Thursday, November 26, 2009

Pebble with Grandma and Grandad.

We had a busy 3 days at Pebble Island. We were meant to be there for 2 nights but it was extended to 3 due to rubbish weather so the helicopter couldn't fly to come and get us. Pebble is about a 30 min flight from base. The helicopter flies pretty low so you get great views on the way. Allen had to cancel coming due to an important visitor coming to base. We were delayed on the way out due to a leak in the gear box, this, of course, filled me with confidence as I love to fly at the best of times! So after a 2 hour delay we got to Pebble. It's about 19 miles in length, you stay at a lodge that is fully catered. We walked to a beautiful beach where Jacob and Abi played in the sand dunes while Mum and Dad walked to the water. The next day we did a 4 by 4 tour of the island. Two cars went, we were with a bloke called Ken who had been on Pebble during the 1982 conflict. He was very interesting and great with the kids. He lost his hearing in one ear due to a bomb dropping in the harbour on the Island. There is a memorial to the HMS Conventry which sank in May 1982 15 miles off Pebble. Only 20 people died on that day which is amazing as it only took 35 mins oft the ship to sink. We also got to see lots of penguins. We actually saw all 5 types that live on the Falklands so that was great for Mum and Dad. So we saw Magellanic, gentoos, kings, rockhoppers and one macaroni. I have included photos from the rockhopper colony - a huge area. You could get really close to the wildlife, as you can hopefully tell from photos. The next day we were meant to be flying back but by 2pm they had decided to not fly. Ken kindly took us out again and we went and saw another rockhopper colony that also had cormorants inbetween then. So we were lucky to get another day. The couple who run Pebble were lovely and Abi spent a lot of the time in the kitchen playing with their dog and keeping Jacqui company.

Mum and Dad have had rubbish weather but, over the last few days, it's cleared up. So they went up on a VC10, my idea of hell, but they loved it! They got to see Typhoons refuel mid air and sit behind the pilot. Dad also got to go fishing but he didn't catch anything!

I have loved having them here, I have been completely spoilt so it's going to be hard as they leave tomorrow along with Allen who's in the UK for a week to have his MRI scan on his knee. I'll let you know what happens. I'm off out on Saturday night for an informal curry night and then the rest of the week will be busy as usual. I am hosting a farewell to the Station Commander's wife next Friday and then there's a dinner in the mess to say farewell on the Saturday.

Only 2 weeks left of school so we start Christmas next week, I love it all so I don't mind being early!


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

South Georgia

I have just returned from a once in a lifetime trip to South Georgia. First of all South Georgia is a small island 800 miles South East of the Falkland Islands. I managed to get aboard warship HMS Gloucester that was on a manoeuvre down there. It was all luck as the lady that was meant to go fell pregnant and she wasn't allowed so I was asked last minute. Mum and Dad were down here visiting so I had built in child care as Allen cannot guarantee to be around when needed.

So it took 3 days to get down to the Antarctic. Once we crossed the Antarctic Convergence Zone we were on iceberg watch, a bit scary but the crew worked like a well oiled machine it was amazing to watch. There were 21 guests on board although there were only 9 of us in the officers part. I shared a cabin with another wife called Mel. There were only us two as wives the rest were mainly service personnel. We were very lucky as we got on like a house on fire and did everything on offer.

I've included a photo of a glacier as we arrived in South Georgia, a beautiful sight. We stopped at Grytvikin which is where the British Antarctic Survey people are based. We anchored off shore for 2 days and I went ashore both days. I saw king penguins, elephant seals, fur seals and albatross. There's also a museum there, a post office, a whaling station and a church. We had a remembrance service in the church, a strange experience as when we had the 2 min silence I looked out of the window and saw 3 king penguins wandering past! Another of the photos is of me taking a photo of one king penguin in the snow. As you can see we had varied weather but it didn't stop us doing anything.

We also got to have a helicopter trip over South Georgia. I've put a photo in of the helicopter getting ready to go off the end of the ship. The helicopter ride was great, South Georgia is truly beautiful. We also stopped at Gold Bay where there was a colony of over 50,000 king penguins plus 1000's of elephant seals. They were all burping and farting so it was very noisy and smelly!

