Hmm, seed. This week’s photo challenge is a tough one, and one which I thought would be rather uninspiring. Would I photograph a packet of seeds or a loaf of seeded bread? I was really scratching my head on this one until I took a walk up the Med Steps to the top of the Rock of Gibraltar last week and I saw these feathery beauties.
They are all over the Upper Rock Nature Reserve at the moment. They are the seed heads (or are developing into seed heads) from a climbing plant which has wound it’s way around everything in it’s path.
I tried to figure out what it was, the seed heads almost look like feathery flowers in their own right, but I was pretty sure they must have had another flower before this developed. I set about trying to find a plant which still had the flowers attached. And found one….
But that didn’t look quite right, the leaves were different once I looked closer. Then on my way down the western side of the Rock, I spotted just three tiny creamy coloured flowers attached to the same stems which had the feathery seed heads on them. Could this be them?
I have done a brief Google search and I’m pretty sure it’s the seed head for the ‘wild clematis vine’, but don’t quote me on it! The leaves certainly look very clematis-y to my mind, and those creamy flowers look like clematis too… If you know for sure and can put me out of my misery, please let me know! 😊
I’m linking with Nana Cathy and the appropriately named Wild Daffodil for this weekly photo challenge throughout 2017.
This post goes way over the usual seven photos for Sunday Sevens… mainly thanks to my epic journey back from Manchester to Gibraltar last Sunday. So here goes…
Last Sunday in eight photos…
I ended my flying visit home to visit my parents with a walk on Sunday morning. It was just around the streets by their home, the streets where I grew up. Up this path is a pond where numerous adventures were had while I was growing up, from exploring and hide and seek to pond-dipping (or fishing as we called it then) for frog spawn to bring home in a jam jar. I can’t imagine letting my boys wander off over the road to a pond and telling them to be back in time for tea…. times have changed, and not necessarily for the better.
I’m so glad I got the chance to see some snowdrops while I was over. I love them. Also making an appearance were other spring flowers which were enjoying the unseasonably mild weather. These lovely dwarf iris were poking through last autumn’s leaves.
Then it was time to say goodbye and head to the airport once more… bye bye Manchester, until next time!
I know it’s a cliché but these clouds really did look like cotton wool from above…
I’m not altogether in my comfort zone while flying. I’m quite happy cruising along but I’m not over happy with take off and landing. I took my crochet into the cabin with me. I had heard it was allowed, but I had also heard about a knitter who had her needles taken off her. I took one of my least favourite hooks just in case it was taken away.
Nobody batted an eye lid, so I was fine. I continued with the quintuple trebles of my Spun Gold shawl to take my mind off the descent in to Malaga… yes Malaga. Stormy weather in Gibraltar meant that two of the three previous Monarch flights to Gibraltar had been diverted to the Spanish airport because they couldn’t land in the strong winds. Our pilot didn’t even attempt to land in Gibraltar as the air traffic control tower there told him the winds were beyond safe limits. It was going to be a very long trip home…
As chance would have it I bumped into an old friend at the Malaga baggage reclaim. She told me her husband was driving up to Malaga to collect her rather than wait for her to get onto one of the coaches laid on by the airline to ferry the stranded passengers back to the Rock. I was offered a lift back and I didn’t need to think twice about the offer. The lift must have saved me at least an hour travelling time.
Please excuse the grainy image, but I wanted to show you the flags on the Gibraltarian side of the border with Spain as I arrived in Gibraltar late on Sunday night. I was nearly blown off my feet as I crossed into Gib, I am so glad the pilot didn’t attempt to land as it would have been a very bumpy ride! My return journey took 8 hours door to door, a considerable time longer than usual but at least I got back safely and I’m extremely grateful for that!
A murky Monday
Monday morning was decidedly murky, the winds from the day before had dropped quite a bit but it was rather gloomy looking. Can you spot the mahoosive super yacht in the background? It’s called ‘Yacht A’ and cost a reported £83 million pounds. It was ginormous, the highest mast is 100 metres tall. It was arrested by the Gibraltar Police because of a debt and we were able to enjoy seeing it moored out in the Bay for a few days.
Apologiesfor the uninspiring picture, but it’s a plain black dress I’m making so can’t really jazz that up. What I can say is that on Tuesday I more than made up from my catastrophic boo boo at last week’s class by cutting out fresh pieces for the back of my dress and I completed all 4 of my princess-line seams. So my front and back pieces are ready for a zip and lining. Then there’s the small matter of sleeves….. hmmm not looking forward to that part.
