Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ocean Village and the Royal Marines

Instead of the usual wander to Rosia and Europa I headed off in the opposition direction to Marina Bay. More commonly called Ocean Village these days with the new investment and development that has sprung up since the original marina was developed.

And it has to be said, since Partner had forgotten to buy bread/there was no bread (choose whichever you think appropriate) in Morrison's, this was also a helpful factor in deciding on the route which co-incidentally went via Morries.

Here are some photos of Ocean Village.

Entrance to the marina

Down the walkway


New casino

One of the (many) new wooden bar/restaurants

And this weekend, the Royal Marines will be visiting Gibraltar to unveil a monument at Ocean Village dedicated to their role in Gibraltar's history.

The Royal Marines' involvement with Gibraltar dates back to 1704 when the English took Gibraltar from the Spanish. (NB to whoever is in charge of the Royal Marines website, I think you should do a history check - the Treaty of Union was 1707, some three years after the storming of Gibraltar, so the reference to the British taking Gibraltar is inaccurate).

The Capture of Gibraltar on 24 July 1704 is one of the Corps' Memorable Dates, as is the Battle of Trafalgar on 21 October 1805.

Although the RM do not carry individual battle honours, their badge does carry the word 'Gibraltar' referring to their role in the first Spanish siege of the Rock, which was also in 1704, shortly after the Spanish had been defeated.

So it is hardly surprising that Gibraltar feels a special affinity for the role of the RM in the Rock's history and in 1996 they were granted the freedom of Gibraltar.

The new monument will be unveiled and dedicated on Saturday morning, followed by a parade in Casemates Square, inspected by the Commandant General Royal Marines, Major General Garry Robison, and the parade will then march up Main Street ending at the Convent.

Sources: Gibfocus, MOD, The Royal Marines, and Wiki.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A long weekend

All the tough macho builders on the firm stamped their tough macho feet and insisted they would not work on Saturday because it was Valentine's Day. Awwww. Bless.

Not only that, but Partner finished early on Friday and announced he was taking Monday too as he was owed some lieu time. We decided to spend the weekend at the finca.

But on Saturday morning, it did not seem like an auspicious start.

The weather was cloudy and gloomy.

I woke up fretting about the smashed window and wondered whether it would shatter on the journey.

Partner mentioned that he had thought about boarding it up because he was worried about the Guardia Civil not letting us through the border. They have been known to turn people back with a cracked number plate so badly cracked glass could be a real loser depending on the officer and the day.

He went down to sort that out. The worst that could happen was that we would get turned round.

We packed up and he took the dog down. I did all the last-minute checks. I read a shitty email from someone which didn't exactly help. When I got there he was fiddling about with the passenger door. The lock was playing up.

I began to think we were destined not to go. He sorted it. We set off and flew through the border.

As we travelled up the coast, the sun came out.

We arrived at the finca which looked really pretty with the winter jasmine coming into bloom and the margueritey type things in flower.

I checked the post. No bill from the electricity company as usual. I groaned. Another half day in the nearby town to sit around waiting to get a print out of the bill would be called for. I plugged in my router from Gib to see if it worked. It did - apart from the fact that it wouldn't connect to the internet. By which I mean, it came on, the ethernet connection worked, the ADSL was working but could I hell reach the internet.

I cooked tea and went to bed frustrated.

On Sunday we had agreed to go cycling. This was A Big Event because I hadn't been back on the bike since the Cat-Chasing Monster pulled me over two years ago and I damaged my arm/wrist/fingers. My grip was non-existent for ages and I couldn't have changed gear or pull on the brakes to save my life (literally).

But it although it was sunny, it was also cold. We agreed to take the Cat-Chasing Monster for a walk down the beach instead.

Snow on our local peak

Cocks of the roost

By the time we got back the sun had warmed everything up and there was no wind. It was now - or who knew when.

I put on posh cycling gear complete with padded arse, on the principle that even if I couldn't do the part I could at least look it.

Off we went, both wobbling down the street. No traffic at the crossroads fortunately as I wasn't up to indicating. Shot round onto the old railroad track and bounced up and down.

"I've forgotten how to change gear," I called.

"Just try and you'll work it out."

I did. The chainwheel came off.

We had an argument and put the chainwheel back.

"Don't get ahead of me," I said.

"OK," he replied. And shot off, but waited for me at the bridge. At this point, I had managed to get enough balance to start indicating with left arm, and assertively moving into middle of road. Feeling good.

