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Aurora and Diamond Dust

Since my last blog, I have been out and about on my winter trip, and we have had amazing weather conditions - our coldest, most beautiful period with amazing sun haloes and dogs during the day and wild aurora at night. Blessed are we to be here. I'll get onto the weather in a bit after I tell you about my winter trip.

kiting to Antarctica

A glorious day here on the ice at Halley with no wind and lovely light as the sun lowers day by day on the horizon. It sits at about 20 degrees now for most of the day, dipping only just under the horizon mid evening - even at midnight there is still a faint glow of red. Soon, however, we will lose the sun for 105 days - the dark period of the winter. Between now and then, I find myself taking every opportunity to get outside to ski, walk, enjoy the (rather flat) view.

Floating ice shelf news

The view from my room is one of unearthly light and movement. The sun is low on the horizon, throwing into relief the many containers, fuel drums and storehouses as blowing snow snakes around them, forever changing and appearing to soften the brittle hard landscape. My window faces west across the ice shelf towards, hidden in the distance, the southernmost portion of the Weddel sea and at even greater distance, the Antarctic Peninsula.

hurricanes in the Southern Ocean

I am sat in the sunshine in Port Stanley, which is an odd experience on a number of levels. I can hear my mate George muttering away in the background. His blog Mad Ratters Tea Party, is well worth reading. He is neglecting his blog today as he is still wobbly from the boat journey we have just completed and has spent the last hour drifting around the house trying to work out why the floor is still moving.

heading off home

So, the long wait to begin the journey home has almost ended - this morning George Phillips, my fellow traveller and one of our four pilots, took our luggage down from our old accommodation block to our new home, the Pharos. A big red taxi. Our cabins are right in the middle of the ship, and we've plenty of space to roll around in - which we will be doing a fair bit I imagine over the next few days. The journey back to Stanley will take five or six days, so we will be back in around the 25th all being well.

sunny days on South Georgia

The sun is shining, the grass is green, the orange and palm trees sway....well, if only. Wouldn't mind an orange to tell you the truth. We had an apple given to the team last week -one between 24, so a slice each, and I managed to pinch a lemon from a passing ship - so we had just enough for the gin and tonic for a night, but fruit and veg is thin on the ground here. We have a fair stock of frozen veg, but can only transport them from our freezer to the field camp when a helicopter is passing, and then we just have to make the most of them and eat them before they go off.

giant icebergs and fluff

Looking out of my kitchen window, I can see a lot of ice in the water. On a daily basis, the nature of the ice varies. After a cold, still, night, there is a thin sheet of grease ice coating the surface of the bay. Add a bit of a breeze, and the sheet breaks up into irregular shapes that rub up against on another and form pancakes, with frilly edges.

Sunday roast

Lovely roast - thanks to Darren, one of the building team based here that is renovating one of the historic buildings here on South Georgia. The team itself is 7 strong and they are all based, usually, in the Falklands - a great gang of lads led by Dave Peck, a happy and cheerful fellow. I feed them, usually, 6 days a week and they do a roast on a Sunday. Tonight, it was a nice piece of Falklands beef.

too many cooks?

This week finds me back at King Edward Point where I am to sit down for a week. Or so I am told by Doctor De, but that's not very likely. I have a helper, though, in the form of Sam Moore which will help me work a little less as I have a giant foot which is slowing me down. With luck, and time, it will shrink, so I can go back to Husvik where our team is now based to continue running things there. Most of my work, to be fair , could be done from a sitting position, so I am planning a high chair of sorts to assist.

we're off!

Well, when I say we're off, it feels like we have been 'off' for a few days now, if not weeks - such has been the frenzy of our planning and depot laying. We are, as a team, now ready to deploy fully into the field at Husvik, the site of our first camp and team rat central for the next month.

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