Last Sunday saw not only the climax of the Gibraltar Literary Festival but also the annual service of remembrance for the Battle of Trafalgar. Each year, on the Sunday nearest to Trafalgar Day (21st October) the Royal Navy hold a service in the Trafalgar Cemetery. Just a few of those who lost their lives are buried here, but wreaths are laid on those graves. The service is quite a spectacle with sailors in ceremonial uniform lining the paths of the cemetery.
The lovely Shazza at Sunshine & Celandines has been posting some beautiful wildlife photos on her blog throughout October. She lives in Clitheroe in Lancashire, a beautiful market town on the edge of the Trough of Bowland. The area is believed to have inspired JRR Tolkein’s Shire in the Lord of the Rings (his son was at the Stoneyhurst boarding school there and he was a regular visitor). We were lucky enough to live in Clitheroe briefly and I fell in love with the place – it’s truly beautiful.
I fancied having a go at taking some autumn wildlife photos too but circumstances have prevented me from getting out on a walk up to the top of the Rock. This stunning praying mantis was having a rest on the wall outside the Garrison Library this week though, so Shazza, this one’s for you 🙂
At last sewing has begun on my princess-line top at my dressmaking class. By the time I’d cut the fabric, made a mistake, had to get some more, and cut out the lining, I only had time for a bit of tacking on the first seam. Slowly but surely… I hope to get there eventually!
You know those weeks when there just aren’t enough hours in the day? I’ve had one of those. The above picture was taken post hospital appointment (nothing serious just a check up) I found myself with half an hour spare so did a quick trip to Morrisons (unexpected hence the crappy plastic bags) and even had time to make some notes for something else while I waited for my lift home. I’d call that a multi-tasking win.
The wheels fell off
After the previous photo the wheels kind of fell off my week. The Littlest Postcard was struck down with the same chesty cough, bad throat, fever etc which Middle Postcard had last week. All plans went out of the window, having my poorly little companion by my side all day meant putting in a few late nights as that was the only time I had child free to concentrate.
As a consequence, there are no photos for this part of the week. Ironing, hemming long school trousers for post mid-term winter uniform, sewing on yet more name tags and other general monotony aren’t the most inspiring things so here’s a view of Parson’s Lodge and the Bay from our place.
Sixty million trebles blanket heads to the UK
This week, I waved goodbye to my sixty million trebles blanket. My friend Marisa of Mariwish on Instagram took it back to England to be joined with lots and lots of others for a world record attempt yarnbombing in London. The yarnbombing will then be split into blankets to help charities both in the UK and Syria. Each of the sixty million treble stitches represents one of the sixty million displaced people in the world and it’s hoped that the project will help raise awareness about the plight of these people.
Search for #sixtymilliontrebles on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to find out more about this great awareness raising project.
Hooray it’s a holiday!
And relax… thank goodness it’s mid-term! We’ve run away up the coast to escape for a little while.
Wow where do I begin? The Gibraltar Literary Festival went by in a blur for me, I managed to get to a few more talks this year but really would have liked to get to even more. It’s a time when the atmosphere of the place changes, you can wander down Main Street and see Maureen Lipman walk past or be waiting to cross the road and Nicholas Parsons pulls up in a car nearby. You can see someone and say hello to them because you think you know them, then realise they are off the telly!
This year was the fourth annual Gibunco Gibraltar International Literary Festival (to give it it’s full title) and for the first time it ran over four days instead of three. The Festival takes the form of a series of talks, conversations and lectures given by published authors with a few posh ‘dos’ and meals in-between. Here are my highlights…
On Thursday morning I attended my first talk given by Dr Sally Bayley on the subject of diaries. With the title of The Private Life of the Diary, it was billed as “an interactive lecture on the nature and art of diary writing”. It was based on her book: The Private Life of the Diary : From Pepys to Tweets and was utterly fascinating. The diarists covered ranged from Samuel Pepys to Virginia Woolf, Anne Frank to Gibraltar’s own Miss World; Kaiane Aldorino.
