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Hello all, and welcome to our Falkland Islands blog. Follow our progress through the wind, snow and penguins, and find out what it is like to live down here.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Remembrance Weekend

A busy weekend inevitably - Friday was a service at the base, with the old gym full to capacity - clergy from the forces and from Stanley,and children from the school. Service personnel read personal tributes to colleagues who had died, or contributed reflections on Remembrance day. The last post, and lots of singing.
Saturday was work as normal, (while Bill is in the office, I have been very busy planting on my seedlings - this is not a hobby over here - it is vital - butternut squash will come from nowhere if not from my greenhouse...) and in the afternoon we headed into Stanley in readiness for the Services on Sunday. A blustery day,but bright,and we arrived in time to take the dogs down to Surf bay - a stunning white beach, angled so that the prevailing wind catches the waves and whips white surf into the air. The dogs were utterly excited as we spotted a huge dead petrel. This beach is one of the many cleared minefields, and it is amazing how little has been removed since the conflict. Amongst the dunes and tussock grass, we found old argentine tents, abandoned.

Saturday night was very exciting -we went out for dinner in the one hotel !! Very decent food, and civilised surroundings. We felt almost normal - until we returned to our posh portacabin on the Hillside base which is the army outpost in Stanley, and our accommodation when we venture over there.
Sunday morning found us in best dress and hats (both of us) at the Governor's house for 9am. Off to Church in a convoy,with the Governor winning the best hat (Remember Rex Hunt and those feathers?).
Back for coffee,and then off again to the Memorial and a wonderful view over the sea as we held the Remembrance service outside. Islanders and tourists attended, and I gave up on my hat - impossible. The Governor hung on to his, but couldn't move his head in case of disaster! We attempted to have a dignified exit in our cavalcade of Landrovers after the service, Governor leading, all of Stanley watching - but inevitably the dogs stood up in the car and stared back at the crowd, which amused and bemused in equal measure.

A reception afterwards in the FIDF (Local defence Force) Hall. Fascinating stories of locals who had grown upon South Georgia when whaling was still the big business down there. Now there are handful of people on the island - but 50 years ago there were still 1500. What an incredible place to spend your childhood.

Don, 90 odd, and the chauffeur for many governors, including Rex Hunt (I drove Maggie!) was a great story teller; a merchant seaman until he married, he left in 1943 to join the war, and  didn't return until a ship he was working on passed by in 1950. Married,and with children on the way (7 in the end!) he worked on the farms at Goose Green, and remembers Stanley in the 1950s with 4 cars. To get home from Stanley, he faced a 13 hour ride across the moors, using three horses - ride one and lead two, in case of exhaustion and lameness (horses were not shod as there were no metalled roads).
Finally home on Sunday, to get ready for the week, and drive out to Swan inlet for driving practice for me!

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