3:38 (2016) Thank you Jury’s of Main Street, Gibraltar.

Wandering around the Small Boat Marina area I pinged quite a few very nice looking eateries on (what turned out to be) Queensway Quay which is a really beautiful development by anyone’s standards. It’s so attractive that in order to illustrate that to readers I shamelessly pinched the photo below from the Twitter page of one of my virtual friends (MN); although my favourite areas of the Rock are very much up in the Old Town, around any of the ramparts or up the Mediterranean Steps I’m not adversed to enjoying some of the more modern developments when they ‘fit’. When I looked along at some of those lovely eateries along Queensway Quay which included the Waterfront and the Rendezvous I had no doubt they fitted in beautifully.

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(Queensway Quay, Gibraltar)

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Back at the Bristol I told my companions all about the very lovely looking restaurants I’d discovered down by the Quay and though they were really excited at the prospect of eating at one of them they didn’t want to go there today, preferring to enjoy the anticipation of looking forward to getting dressed up and going there tomorrow. Today, they decided, they’d like to eat at Jury’s on Main Street because every time they’d walked past the place they’d found the smell of gorgeous food wafting from it captivating. Heartily I happily agreed with everything they said, got scrubbed up and was ready to rumble. 

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(Street cleaners and bin men prepare for another day tomorrow)

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I’ve always loved evening walks up Main Street although on this occasion it was quite a short one from the Bristol to Jury’s. Having said that we all naturally enjoyed window shopping as we walked and (unusually for me) I totally loved the shoe shop opposite the back of the cathedral; they had a display of blue leather shoes that I fell in love with and promised myself I would buy myself a pair the following day. With all of the walking I’d done up and down the Rock my feet were really feeling the pace and I still had no intention of stopping because there was so much more I still wanted to see.

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(My foot had walked miles but was still ready to walk miles more).

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Sitting outside Jury’s, we took a few photos and had a few drinks as we waited for dinner to arrive. The service was flawlessly delivered by very funny waiters (which I loved); I’m not sure but a think one of them was Irish. Throughout the evening our glasses were never left empty and the food, when it arrived, was truly divine. Slouching back in my seat after stuffing myself stupid I watched the bin men and street cleaners busily getting everywhere ready again for the following day as Carol, Sheila and Joe chatted about how relaxed and chilled out they all felt. 

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Our walk back to the Bristol was even slower than our walk to the Bristol on account of us all feeling as though we weighed an extra stone; on top of that we felt so relaxed and chilled out we were almost horizontal. When we finally got back to our room Carol decided she wanted to look at the photos from the evening out and it was then she realised she had left her camera at Jury’s. I immediately shot out of the room, ran downstairs, out the door and up the street to Jury’s only to find it closed. The following day I went straight back to Jury’s to find the staff had found our camera and put it safely away for us until we were able to collect it. We didn’t just have wonderful and attentive service from very funny waiters, and a gorgeous meal from a talented chef; we were also very much looked after by a very honest team. To have lost our photos would have been devastating. Thank you Jury’s X 

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3:37 (2016) I imagined the Dolphins laughing at me but didn’t mind.

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So there I was on the quayside (no doubt being laughed at by those absent dolphins that had scarpered when they saw me coming) looking over at what I could only guess was the new small boats Marina. On first impressions it looked like a watery version of Morrisons car park with literally hundreds of berths and so I decided to take a closer look. As someone who can never remember where I parked my car (in Morrisons) I wondered how on earth anyone found their boat among so many but figured there must be some system that worked.

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As an old sailor, having spent ten years in the Navy, I have no desire to own a boat of my own but looking around at so many ‘pride-and-joys’ I could see why many people did. I wondered if they ever went out boating around the Rock or if it was one of those hobbies where they just sat in it on a Sunday talking (about boating) to someone berthed next to them who was also sitting in theirs (listening to them talking about boating). 

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I have a Rover Cabriolet Convertible and often go to classic car rallies, partly to show off my own beast but also to admire other Rovers (and Triumph Spitfire 1500s as I owned one of those in the past too once). Whenever I’m at those gatherings I often observe owners talking the talk of cruising around while going out of their way to keep the mileage down on their beloved car; by contrast during the last year I drove 15000 miles all across Wales most of it with roof down. My guess is that if I lived in Gibraltar and I did have a desire to own one of those small boats you would probably see me (and my dog Mowgli) out there on the ocean wave on a daily basis.

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Walking back towards the entrance of the Marina I spied a beautiful ocean going boat called Charisma berthed alongside with a few people on deck enjoying drinks in the warm Gibraltarian sunshine. I loved that. At anytime, really, they could cast off and do Malta, Spain, Morocco or who knows where but no; here they were chilling out, having cool drinks together having chosen the gorgeous backdrop of Gibraltar to complete their picture. What’s not to like? I liked it, in fact I loved it. But I had come to the conclusion many years ago that I could love something without coveting it. As I left the Marina and looked up at the Rock I thought ‘I love you’.

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3:36 (2016) Meeting local people in Gibraltar was the warmest of experiences.

After an amazing lunch we all went back on the beach for a dip and another hour or so lazing around in the sunshine; there couldn’t have been half a dozen other people around and so we virtually had the beach to ourselves. I walked the length of the beach a couple of times which is my way of sun tanning because I hate lying down on sun beds. At some point someone said they wanted to go back to the Bristol for a siesta and the other two agreed which was fine by me because I knew I’d just go walkabout for a few hours.

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(With Kev on Main Street)

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Back at the Bristol with my three travelling companions tucked up in bed until early evening I took off on walkabout with no particular plan in mind. Throughout the week I’d been uploading photos onto my Twitter account and as a result a few locals had begun taking an interest. As I walked down Main Street I heard a voice shout “Alan!” which naturally I found quite bizarre. It turned out to be a really nice local man called Kev who had been following my walkabouts on Twitter and who came over to introduce himself. We chatted for a while and talked about it being my first visit to Gibraltar in over forty years and really how thrilled I was to be back on the Rock. Although our meeting was brief we hit it off from the start and promised to meet up for drinks and a proper chat the next time I was in town (which is looking like May/June 2017). After taking a couple of selfies we shook hands, parted company and both headed off to wherever we were going, but we’re still in touch today nearly six months later.

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Later that afternoon I was to have two similar chats (as the one I had with Kev) with two other local people who had also seen some of my photos on Twitter and although I didn’t take selfies with them (because it just didn’t seem right) I loved the idea that they were just as nosy/curious as me because I’d have done exactly the same thing. My personal mantra has always been ‘The world is my backyard’ but I find it fabulous that because of social networks that mantra can be everyone’s.

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As I wandered past the Post Office on Main Street a First Day Cover in the window (with a set of John Lennon stamps on) caught my eye so I went inside. John Lennon was very much my childhood hero and there have been times when I’ve shared some of that ‘rebel’ in him. I always loved the idea that he married Yoko Ono in Gibraltar and that he reflected that in his song ‘The Ballad of John and Yoko’; a song I’ve loved singing at many a gig gone by. Along with my daughter having being born on the Rock they are just another couple of connections I’m very fond of.

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One of my more sober interests, however, is stamps and First Day Covers although these days I’m only really interested in subjects that interest me. Naturally the John Lennon cover interested me and so I bought it but while browsing inside the shop I came across stamps with my old ship HMS Scylla featured on them and began chatting to the girl in the Post Office. She was very helpful and said that although she was unable to sell me the ‘shop set’ she would be happy to bring me a set from their main office by the following day; she duly did and I duly returned and bought them.

