It’s safe to say that we’ve had a fair bit of ‘weather’ lately, some good, some not so good but mostly it’s been cold and windy weather which reduces the chance of me getting out for a run for the rest of the year….Ever tried running in two foot deep powder? We do have a gym which is my savior and as much as I hate a treadmill it’s a better alternative than the free ‘chocolate box’ which we keep in the mess – Free beer and chocolate, honestly, what were they thinking, it’s amazing anybody makes it back alive some years 🙂
The next ‘level’ of clothing is now going on each morning by default, I used to open the curtain, have a look outside, debate the pro’s and cons of wearing a thermal layer under my jackets and go with what I thought was the right number of layers for the day, right now I just pick up everything I can find on the floor or hanging over the chair and put it all on and hope it’s not wet or covered in snow still. We’ve had varying temperatures over the last few weeks though I’d say it’s been a fairly consistent negative twenty degrees Celsius most of the time. It didn’t take long for Summer to change to Winter and it took even less time for the sea to start freezing…It only seemed like about half an hour between standing at the window of the LQ (Living Quarters) and chatting to Paul about whether we thought we could see ‘grease’ ice forming on the sea to it actually being thick enough to support the full weight of a shuffling Elephant seal…and they weigh anything up to four tonnes.
Even though the sea ice is probably thick enough now to support our weight we have protocol to follow, the sea ice isn’t usually ‘opened up’ for us to access until about May time but there are further factors to consider. It needs to be 20cm thick before we can walk on it, it needs to be 40cm thick before we can use a quad and it needs to be 60cm thick before we’ll use a Hagglund, the way we ensure this is with regular drilling and testing with a tape measure and a small weight dropped into the hole. You don’t just measure at one spot and assume all is OK either, where tides collide, where the colour of the ice changes you take a drill measurement and record where you are – We collate all the measurements back on station as the season continues to build up a confidence level for different areas. When we arrived here back in November the sea ice near station and around most of the Vestfold hills inlets was roughly two metres thick….We don’t even have a drill bit that long to drill with!
This week I joined the ‘Hydro’ roster, I now have the responsibility of looking after some plants during the week to make sure they don’t die and also do a good job of growing – A bit of a bizarre scenario in that I don’t ‘do’ plants and given my history of caring for them they certainly don’t like me either. We have a ‘container’ which I’d never been into before this week where we keep all our hydroponics for growing all our fresh food, we’ve got lettuce, tomato, basil, dill, chillis, rocket, you name it, it’s all here. I follow a weekly roster to give them water, monitor their PH and Nutrients, adjust if necessary, trim the grotty bits and pretend to be a bee by going round with a paintbrush and tickling the pollen out of the flowers…One of the stranger jobs I’ve done on station to date but I’m actually quite enjoying it, it’s the only place on station where there is some sunlight and humidity, I even enjoyed the mild bit of hayfever I had on Tuesday though I’m sure that will wear off.
From a work perspective we’ve been doing all sorts of weird bits and bobs, when the poor weather came in the other day we’ve been setting out blizz lines around station, bliz lines are basically ropes from building to building so you don’t get lost in a white out, pretty easy to walk about five metres and not be able to see anything at all but white all round you, very easy to get disorientated quickly hence the fact we have blizz lines to follow. We took the Red Hagg in for a ‘birthday’, he had a new 24-12vDC convertor fitted to run all the navigation, radios and radar systems, job went easier than planned for once too. Lots of ERT stuff in the pipeline, we’ve got some fire training this Friday where all three teams will compete in a lighthearted ‘Fire Crew Olympics’ and race each other for the quickest teams to have their BA kit ready, most accurate hose bowling, trying to trick the BA controller etc, hey, there’s free wine and chocolate for prizes, don’t complain!
Friday nights now seem to be the regular time when we all come out of our hidey holes and get together, during the week most people have dinner and either watch a movie in the cinema or go to their rooms to watch something on a laptop etc, Friday is quite nice because we all get our ‘allowance’ from fort knox and head to the bar in the LQ and talk rubbish for a few hours, last Friday was no exception and at last recollection there was lots of singing and people sticking serviettes in their ears, I say singing, it was more realistic to refer to it as ‘howling at the moon’ but it made us happy until Saturday morning.
I asked Ellie the other day if she wanted to write a post for the blog, to fill in the whole picture of what’s going on back home from a family perspective etc, I had a slightly hesitant yes though from what I understand there is now a small novel being written to no doubt ‘air some grievances’ of being left at home with the house and kids….This is basically a pre-warning to anyone reading the next blog!
Cheers for now