Halley Diary — July 2006

31 July, 2006 Halley

July traditionally a month of lulls, was full of anticipation and preparations for the return of the sun to brighten up our days.

It got off to a swinging start with the formation of the as yet unnamed Halley band which was spawned from the mid winter cabaret night.

Medical school continued in earnest, covering various topics from pain relief to plaster casting, but the most memorable being suturing.

We each got to stitch various types of pseudo wounds using pigskin, under Vicki’s watchful eye.

Dave continued with Spanish lessons on Tuesday nights and Samba drumming on Thursday. I think we have about seven Samba pieces mastered at this stage and can ask directions to the restaurant, order food when we get there & then complain about the price charged en Espanol.

In the kitchen Nicola cooked the final batch of fresh(!) potatoes and Alex officially consumed the very last one.

We are on to the tinned variety until the ship arrives in December, which are not all that bad.

The vehicle work has been as busy as ever with seemingly never ending ski-doo servicing not to mention the bigger machines and the race to move the cargo sledges before the relentless accumulation of snow submerges them.

Although the science team have shown we accumulated a metre of snow so far this winter, a new record, July had officially no recorded accumulation. This was not the case in my department where obstacles like the sledges were quickly inundated with snow and had to be freed back onto the surface more often that usual.

I drafted in some help with a major Sno-cat service in readiness for the Emperor penguin colony trips due to start next month.

Julius, Dave, Frances & Andy got their hands dirty changing oils and adjusting track tensions.

July was the turn of Mark to celebrate a birthday. Vicki concocted another appropriately themed cake, this time in the shape of a guitar complete with strings.

Then on the Saturday Mark invited us all to an exclusive nightclub in his workshop, which was decked out complete with lights, sound system, multimedia wall displays, and even a microphone for those karaoke moments!

Our cluttered social diary also boasted a fancy dress night and this time the theme was superheroes. As usual much thought, originality & recycling went into the costumes.

Kirsty and Vicki trialled a new hair styling technique. This involved dipping their hair in a bucket of tepid water and allowing the mop to freeze while dangling the hair up side down. Well see the outcome for yourself.

The beginning of July brought night watch for me, a break from my normal duties & an opportunity to enhance my cooking skills.

As well as the mandatory bread baking, I had a go at a fruitcake & some blueberry & Guinness muffins, the latter of which weren’t a great success but the blueberry ones went down a treat.

Simon our field general assistant seized the opportunity of a vacated garage to service the older Nansen sledges and construct a couple of new ones.

So after digging a selection of sledges from the snow & bringing them up to temperatures they don’t often experience, he began going over them with a fine toothcomb. He also got other station members involved in building a brand new sledge from component parts. This was a great opportunity for us to learn new skills like hemp lashing, leather thonging and rope tying skills as the ash wood components are all tied together using these methods as opposed to being nailed or screwed together. This is to maintain flexibility in the sledge for when travelling over rough terrain such as sastrugi.

Later on in the month, Simon also had us dangling off the Simpson platform for some refresher training in preparation for the Emperor penguin colony visit. We will have to abseil off the edge of the ice shelf onto the sea ice in order reach the colony.

Frances and myself completed a few jigsaws in the evenings to keep our minds ship shape. The constant darkness can muddle the old brain a bit.

Julius and Chris and I spent a half-day uprooting the SHARE catenaries, which were becoming submerged.

These are wooden posts, which carry data and power cables from the antennae where it is collected to the caboose where it is stored & processed.

Auroral events have been slim pickings over our winter as a whole, so when the slightest hint of one is detected, we are all roused from sleep by the night watch person to catch a glimpse of the dancing luminescence.

As the month came to a close we made a start on the task of raising some of the drumlines around station.

This is an arduous task as there are two long drumlines towards the coast as well as the drums marking the 6km perimeter around station.

Anthony Brennan