Wednesday, November 18, 2009

TARIFA AS I'VE SEEN IT

A couple of weeks ago, we decided....ah, I decided, to make a little trip to Tarifa, a small town not too faraway, just a 40 minutes drive. I didn't know much about the place, only that it's very crowded during the summer, due to the strong wind which allows all types of surfers to enjoy the sea, the sun and... the girls !!!! Also, all the electricity consumed by Tarifa's 15 000 inhabitants, plus the tourists, is provided by the wind via lots of windmills, located around the town. I found out later there are many interesting birds resting here on their way to Africa; Tarifa is a famous place among the ornithologists, especially those interested in migration of the storks, twice in a year, in spring and autumn. Our day was lovely, sun, 32 degrees Celsius ( October, he, he, he....), no wind at all, a perfect day for a trip. Like all tourists arrived in Tarifa, first we visited the castle of Guzman El Bueno. In fact the castle was built by the Moors in 960AD, under Caliph Abd al-Rahman III orders. After the Christian Conquest in 1292 by Sancho IV el Bravo (which statue can be seen in front of the castle), in 1294 the event which made Tarifa known worldwide was the defeat of Guzman el Bueno who preferred his own son to be sacrificed rather than surrendering the castle he had been entrusted with by his king. He threw his sword from the high of the castle to the Moors to kill his child, what they immediately did!!!. Nowadays the castle considered the most well preserved in Spain, can be visited in change of 2 Euros the ticket; you don't have access inside, but even wandering through the alleys or going up on different levels and different terraces you can get an image of the ancient splendour of the place. I found interesting the rocks they used to build the castle's foundation have been taken out of the sea and contain fossils of sea creatures.
The view is magnificent, either we looked towards the windmills shinning in the sun up on the hills or we looked at La Puenta de Tarifa, located on Islas de las Palomas, where it is the most southern point of Europe. At only 14 kilometres by sea are located the rising Rif mountains of North Africa; that day they looked blue surrounded by a yellow fog.
Next, we followed the city's wall built by French in XVIII century, then we took a rest in a park taking photos of Africa's shore; later we had a nice lunch at a little tapas bar and last we lost ourselves wandering the streets till we met another lovely park next to the municipal library and in front of the police, where we spent some wonderful and peaceful moments surrounded by silence, flowers and singing birds.
On our way back we stopped at a miramar, a belvedere point, very popular there, where one can admire the windmills and of course the Rif mountains. It was only a 4 hours trip, but we want to go back soon, to visit the rest of the city, because there are still many beautiful things to explore and discover. And many photos to take.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sunday, November 1, 2009

SCARECROW

"In the summer of '71 Clive, Dave and John were playing together in a five piece when their lead guitarist went home from a gig one night never to be seen again. This sudden departure dropped them in it as they were due in the Channel Islands the following week. Nothing daunted, they went round to see Bill, who had gone into hibernation studying classical guitar and dragged him back on stage to play electric so that hey could meet their commitments until a permanent replacement could be found.
However, before they got anything sorted out, their lead singer set fire to himself, during his fire-eating act, and reduced them to a four piece....and someone had to sing. They all looked to John who surprised everyone, including himself, by revealing a hidden talent in this department." - this is a part of Scarecrow presentation written for a charity gig held in January 1973 at Notre Dame Hall, London.
The four boys were:
Bill Puplett - lead guitar
Clive Yeats - bass
Dave Rumsey - drums
John Stewart - lead vocals and guitar
and they had a fruitful 10 years career together. Young, talented, charismatic, the boys played all over England and Europe. In London they had gigs at Oxford Tavern, The Brecknock, The Telegraph, Thomas a Beckett, The Lord Palmerston, etc, to nominate only few. Also, they did most of the clubs, including The Marquee and many universities as Westfield College, Goldsmiths College, Chiswick Polytechnic, etc. They made heard their music not only in London and surroundings but as well in Scotland and Wales followed everywhere by their faithful fans. And they didn't stop here, they travelled in Germany, Holland and Austria being welcomed and maybe better appreciated.
Managed by Hun ans Sul Enterprises they released a record called "Lovely to see you" before becoming the well known four piece Scarecrow, a live album was recorded at different venues and to this day has been seen on ebay selling for over £3oo.
John's special voice, Clive's remarkable technique, Bill's amazing lead guitar and Dave's timming on drums made these four boys a unique pop-rock group in musical circles from Europe. They loved to perform, they enjoyed to create a different sound and promote their own music. As a recognition they started to play at the openings of Jimi Hendrix concerts or YES, or Uriah Heep. Even Garry Moore used to come down to some of the London pubs where the boys were playing to jam with them, being a good friend of Bill. Appreciated, loved but not famous enough, always bridemaid but never bride, after 10 years of intense musical life, one by one, decided to go there own way and Screcrow came to an end.
But their name is still whispered as their fame never faded, their record can still be found, their music can still be listen, I found it here:
Now, Dave is retired living in Devon with his wife; John lives in East London and he never ceased to compose music; Bill lives in Harrow Wild repairing all the famous guitars; Clive (who told me the story) lives in Gibraltar and still plays in a blues band, called Strange Brew(they have a page on Facebook and Fandalism).

