Monday, November 1, 2010

Half Term Holidays

Warning huge monster post below, you have been warned !!!!!!!!!
I had grand plans during half term of updating the blog at the end of every night, hmmm didn't quite happen. I spent Thursday night finishing off a draw string bag for a friend here. She had given me an old ironing board cover and asked me to make it into a swim bag for her daughter. I have to say it is not my favourite activity making things out of scraps of this and that, especially when you have to work around areas in fabric like those above!

Still I managed to pull it together and delivered the bag the next day. Although Ellie's birthday isn't until the middle of November, due to half term and then us going away on holiday this particular Friday was the only day I could get all of Ellie's friends together for a party. So we decided she could have an early birthday bash and that it would be a scrapbooking party based on a doggy theme.

I made invites using some imagery found on some doggy party cake toppers and cupcake wrappers that we bought from the wonderful Coco's in Nailsworth when we were home. I had bought purse scrapbooks from Paper Arts in Stroud and lots of patterned papers, ribbon, cardstock and inks. I based it on the butterfly one that Ellie had back in Crudwell. We decided that it would be nice for her to have two books with each of her friends in it from either side of the world. I lined each girl up as they came into the house and took an individual photo plus a shot with Ellie. I then printed these out and gave each girl a copy to go in her book of all those attending. Maddie had a little friend around to and they made their own mini scrapbooks.

This was the before shot,

and this was the during, my floor couldn't be seen for bits and pieces of paper strewn everywhere.

We had cupcakes in a multitude of colours with sparklers that were a real bugger to light.

Ellie liked them to begin with but got a bit worried by the time it started to burn down.

After fueling up on food and loads of home made choc chip cookies, they raced back to finish off their books. We had a quick game of pass the parcel with a Blue Nose Doggy as a prize and then it was sit down time for Mum. Thankfully my friend Jayne had come along with her Cricut machine to give me a hand, which I so needed as I had a stinking cold that day and really didn't want to be social.

Ellie opened her presents once people had gone and I made her write out her thankyous straight away so they didn't hang about. Bless her she was very good and went and delivered them immediatley to. The weekend was spent with me lying low trying to get over the cold. I was supposed to go out to the mess with J to a Trafalgar night but just couldn't make it, such a shame as they had chocolate boats filled with sweets going around the tables! The other bummer was the fact that the weather had been so nice over the weekend with really warm sunny days and very little wind. Not using good weather to it full advantage is sacrilege here.

Monday saw me recover sufficiently as to not waste another day. Jayne and here boys accompanied us to Mount Harriet above where we walked up to the top to see the memorial. It was still rather blowy on top but you could see for absolutely miles.A little bit of history - After ten days of recce the Royal Marines of 45 Commando led by Lt Col Nick Vaux assaulted the well dug in Argentinians. After a fierce battle which left two Marines and thirty Argentinians dead, Mount Harriet was taken.
Part way up we had a fly by from the Typhoons, it is weather like this that makes me jealous of their job and the fun that they must have up there.

My boy stayed by my side most of the way up. The girls in their usual competition mode were trying to beat each other to the top and were mere spots in the distance. Although not particularly steep the walk is over rough terrain and still makes me puff!

Half way up and in the distance you can see Bluff Cove. Unfortunately the land owner is not military friendly so we aren't allowed to visit there. Such a shame as it is a beautiful beach and one of the big Cruise Line visitor areas.

Euan seems to have overcome his fear of heights when it comes to climbing on the big rock outcrops. However, I still have my heart in my mouth when I see him stood on them. We reached the top and pottered about on the ridge trying to find a bit of shelter to sit and eat our lunch in. There as still lots of reminders of the battle with communication equipment, rocket launchers, shoes and cabling left about.

Where the battle took place there is a memorial to those who died. Set against the blue skies it really seemed to hit home with me how many people lost their lives and were injured during this battle. Many still ask whether it was worth it and question why we fought for this land that is so barren and severe.

I have said it before though, the place may not have a classic beauty but it really is quite spectacular in its own way and on days like this, us moving here makes perfect sense.

These sections of rock are about five stories high, I could easily walk underneath them on my way along the ridge.

The view along to Stanley and Mount William,

and the other way is the view back to MPA. You can just about make out the white squiggle in the middle of the picture which is the road. My boy accompanied us up the mountain to. I kept him on the lead all the way up incase of sheep and their lambs being disturbed but when we got to the top there wasn't any around so he had a good run about.

