Thursday, 5 July 2012

Uneven Camber

[More tales from expats in the Falkland Islands.  Currently, we're 51 degrees south and around 0 degrees Centigrade!]
Meadowlark in snow
About once a month, my wife and I join a group of Ramblers for a leisurely walk in the area.  It's a good way to get to know who's who, and what they do.  And also to try routes we might not attempt on our own. (There seems to be a lot of fences and gates, many with signs saying "No Access", and it's only recently we  found out that many people just ignore these!)

View from front door during blizzard.

One Saturday night a couple of weeks ago, a raging blizzard dumped a few inches of snow on our doorstep, but in the morning all was calm and bright...once we'd removed the drifted snow from doors and windows.
Kitchen window with drifting snow.  Empty shell on window-ledge.

Entrance to our snow-cave.

The Pink Shop.  Meeting point.
It's snowing again today, and it reminded me that I hadn't yet posted photos from a walk in the snow about 3 weeks ago.  Been busy with Liberation Day celebrations and Midwinter Dip....see other blogs for details.
Dean Street and Deanos Bar
We met at 10am on Sunday in the centre of Stanley, and on this occasion, about 12 of us drove to the west end of the harbour, known as Moody Brook, which is where the final shots were fired when Stanley was liberated in 1982.   It was also where the forty Marines who were stationed on the Islands were based, and so the barracks there were the primary target of the Argentine invaders.  The barracks were destroyed by shelling during the War.
Cathedral and snow squall
10% gradient

Upland Geese in the garden
Only a couple of hills are gritted - this isn't one of them.
Road to Moody Brook.  Golf course on left....
The morning, as you can see, was bright and crisp, but very cold, so we were keen to get going. We were going to walk about 3 miles along the northern shore of the harbour to the former Naval refuelling depot known as Camber.
However, I have to say, the afternoon deteriorated and we returned along the same path into a gale with hailstones in our faces for about an hour.  This exfoliates the skin better than any expensive spa treatments, but didn't allow me to take many photos.   A very uneven walk!
Moody Brook.  Mount Tumbledown in distance
Two Sisters mountain.  45 Commando fought on these hills after "yomping" 60 miles from their landing beaches.
Nordic Walker, and wife.
Ramblers who wished they had Nordic Walking poles.
Nordic Walkers
The fuel depot used to store coal, and then fuel oil, for Royal Navy warships in the South Atlantic.  The Falklands have a strategic position and have seen the first naval engagements in both World Wars - The Battle of the Falklands in 1914, and the Battle of the River Plate in 1939.
Old pumping station
But the depot has long been superseded by a military facility at Mare Harbour, near the Mount Pleasant Complex (garrison and airport), about 40 miles south of Stanley.
Hebe Street is now a sledging hill.  "Chez nous" is top of photo, 2nd from left.
However, it was a very pleasant walk, to start with, and it afforded views across the harbour to Stanley.  "You can see our house from here!".  You could also see the children using the snow-covered hilly streets for the traditional sledging.
Just before the ice breaks...must have been all that home baking!
Before turning round into the gale, we had some hot drinks and sandwiches while sheltering in the lee of an abandoned container.  There's a few derelict storage tanks and sheds, and a private house, but having noticed the impact the sun has, I can see why everyone else chose to  live on the south side of the harbour.

We may not see the sun for long at this time of year, but it is all the more welcome for that.

Looking west along Stanley Harbour
Soon, we're off to see where Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid holed up, so it may be a few weeks till the next posting.  If there's anything you want to know about the Falklands, but were afraid to ask, please get in touch, and I'll try to answer.    If you would like to visit these unique islands, let me know if I can offer any advice.

"Dos cerveza, por favor".  Yep, that should do us......


Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Stanley's Civic Style

[An occasional look at life in the Falklands through the eyes of a recently-arrived visitor]

As I won't be updating this blog for a couple of weeks, I thought I'd post some more photos to give a sense of some of the main buildings in Stanley.  Some are historic, and maintained by the local Museum & National Trust, which is funded by the Government.    More detail below.

Gilbert House - home of the Legislative Assembly
Gilbert House is opposite the famous Malvina House Hotel, and next door to "Penguin News", the local weekly newspaper.  This is the area of the Dockyard, where the Museum will be moving to next year.  Much more central than its current location in Holdfast Road.  (When British troops approached Stanley on June 14th,1982, they stopped at the edge of town.  As the Commanding Officer was going forward to negotiate the surrender, nothing definite had been heard from the Argentine forces, so he told the troops to "Hold Fast" their positions, until he returned.  When the town expanded after the war, this holding position was commemorated in the road name.)