A blustery day for the Med Steps
I climbed the Med Steps on Wednesday with one of my Med Steps 5 pals. It was another blustery day as you can see from the sea. We did wonder whether we would get blown off the side of the Rock but fortunately it was really sheltered on the Med Steps.
Why oh why did I leave my washing out on Wednesday night? The Saharan dust came back, with a vengeance. Still at least I hadn’t washed the car!
Our watercolour teacher is still encouraging us to explore our inner abstract. I have to admit that I am having mixed results with this… I did like the rainbow splodgey effect of the bottom painting. It reminds me of tie-dyed T shirts.
More Med Steps
Friday morning was much nicer weather wise, it was less grey and you could just about feel the warmth of the sunshine peaking through the clouds above. I set off on a solo trip up the Med Steps and took my time seeing as I was on my own. It was lovely to enjoy my beautiful surroundings, it felt very spring like up there.
Sunday Sevens has been rather a long one this week, I do hope you didn’t nod off in the middle! Thank you for stopping by and thanks for sticking with it to the end!!
Crafting and making is something which Sue Orfila has always done, from making clothes for her Sindy doll and making her own crib at Christmas at the age of 5. “I’ve always made something from nothing” says Sue “I’m a thrifty kind of artist”, something which is evident when you take a look around Sue’s workspace and shop; OriginArta.
When Sue left school, she went to work in an office “that went against the grain, I wanted to be a hairdresser and be creative, I should have stayed on at school but I wanted money to buy clothes”. That office based work continued until Sue came to live in Gibraltar with her husband, an advert for a part time job at the Caleta Palace Hotel at Catalan Bay was the catalyst for a change in direction.
The job advertisement was for a hotel gardener but also offered the chance to do some flower arranging for weddings and that pushed Sue’s creative buttons. She got the job and after 2 years it became a full time position. “I realised my creative side” says Sue, “the pinnacle was at Christmas when they asked me to dress the Christmas tree on a tight budget – I was in my element”.
After having her son, Adam, Sue stopped working but continued her creativity by returning to drawing, something she hadn’t done much of since childhood. As Adam got older, Sue went into partnership with another girl in the early 1990s and and opened ‘Suzie Willow’, a shop selling dried flower arrangements. In 2000 Sue left the shop but she continued drawing and making things for herself in the meantime.
Then, ten years later, the time was right for Sue to open another shop and OriginArta was born. It’s first location was on Governor’s Street, just a short distance from it’s current spot and was “a great little shop, but when it rained it leaked like a sieve” reminisces Sue. When her current shop became available she was really happy “I got a window to dress!”
Sue’s shop window is an absolute delight (regular readers of the Postcard from Gibraltar blog may remember seeing it featured before in Sunday Sevens). Following the same principles of form and depth as in flower arranging, Sue takes great care in dressing her shop window to reflect the seasons.
As well as selling items she has made and upcycled, Sue offers a range of craft classes from flower arranging and ‘stencil and stitch’ to decoupage and still life drawing. “I don’t want to influence my students” says Sue, “I want them to find their own style”.
In her stencil and stitch classes, students make their own design and cut out the negative before painting it onto fabric to creative a positive image. They then use embroidery to embellish it further. The designs can be used to make cushions and soft furnishings like trims for curtains.
Another passion for Sue is upcycling things which are no longer wanted, from picture frames to pieces of furniture. She says “I like to take a photo before and after the process”. Using things like tissue, paint or wrapping paper and pieces of tile or pottery found on the beach.
Beach walks are a regular feature of Sue’s routine. During the summer months she takes morning walks from her home in town round to Catalan Bay and forages along the beach for anything interesting the sea has washed up. “I love it in summer, I get everything from Catalan Bay – I’ve got bags of stuff” says Sue, although she just collects man-made items leaving the shells and pebbles behind.
Having her own workspace and shop means that Sue is free to please herself about what she creates, “inspiration can come from anywhere, it might result in a painting, up cycled piece or a new stencil design. What’s brilliant is if someone likes it enough to buy it, that’s a real buzz”. Sue also takes commissions.
This week’s photo challenge was a bit of a no brainer for me. Living in Gibraltar, a place where the only exit by road involves crossing a working airport runway, means you can get stuck in traffic every now and then. Whether you are heading north to get to Gibraltar’s second supermarket, the airport or across the border into Spain (as above) … or heading south and towards town (see below), as soon as you hear the siren and spot the lights flashing you know you are going to be waiting a little while before you can get to your destination.
You just hope that the red light is only for the FOD Squad (Foreign Object Detection Vehicle) to cross over and check the runway and not an impending landing or take off if you are in a particular rush to get to where you’re going…
Hello there, this Sunday Sevens is being sent from sunny (well ok then, cloudy but dry) Manchester today as I am back in the UK on a flying visit to see my parents. Mr Postcard is back at home in Gibraltar with the Little Postcards and awaiting my return later today. It’s been such a luxury to be back in my childhood home again – just me, and to be spoiled by my Mum and Dad.