We finally stopped in Leith Harbour and then moved to Stromness Harbour. We got to go ashore again and sat amongst the fur seals that smell like skunks and are quite violent if provoked.

While on board we got major tours of the ship. I helped out in the galley and made cakes for 240 people - harder than it sounds. We had a go at driving too, more stressful than I imagined. So as you can probably tell I had a brilliant time. I couldn't have gone if it wasn't for Mum, Dad and Allen so I owe them a major thank you. They have also had rubbish weather since I've been away. I obviously missed everyone loads and felt really bad for missing Jacob's birthday. I will put some photos on from his birthday next! Didn't get sea sick at all which was good as it was pretty rough. Did see one bloke throw up so people were definitely feeling bad.

Off to Pebble island tomorrow so I will include some photos of Mum and Dad in the next post.
Hope all is well.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Half Term

Well we have had a week off and, as usual, it has flown past. We began half term at Race Point Farm. They have a 2 bedroomed self catering cottage so we stayed 2 nights. We ate with Michelle, John and Tahlia each night so it felt like more of a break for me! We all enjoyed our time away, Jacob and Abi loved the quad bikes - photos of Abi on her own and Jacob on with John. Jacob did drive the smaller one on his own too. Allen enjoyed the 2 long walks we did, one to the coast and the other up Finlay Ridge. I liked not cooking and meeting new people. I've put in a photo from the cottage. They had horses as well as cows and sheep so we've booked to go back in December so we can go horse riding.

On the way back to base we stopped off at Goose Green to look at the sheep shearing. It was not what I'd expected. They all shear in a long row and don't speak, it's so busy. They also cut the sheep quite a lot and just sew them up with needle and thread. It was pretty bloody. I wasn't keen but Jacob and Abi loved it. The shearers get 60p a fleece and it takes about 2mins to shear a sheep. It smelt of sheep dip, the sheep were very well behaved once they were flipped over. Glad I've seen it, I was thinking of doing a pre school trip to see shearing but I think it's a bit too bloody for them.

The last 2 days of the holiday were spent on base as the weather was good and the children were all playing out together. We were out for 2 nights, a leaving thing and a welcome one. Both good nights, one Thai and one Mexican.

Halloween dawned with Abi rushing in to our room shouting happy Halloween we opened the curtains to find snow on the ground and more falling! We'd decorated the house beautifully - thank you Auntie Wendy and to Jim for sending us bits and pieces that were all well used. Abi wanted to go trick and treating at 7am but, as she was off to a 5th Birthday party, I managed to keep her in normal clothes until 5.30 pm when we met up with 15 other children and Mums for a mass trick or treating. It was great fun except for the freezing weather. It snowed, hailed and rained on us during our hour out! Everyone came back to us afterwards for food and drinks, 30 people half of whom were high on sugar! It was brilliant fun though and everyone left happy, tired and full up! So the other photo is of us before going trick and treating.

Sunday was a clear up morning: 30 people made their mark. We then went into Stanley for a swimming party. They had a huge inflatable thing for the children to play on. Abi was fine until she bumped her teeth. She's lost one top front tooth already and we'll be off to the dentist again tomorrow as the bang has put it at a weird angle again. They had a brilliant time and Allen and I managed to go for lunch, lovely organic beef burger. Jacob was on the inflatable for the whole hour, he loved it.

So Mum and Dad will be here tomorrow, I'm very excited. My other bit of news is I'm off to South Georgia (near the South Pole) on the HMS Gloucester on Friday 6th Nov. I'm away for 10 to 12 days. I will miss Jacob's birthday and I wouldn't be doing this unless Mum and Dad were here to help out with Jacob and Abi. I should be taking some amazing photos down there. It will be strange seeing penguins in the snow and icebergs. I'm going to miss the kids and Allen loads, I've only ever done 2 nights away before but it's an opportunity of a lifetime so I'm taking it. Will post once I have some photos of the grandparents!