Part way down the mountain looking back up at the cross, there are great sheets of rock just laid on their sides which rise out of the soil. Fergus was a pain and kept trying to follow me as I wandered along the ridge and it became quite dangerous with him as he couldn't get a grip with his paws on the stone surface. I think we might have to go up again without him and explore further along. J had been up the previous week on what they call a Battlefield Tour. Some of the more knowledgable soldiers will take you up there and talk you through the battle and show you all the spots of interest. J was telling us about the field kitchen he had seen but we hadn't walked far enough down and around to see it sadly.

I asked the kids to climb up on the big rock for me so I could get some pictures of them with the views behind. This was Euan's contribution, Jayne made me laugh as she said he is so like John, yep that about sums him up!

Miss dainty Ellie posed with a straight back and high head just like her school photo last year!

Maddie on the other hand was too busy eating her sweets to pose and only managed to give me this shot.
We headed back down the hill and into Stanley to get some much needed refreshments. As I went in I wanted to pop along the road past the Governors to see if I could find the starting point for a walk to Tumbledown below.

Of course a road that led on even further peaked my curiousity with the possiblilty that it might lead to the other side of the inlet the borders Stanley. Jayne always up or an adventure happily followed us.

We drove a good twenty minutes over some very interesting ground only to end up here at Murrell River. The road seemed to end at the farm across the causeway and I didn't fancy trying to back the car over it, if the gate on the opposite side of the river was locked.

The wind was blowing like mad along the valley and my camera lense cap disappeared into the water as I was taking this shot. There was no way I was going in after it with the speed the water was moving.

We turned around and headed back into Stanely and took the time to admire the Two Sisters just seen in the left hand corner of this picture.

A cup of tea and slice of cake in the West Store quenched our thirsts and a quick look around the Capstan so the kids could spend their holiday money on Blue Noses. By now I was starting to fade and with a good hours drive home still to go we piled back in the car for the return journey. Just as we drove out of Stanley I saw the figure of eight vapor trials left by the VC 10 doing its trainig sortie.
The road sign declared it was safe to head along the road, Robbie Williams on the ipod and kids making up adventures in the back for their new Blue Noses and we were good to go.

We arrived back on camp to just see the remains of a love heart which had been drawn in the sky by a happy typhoon boy. It was burgers for tea (just love the Faklands meat) which Euan wanted to help me with. Our grill machine is forever setting off the smoke detectors in our house so we came up with a cunning plan to feed an extension cord outside and cook in the back garden. I left Euan loading up the meat and came back to find our Blue Nose friends were busy keeping warm by the barbeque. Apparently this is the new craze. Maddie had eight on her christmas list the last time I looked.

My camera had over twenty shots of them in different poses when I downloaded my photos later that night.

Tuesday saw me up bright and early at the MT division trying to get a massive stone chip on our sunroof fixed :( The cars that travel very fast in the opposite direction and flick up stones. If you are lucky you avoid them but most people have a cracked windscreen due to this almost daily event. Thankfully the boys did a really good job and hopefully now it will not split.
Nicky my next door neighbour had managed to tee up a trip down to Goose Green to watch the Shearers in action. Goose Green Farm itself has 80,000 sheep and they all need shearing every year. The shearers move around all over the Falklands and much further afield even to our fair land back home to ply their trade. A good shearer will shear around 350 sheep per day and he/she will get paid 60p per sheep. They all wear their belts fixed at the side and spend 90% of their time bent over. I have no idea how their backs stand up to this daily torture.

The sheds where they work are a hive of activity. There were about 7 shearers and as many helpers who strip and clear the fleece of the bad bits (head, bottom and some neck wool) and then bundle it up to be bagged and weighed.

It is a very regimented system and all areas are kept tidy and moving.

Here you can see how they seperate and grade the quality of the fleece just before it is packed. The green machine is a massive press which pushes the fleece into bags and weighs it.

This is then stacked up in seperate areas at the back of the sheds.

On the opposite side of this operation are the sheep themselves which are being processed. It is worth mentioning that this is also where the locals were held as prisioners of war when the Argentinians invaded.

The steps lead up to the area just behind the shearers. The shearers each have a clicker which is hanging up and as they take a sheep out of the back run they click to keep count of how many they have done. Once the sheep is shorn it is sent down a ramp to a holding area under these steps. The sheep can then be counted and the shearer's scores verified.