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But speaking of HMS Scylla I ended up (at some point) in a wonderful shop (for ex-sailors) at the top of Main Street opposite John Mackintosh Hall where I spent quite a considerable time chatting to the proprietor and looking at his vast collection of photos of British warships. Eventually I bought a classic photo from him of Scylla in Gibraltar which is now among my treasures at home.

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(Looking for Dolphins)

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Just as I got back to the Bristol a Twitter message came in to me from another of my Gibraltarian Twitter friends to say ‘Alan there are dolphins off the Marina’ and so I shot off down there to see them. Unfortunately by the time I got there they had gone but the sentiment remained in that yet another local was taking an interest in my return to (and wandering a around) the Rock and alerting me to things they feel I would be interested in. 

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As I near the closing posts of these memoirs of Gibraltar I like to think it will be nice to meet up with a few folks for a cup of tea when I get back. We’ll see. 🙂 

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3:35 (2016) Posh burger and fat chips? Yep, I can do posh burger and fat chips.

Leaving the beach I deliberately went via the big rock and after climbing all over it I gave help to a young mum getting her child-in-buggy up the steps to Caleta where she was staying; apart from that being my good deed of the day it also addressed my nosiness having never been that close to said hotel before. It must be said that the views from the terrace were lovely but I didn’t dwell past a few seconds because I didn’t want the mum to feel uncomfortable. Would I stay at Caleta Palace? Of course. In fact I’d stay anywhere on the Rock including the monkey den if it meant me getting a week or two here. Accommodation (to me) is where I sleep, it’s not really where I spend the holiday and so I don’t mind where I end up. Having said that (and just diversifying for a second) our 2017 trip is currently being planned and thought is being given to things like wheelchair access as one of our group now needs that.
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(Caleta steps)

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(Catalan Selfie)

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After coming back down the Caleta steps I found myself going back up another set of steps to get to the terrace housing all of the eateries which I think numbered four or five. I don’t much remember the names of the places but the first one I came across looked a bit ‘Junky food’ and so didn’t stop to investigate. That’s that green one behind me in my Catalan-Selfie. Several more eateries and ice cream parlours looked really nice and so I decided that the group should come up and just choose which one they wanted to eat at. 

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(Buddha)

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Having made that decision I spotted the steps up between the little houses leading to the top road, duly became distracted and began my ascent. It wasn’t long before I was virtually outside people’s front doors which (not unlike when I slipped into Trafalgar House) felt a bit wrong on too many levels and so I continued going up until I got to the road outside the Main entrance to Caleta. If it hadn’t been that the group wanted lunch now I would have gone walkabout to Sandy Bay but (being the kind and thoughtful person I am) I decided to return the way I had come.

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(Carol and Joe scrutinising menus)

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(Finally agreed to eat in the restaurant with the blue canopy)

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I still don’t know the name of the place we had lunch but it wasn’t until after Carol, Sheila and Joe had scrutinised the menus of all of the eateries before they finally settled on the lovely restaurant with the blue canopy which – (as well as passing their stiff culinary audition) – also had a certain magic about it having statues of Buddha all about the place. Hopefully my photos will help readers identify the place because I whole heartedly recommend it. Bizarrely I did opt for a junky sounding meal but when it came it was beautifully presented and down right gorgeous; I suppose you could say it was a posh burger with fat chips? Yep, I can do a posh burger with fat chips.

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(Posh burger with fat chips although don’t know what that green stuff is)

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3:34 (2016) Catalan. A fishing village with a fascinating history.

Once I’d become used to the (freezing cold) waters of Catalan Bay I lay back with arms out-stretched and legs-akimbo doing a very slow doggie-paddle to keep me afloat on the surface while enjoying the fabulous views of the village, Caleta Palace and the water catchment. It was an experience even more enhanced by a sort of musical silence (on account of my ears being underwater); I felt as though I was on one of those 60s ‘trips’ the Beatles sang about on Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds – “Picture yourself as you float down a river…with tangerine houses and Cat-a-lan pies…”.

