Way back in the summer of 2015, I set off on a blogging adventure. Inspired by the likes of Lucy at Attic24 and several other craft bloggers, I decided that I would have a go at sharing a few snap shots of my life on the Rock. At the time, I had a the unique selling point that I was based in Gibraltar, and at that time, there were no other craft bloggers active on the Rock. I thought that even if no one was interested in what I was making, at least I could share beautiful photos of my sunny surroundings way down in the south of Europe.
I felt compelled to share some of the quirks and beauty of where I was living at the time – a much misunderstood place from the outside. There is so much more to Gibraltar than the day trips from cruise ships and bus tours from along the Costa would have you believe. There’s much more than red phone boxes and fish & chips, British bobbies and Marks and Spencer in the sun. It’s home to a diverse group of people with origins from far and wide, the fortunate byproduct of it’s geographical location at the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsular and just a short distance across the Strait of Gibraltar from Morocco and the African continent beyond.
Soon I began sharing a series of blog posts called ‘A stroll around Gibraltar’ as I took my camera and later my phone along on walks around the narrow streets and back alleys of Upper Town and into the Nature Reserve of the Upper Rock – in fact my post about the ‘facts and figures of the Med Steps’ remains my most read post to date. I posted more than 200 Sunday Sevens posts and hosted a Friday Photo Challenge on Instagram one year as well.
I also used Postcard from Gibraltar to share what I was making, from the dressmaking and watercolour classes which I was able to attend once all three Little Postcards (my three sons) were old enough to all go to school, as well as a number of community crochet projects I joined in with from Yarndale worldwide appeals for crocheted bunting and mandalas to Eleonora from Coastal Crochet‘s Seaside Stashbusting blanket and Changing Tides blanket crochet-alongs.
As our family went on trips around the place I would blog about our travels in my ‘A Postcard from…’ posts which included Rome, The Algarve, Carcassonne, and skiing in the Dolomites, as well as UK destinations like Manchester, Cheshire, and Suffolk.
Postcard from Gibraltar also opened doors for me and I began writing for an online parenting magazine in Gibraltar which now no longer exists sadly, I also got articles published in print for the Calentita! Gibraltarian food festival magazine. In short, Postcard from Gibraltar gave me the confidence to venture back out of my domestic set-up after many years being a stay-at-home Mum.
In 2020, along with everything else which was happening in the world, close to home for us, change was afoot. We found ourselves moving back to the UK after 11 very happy years in Gibraltar. It was a big adjustment, which wasn’t made any easier by the pandemic, but we survived! At the time, I wondered whether I should continue with Postcard from Gibraltar as it would no longer be ‘from Gibraltar’. I had begun my new podcast project ‘Making Stitches Podcast’ by then, and whilst it brought me very welcome creative distraction – especially during lockdown, I felt I would miss Postcard too much if I just finished it, so I kept it going in a slightly less regular, less sunny and blue skies kind of a way!
More than 2 years on from our move though, I think the time is right to say goodbye to Postcard from Gibraltar. I won’t be saying goodbye to it completely though. This blog and all of the previous posts will still be available to read and if you should search for Postcard from Gibraltar online, it will still lead you here. Postcard from Gibraltar is evolving, just as I have, and from now on, will be known as Making Stitches.
It felt right to adapt what I’m already doing to compliment what I have been working on with Making Stitches Podcast. In the last two years, that has gone from strength to strength and is now in it’s 6th Series with more than 50 episodes featuring interviews with creative people from many different disciplines including crochet and knitting (including my old friend Eleonora Tully from Coastal Crochet), dressmaking, embroidery, textile art, weaving, yarn dying and more. In addition to this, I have made a foray into crochet design myself with the launch of my amigurumi crochet patterns. My life has changed quite a bit from what I was doing back in Gibraltar and it’s time this blog caught up with me.
I will still post my monthly Postcards (because I would miss writing them too much) although I can’t guarantee I’ll be any more prompt with posting them (!) and I’m pretty sure I will have another go at a Summer Craft Challenge again next year, so in a way nothing has changed, just the name.
Thank you to everyone who has read my posts, liked them or commented through the years and a special thank you to those of you who have become friends through this medium too. Your support, although virtual, has been very much appreciated over the years and it’s that which has kept me going. Who knows what lies ahead?
Hello there! I hope you’re doing ok. I kept meaning to post my postcard from January throughout the beginning of February but there seemed to be so many other things which needed my attention, so I was rubbish and let things slide. We are now on the cusp of another month though, and I’ve decided that it’s time to take the bull by the horns and stop procrastinating. So here you go, two for the price of one, a postcard from January AND February rolled into one.
I deliberated about whether I should even post at all, there is so much going on in the world at the moment that things like this seem very frivolous, but I think it’s important to keep going, as burying my head in the sand and veering between trying to block the outside world out and being glued to the news updates and fretting about the helplessness I feel about the plight of so many innocent people isn’t actually helping anyone. I thought it better to try to put some sunshine and positivity out into the world, so here goes, and if you have been affected by the terrible actions taken against Ukraine, please know that you are very much in my thoughts.
A New Year and a continued fitness quest…
Back in November I began my quest to get my weight down to a healthy number and get a bit fitter and began the Couch to 5K programme for the third time in the last couple of years. This time though, I managed to see it through. I am now over a stone lighter and I managed to complete the whole Couch to 5K programme. Not only that, I’ve kept going and am now running just over 5K in 35 minutes. I don’t want to sound like I’m blowing my own trumpet too much or that I’m building myself up for a fall, but I’m really rather proud of how far I have come.
