Gibraltar Revisited

Eleanor Gemmell (Leaney Ex. Wren Writer) Carol Watkins (Ex. Chief Wren Quarters) Carol Gibbon (Hayter Ex. PO Wren RS) Monica Nicholls (Ex. Leading Wren Writer) Vicky Cronin (Chester Ex. Leading Wren DSA) Sue Mitchell (Lester Ex. Leading Wren RO)

I am writing this article on behalf of a group of six former Wrens who last year had the pleasure of revisiting Gibraltar some of whom had not been back since leaving there in 1970. We had all served together from 1969 to 1971 and had been stationed at RAF North Front except for Carol Watkins Chief Wren Quarters who was stationed at the Royal Naval Hospital.

We duly set off from Heathrow Airport bound for that unique Rock situated south of Spain, just 3 miles long and 1400 feet high. The weather on our arrival was very foggy and there was some doubt as to whether we would be able to land but thankfully being British Airways they decided it was safe to do so.

We managed to find some self catering accommodation in the one and only apartment block situated along Eastern Beach which was very near to RAF North Front. Our apartment was on the top floor which would have been good except that there were no lifts which meant a lot of stairs that had to be climbed On the plus side was the magnificent views that we had all around including overlooking the RAF station where we had lived all those years ago and the accommodation blocks were still there. In fact very little had changed except that the RAF no longer live there and it was now occupied by other military forces.

We spent five days visiting old haunts and reminiscing as we went along. Catalan Bay was still our favourite beach and we spent quite a bit of time there either on the beach or frequenting some of the bars situated along the promenade. The Village Inn is still there although in a slightly different position than it used to be. The Caleta Palace Hotel is still the main hotel at Catalan Bay and looked just the same.

We did the usual touristy things such as touring the Rock on an organised tour, after the two cruise liners which were visiting on the Wednesday morning had left at lunchtime. The Barbary Apes continue to be a wonderful tourist attraction We learnt very quickly to be very vigilant in their company as they would steal anything they could get their hands on and you would be hard pressed to prize it away from their possession. We were fortunate in seeing some very young monkeys only a few days old.

Main Street continues to be a wonderful shopping paradise with its duty free goods which proved very tempting. It is still very British but there were certainly some good bargains to be had. At the bottom of Main Street was Casemates Square which had many bars and restaurants and proved to be a very lively place to sit and watch the world go by. We spent many a happy hour drinking sangria from the rather large pitchers.

On the final evening we ventured to the Ocean Village for a special meal before we left the following day. This feature had been built in recent years on reclaimed land and it was a most attractive venue for our last meal of the holiday overlooking the marina with some very expensive and exclusive boats.

We were all very sad to leave but vowed to hopefully return again one day to finish off what we had been unable to achieve in the few days we were there. We took away many happy memories which we had relived again after some 44 years.