Sunday, September 30, 2012

My Birthday and other things

The 23rd was my birthday.  I spent it on George Island. Just Christopher and I.  I had a lovely day. Christopher cooked me my favourite lunch.    He  also made and iced a birthday cake for me.  I also got some lovely birthday presents. In case you are interested in the presents that someone who lives on an island receives I will tell you a few of them.  From Christopher I got a beautiful set of western gear for my miniature ponies.  The ponies will be tamed properly in the next year or two.  Obviously we will not be able to ride them but we now have little Hollie who in the not to distant future will be able to.  As Christopher said when I opened it "I probably chose it with Hollie a little bit in mind".  I think when you look at the photo that you will probably agree.  I also got the complete collection of Catherine Cookson DVDs.  We are not big DVD watchers but because we still have no tele on George it is either watch them or nothing.  I also got a lovely funky colourful photo frame from Christopher with grandma and me wrote on it.  From gorgeous little Hollie I got my first ever nanny mug and a box of chocolates.  From Shaun and Tanya I received a lovely silver photo frame with a picture of Christopher, Hollie and I and a carved wooden box.  The box was a special request.   I wanted something proper to keep all the treasure that I have collected from the wreck of the Isobella in.  Tiphanie was in Punta Arenas, Chile at the time of my birthday and as yet I haven't received a gift from her but I will because she never forgets. I also got  presents from my mum and my mother and father in law.
On the islands or the Falklands in general it is goose egging time.  The geese are laying and we have been out several times collecting them.  We will collect eggs for eating now and extra ones to put in pickle.  We are also asked to collect them for several people in town. Geese will keep laying if you keep robbing them and there are that many of them that they are a pest. They eat grass like it is going out of fashion and we could do with a lot less of them.  Christopher's mum and dad have been out with us for a long weekend collecting eggs to.
It is also the start of lambing and we saw our first lamb 2 days ago.  The official lambing date for here is the 4th but we are now seeing a few early borns, often these are twins.  Unfortunately we have had heavy rain today so that is not a good start.
Today we had a helicopter day visit.  These are folks that come out from the military base at MPA.  Generally they are families or military that are wanting to see the seals and penguins.  Today we had 2 families.  They are delivered by helicopter which leaves them on the islands for several hours and then comes back later in the day to pick them up.  Christopher always does guided tours of the wildlife to keep the disturbance to a minimum.  The visitors pay £10.00 per adult and £5.00 per child.
Well that's enough for today.  Next time I will update on the work that was carried out over the winter on the islands.