A new crochet project
Last Sunday really wasn’t up to much weather wise and we found ourselves sheltering indoors to stay dry. The highlight of our Sunday afternoon was a trip to Morrison’s supermarket café just so we could get out of the house for an hour! What else is there to do when you are house bound than start a new crochet project? 😉 I just can’t help myself.
This lovely yarn is Luisa Harding Pittura which I bought online a few months ago and was just waiting for the right project to come along for it. That project is the Spun Gold shawl by Kat Goldin of the Crochet Project. You can find it here: Kat Goldin’s blog. It’s working up really fast thanks to the quintuple trebles which pop up every six rows or so. It’s my first attempt at this stitch and so far so good, they are looking pretty even.
It’s been a bit grey and gloomy in Gibraltar all week, although it hasn’t rained all the time, it has threatened it for most of the week. This was the scene across the Bay of Gibraltar as we headed out to school on Monday, we rushed out and I rushed back home quickly in the hope of dodging the shower which was dumping it’s load across the Bay.
Whoops – spot the mistake…
So dressmaking class this week didn’t exactly go according to plan, last week’s faux pas is obvious above (note the extra bits which had to be added to the hem of two panels of my princess-line dress to-be).
Can you spot the other mistake? Yes, I managed to sew both sides of the back of the dress the same way, so I have two left back sections instead of a left and a right….. Cue trip back to the fabric shop to buy some more gabardine (I couldn’t face unpicking the princess-line seam and the double row of zig zag I’d sewn to neaten the internal seam edge) and a good deal of catching up to do next week. Whoops!
I don’t normally post pictures of food, but I am trying to be good at the moment, we have two family weddings coming up in the next few months and I really could do with shedding a spare tyre or two. This week I have been mainly eating salad and soup and lots of fruit and veg but no pasta, rice, spuds or bread.
I got the chance to go out to lunch to Wagamamas in Ocean Village one lunchtime (my first visit) and I had this gorgeous chicken salad. It was soooooo nice and ticked all the right diet boxes too. 🙂
Off to a flyer
Thursday morning was looming ahead of me. I had an appointment and my watercolour class both at different ends of Gibraltar and no car so I set off walking in my wellies (it had been wet and was threatening more rain) and loaded up with bags containing everything I needed for the morning ahead. Imagine my joy when a friend pulled up next to me as I felt the first spit of rain and shouted ” Do you want a lift?” Thank you! I didn’t think twice. I made it into town dry and with time to spare for a coffee! Hurrah!
(There’s no watercolour featuring in Sunday Sevens this week as what I produced needs more work… I’ll share what I’ve been doing next time).
The weekend starts here…
On Friday evening I ran off and left Mr Postcard and the Little Postcards. I flew out of Gibraltar to Manchester to visit my Mum & Dad. I have never sat out on the viewing platform at the airport before, because I’ve usually got small people with me. This time though I was able to sit and relax with a G&T before take off… such luxury!
I had a lovely time at the Trafford Centre yesterday shopping with my Mum. We don’t get the chance to do that kind of thing very often and we both really enjoyed it. We both had success and got most of what we’d gone for… hurrah!
Sunday Sevens is a weekly blog series created by Natalie from Threads & Bobbins blog.
In this episode of the Postcard from Gibraltar Podcast I catch up with Gibraltar based blogger and founding editor of parenting e-magazine Mum on the Rock, Polly Lavarello.
After moving to Gibraltar from the UK, Polly set up her blog Polly Mixtures and soon found herself climbing the UK parenting blog charts as she documented her experiences of having her first child. A problematic pregnancy meant Polly had to be hospitalised in Cadiz, miles away from friends and family.
After her blog took off, Polly decided to turn her attention to the wider parenting community in Gibraltar and created Mum on the Rock. Now into it’s second year, the online magazine is a valuable resource for parents in Gibraltar. It offers a ‘What’s On’ diary for family friendly groups and events along with features written by locally based parents and grandparents.
You can also listen and subscribe to the Postcard from Gibraltar Podcast on iTunes. I would love it if you would also take the time to leave a review as that means more people will be able to find me in future. This Podcast is also available on the PodOmatic App for Android and iOS devices.
Born and brought up on the south coast of England, a cross Europe road trip in her early twenties brought Sarah Devincenzi to Gibraltar for the first time. She loved it so much that she came back and made it her home. Now married and with three children in school here, Sarah has been able to devote some of her time to her first passion; arts and crafts.
