Wednesday, 8 July 2015

In the grip of Winter

An occasional glimpse at life in the Falklands........

I'm not sure what happened to Autumn, since my last posting was about summer.  Now we are in the middle of winter!  Apologies for the lack of news from the South Atlantic!
Christchurch Cathedral
 Winters in the Falklands are not usually severe.  In fact, on still days, they can be very pleasant.  And we don't normally get much snow.  But this year, we've had about 3 flurries in the last month, and it has been cold enough to turn to ice, which makes driving difficult both in the hilly town of Stanley and outside of town, in "Camp", where all the surfaces are gravel.
Dean Street
 Only a few key routes in Stanley are gritted/salted, so most of the hills are off-limits to drivers, and the kids can enjoy sledging.
Land Rover graveyard
 However, today, it was announced that the road out of town to the airport was closed to all traffic due to ice.  Even the gritter truck had had difficulties on the surface.  I'm not sure what the oil workers who arrived today to do their 2 weeks on an exploration rig feel about being stuck in an airport after an 18 hour flight, but no doubt the topic of the road will come up, again, at local political meetings....
Stanley cemetery
 Meanwhile, my work as a driving instructor takes a back seat, and I have time to capture some snowy scenes in Stanley.
Chile win Copa America!
 On the sporting front, the last week has been a memorable one. The Falklands sent a team to Jersey to participate in the Island Games, against the likes of Greenland, Faroe Islands, Isle of Wight, Orkney and so on.  They did themselves proud, beating Gotland (Norway) in the football, and winning silver medals in the shooting and archery.  I think the golfers suffered in the heat, though!

We had a memorable night in a local pub watching Chile beat Argentina in the Copa America. A very popular result in the community, which has a thriving Chilean minority.   A team of ice hockey players also won a competition in Chile, beating an Argentinian team in the final.  Yet, we have no ice rink in Stanley!
Frozen harbour
Having said we have no ice rink, two nights ago, the temperature fell to -7C.  There was also no wind or sea swell.  Overnight, the harbour froze, and all the ice was deposited on the shore as the tide receded.   Locals say it is about 20 years since this happened!
Preparing for Midwinter Swim
 Two weeks ago, the annual Midwinter Swim took place.  Many of the participants drive up from the military base about 35 miles away, and compete with each other to see who can stay in the sea longest!
Organiser (clothed) with Midwinter swimmers...
 Some people wear fancy dress, but quickly find out that a furry penguin costume loses it appeal when soaking wet!   Brrrr.
An old cycling top gets an outing
 For the fourth year, I joined in the fun, but this year I tried wearing a pair of neoprene socks.  They do make a difference.  I managed to stay in the water for about 90 seconds!
Air-sea Rescue on hand throughout.
Also in the water, was a member of the crew of the Air-sea Rescue helicopter.  He was winched down into the sea, waded ashore, started the Swim, then waded out and was winched aboard the helicopter again.

However, he was wearing a dry suit, so he doesn't claim the record of the longest submersion.

Wherever you are, I hope you are coping with the weather!