They’re not cannons….

Apologies for the lack of update of late; we have been severely hampered in our adventuring by the lack of car. The Hilux is well and truly dead, thanks to a snapped chassis and some damage to the engine (somehow). This presents more of a problem than you’d think. Bearing in mind Stanley only has about 2500 residents, you’d have thought that everything would be very accessible but a short look at Stanley on Google Earth (or other tax=paying satellite spy software) will show you that every house is detached with a garden, strung out along the stunning Stanley Harbour, so we’re 35-40 minutes’ walk from the School, 20 minutes’ walk from the centre of town and at least 30-40 minutes’ walk to the beaches and penguins of the surrounding areas. Beyond that, the enticements of Camp that you’ve seen so many photos of are thoroughly out of reach so our lack of car becomes incredibly constricting. I felt this when I first arrived and splashed out on a mountain bike just to get out and about (largely un-used though that might not be a bad thing as I heard tale of some people having to over-night unprepared in a small shed they found after getting lost out in Camp recently). Still, the search for the car continues (to put things in perspective, a 2000 Pajero with 175,000 miles on the clock fetched £2500 recently). We should have shipped one down…
Aside from that, we said goodbye to our good friends Emma and Marek last week (who are now privvy to the Pengoing South link – hi guys! We miss you but our livers don’t). They had left their visit to the surprisingly excellent Stanley Museum (photo-guide to come) until their penultimate day but we popped in there and spoke to the staff about our initial visit to the cannons I found. They had returned to identify them and confirmed that they weren’t cannons after all (so my kickass coffee table is back on the menu but far less cool as a concept now). On the plus side, they weren’t sure themselves at first so I didn’t make too much fun out of me for being a history teacher and incorrectly identifying cannons. The search for beach treasure continues!

Han has been due to update on her trip to Saunders Island and the famous ‘Neck’ with her new zoom lens, but those that know Han won’t have been holding their breath for photos. In her defence, a sneaky Windows 10 update on my laptop stole a significant percentage of our internet tokens so it might wait until next month. Still, it is in the pipeline. It’s half term next week (thankfully!!!) so we’ll be tagging along on as many adventures as we can so please don’t disappear off the scene just yet; blogs are coming!

Until then, we hope the Northern hemisphere Winter finds you all well and we’ll keep you posted on our adventures as they continue.

Gunning it along Eliza Cove

Shortly before last weekend’s car-related unfortunate incident (yes, she’s still stuck out at Goose Green and no, we haven’t yet found a suitable replacement), I wanted to go all Neil Armstrong on things and head over to a place called Elize Cove, just on the other side of the peninsular that Stanley sits on, to go where no man had before…for 34 years. I had first seen Elize Cove on one of the many out-dated maps adorning our front room wall (they aren’t printing them this century). I rode toward the curved beach on the map only to find that the track there was lined by the familiar red signs dangling from barbed wire. At the end, blocking one route was the local tip and blocking the other was a group of friendly Zimbabwean BACTEC workers in suspiciously armoured clothing using their sadly-acquired de-mining skills for the benefit of the Islands. Eliza Cove didn’t turn out to be the ideal location.

Fast forward several months and I hear on the Stanley grapevine that Eliza Cove has been de-mined and, for the first time in 34 years, people can once again walk the bay. Irresistible.

I’ve spent many hours wandering the beaches for treasure here, not sure what to find but expecting to turn up something cool (I’ve had whale ribs nearly my height, a complete glass medicine bottle from London from between 1890-1940 and some Falkland pebbles which we’ll discuss at a later date) but so far I’ve not been pleased with what I’ve turned up. Scrambling over the rocks at Elize Cove BLASTED all of that away:

To me, these looked suspiciously like cannon barrels and had clearly been there some time, especially as no-one had been there in 34 years. A call and meeting with the excellent Stanley Museum saw us checking these out with some local historical enthusiasts, but my dreams were soon to be DETONATED. It seems, after closer analysis, that these may just be very old gas canisters washed up from a sunken fishing ship. I CANNON believe it. It seemed as if I had inflated my find, perhaps guilty of being a little BOMBASTIC. Still, the Museum want to haul them up and find out what they are so await news on that. Apparently, if they are cannons I am not allowed to keep them and create the best coffee table in the world. I regret calling them a little bit for that.

