Remembrance weekend this weekend, so hectic - and a busy time over recent weeks- home for half term with Phoebe and apple pressing, and then back to real Spring time down here, and a long line of visitors - sadly all military!
Highlights of the past week or two since coming back have been clear blue skies and sunny days, walks on the beach, and watching the dolphins. Commerson's dolphins are smaller than average, black and white (the soldiers who came to lunch yesterday saw some from their landing craft and nearly upturned as they rushed across to see the 'killer whales'!). Dolphins genuinely seem to enjoy playing. They rush in with the waves, nose to the very edge of the water, and just as the wave breaks, they 'tube' along it. I don't think this is fishing - just fun. All the animals are very curious,and when you are on the beach, seals and dolphins all pop up heads to see what is going on.
Last night we were at a British Legion reception at government house,and met Archie who has been with the British Antarctic survey, and is now involved with the government of South Georgia. He was describing the view from his office- snow ice and penguins. Some of the Antarctic Survey guys had just arrived back after sailing across in what I would call a very small yacht! - it apparently took 5 weeks, and having heard the stories of the size of the waves, I think they must be mad, but they seem to take it in their stride. I am told that BAG men are easy to spot because they always wear moleskin trousers. It was true last night at the reception,so I offer this piece of information to you as a future life changer. Leigh Anne Wolfaardt (see her website - her penguin pictures are beautiful) is an artist who works here. She is currently volunteering on South Georgia with a conservation group. they are trying to eradicate the rats from the island as they are very destructive to wildlife, and not indigenous, so she is spending two weeks helping to map and count. Not sure if we are going to get beautiful drawings of rats!So many of the younger people here have come to the island to study a specific animal, generally for the FI Government, or for the BAG, and then extend their time and stay to complete PhDs and enjoy themselves. it makes for interesting company..
This week we have hosted MLAs (MPs) to dinner, as well as four British MPs who were down on a visit to the islands. Fraser Nicholson, head of Air Sea Rescue,and a friend from Germany,has stayed all week, which was so nice. He was here for the announcement that one of his Flt Lts is coming to work here for 6 weeks in February..the confirmation of Prince William's tour apparently sent Government house into a spin as the press rang, emailed,faxed and generally bothered them all day. The hope is that he can carry out his normal job and have an everyday existence down here. I imagine he has more chance here of escaping the press than most places! The new captain of HMS Dauntless was also over with us this week - he hopes his ship will be ready to sail in a fortnight,and we should see him in March, to hear all his stories.Dauntless is around our waters to help look after us, but I think he will call into various South American and African ports before arriving in the South Atlantic.
We are off to Stanley now, to stay the night and attend the remembrance services tomorrow in the Cathedral. Camp Services were all here on Friday,so tomorrow will be about the islanders and locals. A number of veterans are in town - the start of the 30th anniversary celebrations. Four members of the Ardent association (sunk during the conflict) are with us, so tomorrow will be very poignant for them.