Sarah says she has always been creative: “Always… it’s my default setting! I’ve always been creative in a visual way”. As a child, in her free time, when she wasn’t at school or competing in athletics, she was to be found drawing. She was sporty but teachers forced her to choose between sport and art – art won out. Sarah continues, “after A-levels I got a bit disillusioned at school, so decided not to go to art school like my friends”.
Instead of taking the academic path, Sarah began an apprenticeship with a sign writer who was a friend of the family. “I went along reluctantly,” she said “but I had an amazing 3 or 4 years, it was really creative stuff; we painted murals by hand”. It was after this apprenticeship, that along with her two best friends, Sarah set off on the adventure which was to become documented by Rebecca Faller in her book Renault 5 (which Sarah designed the cover for). “It was an escape from reality for all of us – we just thought what now?”
When Sarah first came back to Gibraltar to live, it was hard for British citizens to get ‘proper’ jobs, so she spent several years waitressing before landing a job at a sign writing company here. Sarah says that her time working with lettering forged her love with letters and type “and that morphed into art”. When Sarah’s children were born though, she said that the creativity stopped for her “I couldn’t be creative and have kids”.
Sarah found her stifled creativity frustrating so began making cakes but says it was a lot of hard work. Then three years ago, a friend suggested that she should get involved with Gibraltar Arts & Crafts Association, she says “it gave me a purpose and reignited everything! I had always drawn and painted, so I started on paper maché”.
Sarah began experimenting with paper maché “I love getting dirty so I enjoyed making it”. She was soon producing bowls, brooches and other items for the Gibraltar Arts & Crafts Association’s two shops in Casemates Square and the cruise liner terminal. One of her best sellers has been fridge magnets with collages of the Rock of Gibraltar, of which she has sold “hundreds” – there may be one lurking on a fridge near you….
Along with the Arts & Crafts Association, Sarah has been a stall holder at the annual Convent Christmas Fair. Her beautiful Gibraltar baubles are a real hit at the fair and in the shops as visitors like to have a souvenir from their holiday to hang on their tree.
Sarah became part of the committee which runs the Arts & Crafts Association, although she has now stepped down to allow her to follow her creative journey to the next stage. “I feel torn” she says, having to produce a lot of stock for the shops limited her time for other creative endeavours but “it was a catalyst for me, I got clients through being with the Association and they wouldn’t have known about me otherwise”.
Sarah’s paper maché creations led onto collage, another passion of hers.
Sarah has been able to put her love of all things paper to good use and recently created a piece of work to raise funds for a very worthy cause. After attending a talk given by Dan Teuma, a Gibraltarian who has worked in migrant camps in Greece, Sarah decided to make something to raise funds for the cause The World Wide Tribe on the Rock. She covered a chair with découpage made of Beano comics and managed to raise a substantial amount of money.
The power of Facebook meant that the chair was seen by thousands of people. Sarah says she now plans to make more items like this and donate the proceeds to The World Wide Tribe on the Rock and support the work they do.
The future looks bright for Sarah, who is currently working on a project she has always fancied having a go at “I’ve been asked to illustrate a children’s book, I’m really excited by that”. Sarah also teaches craft classes to middle school aged children at the Gibraltar Heritage Trust. Working alongside Eli Farrell, a retired teacher, she says the children are taught about a subject from Gibraltar’s history and then they create something along that theme, be it a mural of the Battle of Trafalgar “with water skiers and piranhas or cannons which the boys really enjoy!”
So this week’s photo challenge is ‘Fence’ a bit like when it was ‘Gate’ a few weeks back in a place with few gardens, I thought it may be a little bit tricky. Then I remembered the fences along side the roads which wind up through the Upper Rock Nature Reserve.
There have been a few times when I have been so captivated by the gorgeous scenery and view of the Bay of Gibraltar that I have wandered a little bit close too the edge, just as well I noticed in time as these fences wouldn’t really stop me going over the edge!
It’s been a busy old week for me so this week’s Sunday Sevens is a little bit longer than usual and may have more than seven photos…
I hope you had a good week!
Oh hello there Mr Deep Blue Sky, how lovely to see you again!! What a gorgeous day Monday was, and what a gorgeous balcony – one of my favourites in Gibraltar.
I learned a valuable lesson this week at my sewing class… not to to run before I can walk. There I was merrily cutting out the fabric for my new dress… then when I pinned it together to begin sewing my seams… shock… horror: two sections were 4cm too short! I’d misdrawn my pattern pieces last week -eek!
I had to add an extra bit to the bottoms of the two pieces and hopefully you won’t see the joins within the hem. Whoops!
