Happy to be here

November 19, 2007 at 6:12 pm | Posted in Assistant Post Mistress, Blogroll, Dreams and imagination, Observations in Antarctica, Penguins | Leave a comment

31st October

Toasty toes, still chilly nose. Slept well, up with the joys at six thirty. Peek out the door on the way back from bucket to see thin pancake ice, and the penguins so still, gathered on Bill’s Island, that they look frozen. Kettle on and back in the bag. Today’s mission is to sort out the PO/shop room (The new Generator Shed) before stock goes in.

Everybody else has unpacked into their underbunk storage boxes – I’ve been putting it off (fears of too much stuff) – seize the day and attempt to make contents of pink Harris tweed holdall, blue canvas bag and two boxes of personal stuff make sense and fit. Meanwhile Helen tackles the First Aid/Cleaning cupboard, which contains an abundance of ancient Lemsips, numerous toothpaste tubes, rolls of cling-film and cigarette lighters. Decamp the four hundred sets of ‘Iceberg Library’ postcards to shop – delighted that they’ve made the journey here too. The decision has been made to paint the shop. The day is so blue and still and wondrous outside that we are easily distracted. Move boxes to far end, lay down opened out flattened cardboard in lieu of dust-sheets. Helen is assembling optimum nut snack and muesli supplies down at the boat shed, misses initial horrid sanding (makes up for it later) before transforming last night’s curry into soup of the day. Instantly dusty hair ooh but I’m loving these overalls – family would be amused to see me now I think. As we’re running short of water (we had seven jerry cans full from the Nordnorge) Helen and Tudor go down to the blocks of ice on the low-tide shore and chip chunks off with pick-axes, to melt in the boat shed (always warm and wood-smelling.) A battle-scarred young male elephant seal wearily tries to haul out onto our icy shore, evidently needing to lie low – he sleeps all afternoon, ignoring the penguins and us. Stand still in the beauty, I’m so happy to be here. Right: Painting.
Up a ladder with a pot of white undercoat, singing show tunes and an impressive eighties repertoire (Helen’s word-perfect to Wham’s ‘Bad
Boys.’) We are weary-bodied but cheery. Helen sad for a second when paint first sullies her overalls. Tea-break on the ramp, watching leopard seal pretending to be a rock, and avoiding possibility of sheathbills shitting from overhead (as is their wont.) Finish painting by six. The light on the ice is calling; stand and click. Tudor’s cooking up a feast all from tins – a culinary skill that the others all seem to have mastered – a kind of lasagne, very good. As it’s Halloween, we have wondered about ducking for apples, but since there’s only one, we resort to Helen’s festive whiskey and ginger wine. Open computer for the first time, it shuts down, too cold. Trouble lighting both Tilley lamp and heater tonight, finally cosy. Almost (!) too hot in bed – prickly toes – and can’t reach to take socks off zzzz

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