Monday, 14 May 2012

Misty Isle, and cats on planes....

It's been very misty over the last couple of days, meaning very few photo opportunities.  So, I was thinking how glorious my last trip to the "Misty Isle", that is Skye, north-west Scotland, had been 3 years ago.
Eilean Donan Castle, near Skye.  The Falklands lacks natural building materials!
Now Skye probably gets more rain than the Falkland Islands, but the clever marketing name of "Misty Isle" still attracts the tourist, hoping for the odd sunny and calm day.  Although some parts of the Falklands resemble parts of Scotland, you don't see old castles, due to the dearth of local building materials (and labour to construct them.).  So I thought I'd publish this one, and maybe people who can't get to the Falklands will be tempted to visit Skye!
Tussac bird trying to get out of the wind.
However, the wildlife in the Falklands is good, even near the capital, Stanley.  Although not always easy to photograph, it is all around.   I often take exercise on a local beach, and twice in the last week, I've had a close encounter with a resting seal.
Seal, suspicious of paparazzi
I noticed what looked like a track of someone sliding down a dune, on a tray, but it was actually made by the belly of a seal struggling UP the dune, about 100 yards from the water's edge!

Sleepy seal, Surf Bay
We both got a surprise, but I don't think the seal was too disturbed as it was still there the next day.  Maybe it was tired by all the swimming around.   Next month, this beach sees the annual mid-Winter Dip, which should see a lot more frenetic activity from people, some with a lot less blubber than the seal!
Cape Pembroke dunes from Lighthouse
At the weekend, the mist returned, but we joined the Ramblers on a bracing 5-mile walk around Cape Pembroke - the most easterly point of the Falkland Islands.  On the way, we saw dolphins twice, and many penguins, but these were on fenced off beaches which may have mines on them.  (Penguins are too light to trigger them). 
Cape Pembroke Lighthouse - disused
Luckily, someone had the foresight to obtain the key to the disused lighthouse, so we could have a hot drink out of the weather and explore the fascinating building.
Looking east.  Next land is Chile, 12,000 miles away
It had all been shipped in numbered, steel sections from the UK and assembled on-site, in 1907.  The location at the entrance to Stanley Harbour meant it played a vital role in keeping shipping off the many reefs and low islands around the coast.  It was last used in 1982, when the Governor ordered its light extinguished on the eve of the Argentine invasion.  Nearby, a rather ugly beacon now flashes away, but doesn't require lighthouse keepers, and certainly wouldn't entice people to walk through bad weather for 2 hours!

For more information on historical buildings and artefacts, please have a look at the local Museum site - 

For those interested in island life, here are a few random snippets from this week's Penguin News - available at all good outlets in Stanley or online (well worth the subscription).

#  A local man has been given a licence to sell his home-brewed beer.  I tasted a pint of it a couple of weeks ago at Fitzroy Sheep Show, and I'm looking forward to it coming into production!

#  TV Chef, Phil Vickery, has been touring the islands, making use of local produce, such as the lamb.

#  A cat escaped from its transit box on a local flight and got trapped under the pilot's controls.  The flight was delayed for about an hour whilst Whiskas and milk were used to entice it back into the box.

#  A tame hen is missing from Callaghan Road,

#  And very worryingly, a beehive was found attached to a recently-arrived container.  Nick, my bee-keeper friend in Sussex, tells me the bees wouldn't survive due to lack of food and the wind, but gardeners are still suffering from the influx of earwigs 3 years ago in a wood shipment.  The bio-security precautions are usually fairly tight here, but, occasionally something will slip through.

Only in the Falklands.....It makes a change from being the subject of diplomatic rows.



  1. That Pint looks good Peter. I could be tempted down there for that.
    Keep up the stories. Not a place I have known all that well.

    1. It was good, Lily. Jeff, the brewer, has applied for a licence. However, its been that long since anyone brewed beer here, no-one knew how much to charge for a licence. A compromise was reached. Anything's got to be better than the imported tins of lager...

  2. Hi Peter, Although we can't compete with penguins and seals
    thought you might like to know that Carolyn and I have just
    returned from a walk where we saw our first Kingfisher by the
    river Mole - we've only been waiting two and a bit years since
    our first Nordic Walk!! Happy Days! Still enjoying your news.

  3. Hi Sue, a Kingfisher! Special! I think many people overlook the diversity and beauty of wildlife on their doorsteps. Certainly Bushy and Richmond Parks are among the best urban spots in the world.