Friday, 22 June 2007


Today is the shortest day, from this point on we should start getting more light and sometime soon the sun should re-appear from its hiding place behind the mountains. We've not experienced total darkness but the days have become pretty short with only 2-3 hours of dusky daylight.

Traditionally the eldest person on base lowers the old flag and the youngest raises the new one.

Richard (the electrician) lowering the flag
Matt (the electronic engineer) raising the new flag

The photos were taken around 1pm local so you get some kind of idea of the amount of light we have.

Midwinters Day

The Rothera Wintering Team

Midwinters Day started with Mike the base commander bringing everyone breakfast in bed. He insisted on doing it wearing his favourite pink dress and blonde wig which he seems to find an excuse to wear at every fancy dress party.
A disturbing image of our BC

A few of us took a walk around Rothera point and were greeted by a lone Adelie penguin which decided to follow us for a while, and a host of furs seals who were as grumpy as ever.

The afternoon gave way to more traditions - a screening of 'The Thing' (a horror movie set in Antarctica) followed by the swapping of midwinter presents. In days gone by before internet and phones were so freely available FIDs spent many hours / weeks (usually in the in the chippy shop -carpenter's work shop) crafting a winter present to be given to another winterer. These days it is good to see that people still put a lot of time and effort into creating special and unusual gifts. Presents are allocated by drawing names from a hat. This year gifts ranged from wine bottle holders, lamps and framed photos to a balance board, pin hole camera and wooden bowls. I made a penguin-shaped wine bottle holder from steel and received a wooden puzzle in a box which I've still not solved, Matt (it's creator) said he'd give me the solution before I leave in 2009 if I haven't solved it by then!

Cyril our wonderful french chef did not disappoint us, having spent all day in the kitchen, assisted throughout the day by pretty much everyone else on base, created an amazing feast including a whole suckling pig which he'd acquired from one of the ships in the summer. After dinner we were visited by 'santa' and everyone received a shoebox full of gifts from family and friends back home, these had been sent down in the summer and were a complete surprise to most people. After dinner we retired to the bar and much fun was had with the modelling balloons both Tris and I had been given in our parcels.

Cyril showing Tris how to stuff a pig & The finished article complete with the last apple on base

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Midwinters Week Begins...

Midwinter is a time for celebration in the Antarctic as it marks the point when the sun starts to return and the days will get longer. Here at Rothera we don't get complete darkness, we're enjoying 3-4hrs of dusky daylight at the moment, but we haven't seen the sun for over a month.
We have the pleasure of a week off for Midwinter which this year was full of traditional and not-so-traditional Rothera Rituals. The week kicked off with a night spent in snow holes at Vals on Friday night, which was surprisingly warm and comfortable. Monday heralded the traditional Winter Olympics-this year's events included abseiling off the tower, skidoo trials, bog-chisel (wooden pole with a metal spike on the end used for chipping through ice) javelin, muckluck (boots) throwing and snow-sculpture.

It's a whale (obviously!)
Steve hurling a muckluck

The evenings entertainment was another age-old tradition, the midwinter pub crawl. Groups of people had spent hours (some days) creating masterpieces of unusual drinking establishments. It all started in the electrician's workshop with light displays and chilled beers, then on to Tris and Matt's snowcave bar which was truly amazing. The GAs set up the 'bungee bar' where we got to throw ourselves at our favourite beverages. This was followed by 'O'Bonners' Irish bar in the Bonner Lab and The Drift Inn (aka Boatshed). Then the long walk back up the hill to an array of interesting 'drips' at doc's surgery and much needed hotdogs in Cyril's kitchen. The final call was a coffee bar in Rob's office. All in all a fantastic evening with more than the average number of sore heads in the morning.

Tris & Matt inside their snow hole-bar

Kelvin diving for his next beverage at the Bungee Bar