United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. I had the opportunity to spend a furious 4 days in London back in the late 1990s, but in reality, saw very little other than driving past and gawking at the usual tourist haunts.

I saw Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Palace of Westminster, Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, and Wembley Stadium. And after a whirlwind tour I was off on a Contiki type tour that saw a bus ride down to Dover (saw the cliffs) before crossing over to the continent

In reality I saw virtually nothing. But I have also figured that the UK is the sort of place that you can see and explore when you are old. You don’t need to be overly fit to get around and see the sights and the distances are short (by Australian standards). So for this reason we have been putting it off.


We have been gifted with the weather that we have received throughout this entire We have been blessed the entire part of the journey. Apart from one rainy day in Reykjavik, the weather has treated us very well. So much so that we pulled into Liverpool to a 27 degree sunny day.

Having arrived by boat we were delivered on the River Mersey and our first act was to walk along the Mersey and admire the scenery. The first thing that struck us was these bizarre statue things. We had to ask later on and were told (matter of factly) that this was the Lambanana and he looked at us as if we were stupid for not knowing this.

So…the Superlambanana is a bright yellow sculpture (weighing almost 8 tonnes and standing at 5.2 metres tall) and was designed by a Japanese artist who lives in New York City. It is intended to be a cross between a banana and a lamb and (smaller versions) have become ubiquitous around Liverpool.

Having dealt with that issue, we wandered along the Liverpool Waterfront and Albert Dock. The first structure in the UK to be built from cast iron, brick and stone, with no structural wood, making it the first non-combustible warehouse system in the world.

Soon we found ourselves in the middle of a film set for a local TV show (best landscape artist). There were a bunch of artists trying to paint, while film cameras and looky-loos watched on. We skirted around it as best we could and admired the many varieties of food vans that were in place around the docks area.

Past the Merseyside Maritime Museum and up the hill towards town and a ton of old buildings and sights to see.

The Liverpool station was impressive with a sweeping glass roof and various Victorian-era touches, while radio city tower poled up over the top of the city. The library was huge and impressive (with another film crew there too). There were statues aplenty, this town really is a very pretty sight to see. We meandered through town and took photos where we could, but mostly just enjoyed a sunny day in a beautiful city.

St George’s Hall is probably the most famous of Liverpool tourist attractions and had huge lion statues guarding the entrance. It is one of Liverpool’s oldest buildings (having opened in 1854) and is smack bang in the city’s heart.

Having done all of this we wandered down the main mall and gazed at shops before stopping in for a traditional English fish (haddock) and chips with salt and vinegar. The fish was magnificent, while the chips were a soggy mess (I love crunchy chips). We chose not to go the mushy peas (great on a pie) or curry sauce options.

Liverpool is home to two top tier football clubs (Liverpool and Everton), both with home grounds near town and less than a mile apart. I have zero interest in soccer and visited neither. But in true English tradition we did see many a funky little pub or tavern (and surprisingly I did not enter any of them.

The other thing that Liverpool seems obsessed with is insects (but spelling is not their strong suit. Everywhere you look you will see things about Beatles. Beatles museums, walking tours, pubs, clubs, statues, you name it, these guys are everywhere. It is almost like they did something important.

An extra day or two would have yielded a better exploration, but time did not allow this. Liverpool was a lovely city to wander and explore, and is definitively worth a visit.

Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas)

If you are anything like me you had never heard of the Falkland Islands prior to 1982 when Argentinian military forces invaded the islands.

This triggered the Falklands War.

At various times prior to this, the islands have had French, British, Spanish, and Argentine settlements. While Britain asserted its rule in 1833 Argentina maintains its claim to the islands. After the Argentine invasion in 1982 the British sent troops and took back control within 2 months.

But not before 907 lives were lost: 649 Argentinian, 255 British and three Falkland Islanders.

In 2013 when given a choice (via referendum) almost all Falklanders voted in favour of remaining a UK overseas territory. There is very little on the islands and I cannot see any reason that 907 people had to die over it. The islands made its name as a “Wrecking Trade” (the business of selling and buying shipwrecks and their cargoes). However, this declined after the phasing out of sail ships.

The chain is made up of East and West Falkland Islands along with a further 776 smaller islands. In 1881, they became financially independent of Britain (on the back of the wool trade), but the United Kingdom takes responsibility for their defence and foreign affairs.

There are less than 4000 people actively living in the Falkland Islands. While this is true, it is one of the world’s great penguin capitals with as many as a million penguins nesting in the Falklands every summer.

The Falklands and us

Well, this was a bit of a fizzer for us. We made it all the way over here only to stare at the islands from the ship. The port is not big enough to allow the ship that we were on to dock. When this is the case we typically get on the tenders (lifeboats) and have a series of them running, ferrying us to and from shore.

Sadly, on the day we arrived the wind was howling at 45 knots (83 kph). The tenders do not operate safely (being lowered and getting people on and off) in such high winds and the decision was made to move on instead of risking injury. We were not alone, another cruise ship was in the same predicament and the overall consensus was to move on.

Jill did manage to get one good photo of the other ship and a rainbow in one of the few moments of calm but most of that particular day was pretty bleak.

Because I had already done my prep-work on the Falklands (and there was not really that much to see and do) I figured that I would post anyway, even though our experience was fleeting.

We were due to land in the capital Stanley which is rainy and cool all year round with strong westerly winds (isn’t this the truth). The other way in is by plane, but the airport is 56 km from town. The list of things to see and do is pretty slim and included.

The Falkland Islands Museum which provides a brief history of the Falklands (including the conflict) and some exhibits of flora & fauna.

Christ Church Cathedral (southernmost Cathedral in the world) which was built in 1890-92.

Outside it is the monument made from the jawbones of two blue whales and was made in 1933 to celebrate 100 years of British rule on the islands.

The Government House was the mid-19th-century residence of the governor.

1982 memorial – Falklands War memorial, erected to the memory of the British troops. There are several other War memorials around the town

Gypsy Cove is a 15 minute drive from town and is the closest point that visitors can encounter penguins.


There are five of the world’s seventeen species – King, Gentoo, Rockhopper, Magellanic and Macaroni (pictured in order L-R). Falklands Conservation work to protect and monitor the penguins by annual monitoring of breeding penguins, advocating for sustainable management of Falklands marine areas, and caring for penguins which have been oiled at sea.

And because I have decided that I like penguins, here are some basic facts shamelessly stolen from the Falklands Conservation website.

King Penguins

Gentoo Penguin

Rockhopper Penguin

Magellanic Penguin

Macaroni Penguin

Travelling the world in a pre and post COVID state