Monday, 25 June 2012

It's FIXMAS!!!!!!

"So here it is, Merry FIXMAS, everybody's having fun!"
(After Slade)
10 minutes to splashdown
 Today is June 25th, six months from Christmas, but as we are in the southern hemisphere, and everything is upside-down, many people celebrate a form of Xmas around now.  Or maybe it's an old pagan ritual, taken over by the Church to keep interest during the long dark nights....?
The Falklands method of fire-starting.  No rubbing of twigs, here..
 The nights certainly are long and dark now in the Falklands, but after the recent snow, the days have been bright and crisp.  Temperatures hovering around freezing, but with wonderful cloudless skies.  (Needless to say, since I started writing this, it has changed to grey, low clouds.....)
Getting in the mood
 So, last Saturday, the annual Midwinter Dip took place.  Loosely based on the Loony Dook in Edinburgh, it entails a lot of well-wrapped people watch a lot of scantily-clad people run into the sea, getting wet and run much more quickly out again.
Local Air-Sea Rescue crew reckon that someone falling into the sea might have about 10 minutes before they succumb to the temperatures.   I can vouch for the speed at which your body shuts down to protect itself....within less than a minute, I could feel nothing below my knees....
The waves have lapped Antarctica
 The venue was Surf Bay, about 2 miles east of Stanley, and I have noticed that, no matter how little swell or wind, there are always big waves here.  Sure enough, we could only wade out about 30 yards (to about knee depth), when the rollers rolled over us, ensuring everyone got their hair wet.
The dentist. Last man standing.  Must be on Novocaine. 
 On trying to stand up again, it felt as if someone had unscrewed my feet - there didn't seem to be toes and ankles down there.  Very soon,  fingers and hands were also numb, so I listened to my body and tried to find my faithful photographer and towel holder, Annie.  Annie also held my glasses, (as to lose them would be more than inconvenient when the optician only visits once every six months), so finding her wasn't easy.
Look behind you!  Armed Forces Day.
 But, we'd agreed to meet beside a oil drum brazier where I could defrost as I waited....
Falklands car park
Very quickly, I dried off and put several layers of clothes, on except on my feet, which is not a mistake I'll be repeating.  The sand on the beach was frozen, and my crocs were all that were preventing frostbite.
Dolphins often surround boats.
Later in the day, we had a pre-FIXmas dinner walk, along the frozen sand dunes.  From here, we watched  dolphins cavort around a small boat. And we also saw some resident Gentoo penguins strolling along the beach. ....  
Local gentoo penguins soaking up the sun....
If anyone is interested for their own Christmas celebration, I followed this set of easy recipes from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.  Lovely roast brussels sprouts to go with the beef, and roast potatoes!  Easy-peasy!

By the way, 25kg sacks of potatoes are now being sold for £5 here, which is the same price as the large Rib of Beef joint.  However, meat and potatoes are the only cheap food in the shops - Sprouts are about 50p each;  and an individual leek is over £2.

I'll just have to look out recipes for potato bread, potato scones, potato soup...... and I'll need to do more Nordic Walking to work off these tatties....!

Merry FIXmas!



  1. I think you are extremely brave joining in with
    the Fixmas Celebrations! Well done Peter!
    Still enjoying your blog. Sue

    1. Thanks. Probably a bit soft in the head, rather than brave.... But its a bit strange when you are getting undressed on a beach beside the Deputy Governor and the Attorney-General!

  2. Hi Peter. I don't believe it was that cold! It looks a lovely bright sunny day, better than 25th June here anyway. I can't believe how little some of the swimmers were wearing, having been dumped in the English Channel in October (that was quite cold enough for me) and very much a southern softy I am in awe of their bravery or is it madness. Take care. Bx

    1. Hi Bx - The sand was frozen! It looked like normal sand, but when I stepped out of my Crocs, my feet lost their feeling. Yesterday, I walked over the dunes and they were like concrete. The good thing about the weather was the lack of wind - that made the temperature bearable. More photos on my simplynordicwalking blog...

  3. What a wonderful idea - I wonder if I could re-create it regarding my birthday - two would be so nice.
    The recipe for roast sprouts is interesting - we tried roast brocolli this week and it certainly took on a new flavour.
    I am so glad that you are getting into this cookery thing and there is a whole 'potato recipes only cookbook' - will dig it out for you!

  4. I have one friend whose Birthday is December 25th, and so celebrates on June 25th to make sure it's noticeable! Please don't go to a lot of trouble with the book. Am visiting South American soon - the home of the potato. I'm beginning to resemble one - hence why few photos of me in swimming!

  5. Hi Peter. Your cousin Janette here. Loving the blog and the photo's are fab. x

    1. Thanks, Janette. Good to hear from you! I heard Robert was hoping to meet up. We'll be out of circulation till end of July, but hope to keep the blog going when I return. Take care, peter x

  6. Robert, Karen and I met up for lunch last week. Really nice to see them both. Turns out I know your Aunt Rose's daughter Rose. I work with her at the Vale of Leven Hospital. Small world or what? Look forward to more pics. xx

  7. Small world, eh? I'm off to Chile for a couple of weeks. Ask Robert for my email address if you don't have it. cheers