Week 66 of Gibraltar Diary

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Sunday 14th June 2009


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In the morning, the US Coast Guard vessel, Boutwell, slips out of Gibraltar taking her pretty red helicopter with her.

In the afternoon we go to see some friends who have moved into a new house in Los Barrios - just across from PC City. They have a big back garden with resident geckos on the wall.

Monday 15th June 2009

We Brits are well known for whinging but there are some days when a little whinging is perfectly acceptable and today is one such day. We set off in the ferocious heat down Main Street, lugging the camera which my girlfriend has come to love.

We look at a monopod in Carlos which is the only shop in Gibraltar (out of about twenty places selling cameras) where they actually know anything about photography - the rest just understand "gross margin" and "cartel". It is somewhat expensive so we pass on. Gradually, the wind picks up and soon it is is so strong that we are being sand blasted as we make our way to the Caletta Hotel along grimey streets that are like Liverpool's finest.

We find a fish restaurant but we are clearly invisible to the waiter but highly visible to the customers who clearly want to start a conversation along the lines of "why is a pretty girl like you carrying such a gigantic camera" etc etc. We escape by walking across burning sand into the lower reaches of the Caletta Hotel and climb a tight spiral staircase that clearly leads to a tower containing a Princess but we can't rescue her as the door is locked.

Eventually we get in and order two drinks - a Bacardi & Coke and a glass of wine. When the Bacardi arrives it looks to contain exactly the same amount of Bacardi as they serve in the Taste Indian restaurant in La Linea. The difference is that in The Taste, it blows my head off but here it is indistinguishable from water. In fairness, I have noticed exactly the same transformation in the Rock Hotel - maybe it is divine intervention? After all, if Jesus could turn water into wine maybe some local miracle worker has found a way of turning Bacardi into water. Very odd.

Afternoon tea arrives and so do the birds. At first it is fun but the sandwiches are boring, the wind is gale force (we are out on the terrace) and the birds are beginning to be a real nuisance. We pay about 25 for a very poor tea and decide to get a bus home. As we wait for a bus a taxi arrives and we get in just as the bus direct to our flat pulls up. We follow the bus to our flat.

We arrive hot and irritated - never again until the next time.

Tuesday 16th June 2009

For some time I have been wondering why one sandal appeared slightly longer than the other. Today, the explanantion becomes apparent.

Wednesday 17th June 2009

It is still very misty and humid but cruise ships are stacking up like airplanes at Heathrow. Not quite sure why they called it Independence of the Seas. I would have thought it was totally dependent on the seas - without the seas it would just be a big block of rusty flats in Southampton. Maybe they meant to call it "Independent of the Seas", meaning it could get around even in stormy weather?

Confusion on the phone, I expect. That is how the Duke of Devonshire got his name - he was supposed to be the Duke of Derbyshire, which is where the family have all their land and history but the King was a bit deaf (not to mention that phones had not yet been invented) and made him the Duke of Devonshire. It was probably also a way of the King saying "Thanks for the dosh, matey, but don't get ideas above your station". The station being Bakewell, or possibly Buxton.

Then there is the Mitsubishi Starion which was clearly meant to be the Stallion. Not to mention Prince Charles, who was clearly intended to be an unemployed chip shop operative but due to confusion at birth ended up as the Prints of Whales.

Thursday 18th June 2009

In the evening we watch Bee Movie on Sky, which appears to come free for some reason I don't understand (probably some deal with the management company of our block of flats). It is actually great fun with some good lines.

Cow: "You're a lawyer too? "
Mosquito: "Ma'am, I was already a bloodsucking parasite. All I needed was a briefcase"

At 9.30pm we set off for the open air theatre in Alameda Gardens to see Illumina which features more bees, or maybe wasps. The story is a bit lame (to say the least) but it is a wonderful spectacle - hundreds of dancers - each one with a mum , dad, brothers and sisters in the audience. No wonder we have the worst seats in the house - right at the back behind a tree.

We discover that we can sit up on the wall which greatly improves the view (don't lean back - there is a twenty foot drop). At 10 per head it is excellent value for money - the time and effort that must have gone into this one night production is astonishing. Great fun.

Friday 19th June 2009

In the afternoon we set off for Morissons and as soon as we drive away from the flat, the dashboard lights up with an impressive array of coloured lights - it turns out that the fan belt has broken. Oh dear.

When we get back it is baking hot and we finally decide to turn on the air conditioning - I have been dreading this as I know that it will not work properly, just like the car. Sure enough we turn on both units and they blow out air of indeterminate temperature. Is it cold? Well, not really. I go and investigate the compressor unit which is hidden at the back of the building. None of the ones on our floor has a rotating fan - then suddenly, one of the fans starts to move. I rush back to the flat and one of the units is blasting out air cold enough to freeze the balls off an Arctic Monkey. Then the other one starts to do the same. Eureka!

Later on we set off for the Calentina in Casemates Square - a collection of food tents from everywhere you can think of all selling examples of their native cuisine. The place is heaving. According to the time table, there will be a fireworks display at 10.30pm. My guess is that this will be from the top of the Chamber of Commerce building so we wait on Line Wall Road right next to it. When it finally starts, it is like nothing I have ever experienced. These are not fireworks, they are Weapons of Mass Destruction. The ground is shaking and burning debris is falling on us like confetti. No wonder thay told everybody to stay well away.

We then wander around the food displays. You can now get served but they are all sold out so we have a couple of yucky items which quickly get thrown into a big bin. We finally walk home and arrive drenched with sweat. I turn on the air conditioning. After a lot of experimentation I discover that each unit will lower the temperature by about five degrees and both on full blast by about ten degrees (centigrade). Bliss.

Finally, we go to sleep in a beautifully cool bedroom with my girlfriend huddled under a big pile of blankets.

Saturday 20th June 2009

George Best always used to sit near the lady's toilets in nightclubs because eventually he got to see all the girls in the club without moving. Our flat is like that - everything turns up here eventually. This morning it is the turn of the newly launched Airbus transporter Ciudad de Cadiz (City of Cadiz).

My girlfriend spends a couple of hours by the pool while I am writing computer code and returns looking amazingly brown. Later she watches a program on spontaneous human combustion - the alarming idea that people can just burst into flames. Maybe that is why she is so brown? Sort of partial combustion - a bit like toast before it really gets going.


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