Another beautiful sunset
Tuesday evening brought us the most beautiful sunset…
It was too lovely for just one picture I thought …
Sunset inspired watercolour class
In my watercolour class this week our teacher got us to break out of our comfort zones and go abstract. Inspired by the lovely sunset this week I picked similar colours and slapped a bit of paint about. It was loads of fun and I ended up with some feathery bird like shapes. We’re going to add to them next week… I wonder what we’ll end up with!
I ended up down by the sea at Camp Bay on two consecutive mornings, Thursday and Friday. The weather was beautiful, a bit cold but gloriously sunny on Thursday.
But on Friday… it was looking a bit grim! What a difference a day makes…
Later on Friday I took a walk down Main Street and spotted these lovely hearts pinned to the trees. They were left for passers-by to take as part of the Free Heart Friday free art project.
What a fab thing to do – I hope they brought hope and joy to anyone who needed it.
Yesterday Gib Talks returned for a day of short inspirational talks on a whole range of subjects. To find out more about it, have a look at my post from yesterday.
On my hook this week
This little chap was on my crochet hook this week. The little amigurumi zebra has gone to his new home so I can share this. I hope his new owner will like him 😊
Thank you for stopping by! I hope you have a great week ahead.
Sunday Sevens is a weekly blog series created by Natalie at Threads & Bobbins
From being encouraged to draw a stick man version of myself by an artist who’s exhibited at the Royal Academy to laughing at anecdotes from the former Chief Minister of Gibraltar and being moved and inspired by the courage of an amazing young woman, my morning spent at this year’s Gib Talks event didn’t disappoint. The day-long event features speakers from all walks of life talking on subjects as diverse as the origin of Gibraltar’s name to becoming the first Gibraltarian to compete at the Olympic games.
Last year I had my first experience of Gib Talks, I called in for a short time to hear a friend of mine speak and found myself not wanting to leave. Ahead of this year’s event, I was able to catch up with the organiser Julian Felice when he took part in the Postcard from Gibraltar Podcast Episode 002 : Gib Talks, in it he described some of talks we would be able to hear, but that preview was nothing like actually being there yourself.
One of the joys of Gib Talks is that you don’t need to commit to the whole day, you can dip in and out just coming for the talks which interest you or as was my situation, just coming for the time you are able to fit in around the family. As a consquence I managed to see most of the morning’s session and was so glad that I did. Here’s my take on what I heard (it’s a bit long so feel free to dip in and out of it too!):
Samantha Barrass – My secret life as an amateur thespian and theatre impresario
The first talk of the day I saw was given by Samantha Barrass, the mother of three is CEO of the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission but it was her passion for acting and, as she put it, “non-professional theatre” which formed the subject for her talk. Samantha recalled her first experience of acting in a production of Snow White at the age of 10. She’d moved to New Zealand as a child and it was there that she’d been given the role of the wicked queen in her school production; a role which she joked had been a “forerunner for her role in financial services”.
While on the stage there had been a technical fault which meant that her magic mirror failed to reply when she asked it “who is the fairest of them all”. Her ability to stay in character and act out a “queenly strop” until the fault was rectified earned her a complement from her favourite teacher that “only a real actress could do that”. The comment sealed her fate and her love affair with the stage.
Samantha described how her love for acting and theatre had continued beyond school and despite considering going to stage school, she had pursued a career in finance while continuing as an amateur actress in her spare time. After a move to London, and the birth of her three children, she became involved in a non-professional theatre in Bromley and ultimately became chair, a role which was to see her merge her skills from her professional life and her hobby together.
Describing the theatre as “my third place” in addition to home life and work life, Samantha says she has made many friends through her hobby and that it is something which people can do at any age and with not much money. She ended by saying she is “pleased to be in Gibraltar where I have a very responsible job and I can also fit in some acting around it”.
Samantha Barrass won Best Actress at the 2016 Gibraltar Drama Festival.
Tito Vallejo – Naming the Rock
Next up was well-known local historian and all round personality Tito Vallejo. In his introduction to Tito’s talk, organiser Julian Felice joked that “If you have a pulse and you live in Gibraltar, you probably know this speaker!”
Tito began by saying “We all know how the Rock got it’s name” inferring that if you Google it, you will see that ‘Gibraltar’ is derived from ‘Jebel Tarik’ or Tarik’s Mountain after the Moor who first conquered it. That, however, is not the case according to Tito; first known as ‘Kalph’ the Phoenecian word for rock, then ‘Calpari’ or ‘hollow’ by the Romans and later ‘Calpe’ a name we recognise from insignias and local names today.
