Time flies

September 29th, 2006

And it really does, too. Where did the winter go? Suddenly Mat and Tom are out clearing snow from the apron and runway ready for the planes to arrive in 3-4 weeks time. Another month has gone by, and I’m sorry for neglecting the writing and still photos in favour of videos recently. Here’s a brief catch-up of some of what’s happened…

Helen, stuck at Rothera on a winter trip in indifferent weather, pursuaded Tom M and various other people to help her build an igloo on top of the point. This is quite fiddly but very satisfying – you have to cut wedge-shaped blocks of snow using a saw and then position them carefully to make the dome shape. I turned up just as the last few courses of blocks were being placed, and got pressed into acting as human scaffolding, holding the blocks until they were wedged in and stable.
Helen and Ags spent the night in the igloo, but overnight the weather worsened and they woke up covered in 5cm of snow, which had blown in through the door and the cracks between the snow blocks. Subsequently, Helen’s packed the blocks with soft snow and built an entranceway around the door hole, which makes it much more weathertight!

tom building igloo

Tom placing blocks

igloo building

finished igloo

The completed igloo

In other news, I’ve been interviewed by The Guardian newspaper for a new feature called “Readers’ Lives”. I subscribe to the Digital Edition of the paper and print the weekend editions for everyone to read. When the weather’s bad everyone lounges round the dining room on a weekend morning, drinking tea and coffee, eating toast and reading the paper. It’s very civilised! Anyway, my interview should be in the Saturday edition of the paper.

I’ve also been out to help Helen do a CTD, watched by an interested but otherwise totally passive juvenile Weddell seal and tried to get all the IT and radio systems ready for the coming season. We’re also starting to clean and tidy the areas of the base that have been out of use for the last eight months, and tomorrow I’m on digging duty over by the hangar. Catch you later…

Email and videos

September 29th, 2006

I’ve made a few tweaks to the way that the site works and added a couple of new features.

Firstly, the videos are now in a separate category of their own, so if you’re just interested in them, you can go to http://www.randominformation.co.uk/vlog/ and enjoy the site as a videoblog (or vlog).

Secondly, you can now subscribe to an email update service so that you can receive an email whenever I add new content to the site. There’s one for the whole blog and one for just the videos.

A seal pup

September 27th, 2006

On Saturday four of us (Tom, Jade, Agnieszka and I) went out on the sea-ice to go and look for seal pups. We managed to find one!

To those of a cynical and hard-bitten disposition: the following video contains scenes of a very cute fluffy animal. You have been warned…

baby Weddell seal


September 23rd, 2006

Last Sunday I was on gash – doing cleaning and domestic duties – so I thought I’d take the opportunity to show you some of what that involves, and what happens to all our rubbish.

Doing gash

The lost emperor

September 16th, 2006

Last week we were visited by a lone Emperor penguin – a rare sight in these parts. I have seen one only once before, back in November 2005. This time, I had my video camera!

emperor penguin

Bad weather

September 3rd, 2006

Today we’ve had some properly nasty weather, after several weeks in the sunshine. Here’s a little video that gives you some idea what it’s like!

bad weather

Leonie Island

September 3rd, 2006

Leonie is one of the more prominent local landmarks – a big triangular rock-face that rises out of Ryder Bay – but it’s 9km away, and normally only accessible by boat. However, the sea-ice situation is now good enough to travel there and climb the mountain, so last week various groups went out to have a go.

Leonie Island – it’s the triangular face to the right of the big iceberg

To travel that distance we ride skidoos towing dog-sledges – these are Nansen sledges with a platform at the back for you to stand on. Originally they were towed by teams of huskies, hence the name.
The most prominent gully on Leonie fills with snow each winter and makes for a straightforward if quite long climb up to the summit. It’s known as “Gateway to Antarctica” in the climbing guide.
Tim, Jamie and I climbed it one afternoon – and enjoyed the view from the top in the sunset light.

Leonie close to

Leonie from the bottom

tim and jamie on the summit

Tim and Jamie on the summit