Whisky on the (glacial) rocks

January 24, 2008 at 7:33 pm | Posted in Life in the snow, Observations in Antarctica | Leave a comment

24th December

Ouch my eyelids ache. Six thirty peppermint tea from Ricky. Marco Polo monster at Jougla. Polar Star radio at seven, we have a few minutes to ready ourselves. Hannah et al are full of early cheer. 105 passengers a bit of a blur. One of the staff sights a chick in nest just by our hut – on Christmas Eve how perfect. Only around ten minutes before Ushuaia staff land – Monica and her beaming team, bearing gifts of whiskey and lip-balm! Rick makes us sandwiches to ward off collapse. Many Chinese visitors purchase a LOT of First Day Covers. By the end I’m pole-axed. We just can’t accept the offer of lunch on board – dang. Marco Polo’s EL (Alan) and their shop manager swing by for stamps and give us sweet (Rockhopper) penguin zip-pulls. 381 pieces of mail to stamp and frank. Oh and four sacks of mail for us from the Falklands. Rick fixes lunch – tuna mayo – while Helen braves Thai Hot Noodle (a present from a previous passenger, who warned not to use the Whole sauce sachet,) she’s  crying and laughing and gasping to recover. Apply stamps to Marco Polo mail, but there’s no time to frank them. No time to delve into the bulging sacks either. Helen stocks up on all the wearables – by the time I go to help, she’s staggering under huge red sack like a misplaced Father Christmas. Shokalskiy: more carols, low spend, dripping kayakers. One hour to frank and turn around. Melancholy. Open four sacks of post with Helen. The new First Day Covers look great. Lovely card from P. Several parcels for me. More for Helen. None for Rick. A few for Port Lockroy, including lovely one from our Oslo Hash House Harrier friend Brit (from initial Nordnorge voyage.) A wave of overwhelmingness hooks me; I stumble over rocks and weep against the glacier face. Aaaah utter tiredness, a flood. So many people to love, and not here. Icebergs impassive, penguins the same. Half an hour later, over to ship. Quick shower next to cold sauna. First in line for food, at Angela’s insistence. St eak, sausage, salad = yum. Stay on bow with happy punters. There is a couple from the Lake District who read a recent article about Helen in their local paper (and bring us up to date, thank the Lord, with Archers gossip.) Chat with architects and wanderers. Hunk of glacier is being smashed up for whiskey or amaretto on the rocks. Radio call for us from Antarctic Dream, who are passing from Peltier to Neumayer Channels. Could they please buy stamps and deliver parcels? Helen rides home to oblige and Julio, on discovering a gap in the schedule, persuades her to allow the ship to anchor here and visit on Christmas morning! (He also buys a whole set of First Day Covers, including new ones just in.) Helen returns to Shokalskiy and we adjourn to bar. A passenger presents Rick with a parcel – another Pooping Penguin! Then Brendan’s present is a Poolar Bear…even more impressive turds… Triumphant whoops whenever they perform. Home about eleven-thirty, on a boat whose engine kept cutting out. See same zodiac whizzing over to Antarctic Dream, in the back bay; three people fall out, climb in, boat returns to mother, and out for another foray, I think to sing carols. Completely exhausted, but need to wrap presents (one of my most favourite things.) The others are in bed, amazed at how long it’s taking. When that’s done, and gifts are laid around our mini tree, Rick is already snoring. The light outside is mother-of-pearl on far, high, mountains. Have to fetch camera. Sink into bed at half past one.

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