14. Oct, 2021

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THURSDAY 14-10-21

We were up in good time this morning as I was keen to make tracks for Gibraltar, about fifteen miles away. In the original plan we would have stopped off there before arriving at Camping La Bella Vista. But with a leaking gas cylinder and no ability to hook up, I had to commit to passing it by and going straight to a campsite. Now, thankfully the gas leak is sorted, the cylinder having vented off the excess gas from the Autogas overfill.

After leaving the campsite we went down to the local Lidl store where The Chef topped up with the bits we needed, then it was just down the road to the local filling station to top up the fuel tank. I was aware that fuel is considerably cheaper on Gibraltar, but there was no way I was joining a very long queue of slow moving traffic to cross the border to buy it. The journey to the Camperstop at the Marina in La Linea (GPS: N36.155601° W5.354221°) only took about 45 minutes, and we were soon settled and sorted.

First it was lunch then off to the border crossing between Spain and Gibraltar, about a twenty minute walk.

So a bit about Gibraltar:

Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory and headland, on Spain's south coast. It’s dominated by the Rock of Gibraltar, a 426m-high limestone ridge. First settled by the Moors in the Middle Ages and later ruled by Spain, the outpost was ceded to the British in 1713. Layers of fortifications include the remains of a 14th-century Moorish Castle and the 18th century Great Siege Tunnels, which were expanded in WWII.               

We've been here before, but now following Brexit, things are a bit tighter and we had to go through passport control and have our passports stamped. Our intention was to mooch around and then eat out before returning. Unfortunately the weather was quite cloudy with a cool breeze, so it was difficult to know what to wear. My thin fleece was continually being put on and taken off. Luckily I had taken my backpack so that macs and jumpers could be carried. This was a very fortunate move because once on Gibraltar I was reminded that goods here are duty free. Having looked at prices in a few shops I managed to bag two bottles of 'Pussers Rum, Gunpowder Proof' for less than half price so I was happy. The shop agreed to hang on to them for me as I didn't want to drag them around given their weight.

Having window shopped all the way up Main Street, including a look around their Marks & Spencers store, and selecting a couple of potential establishments for a meal later, time began to drag. Referring to the map of Gibraltar we had acquired on our last visit here two or three years ago we noticed 'The Queens Cinema Theatre'. Thinking that perhaps they may be showing the latest James Bond film, we could go and watch that to kill about three hours. Having located the site we walked all around it, but couldn't find the cinema, but there was a car park next to the building we were looking around, and that sadly was where the cinema used to be. Never mind. It looks as if I'll have to by the DVD when I get home as I imagine it will have left the cinemas by the time we get back.

The Chef, having noticed earlier that the going rate for fish & chips here is £13.50 a portion, suggested that to kill time and save money we should walk to the Morrisons supermarket and buy some at their in-store cafe, and so we did. The only problem was The Chef came to tell me that she had been told they were doing no more food today. Oh how I laughed, having walked all the way to get there. So we ordered a drink and thought we'd just settle for that. Then I remembered seeing their hot food to take away counter, so I told The Chef I was going to enquire if we could buy some hot food there and sit in their cafe to eat it. It was in the early part of this conversation with a member of staff that I established that my darling Chef had misunderstood what she'd been told. They were still serving food, but they were not serving fish & chips because they had run out. So it was a couple of Southern-fried breaded road kill, chips and BBQ sauce. The Chef came back from the till having ordered them with a big smile on her face - after 15:00 it was a two-for-one offer, so both meal only cost us £6.50, though to be fair they probably weren't worth very much more than that, but no matter, we had full tummies as we left to make our way back 'home'.

I'm glad we came back down the road to say farewell to Gibraltar. I only stopped off once here when I was in the Royal Navy, and I can't even remember which ship I was on at the time. In those days it was a hive of activity and a proper naval base.

Until our politicians ran it in to the ground, Gibraltar was a major overseas naval base with a dry dock and repair facilities. It would have supported our Mediterranean Fleet as well as ships sailing the North Atlantic in WWII.