Interesting faaact of the daaaay:

This is a World map. In the words of REM: “that’s me in the corner”:

world map

Let’s be a little more specific (thanks to OpenStreetMap), we’re just here in Stanley and here’s the layout of the area to get you more familiar:map

If we take 15 minutes to drive out of our house, onto Stanley’s bypass (Airport Road) and zip past Stanley Airport, we reach the area called Cape Pembroke. It’s a nice area, with one gravel road running through it leading to the Lighthouse there, which sits on the most Easterly point of the entire Falklands archipelago. It’s also a National Nature Reserve, though that hasn’t stopped the government recently going against the consensus of their own public consultation and refusing to ban off-road driving there; explanation unknown). True to the Reserve’s purpose, the bird life is always nice to see and quite a few other things besides. If you look VERY carefully, you’ll see a female sea lion in the water in the picture below:

I could wax lyrical about how lucky we are that we can access the place so easily, but you’ve had all that before from this blog. What I do like about Cape Pembroke is that you can wander around the coast there and look out at the Billy Rocks; the doom of many a passing ship in the age of sail and since:


And you can stand at this spot and look East, this time of year also brings the odd other attraction as occurred Friday afternoon:DSC_8099DSC_8101That’s a Southern Right Whale (there were two there on Friday) and we’ve talked about seeing them off Cape Pembroke before, but this time I’ve been doing some maths just to improve the sense of location here and it leaves you with an inexplicably odd feeling when you stand there. If that Southern Right Whale were to swim directly East from where it is, it would be able to continue swimming for over 14,000 miles. It wouldn’t hit a single piece of land until it came to Chile (which is just a few hundred miles from where it is shown here). I wonder how many places there are on this planet where you can stand and for that to be true. And I wonder if I’ll ever stand at another one again. I like that little factoid because we’ve been to Cape Pembroke hundred of times, but that removes the sense of routine from the spot.

Is there anywhere that you visit/have visited hundreds of times but has some added ‘thing’ that makes you consider it differently?

The Lowest of the Low?

In case this blog hasn’t done much to turn your attention to the intriguing attraction of the Falkland Islands, the New York Times listed the Falklands on their 52 Places to Go in 2019 list. Yet again, the New York Times is way behind me on current trends (see also: fashion – I think).

Things like this give me (and many people) quite mixed feelings: on the one hand, it’s nice for the local tourist operators to get promotion and for there to be more awareness about the Falklands. After all, the ongoing dispute with Argentina is unlikely to get solved by World powers if 99% of the World population has never heard of the Falkland Islands. But it’s the same old story with tourism, isn’t it? It has the potential to make vast sums of money for (usually a select few in) the community but it can also truly ruin the feel of a place (see also: pretty much every major tourist destination in existence and most of the minor ones, too). The impact of this is often more noticeable in the numerous small communities across the globe who have seen vast shifts in their way of life (and environment) occurring as our increasingly globalised society seeks new and unusual travel destinations. The very attraction of the Falklands is in its remoteness and it will be hard for this community to keep its bearings or regain that once, like so many other destinations, the allure of the dollar has taken hold. This potential hazard won’t be helped by the incoming second flight (to Sao Paulo once a week, with a controversial stopover in Argentina once a month; possibly the only example of a country dictating a scheduled stopover for an international flight in exchange for passing through its airspace).

That being said, the Falklands are nowhere near as desperate for the tourist dollar as many other unusual destinations (they maintain 2.5 years’ worth of their entire national budget in the bank, have no national debt, no unemployment and no homelessness). There’s also definitely a less immediate danger of that happening while the restrictions (both financial and logistical) on the flights are in place. There is, too, very much a high and a low season here as the wildlife and weather dictate the attraction of the islands. We’ve had some recent short-term arrivals on the islands and have often expressed pity for them arriving at such a time, only getting to experience this place in the depths of Winter. As much as we can handle the season and there are things to see and do, it’s definitely not the Falklands at its best! It was with a little surprise, then, that the NY Times decided to follow up on their listing of the Falklands by sending their correspondent to visit at the Winter solstice. I’ve often shared the works of others here to communicate a sense of the place from other perspectives and it’s nice to be able to offer an honest perspective from the NY Times in this instance, with some pretty pictures to boot:

I will add, with a little bias, that he never visited the excellent Historic Dockyard Museum (ranked in Trip Advisor’s top 25 Museums in South America, don’tyouknow), so his one week trip clearly wasn’t enough. Still, you get the idea.

