Looking back over the last 12 months it is incredible to think of how much has changed in our lives, especially the children’s lives for whom a year is a third, fifth or seventh of their entire life’s experience.
Zoe and the children touched down in the Falklands a year ago yesterday to join me after I had spent the first month here alone. It was a warm and sunny day but the wind was so fierce that Jack and Rosie couldn’t step from the plane without being blown over. The wind has blown like that pretty much every day since and the few days of the year when the wind relents feel like the sudden quiet after the washing machine has finished its final spin. Everybody and every thing; bird sheep or penguin, stop, draw a deep breath and take stock.
In those 12 whirlwind months Zoe an I have started new jobs, the children have started a new school, had new teachers and moved up a class with the new academic year. Jack has started pre-school and nursery. We have all made new friends and colleagues and strangers we speak to over fences or nod at across the road. We have moved into our second home in the Falklands and rearranged each room so that they better fit our shape. We have learned how to live in a new country and the subtleties and quirks of living in a tiny community on a remote and windswept isle clinging to the furthest reaches of the ‘civilised world’. We have learned to deal with paying £1.50 for a single tomato or going to Falkland Farmers for a new cake tin and the grocery shop to buy chicken food. We have made two vegetable gardens and grown with limited success some fresh vegetables and salad. We have acquired 5 chickens, an occasional horse, and the threat of three sheep. We long for a cat.
In short, life over the last year has been busy, colourful and exciting, although often pretty tough. Sometimes it is cathartic to look back and admit that it hasn’t been easy, and that actually its been really hard at times. Sometimes we need to give ourselves a break and instead of thinking about all that we didn’t do, just recognise instead what we did do. We did okay.
For our ‘yearth’ anniversary we finally managed to track down the fish and chip shop. As with many things in the Falklands it is not as straight forward as you might think because the chip shop is not called a chip shop, it is not sign posted, the door is hidden from view, and is only open at certain times of certain days depending on a complex formula which uses the lunar calendar, the sheep-chill factor, and the time at which the ebbing tide tickles the belly of a particular wreck in the harbour know as the Lady Liz. Anyway, for the first time in 12 months we sat down to fish and chips, drenched in vinegar, with a full accompaniment of condiments. A huge achievement in itself.
We talked about our year here, what we have done, who we have met and who and what we missed about home. Oli was ecstatic about having spent a year here, he is at the age where success is measured in units of time, how long it takes to read a chapter of a book or run three times around the house. Rosie talked about missing England as well as enjoying it here, and the fact that we never had penguins in our garden in England; a true and balanced statement of fact. Jack wondered if there was any more ‘Red Berry Fanta’ to put in his cup, and lucky for him there was. For Jack it seems the cup is always half full or at least there is always a good chance that it can be re-filled in the not too distant future. We are looking forward to our first visitors, Mum and Abi, coming for Christmas. What a treat to have a conversation with them without their words freezing or their heads being cut off by a poorly positioned web cam. Also what a privilege it will be to show them some of our favourite places and point out the quirks which make us laugh most, and how exciting to explore new places together. But above all of that how lovely it will be when they bring some of our favourite tea, Punjana, over from Blighty.
Looking out the window I think the wind is relenting slightly, perhaps the tomato plants will have more opportunity to grow, flower and fruit. The washing machine has just finished it’s final spin.