Monday, 20 February 2012

"Yes! We have no bananas!"

After exactly one month here, I'm beginning to appreciate how surprisingly interesting the shopping experience is in Stanley, Falkland Islands, given the general dearth of produce, and low turnover of sales.

Sea Lion recently seen in central Stanley
On the food side, we are really aware of the seasons.  There is no, or very little, flying in of food from across the world.  I have yet to see a banana since arrival, or a chicken on the chilled food shelves.  You won't find mange tout from Kenya!

The editor of Penguin News, Lisa Watson, was fantasising about interviewing Flt Lt Wales, and was trying to decide what her first question to the famous visitor would be if she was allowed access.  She decided on  -   "Did you bring any bananas, Sir?"

Air-Sea Rescue training.  HRH on board?

Salad vegetables were a rarity, until today, when the shelves were groaning with lettuces and tomatoes.  Root vegetables, mushrooms and fruit are scarce, unless frozen.  Fresh fruit is pricey: most fruit is individually priced, eg 50p per apple; 80p per plum, etc.  Onions are about 60p each.

On the plus side, beef and lamb are plentiful and around half the cost of UK equivalents.  I'm beginning to wish I'd bought that book "The Complete Book of Mince", by Rene La Sagne, but I was convinced, with a name like that, it was a spoof!

We like Whitby, too.  Capt Cook came from there.
Apart from the "Air Bridge" MoD flights from RAF Brize Norton (twice-weekly), there is a weekly LAN flight from Chile.  But this has been so busy in recent weeks, there has been no room for freight.

But, despite the shortages of certain goods at certain times, it's actually quite refreshing to NOT have a choice of 17 types of tomato, or 12 different potatoes.  Shopping takes a fraction of the time as in the UK!

The other supplies come by ship every 4-6 weeks, from the UK.   Many F_Islanders order by internet from UK shops and have goods shipped out.  You just need to plan ahead.  So apologies to friends in the UK who may have been expecting presents this year!

But, apart from clothes, most things are available in the shops.  It's just that it may not be obvious which shops supply which products....
Dolphins often seen in Stanley Harbour
I found coat-hangers hard to track down, but, after about 4 failed attempts, found them in "Falklands Farmers" shop, near the horse feed!
The Victory.  Good beer, good food.
There are some beautiful shops, like The Pink Shop, which showcase local artists, knitwear, and jewellery.  Really high-quality stuff.  But if you also want a tent or a gas canister, it's all there in another room.....It is the main camping suppliers.

And the first gift shop most tourist see by the jetty, is full of penguin paraphenalia, but is also the only shop that I've seen selling eggs!

As the locals tell us - if you see something you like, buy it!  You never know if you'll see it again for months!

Thanks for all the supportive messages. We really appreciate them.   I know the Falklands have been in the media spotlight recently, but for those living here, life goes on.  Most people are more concerned about where to find eggs for Pancake Tuesday, than whether a Prince is down the road!

STOP PRESS - No sooner had I mentioned the lack of eggs, when West Store becomes full of them.  The power of the internet, eh.  I bought a couple of dozen in case they run out!  :-)

So, pancakes today,  after all.

(What?  No Penguins??  You're sacked!  Ed.)


  1. Peter - another lovely post. Wanted to link to you on my blog but the URL was not recognised (think you need to press an appropriate button -from a friend of a friend in TD). How perfect to have less choice and lots of lamb ... I am coming!!!

  2. Thanks. I've now ticked a box called "Show email posts", which is supposed to make linking easier. Hope this helps. Peter

  3. Sadly Peter this did not work. The site cannot detect a URL for you (whatever that means) - will get my resident expert to try and solve it for me/us when he eventually gets out of bed (6am here in London)! I should love to add you to my bloglist and get everyone to see your wonderful photos.

  4. Done - how wonderful to have a Mr Whizz Kid on hand.

  5. Hurrah! Plenty of eggs to go with those soldiers now!!! Lots of chatter here about the Fl. Lt's. visit being a wee bit antagonistic, so it made me smile to see that the local is called The Victory, classic, renamed in the last 20 years per chance?

    Enjoy the pancakes, assuming of course you've tracked own a frying pan.

    1. Frying pan came with the house. Just noticed the eggs' sell-by dates are gone (this is common here, but not with perishable stuff). Locals suggest the military were having a clearout of their stoers before the next ship arrives. Thanks guys. Didn't Wills want them? :-)