Saturday, January 31, 2009

Rosia to Europa - and MV Fedra

So after a quick break, onwards to Europe Point.

Around from Rosia Bay is Camp Bay. In summer it is full of loungers and full swimming pools. In winter it is still busy as children play in the empty pools and everyone enjoys the winter sun.

Looking back down the coast towards Parsons Battery.

And round towards Little Bay...someone else enjoying the winter sun.

Then the walk through the tunnel.....

..... to emerge at Europa Point, just by the mosque.

Looking across to Morocco.

I was interested to see what had happened to the remains of the MV Fedra, which ended up on the rocks in the storm on 10 October 2008. Link here to earlier post.

Part of it was still there.

As I was looking at it, someone who was parked up started talking to me.

"He was emborracha (drunk)," he said. Well, who knows?

The other story I have heard is that the captain was asked to put the ship on the rocks as it was worthless. These sort of stories always go around. The other option is that it was a very bad storm- which it was - and maybe bad luck for that ship that night.

Not my job to judge, someone else can do that. At least there was no loss of life and the rescue services did an excellent job in terrible conditions.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Spring rolls and dipping sauce

In case anyone is flagging accompanying me on my walk to Europa Point, I thought I would put up a quick food post.

I am not a fan of packaged food. At all.

I make all our soups, sauces, and casseroles - the only occasional lapse is when I buy some vegetarian escalopes or steaks from the supermarket. We all run out of inspiration at times, and they are handy to pull out of the freezer.

But I must confess I do like the spring rolls at Marks and Spencer. They are excellent. They are not cheap - £2.99 for six tiny rolls - ie 50p each. In fact I was feeling so mean the other day that I only cooked three and split them in half to serve as a starter.

I was very pleased with myself at this economic measure - especially as it meant I could have the remaining three all to myself for lunch the following day.

Spring rolls need a good dipping sauce. So into the pot went:

extra virgin olive oil
soya sauce - tamari
ginger (fresh)
parsley (from the finca)
some fresh green onion
wine vinegar
chilli sauce - I would have preferred fresh chillies but had used them all.

I made enough dipping sauce for the following day. Until someone decided to mop it up with his bread. Oh well, at least it was enjoyed.

spring rolls - and dipping sauce

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

100 ton gun

I cheered up by wandering in to see the 100 ton gun at Napier of Magdala Battery. I've been past the gun battery a few times as it's en route to Rosia Bay.

Every time I've walked past before, it's been closed, although the person on the desk assured me it only shuts for two days a year.

Entrance fee is £1, which is pretty reasonable - there is some interesting history stuff about the gun, and then you get to poke around it outside. Plus the views are spectacular.

Apparently it was meant to fire up to eight miles, in a wide sweep from San Roque, La Linea, Algeciras right out to sea, but the blurb says it was unlikely that it would have been accurate, with a max more likely of five miles at the most.

It was made by Armstrong in Newcastle (UK) in the 1870s. Armstrong initially built 100 ton guns for the Italian Navy, some reports say four, others say six, and others say eight. Four guns were then built for the Royal Navy, two were sent to Malta and two were sent to Gibraltar. The only surviving ones are this one in Gib, and one at Fort Rinella in Malta.

From the dock at Rosia to the battery took three weeks to transport the gun, a mere third of a mile. It was put together between 1878 and 1884, and cost £35,717.

The one at Napier was originally at Victoria Battery (current fire station next to the Alameda Gardens/cable car), but it was moved to Napier when the gun there split during firing practice.

It was last fired in 2002 - with a minimum charge rather than the intended 450 lb charge - as part of a joint heritage conference between Gibraltar and Malta.

So, some photos:

A commemoration to Nelson outside the battery - his body was brought ashore at Rosia after the battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

Inside the entrance to the exibition.

Into the loading bay. The gun's barrel was aligned with the opening - and the projectiles and charges were hydraulically lifted from the magazine and then pushed into the muzzle of the gun using a giant ramrod.

