As previously explained, I quite like to share the odd tidbit of Falklands trivia. This appeared on Facebook this week and it rings true of many visitors’ comments that we’ve heard here (along the lines of “you don’t realise how big the Falklands are until you get here”). Now comprehend the following with a population of 3,300 people (about the same as a UK village).
Contrary to popular belief the Falkland Islands are not somewhere off the coast of Scotland but this is how big they’d look if they were. The Falklands are actually about the size of Wales (UK) or Connecticut (USA)
Not long ago, I posted a video made by a travel blogger. As a historian, I know all about how projected images can and do often (usually) skew reality: it is, after all, the basis of all social media and the reason why such platforms are so toxic at a social level. Still, we take part in it and, hopefully, remember that everything that we are seeing is what the creator wants us to see (or we don’t and our mental health has been repeatedly proven to suffer). It’s nothing new: I recall running a lesson on images of a monarch from over 500 years ago. My class of 13 year-olds were able to create a set of criteria that was being used to project a particular image (facial expressions, clothing, background, objects etc) and it took a surprising amount of time before they realised that the very same criteria could be applied to almost all of their friends’ social media profiles to prove that we have always and likely will always project images in a way that benefits us. Thus, this blog is just like one such object that happened to be in one of those images: a double-edged sword. On the one hand, we want to keep friends and family members up to date on what we’re doing and preserve our own experiences for future reference (already it is nice to look back on). On the other hand, we live in a small and isolated community with many close links and are contractually obliged by Falkland Islands Government (the largest sole employer in the country) to not say anything negative in public media about said employer. If you’re thinking that, perhaps, such a policy could stifle innovation or accountability then my only response can be an ambiguous “who can say?”. So this IS a projected image; a highlights reel of our life in another place. Why doesn’t this matter to me today? Read on:
There are, of course, downsides to living anywhere (especially Milton Keynes). While the Falklands is an amazing place to live, it can also be very frustrating as the potential of the place doesn’t always match the reality. When you see what some other small islands are doing taking advantage of their small populations to make mind-blowing progress on environmental issues, it gets a little irritating: taking Orkney as a case in point. Today, however, such irritations were kept well in check. I finished work and was driving home when I noticed what a nice evening it was (nothing unusual so far, the winter sunrises and sunsets are often the best) so I decided to check out a tip-off that I’d seen about some sightings off of Cape Pembroke so I extended my commute by about 15 minutes (that’s four-fold, mind). I soon pulled over at the edge of the road, halfway to Cape Pembroke Lighthouse to see several Southern Right Whales in the shallow waters between the Cape and the nearby Tussock Islands (I tried to photograph the coast so you can get some scale):
The mighty Southern Right Whales (an excellent infographic on them here) are distinct for the calcification on the head and for the time they spend in comparatively shallow waters, so it was stunningly close to shore to be watching these mighty giants.
As if an after-work free whale-watching session wasn’t enough, they were joined by other cetaceans along for the experience (Commersons Dolphins) :Here I was thinking that just the sunset in this maritime setting was going to be cool enough:As the blogger in the video so rightly put: there is something about this place that makes the outside world drift away. When you’re standing in a shirt and tie 20 minutes after finishing work watching whales and dolphins from the roadside on a cool Monday evening as the sun leaves an amber hue on everything around you, it’s hard to think about anything negative at all. We do live far from some of our friends and family and this place does have its daily irritations, but for all of that we can have other-worldly experiences like this. For nothing. Regularly. I’m finding it hard to argue with that projected image today.
For friends and family that perhaps struggle to understand why we live so far from ‘home’, hopefully videos like this will give you a better idea about why we have chosen to live our lives in this remote corner of the World: