A quick game of Badminton at Falkland

October 25, 2007 at 8:23 am | Posted in Assistant Post Mistress, Dreams and imagination, Journey, Life in the snow, Photos, Rachel Hazell | Leave a comment


21st October. Happy Birthday Timothy!

Early approach to Stanley. Sally is on the quay. It’s raining. There’s a bit of faff with the gangplank not achieving the correct angle of rest. Then a beautiful garden shed is fork-lifted into position for customs/security ha ha. Stand around on slippery steel discussing ice conditions and getting our fuel/alcohol supplies security checked and onboard. Sit drinking tea while the people who know what they’re doing do it. Squeeze into Sally’s car and visit her home/ducks/polytunnel before heading to the Falkland’s main Post Office. In by the side entrance, past the sorting room piled with parcels (which already rouses me to a pleasurable frenzy) and through to the back where the safe is full of stamps and the smiling staff are ready to furnish us with enough postal paraphernalia for four and a half months. We double-check sheaves of First Day Covers and shoals of sheetlets, oohing and aahing over new releases of Antarctic marine life, fresh iceberg stamps and a special commemorative round one for International Polar Year…(I’ll tell you more when we’re properly set up at Port Lockroy.) While Helen is more fully instructed in the Arts of Post Mistressing there’s time to admire the order and repetition, talk about the significance of postal communication and stock up on padded envelopes. Deputy Post Master Ann is going to be our parcel lifeline; thank-YOU Ann! Walk away down Ross Road chanting ‘I love stamps and envelopes and rubber stamps and stationary!’ loud enough to remember exactly how excited I am to be on the way to doing this job. Stand in the aisles of what is likely to be the last supermarket for four and a half months paralysed with indecision. From the mass of bounty I choose mint humbugs and gold doilies. Back to ship for lunch and gym stuff. Rick has decreed that we play badminton and has booked a court. What a laugh! Such an unexpected way to spend our final afternoon in civilisation. All frustrated by how good we used to be, except Tudor who’s brilliant regardless, and even appears to have a strategy. Cool off in the swimming pool, mucking about and laughing (in a kind way) at Tudor’s terrible buttock bruises sustained during an unscheduled bounce down metal steps after a hot tub… Split so that Helen can be shown the swiftest historic tour of Stanley. I wander along the rain-bright colour-saturated streets to dear Kay’s B+B. But where are the gnomes? Relieved to learn that they will be out and proud anytime soon, now that spring is here. Kay, along with her gnomes, home-baking and twinkling eyes nurtured me last year when I’d left HMS Endurance with wobbly sea legs and iceberg etched retinas. Catch up with necessary gossip over tea and fruitcake. Talk about Port Lockroy; Kay thinks her brother-in-law stopped by there in the 40s. She pulls out his diaries (browned paper, meticulous copperplate) and describes how he died from a seal infection after months of pain. He must have been part of Operation Tabarin – Wow! Meet up with the others over beer at the Globe; rough and smoky but the liquor slips down mighty fine. Move on to the Victory and down a few more before emerging into the glowing evening and catching last bus back to the ship. Carry on drinking as we sail away into the tumbling ocean. Sleep with tablets to hand and two e-mails from home x

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