On the plus side, the Cove also must have been an old WWII firing range or something because these 1941 cases were everywhere (that’s Han’s hand, not mine) so it wasn’t completely history-free. DSC_0218

Puns as requested by Simon. Sorry.

I killed a Hilux

Lots of people come and go here. Those on short-term contracts (Contractors) are in abundance so it leaves an odd dynamic to life. In most towns and cities, most of the people you meet are people who live there and will be around for a while so you can bank on lasting friendship. Here, things are slightly different. The population can only be described as ‘transient’. A significant proportion of the people you meet are either starting, part way through or just coming to the end of a contract of 1-2 years and therefore are essentially in the process of leaving. This is, in many ways, quite sad and has inevitably seen us losing some people we hold as good friends (We miss you Zoe and Travis). You meet people, become good friends with them and then, before you know it, their contracts are up and they are taking the 18 hour flight back to UK. This would be easy to criticise but we find ourselves in their very situation. I guess, for those arriving next year, we are likely to be those people; part of the tight-knit community here and yet due to depart and possibly never return.

I’ve spoken to at least one Islander who adopts an attitude to us contractors akin to that of Vietnam infantry greeting replacement troops; try not to learn their names, don’t get too close and it makes it easier to deal with losing them. I can’t say I buy into that philosophy at all, though. I don’t see that it’s right to deprive yourself of the effect that so many people could have on your life, especially when Han and I met while we were at Uni and were therefore due to leave. We never could have known we’d end up engaged. With that all in mind, we’ve been good friends with a couple of people here on a 3-month contract (Marek and Emma you’ve likely seen in our photos) and we’ve been trying to share as many adventures with them as possible. While Han was away thistle-bashing on Saunders (her blog on that is due at some point), I decided to tick a few things off Marek’s Falklands hit-list before they depart so we set out on an ambitious jolly; a round robin of East Falkland heading up to Cape Dolphin (see previous blog), loop around to San Carlos (the British landing site from ’82) and come back to Stanley via Goose Green and the Bodie Creek Bridge, with the intention being to make it back to Stanley for dinner plans at a friend’s by 6:30pm. Things did not end like that.

Cape Dolphin worked out well, a gorgeous day took us up to East Falklands’ most Northerly peninsular. No sooner had we stepped out of the car and I began warning the boys about the danger of sea lions appearing out of nowhere than we jumped at this big beastie awaiting us next to the track. Cape Dolphin is 2 hours’ drive from Stanley, with no phone or VHF radio signal (used quite a bit here) and a 45 minute off-road drive from the nearest house. A break-down here would have been pretty tiresome and a very difficult recovery.

On the way in I thought I’d felt something go on the front suspension (not unusual as we had driven over 8 miles off road) but it seemed OK when we checked it out so we dropped down on to the rock shelf to spend some time with the sea lions. It was a difficult place to leave but we’d disturbed them enough. The sea lions will run from you, which makes you feel a little guilty but it did give me this series of pictures which I quite like:

Following that the car thankfully fired up fine and we headed to San Carlos for tea, fine company, reassurance of the car’s suspension by a proper Benniee (a Falkland Islander, farmers usually) and then on to Goose Green and the Bodie Creek Bridge for sunset. Never does anyone think they’d be standing at the Southern-most suspension bridge in the world on a sunny day in the Falkland Islands.

SAMSUNG CSC

Bodie Creek Bridge

Things were going well until our way back to Goose Green when, on a perfectly flat bit of track, something went crunch and my steering locked up. Even I knew that was not a good sign. True enough, there was no further for it to go. The car that had been so much a part of my transformation into life here was dead (broken chassis from what we hear but we’re waiting to get it into town).

SAMSUNG CSC

The final resting place

During our various off-road adventures, I had been wondering what would happen if you broke down in Camp, away from any help. Turns out we found out the hard way. Luckily for us, our valiant vehicle chose not to lock the steering doing 60mph on the MPA road, or out at Cape Dolphin where she’d have been impossible to recover without a helicopter or something but she carried us not far from Goose Green and we walked it, made use of some Falkland hospitality and waited out for our lift; not such a chore with the classic Falklands sunset:

Watch this space for news on our newest transport and the adventures it brings us. We’ll miss you Surf!