Town Hall and Post Office and  red phone boxes..
Next to the Dockyard is the Town Hall and Post Office and Philately Bureau.  Stamps are a major source of income for the Falklands, and the Post Office is a social hub of the town as everyone must go there to collect  and post mail as there is no delivery or collection of mail, which does lead some people to question why they need to buy stamps!!

The Town Hall also houses the Law Courts, the Registrar and a Dance Hall which is a popular venue for the many functions - The Winter Ball, The May Ball, The Operatic Society, and this week - Farmers' Week!

Police station and prison (maximum population, 4)
Not quite opposite the Law Courts is the Police Station, which was a key building for the invading Argentine forces in 1982, and, as a result, was heavily damaged by British Forces during the War.  Now, extensively rebuilt, it also houses a Prison which can hold up to 4 (four) prisoners in Home Office-approved accommodation!
Directly opposite the Police Station is the Standard Chartered Bank, which I have not been tempted to photograph yet.  You'll just have to imagine what it looks like, sorry.  It's a bank with no cash machines.  One has to go inside and talk to the teller if you want a service.  It won't catch on.....
"Royal Falkland Islands Police"
Prison, Police Station, Pedestrian Crossing, and Catholic Church
The pedestrian crossing on the main Ross Road was introduced last year, and has proved very popular with people wishing to cross the road....
Formerly Upland Goose Hotel, now cottages.
A few yards from the Police Station is a row of white cottages, called Marmont Row, but which were much better known in a former life as The Upland Goose Hotel.   This Hotel had an interesting role in the Falklands War and is mentioned by many of the correspondents like Max Hastings and Robert Fox, as a great place to catch up and compare notes.  During the War, Argentine commanders stayed there, running up large bills, which they paid for with the new currency - the Peso!
Where do you want to go?
Just to the east of Stanley, on the way to the domestic airport, is a tall signpost known as The Griffin.  So, this is the place to come to have your photo taken in front of the sign for your home town!
Distance to Llantwitt Major! 
We know a lovely Welsh lady who hails from Llantwitt Major, and a lovely place it is, too.  Hello, Karen!

About a mile past the sign-post is Surf Bay, scene of the recent Midwinter Dip.  Sorry to lower the tone of this edition, but I thought some may want an update on the Dip.
Midwinter Dip - huddle for warmth, anyone?

The above video was produced by the British Forces Broadcasting Service, from whom we get most of our TV and radio.  Quite a large proportion of the loons throwing themselves into the very cold South Atlantic  Ocean were from the Armed Forces.  Much more challenging than diving into the Med when you are based on Cyprus for a year!

If you're observant you might see me about a minute and 49 seconds into the video (standing beside a big bloke in a blue bikini!), and  my wife and I appear near the end at 6:21.  She wearing a very warm black coat, and me shivering on frozen sand.....

Hasta la Vista,


Monday, 2 July 2012

Sunset, sunrise and more horses....

The last month has had some great weather - mostly fine, stable and cold.  The main exception being the morning of Liberation Day (14th June) when the assembled troops, bands, Veterans, locals and visitors endured heavy, driven snow.  As usual, the weather was completely different in the afternoon!
Stanley Growers' Union Flag on dawn of Liberation Day
 I've had to scrape ice off the car windscreen most mornings, and on one occasion discovered that the ice wasn't clearing as it was mostly inside the car!
 The skies have been amazing, too.  Stunning dawns and sunsets most days.  And the night skies have delighted anyone who cares to look up.
For more details of what's up there, try here >
Dawn, 9am,  28th June
This week has given the opportunity to see Mars (clearly pinkish to the naked eye)  and Saturn in the evening, and Jupiter and Venus shining brightly for an hour or so before Dawn (around 9am).
Venus and Jupiter in pre-dawn sky
 And while casually watching the planets one morning, we spotted the International Space Station, zooming across the sky at 17,000mph....
The start of 30th June
Below are various views of Stanley and environs.  As it is now July, I have a new month's allocation of internet usage and will not be able to use it all, so am loading up many photos this week, while I can!  Most don't need any comment from me.  Enjoy.
Silver lining

Dusk of Liberation Day

Bedroom view - west

Bedroom view - east
Liberation Monument
The Liberation Monument this morning at 8am, with Venus and Jupiter shining bright.

Two Sisters

Icy pond

A dusting of snow on the dunes....
Horses on common, near airport

Typical Falklands potholed road, near Stanley Harbour

Looking for food, but carrots are £1 each!

Stanley Harbour and hills in distance
Two Sisters
Liberation Monument
Lady Elizabeth sunset
The days are getting longer, so hopefully warmer weather is on the way.  We're off soon to warmer places in South America.  Back in August...

Happy Birthday tomorrow, Sophie - don't eat too many cakes!