Halley Diary — May 2003

31 May, 2003 Halley

By Allan Thomas

Hello from the land of darkness and cold!

Can you hear me?

May has definitely been a month of ups and downs for us all here at Halley Station.I shall start with the downs first, and work my way up.

We finally waved goodbye to that blistering ball in the sky as the sun left us for another winter.

Although the sun has sunk beneath the horizon, the sky remains blue at midday and shall do for a couple of weeks.

As is traditional on Halley, the oldest member of our merry band has the honour of lowering the union jack from the roof of the Laws building. This year the task fell to Mark Stewart, who dutifully lowered the flag with great dignity and a little splash of humour. Another tradition here is that the flag is raffled off to one lucky person, with the coveted prize going to Annette Faux this year.

On the upward side of things, we have been very busy this month with some new science experiments. These involved sending kites up into the atmosphere, carrying portable weather stations to measure temperature, wind speed, pressure, humidity and direction. As the kites could only be flown in winds lower than 10 knots the moment the wind speed dropped the met people rushed out and manned the winch no matter what time of day or night. Some of us were roped in to lend a hand, but I do not want to belittle the great effort put in by the met team, Elaine Cowie, Annette Faux, and Stuart Colley, with expert kite flying guidance from SHARE engineer Mark Maltby.

The darkness was definitely not helping and our thoughtful chef Craig Nicholson sent over a supply of hot food and warming coffee for our intrepid scientists.

As well as all this exciting science going on we have has the usual station jobs to do, with refuelling and waste disposal runs being carried out all throughout this month (and every month) by most of the technical staff, notably Graeme Barton and Ben Norrish.

Well after the excitement of sundown we all needed an outlet for the last of our stored up solar energy, so to celebrate Mr Sun going on holiday we transformed the garage into the most exclusive club in the world…..CLUB NIDO.

The garage was decked out with disco lights (supplies by yours truly, Rob Shortman and Paul ‘Toddy’ Torode), so with a non-slip cover for the floor we were ready to party the night away! There was an abundance of shaking, shimmying and twisting and my very own ‘Funky Chicken’ dance put in an appearance.

Of course you would not deny us the chance to let our hair down, and with the removal of the cheery sunlight we have had to keep busy keeping ourselves entertained.

But it is not all partying, oh no!

We have been having first aid courses, ran by our very own Doctor Gavin Francis for a few weeks now, and we have covered most of the simple first aid techniques, with Gavin giving us many examples of the types of injury we would have to deal with out in the field.

The lesson a few weeks ago covered broken bones, and a couple of brave volunteers agreed to be set in plaster as an example to the rest of our little class. Myself and our plumber, Rob Shortman agreed, as between us I think we have had the most broken bones and were qualified to comment on the quality of cast! All in all it was a most excellent lesson, although it brought back a few unpleasant memories for me.

May really was a most productive month; we even managed to drag our winter station commander away from his mounds of paperwork and get him back on the tools!

Patrick McGoldrick is our busy commander and our resident chippy. A mammoth task lay ahead of him, Rob Shortman and myself as we struggled against adversity to replace our old tea station. As you all know, tea is very important to a tradesman and we made sure the job was completed on time. Do you like the difference?

It was just as well we got the dining room back in order as the next weekend our chef Craig decided to thrill us all with a night of Italian cuisine, we started with an antipasto, then a primo piatto, secondo piatto with contorni and rounding off with dolce and formaggio. Needless to say it was superb, and with five different types of bread I think he was spoiling us!!

Craig does it again!

Finally this month I must report on another spot of entertainment we concocted, if you are an avid reader of this website, (and if not why not?) you will remember last month we had a university challenge night.

Well this was so popular we decided to have another quiz night, this time based on a different television show.

So last Sunday we all settled down for…… “THE WEAKEST FID”. (FID is a term for us settlers down here – it stands for “Falklands Islands Dependents”)

So with questions drawn up and contestants ready, somebody had to be ‘Anne’.

I do apologise to anyone of a weak disposition, and to Mrs Robinson herself.

The contest was fast and furious, with last months brain boxes being voted out early, we are sure there was some scheming going on, but in the end our two semi finalists were Ben Norrish, our vehicle mechanic, and Graeme Barton, our generator mechanic.

I will not lie and say that the groups had scored highly, in fact in one round the whole group got one question right! But it was a nail biting finish as Graeme romped home as the first Halley champion.

Well as you can tell it was a very busy month, I realise that I have concentrated on the social occasions rather than the work that goes on here, but I am sure the people back home will be glad to know we are all happy as well as productive!

Which only leaves me to say this. Love to my Ma and Pa, Alison and Mike, Margaret and Dave and Wendy and Andy. To Antony, Christopher, Adam, Lucy, Emma and Craig. (You all be good!!) And to my good friends, John, Sig, Iain and Gail, all the David’s, Iain and Jo, Fred, Jackie, Scott and Claire, all the boys at the dairy and too many others to mention, here’s a picture that should bring back some memories….

All the best

Allan ‘Tommo’ Thomas
Station Electrician