It’s often stated that the Falklands are one of the most remote communities in the World. It’s not that we’re physically that difficult to get to as such – we have an airport with weekly flights, after all. We’re in comparative connected luxury if you speak to our overseas territory friends on Ascension Island at the moment, or Tristan da Cunha. The thing is, logistically speaking, getting here isn’t all that simple. You need to jump on an 18 hour RAF flight from Brize Norton at a cost of £1600 for residents, £2222 for non-residents. You can also fly for 2 days via South America but there is only one flight per week from Chile and that is usually booked up. That means that people here don’t often get off the islands. Even the journey itself is a little unusual, you don’t usually get this treatment at Heathrow:
As a result of this, we’ve only been back to our respective home countries twice in the last three years and avid followers of the blog will recall that both were for reasons that didn’t lend themselves to a relaxing time. This winter/summer (depending on your hemisphere), however, we booked an extended trip ‘home’ (with some other jaunts thrown in for good measure).
Naturally, I guess, trips off the islands involve catching up (read: binging) on those things that you simply don’t get or see for the time that you live remotely. This could be anything from M&S Percy Pigs to attending events or whatever might take your fancy. The same goes with how you might choose to spend your time away so I disappeared North for some Lake District scrambling with some good friends that I haven’t scrambled with since before we made the move, which was incredibly wet but both the company, the green landscape and the climbing made a good change from the white grass wilderness of the Falklands. Han stayed in London also catching up on missed opportunities: a girly weekend of pampering.
From there, we headed South to where I grew up to catch up with family in Kent for a few days before flying across to Ireland to meet up with Han’s family and throw a party at the scene of our wedding one year on. Thank you to everyone who made the effort to come along, it was great to see so many people travel to celebrate with us.
It would seem that our trip home was to be characterised by several things: a lot of miles, a lot of walking and a lot of friends and family. We, of course, took the opportunity to see some of Ireland’s treats while we were there including the Clare Glens river walks and the excellent Spike Island historic fort/prison:
Ireland was able to provide greenery, historic sites and loved ones but it wasn’t able to provide one other thing that we have been lacking a little: sunny, sunny weather. For that we headed off to wonderful Croatia! We were spending two nights in Pula in the North, before chartering a yacht to spend some time sailing around some of Croatia’s small islands for a touch of familiarity for us. Historic Pula was first on our list and it didn’t disappoint for this keen historian:
From Pula, the outer islands beckoned so we zipped out to Cres, Losinj, Unije, Ilovik and Susak. Coming from a small island nation, it was great to see the individual characteristics of the different islands and it was oddly familiar seeing the ways of life on each one. In particular, the island of Susak has grown without any cars on so the alleyway-streets and olde world charm were reminiscent of another era (something we’re used to from the Falklands but not to that extreme):
With our annual sun exposure topped up, we flew back to Ireland for a few days, taking in a few more sights and then zipped back across to the UK to continue the theme of ‘things we don’t get in the Falklands’. Namely; professional development. As well as doing some work in a hospital, Han had booked into a course as remote island living can mean that you’re a little out of the loop when it comes to your profession so it’s important to make the most of time off the islands in that sense. We then dropped down to London for a night out with our Falklands friend James before a last-minute trip to Berlin to see our friend Kyra (of Zuckerfee fame). As a historian, my (shockingly) first trip to Berlin was spent taking in as much as possible of the history of Berlin but also enjoying the fascinating juxtapositions that this has resulted in today – stunning period properties seen alongside Soviet concrete blocks and very modern developments all co-existing with an arts scene that rivals any capital in the World. I liked Berlin and, luckily, we left enough unseen to warrant a return trip:
Add into the mix a return trip to London for a few days, before heading to Salisbury for our traditional few days with my brother’s family and we ticked off a few more things we couldn’t do or get here in our remote island home before flying back South. All in all, both Han and I have many things that we miss about our respective ‘homes’ but the return to the islands and our welcome back from so many good friends has been a lovely reminder of the benefits of living in a small community and does make it difficult not to think of this remote outpost as home too.
At least 22,260 miles were covered in our trip, so you would have thought that that would keep us going for a while in terms of travel, but we’d already lined up something a little special for our return so stay tuned for that.