The Phoenecians were traders and set up camp nearby in the Bay of Gibraltar 4000 years ago, they were responsible for creating the Pillars of Hercules, or the Pillars of Melcartes as they called them. They also told everyone of the ‘abyss’ which lay beyond the pillars in an attempt to dissuade anyone else from venturing out of the Mediterranean and relying on their imports including tin from the south coast of England.
Later, the Moors staged an invasion of the land of the Vandals, which is now known as Andalusia. Their first port of call was Gibraltar. The leader of the invasion, Tariq landed in Gibraltar in 711 and burned all of his ships, telling his men “we win this land or we will drown in the sea as cowards”. Tito explained that here is “where the myth starts”; the Tarik in Djebel (or Jebel) Tarik does not stand for the man Tariq, but is the Moorish word for ‘path’ meaning the beginning of the path through Andalusia which the Moorish invaders took.
Tito was vehement in his defence of this claim saying that every place the Moors conquered was named for a reason and not after a person, as that would go against the Islamic religious teaching against idolatry. Hence the Alhambra is named after the red colour of the stone, Tarifa is named after the end of the world as it was at the edge of the ‘abyss’ and if you passed there you had to pay a toll or ‘tariff’ and Gibraltar was the start of the ‘path’ through Andalusia.
According to Tito it was the Spanish who coined the name Gibraltar.
Manar Ben Tahayekt – Living with a disability
I get looked down to and this annoys me because it’s like “Hello, I am a smart person you know”.
Described in her introduction as “truly inspiring” and a young woman who “faced every challenge head on” Manar Ben Tahayekt took to the stage and soon had the auditorium captivated. Manar, who was born with cerebral palsy, moved to Gibraltar at the age of 4, after her parents decided she would be better off living here than in her native Morocco. As she wasn’t a Gibraltar citizen, she was home schooled until the age of 11.
She said of her childhood, that it wasn’t easy and that she “started school late but came a long way” gaining 2 GCSEs, one in English, and the other in Spanish. She went on to say that “something I have learned is to never give up”. Despite the difficulties she has faced, Manar now works for the Department of Education and is studying for further qualifications.
Then Manar stunned the audience by asking the awkward question “How many of you said to yourself la pobre” when they saw she was going to speak. She went on to say “I can say poor thing in Arabic too and it irritates me. I wonder when these people will get the hint?…I get looked down on and it’s like ‘Hello I am a smart person you know'”.
Manar explained that although she is disabled, it doesn’t stop her being independent and “just doing what any normal 23 year old does, like falling in love, partying and travelling”. Last year saw her complete her Duke of Edinburgh Silver Award and after much training she conquered the Med Steps.
Finishing her talk, Manar asked the audience to “look beyond the disability” the next time they see a disabled person “and look for their ability”. She was given a standing ovation for her inspirational, and at times deeply moving speech. What a remarkable young woman.
Henry & Priscilla Sacramento – Making it work
For the first time ever, a couple was invited to take to the Gib Talks stage at the same time this year. Compere Julian Felice introduced them saying “the UK has Posh and Becks, the USA Barack and Michelle, Gibraltar and Morocco has ‘HenPris'”.
Retired Police Officer, and charity worker Henry stood with his arm around his wife throughout their talk about their relationship and their dream of buying a property in their beloved Morocco. Priscilla, a retired special needs teacher and dressmaker who made dresses for Miss Gibraltar contestants, took turns with her husband as they told the audience about their marriage, saying that rather than being described as a “golden couple”, they should be “a platinum one” on account of the colour of their hair.
The Sacramentos have been married for almost 30 years, or rather “29 years and 46 days” according to Henry. The recipe for such a long and happy partnership was “positive attitude and respect”. They told the interesting story of how they had fallen in love with a house in Morocco which they wanted to buy but had missed out on the purchase only to be able to buy it years later as Henry came up for retirement. They believe that their positive attitude had lead to them being able to fulfil their dreams.
Karl Ullger – To what extent can you learn to be creative?
Karl Ullger, described by fellow teacher Julian Felice as an “Artist, teacher, colleague and friend” is the second Gibraltarian artist to be invited to exhibit at the Royal Academy of Art (the first being Gustavo Bacarisas). He also featured in last year’s Sky Arts Landscape Artist competition getting through from a field of 600 applicants.
Beforehand, we were all given a piece of paper and a pencil, which we were told we would be required to use during Karl’s talk – but more on that later…
“Creativity is the act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality” however “being imaginative does not mean you are creative” said Karl. He gave the examples of things which evolve over time with creativity like the gramophone, which eventually led to record players, the Walkman and the iPhone and “chalk drawings on a cave wall” which then evolved to the ink well, pencil, pen and ultimately an ink free stylus for drawing on a tablet.
