Sunday, 25 August 2013

Snow fun....

[This being an occasional look at my life in the Falkland Islands.....  The last week has seen intermittent snow showers sweeping across the islands.  The weather delayed the Airbridge flight from the UK - causing the passengers to enjoy the delights of Ascension Island for a couple of days.  One of those delayed also happens to be a reader of this blog, and I bumped into her at my neighbours' house today.  What a small world and what a delightful surprise!  Welcome to the Falklands, Emily!  Hope you enjoy it here.]
Snow Penguin
Just as I thought Spring was in the air, the wind direction changed to the South, and bought with it numerous snow showers.  In between the showers, bright sunshine shone on the carpet of icing sugar.
Whalebone Arch, Stanley
All very pretty, but it does play havoc with teaching people to drive, which I am doing at the moment.  Some roads are gritted in Stanley, but most of the roads on steep hills are not.  Hill starts can be a problem on ice!
Upland Goose
The geese have been finding it difficult to find food under the snow, but they are now daily visitors to my back garden, and are doing a great job of keeping it trim.  Although we do have to be careful where we stand when hanging out the washing!

Keeping the grass in trim, just prior to the snow...
Meanwhile, realising we hadn't seen penguins for a few months, we set off to the sand dunes in Yorke Bay, just east of Stanley, where there is a large gathering of Gentoo penguins.
Penguin watching, Yorke Bay
Gentoos stay in the Falklands all year round, and these penguins have been at this location for a couple of years.  They don't appear to be breeding, but otherwise seem a healthy population.
Gentoo penguins in the dunes.
The only drawback is the restricted access due to a minefield! However, this probably provides the penguins with some peace and quiet.
Commersons Dolphins, surfing, in Surf Bay
Later in the same day, we visited Surf Bay - a long, sandy crescent facing east, and usually sheltered from the prevailing winds.  Although sheltered, some of the huge swells that travel through the Drake Passage and around Cape Horn, make landfall here.  The breaking waves can be spectacular, and we were lucky enough to watch a pod of dolphins surfing in the huge waves.
Flock of two-banded plovers, Surf Bay
There were also flocks of plovers, searching for insects in the rotting kelp that had been thrown onto the beach by recent storms.
Stanley direction post - the Griffin.
Meanwhile, back in Stanley, the sunshine and snow sooner had a path been salted and thawed, than the snow covered it again, then freezing to sheet ice overnight.
Plenty of parking at the West Store
Christchurch Cathedral, and International Tours and Travel office.
If you would like more information about visiting the Falkland Islands, there are a couple of  travel agents, eg, International Tours and Travel -

For information about tours, guides, and accommodation throughout the islands, this site is very good - The Tourism Board site -
Dean Street - off limits to drivers.
John Street awaiting the gritting lorry.  Pink Shop on the left.
Marmont Row (formerly the Upland Goose Hotel), and a white Victory Green....
George, the local pet reindeer, scraping for fodder.
On the social front, our quiz team has been knocked out of the Falkland Islands Radio Service (FIRS) Winter Quiz.  We only narrowly lost in the semi-finals (having received a bye!), finding the round on identifying the local voices a tad tricky!  Must do more research!
Snowy kelp on the beach
Whalebone Cove
If you would like to see parts of the Falklands at any time of the day, you can look at the webcams on this site (formerly Cable & Wireless) -
Another spectacular sunset over Stanley

And if you want to see more stunning clouds, this is the place for you >>

There are also pages on Facebook where Falklands photographs are published regularly: some historic, some about sunsets, and some just about people having fun in the Falklands!

More soon,


Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Port Harriet Ramble

[Continuing the everyday ramblings of a Falkland Islands' visitor/resident.  Away from work, my wife and I really enjoy exploring the Falklands' countryside.....]
Belted Galloway - a hardy Scottish breed - observes the Ramblers.
 Last Sunday brought clear, blue skies, and a touch of frost.  Perfect winter walking weather.  About 20 Ramblers headed out of Stanley in a small convoy of cars, some of which parked at the walk's finish, while the rest carried on about another 5 miles.
 We had agreement from the landowner to walk around the Port Harriet farm, and set off downhill from our cars, across moorland, 3 miles to the coast.  For the main part, we followed a bubbling stream, which sometimes spread out to form bog, and at other points, squeezed between rocky outcrops.
Either climb or squeeze through small gap.
 At one such outcrop, we explored a small cave, which, in another continent, in another time, may have been home for a family.  But the Falkland Islands have been "adrift" in the South Atlantic for about 400 million years, and so there is no sign that Man has ever been here.