I have written an article all about this event for the Gibraltar based online parenting magazine Mum on the Rock . If you would like to read the article, please click on this link.
Making the most of my time while the Little Postcards were in school, I treated myself to a second talk on Thursday. This time it was about works of literature in which the Rock of Gibraltar had featured, from Spanish and North African chroniclers in the Middle Ages to more recently, John Le Carre and Stieg Larsson.
This talk was introduced by Gibraltar’s Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo who had taken time out between reshuffling his cabinet that morning and heading to Parliament later in the afternoon. In his introduction he talked about the Convent (the Governor of Gibraltar’s residence) which was the venue for the event, and said it was a “place of stories, nuns and soldiers in equal measure, masters and servants, colonialism and emancipation”. Mr Picardo expanded, saying Gibraltar “is a place where legends have been created – where stories have been spun and stories are still being written”.
After such a big build up, the stage was set for Boyd Tonkin, a writer, broadcaster and Chairman of the Man Booker Prize judging panel. He took us way back into the Middle Ages reading excerpts of ancient literature from North Africa and Spain, then on to writers who have found inspiration here on the Rock including Samuel Taylor Coleridge who visited en route to Malta in 1894 and wrote that it’s “a most interesting place” where you can “sit astride the summit” of the Rock. James Joyce’s Ulysses featured heavily throughout his talk along with the character Molly Bloom whose statue can be found in the Alameda Gardens (you may remember I yarnbombed her earlier this year 😉 )
He went on to reference Gibraltar’s role in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, a series which I enjoyed immensely. I remember reading the final book The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest when we lived for a while in Queensway Quay and read to my amazement that one of the central characters, Lisbeth Salander, had visited the marina to see her solicitor. I couldn’t believe that the heroine of the book I was so immersed in should come to visit the place where I was living at that moment.
Tonkin read this excerpt from The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest:
At 7:00 she left the hotel and set out to buy mangos and apples. She took a taxi to the Peak and walked over to the apes. She was so early that few tourists had yet appeared, and she was practically alone with the animals.
She liked Gibraltar. It was her third visit to the strange rock that housed an absurdly densely populated English town on the Mediterranean. Gibraltar was a place that was not like anywhere else. The town had been isolated for decades, a colony that obstinately refused to be incorporated into Spain. The Spaniards protested the occupation, of course. (But Salander thought that the Spaniards should keep their mouths shut on that score so long as they occupied the enclave of Ceuta on Moroccan territory across the strait.) It was a place that was comically shielded from the rest of the world, consisting of a bizarre rock, about three quarters of a square mile of town and an airport that began and ended in the sea. The colony was so small that every square inch of it was used, and any expansion had to be over the sea. Even to get into the town visitors had to walk across the landing strip at the airport.
Gibraltar gave the concept of “compact living” a whole new meaning.
I’d say that’s a pretty accurate literary portrayal of Gibraltar!
Friday lunchtime meant a trip to the Sunborn to see the great Just a Minute panel show. I went last year and it was so good, I was keen to get to see it again. I was particularly excited to see Pam Ayres, someone I had grown up seeing on the telly and who I find very funny. She was scheduled to speak later in the day at a time I couldn’t make so was looking forward to seeing her in this.
Unfortunately she had been delayed on her way to Gibraltar and wasn’t able to attend. The BBC Radio 4 presenter Sue McGregor from Woman’s Hour and the Today programme filled in for her instead. She was very good replacement, but I was a little bit disappointed to miss Pam Ayres. A friend of mine got to see her solo talk later on and said she was brilliant and very funny.
