Helen and I, warm-cheeked and excited, model the ladyfit t-shirts as best we can

November 27, 2007 at 6:39 pm | Posted in Assistant Post Mistress, Book art, Dreams and imagination, Life in the snow | Leave a comment

14th November

Metallic pale grey outside. Very still. Inside, legs tucked up, cross-legged in bunk, trying to delete hundreds of photos from computer to make room for multitude of Port Lockroy penguins. Involves looking at the documentation of the last four years (I’m no good at filing.) Keep pics of people, lose technical work sequences. Memories gurgling: trees, cars, workshops, dinner parties… Odd. Wash up porridge bowls and pan to clear kitchen surface, because it needs raising from back breaking to minorly uncomfortable. I’m chief joiner’s assistant, which means watching a lot of measuring and sawing, and occasionally writing a number in a notebook or holding bits of wood. Things improve when the power tools come out, and there’s some drilling and screwing to be done.

Chilli transforms into lentil curry (?) for lunch. Proudly finish up counter by five thirty. It’s exercise time! Circuits, (kind of,) on low flattish rock (avoiding guano and puddles.) All four of us in trainers; jogging, squatting, lunging, star-jumping, sit ups, press ups and using convenient sized rocks as weights. Gentoos emerging from the sea, watch, not bothered, as we work up a sweat. Rick’s on for a curry, using a few ingredients from the boat shed – Base Commander’s privilege. While I’m reading e-mails, the radio above my head crackles! We have contact with the outside world! Oooh it’s Antarctic Dream! Our first visitors – they’ve arrived – they’re about to anchor – and they’re inviting us aboard for a shower. What an ecstatic notion?! We’re to be ready by eight thirty. Dinner is delicious. Then I’m being ditzy – what should I take? Shove clean clothes and toothbrush into waterproof sack, struggle into immersion suits, stumble down to landing and wait for the zodiac’s drone through the fog. It’s snowing. Unutterable joy arcing round underneath the prow, clearly reflected in the icy ink, and climbing into the light and warm welcome. Delightful evening, blissful shower. Up to the all-wooden bar, smiling faces and pisco sours. Rick does his introductory talk about Port Lockroy’s history, and tomorrow’s landing.
Lots of questions. Lovely people flock round, all curious about four Brits in a small wooden hut on the Antarctic Peninsula, running a museum and Post Office… Helen and I, both warm-cheeked and excited, model the ladyfit t-shirts as best we can. Several folk force fresh fruit upon us, which I can’t help but fondle. Time to go, out across the dark water, home. The island is quiet, the penguins still.

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