A sea inlet
Once we had negotiated this cliff, and repaired heads that had clashed with the rocks, we set off south again, across the boggy moor.  After about an hour, we reached a sea inlet, and followed the coast for another few miles.
Picking a route through the pathless moorland.
 The walking is hard-going due to the constantly uneven surface.  Every footstep has to be checked before putting your weight down.  Several times, hidden holes caused the unwary walker to stumble.  Nordic Walking poles proved very useful in regaining the vertical, although it took a bit longer to regain one's dignity!
A sheltered lunch-spot.
We had now been walking for about 2 hours, it seemed a good spot for a refreshment.  The bay was sheltered, and the warmth from the sun made one think that winter was coming to an end.
Following a Landrover track
Soon, we were on the move again, as we still had about another 3 miles to cover to the cars.
Taking in the scenery
 Passing a small herd of Belted Galloway cattle, we soon came to the south coast, where a gentle swell was breaking on the rocky beach.
Balsam Bog plants amongst the rocks.
Unfortunately, we didn't see any penguins, but did see lots of cormorants, petrels and ducks.
Cliff-top walk
 However, we could now see a large grey cold front approaching from the west - the forecast snow and hail!
Pleasant camping spot, but Cold Front approaching from the west.
The sunshine was going; the wind was picking up, and discarded layers were being retrieved from rucksacks.  Spring had not yet sprung and Winter was approaching rapidly.
Handy shelter from the sleet.  No more "Mr Blue Sky".
Within about 30 minutes, squalls and hail encouraged us to shelter at a pile of sandbags (purpose - blast shelter?), while the car drivers returned to the start to retrieve the rest of the vehicles.

While we waited, we could watch the large number of Southern Giant Petrels and Turkey Vultures which frequented this spot, as it is where the waste from the nearby abattoir is discarded!

Soon we were back in Stanley, and able to thaw out in a hot bath, while the snow carpeted the town.  My driving lessons were in jeopardy this week!
Another fine dawn.  This at 08:10, so getting later every day!
more soon,


Tuesday, 6 August 2013

"All work and no play...

.....makes Jack a dull boy", as the saying goes.

And, indeed, makes Peter a less frequent blogger.  My apologies for my lack of posting recently, to those of you in the UK, USA, Ukraine,  Hungary, and all the other places that are home to readers of this blog.
2 days snow this winter, but generally mild.
My idyllic, indolent life in the Falkland Islands took a strange turn recently - I found paid employment!  As I have said in the past, there is virtually no unemployment here, and the recession doesn't seem to have affected the country in the same way as in European countries.

My work as a Nordic Walking Instructor continues, but in winter, many people fly to warmer climes, and you don't get much more of a contrast than between the UK and the Falklands this July.
HQ of Penguin News, Stanley
Despite it being the 3rd warmest and driest July on record, the average temperature in Stanley was a mere 3C (37 Fahrenheit).  From what I gather, it was about 30 degrees warmer than that in the UK for much of July!
And so, many of my clients have been away on the summer/winter holidays.
Gilbert House, home of the Legislative Assembly
So, I was looking round for some interesting work prior to the tourist season starting again in October, and I applied for a few vacancies.

Well, it's not for me to say employers are desperate, but I was successful at all of the interviews....
Typical sunset...4.30pm
I am now working part-time as a Driving Instructor, braving the icy hills of Stanley in a small saloon car. I also have a consultancy role with the Government, which uses skills that have been dormant for a few years.  However, I seem to be picking it up again quickly.
One of the better sunrises. 9am.
I also have some other activities in the pipeline, which I will mention in more detail later.  Added to all that, is the continuing pressure of winning local quizzes.   Last month, our team once again were the Stanley Arms quiz champions. Last week, saw a scratch team (including the local History teacher), win the Community School quiz. (It was to raise funds to send pupils to the UK for a Tourism project).

All very competitive, though.
Searching for the Solar System sculptures....
This week, we are semi-finalists in the FIRS (Falkland Islands Radio Service)Winter Quiz......  watch this podcast!
Heavenly bodies, eg, Saturn in the foreground! On the Solar System sculpture trail.
So, sorry about the dearth of news recently.  More will follow now I am getting to grips with mixing work and play!

However, all this work is interfering with my photographing the sunrises and sunsets, so I hope you enjoy the ones in this blog.  I don't know when I'll next get a chance to see a good one!  Work, work, busy, busy!