I haven’t found the process too arduous and in fact have quite enjoyed getting out and pounding the streets and enjoying the beauty of sunshine and nature on my way around the neighbourhood. Who knows where it might lead me?
A New Year and a new hedge
You might remember last year that I said goodbye to our old ‘fake’ plastic hedge which we inherited when we moved into our home the year before. Well, the intention was always to replace it with something else, of a more natural variety. It took me a while to decide what to do for the best, but in December I realised that winter was the perfect time to plant a hedge, so I did my research and ordered my new privet hedge which arrived early in January. Then came the hard work…
Our front garden is more of a carpark than a garden, we inherited an area covered in small stones which lie on top of black weed suppressing fabric. After a lot of scraping away of stones, and the lifting of not one, but two layers of fabric which had several inches of compacted dirt between them I was ready to dig the holes ready for the baby hedge plants.
It was quite a job. Fortunately the weather was favourable – it was cold, but the ground wasn’t frozen, and it stayed dry for most of the two days it took for me to plant these 22 specimens. Plus my very helpful neighbour offered me the use of this rather nifty device (on the right of the picture below) for digging holes.
They are in, and I’m really chuffed that I managed to do this – single-handedly! How many years it will be before it’s an actual hedge is anyone’s guess but it’s a vast improvement on what we had before! My next project is a flower bed out front, but I may wait a while before beginning that.
A lovely walk and coffee by the river
In the middle of January, the weather was being very kind to us indeed, so a really good friend and I decided to leave the jobs which needed doing one afternoon and put our muddy hiking boots on for a wander along the River Mersey and a coffee at the Riverside Café. It was such fun, and just what we both needed to have a chat and mull over stuff which was going on before heading back home in time for the school run.
Getting the garden kickstarted
I so enjoyed having sweet peas in my back garden last summer, so decided to have a go at planting them again. I had quite a few seeds left over from last year’s attempts so I went ahead and planted them up in loo rolls again like last year. Fingers crossed this year’s crop will be as successful!
A Sunday walk
I don’t know if it’s because of memories of lockdown and being restricted on where we can go, but I often find that it’s suddenly Sunday afternoon and apart from going to Littlest’s football match and perhaps the shops, our weekends are passing without heading out of the house as a family. I decided to change that and am trying to get us out and about if the weather & teenagers allow!
Fortunately, the lovely National Trust property; Dunham Massey is a short drive from our home and once the youths are corralled into the car, we can be in amongst the deer within half an hour. As long as there’s the promise of ice cream or hot chocolate involved in the outing, it’s generally a goer!
Another WIP begun…
Back in September last year, you may remember that I made the trip across the Pennines to the Yarndale festival in Skipton – it was a truly amazing day which you can read about here. While I was there I bought some lovely hand dyed yarn from Michelle at Woolly Wumpkins. I’ve been debating what to make with it; another pair of hand-knitted socks? A bobble hat? I settled on a shawl/scarf as that is the item of woolly clothing I wear most of all.
Unlike in my previous experience of winding a skein, this time it was a painless experience (perhaps because It hadn’t been sitting in my stash for years first) and I got to work on this pattern for a one skein crochet shawl which I bought from Annie Design on Etsy. I’m rather happy with the colours and look forward to enjoying wearing it when I eventually finish it. I have a feeling it will be something I dip in and out of while working on other things.
Llanita’s Travels continue…
Long time readers of Postcard from Gibraltar may remember my little friend Llanita the Yarndale Sheep. I made her back in 2016 for that year’s Yarndale charity appeal. You can read all about Llanita’s adventures with me here.
Well when Llanita arrived at Yarndale back in 2016, she was bought by Karen (aka WakeyMakes on Instagram). Karen’s sisters have recently been to Gibraltar on holiday and they took Llanita back to her homeland for a visit!
I had a lovely treat when I logged into Instagram one day to see that Llanita was back in the sun!!
We got off rather lightly when Storms Eunice and Franklin came to town. Just a couple of wobbly fence panels which are rather worse for wear and this one almost bit the dust. Thankfully my lovely Dad came round with his bag of tricks and some timber to patch it up until it can be replaced.
A sunny seaside walk
Crosby beach beckoned on Sunday when the sun came out and I found myself with an empty diary. The ironing and housework could wait, living back in Manchester makes you realise that you need to grab sunny days by the hand and make the most of them. I got the Little Postcards in the car and headed off west to Crosby on the Merseyside Coast.
We first visited Crosby last year after it was recommended to me by my lovely friend across the road. It’s pretty much the nearest beach to where we live and it takes under an hour to drive there. Plus the beach is home to a load of Antony Gormley statues so that makes it even more special. It’s a favourite with the Little Postcards – as is the ice cream reward at the end of the walk.
And that just about brings this postcard to an end. Thank you so much for stopping by. Where ever you are in the world and whatever you are facing, I hope that you can find some positivity in the days ahead.
Hello there, thanks so much for stopping by on what’s a really special day for me. Today I have launched the first of my crochet patterns for sale on my Etsy shop. It has been a long journey of many months (perhaps even years) to get to this point and I would never have achieved it without certain events happening or some special people helping me along the way. Here’s the story of how ‘Up the garden path’ came about…
Many moons ago (well about 18 months ago to be precise) we moved back to the UK after spending more than a decade living in Gibraltar. Before we moved there we lived in a house with a garden and I loved my garden. I loved the huge oak tree in our neighbours garden which made a really pretty backdrop to our own small patch, I loved the really old hedgerow which bordered the side of the lawn and was a throwback to the old days when the land the house was on was farmland. I also loved the apple tree we planted expecting to spend years there and watch it grow.
