New house, new job and a holiday in Gibraltar

The past few months have been very draining and emotionally challenging but I’m finally beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. This part of my website has been neglected for sometime over the past couple of years partly through me changing jobs, studying with the open university and now planning to leave Wales and return to my hometown of Newcastle. Of course along with the practical side of selling a house buying another and physically moving I’ve also been applying for jobs in the north east.

At 63 I only have 2.5 years of work left in me before the old age pension comes along but I’ve always been one to finish whatever I started and I’ve never been unemployed since 1971. Currently I’ve applied for several jobs but I thought I’d let you know about one in particular that I have a keen interest in.

If you have read my chapter ‘Memoirs of a Child in Care’ here on my website you’ll know I was born at Dilston Hall in Corbridge, Northumberland. Well some years ago when writing that memoir I revisited the place and it was then the headquarters of mencap. It’s diverse history includes it once being a workhouse but in the 1950s it was a temporary maternity hospital on loan from the Earl of Derwent hence it being my birthplace. Today it is an Academy for young people with learning disabilities owned by Cambian Children and I have an interview there next Friday 20 September 2018 at 10am so keep your fingers crossed for me.

Once the house move and job move is over I am looking forward to a long holiday in Gibraltar next June and heaven knows I’m ready for that. I look forward to seeing old friends, meeting new friends and walking familiar back streets while also having the time to feel that lovely warm Mediterranean sun on my back as I climb our beautiful rock. With that in my head I can cope with the stress and will sleep very soundly tonight.

Quite a busy day yesterday (and today) on my website; I’ve put a screenshot of the visitors below from yesterday.

If you haven’t visited it yet you’re very welcome to. It’s another strand of my autobiography detailing my time in Gibraltar during the 1970s and my passion for that lovely small nation. So if you love Gibraltar, or would like to know a bit more about her just click the link and come on in. Alan X 🙂

Gibraltar’s Bee Hotel.

Recently on my trip to #Gibraltar I came across this delightful children’s garden complete with a Bee Hotel in Alameda Botanical Gardens. It’s inspired me to do something similar here in UK with the children and parents I work with.

Since coming back from Gibraltar readers will know I’ve opened a new website to record my memoirs of the Rock which can be seen at (There is a link here on my primary website). I hve many hundreds of photos and select a few daily to compliment my blog there which spans the period 1974-2016. 

Reconnecting with my Rock

Halloah and sorry I’ve been absent for a little while. For the past few months I’ve been busy at work and then recently, as you know, I visited (my beloved) Gibraltar. I’m actually quite exhausted as I write because I only flew back to UK last night and then had a 230 mile drive home; shattered is an understatement and so this update will only be a short one.

Anyways although I’m tired I’m also really happy to have spent time in Gibraltar; so much so that I literally walked and climbed miles. Somehow I got myself up to the top of all three summits, in and out of tunnels, up nearly every back street and then around the north, south, east and west of the beautiful coastal Rock. No exaggeration I took 100s of photos and met and chatted with dozens of people.

Regular readers will know Gibraltar is very special to me and that my trip was far more than just a holiday; it was more a desperate need to revisit the place I left 40 years ago which always remained in my heart. During the seven days I was on the Rock I literally walked everywhere, soaking up how the new blended beautifully with the old, knowing exactly where my special places were and feeling totally safe wherever I went.

Im almost falling asleep now and so I’ll conclude this short post by saying I’ll be opening a new page soon here on my website to write my #memoirs of #Gibraltar. If my life is a jigsaw it would never have been finished without this piece. I hope you enjoy reading them X Alan X

(Photo taken opposite John Mackintosh Hall, Main Street, Gibraltar. May 2016).

Mediterranean Steps Challenge, Gibraltar 2016

Forty years ago I lived in Gibraltar while serving in the Royal Navy at HMS Rooke and it’s always been on my Bucket List to return at some point. Finally I’m going back on May 13th which I’m really excited about. But I’m also excited that – as well as getting to know my beautiful old home again – on the 14th May I’m taking part in this event climbing up the Rock for Cancer Relief. They say the record for climbing the steps is 15minutes but recently a young girl with cerebral palsy did it in 2.5 hours. I’ll be happy with any respectable time although speed isn’t my main focus; the views are to die for. Can’t wait.

Gibraltar, my Gibraltar, always in my heart


Here’s a special pik. Just had a virtual trip (thank you Google Maps) around Gibraltar where we used to live 1977/78 when I was in the Royal Navy and where Benita was born and where Tracey went to school. We lived with our three daughters at 21 Edinburgh House on Queensway (when I served HMS Rooke) and this photo shows the entrance to our home. It hasn’t changed one iota and I have nothing but lovely memories of our beautiful outpost. 
My virtual tour took me around my favourite haunts including Alameda Gardens, Caleta Palace, the Piazza, Irish Town, Montague Bay, Rosia Bay, Eastern Beach, St Michaels Cabin and of course the rock apes area. 

A really lovely blast from the past for me 🙂

To Australia with love…

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On Monday our beautiful grandchildren emigrate to Australia and so we spent a last day with them today at the coast; Skegness. Having lived abroad a couple of times (India and Gibraltar) we know it’s a wonderful opportunity for the children although from a selfish point of view there’s no doubt we’ll miss them. If there is one consolation these days it has to be technology because it’s made this world much smaller and easier to stay in touch with loved ones wherever they are. I guess it’s one of those times when I’m excited (for them) and sad (for us) both at the same time. Wherever they are, they always have our love x x

My greatest blessing

Today is my 38th wedding anniversary. I met my lady Ms.Grace, also known as Carol, when we were both teenagers and I’d just returned from a tour of the Far East. It was one of those moments when you look at someone in the eyes and see yourself looking back. Life had not been a ‘walk in the park’ for either of us and we both knew that before we’d even spoken a word to the other.

This is one of my favourite photographs; it shows Carol and me with our three daughters at their christening in Gibraltar where we were living at the time. It also shows how blessed I was then and explains why I still feel blessed now x


My Bambino daughters

When my children were little we lived in Gibraltar and Carol used to make all of their frocks and hats. Being three bonnie little girls they always turned heads particularly those of the locals who would call out ‘Oh bambino’s’ and make a big fuss of them all. When we returned to UK, on my release from the Royal Navy, I can remember standing at a bus stop with the children and when the bus arrived three or four women would get off to help me to get the children and the buggies and all their paraphernalia onto the bus (as though as a man I couldn’t cope :). Lovely times.

Today the girls are all grown, Tracey is 40, Sam is 36 and Benita is 35 and what I’m really proud of is that they’re all still close to me. They’ve all had pain in their lives but have come through; and between them all they have blessed me with 11 grandchildren.

What I think they have all come to realise is that although they are now adults with families of their own and lives of their own they still remain my bambino’s, such is the unique relationship between a father and his daughters.

This painting is connected to my song ‘Oh mien Papa’ ( the lyrics are on my Songwriter page).


Young Daddy

Sweet memories of being a young Daddy, with Tracey in 1977 (Gibraltar), with Sam in 1977 (Gibraltar) and with Benita in 1980 (Nottingham UK). Having three children by the age of 22 was tough at times but far too wonderful for that to be important. And still having very close relationships with them all is priceless.