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(Caleta Hotel, formerly Caleta Palace. Caleta translates into small cove)

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I’d never been inside Caleta Palace (now sadly known as Caleta Hotel – which I think takes away a little bit of that mystique I was talking about) although looking up at it I did think it could do with a lick of paint; its image was in sharp contrast to the beautifully painted little houses although I’ve no doubt in my mind it’s a fabulous place to stay. I’m not sure but I think that’s where they held the recent Gibraltar Chess Championships which I would certainly have taken part in, had I lived on the Rock at that time.

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(Catalan Village Church tucked away).

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Glancing over at the little church (inside which I had also never been) I cast my mind back to some old photos I’d seen of it which showed villagers leaving after a Sunday service; it didn’t look to me as though it had changed in decades and as with the houses it was lovely to see it looking so beautifully painted and well looked after. Quite poignantly I thought the fishing boat parked outside the church was a lovely reminder that Catalan Bay is a fishing village with a very long and fascinating history of Genoese speakers and though I couldn’t take my little memoir too far down that road (for practical reasons) I can very much recommend interested readers to google for more fascinating information. 

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(Quite an old stock photo I found of Catalan Village Church which I loved)

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For me the little village of Catalan Bay is right up there on my shortlist for when I begin to paint a series of pictures in 2017 (to complement RockHeart) after I finish my writings on Christmas Day.

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(Although this photo of me with my daughter in 1976 has already appeared in my memoir I love it so much I decided to include it in this post too).

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When I eventually left the water (looking a bit like a prune because I’d been in there that long) I hobbled tentatively over the pebbles, found my towel and quickly got dried – I say ‘found’ my towel because it was some time afterwards before I found my glasses. Looking around ‘Base Camp’ everyone looked flat out, horizontal, mouths open catching flies and so I thought (YYEEESS!!!) I’d go up the steps between the houses to the top road and see if anyone was about for a natter but then just as I began sneaking off Carol said “If you’re going walkabout, check out the eateries and their menus and don’t be too long because we want to do lunch soon”. 

(*Note to self: Must develop better sneaky tip-toe walks).

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3:33 (2016) As I stepped into the beautiful jade blue waters of Catalan Bay…

I’ve always loved Catalan Bay with its beautiful colourful little houses and village church in fact when I wrote about it earlier (see 2:21) I also said it was my favourite beach; I think it’s always nicer when a beach is in a cove and small enough for me to walk from end to end, there’s a sort of sheltered homely feel about it.  

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(Sheila, Carol in hat and Joe settling down on the beach).

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But it’s not just the appearance I’ve always loved about Catalan Bay its also it’s mystique; of all the times I’ve been there and walked around the little village or up the steps between the residences to the main road I’ve never yet met a local. It reminds me of a fascinating village in Devon called Clovelly which is made up of the most delightfully unique little houses all built on this hill but because the roads are too thin for vehicles the only way to get about is either by donkeys or shanks’ pony – and I’ve never met a local there either?!

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Stepping out of the taxi at Catalan Bay was fascinating for all of us; me for obvious reasons, Carol out of curiosity (and the fact she loves the beach on a warm day) and Sheila and Joe because this was their first trip to Gibraltar and so had never been to Catalan Bay before. As a group of friends we’d been on many a soirée together including to Crete, India, Gambia and Wales but Gibraltar was a new experience in terms of a holiday and (because it was me who secretly planned the trip) I was very keen that they all enjoyed themselves and had a good time. So far I was getting the impression they were loving the Rock and so was keeping my fingers crossed.

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As Carol and Sheila led the way up a very empty beach deciding where base camp was to be to be Joe and I followed, happy to slob wherever the ladies chose. Eventually they picked a place very near where all of the eateries were so that they wouldn’t have far to walk come lunchtime; to be honest I wouldn’t have minded where they plonked themselves because after having a dip I was was off on walkabout to explore the neighbourhood.

