Whats it like to live in the Falklands?

Its a difficult question to answer.

You know most people but not all. You raise your hand to acknowledge other drivers in most but not all cases.

Wine and meat are cheap but fruit and veg are very expensive.

Shopping 

In Stanley, there are two large grocery shops and they both sell an array of merchandise in addition to the usual weekly shop, things like ski poles in one or pretty jumpers in another. There are 3 convenience stores one gas station and about 5 pubs. There are a couple of clothing shops but the ranges are small. A few gift shops survive by doing great trade with cruise line customers. These shops sell a mix of merchandise but my favourite items are those locally designed and made. People spin and dye wool which can be bought in Skeins. Other people use the wool to make hats, scarves and wraps. Some people do felting and sell felt pictures. Now I’ve met people locally I better understand just how much work goes into producing each item. Jam made from a tiny berry which grows on the Diddle Dee plant can be found in some shops. There is little time or need to go shopping but there is a hive of activity going on in homes where people are making stuff for ‘The Season’.

Another of my favourite shops is one that sells fresh fruit and vegetables. They have an array of poly tunnels which they use to grown produce to used by locals and sold in the shop. Lamb or beef are inexpensive here and no doubt are the main food.

People 

Whats it like? Its mesmerising, so like the UK and yet so very different. You feel comfortable and at home quickly because things are familiar and then you hear a word like Smoko and you have no idea what people are talking about. There is a mix of Islanders ( which normally means they can date their island heritage back many generations and mostly came from UK).

Other groups include Contractors (here for a specific contract as a Teacher, Accountant, Treasurer or the Chief Executive normally on a 2 year contract).The common phrase you hear is that people came here for a 2 year contact but ended up staying 15, 20, 25, 30 years.

The next group are Chilean immigrants who come here to take up work, have children and eventually become Islanders. Zimbabweans come here to do de-mining, they bring their families and may eventually end up staying. People from the Philippines came to take up work in shops and hotels and many have stayed to take up residency. Most people can tell you who the first Philippina was and why she came. I haven’t asked but the same is probably true of Chileans.

Then you have an array of other nationalities who came to do something and then just couldn’t leave. All of these new people bring new blood and create a thriving social and economic community. They also bring amazing skills and knowledge to the islands, its not unusual to have a conversation and to find that the person you are talking to has had an amazing career somewhere before coming here. I think we have almost every skill you could imagine needing on the islands.

The population is growing very quickly. The primary school is full and all of the people who settle here can one day become UK citizens if they first become Falkland Islanders. They will have free access to the UK health care system and the right to abode in the UK.

Everyday stuff

Whats it like?  We suffer from Falklands Trouser leg and Falklands Hair.

As everyone drives big cars and some roads are unmade there is always dust or mud on the car so when I get out I inevitably catch my trouser on the step and this results in an ungainly muddy stain on the leg of my trousers. See examples.

Falklands hair, well the winds are so strong that you must always have a hat to hand. I still blow-dry my hair most days thought not sure why as I then put a hat on every time I leave the house. My hair is flattened, or worse if I forget the hat, I look wrecked.

Every time you leave the house to visit the penguins you need to take a camera, binoculars, a bottle of water, sunglasses, a hat, scarf, padded jacket and walking boots. You need to dress for 4 seasons!

and finally

I can’t think of anywhere more beautiful and inspiring for creativity than the Falkland Islands. I only wish it were a tad warmer!

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