The poor things have no idea what is coming. It is rather bloody and brutal in parts where the sheep get nicked during the shearing process. One particular shearer seemed to be very new to the process and out of 5 sheep he actually had to stitch 3 back together. Poor old Euan didn't really cope with seeing this and had to step out.

Here you can see the bays underneath that the shorn sheep go into.

Some of them were then hearded into another holding pen to be wormed. I had asked the farmer how often he wormed the animals and was told that he didn't usual do it. He was only worming this lot because it meant they would fatten up quicker if he got rid of the parasites, making him a quicker profit.

Thankfully I have never really liked lamb as I don't think I could have eaten any after spending the day taking their photos.

In a seperate field off to the side were some sheep with painted green heads. The farmer explained that the sheep are tagged in a particular ear to mark what sex they are. Occassionally they get this wrong and as they are being sheared they are marked so it can be sorted out before they are released again.

After a few hours of trauma for them, the sheep are released back out to pasture and boy do they make a run for freedom.

not stopping to say a goodbye, personally I don't blame them. They do look funny with their wooly leg warmers still attached or as Sara put it in their Ugg Boots!

Wednesday through till Saturday saw us battered with some of the strongest winds I have seen down here. One of the accomodation block roofs was blown clean off and must have been quite a shocker for the occupants of those rooms.
I spent the day inside sewing up a storm for a friend who has a new little girl called Tully. Pink was the request as she has already got three boys. I spent alot of time dithering about what to do but I hope she likes the results.

Very bright very fun flowers on pink gingham were called for since pink and yellow were two of the room colours.

A hand sewn name up the front and another flower or two for good measure.

Around the top I wanted to do a petal style border as she had told me that daffodils was one of the flowers in her nursery theme.

A green spotty interior and the bag was good to go. So I hope you like it Aisling and I am sorry it has taken so long! I still have another baby to sew for which was born in May, I am not doing so well in that department.

Later in the week we had some stunning sunsets again that were really strong orange hues.

turning pink at the edges as the sun got lower and lower.

Saturday night saw me squealing my way out of the house with camera in toe as the pinks started to emerge on the bottoms of the clouds.

How cool are the colours in this shot, not photoshopped just straight out the camera. I am so going to miss these displays when we get home.

Euan spent some time this week fiddling with lego penguins and asked me to pop them up on the blog, I think they are rather cute little fellows with their own chilly iceberg.

Sunday saw us finishing up homework for school and tidying up bits and pieces around the house.
I managed to plant up all my seedlings and give the conservatory a good clean up. It now looks like a jungle in there with all the plants thriving. It has been so nice to just go out and pick my own fresh lettuce and soon my peppers will be ready.
Ellie received a phone call from her friend Heather to ask if she would like to go up to Gull Pond with her and take out the safety boat. In this picture she was actually driving, Archie said she was rather good at it, that is all we need, Ellie now wants to know if she can have a go at driving the car, NO!!!!!
While she was doing this, Jayne, Euan, Maddie and I headed down to Bertha's to go and swim with the dolphins. With the sea temperature being only around 5 degrees Jayne whimped out and donned her dry suit while I braved it out and went in with a t-shirt and swimsuit. It was bloody cold but so worth it when we had a group of four dolphins swimming around us. Pretty soon we had eight in our vicinity and I forgot the cold as I watched these beautiful creatures darting around us. Euan found it just to cold and I have to say the currents were pretty strong so after twenty minutes we got out.
I was cursing my choice of footwear, FlipFlops! as I had forgotten that the farmer has locked the second gate and you had quite a walk to even get to the start of the beach. Jayne of course took great glee in laughing at me until the tables were turned just before we got to the car.

We had taken a short cut across the dry inlet to take off the corner and were nearly home and dry when we saw the little stream to cross behind Jayne. No problem it looked like you could just stride over it. Hmmmm well you could if the surface either side of it wasn't stinky sinking mud. We both went in up to our knees and lost our shoes.

Of course I felt quite vindicated when I could just rinse off my silly flip flops and Jayne had to not only fish out her trainers but put them back on! Oh my did we laugh, I believe Jayne is not going to a) speak to me again, b) ever come out on a trip with me again and c)want to wear those trainers again. She had to strip off to a towel when we got back to the car and the pair of us stank. Nice hey. Just remember the dolphins were worth it Jayne :)