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For a time I lay on the beach with the group soaking up the ambience and admiring the views. Looking outward to sea was a very nautical experience for me, seeing so many ships out there on the horizon; it took me back to 1974 when I left Gibraltar for the very first time. I was serving aboard HMS Scylla and as we headed south for Cape Town we naturally had to cross the equator. Enshrined in Royal Navy tradition is the mandatory ‘Crossing the Line Ceremony’ which ensured all young sailors going over the equator for the first time received their dunking. It was very much a ‘right of passage’ which some say was even recorded on a young matelots official documents. Seeing the merchant ships and tankers out there on the horizon I wondered if they had any similar tradition.

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(My ‘Crossing the Line Ceremony’ 1974)

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At some point I realised I was starting to bake alive (under the warm Gibraltar sun) and decided to go check out that big rock and take the plunge which is when I found out that the beautifully jade blue waters of Catalan Bay were freezing! It made me think of those crazy eccentrics who all run into this water every Boxing Day to wash their Christmas dinners down – mad as a box of frogs or what! Toe by toe it must have taken me fifteen minutes to get into the water but then finally when I did I turned to face the village and saw exactly what I loved about it.

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3:32 (2016) “Alan has Gibraltar changed for the better?”

While I’d been ‘Moon-gazing’ on our way back from Casemates the group had been discussing what we should all do the following day. Now that it was the following day (and I was no longer Moon-gazing but sitting with them all at the breakfast table) they shared that it had been decided (by a 3/4 vote) we would all be going to Catalan Bay today. Fab, I thought, and wondered if that big rock on the beach was still there; for some reason it reminded me of those Famous Five stories written by Enid Blyton – even though the only Enid Blyton book I had ever read was the Rub-a-dub Mystery.
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“Alan the taxi is booked for half-nine so you need to eat something before we go because we don’t know if there are any eateries over there” Carol advised (firmly because she knew I wasn’t fond of breakfast). As I reluctantly bunged a couple of slices of bread into the toaster Carols ‘sonic ear’ picked up me muttering (‘Of course there’ll be eateries there, this is Gibraltar not the back of beyond’) and responded “I heard that!”. 

Somehow I forced the toast down between coffees just as the taxi arrived at reception.

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Driving over to Catalan Bay was quite an eye opener in terms of being able to have a closer look at some of the newer developments; even though I’d already trekked around and seen some of those high-rises I still found the scale of building staggering. As we drove along there were times when both the sea and the Rock were totally out of sight and so with no reference point I had no idea where I was. I think Carol just thought she had been beamed up somehow and dumped into a driver-less yellow cab that was manically manoeuvring itself through New York City. I must admit some of it did look a bit ‘Big Apple’; at one point there were so many high rise apartment blocks they started to look (to me) like an abstract version of the stalagmites in St.Michaels Cave.

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Gibraltarian readers of my memoir have often asked (out of curiosity) what I think of the changes that have taken place in Gibraltar during my forty year absence and I’m always mindful of not offending anyone because for some people they’ve been positive and for others they haven’t. If I thought about it rationally I suppose (whether we like it or not) change is necessary to keep up with the times; I only have to look at my own hometown of Newcastle to see that the North East industry on the Tyne has vanished at the expense of a beautiful quayside oozing culture from every pore. Although my childhood days were more like halcyon days fishing on the Tyne between the bone yard and the docks, my adult days are just as blessed as I walk the quayside market on a Sunday morning – albeit that market being very much smaller these days. 

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To get back to the point of Gibraltar I would say I absolutely love some of the newer outdoor developments like Commonwealth Park and the Marina – and I could never deny the benefit of quality housing for local people even it is up in the air. I’d be a hypocrite if I said I wouldn’t love to have one. But I’m also someone who has an absolute love of (and an emotional attachment to) the Old Town and the beaches and would hope that progress doesn’t interfere too much with those lovely traditional aspects of Gibraltar that keeps people coming back. Perhaps my perspective on development comes from being an artist; when I paint I have to know when to stop and say this work is finished because to continue would ruin the painting. Fortunately Gibraltar is the most beautiful place and I doubt if any future development could ever change that.

