Letter From Lockroy - December 05
13TH DECEMBER 2005 - THE JOURNEY SOUTH (JOCKS ON TOUR)
Welcome to the first newsletter for the 05/06 season. First let me introduce the new team:
Rick Atkinson - Project Leader (and teaboy)
Rick lives in Fort William and went South for the first time in 1975 when he spent 2 years at Adelaide Base and Rothera as Field Assistant. He worked at Port Lockroy during the Antarctic summer 96/97 when the building was restored and again in the summer 03/04 as project assistant. Rick has now taken over role as leader and mentor and will be ensuring that we have a productive and successful season.
Graham Gillie - Chippy (and apprentice post mistress)
Graham comes from Edinburgh and spent a winter at Halley from Nov03-Apr05. After too much time on an ice shelf he is looking forward to seeing the Antarctic peninsula and some mountains. Graham will be looking after the buildings and structures and should keep us warm and dry for the summer.
Mairi Nicolson - Post Mistress, Penguin counter (and apprentice chippy)
Mairi comes from Wick and has spent 4 summers and a winter at Rothera from 2000-2005 as a science assistant. She has handed in her lab coat now and is thoroughly looking forward to a summer of licking and sticking approximately 20000 stamps.
Our first challenge of the season was to get 3 people from all over Scotland to RAF Brize Norton in Oxford. On the 20th November Mairi set off from Wick and travelled the first 200 miles to Fort William to be greeted by a slightly frantic Rick who hadn't quite finished (or started) his packing. Soon it was all thrown in a bag and Kathy, Ricks partner, treated us to a farewell feast of Roast pork with all the trimmings and Rick's favourite, apple pie. The next day we set off at 6am and headed over to Edinburgh to pick up Graham. Fortunately Graham's Mum had anticipated our need for some tea and bacon butties which were very much appreciated. All we had to do now was drive from Edinburgh to Oxford down the M6 a journey we thought would take 6 hours. 10 hours later we were sitting stationary on the M6 in thick fog with the road closed due to an accident just ahead.
Finally after 12 hours we reached our destination and our hosts Alan and Jane Caroll had a delicious meal waiting.
Alan Caroll was base commander at Port Lockroy during its heyday in the mid 1950's . Since the restoration of the base in 1996, Alan has spent hundreds of hours acquiring and restoring relevant pieces of equipment. He has also provided invaluable advice and historical facts for the ongoing operation and restoration of the base. Alan had just completed the revised addition of his book the history of Port Lockroy and we were keen to acquire a copy of this document before heading South.
The following day we spent racing around BAS HQ in Cambridge making final preparations, sorting cargo and catching up on the gossip. That night we finally boarded a Boeing 747 at RAF Brize Norton for our 18 hour flight to the Falkland Islands. We can only deduce from this flight that the MOD has a surplus of sausages as every meal contained the aforesaid item!
Once settled in the Upland Goose hotel we had a few beers to get over the jetlag and reacquainted ourselves with the local establishments. When we had recovered, our tasks for the following few days were to find and sort our cargo and most importantly pick up this seasons stamps from the local Post Office. Many thanks to Anton, Anne and Hugh for all their help and advice.
Having completed our preparations we found ourselves with a few days to spare as the RRS James Clark Ross was delayed at South Georgia due to bad weather. We took advantage of this unexpected free time to explore some of the more remote parts of the islands. We chose to fly out to Pebble Island where we spent a fantastic 3 days wildlife spotting. Rick especially enjoyed the off-road driving experience pushing both the Landrover and Mairi to their limits.
ONBOARD THE RRS JAMES CLARK ROSS
On the 4th December we finally set sail. Although Port Lorkroy is normally a 4 day sail from Stanley it actually took 9 as the scientists onboard insisted on stopping every 20 miles to either recover or launch scientific equipment. We made the most of this extended cruise by swatting up on the history of Port Lockroy and making an early start on our 2005/2006 Cribbage tournament. The scores so far are 1 game all.
So at last after 24 days we have finally arrived at the hut that will be our home for the next 4 months. Our days of leisure and playing cards are now over as we need to unpack our cargo, re-design the shop, start the building maintenance and penguin counts, as well as daily welcoming tourists from the visiting cruise ships that are already waiting for us to open our doors.
So that's all for now folks, we will write again soon with another exciting instalment of 'Letters from Lockroy'.
Lots of love to all our friends and families back home.
Mairi, Graham and Rick