Nicolas Parsons, who had celebrated his 93rd birthday recently was on sparkling form and the rest of the panel too. Alongside him and Sue McGregor was the author and comedian Tony Hawks, actress and writer Maureen Lipman and author Felix Francis. After a very funny hour long session which saw the panel discussing subjects like champagne, Casablanca and cruise ships, Nicholas Parsons pledged his intention to return to the festival again next year.
The talk named ‘The Gibraltar Book Club’ piqued my interest as I am a member of a book club and wondered how this would translate to an hour long chat with an audience rather than a cosy evening out with friends and maybe a bottle or two of wine ;-). This book club had three members, Sue MacGregor, Maureen Lipman and Tony Hawks, all of whom had chosen a book for the two other panellists to review.
Maureen Lipman went first with her choice; a selection of essays by the playwright JB Priestley called ‘Grumbling at Large’. She said she’d been drawn to this book in particular as a friend of hers had put the collection together and written the foreword. Saying that when we have such busy lives it’s nice to have something to read which you can pick up and put down easily, and a collection of essays can do just that as you can read some of them in a few minutes. Essay writing is a really good way of “finding your literary voice” she added. The rest of the panel agreed that it was a good book, Sue MacGregor even gave an anecdote of the time when she had met the author.
Next up was Tony Hawkes, his choice was Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. He decided to pick it because he’d been a regular visitor to the Daphne du Maurier Literary Festival and realised to his shame that he had never actually read any of her books. Despite the initial impression that this was a “woman’s book” he said he’d enjoyed it. He liked how the author “led you in” and changed the pace of the story from romance to a whodunit style of thriller.
Maureen Lipman said she’d read it as a young woman and loved it but when she reread it recently, she was disappointed by the “wet woman” in the role of narrator. Sue MacGregor in comparison loved it and enjoyed how the “characters leapt off the page”.
Finally, Sue MacGregor introduced her choice which was Naples ’44, by the travel writer and former intelligence officer Norman Lewis. A great fan of Naples herself, she told the audience that the book was written after Lewis had spent time in the city in 1944 as an intelligence officer. He recounted his experiences in a city where people were starving to death and desparately trying to survive.
Maureen Lipman described it as “fabulous” and “the best type of journalism”. Tony Hawks said Lewis was a “keen observer of everything” and “clearly a compassionate man” but he didn’t reveal much about himself. In summary, the panel said they’d enjoyed the chance to read something they otherwise wouldn’t have picked up, which is definitely one of the joys of book club for me.
During the festival there were a number of events especially for families, all of which were free. Last year I took the Little Postcards along to see Christopher Lloyd and his ‘Complete Plays of Shakespeare in 60 minutes‘ and they enjoyed it immensely. This time we went along to see his latest offering ‘The History of Britain in 60 Minutes‘.
Christopher is a very engaging speaker and manages to hold the young audience’s attention with a series of props he produces from his cloak (not in this picture). Again this time, his talk was great as he picked up on common themes throughout British history like architecture and maritime history. He has a way of making the historical figures come alive and was very well received by both the younger and older members of the audience.
Sunday afternoon was a real highlight for me, I had arranged to go with a few of my book club friends to see the author of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Louis de Bernières.
This hour long conversation between Louis and regular festival host, Paul Blezard was just wonderful. He read several of his poems, including one written in Spanish, and was questioned on whether he would consider rewriting the ending of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin as he was a bit dissatisfied with how it finished. “No!” was the reply to that, as it would make the book an awful lot longer! Louis also revealed that he’s being doing some research while in Gibraltar as the Rock will feature in his next book. I cannot wait to read that!
If you are still with me, thank you for reading this post – it’s been an lot longer than my usual ones! There was so much to see and experience at this year’s festival.
I couldn’t help noticing that a very large percentage of the audience at all the events I attended (apart from the children’s one) were around retirement age. Quite a few had travelled over to Gibraltar, specifically for the festival, from Spain and the UK. How lovely to be able to spend that much time listening to wonderful speakers and expanding your mind!
