Thursday, 26 June 2014

World Cup Fever & Midwinter Swim

Here am I, sitting at a PC, 400 miles off the east coast of South America, waiting for the sun to come over the horizon.  I've been back from medical treatment in the UK for about a month (see previous blogs), but am soon heading north again for a long-planned annual holiday!

The Arctic Tern spends six months of the year in the Arctic and the other 6 months in the Antarctic.  I'm beginning to feel like an Arctic Tern....

Meanwhile, World Cup Fever is sweeping parts of Stanley, the normally quiet capital of the Falkland Islands.
Chile and Spain fans celebrating the new order....
Last week, I watched the match between Chile and Spain in a pub full of Chilean fans.  Their enthusiasm and good humour was matched by the endeavour and skill of the Chile players in overcoming the old colonial power.  Spain, as World Champions, were not expecting to get beaten and return home so early.

But there seems to be a widespread upsurge in skill, pride and nationalism across Latin America, which is resulting in many European teams being surprised.  I don't have any photos of England, or Italian, fans celebrating.....  (Being Scottish, I am quietly celebrating Scotland beating Argentina at Rugby last week!)
HMS Clyde, with tug in tow

The other major event happening around Stanley is the Midwinter Swim, although not much swimming goes on.   It's more a gentle trot into the waves at Surf Bay, then a sudden realisation that the human body cannot survive long at those temperatures, followed by a sprint back to the beach and the burning braziers.
 Quite a few people dress up for the swim, and a number of penguins were spotted on the beach, although it's not clear which breed they were.
Air Temperature 5C, sea temperature, 2C
The good news is that our days are now getting longer.  This week has provided lovely views of the moon and venus just before dawn.  But today it was cloudy and the stars were obscured.  However, the sunrise was worth getting up for.  In fact, as the sunrise was at 9am, I had been up for a couple of hours before I took the photo below.
Dawn approaching at 8.38
Hopefully, we will get a bit more daylight in the northern hemisphere.  Looking forward to it, but will miss the spectacular skies above the Falklands.

This is an aspect of life here that few tourists get to enjoy.  Most tourists visit in the summer as part of an Antarctic cruise.  Midnight sun is all very well, but the stars and the sunsets can be amazing, too.

Lastly, but certainly not least, the Falkland Islanders commemorated Liberation Day on June 14th, marking 32 years since the islands were liberated from the Argentine invasion force.  Several small ceremonies were also held, including one to salute those who died on HMS Glamorgan on 12th June 1982
HMS Glamorgan memorial
The ship had been providing naval gun support to British troops attacking Argentine positions in the hills outside Stanley.  The ship delayed its departure and was spotted passing near Stanley.  An Exocet missile was launched from land and hit the ship.  Remarkably, due to evading action by the captain, the ship survived, but 14 crew members lost their lives.

As is often said here, "WE WILL REMEMBER THEM".