|First frost of the year|
Walking down the hill, we could see HMS Clyde in the harbour, bedecked with bunting. As we approached Victory Green, the crowd grew as we waited for the arrival of the Governor and the military commanders.
|Victory Green, with former Upland Goose hotel behind|
The green is about 500 yards by 50 yards, lying between the sea, and the main road along the front of Stanley. It's usually empty, but for some ceremonial cannon, a mast from SS Great Britain (which lay in the harbour for decades), and dozens of Upland Geese enjoying the high-quality grass and the tranquility.
|HMS Clyde and spectators|
At one end of the green are a couple of good shops and the West Store, which stocks mostly Waitrose products. Facing the Green, are Stanley House, a boarding facility for children from Camp attending school in Stanley; the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) office; the former Upland Goose Hotel; the Police Station (and prison!). At the west end of the Green, on the shore side, is another great gift shop; the Bank; Town Hall; and Post Office. Downtown!
|Geese enjoying the quiet.....|
|Vultures - do they know something?|
Punctually, His Excellency, the Governor, arrives in a shiny Range Rover. (By the way, he doesn't govern! He is the Queen's representative. A Foreign Office diplomat who works closely with the Falklands Islands government on policy matters. The UK is responsible for the Falklands' Defence and Foreign Policy. Everything else is run by the Falklanders themselves.)
Accompanied by military commanders from the British Forces, South Atlantic Islands (BFSAI), he takes the salute as Flags are raised and lowered. The guard of honour - made up of members of the Falklands Islands Defence Force and counterparts from BFSAI - is inspected. All seems in order.
|Inspecting the troops.|
I've heard gun salutes in London a couple of times, but they were probably a few miles away from me - perhaps in Hyde Park. You would notice them, and think "What's that? Oh, it's the Queen's Birthday", and get on with your sight-seeing. It was less intrusive than a car horn warning you not to step off the kerb.
"KA-BOOM!"Not in Stanley. Not when the guns are 20 yards away. I heard the first command "Fire!", and that was about the last words I heard for about 15 minutes... The geese got the fright of their lives and flew off cackling for all they were worth. 20 more explosions followed, echoing off the hills, and filling the green with smoke.
|RAF and Royal Navy make an appearance|
Eventually, the guns fell silent. Someone, I think it may have been the Governor, suggested "3 cheers for Her Majesty...Hip, hip...". The guard of honour sloped arms and marched off. The Governor's entourage made their way back to Government House for a reception, and some of us wandered around waiting for the geese, and our hearing, to return.....
As we were dispersing, we bumped into a couple of ladies we'd met on Sea Lion Island in February.http://peterspenguinpost.blogspot.co.uk/2012/02/sea-lion-island-where-giants-collide.html
|Ashford Spinning Wheel|
|Warship in the harbour; Upland Geese on the Green|
As she produced much-needed hot coffee and home baking, we couldn't help admire the many examples of her other skills in profusion around the house. As winter was approaching, the spinning wheel was being brought out for the long, dark nights. Crocheting, cross-stitching, felting, patchworking, knitting, weaving, basket-making, tapestry,embroidery and more was also in evidence.
There's quite a thriving craft "industry" in the Falklands, although it's definitely at the cottage level. Cruise ship passengers usually snap up the high-quality, stylish products, but I feel it could also benefit from a high-profile "Falkland Islands" brand - such as Fair Isle jumpers enjoy.
Some reviews of shopping opportunities can be found here -
As I write, on St Georges Day, it is a Bank Holiday (for the Queen's Birthday) on the Falklands. Here's hoping the traffic isn't too bad.
The Queen is 86 years old. Who can remember another British Monarch? Not many of us. I wonder if the next monarch will get the crowds out in far-flung corners of the globe?
Happy St Georges Day to my English friends!