Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Bambi burgers! Plus the most southerly Marathon.......

[This is an occasional insight into the life of an expat in the Falkland Islands, 400 miles off the coast of Argentina.....]

After all the excitement of the Referendum into the Falklands political Status, and the new Pope, it was back to basics - eating, driving, quizzing, running (not me, but some fit people with good knees).......More below.

Although meat is readily-available and reasonably-priced, beef and lamb tends to dominate, so it was with some relief that we heard that venison was to appear in, low-cholesterol....
Penguins and reindeer!  Where in the world?
I took the above photo a couple of years ago on South Georgia, one of the few (if not the only) places in the world where you could see penguins and reindeer together.   I say, "could", as most of the reindeer have just been culled in an effort to restore the original habitat of the island and allow native birds to thrive.  The reindeer eat the grass that birds use as nests.

Sami herdsmen from Scandinavia and marksmen from Norway, have been part of a team to eradicate the  descendants of the dozen which were introduced by Norwegian whalers about 100 years ago, in order to provide fresh meat.
Safely in Stanley.  A pet reindeer.
Despite having their seasons reversed, (think how difficult it is for an animal to be born in Autumn!), the reindeer thrived and around 3,000 were living on the sub-Antarctic island, 700 miles east of the Falklands.  To help offset the cost of the operation, many of the carcasses were expertly butchered, frozen and shipped back to Stanley for sale.  I joined a queue last Saturday morning outside the house of a representative of the South Georgia Government.  As I moved inside, some delicious venison stew was offered by the ladies taking the orders..... "A leg, some shoulder, and some steak, please!".    Can't wait for it to defrost!

For more information on what's happening on South Georgia, try the following site.

 Although deer might elicit some sympathetic reaction, the next target species is rats.  They eat the eggs of ground-nesting birds, so are a high priority.  There's no word about whether we'll be able to supplement our diet with any more novelty meats.....
Running up Rowlands Rise, heading out of town.
Sunday saw the annual running of the Stanley Marathon, sponsored by a local bank (no names, no ATMs).  It is the most southerly marathon in the world, and, for a change, the weather was kind to the runners: light winds, and about 16C.
Head to head, with 10 miles to go.  The man on the right sold the venison!
I don't think there's 26 miles of tarmac in the Falklands, so some of the Stanley roads had to be covered more than once.  Also, several teams of runners participated in relays along the course.  This had the effect of a small convoy of cars leapfrogging the runners to wait at the next relay change-over point.
Heading out to the airport for the first time.
So, despite the sparse crowd, every so often, the runners would pass large groups of enthusiastic supporters cheering their man (or woman) on.
Some lovely new tarmac at the edge of town.  The eventual winner pulling away.
 As the race progressed, runners became isolated from their nearest rivals as different fitness levels became apparent.  The hilly course tested everyone, even the military guys from the garrison at Mount Pleasant.
Governor Nigel Haywood, passing Studio 52 gift shop at 24 miles.
 After 3 hours, the leading runners returned to the seafront in Stanley.  I think the RAF pilot who flies the VC-10 tanker (remember them?) won in a fast time.  But, I think most people would agree, it's the taking part that is important!
The Governor, on his birthday, nearing the finish...
For full details of the results please see the online or paper version of Penguin News.  However, if anyone is interested in a particular result, please let me know.

This competitor, left, took 9 hours.....
One of the competitors felt the hilly 26-mile course wasn't enough of a challenge, so decided to walk the course wearing a suit of body armour, weighing 45kgs, used by bomb disposal experts.   Running wasn't a sensible option, so this meant setting off at 4am, so that he could finish along with the rest of the field.
Air Force runner, with Royal Navy spectators.
Still smiling after 26 miles! (And the Governor walking home  in background!).
I tried smoked toothfish (a local delicacy)  the other day.  Similar to kippers - delicious!  It may be marketed as Chilean Sea Bass, but if you find it, do try it!  It's caught in well-managed fisheries in the South Atlantic.
A small team of friends and I won the (very competitive)  Archery Club Quiz at the weekend.  This was held to raise funds to send archers to the Island Games, to be held in Jersey in 2014.  Small island communities around the world compete against each other away from the "big" events like the Olympics.  The Isle of Wight and Anglesey also compete, as well as some more far-flung locations, such as the Faroes and Bermuda (where a team of Falkland golfers will be going this year!).

Before Christmas, I noticed my car tyres were badly worn.  They had been new when the car arrived last March, but, in less than 5,000 miles of driving here, have had to be replaced.

However, I could find no new tyres (of the right size) in the islands, so had to order them from the UK.  They arrived last week.  I never thought I would miss Kwikfit tyre fitters, but I was dreading getting a puncture on the rough roads here.  Next week, with new tyres,  I'm venturing out of Stanley for the first time for a while.  Elephant Beach beckons!


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