One of the stories told about the gun is that it repeatedly failed to fire during a demonstration for the Inspector General of Artillery in 1902. After waiting the required 30 minutes the general asked for a volunteer to climb down inside the barrel and attach equipment to unload the gun - and risk being blasted across the bay.

Outside - and - the gun.

The plaque reads: Refurbished by 101 Battalion REME Marble Tor 2 June 2006.

And from the other side..

An anti-aircraft gun from WWII.

Looking south towards Europe Point, the Straits of Gibraltar and Morocco.

Looking across the Bahia de Algeciras.

Definitely worth a visit as part of Gib's naval heritage.

Links:Gib museum, and Gib Govt tourism site

Monday, January 19, 2009

Off to Rosia

Bank Holiday (last Monday 12 Jan) was a beautiful day here in Gib so a walk was in order.

The good thing about Gib is that you can set off in any direction and make a walk as long or as short as you feel like.

Anyway, I set off in the direction of Rosia, possibly to go towards Europa Point, and back down past the old naval hospital.

Wandered along past Jumpers (link on Pippa's blog here), and then off towards Rosia.

I'd not been for a while and was horrified at some of the new build that is going up. Imagine having a HUGE building like that right in front of your home. I'm guessing the developers are waiting for the owners of these properties at the far end (on the right with the bay windows) to sell up and then they can whack up another monstrosity.

and more of the same..

and more..

Here is a nice distraction, a ship in the Cammell Laird dry dock.

The police headquarters at New Mole - how long before they get knocked down?

And on the other side of the road - yes, more new flats.

And just down the road ...yet more....

I have no problem with construction work - hey, my partner works in construction, why would I? But I do have a problem with insensitive - and quite frankly ugly - buildings being thrown up without any respect for the existing environment.

Gibraltar's heritage and history is unique. Large ugly buildings are not.

Next up - the 100 ton gun.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Bolognaise sauce (vegetarian)

Fancying something slightly different the other night, I decided on bolognaise sauce.

As it's so long since I have done one, I had a quick internet search. I've got some vegetarian 'mince' which is perfectly tasty and has the added advantage that you don't need much of it, so I can get a zillion meals out of one bag.

My ingredients

extra virgin olive oil
onion - fresh ie green, or dried ie with brown skins
veggie mince
veggie stock (Vecon)
glass wine (I used white)
tomato puree/pureed tinned toms

It seems the classic recipe is to start with a sofrito, and then add cooked mince, stock, tomato puree and glass of wine. Herbs and seasoning if required.

The sofrito can be onion plus - as required - carrot and/or celery.

Didn't have carrot, but I did have some navos (white turnips) and I had the celery. Sofrito duly made, frozen veggie mince was then added, plus the stock and glass of wine.

I don't have tomato puree in stock these days as I don't really use it much, but I usually have a tin of tomatoes so promptly opened one of those and whizzed up a small quantity and added it to the salsa.

And then let it all simmer. Apparently the idea is to have it like a ragout.

The only mistake - not making enough because it went down very well and there was only a spoonful left for my brunch the next day.

We had it with spaghetti, the other good options are linguine or tagaliatelle. Which reminds me, I really need to buy some more pasta next time I go shopping and then I can make it again.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Accident at Ragged Staff roundabout, Queensway

Approaching Ragged Staff about half an hour ago, a Rescue Unit went past us.

As we went through the gates a police van was at the roundabout.

Another accident? Yes. A car rolled on its side. A police officer was taking details from a couple standing outside a car in front of the overturned vehicle.

No sign of an ambulance. The accident hadn't long happened as one of the police vans was still reversing into place to stop the traffic going northwards.

Firstly, hope everyone is all right.

Secondly, Queensway is - in my opinion - one of the worst roads in Gib for drivers speeding.

Last May I wrote about a death on the same road only a couple of hundred yards away from tonight's accident.

