A first flight from Stanley to Port Edgar seen Ashley, Sean, Elianta, Molly and Travis, John and I up bright and early at the FIGAS check-in area. It was this summer's camp trip to Port Edgar; home to Tex, Mandy and Rhian Alazia. A quick cheerio to mums and dads, and we were off! It was a beautiful calm flight over Fitzroy then Lafonia before crossing above The Sound to West Falklands. Port Edgar has a large natural harbour fronted by steep cliffs, which climber John was excitedly surveying from the Islander as we landed. A wave to our pilot Paul Robertson as he took off encouraged him to do a few aerial tricks, buzzing us twice in a tight circle with wings nearly vertical. Something I thought only the Red Arrows could do, and we all agreed that it looked very cool from the ground but I was glad not to be a passenger still!
The Alazia family took us straight to the beach near the air strip to watch Commerson's dolphins play in the surf and the groups of young magellanics shedding their fluffy down. We learnt about the magellanics living in burrows, and how to avoid the penguin fleas! A 4km drive overland across the ridge then down a steep hill led us to Port Edgar settlement. Mandy suggested we used the self-catering and the spare rooms in her house, and it was decided to have a Boys House and a Girls House – a bit like Sports Week! Tex and Rhian had seen plenty of jellyfish washed up on the beach below the house, so we decided to explore the shore and play some games at the end of the point. Sean was set on counting and 'rescuing' each jellyfish by flinging them back into the sea off the end of a stick. But once he tallied over 150 the game lost its appeal. John was an excellent Games Master as we enjoyed playing Splat and other fun stuff with a gortex poncho and a juggling ball.
After lunch back at the house, Tex and Mandy asked if we could help with some sheep work that afternoon. They had 200 lambs to be weighed, tagged, injected and worm-drenched as part of a trial program with the Agriculture Department. The kids were eager to get stuck in, with the boys helping Tex in the lamb pen and the girls writing down weights against the new tag numbers. Tex taught Ashley and Sean the best way to catch a lamb and then hold them to keep them calm. The same technique is used by the shearers on full-grown sheep, and the boys agreed that it was a good lesson learned – perhaps Ashley will become a shearer! Not long into the sheep work, Travis piped up asking me 'Will we do this for very long?' I thought 'Oh god he is bored already!'. But I had no need to worry, as he continued 'Cos I think this is great and want to do it all day!'. Phew, so the kids were enjoying themselves.
Once the farm work was accomplished, we had time to take the dogs to the beach for a swim. The sun had come out again so the water sparkled as the dogs dashed through the shallows. Rhian showed us how to play fetch with the dogs, and to distract them from the football Ashley held protectively on the bank. Elianta and Molly paddled and felt tiny fish swim over their toes. By this time Tex and Mandy were busy firing up the barbeque and making delicious salads fresh from the garden. Elianta was particularly taken with learning about the fresh produce available on farms, and tucked into coleslaw with homemade dressing. After yummy sausages and chops we spent the evening playing on the zip-line in the valley, and only after dark could John and I encourage the kids inside. The evening ended with us playing a fantastic game of charades, with everyone doing excellent impressions that had us crying with laughter.
The next day, after a well deserved lie-in, we set out to scale Mount Emery just behind the settlement. Whilst driving to the foot of the mountain, we discussed how it was about 1000 feet high. Travis set his mind to count the steps, and when we finally reached the top he reported '1346 Travis steps'. The kids learnt how the bolson bogs on the mountain take hundreds of years to grow, and in the diddle-dee at the very top we found 1 small strawberry. Sean shared out the little segments so everyone could have a taste, and Elianta was surprised that the berry tasted so good. From the mountain we could see Fox Bay Settlement to the north, and Weddell Island to the west.
After the climb there was time for a quick farewell to the zip line before driving back towards the air strip to await the Islander. A picnic in the valley overlooking the beach before we left was a lovely way to end a fabulous weekend.
Thanks to the Alazia family for having us to stay and teaching us about the farm and surroundings at Port Edgar.