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As the taxi pulled over at Catalan Bay I was thrilled to see it looked almost exactly as I’d left it and with even more eateries than I remembered (or could have dreamed of). Apart from the fact that Caleta Palace looked as though it could use a paint job it hadn’t changed one iota and hey – Enid Blyton’s Rock hadn’t gone anywhere either.

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3:31 (2016) As I looked up at the moon I very much connected to Gibraltar, and I so loved that.

By the time we left Casemates to walk back to the Bristol the sun had long since disappeared and night had descended. Places take on a different personality at night compared to how they are in the daytime; some (especially in urban areas of the U.K.) can become quite threatening but I don’t usually feel that; in fact walking back up Main Street in the dark (for me) almost defined the word peace. While the others chatted away about how much they had enjoyed their meal, and how much they were loving Gibraltar (which is exactly what I’d hoped to hear) I’d zoned out and was looking up into the sky at the moon and stars. *


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I’d suspected they would want to pause at the Gibraltar Arms for a drink before heading back to the Bristol and I was right. Sitting outside the Gibraltar Arms I continued to enjoy looking up at the beautiful moon as it lit up the cathedral. It reminded me of a story a friend had told me many years before about when he was in the armed forces. Both he and his wife had made a pledge to look up at the moon for five minutes at exactly the same time every night while they were apart and just doing that kept them connected through many a lonely night. 

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For me the moon has always given me a feeling of safety and warmth wherever I’ve been. Whenever life has been difficult just looking up at the moon has always had a very calming effect on me since being a child. Some years ago (2007-09) I lived in India working as a musician and when I got home in the evenings after a gig I would always take Mowgli out for an evening stroll around the streets of our village. If the moon was out there it was always massive and as Mowgli and I walked I always had the feeling we were being looked after, that we weren’t alone, that we were somehow connected to that far bigger authority of the universe.

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As I looked up at the moon that night I just felt very much connected to Gibraltar, and I so loved that.

3:30 (2016) Dinner in Casemates

It’s always with a great reluctance that I leave the Old Town backstreets but after several hours of doing my thing I eventually decided to slip back down into the present day of Main Street; not least because I knew everyone wanted an earlier evening meal than usual while the sun was still up and if I didn’t appear soon they’d probably send out a search party. Having investigated Casemates and checked out the eateries I was hoping they were all up for a walk to the bottom of Main Street for dinner although I was mindful Joe could be limited with his mobility.
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By the time I got back to the Bristol I was quite hot and sweaty – actually no, I was very hot and sweaty – and so it took me about point-five of a second before I lobbed myself into the pool where I submerged myself until I ran out of air. When I eventually began floating upwards (arms and legs outstretched) the dulcet sound of Carols voice began ringing around in my ears gradually getting louder and louder as I neared the surface. “Alan, Alan, ALAN…. AAALLLLAAANNNNNN!! YOUR LUNCH IS READY!!”. 

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It reminded me of a dream I had when I was a child. Our class in school were all being given their exam results and the teacher had read everyone’s name out (apart from mine) and their score. Finally the teacher read my name out: “Alan….”; but before she had time to tell me my score the voice changed into my Mothers voice as she was shaking me to get up out of bed. “Alan, wake up it’s time for school”. I never did find out my score.

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During lunch we discussed where we should have our evening meal and Casemates got the thumbs up which I was really pleased about because I had a feeling we would all enjoy it. It was agreed we’d go out earlier while the sun was still up and just take our time walking down Main Street. At that Carol, Joe and Sheila went off for their usual daily nap before getting ready to go out. I threw myself back into the pool.

