Our best French jokes are aired. Time to go.

April 7, 2008 at 5:46 pm | Posted in Life in the snow | Leave a comment

28th January

Up at six for a six thirty start. Makes for a better visit when you’ve shared a table the night before! Very cold – five degrees centigrade in bunkroom. Several visitors put on clothes and buy them just to keep warm. Jerome (Wonder-chef top tip: sweet potato soup with crispy bacon topping.) brings over a box of fruit, milk and eggs. He’s shocked at our living conditions. Marten hopes they’ll repeat the visit (and dinner) next trip, when the owner will be onboard. Dale (the Australian) asks how we get on; our most annoying traits…there are many ways to answer. Explorer II appears, steaming in from the Neumayer. So the small luxxy yacht departs. We put the kettle on and swallow more spoons of breakfast. Suzanne (EL) and staff arrive, weighted down with pastries – sugary carbs to get us through. Helen says even I look tired today and yes it’s hard not to yawn. Four groups of fifty, first two evenly paced, then a big gap in the middle. (We have sold so many fleeces that Rick has to retrieve more.) And then another rush, lots of credit cards. Hungry and cold by the end, which comes at midday. Weird to think that we’ll leave on this ship in six weeks time. Already confused about subsequent sequence of events… nothing remarkable, probably restocking, tidying. Stop for food. Read a few e-mails – one from Julia. Wash up. Take slop bucket. Helen’s made a list and I bring up a box. Rick is packing up waste card to clear some space, so I can’t get to the fleeces. Lay out t-shirts and frank. Rick goes over to Le Diamant for talk – the translation (it’s a French charter) is a distraction. No time for a break. Before we know it the staff are here, clamouring in the shop, needing more stamps. Good to speak French again, but tiring. Keep patience with each other. When Le Diamant invites us for dinner I say yes yes without considering the consequences – we’ll have to restock for Fram and Nordnorge tonight. These few days are going to be insane. Hotel Manager remembered my plea for yogurt and carries up a box-ful – merci! Helen finds it divisive that I ‘hoard’ chocolate under the counter: Since we spend so many hours in the shop, there is where I need the energy boost. Two hundred passengers in two batches, with a break in the middle. Straight after the final pax have left, we pack our waterproof bags and speed over to the ship on last zodiac. In the lounge we are instructed to wait for the Captain and handed the cocktail menu; drink G+Ts and Daiquiri until he comes. He says we can take it in turns to shower in his cabin (slightly odd?!) Helen goes first, and is gone a while, then Rick, then me, sustained by canapés. Liberally dosed with the proffered lotions and potions we dine at the Captain’s table, except he is elsewhere. We take full advantage of the free wine situation and have several courses of fantastic French food. We end up last, and loudest, in the Dining Room. (The three of us, Tim and his wife, Rene and Dennis.) Reduced to weeping hilarity – Charcot has become a leit-motif of the trip and his ‘foot-prints’ have made regular appearances. Our best French jokes are aired. Time to go. Rene does a sterling job zipping me up! Back to Base. Send a virgin pooping penguin for the boys on return boat. I’ve drunk too much. Engine is loud as we sleep.

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