I frequently see drivers speeding through red traffic lights at the pedestrian crossings. When I say frequently I mean at least once a week. Or at the very least accelerating on amber to make sure they don't have to slow down to let irritating pedestrians across.

As readers of Clouds may remember, it is the one road where I am guaranteed to get soaked if it is raining because drivers insist on going so fast through huge puddles.

The problem is, it is one of Gib's wider roads, and for the most part between Ragged Staff and Regal House, it is relatively straight.

Anyway Gib gov, you are doing a great job with the south end of Main Street, and I very much like the raised zebra crossing opposite the tax office where Line Wall Road meets Main Street at Referendum Gates. This seems to be working well and more drivers are slowing down for the crossing than previously when there was no ramp.

So, I think the next plan should be to introduce some speed ramps on Queensway. Because clearly traffic lights don't deter anyone and neither do roundabouts.

The speed limit in Gibraltar is 50kph (31mph) unless otherwise indicated. I haven't noticed any signs down Queensway that say 40 or 50mph is legal but I have seen plenty of cars going at that speed.

Gib is a small place. The roads are not a race track.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


For anyone who is not British - the pound is not doing too well against the Euro. Nor has it been for some time.

Today's bank rate is around 1.1€ to the pound.

But exchanging euros for pounds down the high street has been around 97 cents for a pound since the New Year.

The cross border workers are not happy.

Those who live in Spain have seen a sharp drop in the money they take home as soon as they exchange it into euros.

This time last year it was around 1.30€ to the pound, and the year before it was 1.40€ and higher.

Everyone was very gleeful, times were good. Cross border workers were paid a good rate in sterling, and then exchanged it for lots of euros for their Spanish life.

People laughed at us for living in a small poky flat and paying expensive prices in sterling in Gib.

Everything in Spain was - by comparison - so much cheaper.

Not any more. Lots more people are shopping in Gib before they go back home across the border.

Workers are complaining to their bosses that their money doesn't go as far.

Excuse me sweethearts, it is hardly the fault of your bosses that a) the pound has slumped against the euro and b) you happen to live in Spain.

Quite honestly, people who live near enough to travel to Gib are the lucky ones. There are plenty of Brits in Spain who can't get jobs at all. There are plenty of Spaniards too.

Anyway, as far as I am concerned, it costs the same or less now in Gib than it does in Spain for my preferred brand of cava. What an irony. Cheap cava in Gib. Important to get one's priorities right in life.

Apparently, sterling improved slightly against the euro yesterday. I will be waiting to see what happens with interest. Perhaps the pound will climb just enough to hit the right level for entering the eurozone?

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Fleeting visit

Plan A - We drive back to the finca on New Year's Day and spend a long leisurely weekend there, coming back on Sunday.

Plan B - Partner scuppers Plan A by deciding to work the Friday (Jan 2).

Plan C - I decide to go back on the bus Saturday, come back Sunday.

Plan D - Partner offers to drive back Saturday, and back again on Sunday. Sounds a good one.

Plan E - We both wake up feeling like shit on Saturday. I tell him not to drive when he is feeling rough. I feel so bad I go back to bed.

What actually happened - was that I went back on Sunday. Felt too ropey to walk to the frontier so got the bus. It was a good journey back to Málaga, I spent the two and a half hours snoozing (which I couldn't really have done in the Landy - it would have been rather rude), completing a couple of Sudokus in the papers I found on the bus, and reading a novel. John le Carre's 'Call for the Dead' in case anyone is interested.

Discovered the router I had taken back didn't work. Thought the mouse wasn't working either, until I discovered I had pulled out the wrong USB cord. Phew! Spent the evening reading in bed. Put a wash on to lull me to sleep.

Got up leisurely, hung washing out, washed out chicken drinkers, topped up the corn, watched the cockerel jumping on one of the chickens (Negrita), and then went off to the shop to buy them some lettuce.

Met the neighbours on the way back up the street.

"Hola," says me.

