A collective REPHOTO project
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!