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Later, at sometime around 5:30pm, we all managed to meet up in the reception area after having scrubbed up and powdered the old noses. We then set off for a gentle walk down Main Street which I totally loved because it gave me time to pause and notice things I’d never noticed before. Things like a really attractive building covered in blue and white tiles that formed a herringbone pattern; I remember having a jacket years ago in exactly the same pattern. And things like a shop called Bubbles which I immediately photographed and sent to my granddaughter Katie (who I’ve always called Bubbles) much to her delight.

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When we finally arrived in Casemates the restaurants were all open and vying for custom and the whole place was alive with people out enjoying their meals under the warm evening sunshine. Carol and Sheila took off to inspect several of the eateries they liked the look of paying very close attention to what was on the menus. Tagging along behind was Joe who was happy to eat anywhere he landed; behind him was the official holiday photographer. Me.

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After a couple of circuits of the square both Joe and I were delighted when the ladies (finally) made their decision on where we would all eat. As we parked ourselves at a table owned by ‘The Tunnel’ a split-second went past before a waiter arrived to take our drinks order. With the sun on my face I sat back soaking up the atmosphere as I waited for my coffee but was still able to multi-task and check out every plate of food that the waiters went past with. 

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As far as the food was concerned I have no idea what I ordered other than it was very enjoyable albeit very pub-grubby (but then I love pub grub). For me the ambience, the atmosphere, the whole experience was far more important than whatever it was I was eating – plus the fact that Carol, Sheila and Joe clearly had a lovely evening.

3:29 (2016) In the labyrinth of the Old Town I was in no rush to leave. Why would I be ?

There’s an old saying that goes something like ‘If you want to really know about someone don’t knock on the front door, go round the back’. I learned many years ago not to be anything other than what I am because I have an appalling memory and so ‘bigging myself up’ is a complete waste of time; for what it’s worth I don’t mind (metaphorically speaking) whether people come to my front or back door (I’m just happy they called in the first place) because I’m the same wherever I am (and I love that friends have often said they like that).

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Digressing a little, I know, but there is a very loosely-connected theme with all that and what I’m writing about today. Wherever I go in this world I love trying to find out a little bit about the country I’m in and their culture and if I’m lucky I’ll get to have a natter to some of the local people – if I’m really lucky I’ll get a cup of tea with said local people and even end up on their Christmas card list! 
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Over the years my nosiness has got me into temples, mosques, crocodile pits (and some very dodgy situations) but those stories are for a different memoir; even on this trip I managed to somehow sneak back into Trafalgar House (see 3:17) to enjoy a little moment with my past. Possibly the point I’m trying to make is that if I’m travelling hundreds of miles to go somewhere I want to make the absolute most of it and I think my thoughts on all that were reinforced when I asked a friend once how she had enjoyed India. “I’ve never been to India” she said. “But you’ve been to Goa haven’t you?” I replied. ” Oh” she said, “Is that in India?”. 

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Not long after leaving Casemates I quickly found myself up the back streets and loving it. I had no idea where I was, or where I was going and I couldn’t care less; what I did know is that I felt totally safe and as though I belonged (a feeling very much helped along by my reader ND who dubbed me an Honorary Gibbo, I felt like I’d been knighted).

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As I moved between the streets and alleyways I knew it was a golden opportunity for me to touch base with some of the Gibraltar which isn’t usually on show to tourists (although heaven help me because in reality that’s what I was). I think the things most people head for include seeing the apes and checking out the beaches and although I was very much looking forward to both of those things – first things first  :). 

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Just being there (in that labyrinth) was so cathartic for me in terms of putting to bed some of the most painful feelings from years ago; yes I was sent back to UK before I was emotionally ready to leave the Rock, yes it took me forty years to come back and yes there had been new developments – but the Gibraltar I’d held in my soul was still very much there and I loved that.


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And as I meandered around my utopia soaking up tall quiet buildings, back street businesses, cobbled pavements and painted steps I was in no rush to leave, why would I be?

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