I'm not a blogger and haven't ever written one... but this is special as it's the first birthday of Gary's internet voyage with the SNS Challenger so it deserves some commemoration of the anniversary from one of the 'crew' members.

 

The photos of Gibraltar seem to have been finished now as some of the original have no corresponding views today but I'd like to add something about what conditions might have been like for the inhabitants of this peninsular back in the time of the Challenger's visit.

 

The Rock because of its geography and location has its own micro-climate that changes quickly - and this would have been the case even then, I assume. For the past few days we've had some torrential rain and thunder storms and although some of us suffer from leaking windows during the worst of the deluges, the streets run with water that the drains can't cope with and quite a few buildings have to pump out water from their cellars and ground floors - the Gibraltarians generally cope in good order.  I have to wonder, though, how the inhabitants of former times would have coped with similar deluges!  'Manning the pumps' or buckets must have been the order of the day although I daresay they'd have been glad of the rain for it would have filled the tanks for the summer months when the rain would have been scarce. However, the clothing that many people would have worn would have been wool and cotton - neither of which would have dried out very easily and certainly not as the fabrics of today are easily dried.  Although there are times when clothing left in wardrobes for too long even now will smell musty and shoes put away slightly damp will gather a 'bloom' of mould upon the leather because the humidity is high. Goodness knows how many would have wandered about in damp clothing in former times!

 

The micro-climate here is also very evident in the summer, and especially during August when temperatures are at their highest and so is the humidity.  The wind from the East is known as the Levanter and when in this direction a cloud forms over the top of the rock and is best explained here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viento_de_Levante  It is during August that conditions are most uncomfortable when the Levanter is hovering over us for the heat and the high humidity means that it is difficult to keep cool unless one lives or works in a building with air-conditioning.  The former inhabitants of the rock didn't have such luxuries and for members of the army or naval officers and crew wearing their uniforms must have been almost unbearable. Their clothing would have been heavy and rather rough compared to our modern fabrics that can 'wick' away surplus moisture to some extent and I imagine that during the summer when water was at a premium the smells of unwashed bodies and sewage systems not as good as they are nowadays was not at all pleasant.  There were water tanks at various places but people collected their own water too, I imagine, to supplement this meagre supply.

 

During this time - from 1772 onwards the Seige Tunnels were built, hewn out of the rock, and to imagine working in the heat of August and having to travel up and down the rock without the benefit of a cable car doesn't bear thinking about. Although the Great Seige ended in 1782 there was still a garrison in Gibraltar and no doubt the work of digging more tunnels and strengthening the defenses was still carried on afterwards. Some images and information can be found here: http://www.warmuseums.nl/gal/135gal.htm 

 

Just a few thoughts from the rock on a day when the rain seems to be determined to fall from a cloud that shrouds us almost daily at the moment... and to ponder how much worse it would have been for our forbears who lived here. No doubt, though, the arrival of the ship HMS Challenger would have provided some interest for the citizens no matter what the weather... just as Gary's anniversary post jogged me into considering the different lives of those explorers!

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Comment by GaryMcLeod on December 22, 2010 at 5:12pm
That's great Gill! I have a couple of small briefs that Kathy in Manilla will trial out for me. I will send them through to you when I get back today.
Comment by Gill Chesney-Green on December 22, 2010 at 2:38pm
Yes, Gary, I'm up for it. Let me know what you want me to do and I'll see if I can do it.... rain permitting!
Comment by GaryMcLeod on December 22, 2010 at 6:44am

Gill,

 

For someone who isn't a blogger, that's a good stab at a blog right there. I remember the rain was a constant menace last year, wasn't it? Actually, I believe that there were still a couple of views that hadn't been revisited in Gibraltar: notably the far views of the rock and the murals (although I think Gus mentioned the murals had definitely gone).

 

As my anniversary post has jogged you, would you be interested in taking part in some photo-briefs that are inspired by the experience you went through last february? You may recall that the re-photographing was just the beginning, and I was waiting to nearer the end of the voyage to move onto the next phase of being "inspired by" the experience. However, with things happening in different locations at different times, it made more sense to start the "influenced" stage whenever someone felt ready. Being inspired by the experience to do "something" can be a daunting prospect so I have been devising some photo projects initially (and later other projects) for participants to try out. Would you be interested? When it has stopped raining of course!

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