Ten good things about Gib – and one Cavalcade

1) It is small

Very small. You can walk from one end to the other and back home in a few hours (I know, I’ve done it on a geocaching exped). It is approx three miles by 3/4 of a mile and around two and a half miles square (I know those figures don’t add up, but there are different statistics for it! Maybe it depends on whether or not you include the runway?)

You can walk from one end of Main Street to the other in 10 minutes. In less time outside shopping hours, although more if a cruise ship has discharged its quota of slow walkers clogging up the streets.

Banks, the tax office, the water office, the rates office are all within spitting distance. Well spitting distance of my flat anyway.

2) Friendly people and sense of community

I find people friendly. They like to show off their bilingual skills though, so if you want to practise your Spanish you will have a hard time. People will chat at bus stops, on the buses, out in the street, approach Pippa and hug him – occasionally they even ask first. Our neighbour rang us up when a traffic warden seemed to think we had overstayed our welcome on a loading bay, so we (ie he) grovelled and quickly moved the vehicle.

3) Diversity

Not only are people friendly, we have lots of nationalities, cultures, religions all packed within our tiny bit of space who co-exist harmoniously. Gibraltar’s rich heritage means that the cultural mix includes British, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian (Genoa), Maltese, North African, and in terms of religion, we have a Catholic Cathedral, a Protestant one, a handful of synagogues, mosques, Church of Scotland, a Buddhist temple and goodness knows what else, all within a stone’s throw of each other.

4) History

Gib oozes history. Military history, maritime history, influxes of different waves of immigrants, a Moorish castle, city walls, defensive ramparts, big guns, little guns, historical guns, the Trafalgar cemetery, colonial buildings, Mediterranean buildings, old winding back streets dating back to Moorish times – it’s easy to get lost in Gib’s history.

100 ton gun at Rosia
100 ton gun at Rosia

Its history goes much further back though as the first neanderthal skull was found here by British soldiers as I recall. Had someone had the presence of mind to register it, we would be talking about Gibraltarian skulls and not neanderthal ones. Gib is also believed to be the last place neanderthals were in existence before they died out.

5) Environmental beauty

For want of a better name. The Rock is truly spectacular, made out of Jurassic limestone and 1400 foot high. OK it’s actually 1,398 feet high. You can walk up, take an expensive taxi, or take the cable car. On my very first trip we took the cable car half way (because I had to say I had taken the cable car) and then walked the rest of the way. Back then I’m not sure there was a charge for entering the Upper Rock – because it is a nature reserve – but there is now. Free for residents though.

Cloud floating over the top of the rock
Cloud floating over the top of the rock

Botanical gardens. We have the Alameda Gardens, right next to the cable car, so a pretty easy stop off for tourists, and a pleasant place to wander for residents. Free.

Sea caves. This one probably links with history, but before Gib was actually inhabited, sailors would stop at the sea caves to give thanks to the gods for safe journeys – and pray for continued safe passage. Gorham’s Cave is locally and internationally known as a significant archaeological site. No visits though.

6) Safe

We have a high ratio of police officers per head of population. They also walk the beat. There are always officers up and down Main Street, and also on the side streets. For the Three Kings cavalcade, I passed three officers in around a hundred yards or so. Plus they are friendly and helpful.

It’s not just that though, by and large Gib is a safe community with very little serious crime. Yes, there are drugs, yes, there is vandalism, yes there is theft/burglary. You can walk around quite cheerfully in the middle of the night without fear. When I take the dog out at 6am in the pitch dark, there are few people about, usually dog walkers and runners plus streetsweepers and a few early birds going to work.

7) The buses are free to residents

Need I say more?

8) Monkeys

I’ve lived here for years and still can’t resist them. Many locals are frightened of them, but the novelty of seeing wild monkeys wandering around the high street or sitting outside my house still hasn’t worn off. Love it, or rather them. The only wild free-ranging macaques in Europe.


I took this pic of a baby macaque yesterday outside the tax office on Main Street. A couple of Spanish-speaking tourists were talking to each other, ‘It’s a monkey who must have escaped,’ said the woman. I said, interrupting nosily as you do, ‘No they live here. Their home is up the Rock, but they come down here from time to time.’ ‘Ah, said the man, ‘So this is normal’. ‘Yes,’ was the short answer. It is normal for monkeys to wander up and down Main Street.