We followed a couple of very brown cyclists (from the nudist camp site at a guess) down the no-entry side road - de rigeur in Spain for cyclists.

"We'll go to Trini's," I called to Partner.


He shot off again. He shot past Trini's and into the distance. Where the hell was he going?

The veg shop that doesn't open on Sundays? One of the bars? (not going in the direction of the one we had planned on going to). Down the promenade past the sailing club? Who knew.

I went wearily went down to the bar. Not there. I went back to Trini's wondering if it had finally computed where we were meeting. Nope. Back to the bar - and then I saw him in front of me. I whistled a couple of times but he was clearly deaf to the world.

When I got to the roundabout he had disappeared again. Damn. I cycled down to the promenade to see if I could spot him. Pring pring went my phone. I pulled in and took it out of my back pocket (not being clever enough to continue cycling and carry out such a complicated manoeuvre).

It stopped ringing. I rang him back. No answer. I clicked the phone shut. Two missed calls. He'd rung me from each of his phones. I rang the second one. We finally made contact.

I looked round - couldn't say anyone walking past with 'British' tattoed on their forehead that I might offend. I felt free to say what I thought.

"YOU STUPID FUCKING GIT!" I shouted. "I'll see you at the bar. NOW."

I shut the phone quickly as the excitement of so much activity was sure to deplete the battery. Sure enough, it started beeping, and the bateria baja sign came up.

We met at the bar and went off immediately to the correct veg shop, and then back to the bar to catch up on the latest gossip news. We spent a pleasant hour or so sitting in the sun and cycled happily back.

Stopping on the bridge - river in full flow due to the mountain snow

Cheerful cyclist

First outing in so long had gone well. I had that great rush that you get from exercise and didn't feel particularly whacked. We sat on the terrace in the sun while I prepared lunch. After a siesta we had artichoke salad. I had used all the food up, and we had an early night.

In the morning, we packed up, tidied round, I pruned some of the overgrowing plants, showered - and locked up. Just before we left, the postie arrived with the missing electricity bill. A good end to the weekend. We had a super drive back and felt really chilled out after the break.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

What I don't like ... and do like

1) Is going to the electricity agency (ie the firm that handles connections, and bill problems on behalf of Sevillana Endesa), clearly writing out the address I want bills sent to and not receiving them.

On the second visit, I discover that Ms Very Nice and Smiley but totally clueless, has added the Spanish postcode to my Gibraltar address, and neatly stuck Spain on the end of the address. No, dear. Gibraltar is NOT in Spain, however much Spain wants.

Hardly surprising I didn't receive the bills.

2) Sending an email to Sevillana Endesa to ask them to sort out the problem with receiving bills, and receiving an automated response that says 'You will receive a personalised response shortly.'

I don't know what their idea of 'shortly' is, but obviously it doesn't include within two weeks as I still haven't had a reply.

3) Going to the bar in the bus station for an omelette and chips, a beer and discovering the bill is 7.50€! At a rate of £1:1€ that is a pretty dear omelette and chips.

That last time I had it, it was a plata combinada and was really good value - I paid around 5€ for everything. This time, it was 4.75€ for the omelette and chips, 1.75 for a tubo of beer - AND - 1€ for a stale bit of bread. Since when did a stale bit of bread become an extra euro?

But what I do like is.....

1) Going to a different bar and when asking if a tapa contained fish or meat, the camarero said no. But then he decided to double-check with his colleague, who said he thought there were some tiny bits of fish in there.

2) Asking for some of those tiny grissini things - which apparently are called picos in Spanish - and being given a handful and could have had more, for no extra charge. A huge salad, picos, glass of white rioja for around 6.50€. Take note, bus station bar.

3) Waiting for the bus to La Linea, which had moved from the platform marked on my ticket to the next one down (always best to check the noticeboard) - and then being accosted by one of the bus company staff to tell us that the bus was actually at a different platform again.

Nice to know people have some responsibility and try and make sure you don't miss the bus.

And finally while everyone living in Spain is still moaning about the exchange rate - 1.02/1.03€ to the pound down Main Street the other day - Giblife is now no more expensive than Spain, and cheaper in a lot of respects.

The shelves in Morrisons in Gib seem to be depleted half the time, as so many of the cross-border workers are now shopping there instead of buying food in Spain, as their pounds go further in Gibraltar rather than exchanging them for euros and shopping in Spain.

But I still buy my veg from one of the local shops which tends to reflect Spanish seasons rather than British supermarket vegetables. Fresh peas £2.50-3.00 a kilo.