We sit out on old church hall chairs in the snow for a cup of tea

November 19, 2007 at 6:05 pm | Posted in Assistant Post Mistress, Book art, Dreams and imagination, Life in the snow, Observations in Antarctica | Leave a comment

30th October

Stir around five am. Over the next few months I’ll try to describe Rick’s snore, but today there’s more important stuff to depict. Snug as bugs in our caterpillar cocoons, condensation running down the walls.

Rick puts the kettle on. Bladder has been bursting for the last hour at least, but since my nose, the only part of body out of sleeping bag is cold, trip down Baltic corridor, through Genny Shed, to the bucket, is not appealing, but finally essential. Ah but tea’s ready and Rick’s making porridge. It’s the Scottish salty kind – but good n’ warming, and especially good with shavings of frozen honey and dried apricots – yum.

Eight o’clock aah the first tender boat full of visitors from the Nordnorge is on its way. Run around moving boxes from the lounge, uncovering protective plastic from the science room and transferring artefacts from safe back to their places on the museum shelves. (Marco the German Expedition Assistant has successfully managed to twiddle knobs in correct sequence – Hurray!) Wonderful to see familiar passengers; their responses are a mixture of aghast and admiring. Prop myself at Bar in lounge and merrily explain how there’s no electricity or heating here. People I’ve never spoken to wish us luck and a happy season. One man even returns to the ship, insists the boutique is opened, and sends back a large bottle of Jagermeister – our first gift, for medicinal purposes, obviously. And Mairi bestows her sheepskin hat and two apples. Once we’ve said goodbye to Nordnorge, unloaded remaining supplies and watched her slip behind the ice walls of Neumayer Channel, we sit out on old church hall chairs in the snow for a cup of tea. The task ahead of us: to stack and store this box mountain – finding a home for 600 boxes. Tudor has a plan. It takes hours and hours, in between pauses for cups of tea, with macaroons (half-inched from ship when T went to check the hold) smeared with dolce de leche. Basking in the wonderment of working up a sweat next to the swimming penguins in an iceberg water garden. Lunch is oatcakes and corned beef (dog) – which never tasted so good. By six thirty every single box has found a home (albeit temporary) and the tarpaulin is bare; fold it up, liberating that patch of snow back to the gentoos, who mull about, and swiftly settle back. It’s beer o’clock! But I’m behind with this, and reluctant to shut the door on the day, so I stand on the threshold writing until fingers too cold to hold pen. Curry for dinner, cooked by Rick. All food here tastes like Nectar of the Gods, perhaps because it’s been a long while since such physical labour. This meal, being hot, thaws us out from the inside. Dreamily cosy in our bunkroom (kitchen, bedroom, living room combined, in 5 x 6 metres) now that the propane heater is on. Helen knits, Tudor washes up and I’ve been nominated to start the base journal, we’ll take it in turns day by day. Not sure when I’ll have time or battery power to write this, so apologies for delay. All rosy-cheeked and curried up, cosy in and Rick starts to snore.

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