Stanley is the largest town on the Falkland Islands and, with a population of just over 2,000, is one of the world's smallest capital cities. As you would expect, the community is close-knit.
The houses in Stanley huddle together on a dozen or so streets, as if in fear of the elements. They look like the homes of pioneers, eccentrics, dreamers. At the Stanley Arms, I order a pint and chat to the microcosm. I meet a historian, a judge, a gold miner, a salmon expert, a St Helenan office worker, a Chilean chef and Arlette, who runs a guesthouse.
Arlette introduces me to her daughter, Glynis, who I see working at the Post Office the next day. I see the judge in his robes standing outside a building having a smoke. If it all sounds a bit like Dylan Thomas’s Under Milk Wood, well it is, but with an exotic and distinctive South Atlantic twist.
In the evening, I have a tasty dinner of Patagonian toothfish at Lafone House. Arlette, my friend from the pub, is the owner of this spacious yet homey B&B. She is a fabulous cook – she has won the island’s Best Catered Accommodation Award – and wine buff. For desert, we have a delicious pie filled with a native berry called, cutely, diddle-dee. Most meals at Lafone House evolve into parties. That night she has a film crew staying and a lone yachtsman arriving late in the night. For a tiny town there always seems to be a lot of action.
Arlette has been to Argentina, Chile, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Over brandies, she tells me about growing up in the Falklands. “We did not have television until the early 1990s and so you made your own entertainment, which would always involve something outside. Riding horses was something I enjoyed doing as we had little transport in the 1950s and 60s, so it was a way of getting around, especially in the camp. We would ride for eight hours just to go to a dance on one of the other farms,” she says. “We were free spirits.”