Karl said that by using experimentation and breaking from the norm, things don’t always turn out right but don’t give up and keep trying. He told us of the time he went for a jog down by the dockyard and spotted a piece of metal lying in a bus stop. He said he “liked the look of the rust” so he took it back with him to his workshop.
Weeks later, while cleaning his brushes, some of the acid he was using splattered on the sheet of metal and he liked the effect it made. That piece of discarded waste metal later became a piece of art work with a painting of Sacred Heart Church and the Upper Town of Gibraltar on it and it stood beside him on the easel on the stage.
As a teacher, Karl was well qualified to explain that all children can be artists but as we grow older we develop inhibitions and other qualities which restrict our creativity. He went on to say that the left side of the brain which favours logical thought is what powers professions like accountants, and lawyers and the that right side is creative and is stronger in professions like artists, musicians and chefs.
That doesn’t mean that you have to be just one thing or the other though, as Karl gave examples of great men through history who had great creative and logical minds; Einstein, Da Vinci and Michelangelo. He gave us all a method to “keep yourself intact – brain gyms”. An example of a brain gym is when you doodle while speaking to someone on the phone.
Here’s where the paper and pencil comes in…
Karl then asked us to take our pencils and paper and get creative. He asked us to draw a house, with windows and a door and a path. To add some weather to the picture and then draw a sketch of ourselves. He then grilled the audience as to what we had added to our picture, did it have a roof or chimney? Were there curtains in the windows? Were we pictured inside or outside the house? Did we have a big head? Were there flowers in the garden? All of which would reveal a meaning behind the picture we had just drawn.
We were invited to either speak to him after the talk as he was willing to give feedback on the meaning of our drawing or we could send him our picture online. So I did and here’s what he had to say…
Apart from the bit which says I take care over my appearance (I normally look like I have been dragged through a hedge backwards) it is actually very accurate. The point of all this? Karl said that these basic and very quick sketches were to prove that all the audience members can be creative even if many think they can’t.
Sean Vincent Acris – Pride, not Prejudice
Introduced as the reigning Mr Gibraltar after being crowned in September 2016, Sean Vincent Acris has used the time since to work with charities and causes through his new role. He began his talk with a series of shocking quotes on Islamophobia, violence towards women and sexual inequality made by current world leaders. He described himself as a “firm believer in equality for all and a proud Gibraltarian”. He said that the democracy we enjoy here in Gibraltar, the diversity we represent and issues like the rights of women to vote and for cultures to be accepted shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Sean also spoke of the recent change in the law in Gibraltar for gay couples to be married and explained it had been an issue he had campaigned for in the past and he was thrilled to be able to attend the first gay wedding on the Rock in December last year. Sean said he knew some people in the audience may not agree with the new law and asked that they wouldn’t “just tolerate it but understand”.
He then took us back in time to his childhood here in Gibraltar, explaining that he had attended a first school and became good friends with another boy he referred to as ‘Michael’. They had been best friends and enjoyed lots of fun times together. When the time came for them to move up to middle school, although nervous about what lay ahead, Sean had felt lucky that ‘Michael’ would be going to the same school and that they would be together.
However their friendship changed and Michael became distant and was almost a stranger by the end of their first year at middle school. Sean said he was labelled as “different” called “queer and spat at”. He believed “there must be something wrong with me”. He continued; “Today I am happy and proud as well as being Gibraltarian I am also gay”.
Sean impressed the importance of education to eliminate phobias of people who are regarded as different saying “In the world we live in today, there’s a change of mood in where we’re going with Brexit and the new President Trump… the freedoms we enjoy today are not guaranteed forever”.
Georgina Cassar – From Rock to rings: My Olympic journey
Setting the scene for Georgina Cassar’s talk, Julian Felice described London in 2012. “The world gathered for the greatest sporting event” among them were two Gibraltarians, one was a hockey umpire, the other a rhythmic gymnast. She was Georgina and she would become the first Gibraltarian Olympian.
Georgina walked on stage in her Team GB uniform and began her talk telling us how she had followed her older sister into ballet and had done that for several years before deciding to try gymnastics. It was at the age of 13 that her coach had suggested she opt for rhythmic gymnastics rather than the more traditional type she’d been learning to that point. It was unheard of for a gymnast “to start so late and still make the Olympic team” said Georgina, however she was to prove the critics wrong.
First of all making the team going to the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010, Georgina said that she began to focus on the Olympics two years later. However the road to London was not a smooth one for her and she doubted she would “make the trials let alone make the Olympics”.