Life had other plans for us though and we found ourselves packing everything up into boxes and moving thousands of miles away to a tiny place call Gibraltar at the very southern tip of the Iberian peninsular. In Gibraltar land is scarce and gardens are scarcer. We ended up in a lovely apartment with a beautiful balcony filled with pots of geraniums and other mediterranean plants, we were also lucky enough to have a sun scorched patio which we put potted citrus trees in too. I missed my green English garden though (the grass truly is always greener!).
When life brought us back to the UK to live last year, it opened up the possibility that we would be able to enjoy the delights of a proper garden again. I was like a coiled spring…. I had spent years watching Monty Don and co. on Gardener’s World from afar wondering if and when I would have my own garden again and what it would look like.
Then, one year ago (almost to the day) we moved into our new family home, it doesn’t have the biggest garden but it’s ours and it’s allowed my imagination to run wild with possibilities of what I could plant and grow.
Meanwhile, I have long admired many talented people who design the most wonderful crochet creations like Lucy at Attic 24, Eleonora at Coastal Crochet, Rosina at Zeens & Roger, the lovely ladies at The Crochet Sanctuary and many, many more and wondered whether one day, I could have a go at designing something myself which other people might like to make. I knew I couldn’t attempt to design clothing – sizing would be sooo hard. I also didn’t want to attempt a blanket – there are already so many beautiful ones in the world to choose from. But, I could have a go at amigurumi – there’s no end of possibilities when it comes to making little people and creatures out of yarn and a hook.
I guess I took a fantasy trip back to my childhood, where I remember so many of the books and stories I loved were based in gardens and adventures in nature. What if I could combine my fascination with gardens and plants and trees with crochet? I had hit on an idea.
So, after finishing the Christmas crochet blanket I’d been working on in the run up to and over Christmas last year, I found myself on New Year’s Eve with a burning idea, some yarn and a hook and I set to work with some of my stash making the first prototype of an amigurumi doll. It took a bit of frogging and lots of note taking, and then another couple of prototypes before I bought the yarn I needed to have a go at my first little person…. Hope the Snowdrop.
She was my New Year project and loads of fun to make. I called her Hope because snowdrops are pretty much the first plants to flower in the year and offer such hope of the better weather still to come, and the promise of Spring.
Next I decided to have a go at my alter ego, Flora the Gardener. Flora (in my imagination) has just acquired a garden of her own (remind you of anyone?) and is filled with expectation for what her new garden will offer her. The peace and quiet, the anticipation of what would sprout up from the soil and how successful her seedlings would be. I imagine that in the seasons and the years to come, she will make lots of new friends.
So that was Hope and Flora. But then, a very good friend of my mine, Emma, saw Flora and asked if she could illustrate her. I didn’t need asking twice. Here’s the beautiful illustration she came up with:
Isn’t she marvelous? Hot on the heels of Flora came Hope….
Then…. Emma, being the wonderful friend she is, offered to design my patterns for me too. I wanted them to be as clear and simple as possible and with lots of photos (pretty much like a blog post) and that’s just what she’s done. I’m so thrilled with what she’s done for me!
And so, after 10 months of experimenting and absolutely bursting with ideas of what to do next (I have a list of about 30 future projects!!) and lots of to-ing and fro-ing between Emma and I, the big day has arrived – it’s launch day of the first of my patterns. Flora and Hope are available to buy from my new Etsy shop – Making Stitches Shop. [The proceeds of which are going to cover the costs of my podcast – Making Stitches].
The patterns are quite photo heavy so in addition to every illustrated pattern, you will also receive a text-only printer friendly version so you don’t run out of ink!
I couldn’t have reached this point without the help of Emma, and so many other wonderful people who have listened to me go on, and on, and on about my little ‘Up the Garden Path’ people. Sharing my successes and failures and not telling me to be quiet!! My sincere thanks also to my pattern testers and everyone who has offered me help and advice along the way.
If you would like to see some of Emma’s other work, you can find her Emma Jackson Art website here.
So, that’s the story of Up the Garden Path so far…. I can’t wait to share a couple of seasonal friends with you very soon as well!
Thanks so much for stopping by!
PS: The super logo for my shop was designed by Neil Warburton at iamunknown.com
I hope you have had a decent festive period, it’s been rather muted but also rather nice to be at home too with no pressure to attend events either. We now find ourselves in Tier 4 like much of England and my friends in Gibraltar are in lockdown due to a huge spike in Covid cases there after being relatively unscathed until this point. I do hope they manage to get things under control over there very soon.
I’m having an internal debate about when to take the decorations down, there’s something a bit sad about packing the twinkly lights away for another year and yet there’s something nice about having clear surfaces and a fresh start too, maybe I’ll do it tomorrow…
Anyway, here’s this week’s Sunday Postcard and the first one of 2021.
First snow! ❄️
It was a big day in our house when we woke up to this on Monday. A generous dusting of white stuff had arrived while we slept and for Littlest it was his first experience of snow ever!
It was such a treat to see and completely changed the way I look at my new garden, I feel very lucky to have a little patch to call our own especially now we are effectively back into lockdown.
It was also rather fun to sit by the window and crochet snowflakes while looking at the real thing outside!
