The differences …

between Stanley and the UK, from my point of view:

  • Our garden is north facing and has sunshine all day long.
  • The stars and constellations are ‘upside down’
  • The nights are so dark and, even in town, you can see vast sections of the Milky Way and clusters of thousands of tiny stars.
  • The horizon is huge, the skies are just massive as everything is so open.
  • Big commercial planes are a massive rarity, not just planes that are coming into land (only 3 per week in good weather) but any planes even really high in the sky, we see no trails and no planes.
  • Small island hopping planes are a regular feature as are military aircraft.
  • The wildlife (to state the obvious).
  • The bank. There is one bank. There is no cash machine. The one bank is open from 9.00am till 3.00pm on weekdays only. This is tricky when your working hours are 8am till 4.30pm (or 5.00pm) luckily I do get an hour for lunch and am close enough to make it to the bank. Cheques are the most common form of payment and the queue in the bank on pay day is something to be reckoned with.
  • Most offices, shops and workplaces close for an hour for lunch. Pretty much everyone goes home for lunch. I get the genuine enjoyment of having the boys for lunch every day and spending that extra time together.
  • Post – there is no postman, there are no letter boxes in front doors. Post is delivered to the post office (who do offer PO boxes that you can go check yourself in the building but there are currently non available), however names are just ‘known’ so all our post is currently collected by the lovely school secretary and placed in my staffroom pigeon hole. Ironically the post office will send us a letter when there is a PO box available!
  • We can get BBC1, BBC2 and ITV as well as a BFBS (forces) channel and that is it. The British channels are on a delay so that we see the 10 o’clock news (for example) at 10pm here, ie currently 4 hours after it went live. We can’t record things, we can’t pause things and we don’t get any +1 or catch up channels and no iPlayer. This has taken some adjustment but the boys are getting it. Slowly. We’re watching barely anything especially with the next point added in.
  • I could write a whole post about this. All internet connection is via satellite which makes things slow and limited and, therefore, also very expensive. Chris tells me our connection is over ten times slower than in the UK, you can almost imagine you are still hearing the dial up bleeps when you are waiting for websites to load. Internet is hugely expensive per MB and packages are limited and the charges for going over your chosen package limit are extortionate we have heard of many people having additional payments of over £1000 at the end of a month. There are pros and cons of this, the biggest pro is that phones are mostly just used as mobile phones for text and calls, people do not walk about with their heads in their phones, there is no free wifi in shops/cafes/anywhere so conversation rules. I was as guilty as anyone for being online 24/7 in the UK but this has been a breath of fresh air without being as constricting (so far) as we worried it might be. The cons are that you need to be aware and careful of usage and ensure updates to devices are not happening automatically. Another con is that watching films and programmes via a streaming service is just not possible – the cost of data would be prohibitive and the speed make it uncomfortable viewing. There is free internet between midnight and 6am but we are never awake then!
  • The phone book. Given that there is very limited internet the phone book is king for contacts – you don’t google you look in the book.
  • We have mentioned the roads before, here in Stanley the roads are tarmac surfaced, then, there is one main government maintained gravel ‘road’ around this island (East Falkland) with some other maintained gravel ‘roads’ but mostly non-government, non-maintained tracks. To register a vehicle here in Stanley you pay road tax as the government roads are tarmacked and maintained in town, if you register a vehicle at an address in Camp you don’t pay road tax as the roads are unlikely to be government maintained. In addition, to drive on these Camp roads you do not have to have a driving licence as they are not government maintained and therefore not under government jurisdiction. Other driving laws do not carry weight such as drink driving limits and speed limits (although you would struggle to speed!) this can make driving interesting. There have been deaths due to drunk driving in camp and no way to charge or prosecute the perpetrators. The speed limit in Stanley is 25mph and on the main camp road 40mph.
  • The weather is changeable, we have arrived at the tail end of winter and the last week or so there has been a definite feel of spring. There are daffodils and crocus popping up and the weather has been warmer. There is almost always at least a breeze and some strong wind but there is very little rain. There are a lot of hours of sunshine. The sun can be very hot and the weather forecast on the local radio station always gives the sunburn risk and it is usually high. This is due to a combination of factors, primarily the lack of pollution means the UV rays getting through are very strong, added to being close to the ozone damaged hole. Often the sunburn time given as a warning is only 5minutes so high factor protection at times is vital!
