Sunday, 30 June 2013

Midwinter fun, South Atlantic style.

[This is an intermittent diary of life in Stanley, Falkland Islands, South-west Atlantic Ocean.  This month commemorated the 31st Anniversary of the Falklands War, (see previous blog) and also encouraged some mad people to run into the freezing sea.....  There was also some snow.....]

"....Showing no fear of the hungry Sea lions, inquisitive porpoises, and the ever-present danger of marauding Penguins, that do roam this coastline and threaten our brave bathers!".  From the certificate I earned by running into the sea during the Midwinter Dip!
If that lilo blows away, next land is Antarctica....
The 'traditional' Midwinter Dip is just a bit of fun, allowing people to experience running into the Atlantic Ocean, while there are some bonfires and medical assistance available!
Roman Legion with prisoner....
Participants register, and receive a certificate and T-shirt for their fee, and the money raised goes towards some deserving local causes.   There's also prizes for the best costume, and this year there was quite a bit of competition.  Quite a number of people make the journey from the the military garrison at Mount Pleasant about 35 miles away.
Might need to turn down the central heating......
Several people wore the traditional swimming costume, but the big drawback with this is the lack of warmth it affords the wearer.  Although the snow had melted, the air temperature was barely above freezing and the sea temperature was around 3C!
Cool for cats....
So, some sensible people wore warm onesies, or similar costumes.  This keeps them snug while waiting for the start.  However, the obvious drawback with these suits becomes apparent when they get wet.....
Spectators keeping a sensible distance....
Not many people stay in for long, but to earn the certificate, one needs to get the hair wet. In the photo above, I can be seen to the right of the guy in black on his way out, still trying to get to deeper water.  I'm wearing a Harlequin's rugby strip..
Legionnaires debating how long to enjoy the waters...
After a few minutes, the blood flow to limbs reduces as the body retains it to keep the brain and torso warm.   You lose feeling in fingers and toes, feet and hands.  You know it's time to get out when your legs feel as if they are made of wood...
Time up for tiggers....
Although it was cold and wet, the weather this winter has been benign, so far.
There has only been on day of snowfall, and this caused the Midwinter Dip to be delayed 24 hours (to allow people to drive from Mount Pleasant in safer conditions).   However, it transformed Stanley streets for a day, covering them in a blanket of crisp, clean snow.

Most of the level roads parallel with the coast are gritted, and one or two hills, too.  But this leaves the majority of the steep roads closed to traffic.
Traditional transport in Stanley
And the lack of car and lorries provides a winter playground for the kids.  Luckily, it was a Saturday, so school didn't interfere with the enjoyment.
Christchurch Cathedral, in Christmassy mode.
The rest of the town looked like a scene from traditional Christmas cards.  In fact,  we defrosted some reindeer, and invited friends round for a FIXmas meal!  (Falkland Islands Xmas!).  Rudolph was delicious!
Victory "Green"
Dean Street under snow
The calm conditions have also provided several stunning sunrises and sunsets.
Pre-dawn display
These photos were taken from my bedroom window at about 8.30am, looking north-east.
Gulls waiting for dawn....
When gulls and vultures are on the roofs, it's usually because there is no wind for them to soar on.
Surf Bay, devoid of tigers, and Legionnaires.....
And now that Midwinter is behind us, we know that the days are getting longer, and that penguins, and other wildlife, will start to return in a few months to breed

More soon


  1. It is nice to see that Falkland Islanders get to have a touch of Winter weather. Compared to her it is more like mid Spring weather. Swimming in the Winter waters seems to be a world wide obsession. Around here a lot of Finns have settled. They enjoy dips in the icy water followed by a sauna or a roll in the snow and a retun to the sauna. This requires choping through a couple of feet of ice and enduring temperatures well below freezing. I am not a fan of this kind of abuse. I remember as a child swimming in Lake Ontario, in summer, when the sand was too hot to stand on and the water was too cold to stand in let alone swim in.

  2. Hi there, TPITS!

    I'm not sure you can call it "abuse" if it's self-inflicted. Just people doing silly things to combat the "boredom" of winter. Better than hitting the hooch... Good article here (by a very interesting journalist/writer) about who likes to live in the Falklands .. some are hermits, some explorers, some farmers...

  3. I should add - have you seen the Loony Dook? Edinburgh's greeting to the New Year....

  4. What kind of camera do you have? Your photos always seem to be magnificent!

  5. Thanks, Emily. You're too kind. It's a little Panasonic Lumix (DMC-TZ10). Excellent lens and zoom.