Week 37 of Gibraltar Diary

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Sunday 23rd November 2008


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Another sunny day so we set off for Tarifa. When we get there we cannot find anywhere to park so we eventually park down by the sea. Our usual sandwich shop is closed for vacacion so we decide to pig out in a nearby restaurant and I order roast lamb - very big.

We then remember that we have left our passports in the car so we return hoping the car is still there - it is, guarded by a gang of wild cats. They all look very clean and well fed so maybe they are domestics who just hang out down by the sea?

We eventually drive off and find ourselves on a nice headland - more cats and historical landmarks.

In due course we set off up the coast and the navigator sends us down an unmade road. I explain to my girlfriend that such roads can get you into real trouble as they gradually get worse and worse until you are stuck in a giant hole. For the first ten miles we fly along on a hard flat surface covered in loose gravel - very much like driving on snow. Then suddenly we are in real trouble. A lot of the road has washed away in extremely deep ruts and in one place there is a very big hole - just like in the world's oldest joke "there is a hole in the road and police are looking into it". We only just get through.

Some people never learn.

Monday 24th November 2008

At about ten o'clock the Type 23 frigate, HMS Portland (F79) shows up. As usual all the little boats get over-excited and dash around saying "look at me - I may not be big but I am very fast".

I spend all day with a business colleague who has flown over from Manchester. Meanwhile, my girlfriend has made some new friends - one of whom is a very beautiful young lawyer who has no boyfriend "because she only gets asked out by old and ugly men". So, that's me out of the running then.

In the evening we cross the border to take my friend to Malaga for the return flight. The traffic is only using two of the four lanes and the policeman is clearly irritated and waves us into the four lanes very aggressively. To say I am also irritated would be an understatement. Only a couple of weeks ago I was treated like a naughty child for using these lanes.

Tuesday 25th November 2008

The sea may look blue but it is quite chilly outside. Maybe this yacht is off to somewhere warmer?

Wednesday 26th November 2008

Very cold and windy - it could be Manchester in November. Actually it is about nine degrees Centigrade which is quite mild really but it feels really cold.

What must it be like at sea? Mistral (which always reminds me of Mistrial - something I have experience of) is always popping to and fro but for some reason this is by far the best photo I have ever taken of her.

Thursday 27th November 2008


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Bright and early at nine o'clock there appears to be some sort of mini exercise in the bay - quite what these guys are up to I have no idea but it looks like fun.

At lunch time the luxury yacht
Cuor Di Leone shows up. It doesn't look 160 feet long but it is.

In the afternoon we go to some sort of fete in the Governor's Residence. For some reason, he lives in The Convent. Actually, I can think of dozens of reasons why an old man would live in a convent - see Sir Francis Dashwood, founder of the Hell Fire Club, for example.

Friday 28th November 2008

It is gradually dawning on us that it gets cold out here and we spend the evening huddled under a duvet watching Poirot solve yet another murder. The reverse air conditioning is pretty useless and just blows mildly warm air onto the top of your head. In theory you get about 3KW of heat for every kilowatt of electricity consumed. This is because it is a heat pump - ie a refrigerator running in reverse. This does not violate the Law of Conservation of Energy because what happens is that Gibraltar becomes fractionally colder and our flat gets fractionally hotter - heat is literally "pumped" from one place to another. Clever if you want a hot head and cold feet.

We go to bed very early as we are due 80 miles up the coast at 10.00am.

Saturday 29th November 2008


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It turns out that the site we are visiting is only 18 miles up the coast (not eighty) with the result that we are on time. A friend of mine has become involved in a piece of land which "has suffered some slippage" at the bottom end. In fact the entire road has slid down the hill. Probably for two reasons - the hillside below has been drastically cut away for development and it looks to me as though there has been a long term small stream under the site hollowing it out. When it rains in Spain, the rain falls mainly on the plane but then cascades down the hillside. Not to mention lying in the road.

We then set off for Granada, which is about 180 miles from Gibraltar. On the way we pass under a bridge which will in due course collapse killing everybody underneath. We also pass many a desperate developer. And the Spanish Banks are solvent? Are you kidding?

Granada really does have snow high up, so much so that I chicken out when I see all the cars stopping to put on snow chains at about 1,500 meters - the road we are on goes up to 3,000 meters, which is about 10,000 feet if you are old and British.

The city has very snazzy motorway lighting but does not instantly grab you as a nice place to stay. I do a deal with my girlfriend whereby we abandon plans to stay the night and go to the Rock Hotel in Gibraltar for a nice meal and that is what we do.


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