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Published: January 7th 2020
A London bus in Stanley
The first thing we saw.
Christmas Eve saw us moored off Stanley, the main/only town on East Falkland Island. Most people went off to see penguins (pop 1 million) but we opted to hear about the 74 day war with Argentina. The guide was more British than the British and was a fifth generation islander, his ancestors coming mid 19th century. It was so British his wife even made scones with cream and jam for us all for morning tea in the community hall at Fitzroy (pop about 10).
The two memorials to the two British landing ships, Sir Galahad and Sir Tristram, sunk at Bluff Cove by Argentinian Skyhawks, were very poignant. One even had white stones outlining a leek as many of the soldiers were Welsh.
That road out was fantastic, new with smooth bitumen and passed the Falklands version of Boot Hill. Not a grave yard but old gumboots and shoes left upside down on sticks. I think someone's gumboot got stuck in a peat bog so he left the surviving one on a stick in case anyone else lost theirs and needed another one.
But the most unusual geographical feature was stripes of large rocks on the landscape. They're
called 'periglacial stone runs' of quartzite boulders and were formed in the last ice age as a result of constant freezing and thawing. They were an incredible sight as they looked as if a giant had carefully arranged the stones in a deliberate pattern.
There are no native trees on the Falklands' two large islands, imaginatively called East and West, with the ground cover being more akin to tundra. Hence this give good cover for penguins nesting in the soft, low cushiony bushes. It does however make the ground very difficult to walk over and I thought of the British soldiers marching at night to re take Stanley. Not to mention the huge rivers of boulders.
The Argentinians left a huge number of land mines which have nearly all been cleared now by a team from Zambia. It is hope to be landmine free by December 2020. The locals weren't sure if areas really were free of mines so the clearing company offered to play a game of soccer with them. Success.
The inhabitants now are trying to form pasture for sheep. It looked a bit of a lost cause to me. Most of the money since
the war now comes from fishing licences. Prior to the war the GDP was 5m pounds. In 2020 it is predicted to be 100m pounds. Hence the flash roads.
The main road of Stanley runs along the foreshore and everything of interest is along it. Margaret Thatcher is a hero here with a bronze bust on the foreshore and a street named after her. The emphasis is on being liberated by her. The museum was crowded with interesting artefacts and in the cathedral we found the ensign off the Achilles.
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