I loved my time at the festival, I was lucky enough to see more this year than on my previous two visits. The whole event is growing each year and while it attracts very welcome return visitors, it also brings fresh new speakers each time. Both Nicolas Parsons and Christopher Lloyd said at their talks they’d like to return to Gibraltar next year for the fifth edition, I wonder just who else will be coming to the Rock to entertain us next time?
Last Sunday afternoon Catalan Bay played host to the ThunderCat Racing UK team and their rather fast speed boats. We took the Little Postcards down to the beach for a while to watch the proceedings.
There were plenty of people out to see what was going on and the beach side restaurant’s were full of spectators viewing while they are their Sunday lunches.
The boats roared off from the edge of the beach at the start of each race and bounced about over the waves on the course out at sea.
We’ve watched the boats on previous occasions when they’ve visited Gibraltar, although this is the first time we’ve seen them in this venue. It was a great way to spend the afternoon.
2 A day at home
Monday meant a day at home – I had a poorly Little Postcard to look after. We made the best of it with a picnic in front of the tv and watched a couple of movies. On a very quick trip to the patio to hang out some washing I spied the bougainvillea in bloom. It looked so great against the cloudless sky.
3 Dressmaking class
My poorly Postcard was well enough for school on Tuesday so work began in earnest on the second top in this academic year’s dressmaking class. The first was a sample sleeveless fitted top, now it’s a princess line, lined sleeveless top. I have made my pattern (as you can see above) and the fabric has been purchased (cream broderie anglaise) next week, I’ll be back in the hot seat behind my sewing machine!
4 Autumn florals
It may be the latter part of October, but the flowers in Gibraltar are still looking glorious. I don’t know whether the cooler damp and misty weather has revived some of them but there are so many blooms out at the moment and they are looking fabulous.
5 Gibraltar Literary Festival
The fourth annual Gibraltar Literary Festival began on Thursday with a bang. This year it’s running over four days for the first time and the organisers have done a great job filling the days with loads of great events. I took this photo outside the Convent (the Governor of Gibraltar’s residence) there can’t be too many literary festivals in the world with a ceremonial guard can there?
I turned up nice and early to my first talk on Thursday morning and asked the speaker to pose for photographs. I took some great ones (or so I thought) little did I know the Littlest Postcard had mucked about with very kindly reset the shutter speed….. blurry pictures galore! Note to self always take a few trial pictures before an event gah!
I will share more about my Gibraltar Literary Festival 2016 experiences soon, I promise!
6 Down in the dell
It’s been so murky and gloomy weather-wise for most of the week here but a sneaky short cut through the beautiful Alameda Gardens gave me the shot of colour to break the greyness. You just can’t beat it!
7 Peek-a-boo boats
The misty weather continued yesterday and things were decidedly murky in the Bay. You could just see the tops of the boats above the sea mist. I love seeing the Bay like this, it’s so atmospheric, it reminds me how lucky we are to live here.
Sunday Sevens is a weekly blog series featuring seven photos from the last seven days. It was created by Natalie of Threads & Bobbins blog, to find out more pop over to her site for all the info.
Until recently, I knew very little about Rendlesham Forest and the UFO sightings which occurred there in 1980. This summer though, on our holiday to Suffolk, we were able to visit Rendlesham Forest for the first time. It gave us the chance to have a great family day out, and find out a little bit more about the funny goings on in the woods…
Nowadays Rendlesham Forest comes under the stewardship of the Forestry Commission. On arrival, there were a couple of wardens on hand to point us in the right direction to the facilities and we were able to pick up a leaflet detailing the UFO walk. There’s a camp site at the forest and many walking and cycling trails through the trees. On a dry, sunny August day, there were plenty of people about keen to enjoy the delights the forest had to offer.
