The Methodist Ladies’ Luncheon Club met at the Mount Murray Golf Club on January 18 and enjoyed a talk on the Falkland Islands, given by John Hellowell.
It was interesting to hear that he had written a book about the Islands which became a best seller and that, with his wife, he had actually bought a small island.
The Falklands mostly became well known to us after the threat from Argentina in 1982.
The islands are about the size of Wales with a population similar to our Port St Mary. Stanley, the capital, has a cathedral with a corrugated iron roof as there are so few trees and wood has to be imported.
Roads are just gravel tracks and people travel by quad or Land Rover. Visitors from the UK usually arrive in an RAF plane from Brize Norton.
There are two airstrips - one military and a small one.
There are several hundred smaller islands dotted around.
One, Port Stephens, is still farmed by an elderly couple with many properties around empty or derelict.
The many attractive slides showed king penguins and rockhopper penguins in great clusters trying to keep warm on a bitter morning.
They are unbelievably powerful swimmers and have enormous feet out of proportion to their bodies.
The Bluff Cove colony do not feel at all threatened by visiting people. The ones with red eyes apparently are the good breeders.
The club saw the flightless steamer duck, the juvenile black-crowned night-heron and a big bird soaring with an impressive wing span.
There are many flocks of geese and very many sheep.
People’s diet is mainly mutton or lamb locally killed in a small abattoir.
Members of the club saw baby elephant seals having violent scraps.
Magellanic penguins which live in burrows in the ground,
Members also saw magellanic snipes, the tussock-bird, oystercatchers, the striated caracara, which look like black hawks, and the Arctic skua pouncing on the penguins young.
Sea Lion Island is where the killer whales patrol, looking for new-born seals.
The Lieutenant Governor’s wife Lady Gosney attended the meeting with interest as she has been to the Falkland Islands.
A club donation to Mr Hellowell will help to build an education centre, an enterprise already launched in the Falklands by Prince Andrew.
The next meeting on February 15 ill be a talk describing The Apple Orphanage by Will Faulds and Charlotte Traynor.