After the snow came the freezing fog which enveloped us in a rather murky gloom for an entire day. I found it quite atmospheric although not everyone in the house agreed.
Then more snow arrived on New Year’s Eve…. and a heavier dusting.
Doesn’t it just make everything look magical?
I set myself the challenge of completing my Christmas Eve blanket (pattern by The Crochet Sanctuary) by the end of the year seeing as I had missed my initial Christmas target (whoops). I didn’t manage to finish the border but the blanket is finished for now (last stitches completed on New Year’s Eve) so I’ll take that as a win. I love how it looks and really chuffed I managed to pull off the mosaic crochet Christmas trees too – my first attempt at that technique and I love the effect.
My word, I know how to party. A new crochet project in front of Jools Holland’s Hootenany is how I rolled on New Year’s Eve! I did have a few bubbles though curtesy of my lovely brother and sister in law’s Christmas gift hamper! Cheers!
Since New Year we haven’t really done anything of note, a bit of preparation for the return (or non-return) to school and a bit more crochet for me. I will share more pictures when and if they are worth showing!
I will leave it here for now and hope you are doing ok where ever you are and whatever restrictions you are facing. I had a look at my ‘best nine’ photos on Instagram and it’s a sign of the times that my lockdown rainbow featured, I’m glad it was filled with two of my favorite things though – crochet and Gibraltar!
Until next week, take are and thanks for stopping by!
Hello there, thanks for stopping by. Before I begin this Postcard, I just want to say that I know this coming few days is going to be difficult for many people this year more than ever. Following the announcement yesterday of even tougher restrictions in parts of the UK, many people’s plans have been left in tatters.
I’m really sorry if you have seen your Christmas plans reduced or even cancelled, or if your work situation has been rocked even further after this turbulent year. I don’t know what I can say or do at this point other than say you are not alone, even if you are physically isolated. Do reach out if you need someone to talk to.
Now to the usual tripe! Apologies that this year I’m not sharing uplifting photos of the blue skies and seascapes of Decembers gone by in Gibraltar… my location has changed this year to a rather greyer but no less friendly and happy Manchester in spite of everything that’s going on. Here goes…
Final flat pack delivery
Finally after almost 2 months of living in our new home, our final furniture delivery of 2020 arrived a couple of weeks ago. Eldest now has a desk for his homework and I have a bookshelf for my crafty books – hurrah! That means several more boxes have been unpacked. They are getting less and less!
Keep on running!
My Couch to 5k training is continuing. I’m pleased to say I have now passed the point at which I stopped last time. Having a training buddy with me is a huge boon and makes us deliberately schedule in our runs, plus now we can hold a conversation most of the time too, so it feels like less of a chore! I snapped a brief bit of sunshine on one of the morning training sessions last week.
A Postcard birthday
We had a family birthday earlier in December – it gave me the chance to bake an old fashioned Victoria sponge with buttercream & jam filling. Yummy!
There are some super examples of Christmas decorations in the streets near where we live now. I am planning on taking the Little Postcards on a nocturnal walk to see them as soon as we get a dry night! I love Santa in the camper van and this house (below) has Santa projected onto an upstairs window complete with “Ho ho ho!” sound effects!
It’s just as well I’m running at the moment – there’s been a lot of cake-age going on Chez Postcard lately. Middle Postcard has been having to do his Food Tech lessons at home so last week was Swiss roll. The last time I made a Swiss roll I was at school!! It turned out alright. Although I would have preferred jam as a filling to chocolate spread – the chef had the final choice naturally.
In addition to baking there’s been model making on the go too. This is a waterfall which had to be produced for an end of term geography lesson. Hours of work went into it, I’m still finding paint splatters in the kitchen!!
I had to make a trip to the Trafford centre last week for a couple of Christmas bits. The joy of living close by means I can be there when it opens and before the hoards arrive. It was a successful trip and I was able to leave just as it was getting busy.
I got some very unexpected happy post this week… this pack of Scheepjes yarn and a super case of Knit Pro crochet hooks. I recently renewed my subscription to Simply Crochet magazine which had elapsed this year while we were moving about from house to house. I had received the magazine for several years while living in Gibraltar but as an overseas subscriber I never received a subscription gift. This time I did! Woo hoo! What a treat – thank you Simply Crochet!
Wasn’t the Strictly Come Dancing final glorious last night?! In the words of the great Craig Revel-Horwood, it was “Fab-u-lous”. The only problem was I had to keep stopping my crochet to give the dances my full attention! I love that Bill & Oti won – they were my favourites after Caroline & Johannes left.
So what was I working on whilst watching Strictly? My Crochet Sanctuary Christmas blanket CAL. Will it be finished by Christmas this year? Who knows? I’m trying though… I’m over half way…
Don’t look too closely at the unorthodox bobbles near the top… I did one bobble row 4 times because I kept miscounting it and getting it wrong, so when I discovered later on that I’d missed 3 bobbles a few rows back I couldn’t face unraveling and added them afterwards. Shhh! Don’t tell anyone!
Last Friday I released another episode of Making Stitches Podcast featuring a weaver called Agnis Smallwood. She spoke to me about how she first got into weaving, her enjoyment of passing the skills of weaving and other crafts onto her students and how she found colour inspiration in her lockdown veg patch. You can listen by searching for Making Stitches on your favourite podcast app.
And that brings this Sunday Postcard to a close. It’s been a funny old run up to Christmas, and my mind keeps being taken back to the many Christmases we enjoyed in Gibraltar. We may not be there right now, but it will forever stay with us, just as our Christmas tree is reminding us.