Monday, September 3, 2012


It's not often we have visitors but when we do they seem to arrive altogether.  On the 31st we had a small contingent of 2 para visit Barren Island and George Island.  We have come to the conclusion that we are not very observant.  The helicopter dropped them off on Barren in the morning and picked them up at 3 in the afternoon to bring them over onto George Island.  We did not hear the helicopter until it was coming in to land here.  It is difficult to imagine how we did not hear it as Barren is only a stones throw away. They were a really nice bunch.  These days you hardly get any infantry that were born before the Falklands conflict.  This group was no different with the oldest of the patrol being only 2 years old during the conflict.  2 para stayed with us for the night and used the shearing shed for shelter, cooking and sleeping.
On the 1st we had a visit from a shore party from HMS Clyde.  We were hoping she would come in close but she stayed a long way off shore and continued to steam up and down while the shore party were here.  The party consisted of 4 individuals, 3 men and 1 women.  The 2 para patrol consisted of 9 men.
On the farm we started to gather the ewes in to crutch them ready for lambing.  It has been a good season with regards to keeping the rams in and we had no escapees on either here or Speedwell so we are confident about when the first lambs are due.  Our first lambs on George are due on the 1st October with the last being due 6 weeks later.  As usual nothing ever goes to plan.  This year the ewes are in excellent condition, over weight and very heavy in lamb.  Despite going out and allowing them to start coming home at their own pace we had 4 die in quick succession.  The first one we opened up to find she was carrying twins.  The decision was made to abandon the gather.  It's great that the ewes are in such good condition coming out of the winter.  There are several reasons for this.  The first being an extremely mild winter with very few frosts the second being the poor lambing last year due to the bad weather we had during the lambing period last season.  With so many ewes losing their lambs last season they ran dry throughout the summer allowing them to bump up their fat reserves.
Those of you who read my blog regularly will recall that I went to Stanley to work for the FIC, West Store for 3 months.  Over the 3 months I ended up learning 3 new jobs.  The first was a nice little job it involved ordering up replenishment stock and basically goods receiving it into the West Store when it arrived.  There were a few parts of the job that I wasn't shown as I was only doing it for 6 weeks.  I would class it as equivalent to a school leavers job.  It was a busy little job but easy to learn and get to grips with.  After 6 weeks I moved out off that job to work as stock controller to cover for the original stock controller who was going on holiday.  We only had a 3 day handover but it is one of those jobs that you cant really teach somebody anyway.  The stock takes were scheduled pretty much for 1 every day.  I started off with a couple that went extremely well and felt quite confident but it wasn't always like that.  Some of the stock takes were difficult.  I had difficulties finding some of the products if they were stored in the stockrooms which are old and rambling.  If I was lucky the girls that helped me with the counts would know where to find everything but sometimes even they didn't know where to find what I was looking for and sometimes of course items were just plain missing.  In these cases I had to trawl back through all the data on the computer trying to find out what had happened to it.  All in all it was a challenging job which I was still learning right up until I finished.  It's a job where you have to learn to think outside the box and I was still very much learning to doing that.
The third job I took on was offered to me as an extra.  It was considerably better paid and the very basic description was it's just putting a few invoices on for the fishing agency.  It was a much, much bigger job then that and I ended up some days working a 12 hour day.  I would start my stock control job at 6:45am and work until 3:30 then drive down to the FIC bottom office and work until 6 or 7pm.  My initial reaction to the job was I can do that I already use Sage accounts.  I knew it would be different because I use a small business package and they use a big business package.  The biggest problem with the job was there was no handover at all, the previous person had already left.  The invoicing was way behind and it was not just a simple case of drawing up an invoice. The invoices had to be grouped together for the different ships from the fishing fleet that operate in the Falklands fishing zones.  It was a nightmare.  In fact after the first evening of trying to sort out invoices I went home and thought I'm never going to sleep again.  I'm not that easily daunted but I just thought I don't need this.  I just felt there was already that much work already there that was already way behind that I couldn't see myself getting my head above water.  I am a pretty decisive person so I went in the next evening and said the jobs not for me.  That should have been that but I then had a call asking if the work was brought up to date and if the invoices were presented sorted and in the ships folder ready for invoicing would I have another go.  Always a sucker for a bit off extra money against my better judgement I said yes.  That was fine, the invoicing was brought up to date by someone else who had also been doing it on a part time basis and the work started arriving in folders ready for invoicing.  Simple you would think. No, not really.  Some services provided to the fishing fleet had commission to be added some didn't.  There was no one their that actually knew.  Don't get me wrong there were people there that tried to help me and could help me with some aspects of the job but no-one that had actually done the job in it's entirety.  The work would arrive in fits and starts.  I went from one day feeling pretty smug because I felt I had caught everything up and was even finding time to get down to the more minor things like filing and then coming in the next evening to find 56 different ships files on the desk. These files can have anything from 1 invoice that needs entering up to probably in the region of 20. Even this would have been okay but in the first instance each ships invoices has to be entered onto a control sheet on excel, from the control sheet they would then go onto the sage system.  After the invoice was drawn up the suppliers that needed paying would then have to be entered onto the purchase ledger.  It was a big job.  Six weeks was no were long enough to learn it and because there was no one to teach it it was a bit of a suck it and see.  When I finished at the end of July I was just starting to get stuff back that was incorrect.  It was bound to happen but it makes you feel incompetent through no real fault of your own. I know that I was not the only one that it had happened to as I had spent the first  hour of my first evening doing credit notes to correct errors from the previous occupant of what was a very hot seat.  All in all I think it is a job that would be quite enjoyable if you had the time to learn it properly although I think it would always be quite challenging.  I went through days of quite enjoying it to ones where I was thoroughly pissed off.  The one thing I got out of that job and the stock controller job was that I would like to do a course to learn to use excel properly.  So that was my 3 months winter work in Stanley.