Eventually we got our room keys and bumbled on up to unpack and settle in; the whole place was a bit like #DavidBowie’s Labyrinth with corridors and staircases leading everywhere. It took me a few attempts to find my way from reception to our room and back. But what was lovely was that the retro style in the foyer wasn’t just reserved for downstairs, it was all over the hotel; on occasions when I got lost up the wrong corridor I would find myself looking at an exquisite painting on a wall depicting a view of the Rock in days gone by. The whole building had really been nurtured.
(View from my hotel window)
Looking out from my room window was to look directly at the Cathedral with the Rock to my left and the new Commonwealth Park to my right (although naturally I couldn’t see the grass as this was lower down – plus I didn’t even know that park existed yet). The room itself was quite nice too with easily accessible wardrobes and its own mini en-suite; it was simple but (for me) perfect! After unpacking my bag and having a shower I did take the opportunity to check out my bed with a few bounces and decided it was perfect too; having said that as an old sailor who has slept on everything from a suitcase to a railway station I’m not the most discerning and so to me any old mattress would have passed the audition.
(Carol outside the Bristol)
It must have been about 8.30pm by the time the four of us had rested, scrubbed up and met in the foyer ready to go foraging for food; it had been a long old hike for us all when considering the driving as well as the flight – our road trip alone had been four hours up to Birmingham from Wales and so I guess we were all ready for some sit down and pampering. As we came out of the Bristol and up onto Main Street I naturally went right and everyone just followed; I just thought The Angry Friar isn’t far and so we could sit outside and soak up a bit of atmosphere while some nice person went off and brought us four platefuls of whatever.
As we walked past the bookshop I glanced in the window at the many books on display telling the History of Gibraltar, the Battle of Trafalgar and the contribution of (both) the Royal Navy (and the apes) to the safety of the Rock. What also caught my eye were the myriad of journals produced by local people depicting their ‘love of their homeland’ either through words, paintings or prose and I found these particularly touching – especially seeing so many offerings from such a small community. At the time I knew I would soon be writing my own memoirs of Gibraltar and so as well as the books in the window being very touching, they were also very inspiring to me; I wondered if one day someone else would walk past that bookshop window and see a copy of my RockHeart?
(Carol with Sheila and Joe ordering their meal)
At some point we crossed Convent Place and found a free table outside the Angry Friar where I took a few photos of my three companions. Sitting at the table I looked up at the accommodation above the pub and reflected back to 1976 when I had applied to rent it for my family but it failed the Navy inspection. Glancing around at some of the other tables outside the pub took me back even earlier to 1974 when I was on my way out to the Far East aboard HMS Scylla; one memorable evening saw one well-oiled matelot get up onto one of the tables and entertain the gathered with a ‘Zulu Warrior’ (striptease).
(Sheila and Joe)
“Alan the waiter is waiting for your order” Carols voice brought me back to the present day, “We’ve all ordered and now we’re waiting for you”. “Oh sorry love, I was miles away, yes please fish and chips” I replied. It was the first meal of our stay and (even though I would have been happy to sit outside the Friar and eat raw squid) my fish and chips were really lovely. As a (boring) non-drinker, non-smoker I do love nice meals out (and good cups of tea) and so it was a great start to the week. The week! Even just saying ‘the week’ brought an immediate touch of reality to the fact that I would only be in Gibraltar for one week and so had to make the most of every day. Just acknowledging that then made my stomach sink. And just writing that did the same thing because it reminds me these memoirs are very close to coming to their end.
(View from the Angry Friar)
For now though as the day ended tomorrow, day one, was on my mind. It was the MedStepsChallenge.
Absolutely beautiful blog tonight and the photos are beautiful too.At least that way we can put a face to a name.Well done keep it up and next achievement your book 😉
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Alan Dixon said:
Thankyou Sandra. I agree it’s always nice to put a face to a name and I have lots more piks to come yet. Sheila and Joe have been friends since about 1990 and are very dear. Sadly since Sunday Sheila has been very ill in hospital which has been terribly worrying to us all and so Were planning to visit them when I feel better and can take some leave myself (probably early October) they are 240 miles away in Nottingham.
Absolutely yes about the book, I will publish although probably won’t edit anything because these writings have always been organic and just written without plan and I like that. I still have quite a lot to write yet but will probably be quite sad when it is finally finished.x