Wherever you are in the world, I hope you have a peaceful Christmas and are able to find joy in these coming days.
Hello! Did you know it was International Crochet Day yesterday? It almost passed me by. I managed a tiny bit of work on my Trip to the Seaside wreath from Little Box of Crochet, so I just about fitted some hooky in!
I hope it’s been a good week for you, for part of this week I had all 3 Little Postcards in school for the first time in 6 months. My word, what a difference it made!
Here’s this week’s Sunday Postcard…
Rain rain go away
So last Sunday was a bit wet (thankfully it cleared up later on though). It meant we had the perfect excuse to stay at home and just hang around. Two Little Postcards had begun their new schools the week before and youngest was due to begin his new school on Monday. A quiet day at home listening to the rain was rather pleasant and called for.
During a much anticipated morning alone with all 3 in school I set about on the hunt for the elusive name tapes to sew into new uniforms. As we only found out what schools 2 of them were going to last week – it was all a bit last minute.
I failed to find the name tapes but I unearthed some crafty treasures. Embroidery patterns given to me by my Gran as a child (above). I had no idea they were in a bag with some yarn scraps and long forgotten WIPs. I will have to have a go at some of them! Plus…..
… what must’ve been my first attempts at granny squares, no doubt taught by my Gran! Not the neatest attempts granted, and those colours have a touch of of 1980s about them don’t you think?!
Our bunny, Diamond is doing very well and seems to have adjusted to life in his hutch in England well. He’s a happy chappy and seems to like stretching out listening to the birds in the garden and watching the neighbour’s cat as it parades past!
I got a lovely parcel through the post this week, all the way from Gibraltar….
When we were over in Gib to collect Eldest’s GCSE results in August, I bought myself a lovely artisan silver and garnet ring.
I thought it looked a bit lonely on its own and decided to contact Frances, the lady who made it and asked if she would make me another, this time with a blue stone.
It arrived this week, along with a cute little stacking ring to sit in between the blue & red stones. I am so happy with them and will always have a bit of Gib with me now!
You can find Frances’ work on Instagram @silver_quirk and her Etsy shop can be found here.
The recorder is out, and that can only mean one thing… work has started on Series 2 of Making Stitches Podcast. I have a couple of interviews in the bag and I’m hoping the first episode will be with you very soon! Watch this space…
International Crochet Day
As I said before, yesterday was International Crochet Day… who knew that was a thing?! I only had time for a little bit but enjoyed making some swishy swashy grass for my Little Box of Crochet wreath.
Gibraltar National Day 🇬🇮
On Thursday, it was 10th September- Gibraltar National Day. It was our first national day since leaving the Rock and the first one without any of the big community events which normally take place because of Covid. I did listen to the political rally on the radio though and enjoyed being with my Gibraltar friends in spirit.
And that brings this week’s Sunday Postcard to an end. I hope it’s been a good week for you. Until next time, thanks for popping by.
Today is 10th September which is Gibraltar National Day and I wanted to mark the occasion with a special blog post. As our family moved back to the UK this summer after over a decade in Gib, it will be a strange National Day for us. It will also be a ‘different’ one for the people of Gibraltar as this year, the traditional rallies and gatherings have been cancelled due to Covid-19.
This is my tribute to Gibraltar on National Day 2020, a post which I hope, will show my deep affection for the Rock and it’s people. It’s a place which will be forever in my heart, and I dearly hope I will be able to return to frequently in the years to come.
Way back in May, before we made our epic move back to the UK, I got the chance to do something I’d never done before…. walk the whole way round the Rock. It’s not something I’d done before because it takes quite a while and strictly speaking you aren’t allowed to walk through one of the road tunnels to complete the route.
However, during the waning weeks of lockdown while there was very little traffic on the roads many people were walking through and the authorities were turning a blind eye. Being someone who doesn’t like to bend the rules very often, I saw this new development as my opportunity and took it. (FYI it’s very busy on the roads again now, so I really wouldn’t recommend doing it now. PLEASE BE SENSIBLE AND DON’T WALK THROUGH).
I began my walk in South District not far from where we used to live on the (normally busy) Europa Road.
Past the beautiful blooms of bougainvillea and nasturtiums.
Rather than going the long way around via Queensway or Main Street, I walked above the Trafalgar Cemetery and popped through Prince Edward’s Gate and into Gibraltar’s old town that way.
And into town…
I walked along pavements I have walked countless times before over the years. It was strange to think that just a few weeks later, we would be saying goodbye to Gibraltar after 11 very happy years. During that time these streets, which once felt so alien and unlike where we had come from, became our home.
I passed below the beautiful and historic Garrison Library.
…and further on into town along the narrow Governor’s Street north towards Casemates Square.
As you can probably tell from the bright blue skies in the photos – it was a rather warm day!
In the north east corner of Casemates is a tunnel which leads to…
… Landport Tunnel which was, once upon a time, the only way to access Gibraltar by land. All the area beyond the city walls was once sea before a series of land reclamation projects were undertaken. At curfew each evening those big wooden doors would be closed and the drawbridge on the other side would be lifted sealing inhabitants of the Rock inside for the night.
The tunnel is steeped in history – walking through it you can imagine some of the people who must have come through here over the centuries. There is a bend in the middle for defence purposes I believe.
As you come out of Landport Tunnel Gibraltar’s military heritage is in evidence on your right and above your head lies the Northern Defences – a place I would have loved to explore before we left.
