On the weekends when I wasn’t on duty we would often walk around the North Face for a day out at either Eastern Beach or Catalan Bay. Although Catalan Bay was my favourite it was a far longer walk for Tracey (“I only have little legs Daddy”) and Carol; naturally then Eastern Beach was a more regular haunt. It also had (correct me if I’m wrong) a coffee take-away place called the Hacienda Bar (?) which is the building on stilts in the the photos. On my recent visit (May 2016) I didn’t have the time to explore Eastern Beach and so couldn’t verify the name of the beach bar or even if it is still there.
Thinking back I suppose Eastern Beach is the Bondi Beach of Gibraltar because of its size; it’s by far the longest beach, stretching over the border to Spain, and although I’m not fond of big beaches it does have its saving graces. Because it’s so open (I seem to remember) it has a lovely breeze – and because the sea comes well in it wasn’t far to take the children for a paddle.
When I look at the photos on this page I’m literally back there as a young Daddy and (as I’ve grown older) I’ve had times when I’ve really grieved the loss of that role – it’s no exaggeration to say there have been times when I’ve bawled my eyes out. Indeed just recalling and writing that memory has glazed my eyes over but then I never expected that writing this memoir would be easy going all the way.
These were very special times which I very much doubt my writing skills will ever be able to convey properly. I absolutely loved to see my children in their matching frocks and hats, all of which Carol hand-made from materials she would buy at Princess Silks on Main Street. What I also loved was how local people loved the children too and would often ask to ‘look after bambinos’ while Carol and I had a break for a swim or a walk.
Of all of the personal photos readers will see in these memoirs the ones on this page are the most emotionally powerful for me; while (as said) I often grieve the passing of my ‘young Daddy’ days I also cherish these images and spend many hours just looking at them. I have copies on my phone so that I can see them anytime I want to. They were taken forty years ago, long before mobile digital camera phones and so I’m very, very grateful that somehow they’ve gone the distance and survived.
I make absolutely no apologies for today’s blog being heavy on the photos; it was lovely to have my family with me and sometimes I do think a photo says more than a thousand words. When I look at these photos I see Carol happily writing letters home, I see my little girl Tracey with a beaming smile and I see my baby Sammie taking her first steps. Priceless! And I’m sure by now readers will recognise my watch 🙂