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

PRINCE CHARLES: "TRANSYLVANIA IS IN MY BLOOD"

" Transylvania is in my blood. I have family connections here and that's why I am very interested in this region - that's what Prince Charles of Great Britain said during one of his visits to Romania (according hellomagazine.com). Some people try to find a connection between Vlad The Impeller , known as Dracula, and one of Prince Charles' ancestors in order to explain the vivid interest of HRH in Romania, especially in Transylvania. The Prince not only visited constantly Romania for the last 20 years, but also bought 2 proprieties there, in the 12th century Saxon village, Viscri, a UNESCO World heritage site. He is also involved in some projects, being the patron of the Mihai Eminescu Trust and the International Network for Traditional Building, Architecture and Urbanism. "They work to restore the cultural heritage, economy and nature of Transylvania's Saxon villages and their surroundings. In addition to restoring some 180 medieval houses and several churches, the charity has supported traditional rural technologies, such as the construction of wood-fired kilns for handmade bricks and tiles and organic farming" as daylimail.co.uk explained.
The truth is Prince Charles believes that Romania's villages are among the country's most valuable assets, HRH being a well known ecologist sympathiser and even he uses to work in his own organic garden. He likes the simplicity and the naturalness of life in these villages, where people live off the land, growing food, knitting clothes and weaving carpets. He also eats with great pleasure Romanian traditional food.
And to reveal the real connection of Prince Charles with Romania, nobody should fabricate strange legends or stories, but just search in historical facts - Marie of Edinburgh who was Queen of Romania ( and spouse of king Ferdinand of Romania) was born on 29 October 1875 at Eastwell Park in Kent as the eldest daughter of Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh and Grand Duchess Marie Alexandrovna of Russia. Her father was the second eldest son of Queen Victoria of England and Prince Albert of Saxa -Coburg-Gotha. She married Prince Ferdinand of Romania on 10 January 1893 and became a queen in 1914, but due to world war I she and her husband were crowned only in 1922. During the war she volunteered as a Red Cross nurse to help sick and wounded and wrote a book, "My country" to raise funds for the Red Cross. When the war ended she helped the Romanians diplomats travelling to France, where they tried to secure the Romanian inhabited territories uniting all Romanian speakers in a single state. Her arrival was an international media sensation and she argued passionately that the Western powers should honour their debt to Romania ( which had suffered a casualty rate proportionately far greater than Britain, France or USA). After the death of her husband she remained in Romania, writing books and her memories, "The Story of My Life". She died at Peles Castle on 18 July 1938 and was buried next to her husband in the Monastery of Curtea de Arges. In accordance with her will, her heart was kept in a cloister at the Balchik Palace which she had built. In 1940 when Balchik was returned to Bulgaria, her heart was transferred to Bran Castle which was her home for few years. There can be found some of her personal objects, some others, including her crown, are guested at Maryhill in Washington State (USA). The information about Mary of Edinburgh , Queen of Romania were collected from Wikipedia Britannica.
Queen Maria's husband, Ferdinand of Romania was born in Sigmaringen in southwestern Germany on 24 August 1865 as the son of Prince Leopold of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen and Infanta Antonia of Portugal and died in 1927. In conclusion, the Romanian and British royal families are related through Queen Victoria. This connection and Prince Charles' interest and love for nature and the preserving of traditions brought him in Romania, a charming land, but mostly unknown for many others.
More information and pictures about Prince Charles' visits in Romania can be found here:
http://www.princeofwales.gov.uk/newsandgallery/focus/the_prince_of_wales_s_properties_in_romania_1484339285.html

