Thursday, April 24, 2008

Photos - 23 April, evening

As yesterday's photos were daytime ones that I'd taken over the past couple of weeks, I thought it would be nice to take a few evening photos.

Firstly someone has had the amazingly intelligent idea of planting a bed of freesia. What a divine scent. And such an elegant and colourful flower too. Plus a couple of other flower shots.

The marina.

The new housing development, La Isla, and their private moorings.

Sunset looking towards the Bay of Algeciras.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Photo round-up

The creative muse is on holiday. Clarity, who is normally in residence, disappeared when Horrid Head Cold arrived.

So rather than writing some muzzy thoughts - here are some pictures of Gib.

In no particular order..............

Mesembryanthemums providing spring time colour in Gibraltar

Royal gun salute

This was for the birthday of Queen Elizabeth II on 21 April. The Royal Gibraltar Regiment was inspected by Peter Caruana.

I was a little disappointed. There were an awful lot of suits around and a shortage of handsome men in uniforms. By which I mean there were no dark blue ones.

Speaking of the Royal Navy - HMS Chatham stopped over in Gib to refuel. Chatham is a type 22 batch 3 frigate, built on the Tyne by Swan Hunter and launched in 1988. She is en route to the Gulf where she will be helping to protect Iraqi oil platforms and territorial waters in support of the United Nations Security Council Regulations and the Government of Iraq. Chatham will also be helping maintain maritime security in the area.

While they were in Gib, the ship's football team lost against a Combined Services team (2-0), and 42 of the crew ran from the dockyard to the top of the Rock. The fastest runner achieved a new record time for the ship of 26 minutes and 6 seconds. Good grief. Well done Petty Officer Dan Bartlett and everyone else taking part in the Rock Run. How amazingly fit. I feel ill thinking about it.

HMS Chatham

Finally to finish off, some views from a trip to Gib waterworks..

A view from the Moorish Castle at the top of town, just at the entrance to the Upper Rock nature reserve

A now unused valve chamber with an amazing interior

And on the other side of the Rock, views from the old water catchment area down towards Catalan Bay. Virtually all the corrugated sheeting has been removed and the 34 acres previously used for catchment is grassland again. Gib's water now comes from a desalination plant.

Sources: Royal Navy website for info about HMS Chatham

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


I arrived back at the finca feeling pretty drained. I don't know why.

The previous trip we had gone back together en famille. There is something to be said for being driven door-to-door in a Land Rover Santana in less than three hours compared with a total trip of four and a half hours - made up of half an hour's fast walk to La Linea and two bus journeys.

However occasionally being a woman of principle, the bus service is there, it is cheap, in fact it is cheaper than one person driving up and down. So on the bus I went. Although it doesn't help when you have a sore throat as you have around four hours on buses to think of very little apart from how much your sore throat hurts - and that you can't drink too much because you are stuck on a bus without a toilet.

When we had left the finca last time, Jimena was proudly sitting on a grand total of 13 eggs. How the two chickens had managed to lay 13 eggs all in a pile without breaking any is beyond me. How she manages to sit on more than three large eggs is beyond me too, as she is a pretty small chicken. Some of the 13 were the little tiny ones that have no yolk, but we just left her sitting there contentedly.

We have tried to breed our own chickens before. I say breed, we got a cockerel and he chased the chickens around a bit and everytime one became broody she sat in the semi-det nestbox made by Partner, and the next time an egg was laid she went next-door and sat on that one instead. So we had a few failed attempts and Partner got rid of the abandoned eggs - complete with developing embryos.

Chickens come and go and so do nestboxes. He chucked the nestbox. It proved a good spot for mice to nest under. This was popular with the chickens as Jimena took great delight in catching baby mice so she was probably disappointed when Partner removed her own personal mouse-trap.

Some of the chickens have died since we got our first lot more than four years ago. But Jimena and Negrita are survivors of the very first intake. They had a long period without laying last year, so we figured Jimena would stop going broody too. The cockerel of course, is our second one, and came from Juan the Gitano (the one of the athletic sexual prowess - Juan, that is, although maybe the cockerel takes after him).

So I opened the door to the chicken run somewhat timorously, wondering whether I would see 13 abandoned eggs, or a few dead baby chickens who hadn't survived. Nothing. Just Jimena sitting on the eggs still. I was a bit disappointed, but not surprised.

And then in slow motion I watched as she fluffed her wings a bit and a little head peered out, and cheeped at me. And then another one...and another..until there were five little tiny chickens peering at me and cheeping.

I dropped the fresh food on the floor for them. It was some greens and veg trimmings that we put in to supplement their corn diet. I was so surprised I also dropped the two veggie burgers that I had put in there for my tea. In case this is of any use to anyone, I can vouch first hand that chickens love veggie burgers. The chickens definitely ate better than me that night.

Mama Jimena clucked imperiously over to look at the scran. She pecked at it with disdain and then chucked it aside and the little brood followed her across the shed. And when she thought they had adventured enough, she fluffed up her wings again and they all ran underneath to nestle down and stay warm.

Some years ago when I was reading up about chickens and the various ways of breeding and hatching chicks out, one sage author said 1) never stop your broody chickens going broody and 2) if you are lucky she will go away on her own for a while and a few weeks later return with her little brood.

It is quite salutary to think that for all our previous interference and enthusiasm to make life as easy as possible for our chickens to breed, the only successful occasion has been when we have cleared off out of the way. The arrogance of humans and our desire to interfere with the simplicity of nature takes some beating.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Tales from the building sites....

Partner is not naturally sympathetic. So it is ironic that other men often pour out their sob stories to him.

When we first met, he was working on a dockyard with lots of other men in their twenties. Inevitably the conversation would get round to moans about their girlfriends. Usually the same one. They weren't getting enough sex from their girlfriends. I never did find out what "enough" sex was. Presumably more than they were having at the time. Partner's careful and considered advice was invariably "Get rid of 'em."

I tended to agree with him. After all, what is the point of having a girl/boyfriend and not having much/any sex? Although, as the years have moved on, I have realised that there are often valid reasons. Stress is often the big culprit, either due to personal and domestic issues, or work-related problems. Or maybe people are suffering from physical ill-health. So I'm a bit more thoughtful these days.

Story 1

Last week one of the joiners was telling everyone about his girlfriend. She's Dutch, and he had met her when he was working in Amsterdam. She'd made a surprise trip down to Gibraltar and had been staying with him for about ten days. In all this time the joiner had only had sex twice. The other men on the site looked at him dubiously.

He was taking her back to the airport the following morning. Although the girlfriend had managed to get the bus from the airport down to his flat, it seemed she couldn't work out how to get back on her own. So the joiner was having to take most of the day off work and lose money to take her back to the airport. That's 20 euros in motorway tolls, whatever the petrol cost was, and lost wages of around £60. The bus fare is less than ten euros from where he lives.

Oh and when he goes to stay with her, he has to book into a hotel, because "she likes her own space."

He turned up at work after he had taken the girlfriend to the airport. He had a big smile on his face. "I got sex twice last night."

Partner and the other guy just looked at each other. "Get rid of her," said Partner. "She's milking you dry," said the other guy.

Story 2

On the firm before, another joiner seemed to be having problems with his girlfriend. (What is it with joiners??) Well, not he seemed to be having problems. He was paying half of her mortgage to live with her, and he hadn't had sex for a year with this "girlfriend."

Partner was helpful as ever. "Get rid of her." So he did. He moved out, and rented a small house on a finca for the same price as he was paying for sharing a flat with the so-called girlfriend.

Do men on construction sites only have one topic of conversation?