Nearly four years ago I announced to friends and family that I had taken a job in the Falkland Islands and would be moving there in the upcoming Summer. It met with mixed reactions, some of which I’ll never forget. One common theme was the demand to be kept up to date on our adventures and to hear/see what life was like here. This is what led to the reluctant creation of the blog but it was something I understood; these islands represent a far-flung land that most people will never get the chance to visit and a basic curiosity about other places and cultures is embedded in the vast majority of people out there (apart from Americans, of course). I say the reluctant creation of the blog, as I’d never written publicly about my life before (never having considered it worth such attention before, nor do I now) but I do admit to holding a lasting concern that our daily goings-on wouldn’t really offer up much in the way of literary inspiration. In short, I worried I’d have nothing to say and this would soon spiral into every other social media feed you see whether you like it or not (namely: here’s our dinner, here’s a video of a cat/alternate creature, here’s what meaningless activity I just took part in, rinse and repeat). Luckily, the Falklands seems to turn up a little of the humdrum along with something a little different for me to turn my trusty laptop (Bernard) to.
We’re drawing to the close of yet another Summer here in the Falklands and the passing of time is marked by several key things (some no doubt familiar to you, some not): the steady darkening of the mornings and evenings, the thinning out of the cruise ship schedule and the commercial move from summer opening hours. This is also marked by the other annual schedule that we have tuned into here: that of the animal world. The adult penguins, now complete with their breeding and rearing, disappear out to sea and leave their juveniles to fatten up and molt into the feathers they need to survive the Winter. The juveniles, for their part, make their way to the beaches en masse and start learning to swim (far more successful than their attempts to fly) and the other birds and mammals follow similar threads before we say goodbye to most of them until next September/October. This would make the penguin appreciators out there a little glum, so Mother Nature takes this in her stride and offers something of a pick-me-up to make each March/April that little sweeter:
And sweeter it is! Teaberries are native to the Falklands and grow extensively across most of the islands, including handily close to Stanley. They’re also naturally very sweet, with a unique and inexplicable flavour. Some relate them to candy floss, some to Fruit Salad sweets, others just give up trying. They take their name from the fact that sailors used to also make a tea from their leaves. One source I read mentioned that this tea “had a funny effect on them”, but I tried it and felt nothing but a nice taste – no widespread hallucinogenics here! It’s altogether possible that those sailors were scurvy-ridden and that funny effect was ‘health’. Who knows. Anyway, we’ve been making full use of them, enjoying them on cereal each morning, with our Easi-yo yoghurt in the evenings and, of course, in the mandatory way:
This time of year, as if to signal that people are starting to have a little more free time after the tourist seasons, the Falklands likes to start ramping up the social side of things. The annual Horticultural Show takes place (picture every stereotype of a UK village horticultural show you can think of or have seen on Countryfile and add a team of gardeners from a former colonial Government House). Its charm isn’t lost on us and Han fed her competitive habit by entering the odd grown and baked goods for a little smugness:Obviously, as a thoroughbred Irish woman, receiving only second and third prize for her potatoes did cause outrage and widespread disapproval across her family but she has promised to try harder in future. How embarrassing for her.
We were also delighted to go and support our friends in some local amateur dramatics by watching FIODA’s production of the witty and timeless The Importance of Being Earnest:I don’t think it’s unfair to say that amateur dramatics can be a little hit and miss for those of us not appreciative of the finer nuances of theatrical arts, but this was genuinely great; very funny and a really enjoyable way to spend an evening. It also reminds me of the first time I watched a FIODA production just over 3 years ago, catching myself having an odd moment realising the absurd way that life can turn out when you don’t expect it; spending my evening watching a play in the Town Hall in my home city of Stanley; a place I never expected to even visit.
It hasn’t all been easy for us here. Last week, we made the tough but fair decision that our beloved and highly popular pet sheep Milo was simply getting too large for many of the gardens and their owners in town and that he deserved to spend some time out at a farm with other sheeps (actually being a sheep, rather than his usual disguise as a dog). It was difficult to decide on, but we had a kind and reliable offer of a good home for him at Estancia Farm where Milo could spend some time with other pet sheep. He had a few enjoyable days with us in town being spoiled before we took him out:
We were taking Milo to spend time at Estancia, which is not far off the North Camp road (see the map page) where we knew he would be happy and would be able to adjust well in the capable hands of our friends who own the farm:
It’s not the end for Milo and he may well make a return to town one day, but we wanted to give him a good place to spend the Winter without being tethered and having the space to roam for a while. If all else fails, he can always hop back in the car and come home: