The Falkland Islands

So I’m going to try one of the daily post’s writing prompts. You can find them here. The prompt is “If you were asked to spend a year living in a different location, where would you choose and why?“. This is meant to be a prompt not a set blog title. So, I’m going to talk about where I’d like to live abroad, not study abroad.

Just a quick heads up: I’m writing this whilst listening to Adele’s new album ’25’ which may affect my writing. I highly recommend it and you can buy it on:

Amazon

iTunes

So where would I like to live? Well I shall start by saying that I adore the UK. Going on holidays are amazing, but I never think “I want to stay here and never go back home”. I always miss the UK. All the green, the fresh air, the smell and all the people that inhabit this great country. So it may not surprise you to discover that the country I’m talking about is a British overseas territory…..The Falkland Islands.

We went on a family holiday there a few years ago, flying with the RAF via Ascension Island, which is also a very amazing place. Just south of the equator, it’s a volcanic island with almost all inhabitants working in or around the RAF base there. The water is turquoise and warm, and there are bits of old lava (igneous rock) spewed all over the island. The only place with any vegetation is the appropriately named ‘Green Mountain’, the dormant volcano that formed the island. The whole place is rather weird and surreal.

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Taken by me looking across at ‘Green Mountain’

Anyways, I’ve got sidetracked. The Falkland Islands are a group of over 750 islands, the main ones being West Falkland and East Falkland. They have a population of around 3,000, most of whom live in the capital, Port Stanley. Anywhere that isn’t Stanley is refered to as ‘Camp’. They were made famous by the Falklands War of 1982, in which Argentina took control of the islands. They were retaken by a British task force on the orders of the then Prime Minister Margret Thatcher, costing the lives of 255 British Military and 3 civilians.

It’s a beautiful place, likened to Dartmoor and Breacon Beacons in Wales. Being so close to Antarctica, describing the climate as cold would be an understatement. Long plains of tussock grass and rolling hills everywhere fill the landscape. There is a very small portion of tarmac road on the Falklands: everywhere else is track and so as you can imagine, Land Rovers and Toyota Hiluxs are the vehicle of choice. After the war, RAF Mount Pleasant was built, fondly referred to by the islanders as ‘MPA’. It’s the main airport on the island and the centre of British Military presence there. Multiple Typhoon fast jets are permanently stationed there. The majority of the settlements are on East Falkland. To the south of the main portion of East Falkland is Lafonia, connected to East Falkland by an isthmus. Upon the isthmus lies Darwin and Goose Green, where the famous battle in 1982 was fought. The people of the Falkland’s are proud to be British, but perhaps represent the friendlier portion of Britain. Waving at each other is something one does when passing another vehicle on a track. The generation that lived through the war are particularly close knit. There are reminders of the sacrifice made by British military personnel everywhere. Wherever you are in Port Stanley, you can see ‘Wireless Ridge’ across the water where part of the final battle for islands was fought. There’s a memorial garden in Port Stanley, with a tree for every Brit killed. And I’ll never forget the first day of our holiday there. We were driving along the track to Darwin and my brother saw something on the side. We got out and found a multiple little crosses marking the spot where a soldier had fallen. One for each year since the war…..

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The truth about the people about the Falklands is that everyone is united in a love for the place they live. Many people emigrate to Falklands, seeking a more peaceful and quiet life. The wildlife is simply extraordinary: there are various species of penguin and seal. And unlike most other places in the world, tourists threatening the wildlife isn’t an issue. You can quite happily go and sit next to a seal on the rocks, or sit on the beach and watch all the penguins return from a days fishing, running up the beach past you to their holes. There are over 150 sheep per inhabitant which says something about the main industry there. Although farming isn’t the only thing people do. Offshore fishing and working in the tourist industry is also big. Just like in Britain, you drive on the left, there are red telephone boxes in Stanley, and the currency is the Falkland Islands pound, which is worth exactly the same as British pound sterling. There’s one bank, no cashpoints and red post-boxes. I felt at home in Stanley-odd being over 8,000 miles from the UK at the other end of the earth.

So I’ve described the Falklands, but why would I like to live there? Partly I suppose due to how similar it is to the UK in many ways. But also because it is, in my opinion, the most beautiful place in the world. I’ve been lucky enough to have been to the Falklands, the Grand Canyon and Yosemite in the past few years. And in my opinion, the Falklands are just in a different league.

All images © Henry Jones 2015

Study Abroad

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