Onwards and northwards I headed towards the airport and the sundial roundabout.
My path turned to the East at this point along Devil’s Tower Road.
This road (which is normally very busy but thanks to lockdown was extremely quiet) has a mix of older housing blocks, flashy new developments and industry. The Rock looms above it all.
At Eastern beach you pass the local vehicle licensing and MOT test centre, behind this military pill box.
As I passed by this spot I was rather taken by this little chap!
There are plenty of reminders on the East side of Gibraltar’s military past as well, apart from the spy holes in the Rock above your head is this cairn constructed in memory of the members of the Black Watch who worked here to create some of Gibraltar’s Defences. I wonder what they thought about the heat of the Med after traveling down from the Highlands of Scotland?!
The sun was rather intense at this spot beating down on my head (I’m glad I wore a hat!) and the crickets were chirping in the grass by my side.
All of a sudden after the industrial buildings the developments give way to a huge land reclamation project and on the other side – beautiful Catalan Bay. When we first arrived in Gib, this was our beach of choice in the summer. It’s small-ish and is less easy to lose children when you take your eyes off them for a millisecond! Plus there is ample parking if you arrive early enough in the day. Lately though, we moved to Sandy Bay which is a lot less densely populated and gives you much more space.
Beach protocol in Gib is something which you quickly learn as a newcomer to the Rock. Local families have their traditional pitches where they always set up camp on the beach and it can be quite easy to ruffle feathers if you plonk yourself down in a seemingly empty spot. At the height of summer beach umbrellas, deck chairs and tables appear on the beach at first light many hours before their owners appear to take up residence. It is quite a sight to behold.
Rather than dashing down to the beach to feel the sand and waves on my toes I kept on going along Sir Herbert Miles Road which hugs the back of Catalan Bay village (Sir Herbert Miles was Governor of Gibraltar from 1913-1918).
Catalan Bay was once solely populated by ex-pat Genoese fishermen and their families. Until about 100 years ago the village was cut off at high tide and the only access was via the beach when the tide was low. Genoese was the language spoken here and Caletaños (Catalan Bay villagers) are responsible for a lot of the Genoese words which have become a fixture in the Llanito dialect in Gibraltar.
Traditional wooden boat building is still a skill which is passed down through the generations in this village. The beautiful handcrafted rowing fishing boats are used daily by village fishermen to catch fish, they are also used for a traditional annual boat race in the Bay.
Along Sir Herbert Miles Road is the pretty and colourful development of Little Genoa (can you see what they did there?).
All the while the huge Rock is there above you!
After Catalan Bay is Black Strap Cove, a small stretch of undeveloped land between Catalan Bay and Sandy Bay. As with much of the Gibraltar coastline you can see now abandoned military installations amongst the rocky cliff side. It is a haven for wild flowers in spring and I’ve seen Barbary Partridges here at times too. A lovely spot.
Next stop Sandy Bay…
When we first arrived in Gibraltar 11 years ago, there was a tiny pebble beach here at Sandy Bay. The winter before we arrived brought tremendous storms and sea swells and washed the beach away (as well as running a huge tanker aground by Europa Point and causing damage elsewhere in Gibraltar). Maybe 5 years ago (my memory may be wrong here) the Government completed the project to build a couple of groynes to protect the beach and shipped in tones of sand to replace what had been lost in the storms.
Sandy Bay is now a large beautifully sandy stretch of beach and thanks to the rocky arms stretching out to hug the beach, the water here can be calm where the conditions are choppy elsewhere for swimming. The perfect spot to spend a day with the family! It’s now our beach of choice.
The housing development of Both Worlds which forms a barrier between the main road and the beach was built just over 50 years ago and opened just around the time the border between Gibraltar and Spain was closed by General Franco. Overnight Gibraltarians couldn’t cross over for holidays and trips into Spain, and Both Worlds became a holiday destination for many local people.
When it opened there were shops here, food delivery services (much like what many of us rely on these days) and even a mini buggy taxi service which would give residents a lift along the length of the resort. I happened upon a fabulous newspaper supplement advertising the new Both Worlds development in a 50 year old Gibraltar Chronicle at the National Archives a while ago. It made for fascinating reading!
It is now a residential block, half of which is for over 50s and the rest is sold on the open market. Some of the apartments can be rented as holiday lets.
A short way south of Sandy Bay is Dudley Ward Tunnel. This is the tunnel which isn’t supposed to be used by pedestrians but during lockdown became a regular pedestrian route around the Rock because of the greatly reduced traffic on the roads.
Goodbye sunshine… into the cool darkness. I had my fluorescent gear on so I could be seen clearly walking along the side of the road (fortunately just two cars passed me by). I didn’t hang about for long, it felt very naughty to be in there. I don’t mind telling you that was a bit relieved when I popped out into daylight at the other end!
The coastline here is different to the other end of the tunnel, the cliffs are steeper and go right down to the sea below.
You get a clear view of the clay pigeon shooting range which was built for the Island Games last year.
This section of the Rock is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the photo below you get a true sense of the magesty of the cliffs looking northwards. Down at just above sea-level is the Gorham’s Cave complex which is full of important archaeological research.
It truly is a beautiful spot.
When I could see the lighthouse at Europa Point, I felt like I was on the final leg of my journey. Not long now before I could have a cold drink and a sit down!