For the Postcard family, it was the UFO trail which held the most appeal…
The wide path beckoned us through the trees with three young UFO hunters eager to solve the mystery of whether aliens did indeed visit this part of Suffolk in the long and distant past (well before they were born…)
Rendlesham Forest is a really beautiful spot, the trees are farmed and the whole area is really well maintained. There is also a good mix of trees to be enjoyed, different sections of the woodland are dedicated to different trees; pine, silver birch and other deciduous varieties.
As the trail wound deeper into the forest, a loud droning noise seemed to be echoing off the trunks of the trees around us. We just couldn’t figure out what was making the racket until we spotted glimpses of the nearby air base through the trees in the distance. A very large plane was obviously was manoeuvring in preparation for take-off.
We were soon greeted by a sign explaining the significance of the air base in the UFO sighting story.
We were at the East Gate, where the first lights were spotted in the sky on that December night back in 1980, and where the whole Rendlesham UFO story began.
The trail led us along the now disused road which follows the perimeter of the air base and on through the trees towards our next destination. In the meantime, the loud plane noises had ceased as it had taken off and all that could be heard was the wind blowing through the branches of the pine trees.
As we reached a cross roads, we were taken by surprise as the plane had circled and came back in to land. A crowd of passers-by had gathered to see what was going on. A local resident commented that it was the first time in months that he had seen any air traffic at the base and was pleased to see the RAF back in residence.
We crossed the road and continued the trail deeper into the forest. A small group of airmen had followed the lights into the forest thinking that an aircraft had crashed. We were following in their footsteps.
All along the route, the path is clearly marked with signs pointing you in the right direction. On the rear of these posts is a secret code specially put there for children. At the Forestry Commission office in the carpark at the start of the trail, special UFO kits are available to buy (for about £1.50 I think) which helped to keep the younger members of the party engaged on the walk.
The kits contain a code cracker and on completion of the walk, you can decipher a special message (left by aliens) using the translation table.
It was a great idea and really helped us divert attention from the tired little legs which had had enough part of the way around the walk! The boys really enjoyed seeking out the next secret symbol and we were able to crack the code once we’d got home. I cannot tell you what the answer is though, it’s classified as top secret 😉
As we wandered through the trees, seeing more signs and following the timeline of events which happened back in 1980 (from the leaflet) we could hear the plane circling overhead again. It took off and landed several times while we were walking through the forest, I have to admit that the droning of the engine did add to the spooky atmosphere in some parts of the forest.
It really is a stunningly beautiful place.
After a while we were directed to a clearing in the forest which was home to this:
It is a 3D representation of what one of the US Airforce man drew after his experience in the forest. The UFO is believed to have landed near this spot and looked like this model.
We were at the mid-point of the trail, our next stop was at the edge of the forest near some farmland where the mysterious lights were spotted.
The last ‘site’ we visited is where a UFO was reported to have landed. In the intervening 36 years the area has been replanted with trees several times but they all failed to thrive and now it is left as a clearing.
Once our UFO trail was complete, the ‘Out of this World’ play area was beckoning. It was a fab place for little people to run wild. With lots of branches left lying around, previous visitors had used the timber to create great dens.
There was also a great adventure play area too. Believe it or not, it was crowded with families – it took quite a while to get this photo without any children in it! I think they were all off balancing on a timber assault course at this moment!
Our trip to Rendlesham Forest was such a hit, we went back again for a second visit. The second time we took reinforcements – we brought Grandparents, an Aunt and an Uncle too. I’m pretty sure that they enjoyed it as much as we did.
If you should find yourself in this part of Suffolk, I would really recommend a visit. There is a small charge for parking and the leaflets detailing the walk were free. There’s a very large picnic area and space to barbecue. Plus, you’ll be able to say you completed the Rendlesham UFO Trail!
Postcard from Gibraltar’s Sunday Sevens is officially one year old today!
This week’s Sunday sevens has a distinct lack of crochet and sewing, there has been a little going on behind the scenes but nothing of note. It’s been a funny old week really, the first one of the school term without any big events or visitors and I’ve felt oddly at a loose end. I’d been quite looking forward to getting back to ‘normal’ but I’m not entirely sure I enjoyed it.