9) The nearest airport in the world to its city

OK, so I try and avoid flying, but if I ever want to jump on a ‘plane to the UK, I don’t have far to walk. And I do enjoy walking and driving across the runway. It’s surreal. But then maybe Gib is surreal.

10) National Day

I’ll have to end with National Day. It is a fantastic display of Gibraltarian identity on 10 Sept, and a day of happiness when we all dress up in our Gib colours of red and white. You need to buy your red and white clothes early, as they are usually sold out by September. There is lots of drinking but – to my knowledge – none of the violence that you might get at a similar event in say, the UK. Of course you wouldn’t have a similar event in the UK, because Brits aren’t allowed to be patriotic. Or so I read.

A patriotic national day T shirt
A patriotic national day T shirt

National Day was originally started after the first referendum in Gib about sovereignty. This was back in 1967, on 10 September, when Franco was in power. More than 99% of the vote was to retain British links.

The Cavalcade on the eve of the Three Kings, ie Sunday night

Umm. Not a patch on what it was before. I was chatting with a police officer around half seven, and she said it would be at least an hour before it arrived at our end of Main Street. In fact it was only 40 minutes or so. Less people, less floats.

‘It gets less every year,’ she said sadly.

And the sweets? They were all over the pavement when I wandered out. A couple of police officers were busy scurrying for Murray Mints. I had to laugh. Damn nuisance when out dog-walking though with all those sweets cluttering up the streets.

The band was good.

So was the pipe band at the end but they stood at ease before I got chance to snap them. Floats? well, there were some. That’s all I can say. But when people are short of money it can’t be cheap to put together a flash display.

Sandra has given me an award, A Dragon Loyalty thing. Thank you Sandra. She has two blogs, one about writing, and one about living in Spain, in Andalucía. Even better, she comes from Yorkshire!! With which, I have managed one out of five rules which is enough for me. So if you like books and writing check out the first site, if you like Spain, check out the second.

I really must introduce a pesky new feature to this blog.

Many of you follow not just roughseas but one or more of my others. Or flit in and out as and when.

So here is a link to recent posts on my other blogs. Is this blatant self-promotion you hussy roughseas? (Um, is hussy a sexist word? perhaps I shouldn’t use that one).

The answer is, no it’s not. If a) reader doesn’t work, you will know what is new on here b) if you have missed something on reader, you can catch up on here c) if you are wondering whether I have written anything recently or not, it will also be on here d) if you are utterly bored it may give you something else to read.

OK, first up, Clouds

About blogging tips, WP crazy zero to hero ‘challenge’ (if you can read Janet and John, this challenge is not for you) and Parmesan cheese.

A blog is a minestrone, served up with Parmesan cheese

And the one before that was about middle aged men and their large-sized egos. Egos note, nothing else large-sized.

Middle aged men


A harness and lead review and Snowy gets a dirty face.

New harnies! and – the domesticated Podenco

Every pic

Childrens’ books, specifically Little Black Sambo and The Lonely Doll.

Childhood books – violent death, racism and child abuse?

Just Land Rovers

Ooops, guilty, need to update this one.


40 comments on “Ten good things about Gib – and one Cavalcade

  1. Hey Rough, I really enjoyed this post! …and I say this with emphasis — not just to have something to say. I liked those easy to digest list items about Gib! A friend of mine went there, many, many years ago, and she didn’t even know, beforehand, that there were monkeys. I said to her before she left; «make sure to take pictures of the monkeys!», and she looked like a question mark! She did, though … take pictures!
    It sounds so lovely … a place one would like to live in!

    Going to check out the others now :)


    • I did write a similar one a while ago, with some of the same favourites, mainly in response to a query I got. But I tend to write generally about Gib, and often forget to write the specifics, so thought it was time.

      I thought everyone knew about the monkeys! which it was so funny when this woman said in Spanish that it had escaped from somewhere. I just had to interfere :D

      Your place sounds a good place to live too though, even if you don’t have monkeys. Have to say in adult life, I have actually tried to choose nice places to live. You spend most of your time there, so why not live somewhere nice with lots of amenities on your doorstep?