Out at sea, as I was walking, I spotted a bit of argy-bargy between a Guardia Civil boat and a Royal Navy rhib. That’s a common sight round these parts as there is an ongoing dispute about who the British Gibraltar Territorial Waters actually belong to. Sometimes skirmishes make the British news, one day I saw a flare being fired by the British after a Spanish vessel continued on a collision course towards a submarine. That was quite a sight I can tell you!
Onwards in the full heat of the sun heading south…
… there she is – Trinity Lighthouse. Doesn’t she look magestic?
The lay-by which offers this stunning view also has a touching memorial for a young soldier.
As you round the bend in the road, in front of you is the dramatic sight of the Mosque.
Between the mosque and the lighthouse, Europa Point is a rather iconic part of the Rock. It’s also home to a fabulous play park for young children, a heritage information centre, Gibraltar University, the Shrine of Our Lady of Europe and the recently built Europa Point stadium which is home to Gibraltar Rugby & Gibraltar Cricket and was used to house the Nightingale facility to cope with Covid-19 patients (although, so far, thankfully, it hasn’t needed to be used).
The road swings round to the north again after Europa Point offering great views of the Rock.
Looking westwards out to see you see both the Moroccan coast (on the left of the photo below) and the Spanish coast (on the right) the strip of water between them is the famous Strait of Gibraltar and the gateway to the Mediterranean.
Europa Road here gets quite narrow as it was once crossed by an archway and policed by an army sentry.
It was a defence point to stop invaders approaching from the south getting access to the town.
And finally I had reached my destination… almost home, I was back in South District!
Two hours on from when I’d set off, I had completed my circuit of the Rock. I am so pleased I managed to tick this walk off on my to-do list in Gibraltar. Despite living there for over a decade, there are still some things I didn’t manage to achieve, like visiting the Lower St Michaels Cave and exploring the Jungle and the Northern Defences. I hope one day I will be able to do those things.
In the meantime, when I’m in my new home in the UK I have some truly wonderful memories of our time in Gib, and feel truly blessed that we had our time there, and that the Little Postcards could enjoy some of their childhood there too.
Thank you Gibraltar and happy National Day 2020! 🇬🇮
Hello again! Blimey it feels like more than a week ago that I woke up to the sunrise in the first photo. It’s been a week of getting ready for school starting – that can be an expensive business!! Here’s this week’s Sunday Postcard…
One last Gibraltar sunrise
So this was one week ago, our last wake-up in Gibraltar for a while. In case you missed last week’s postcard, I headed back to Gib with Eldest so he could collect his GCSE results in person and say goodbye to his teachers. It was a lovely few days – if a little odd after leaving so recently, however I’m really glad we made the trip. Last Sunday though, it was time to head home.
A long road home: plane, trains, trams & automobiles!
Unfortunately for us, we missed out on a flight back to Manchester, we delayed booking due to Covid and the fact I was preoccupied with moving, so when we did try to book, the flight we needed was sold out grrr! Our only option was to fly to Heathrow and travel up from there.
We got a fabulous view of London as we came in to land, we saw Buckingham Palace, Wembley and all sorts of easily recognisable places which was a treat. Then came the rest of the journey.
We booked a car to take us from Heathrow to Watford Junction station to avoid having to take the tube into central London (we were trying to limit the amount of people we would come into contact with). Then had two (thankfully) very quiet trains from Watford to Milton Keynes and then from Milton Keynes up to Manchester. Then caught a couple of trams to the rendezvous point where we managed to get a lift home! Phew, that was a trek. But at least I had plenty of time for crochet on the move!
When I arrived home this was waiting for me, a cute crochet pin badge and some stitch markers from Mrs G Makes. She has some lovely stuff on her Etsy shop.
Sunset on a Wednesday
Last Wednesday we had a lovely evening trip to the park. Our local park gets rather busy on a dry day and, as we don’t really want to mix with too many people at the moment, we have been giving it a wide berth. We have been popping back there in the evenings though, which is great as we often have the place to ourselves! This was the lovely sunset which heralded our walk home.
A blanket for Bluebell
Our new set of wheels, Bluebell was so lovely and clean when I picked her up from the garage, it seemed such a shame to dirty her, so I grabbed my crochet hook and made her a blanket to protect the back seat.
I don’t know what our neighbours thought when they spotted me popping out to the car several times every evening to see if it would fit properly! Anyway, I’m pleased with the result, let’s hope it works and keeps Bluebell spick and span for now!
Dishcloths for Yarndale
Yarndale may not be happening for real this year anymore, but this year’s charity appeal is still going. This year festival organisers are asking knitters and crocheters to make dishcloths to raise money for Martin House Children’s Hospice. Earlier this year I spoke to Carole Rennison from Yarndale about this for Making Stitches Podcast, so I thought it was about time I got round to making my contribution.
A magical treasure trail
Yesterday we buzzed into Manchester City Centre to have a go at a magical treasure trail. We had to follow clues to get us from place to place, solving anagrams and codes as we went and looking out for fabulous fantastical beasts along the way.
‘Manchester – the Wizard’s Spell Book’ was loads of fun and took us to parts of the city I have never visited before (or at least I haven’t visited since major building work has taken place there). The Little Postcards loved it and so did I!
You can find the trail by visiting the Treasure Trails website and pay to download the instructions and treasure map or they will send one out to you in the post. It made for a good few hours of entertainment and was great fun. We can highly recommend it.
It’s amazing how many mystical creatures you can spot in the city. You often just need to look up!
And that brings this week’s Sunday Postcard to an end. If you have a bank holiday weekend this weekend, I hope you are enjoying it.