I normally embrace free time and fill it with crafty things but this time I began to feel slightly guilty at having time on my hands and began a big autumnal ‘spring’ clean (for those of you who don’t know me – that’s NOT normal behavior) 😉 Next week we have plenty going on, so there’s no fear of the newly found domesticity continuing …. phew!
A spot of Sunday afternoon painting
You know when you just get the urge to do something? I had the overwhelming urge on Sunday afternoon to crack out my paints and have a go at painting the Europa Point lighthouse. I’ve tried to paint it a couple of times before and it’s just not worked out right. This time, I think it did.
The painting bug continued into Monday. The laundry was washed and I went to the supermarket but the bathroom didn’t get cleaned and neither did the floors – whoops! When the creative urge strikes, it’s a shame not to take advantage don’t you think? 😉
I tinkered with my lighthouse picture from the day before and had a bash at Catalan Bay (using a photo I took one evening as the sun was setting). This one is still a work-in-progress… I was also supposed to be doing a bit of sewing while the kids were at school – hence the sewing machine on the kitchen table. It made a good proper-upper for my pictures though!
Boats in the bay
This huge boat was anchored in the Bay and was lit up like a Christmas tree on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. I love watching the boats in the bay out of the window and from our balcony. As a family we like to look up the most interesting looking ones on Marine Traffic to find out where they’ve come from. We have visitors from all the corners of the world mooring in front of our home!
This was a drill ship registered in the Marshall Islands and it had travelled to Gibraltar from Amsterdam.
The autumn weather arrived in Gibraltar this week, the temperature dropped a bit and the rains came. There was a mad scramble on Thursday morning to dig out wellies and waterproofs ready for the school run. Normally I’d be better organised but the lovely Indian summer we’ve been enjoying had lulled me into a false sense of security!
Exploring new territory
On Friday morning I got up raring to climb the Med Steps, but alas the weather scuppered my plans. I didn’t fancy slipping off the steep side of the Rock, so opted for a coastal walk instead.
Last week, fellow Gibraltar blogger Brit on the Rock posted a photo on Instagram of a view at Europa Point which I didn’t recognise. I asked her where she’d taken it from and here is where it was. It’s a place called the Europa foreshore and it’s part of the Gibraltar Nature Reserve.
I stood looking out to sea and watched the next rain shower swiftly coming across the Straits towards me. It was fascinating to watch the clouds scudding across the sky and I was lost in the moment for a while before I suddenly realised that I needed to get a move on and head home before getting well and truly drenched!
An afternoon in Spain
Yesterday, the weather was much better and we headed across the border to Duquesa where some special people were waiting for us. My brother, his fiancée and her family had arrived for a short holiday the night before. We had a lovely long afternoon in the garden of the villa they’d rented for their stay.
The Little Postcards played in the pool and we enjoyed a barbecue and lots of catching up. This was the magnificent view from the garden out towards the Mediterranean- just lovely.
We got this lovely view of the Rock on our way back home.
One more thing…
If you’re reading this in Gibraltar, and you have yet to purchase your Christmas cards, please consider supporting this very worthy cause. Babystepps is a very important charity supporting parents through early parenthood and pregnancy here in Gibraltar. Thank you 🙂
Sunday Sevens is a weekly blog series created by Natalie at Threads & Bobbins blog. Pop over to her blog to find out how to join in.
Back in August, when we were in the north of England visiting my family, we took a day trip to the Lancashire coast and visited Formby Point National Trust site. It’s a place I’d visited many years ago as a child, but couldn’t remember very much about. It is also home to on of Middle Postcard’s favourite animals – squirrels!!