  • We are constantly pleasantly surprised by the generosity of people here. We have been given fresh eggs (by the dozen), joints of beef, cakes, utensils and pans, had numerous things explained to us with great patience, been invited along to things and so on. We were typical new comers and got ourselves bogged in the Rover when off-roading and the farm manager we contacted was incredibly gracious in downing tools and coming to rescue us and tow us out. If the person you speak to doesn’t know they will always know who does or who to ask in order to find out. This generosity extends to charitable giving too, there are lots of local charities that have regular fundraisers of different kinds and always do well, there are also drives to support UK and international charities, for example, there was a recent Macmillan coffee morning that raised well over £3000.
  • Rubbish and recycling. There is no official recycling here, it would make no sense to have a plant of any kind here and shipping things out to recycle them is a nonsense too. However, lots of things get reused and repurposed. There is a glass recycling programme as the shards get used in various things here. However, you can also get fresh milk delivered to your door from one farmer but only if you provide the bottle, this leads to wine bottles, rum bottles and goodness knows what else being used for milk (all other milk you can get is UHT – we are yet to find the farm!). Egg boxes always go back to whomever you got the eggs from. Pots and boxes are all wanted by someone and used for something.
  • The work ethic here is very, very strong. Many (most?) people have more than one job and this is not necessarily due to them being low waged jobs, for example, one of the police officers is one of the main trainers for first aid and other courses from the training centre and also has a third job. People recognise the need for jobs to be performed by someone and in a small community this means sometimes the responsibility to get jobs done falls to you.
  • Food and shopping. Again this could (and may well be) a blog post all of its own. Food shopping is (at present at least) time consuming, particularly after coming from the world of family food shop deliveries. There are two main ‘supermarkets’ but that label will give you a far too grand idea of them. They are both approximately the size of the Prudhoe Co-op but once has far more stock and choice whilst the other does not. Each shop has its pros and cons but in general we end up going to both in order to get everything we need, one is in town and one is on the by-pass. The shop in town stocks a lot of Waitrose essential products as well as some Tesco things, the one on the bypass has some Sainsbury and some Aldi products in addition there are lots of things from Chile and Uruguay. There are all the regular brands we recognise from the UK and there is nothing that you cannot get. Most of the fresh fruit and veg arrives on a fortnightly basis form Uruguay in the main but now we are into spring we can also pick up a fair bit of fruit and veg from the local Stanley Growers, this week they had their first of the season cherry tomatoes as well as lettuce, cucumbers, round and flat green beans and some purple sprouting broccoli. The price of food is clearly much higher than in the UK due to the shipping involved as an idea boxes of cereal can be about £5, we have seen a watermelon priced at £19.99, cucumbers cost about £2.50. I think we’ll post more about food at some point. Otherwise, clothes shops are very limited, the food shop in town is also possibly the last stockist of BHS clothing none of which is anything you would necessarily choose, there are lots of shops for gifty things, cards and so on, there are electrical stores which are very expensive, and similarly a furniture store and some toy stockists. There is nothing we are really missing at present. Debenhams do a direct delivery service so that is always an option for many things.
  • Everything feels very secure here, crime levels are very low. We have not locked our front door since the first week we were here and the same with our vehicle. Many people leave their keys in the ignition of the car and in fact it is a common for vehicles to be left with their engines running at the edge of the road or in the shops car park and so on. The boys are able to go to the park at the end of the road independently and Max has, on occasion, walked home from school alone without any worries or concerns.

 

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4 thoughts on “The differences …

  1. Fab to hear all the differences – I LOVE the idea of getting your milk in a wine bottle. That made me giggle. Don’t get them mixed up – wine in tea? Yuck!

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    1. I was VERY confused last week when I opened the fridge at work and there was a bottle of rum in there – it wasn’t it was a rum bottle of milk!

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  2. Sounds like a great place to study the stars, did you pack a telescope? Are you and to get a good selection of South American wines being so close and are they expensive too? If the internet is free at night do you download films and programs then? Have you spotted your second and third jobs yet?

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    1. Sadly no telescope!

      All alcohol is pretty cheap – yes Chilean wine particularly. Bottled water costs more than lager.

      We haven’t done over night downloads yet, one colleague got caught out by them not finishing in the 6 hours free!!

      Sadly (?!) our work permits only allow us the one job each!

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