Friday, 24 December 2010

A Very Merry Christmas To You

Does Scotland Look Like This Yet?
Just a quick post to wish everyone a Very Happy Christmas. Hope you all have a great day. Everyone on the base (apart from the Chefs!) have been given Christmas and Boxing Day off. There is to be a formal 5 course meal at 4pm we are up to our eyes in prep.

On another note I have received the following information from Cambridge about BAS in the media over the festive period:

The Sun – Boxing Day (no need to buy - should be on their website!)
Following on from the big recruitment drive for the ‘coolest jobs in the world’ in 2009, there’s an update on Halley plumber Mark Green, Bird Island generator mechanic Paul Craske and Halley chef Ant Dubber.

27 December – BBC Radio 4 – Plumbers and Penguins which has been highlighted in Radio Times as ‘pick of the day’
In the summer of 2009, British Antarctic Survey very publicly recruited 43 plumbers, carpenters, mechanics, electricians, chefs and doctors to spend 18 months working on their most southerly research stations – promising “the most exhilarating experience of a lifetime”. Every media outlet covered the recruitment campaign. Now, for the first time, we track what actually happened to some of the new recruits. 'Plumbers and Penguins’, produced by BBC broadcaster Chris Eldon Lee follows the extraordinary journey undertaken by Mark Green, a 48-year-old plumber from Bristol, and Claire Lehman, a 30-year-old GP from Wiltshire, as they spend 18 months working for the British Antarctic Survey in some of the most inhospitable conditions on Earth. In temperatures of -50°C, Mark and Claire have to adapt their current skills and learn new ones in order to help keep their research stations going, which can mean anything from refuelling aircraft to baking Christmas cakes for Antarctica’s research teams. The programme can be heard on BBC Radio 4 on Monday 27 December 2010 at 11.02am and will be available on the BBC iPlayer for the following seven days.

Monday, 20 December 2010

A Night In The Cold

Yes...this looks like a good place to put up the tent!

As a winterer I am expected to know how to survive in this environment - just in case my lovely ensuite room gets blown away in the next storm. We received initial field training giving us the 'basic' skills of crevasse rescue, use of ice axes and crampons and use of pyramid tents, primus stoves and tilly lamps. After a mighty struggle trying to get the tent up in howling winds we got to spend the night out camping at 'Vals' (the local area used for boarding / skiing). It has to be the coldest night I have ever experienced!

Carry On Camping
But the views I woke up to were well worth the night of pain - amazing views over base and out to the mountains of the Antarctic peninsular. It's summer at the moment and currently 24hr daylight which is difficult to get used to as you don't really feel tired!

Elephant Seals
Adelie Penguin
The rest of the day was spent exploring a little more of this amazing place and bumping into the local inhabitants.

Blue Eyed Shag
And I was introduced to Rothera's very own 'pet' skewer. His name is Buba and holds the record of 7 pork sausages at one sitting whilst retaining the ability to take off afterwards! Personally I find him a little menacing especially as he has somehow discovered that I have a connection with food and has taken to following me around.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Off to Rothera

The Dash 7
The flight to Rothera from Punta Arenas would take about 5 hours. Although the plane can carry a fair amount of passengers there was only to be the six of us along with the two pilots. The rest of the space had been taken up by supplies...mainly fresh food....that the base needed. Due to some admin error a lot of the food on the base had been mistakenly thought to be past its 'use by' date and had been thrown away leading to accute shortages in the baked bean department and elsewhere.
Securing the supplies in the Dash


Wannabe Co Co Co Pilot

 The first views of Rothera were amazingly beautiful.  Situated on Adelaide Island, it lies approximately 1860km south of the Falkland Islands and 1630km south east of Punta Arenas in Chile. The island is 140km long and heavily glaciated with mountains of up to 2565m height. The station is built on a promontory of rock at the southern extremity of the Wormald Ice Piedmont.

Flying Into Rothera

 Whilst I really enjoyed the views coming into the base I didn't enjoy the 5 attempts at landing before the wheels finally hit terra firma. Each time we tried to land a gust of wind would force the plane upwards again. Actually...I was terrified!

Landing at Rothera

 Anyway WE MADE IT! And I won't have to go throught that again for a while. After unloading the plane I was shown my room and had a quick tour around. First impressions are of a ski chalet!...very different to the Halley base which felt much more exposed and 'on the edge'.

My Room
.............................And what a treat. My room has a shower. I think that was the worst thing at Halley...having to get dressed and wander down the corridor to go and have a shower! Now all I need to make life complete is a kettle, some powdered milk and a few tea bags. Plasma TV would be nice but I guess that's being a little greedy.

Anyway I shall enjoy this as tomorrow I have to go through field training which will involve spending the next night in a tent.

Of more later........