Hello there! My word it’s been a busy week this week as you will see. I hope it’s been a good one for you. Here’s this week’s Sunday Postcard…
Last Sunday we headed out to our local field to play frisbee. It seemed like a great idea at the time – we had a brief frisbee session the day before and the Little Postcards loved it – so we headed back for a longer session on Sunday. It was fun, I’ll give you that, but blimey I didn’t half ache afterwards!! My neck, shoulders, arms, back legs…. I’m showing my age!
After a bright Monday morning, the afternoon was a rather damp affair in our part of the world. Despite that, I thought the rain drops on this spiders web looked rather pretty.
Leaving on a jet plane
Eldest and I had an early start on Wednesday morning…. we were Gibraltar bound for the small matter of picking up GCSE results.
And there she is…
A postcard from Gibraltar
It had to be done… we left the two youngest Little Postcards behind under the care of grandparents, so we simply had to send a postcard back home on Wednesday when we arrived. I’m amazed to be able to tell you that it arrived in Manchester on Saturday just 4 days later!
Sunrise on results day
We were up early on Thursday so we could collect Eldest’s GCSE results (the reason for our visit). As we were staying on the East side of the Rock this time we were able to witness sunrise over the Mediterranean Sea. It was a lovely moment as we anticipated what might be coming that day.
I’m thrilled to be able to tell you the results were as sunny as the skies above us. I have been having a proud Mum moment ever since.
Friday evening meant meeting up with some old friends who I only said goodbye to last month! It was great to see them, tell them all our news and hear theirs.
Making waves on the beach
Our trip back to Gibraltar hasn’t exactly been a holiday, there have been things which needed to be sorted following our move back to the UK. A few admin jobs which had slipped through the net before we left and such like. Yesterday though, in the afternoon, I found myself alone and my to-do list was complete so I took my crochet hook, yarn & deckchair down to the beach at Sandy Bay.
I had a few blissful hours crocheting, watching the world go by and also had a solo dip in the sea. I can’t remember if I have ever been to the beach alone before. I normally always have young people with me. I can highly recommend it! It may only have been a few hours but it felt like a holiday after months of planning, packing, unpacking and everything else that moving countries with a family entails. I feel very lucky to have had this time away.
And that brings this week’s postcard to an end. We are now back in Manchester after a very long day of travel – more on that next week!
You may have spotted that this isn’t a Sunday Sevens post. I decided that after 230 weeks of Sunday Sevens, it was time for a change. The Sunday Sevens phenomenon was first created by sewing blogger Natalie, at Threads and Bobbins. Her idea was for bloggers to share seven photos from the previous seven days in a series of posts which were markedly different from their usual crafty or lifestyle posts.
Lately, because of the move back to the UK, I have had weeks without Sunday Sevens, Sunday Sevens with far more than seven photos and some with far fewer. Bearing in mind I have just moved countries with my family away from the Gibraltar named in my blog title, I thought that perhaps I should focus more on the ‘Postcard’ part instead.
So this will be my new weekly (when I can/when I remember) post. I can’t guarantee how long or picturesque they will be going forward, but I will try to share a bit of beauty each week.
So here is my first Sunday Postcard offering:
A postcard from Gibraltar
I have to admit it feels very strange writing blog posts from England without the feeling that we will soon be getting back on a plane and heading home to Gib. I’m sure in coming months, especially when the weather takes a turn for the worst, I will really miss Gibraltar, the mild (and sometimes very wet) winters, the fact I spent more time each year in flip flops than in boots, our beautiful views and of course our lovely friends. But, at the moment I’m really enjoying our new life here in Manchester. (The above photo is of a Gibraltar postcard I came across when I was packing up to move).
One of the overriding questions I’ve been asked since our move from Gibraltar is ‘Are you missing the sunshine?’ The answer is ‘no, not really’. We certainly don’t have blue skies everyday up here in the north west of England, but I’m really enjoying the wide open spaces, the greenery and having special people I’ve been far away from for almost 2 decades living round the corner.
Hob-nobbing with the stars
Earlier this week, before the new tighter Covid restrictions came into force, we had a visit from some very good friends. We took them to Media City to show them the Blue Peter Garden and where many of their favorite TV shows are filmed.
Although many people were wearing masks (including us), and there was a slightly subdued atmosphere there, you couldn’t get away from the fact it’s a rather exciting place. We even spotted a few familiar faces from the world of showbiz as we had our lunch out in the open air.
Can you spot those green houses and jazzy garden sheds in the photo above? Those could be booked out for lunch! You could have your own bubble in a glass bubble! What a fab idea.
Below is the closest I can get to a photo of open water for you these days… it’s the Manchester Ship Canal!!
A woodland walk
On Thursday we had a really pleasant walk back to a favorite place of mine, Marbury Country Park in Cheshire. There’s a gorgeous woodland walk via Marbury Mere and the nearby canal as well as wide open spaces for picnics. Not to mention lots of gorgeous greenery.
An old friend
A long time ago, long before our move out to Gibraltar, I was given this rose called Wee Cracker. It lived in a pot and followed us on various house moves in the north of England until we headed off to Gib. Since then it has lived in my parents’ back garden where my Mum has lovingly nurtured it until the day I could have it back. It was waiting in the back garden of our rental home when we arrived three weeks ago, and here it is looking lovely – the first bud opened yesterday.
That’s all for this week, I’ll leave you with this collection of pictures from last month – a very busy one for us! Thanks for stopping by 🙂