Christmas and New Year on the Ice

With the weeks seeming to flash by here at Halley, even Christmas was over fairly quickly. Not the long drawn out process of back at home with it dragging on for weeks… We finished early on Christmas Eve (1pm), had Christmas day off and were back at work at 7.15am on Boxing Day. It was almost like it had never happened, but then, on Boxing Day the best Christmas present of all arrived: the ship!!!

Food delivery!!!

We ate like kings…

Fresh fruit, vegetables and chocolate…

A variety of soft drinks…

Restocking the cupboard

And best of all, as I was emptying a container of build equipment, I came across a box with my name on it!! Presents from home and more choc and malt whisky. Things are a lot rosier…

Most of the work on site is moving ahead on schedule, its only the electrical side that seems to be holding things up. Most of the problem is the mess they constantly work in; they never clean up after themselves and are often working on top of weeks of debris. Their excuse is that they are too short of time to be cleaning up, and try as I might, they don’t believe me when I tell them they would work quicker and more efficiently on a clean site. Usually, some mug (i.e. me
or Les, the other painter) gets sick of the mess and sweeps up. On New years Eve I spents 2 hours moving 8 bags of rubbish from the undercroft of 1 module (Rant over!!!)…

Cleaning out rubbish
The interior moves on
Work over New Year

This has a knock on effect on everything else, and 2 more sparkys are flying in in 2 weeks time to help catch up. D-day for the project is Friday 13th January when BAS have to be confident they will be able to winter in the Base and the main services will be functional. If not they will have work to do on the Halley 5 building for the winter. The mood though is optimistic.

No more news yet on the Windy Bay penguins, although we are hoping to catch up with them next weekend. The sea hasn’t been very rough, so we are hoping the sea ice has hung on over the festive period. I’ll keep you posted on them. Here are a few other wildlife shots to keep you going…

Snow petrel
Wildlife from the ship
(Click the picture for a bigger image, 1.7Mb, it'll take a mo' to download, be patient)

Anyway, Happy New Year from here!!!

Happy Christmas from Chamonix

We woke up late, again. Chamonix seems to do this to me. I blame it on the clear air and the snug warm apartment, but perhaps this time it was also because the streets were very quiet. Father Christmas had done his job and most people seemed to be pre-occupied in doors.

Eventually we got out and enjoyed the whitest, fluffiest of snow with the bluest of skies. Ahhh, this is Chamonix at Christmas.

Pete enjoying the unpisted slopes.
Laetitia also enjoying the unpisted slopes.

The slopes were very quiet, and after a few exhausting runs we decided to stop for lunch.

Christmas dinner?

A few more exhausting runs later we decided to call it a day and head on down to the valley for Christmas cake.

Rewarding Christmas cake.

… followed swiftly with the full Christmas feast and an evening of Chrstmas TV.

Aperitifs... time to start the Christmas feast.

:star: Happy Christmas everyone. :star:

Happy Christmas from Antarctica!!

Over the last couple of weeks the main topic of conversation here at Halley has been food. After only a week here we began to run short of things. Of course, the food we are eating came on the ship last year and was ordered in about June 2010, so it appears they under-ordered. So far we’ve run short of pepper, sugar, meat, tomato sauce, CHOCOLATE, crisps… But at least there’s plenty of porridge. The emergency food was brought out, but with 60 people on base it hasn’t lasted long, and it was with great relief that a plane arrived from Rothera yesterday with more emergency food. The ship is also making good progress and should be here in the New Year. I forsee a Roman style banquet every night!!!!

Windy Bay Update
If you’re worried about how the young penguins at Windy Bay are getting on, I can report that the sea ice is still solid and they are getting a lot bigger. Hopefully the ice will remain into January when they should be big enough to survive. Here are some pics…

The penguin colony under the ice shelf cliffs
Look how clean I am!
Look at me!!
What's that?

By the way…
Happy Christmas to all the Sterling Adventure Bloggers and readers from here. It’s going to be a white Christmas…

Cue Bing…

Happy Chritmas from us!!!

The last ever Agilisys Carlisle Xmas party

Friday night was the Agilisys Carlisle Xmas party – and what a do it was…

A free bar all night (and morning, it was the very wee hours by the time we stumbled out of the Andalusian bar) ensured I remembered the party all day Saturday – I had a mind numbing headache. There was a magician, food, an amazing raffle with dozens of prizes. The top prize was a laptop PC, others included tablets, Kindles, iPods, etc. – I even won a £10 Waterstones voucher. But the best part of the night was the amazing company, the Carlisle team.

There will never be another party like this in Carlisle. Such a shame. I hope the Council’s new ICT provider tries to match it and keep the brilliant spirit of the office alive even if I won’t be there to see it.

Here a few pictures from the party to help remember it with in years to come…

With a couple of beers before the party proper started, Paul, Lee, David, and Dougie played some pool at Al's Sports Bar
The magician performing some kind of card trick! It involved knowing what card everyone had picked - of course, don't they all?
The start of the raffle - there were loads of winners!
Jenny scores an Apple iPod Nano
Just a few prizes left now to pick from... Perhaps a M&S voucher?
Simon and Paul can't decide which of the cocktails to order next.
Paul was the main protagonist when it came to my thumping hangover! He must have brought me at least 5 extremely alcoholic cocktails, plus the odd Vod-Bull
Cliff preferred slightly more refined booze!
Party on guys!

Another White Lakeland Xmas

The glorious winter weather held on for Xmas which was a good job as we had a packed house … and a massive Xmas feast planned! 😛

Nearly there!!

The last week has been a slow journey of winding our way through the sea ice of the Weddell Sea, occasionally getting stuck for between 15 minutes and 8 hours at a time.

The crew have a number of ways of freeing the ship when this happens: moving ballast and fuel to cause the ship to lurch, or swinging the crane around. As a last resort a container is hung from the crane. This has so far worked and we have only 30 miles of fairly easy ice to negotiate before 40 miles of open water to number 4 creek at Halley where we “dock”.

Freeing the ship from ice

There’s been plenty to see this week; more penguins, seals and birds. I also had a good look around the engine room and spent some time up the conning tower which is where they drive the ship from in heavy ice as there is a better view of any water aound.

Adelie Penguin
Emperor Penguin
Antarctic Petrel
Snow Petrel
Women drivers!!!
In the control room
The engine room

Today (24th) was Christmas Day, as we are due to get there tomorrow and be really busy. We had football on the ice (won 4-0) which is a bit worrying above 3.5km of water, carols on the focsul and a 6 course dinner. By the time we get there none of us will be fit to work!!!

Xmas football on the ice!