The journey to the trials in Swindon meant flying to the UK but bad weather led to flights being cancelled and she just managed to catch the last train to the venue only to be told that the trials were cancelled because poeople hadn’t been able to travel due to the poor weather. Georgina was indignant “We had come all the way from Gibraltar!” The judges agreed to test her the following day and she did well enough to qualify.
The qualification meant that she had to move to England mid way through her AS Levels. As a 17 year old that was a big deal, but she chose to take a year out of education in order to train. She still had to qualify and there were 13 girls on the rhythmic gymnastic team at that point, which had to be whittled down to 7.
“It was eat, train, sleep, repeat for 9 months” says Georgina, she suffered homesickness and managed to wangle a flying trip back to Gibraltar during training to celebrate her 18th birthday in return for agreeing to wear her contact lenses when she competed (she had competed without her glasses or lenses at the Commonwealth Games).
Georgina explained that the team was self funded and although she had some sponsorship from the Kusuma Trust in Gibraltar, they still needed to find more funding and put on multiple displays and even packed bags in Morrisons.
When it came to the crunch Olympic qualification took place over three days. On the first day the team’s ball routine exceeded the score required to qualify. On day two a knot in one of display ribbons meant that they missed out on the score needed by 0.02 marks. They believed that they had a third day to make up the deficit but they were told that it was the end of their dream and they had failed to qualify.
That evening their coach took them out for a commiseration vodka and lemonade and even gave them a square of chocolate each before going out to perform the next day. They were determined to prove their governing body wrong and did their best performance ever and scored 2 points more than was required to qualify. A court case followed and the rhythmic gymnastic team triumphed against British Gymnastics.
In celebration, the seven-strong team took a week off and ate and drank as much as they wanted. On their return to the gym their coach made them stand on the scales. Between them, they had gained enough weight for a whole other team member; 60kg. Their coach wasn’t happy! Georgina described a harsh “ten hours plus” training programme to lose the excess weight and get ready for the Games with a “minimal diet” with limited fluids.
The hard work and deprivation paid off though, on the day of the contest Georgina said she “woke up excited… we were the first [rhythmic gymnastic] team from GB to make the games … I was the first Olympian from Gibraltar”. She described life in the Olympic Village, sitting down for meals with the likes of Mo Farrah and Sir Chris Hoy and being escorted by officials to speak to GBC.
It was on the parade around London after the Olympics though which made her most proud. Falling on September 10th, Gibraltar National Day, she was able to wave the Gibraltar Flag from the top of the open topped bus as it passed Gibraltar House.
A hip operation in 2014 meant that she can no longer compete, but she is grateful for the experience and all the opportunities in media and sport which have come her way since. Her parting message was that “everything happens for a reason and every choice you make along the way… creates our own fate”.
Sir Peter Caruana QC
Gibraltar’s second longest serving Chief Minister, and the first Knight of the Realm to grace the Gib Talks stage brought the morning session to an end. Sir Peter Caruana chose today to make his second public appearance since his retirement from public life in 2011.
He began by humourously stating that the British system of politics meant that the change over of power was a “sharp execution”. The first clue that things had changed on that fateful night in November 2011 was that the man who had chauffeur driven him to the John Macintosh Hall for the election count on the previous evening “was no longer holding the door open for you and is doing it for someone else and you’re walking home”. He described his immediate situation after losing the election as “having nothing to do and nowhere to go but interfere with the domestic arrangements at home”.
The former Chief Minister’s talk was peppered with anecdotes of his political life from having dinner with Margaret Thatcher who told him “two professions end in tears, boxing and political leaders” and holding a political surgery with a lady from Glacis estate complaining about her boiler while taking a call from the Foreign Secretary at the same time, “this is what being Chief Minister of Gibraltar is all about” he added.
He mentioned being asked at a dinner at Lancaster House following the Royal Wedding of Prince William to Catherine Middleton, if it wasn’t “all looking a bit North Korea in Gibraltar” suggesting that perhaps the time had come for a change at the top. Sir Peter said that political office was “a temporary job” and “losing to the will of the people was as important as winning”, although in 2011 he “lost by not very much…which meant you didn’t think I was the worst Chief Minister”.
“There are few professions where you can retire early and try something new… you made the decision for us” was his way of alluding to his change of professions back into legal life after his long political sojourn. One lesson he had for the audience was not to bear grudges, “if you do, they don’t know – it just burns you up”. “So many political leaders find it hard to make it to the wings… I slipped back into obscurity and open my mouth only when invited to do so” he said.
So what did I take from my morning spent at Gib Talks 2017? To be positive, keep trying and never give up, look beyond first impressions to see people’s ability and don’t hold a grudge! Valuable life lessons for anyone I think.