An overdose of squid rings

October 23, 2007 at 2:53 pm | Posted in Dreams and imagination, Journey, Rachel Hazell | Leave a comment

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20th October

Early ten min run as we’re landing today. North western most islands of the Falklands all around. Someone has a bird in their hand. Many binoculars in evidence. Brisk and glowy, red tingly legs. Good breakfast. Dress in layers of thermals and waterproofs – it’s  8 degrees centigrade out there – and swap green carpet slippers for welly boots. Disembark via hold on deck two, through various boot soaks, sprays and baths. Ah we’ve only been at sea for a few days and already the smell of earth is a nostalgic one. Gorse, tussock grass, heather, peat, daffodils, even twisted wild roots exposed on the path… Walk up and over a ridge of West Point to find the bird colony. Last time I was here, nearly a year ago, I was in a bereft and addled state, having left the Endurance a few days earlier. That day was finer, and windier; the albatross were looping and reeling overhead. This time lots of Rockhopper penguins mingled with the bigger birds, the albatross sitting tight on perfectly cylindrical nests. Listen to the music of their sighings and squawkings. Too chilly to sit around, so march back to the house where tea, and a phenomenal groaning tableful of cake, is being served. Say hello to Jeanette, who’s pouring, who welcomed me last year. Return to ‘mother’, read more reports before lunch, with a generous portion of shut-eye in between. Helen and I peruse previous Port Lockroy Post Office reports in anticipation of our briefing in Stanley tomorrow. Gosh there’s so much to learn, and under no circumstances DO! Oh and all the confusions of currency fluctuation and complication. Got my facts wrong earlier: Last year 40,000 pieces of post were hand-franked. Curiously, the more we talk with passengers, we discover that there is a wealth of postal knowledge on board, so we’ve been asking for advice! From West Point to New Island. Still monochromatic tonal perspective. Anchor off Beef Island and transfer one boat at a time – we’re the last. Sit in comfy armchairs with too many clothes on. It’s possible to get even closer to the Rockhoppers at this colony. Great to be striding along a peaty path, chuckling at the Upland Geese and their chicks. Rugby is being transmitted on a crackling transistor at the museum/shop. Back to the ship in time for last twenty painful minutes, played over chronic internet connection. Had to drink wine in commiseration. Overdose on squid rings at dinner. All four of us search the library’s games cupboard; not much choice if you don’t want to do a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle or play a Norwegian board game. End up playing Liar Dice at which Helen and I are spectacularly hopeless.

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