Thursday, September 17, 2009

GIBRALTAR, A PLACE TO DISCOVER

Everybody heard about the Strait of Gibraltar which is parting Europe from Africa, many visited Gibraltar coming from all over the world, but only few know its history, legends and hidden places.
Gibraltar is a small country, but with a big heart and every Gibraltarian living in other part of the world is missing its charm, because maybe you can't live here for long, but for sure you can't live without it for ever.
Located in the south-western extremity of Europe, with a territory which covers 6 843 square kilometres and approx. 30 000 inhabitants, Gibraltar is considered as one of the most prosperous and stable place in the world.
Named after a Berber general, Tariq ibn-Ziyad who led the first incursion into Iberia in 711, its name changed in time from Gibraltaric to Gibraltar. Gibraltarians use to call their beloved country Gib or The Rock.
Nowadays there are around 12 nationalities living here, among them one can count the Moroccan, Indian, English, Jewish, Maltese, German, Spanish, Genoese communities, and there are few more; it is remarkable that all these people belonging to different communities, religions, having different habits and languages, actually live in peace together in a very friendly way, respecting and helping each other. In fact, this is one of the main characteristics of Gibraltar : the friendly atmosphere.
Tourists use to come here, mostly by cruise ships (huge ones) for one day shopping trip on the Main Street, attracted by the tax-free products they can buy, and to see the only wild monkeys from Europe which are living on the Upper Rock. There they can visit also the Moorish Castle built in XII century, the Great Siege open-air museum, St. Michael's Cave and other interesting historical vestiges.There is no time for more, even Gibraltar means more, much more.
As soon as you come here, you can't miss to notice the luxuriant vegetation, beautiful flowers, huge palm-trees, etc; that's because Gibraltar is blessed with a subtropical climate, meaning hot summers and mild winters and the exotic plants have found here an ideal home;it is known that on The Rock there are over 500 different species of flowering plants. To see just a little part of them, a nice place to visit is Alameda Gardens, which is an amazing botanical garden, especially in March when the most beautiful flowers are in full blossom. Built on approx. 8 hectares of land starting with 1815 on a "desert of red sand" used as a raw material in constructions (part of this area was used as vegetable gardens and cemeteries during the numerous sieges), nowadays Alameda Gardens is a oasis of peace, fresh air and beauty, being laid out in a natural jungle way.
Last week, on 10th of September, the Gibraltarians celebrated their national day. As you know, Gibraltar was ceded by Spain to the Crown of Great Britain in perpetuity, under the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht. Later, on 10th of September 1967 was held Gibraltar's first sovereignty referendum at which the citizens of Gibraltar were asked to choose between Spanish and British sovereignty; the answer was overwhelming in favour of continuance of British sovereignty and that day is celebrated now as the National Day. For years now, on that date, the most enthusiastic crowd dressed in red and white, the national colours, goes on streets enjoying the traditional food, live music, joking and dancing, cheering and chatting.
Usually the fun starts around midday with a political rally, followed by a short speech held by the Mayor of Gibraltar. Then, there are released 30 000 red and white balloons , one for each Gibraltarian.This is also the signal for the beginning of the party which continues all day long ended up late in the night with beautiful fire-works.
Proud of their country, Gibraltarians know to work, live and party together.



NOTE: The text was written and sent by me to a bilingual magazine "Literary Contemporary Horizon" in order to be published, being asked by them to write something about Gibraltar.

