Although situated in the Mediterranean Gibraltar can have very cloudy, rainy days yet it wouldn’t matter to me if it snowed I would still be out and about. There’s a particular cloud they call levanter that (if my memory serves me right) I think is peculiar only to Gibraltar and looks a bit like a sort of halo that sits around the top of the Rock blocking out the sunshine for an hour or two before dispersing.


My day off had started a bit overcast but I was confident it would pick up as it went along; sure enough the sun had eased its way through at some point as I had been pondering life and watching people from my bench seat. With the sunshine warming my face I got up and continued my stroll, heading up Main Street through Convent Place and past the Angry Friar, a place I had heard my shipmates declare they often began their rat-arsed nights out.


There’s a side door to the Angry Friar on Main Street (if that makes sense) which when you go through leads up to a flat/apartment above the pub. As I passed the door I looked at it for some reason but could not have known that in three years time I would walk through it to look at the flat upstairs and offer to rent it pending a successful inspection by the Royal Navy. As it turned out the flat didn’t pass the inspection so I wasn’t allowed to rent it; I remember feeling gutted that (because it had failed) I couldn’t get a Family Passage (FamPass) and had to continue looking for a private letting pending a married quarter. But today, in 1974, I could not have known that. Neither could I have known that I would again stand outside that door in 2016 to watch the Guard Ceremony.


Further on up Main Street I passed John Mackintosh Hall and came to Inces Hall where one day in the future I would watch a live concert by an Irish trio called the Batchelors. As a musician myself I love live music and going to gigs regardless of who is performing although I do have favourites; I’ve been a John Lennon fan all of my life and love the idea that he married Yoko Ono in Gibraltar. I also love that my daughter was born in Gibraltar but as I continued my walkabout on past Trafalgar Cemetery I could never have known that then.


Just past the top of Main Street I came to quite an impressive set of steps which I would discover was the entrance to one of the most beautiful and well presented botanical gardens in the world, and certainly the most gorgeous, peaceful place I had ever seen or been to. As a Geordie Boy from the back streets of Newcastle the nearest I had ever been to anything green was my dads leeks in the allotment and so what I felt when I walked into this garden could never be over-estimated. Id found somewhere that had a profound effect on me, a place that would become very special in my life and in my heart. I’d found paradise. I’d found Alameda.