Formby Point is a really interesting site. It’s right on the coast and includes beautiful dunes and a long stretch of beach but also encompasses a large pine forest which has winding paths through it and plenty of spots for a quiet picnic and adventures for little people. It’s home to a colony of red squirrels and if you are very lucky, you may be able to see one or two bouncing about on the branches overhead.
Our trip began with a rendezvous with my brother and ‘Funcle’ to the Little Postcards. He lives not too far away in Lancashire and was keen to join us on our squirrel hunt. He’s a very keen and talented photographer so relished the opportunity to take some snaps while we were on our walk. We met up with him the carpark just behind the dunes and climbed over them to see the beach.
As we reached the summit, the wind hit us. It was so gusty, you could feel the sand stinging the back of your legs through your trousers!!! We took a quick look along the beach but I was so scared of getting the flying sand into my camera that I just took a couple of quick snaps on my phone before heading to the shelter of the pine forest.
There were a few brave souls out on the beach, some even in short sleeves and shorts (we all had our hoods up and were zipped right up as far as it would go to reduce the pain of the stinging sand!!! We hung about long enough to be able to just make out The BIG One and Blackpool Tower in the distance before running for cover.
It’s hard to believe that these photos were taken on the same day – just moments apart. Once under the cover of the trees, the sun broke through the clouds above and we walked along the bouncy pine needle strewn path through gentle dappled shade. It’s such a tranquil place, the only sound being the wind blowing through the branches above and the dulcet sounds of Little Postcards bickering in the background. 😉
Being a National Trust venue, there were plenty of volunteer guides on site to help with any questions and dish out maps of the area. With just one aim in mind for the day (apart from having fun and enjoying a picnic lunch) we set off on our quest to find some red squirrels – it can’t be that hard can it?
Formby isn’t just famous for it’s red furry residents, it is also home to the local delicacy of Formby Asparagus. It can be enjoyed during a very short season from early May until the 21st June – sadly we had missed it. For generations, local farmers levelled the local dunes to create perfect growing conditions for the crop. In it’s heyday more 200 acres were cultivated but these days just 10 acres of Formby Asparagus are grown here. This stunning tree carving was created to celebrate the local speciality.
After much wandering through the beautiful pine forest and green fields, our search for red squirels was proving fruitless. Little Postcards and the grown ups were becoming hungry and a picnic spot needed to be found.
At the entrance to a large grassy area – perfect for a picnic, we found this lovely sculpture carved from a tree trunk.
After the sandwiches had been scoffed and the flask of coffee drunk, the grown ups settled down for a doze in the sunshine while the Little Postcards wandered into the woods close by. It was so nice for them to have a bit of freedom to wander knowing that they couldn’t go far. We could hear them – but couldn’t see them. They enjoyed the independence that gave them and for Littlest, it was a great adventure to climb trees and have a woodland adventure with his big brothers.
While on their adventure, they were constantly on the look out for the squirrels – although the noise they were making as they wandered the meandering woodland paths probably sent the squirrels scarpering! A few very jazzy striped caterpillars were satisfactory discoveries though.
After an hour or so at our lovely picnic spot, we decided to head back to the cars so that we could get back home without hitting the rush hour traffic on the motorways back to Manchester. Our walk back through the pine forest was bound to yield a squirrel sighting wasn’t it?
As we got deeper into the forest, we spied a group of people eagerly pointing up into the tree canopy and craning to see movement with their binoculars. Squirrels were in the area! Well they were until just before we arrived. An elderly couple had been sitting on a bench patiently waiting to see some squirrels for quite some time.
Just as a couple of the illusive residents had put in an appearance, a family with young children had come along at just the right moment to see them too. All this had happened just seconds before we arrived, but sadly by then, Squirrel Nutkin and his mate were nowhere to be seen!
So did we achieve success in our quest to see some of the famous Formby Point red squirrels? We only saw this one…
…..he came home with us.
…..Oh and there was this one too on the side of an ice cream van!
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.
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.
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. 🙂
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.
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.