Happy Anniversary

Don’t be ridiculous! As if I would put soppy things about our marriage on here! No no no, this blog is reserved for penguins, history and other Falklands oddities. Today marks FOUR YEARS since we began keeping Pengoing South!

These 127 posts (not including this one) have resulted in 72,796 words receiving 4,557 visitors from The UK, Ireland, Laos, United States, Australia, Falkland Islands, Italy, Canada, France, Denmark, Hong Kong, Argentina, Sweden, Chile, South Africa, Vietnam, Brazil, India, Croatia, Germany, United Arab Emirates, Brunei, Spain, New Zealand, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Singapore, Belgium, Jersey, Kuwait, Philippines, Russia, Switzerland, Norway, Netherlands, St Helena, Austria, Serbia, Turkey, Poland, Malaysia, Thailand, China, Cayman Islands, Greece, Romania, Bahrain, Peru, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Mexico, Pakistan, Zambia, Georgia, Malawi, Indonesia, Isle of Man, Finland, Japan, Uruguay, Slovenia, Bahamas, Colombia, Ecuador, Hungary, Bangladesh, Paraguay, Malta, Maldives, Honduras, Qatar, Montenegro, Belarus, Albania, Haiti, Barbados, Slovakia, Cuba, Tunisia, Vanuatu, Armenia and Ukraine all looking at the blog a surreal 26,380 times. It’s a little bit mad, that. We know it’s not huge numbers in the grand scheme of the interweb (some blogs receive millions of views a day) but we only began this to keep our friends and family up to date on what we get up to and the Falklands is a pretty niche topic, after all! We wonder what percentage of the World even know the islands exist? Now it’s being seen by people all over the World; some we know, some we don’t. Hello to you, whoever you are! Thanks for logging on. Don’t forget that you can sign up for updates by email using the box on the right. All this for free. You’re welcome.

I guess the Photo Highlights page gives a sample of what we’ve been doing and seeing in that 4 years, but how on earth we summarise these past four years I do not know. Even now, in the middle of Winter, there’s always more going on. And that’s if the scenery and weather aren’t enough to please you:

DSC_7842DSC_7828DSC_7826DSC_7418The Winter makes things feel a little different, inevitably. The wildlife really drops as seasonal migration takes place but there’s still things to see, as you’ll have read before. The casual conversations and attitudes you come across make the Winter feel far more accepted and embraced here, rather than feared or worried about:

Mid-Winter’s Day, for example, sees people go for a charity swim. Our friends couldn’t make the public swim so held their own private one. Han’s pregnancy made her thankfully reluctant to take part but we were there to will them on:

The dark nights also provide a twist on typical events, so there are highlights like the unexpectedly brilliant Museum at Night event, which I decided to capture with some long exposure shots and a little help from some of the school children that I know:

The pattern here is that, much as Winter can be dark and bleak, it’s also a fun time of the year to experience some of the things that even the people who visit for many weeks or months in Summer don’t get to see.
Four years has flown by and, while we have seen many changes taking place here, there is something reassuring and attractive about the simplicity and stability of life in the Falklands, hence our extended stay. We have few worries here; Brexit, for example, is a worry but doesn’t really make the news each week (which is lucky, as it seems we haven’t actually missed any real updates since the referendum so it’s feeling a little like all that reporting every day has been for nothing).
There ARE changes going on in town, mind: Stanley now has a cinema!!! 54 deluxe seats now mean that we can visit a cinema without a 45 minute drive down the gravel MPA road to have to return in the dark!img_1133 We’re very excited at having something else to do of an evening and it’s proving popular already. They’re even importing BrewDog beer to the bar so this particular ale fan is pleased about the 21st century luxuries making their way to these remote corners (other ales are available).
I don’t know why I’m bothering writing all this, though. I know all you REALLY want to know is how Milo is doing. We’ve visited him and had reports from others who have been out to see him (including a Parachute Regiment patrol, who wanted to adopt him as a mascot). He’s doing extremely well, he’s looking good, enjoying the company he’s getting and he’s following his new carers around like a dog so perhaps some things don’t change after all: