Halley Diary — June 2004

30 June, 2004 Halley

Midwinter by Nigel Colgan

Midwinter’s day is approaching and the workshop doors have been busy swinging back and forth with eager base members working away on their midwinter presents to beat the dead line of the 21st. Some have been seen in the workshops until the early hours of the morning adding the finishing touches to their presents. Graham Gillie our gifted carpenter has been very helpful in assisting us with our projects and lending his dexterous hand with the difficult bits.

The weather this month has been a little kinder to us with temperatures staying between -25 and -35 degrees. We have not seen a repeat of last months winds, thank goodness. The midwinter decorations have gone up and the 19th marked the start of festivities, with the base pub crawl which started in the melt tank, then a little snifter at the igloo followed by the Simpson night club, the met team did a great job with interior decorators, there were glitter balls and flashing lights and other rotating objects. The glitzy hosts Craig,Vanessa and Rhian served up drinks wearing rubber gloves in conical flasks and beakers, no one was left standing as the Simpson club had over 18 chairs.

Then we moved onto the ice cave for a glass of sherry and then marched over to the Piggott Tavern for last orders and a health and safety seminar conducted by our base commander Russ Locke.

Sunday 20th saw the premier of Simon’s Data Manager Halley 5 Monopoly game. Different however to the original Monopoly but just as good. Simon has spent much of his free time constructing the board which uses properties specific to Halley such as igloo and ice cave, the various platforms were all up for grabs. He has meticulously made tiny brass ornaments on the lathe to mark the team positions, instead of a boot and an iron we had an igloo a spade, the Halley sign, an ice axe etc., and instead of houses and hotels we had skidoos and Sno-Cats carved from wood. The attention to detail was amazing, unfortunately Simon’s property buying skills let him down on the night as he went bankrupt first soon to be followed by Frank who was doing so well, myself and Ed were the unscrupulous property moguls who came unstuck at the end after buying and selling hundreds of skidoos, to Vanessa’s frugal money handling, she won the game with thousands of pounds to spare.

Well there it was, the 21st, June 2004 what a fabulous day, this is how it unfolded. 12.00pm saw a few Champagne corks fly, as everyone gathered in the lounge for the present opening ceremony, Tommo dressed up as Santa although he denied it was him, he handed out everyone�s presents. It was great to see what everyone had made for each other, the quality of each gift was outstanding with the limited resources we have here, imagination is alive and well. Photo: Here is a selection of the presents we made for each other:

Then came the main event, the mid winter meal. The chef Kev O’Donnell received a standing ovation for his hard preparatory work and his culinary wizardry.

Well done Kev.

In the evening we settled down in the lounge armchairs and listened to the radio broadcasts from home on the world service. The celebrations carried on in to the early hours of the morning, a day that we will remember for a long time to come.

Wednesday 23rd, Rhian and Vannessa present, THE BRIE THE BULLET AND THE BLACK CAT. Da da dahh!

This was murder mystery night, where all of us dressed up to act the different roles of the “who dun it!!” Around the dinner table in a somewhat cooler Casablanca (cooler in both senses) October 1942 . We were the guests of Monsuier Huges Le Grandbutte, deputy mayor of Casablanca, alias Kev O’Donnell. The dinner conversation was somewhat tense as we were all suspects in a heinous crime; one of us was responsible for the murder of the Black Cat. The girls laid on a nice meal to go with the evening, and the cross questioning and interrogation went on between courses, everyone dressed for their part and we ended up with a few more ladies for the evening albeit slightly more broad at the shoulder.

Friday 25th we decided to have a barbecue on the open platform despite it being minus 40 degrees Celsius we were not to be perturbed. The biggest snag was of course trying to get the damn thing lit. Even when we soaked the coals in petrol they would not ignite, it was just to cold for the petrol to vaporise in fact the petrol actually put out the flames. With much ado and soaked rags we managed to get it going, and the burgers started to spit and sizzle until the wind got up and started to take the heat away from the grill. Some waited it out in the cold whilst their wine turned solid in the glass while for others their hunger got the better of them and decided to take their burgers inside and fry them on the stove. There it was the Baltic barbecue.

Saturday night was fancy dress once again and this time the theme was Animals. Come as an animal that most represents you, well they were all a bit obscure, Craig the eccentric meteorologists won the event with most resourceful costume, I have never seen a safety helmet put to so many uses, as bits of it have featured in his previous getups. I’d like to point out that he is wearing a weather balloon.

The dark side of the earth, by Nigel Colgan

I know you’re there
Just below the vista
Come out and fight!
You firey eye
Bring back the light
That was our sky

Now a flock of ravens
Fly above my head
Colour is dead.
Only when they rest
Your majestic cousins
Can take my breath

Even at sub zero day after day
Colour formed a liquid flow
And drained away
So illusory you are! Rainbow.

For what it’s worth
I’m sure is plain
To ripen fruit
In lighter earth
And far off Spain.

Still with high spirits
We carry on, in this perpetual black
And then raise the flag
To drink a toast when you come back.

Rest assured upon your return
Our faces will surely glow
With the raven curtain gone
You know, you can gladly

Well that was the June and we look forward to the sun, I am now going to return to my hole in the ground. I’d like to thank Graham, Rhian, Simon, Vanessa, Jeff and Russ for all the photographs that were contributed to this month’s page. I’d like to say “Hi” to all the family back home, mum, dad, Carmel, Richard and Iain and Ewan see you all in 2005.

Nigel x