  2. Fascinating about the Neanderthal link. I was aware their last stand was thought to be in the region, but I didn’t realise it was actually on Gibraltar. It makes sense though, I guess, being an island.

    Gibraltar definitely strikes me as an interesting place. I’d certainly like to see it at some point. I’d be interested to visit a bit of Britain that isn’t… well… Britain! And besides, you have monkeys! (I’m very jealous :-) )


    • I wrote something about the neanderthals before, I’ll find it and add the link.

      It’s not an island, it’s an isthmus, we are joined, narrowly, to Spain. We often joke, when driving back down from our Spanish finca about whether or not the Spanish will have cut Gib off and set it to float in the Med :D

      I thought it was interesting the first time I came, whistle stop tour in a day, but living here gives a totally different perspective.



      • You just sent me to Google maps to have a quick look. Gibraltar is not what I thought it was! I was under the impression it was an island. I also thought it was further into the Strait of Gibraltar. Well, I’ve learned something new today! :-)


  3. You are doing a good selling job but don’t forget it was recently voted fifth in a poll to identify “Britain’s Crappest Towns”. I thought that was rather odd and like me you are probably bemused that it should even qualify for such a list as it is not part of Britain either legally or geographically!
    Actually, there was rather a good TV programme on Channel 5 this week (also rather misleading called “Gibraltar: Britain in the Sun”) which did a good job of promoting the place. It was predictable in its choice of subjects of course and there was the cable car, the monkeys, the caves inside the rock and the police moving on Spanish fishing boats but overall it made the place look good! I wonder what they will focus on in part two?
    I look forward now to being corrected on all of my national status mistakes!


    • I’d probably got your comment about fifth crappiest town in my head when I wrote it – trying to redress the balance!

      I could write ten bad things about Gib, although I might struggle. Oh! a good WP challenge eh? Write ten bad things about the place where you live?

      Not part of Britain but a British Overseas Territory and part of the Sovereign Realm. Are those the technicalities you wanted me to point out?

      Britain in the sun, is a bit like calling it, Portsmouth in the Med (ie naval and military accommodation). Is that the prog that was first aired a few months back? People on here told me about it, I think it was in five parts. Sounded a bit predictable and glib to me.

      Anyway what would your top ten be of where you live – within walking distance don’t forget, and yes, I do know you have golf courses nearby, people here have to go to Spain. Bet you don’t have a cable car, botanical gardens, a nature reserve and monkeys down the main street (of the animal variety).


      • 10 things in walking distance: Cleethorpes beach, Cleethorpes gardens (Britain in Bloom Regional winners no less), The National Fishing Heritage Museum, People’s Park and municipal nursery (free entry to all British citizens), Laceby Manor Golf Course, 3 Coop minimarkets, The Freshney Shopping Centre, The Library, Princess Diana hospital (currently in special measures) and the Police Station which is especially comforting.
        If only you did challenges on your blog then you could post this out!
        Going back to your post about blogs. Another I don’t like is people nominating me for awards – two already this week. When someone gets an official honour they are asked in advance if they will accept it, the envelope doesn’t just arrive on the doormat – I’ve nominated you for a Knighthood etc. I feel so rude when I ignore them, what do you do?


        • OK, I laughed. But Cleethorpes would make anyone laugh. I mean Cleethorpes beach? I’m still laughing. Actually the Spaniards who thought the monkeys had escaped asked about beaches in Gib, and I told them don’t bother. ‘Fea?’ he asked, ie ugly. I said yeah. Or at least they aren’t as good as the ones up the coast one way at Tarifa and the other way below Alcaidesa. You don’t come to Gib for beaches, which is why they weren’t in the top ten.

          Britain in Bloom is a fix. We all know that.

          I knew golf would make it.

          You are seriously including shops in your list?!!!!! OK, I’ll add Morrisons, Coviran, Saverland, and endless Moroccan veg shops. Oh and a nice lighting shop around the corner who fixed my block electric problems for free.

          My library is across the road. Back in Newcastle, they really cut back the hours. This is five days a week from 9.30-7.30.

          Hospital is 15/20 mins walk although I suppose if you are ill a walk isn’t much use. TWO police stations within walking distance :)

          I WIN!!

