|Surf Bay on a calm, warm day. Every visit sees the beach re-shaped.|
At last, it's stopped raining! Perhaps it's not quite at UK levels, but the rain in December in Stanley was been as heavy as most people can remember. So much so, that the entire week of horse-races was cancelled for maybe the first time in 30 years. (If our friends who visited in November and enjoyed 2 weeks of unbroken sunshine are reading this.... it hasn't stopped raining since you left!)
|"Gone Penguin Watching"...Stanley shop sign|
The other unfortunate impact was that several shiploads of tourists arrived at the end of the year and most of the time they were ashore it was raining persistently. I was working as a Warden at a penguin rookery near Stanley for a couple of days, and I wasn't tempted to risk my camera in the rain, so I felt sorry for the tourists for whom this may be the only chance they have to see penguins in the wild.
Even so, I was a bit surprised at the number who took photos with their iPads. Call me old-fashioned, but they don't seem particularly practical. You can't exactly fit them in your pocket, and they don't look very waterproof. Am I wrong? The penguins seems puzzled at these people holding up what looked like tea-trays in their direction....
|Overdressed on the beach for a change.|
They are very shy, but I watched this one (below) through binoculars for about 15 minutes as it grazed on the marram grass which stabilises the dunes. I have lots of photos which show how well camouflaged it can be...
|A rare hare!|
Apart from the weather, the other recent talking point, has been the advert taken out by the Argentine President, Christina Ferdinand de Kirchner (or CFK, for brevity). Let me say right away that I have never met CFK, but every Argentine I have met has been polite, friendly and welcoming. Proud of their country, but not belligerent or antagonistic. So, I make the distinction between the politicians and general populace.
Now, I've seen many strange adverts or supplements in UK newspapers, usually extolling the virtues of Kazakhstan or North Korea or (Gaddaffi's) Libya, or some dictatorship. It never occurred to me that they were aimed at anyone other than residents of those countries. Certainly, no Guardian reader is likely to read them and say to their family - "Oh, North Korea sounds nice - fancy a house swap there instead of Tuscany this year?"
|Rock shag nestlings|
No - they are clearly aimed at the local populace, or to provoke a reaction such as happened. No publicity is bad publicity and what Mrs de Kirchner wants is publicity about anything other than her stewardship of the economy. What does an ad in the Guardian cost, anyway? Probably, the best-value 10,000 pesos she has spent in a long time.
|Lupins and Whalebone arch (and trees).|
So, there is little or no chance of Falklanders agreeing to becoming Argentinian. The Argentine government no longer, as it once did, tries to entice Falklanders to join that country. It has seen the light and given up that strategy. What CFK demanded of Mr Cameron was the return (sic) of the Falklands (ie, the territory, not the people).
What I think CFK and her acolytes seem to be suggesting is that if the islanders don't want to be part of the province of Patagonia, and are not happy about being "South American", then why not remove themselves to where they will be happy, eg the UK?
|"John Clark Ross" (British Antarctic Survey) arriving in Stanley.|
I'm not sure what the riposte is, but I suspect more emphasis needs to be put on the Falklanders' culture and heritage, and independent spirit. This would highlight that they have carved out an existence in a very challenging environment, and just because they are not of Spanish descent, it doesn't mean they can't happily co-exist in the South Atlantic. No-one seriously suggests that New Zealanders of British descent up sticks and head back to the UK. Both groups have been managing their respective island countries for about the same amount of time.
|Happy couples, mate for life, but have separate holidays after raising chicks!|
|Penguin guarding chicks in burrow.|
(I also heard the Sun newspaper has taken out an advert in a Buenos Aires paper in retaliation for the Guardian ad, telling Argentina, "Hands Off the Falklands". Would this be the same Sun that had "GOTCHA" on its front page when 323 Argentine sailors from the cruiser, Belgrano, were killed in the south Atlantic? I can't see its message carrying a lot of weight in Buenos Aires...)
Anyway, just wait till CFK finds out about Diego Garcia! Islanders' views paramount? Hmmm. End of rant......
|Same penguin in burrow, (bottom centre) near Gypsy Cove.|
Many thanks to Sue Gyford, a journalist I follow on Twitter, for tweeting the link to the Falklands newsreels on the Pathe website. (Coincidentally, I believe Sue has spent a few years on the Falklands. She also reported for the Edinburgh Evening News on a round-the-world yacht race 2011. Also on board was my brother, who was a crew member between Southampton and Rio de Janiero. Small world!)
The Pathe newsreels show some aspects of Falklands' life that are mostly gone - kelp harvesting; float planes, etc. But the couple I've looked at also show the landscape, which hasn't changed much, and some activities, like transporting sheep by small boat, that are still going on. They also make clear, that even in 1969, the islanders were extremely pro-British.
Pathe ..............a treasure trove. I just wish I had the bandwidth to explore it more....
And talking of bandwidth, January also saw the publication of the traditional Cable & Wireless-sponsored Falkland Islands Calendar, showing beautiful scenes of the Falklands. This one may become a collectors' item as February now has 30 days! I wonder if we'll have a couple of free days of phone calls or internet access?