Wednesday, 27 June 2007

The sea ice is coming!!!

Fingers crossed. The temperature has dropped quite a bit now and the Pancake ice has started to form over the last few days. Hopefully the wind will stay low and the temperature will keep dropping then we will be able to get out on the ice for some day trips over to the islands of Lagoon and Leonie.

There is still the odd Penguin around the point. This cute little Adelie was spotted just this week.

There are also the grumpy Fur seals around!

This is a Crab eater seal. It was spotted around the point last week with really bad scars probably caused by the Leopard seal which is the number one predator in these cold Antarctic waters.

Leopard seal eating a Chinstrap penguin. These seals are massive and eat all types of penguin and seals. They can grow up to 6 to 7 metres long and have a reptilian shaped head like a lizard or snake.

Monday, 25 June 2007


Apologies for the neglected blog site in recent weeks.
Last week we celebrated our Mid-Winter solstice it was on the 21 June and it is when we have our shortest and darkest day. To celebrate this we all had the week off and it was treated just like Christmas, we had all the Christmas decorations up and organised events every day.

On the Sunday evening the GA team and myself accompanied with a Snowcat groomer went up to Vals and built 3 Quincy snow holes for accommodation for the evening. These snow holes and made by piling snow on top of rucksacks then digging them out leaving a kind of rough and ready igloo. They are designed to be used as an emergency shelter and usually take about 2 hours to make. With the aid of a Snowcat we made one in ten minutes!

The GA's organised a winter Olympics day on the Tuesday. Events included absailing, snow sculpture, bog chisel throwing, mukluk throwing and a skidoo trials course. We were in teams of three and i was in a team with Jim the boatman and Mat our electronics engineer. Our team was victorious, winning most of the events and eventually being crowned Rothera champions!

Cyril cooked an amazing meal for Mid-Winters day meal. We had a suckling pig and he even managed to find an apple to put in its mouth!

After our meal we all got a bit of a surprise when Dickie came out dressed as Santa. To our surprise we all had a gift which had been sent down in the summer from our parents, girlfriends and loved ones. It was really nice and some people found it quite emotional.

The BBC world service also broad casted personal messages from our friends and family back home on mid winters day which has been previously recorded back home weeks before. It was really nice to hear their voices wishing us all well.

One evening the Much talked about Rothera bar crawl took place. Each department, i.e Tech services, Bonner Lab, Met lab, made up a bar and them we proceeded to have a tipple at each. We started off at the 90 minute club!

At the Irish theme bar, O'Bonner's, they managed to make After Eights into a drink withs lots of cream!! It would have been nice for the camera man to tell us we had some on our faces!!

Tristan and Matt managed to beaver a hole in a large snow drift and sculpture the most amazing snow cave bar.

Our resident Doc, Ali had an assortment of testubes for our fancy and also plenty of other concoctions in the drips!

The GA's created an adventure bar and out came the famous bungee run. Much amusement was had in the sledge store.

We also spent a night in the Crevasse which is quite near to base. There were 9 of us in total and it was great to spend a night off base.

Scott, just having 30 winks!

My bed for the night under some beautiful icicles.

Scott getting he P bag our ready for a cool nights sleep!

It is a tradition down here that everyone hand makes a personal present for someone else on base which is given out in Mid-Winter week. Lots of effort were put in by everyone and some amazing presents were produced.

I made a set of Dominoes out of Stainless steel and Scott our joiner assisted me in making a box for them. I like most was very happy with my present and didn't want to give it away. I eventually however gave it to Kenny our generator mech.

I also made this candle holder from parts off an old Primus stove and parts off a Tilly lantern, both still used today in the field party kits and part of the British Antarctic Surveys heritage.

I received an Ice axe off Kenny who had beautifully enlayed it with copper and attached it to a length of wood and made it into a walking stick.

It also makes an ideal Fur seal prodder!

I also received a wooden puzzle from our winter base commander, Mike. It is called a Pentacube and it is the puzzle which inspired the production of the Tetris game.

Everyones presents were layed out on the pool table for the next few days for everyone to admire!

Sunday, 3 June 2007

Daylight hours

Myself and Scott had a go at skiing on the ramp yesterday. Little bit scary and icy but just had to make the most of the daylight hours.

Scott snowboarding. Note the moon behind him. This is 2pm in the afternoon. We won't see the sun at all now for the next 4 weeks as it obits very shallow around the Southern hemisphere during our Mid-winter.

Snowcats. The only way to travel in the warmth in the Antarctic. These vehicles have to endure temperatures down to -30 centigrade.