          I’m not doing stupid challenges. People who read my blogs can write their own material without needing to answer my silly questions. Although dare you to post your top ten about where you live :D

          Nobody has nominated me for a knighthood. So I don’t have that problem. I try and remember to acknowledge awards, provide a link and ignore the rules, nobody wants to read that shite anyway. And I have other things to write about.


    • Yes, I do think the Govt/Gib tourist board are missing more than one trick. One day when I get my arse into gear …

      Still, I must put on my objective hat and write ten bad things about Gib. Eventually. Maybe.


  4. I like the idea of the sense of community, it may still exist in small villages here, but it’s something sadly lacking in more populated areas.
    That may also explain why there isn’t any patriotism here too, though yes, it’s not the ‘done thing’ to flaunt it for fear of offending.

    There’s a lot to be said about feeling safe while out in the dark

    I also think having monkeys wandering around freely must be amazing.

    Gib certainly has a lot going for it, plus the climate, which in know I’d find very appealing.

    You’ve done an excellent job for the Gib tourist board :-)


    • The community aspect is in my village in Spain too, so I should really write ten good things about Spain, many of which would be similar. Actually I could have written more than ten for Gib. I meant to include climate and a few other things, but I thought ten was enough for now!

      I could do a far better job for the Gib Tourist Board than they do. They do Top of the Rock and monkeys, but they don’t actively promote all the many interesting sights and interesting things around here. Shame.


  5. gorgeous header photo, first off. but i will not say supah, dahling. or did i say it? :)
    some 10 great things. your monkeys are very unique. i also enjoyed your parade clicks and video. reminded me a bit of a small village in the southern Black Forest, very close to the German/Swiss border. they have long since officially become part of the nearby city, but they still do everything at the community level and on a very impressive scale. will have to dig through the archives one of these days and share some parade photos.
    Canadians tends not to be very vocally patriotic either, unless it comes to the hockey game in the Olympic winter games, and if the opponent happens to be the US. lots of friendly rivalry goes on, and if Canada wins, then Canadian flags sprout up everywhere as if by magic and people will spontaneously sing the national anthem on the local bus or sky train and others will join in, or else they will attach a large Canadian flag to their car and drive around town and honk and everyone will honk back. quite untypical for us and yet i quite enjoy it when that side of us comes to the surface every once in a while :)
    i think almost as interesting as your monkeys is the rock. that is unique and very beautiful. you do live in a fascinating corner of the planet. thanks for sharing and making the world just a bit smaller.


    • Thank you. I used it a couple of years ago, but most people weren’t following the blog then, so I figured I could dig it out from the archives. I think it really does express the exuberance of national day so well.

      Earlier parades were much better, this was quite a disappointing one. Plus, less people supporting it too, which is sad. Before, it has really been quite busy at my end of Main Street (we are the end of the parade, so to speak), but this time, there was only a handful of people.

      I think Canadiansa is rather a good word, but I’ll change it for you. Lots of honking goes on here, usually when Spanish football teams are playing as Gibbos tend to support Barca and Real Madrid ! Hockey is soooooo boring. Even worse than football.

      The monkeys and the Rock are the main tourist draw (along with cheap fags, fuel, chocolate and perfume), but there really is a lot more to the place.


  6. Thanks for the update. Gib sounds like a pretty dang good place to live. The monkey thing is terribly funny. As in funny ha-ha not a terrible thing. Oh well. Weak attempt to be funny. I read two of your blogs and you keep me plenty busy with this one. I love the dog blog of course. Harnies and all. I really would love to get some of those collars so I need to explore the link you put up not long ago on Pippa’s blog.


    • Hi Yvonne. I think you probably either love Gib or hate it. We’ve met people who couldn’t live here because it is too small, and everyone knows your business. Not strictly true, not everyone, just some people. Like anywhere, you need to take the best out of it.

      I am just in love with the monkeys. Simple as that, although the big Alpha males and Pippa don’t get along too well. Even naughty Snowy decided to bark at a little one the other day. As I said on my Clouds blog, I don’t publish every day, because I think people have a limited capacity in following blogs. I don’t want anyone thinking, ‘oh no, not another post from her again.

      Pippa used to have a lot of – dog – followers and commenters when we were on blogger, but the move to WP lost most of them. Now most of his followers are people who read this blog, with just a few remaining dog pals.

