A place very close to my heart has been back in the headlines again this week. A British company is drilling for oil off the Falkland Islands, and the Argentines have once again claimed sovereignty.
When the Falklands first hit the headlines in 1982, families across Britain had to get their atlases out to work out where this British overseas territory was. In the three decades that have passed, a whole new generation has grown up unaware of where these astonishing islands are, but there’s a very good reason why I am not one of them…
Four years ago next month, I was sent to the Falklands on a six month detachment with BFBS. I was fresh off civvie street, I’d never worked with the military and I’d never been that far south. I boarded the 16 hour flight from RAF Brize Norton with a great deal of trepidation.
What I found was a beautiful unspoiled wilderness with the most stunning beaches in the world, a welcoming local population and the most incredible wildlife.
Yes, it is cold (sadly it’ll never be warm enough to properly sunbathe on those perfect beaches) but it can also be bright and sunny – When I arrived in March, the end of the Falklands summer, it was 20c.
Of course there is another reason the Falklands are so special to me. A few weeks into my stay there I met my husband, Jim. We had gone to school in the same county, but had to travel 8,000 miles from home to meet each other.
As the debate over sovereignty rumbles on, they’ll be many who question why Britain continues to exert its claim on the Falklands, and others who remember 1982 and will be quick to drag out old cliches about the “barren windswept islands.”
Frustratingly, there will also be repeated errors by journalists who insist on calling the capital “Port” Stanley (one error, by one journalist, repeated a thousand times) and there will be many who fail to understand that there is not one island, or two, but in fact an astonishing 778, that make up this South Atlantic archipelago.
If you find you are part of one of these conversations, you can now say that you know a girl who thinks the Falkland Islands are one of the most magical places in the world, and desperately wishes she’d bought an SLR camera, and taken more photos to prove it…