When I was asked to write a blog post about my holiday heaven, it started off many weeks of quiet reminiscing. I thought about my childhood holidays on the Costa Brava, the wonderful week’s holiday we had to the West Coast of Scotland just before Theo was born and our recent family trip on the French canals, but in the end my holiday heaven is a place that I can confidently predict no one reading this will have ever visited and which I will probably never have the opportunity to return to…
Bleaker Island has some of the ingredients you’d expect from an idyllic holiday destination and quite a few you wouldn’t. It has copious white sandy beaches, locally sourced food and amazing wildlife, however it is insanely difficult and expensive to get to, temperatures never get above the high teens and there are no local amenities, because Bleaker is a tiny island in the Falkland Islands archipelago, 300 miles east of Patagonia, in the middle of the South Atlantic.
To get there you need to catch a flight from Chile changing to another smaller aircraft at Stanley and then on to Bleaker, but when I traveled there it was a little easier. I was on a six month detachment to the Falkland Islands working alongside the British military and Bleaker was a short helicopter flight from the military base. In theory on trips like these the helicopters are acting like buses ferrying military staff and families around the islands, but on our journey to Bleaker we actually ended up with a 16 seater helicopter all to ourselves – rather like arriving by stretch limo!
At the time the island had only two habitable houses. One for the owner and one for visitors. We arrived completely unsure of what to expect and got a bit of a shock when we opened the door. Like homes the world over, this tiny property on its remote island was furnished from floor to ceiling with Ikea furniture and not only that, it was Ikea furniture bought from the Bristol store eight thousand miles away!
Cobb Cottage had been booked as a romantic getaway for me and my new military boyfriend. There was no TV, no internet and no phone, but we did have a whole island to explore and an enormous joint of mutton which came as part of the package when you booked!
Standing on the shore outside our holiday home at sunset on the first night the only sounds you could hear were the waves breaking on the beach, the screeching of gulls, the chattering of penguins and the distance sounds of contented sheep. As it got dark the skies above exploded into an incredible array of stars untouched by light pollution.
The following day we explored the island, the native wildlife viewed us a curiosity and so we were able to get close to an incredible variety of birds and sea mammals. It was the middle of the Falklands winter but the skies were clear and the sun shone. There was no schedule, no one to disturb us and nothing to rush back for. We eventually returned to the cabin to cook roast mutton with all the trimmings and spent the afternoon full of good food chatting and reading the visitors book.
We left Bleaker on the Sunday morning and flew on to a different kind of adventure with a proposal, a wedding, marriage and children.
This is my entry to the Ocean Finance holiday heaven and hell competition.