for a trip to the park at Europa Point. Our eldest opted out of the trip so that meant I was able to use his scooter and joined in the fun!!We scooted round the park, past the lighthouse and along the promenade above the crashing waves below. It was great fun and of course ended with ….

 Ice cream! 

It would have been very rude not to, don’t you think?? I can personally vouch for the chocolate variety – it was delicious! 

I hope you have had a good week. Sunday Sevens is a weekly blog series created by Natalie at Threads & bobbins.

  

A stroll around Gibraltar: No. 3 Windows

I’ve got a bit of a thing about windows, especially old ones which are a bit neglected and unloved. Spotting them has become a bit of an obsession for me. Gibraltar has a fair few to choose from but for those of you not familiar Rock, please do not think it’s a place full of derelict buildings – it’s not, but new shiny developments don’t really excite me the way old romantic ones do.  

 I like to take off for exploratory walks far from the madding crowd. Despite the fact we have lived here for 6 1/2 years and even though it’s a very small place in the scheme of things, Gibraltar is full of nooks and crannies waiting to be uncovered. This empty building was tucked away up an alleyway I explored for the first time when I was climbing those steps two weeks ago! 

  It was these windows (below) which sparked my interest and set me off snapping photos of sad sashes and shutters, there’s just something about them. Or is it just me? Perhaps it’s because where I come from, on the whole the beauty of crafted wooden windows has been replaced by bland white uPVC double glazing :-(.

  If these walls and windows could talk, what interesting tales would they tell? Just think of the people who have gazed out of these windows and seen the Gibraltar of years gone by. Are they even still alive? 

 This building (above) is slap bang in the centre of town just off Main Street and adjacent to a smart new urban park. How has this prime location escaped the redevelopers?  These ones are too:

  Don’t you think some of these would make a great subject for a painting?  

 Just makes you wonder what’s inside those windows too. Is there a gold mine of architectural treasures just waiting to be brought back to life and be appreciated again?  

Shutters have become a bit of an obsession for me lately. Two pairs of shutters on our home, which were in a hard to reach place (and therefore haven’t been painted for a while) were in need of a bit of tlc.

I got my sander out and had a field day getting all the loose paint off them – it was great fun. How much fun it would be if there were more than just 2 pairs, I’m not too sure. Look at them, in all their undercoated glory!  

 It took a week for me to undercoat them with multiple interruptions from younger members of the family. I can quite understand why people replace wooden shutters with the aluminum alternatives but crikey, when they have a fresh coat of gloss on them, they’re majestic! 

  
Which brings me onto my final photo, the ghosts of shutters long departed….  

 There had just been a torrential rain shower before I took this picture, so how long the marks have been on that wall I have no idea, nor how long they will remain there. Gone but not forgotten.