Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Pottering around San Carlos

[More tales from the bottom half of the Atlantic.  We are living in the Falklands and  Christmas is approaching, despite the summer weather - how about some hand-painted pottery as gifts?}

Last weekend, a group of us decided to try our hand at pottery, or, to be more precise, painting pottery.  The pottery was in San Carlos, about 70 miles to the west of Stanley by bumpy road
Mt Usborne from Darwin. (Lodge, centre,  has green roof).
 To break the journey, my wife and I decided to drive down the night before and stay in the comfortable Darwin Lodge.  This is situated in a very peaceful and pretty corner of the Falklands.  Next to the sea, it overlooks the range of mountains that traverse East Falklands - Mt Usborne being the highest.
Looking north to Mt Usborne
 It is also adjacent to a significant battlefield from the Falklands War, where the first land battle took place between 2 Parachute Regiment, and the Argentine forces.  The British Commanding Officer, Colonel "H" Jones, was awarded a posthumous VC for his part in the battle.
Blue Beach cemetery, San Carlos
The next day, we were able to visit the small British war cemetery at San Carlos, where Col. H Jones is buried.  The cemetery is next to the beach where the British forces landed in June 1982, to re-take the Islands
Ruddy-headed ducklings
 However, if you were not aware of the history around you, you might be forgiven for thinking that these tranquil places have always been as calm and peaceful as they were last weekend.
Over the hill....
So, after breakfast at Darwin, we drove the 30 miles or so north over the mountains to San Carlos, and the White Grass Ceramics pottery.
My coaster, right, takes shape.
 The pottery is the brainchild of the owner, Andi Neate, a popular singer-songwriter who hails from the north-west of Scotland and is now enjoying life on the farm in the south-west Atlantic.   She runs a cafe, and makes the raw clay pieces which people can paint and buy.
A study in concentration
 After trying to find inspiration for our commemorative plates, we decided that each of us would paint whatever we liked.  So, I decided to try to paint a penguin, before finding out how tricky they can be.... Maybe elephant seals would be easier....?
The shy black-necked swan....
Albatrosses, vultures, sheep, whales - all were candidates for the plates, but I finally realised that a black-necked swan would be much easier!
San Carlos Water
 The afternoon flew by as we worked on our designs.  Certainly, I had never done anything like it, although there were a couple of talented craft folk in our group who knew the benefit of quietly knitting or sewing or spinning wool.  Very relaxing
70 miles of gravel to Stanley.
Andi gathered up all our creations and promised to deliver them soon, after firing up the kiln.  
 All too soon, we were heading over the pass again, with a backward look down to San Carlos Water, and then downhill across the vast plain of East Falklands.  The British troops in the war "yomped" (walked), fully-laden, across this terrain in 3-4 days (as they had no air transport).
Approaching Stanley
The only other traffic we saw was a lorry! In about 2 hours, we were back in the relative bustle of Stanley.  It was nice to be back on tarmac again!

A Grand Day Out!

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