Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Stanley and the Falklands

After the drive from the airport to Stanley, about an hour on interesting roads, complemented by an even more interesting driving style, we arrived to be billeted. I ended up in a bungalow with four other guys. We immediately set about exploring the local pubs places of interest. Stanley is a small place so we soon knew our way around. There's not a huge amount to do, and we ended up spending about a week there, but luckily had a few diversions. I spent a day at Stanley airport in the radio tower, trying to reminnd myself what I was supposed to have learned on the radio courses. There were two or three light aircraft back and forth all day, acting as a kind of taxi service between remote farms and other islands. We got to see the BAS Dash 7 aircraft come in, bringing people out from Rothera.

We managed to see a couple of bands during the week. Stanley's best known band are called the Fighting Pigs, and have their own purpose built venue out of town, an excellent night in a packed venue. The guitarist also has another band, a much more low key affair, who played in one of the pubs. Met many strange characters in Stanley, including a bunch of Kiwis who had just canoed round South Georgia. The things some people do for entertainment.......

One morning a couple of guys suggested a walk up Mount Tumbledown. "Nothing too strenuous." Their idea of strenuous and mine are vastly different. It was well worth it though as we had a great view of Stanley and the harbour. The following day we had an invite to look round the RFA ship Grey Rover. Essentially it's a giant floating tanker, currently employed supporting HMS Southampton. The visit consisted of three hours in the ship's bar with a 20 minute tour of the vessel. Terribly hospitable these naval types.

View back to Stanley from Tumbledown.

We joined our ship, RRS Ernest Shackleton, a couple of days before we were due to sail. The ship was moored up at Mare Harbour, so it was an hour coach ride either way in to Stanley. We had a couple of nights at Mount Pleasant base, availing ourselves of their facilities, principally the bowling alley and the pool tables. Also had a walk out to a nearby bay and saw my first wild penguin! (Wild it was absolutely livid etc etc) Looked a bit lost all on his own but someone said they saw a colony a bit further up.

Next it was time to depart and on to stage 2 of the trip, conquering the high seas......


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