"Hola, que pasa?" (What's happening)

"Nada, compro lechuga para las gallinas como siempre." (I'm buying lettuce for the chickens as usual).

Ratatatatatata in Spanish "........has venido?" (something something something ..have you come?)

"Si," I guessed. Looked at puzzled faces. Ooops, wrong answer. If they knew the answer why were they asking me the question?

"Como?" I asked, realising I had stuffed it up.

"El marido no esta, tu solamente has venido?" she repeated, with a few more words just to make it clear for the thick inglesa.

"Ah, no," I said finally getting the answer right. Fairly obvious I had turned up on my own,and no he hadn't come. No dirty big Land Rover sitting outside, no dog, and no chatter in the house.

So then I explained that Partner was poorly, coughing and had got a cold on his chest.

Well, why doesn't he come up here if he is poorly? It's nicer to be here if he is poorly.(or something on those lines). Er, because he doesn't want to drive.

As 80-year-old Adelina doesn't drive, I don't think she realised that when in charge of a large piece of metal, on busy roads, occasionally going at speed (not often in ours), it's a good idea to be fully compus mentus, rather than slightly dizzy, nauseous, shaky legs, and all the other things that accompany 'flu.

Her daughter helpfully repeated that Partner didn't want to drive.

"No quiere conducir," she said.

Then we got onto employment - or rather unemployment. And agreed it was bad.

"Feliz año nuevo," I said, thinking I would never get away.

"Igualmente," they said. (same to you)

"Hasta la proxima," I said. (until the next time).

Scooted home, dished up the lettuce. Then realised I still had an hour to wait for the bus into town, where I had to go and pay the 'phone bill at the post office.

Should I walk the 40min track? With a travel bag, and a BIG winter coat? No doubt the sun would come out mid-way and I would be roasted as well as feeling dizzy and flu-ey. No. Best to sit around and wander down to the bus stop.

And that's exactly what I did. Bus was irritatingly prompt, so just as well I legged it to the bus stop five mins before. At the post office, there was the usual queue of 15 or 20 people in front of me but the counter staff were efficient - maybe a 15 minute wait.

No direct bus to Málaga so got a ticket for the next stopping one. Except, one turned up that was obviously running late. It's a sort of semi-direct, it doesn't stop to pick up, but it does drop people off who got on earlier on the journey.

And then, what a dilemma in Málaga. To get the direct bus to Algeciras which only has one stop and so takes around 1:50 - but then I need to get a bus back to La Linea, or the stopping bus to La Linea which takes around 2:40.

I decided on the Algi bus. Partly because I was feeling achey, and nearly three hours on a bus is not good when back/legs are starting to twinge. And partly because it was due to leave 15 mins earlier than the other.

Except it wasn't even in when it was due to leave, and people were boarding the other bus. Had I made the wrong decision? Looked at the queue for the ticket office. Half a dozen people. But if I got stuck in the queue to ask about changing my ticket, my bus might come in and leave.

Went to the La Linea driver and asked if I would be able to change my ticket at the office. 'Pregunte a la taquilla," he said. Well, that was really helpful.

Suddenly our bus came in. On we all jumped. Well, boarded slowly actually. But although it left 15 mins late at least it left before the other one. Traffic in Málaga was horrific. We got to Torremolinos by the time we should have been nearly at Marbella. Settled down for a snooze and a read.

Finally finished my other book. Blood River by Tim Butcher. Here is the website, and here is a review.

Hopped off the bus at Algi and immediately onto one for La Linea. Ouf. Someone was looking after me. Arrived at La Linea and was pleased to see the bus from Málaga had not arrived. Sometimes we do make the right decisions.

Arrived to home to find poor Partner had been in bed all day. After the morning dog walk he had fallen back into bed, aching limbs, shaking legs, dizzy, and basically felt totally useless. So useless that when I arrived he hadn't finished the tumble drying, put the wash on, or even had anything to eat or drink.

Just as well I decided to go on my own on Sunday. Another right decision.