Monday, September 14, 2009

GIBRALTAR - NATIONAL DAY ( 3 ) - 10th OF SEPTEMBER 2009

Our national day in Gibraltar started at midday in Casemates Square where a political rally was being held. But because none of us is interested too much in what politicians have to say we aimed to Mc Intosh Square, crossing Main Street. There, on Main Street, I took all those funny photos I posted before, representing people dressed in Victorian clothes, with their kids and their pets dressed also in red and white outfits, keeping them company.
Around 13.00 o' clock the Mayor of Gibraltar read her speech, not longer than 10 minutes, then she ordered the 30 000 balloons (one for every Gibraltarian) to be released. Everybody cheered, it was a general enthusiasm I've never seen elsewhere.
In the main squares there were organized stands with traditional food, like calentita, tortilla de patatas and spinach pie and the funds raised will be used to help children in need. The local Police representatives and St. John's Ambulance were present too.
Following the crowd, after the last balloon disappeared in the sky, we went back, behind Casemates Square, at El Cottage where EastSide Blues Band has organized a great music live show. They invited to play first "The Rizing" a rock band, that conquered the audience with their well known and very appreciated repertoir. The restaurant was full of people enjoying Mediterranean food, beer and wine, as long as the music played. Next to play came a classical guitarist, Keith Vinnicombe who delighted the crowd with lovely harmonies. He was followed by Neal Higgings and Andrew Pons, playing Irish music and, finally, the blues band EastSide Blues Band, the host of the event. Later a very young and talented band , ForwardSlash performed. After half an hour break, East Side Blues Band come back and played again, being the most photographed band at that night.Because it was Francis birthday too, the owner of El Cottage, we had a double party, with nice food and plenty of beer. I was happy to greet some old friends of mine, from Romania, I haven't seen for over 20 years. Being in a holiday to Estepona, they came to see how Gibraltarians spend their national day. They ate, for the first time in their life, paella con mariscos and gallo, a pork stew cooked in wine; they liked very much the atmosphere of the celebration, the joy that Gibraltarians experience at this event.

The party continued in the night ending up with beautiful fire works. Next day everybody had to go to work, but the memory of a great day will last through time.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

GIBRALTAR - THE NATIONAL DAY ( 2 )

Gibraltar's National Day commemorates the 1967 referendum when the people of Gibraltar voted to reject Spanish sovereignty or association by a massive majority. The day is a public holiday, during which most Gibraltarians like to dress up in the national colours of red and white. They releases 30 000 red and white balloons representing the people of Gibraltar.

Gibraltar is a popular stop for cruise ships and attracts daily visitors from resorts located in Spain as well as British tourists and many residents from the southern coast of Spain.

Gibraltar is listed as the 5th top list of the most prosperous and stable worldwide and the highest ranked British territory.

Gibraltar is one of the most densely populated territory in the world, with approximately 4 290 inhabitants per square kilometre.

The head of State is Queen Elizabeth II who is represented by the Governor of Gibraltar.

Gibraltar was ceded by Spain to the Crown of Great Britain in perpetuity under the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht.


Sources:
- Information: Wikipedia
- Pictures: Me.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

GIBRALTAR - AUGUST EVENTS

As small as it is, Gibraltar has a very vibrant life, every week there are lots of events taking place here. This week, starting with 19th of August till 23rd of August "Gibraltar Ocean Festival" will invite people to a classical music concert, a Day Rally to Morocco providing the traditional Moroccan lunch in Smir, then a charity fashion on the Rock, followed the next day by a funky summer charity party with live music. Saturday the 22nd brings a Yacht Poker Run and a rock party featuring local bands. For 500 Euros, one can get a full package available for a yacht up to 12 metres to include berthing during the festival, two tickets for each of the classical concert, charity fashion show, summer party and rock party, plus the lunch in Morocco and the entrance for the Yacht Poker Fun. Sounds lovely, but not for me. If I'd have 500 Euros not knowing what to do with it, I think I'd rather prefer to buy a very good external flash for my camera....

Another event is expected to take place at the end of August, when a massive charity fun day is being planned when Nick Poole, the Jersey-based yachtsman will be welcomed into Ocean Village. Nick plans to sail single-handedly the 1800 miles from Jersey to Gibraltar in a 1972 18 foot Drascombe Lugger. The trip is Nick's own personal Challenge-4Ben which is a moving set up in memory of his son Ben Poole, a Royal Marine who died tragically in July 2008. Nick has chosen to sail to Gibraltar in respect of the historical link between the Marines and Gibraltar. The event will be organized by the Rotary Club and all the proceeds raised will be donated to Jersey charities and Help for Heroes.

Considering that this month it took place also the 4th Annual International Harley and Custom Bike rally, a very popular bike rally for now here and also every Tuesday and Thursday of the month the Casemates Square was full of people enjoying the Summer Nights Festival, you can say August is a very busy time.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Thursday, July 2, 2009