      I’m sure the firm ships to America, but I think they have an outlet there too. They certainly have US dollars on their website, so that would suggest you can buy their products. I think they do collars as well. When I do Pippa’s next post I’ll add some more about the firm, as you aren’t the only American who has expressed interest. They are relatively expensive, the leads are all the same price, but the harnesses (ok I’ll use the proper word for once instead of my lazy abbrevation) are priced according to size, so Pippa’s was more expensive that little Snowy’s. We’re still pleased with them. Two very different dogs, one with lots of fur, so conventional collars and harnesses tend to leave a mark on his fur after a while, and Snowy with only one coat of fur, like a greyhound, so a soft harness is ideal for him.


  7. Those are great reasons and I love that the monkeys made the list. some of your reasons are why I loved Boston. Yes it’s a bigger city than most in the US, but it was a very walkable city and it had a small town feel for me. Also, I loved the diversity. After living in Colorado for 15 years I needed diversity. Of course, it doesn’t compare to Gib since it has more crime, the airport is a pain to get to, the buses aren’t free, and probably a million more reasons.


    • Boston was one of the few places in the US I fancied visiting. Not because of the monkeys of course. It’s serious monkey time now, saw some more on the bus (they weren’t on the bus, I saw them from the bus), and again, when we took Pippa and Snowy out just now. Lots of little babies. I could write a monkey blog!

      To balance it out though, I’ll write a ten good things about my pueblo in Spain too.


  8. Always great to get an insider’s view on things. You should link to the Gib tourist board – this is far better than any of their crummy leaflets…
    Also – thanks for the flagrant self promotion (publicity begins at home – or was that charity? – amounts to the same thing) re Clouds. Keep forgetting so have just popped over there too. :)


    • What the Gib tourist board needs is a decent budget and someone to put forward some good ideas. But I’ve been saying this for years :D

      I appreciate people reading more than one of my blogs, so it’s just an easy reminder of other posts. If anyone finds anything interesting to read, all the better.


    • Not mine – I’m vegetarian! I’ve no idea whether they are good or not, I suspect it is the novelty of getting British fish and chips in southern mediterranean Europe. In fact the local chippy a few yards away from us has closed, and is now owned by a couple of friends of ours, she’s Filipino, and my partner has used it a few times for take aways when I’ve not been around. I think most of the British pubs up and down Main Street do fish and chips, certainly the Friar (nearest pub to us, 5 mins away) does them. I suspect the fish and chips I used to get as a kid from our local chippies were better.

      I wouldn’t describe Gib as a gastronomic paradise (and it is def not good for vegetarians, even worse for vegans) but you can eat well enough on a holiday. We’ve got Chinese, Thai, Filipino, Indian, Italian, Moroccan, Spanish, Argentinian amongst others.

      Put it this way, fish and chips, won’t make it into my next top ten, although I might mention a couple of eateries, that’s a good idea. Thanks.


  9. Always liked the word “hussy” (adults used to make funny faces when they said it when I was little)
    Started reading this the other day – but had to go intercept dog capers
    Enjoyed the list – you really should be writing/working for tourism there. You have to ride the cable car once – to say you did. And free gardens? cool.
    There’s so much history there – didn’t know about the caves – or the Neanderthal last stand.
    But what I envy most is the sense of community….ok the monkeys wandering around is pretty great, too…like living in a children’s book.
    (will wander over to the other blogs -a reminder is good.)


    • It was used a lot where I grew up. The place must have been full of ‘shameless hussies’.

      How many times do I read, or start, and have to nudge myself to go back? Or see a post in reader, and then forget and catch up about three posts later?

      I’d need a policy job behind the scenes. The actual tourist board job seems pretty mindless. They hand out maps and tell people where the bus interchange is, and where the cable car is and tell them to get a taxi for a tour around the rock. Yawn. Such a limited view of Gib.

      Here’s the more detailed post I wrote about the skull/s – where everyone also said I should work for the tourist board :D

      We’ve always been lucky to have good immediate neighbours wherever we’ve lived, but it is nice that people are so friendly here, and the crime rate is pretty low. I think the monkeys are just great, it’s their ‘come down the town’ time of year right now, although I wasn’t impressed seeing someone feeding them not 20 yards away from a sign saying don’t feed the macaques. I had the Podenco with me or I would have taken a photo of the irresponsible people.


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