Halley Diary — May 2006

31 May, 2006 Halley

Hello from Halley. This month started off with the May Bank Holiday. In the absence of a maypole we considered dancing round one of the Comms masts but the idea never really came to fruition. After last months Sundown ceremony the days have been getting steadily darker here, limiting the amount of work we can get done outdoors, although we still have a couple of hours of usable light in the middle of the day and sometimes a lovely red glow on the horizon.

Most people have been hidden away working on winter presents lately so it’s been a busy time for the likes of Liz our Chippie, hunting out odd bits of wood for people and letting them loose in her workshop when she’s not out surveying the legs of the buildings. Anto our mechanic has been busy with container moves, and has also been offering welding tuition so Fran the MetBabe, Chris the SHARE engineer and I took the opportunity of learning to fuse various bits of metal together, some of it intentional. Things are continuing on the educational theme, with Vicki running Doc school where we’ve learned all about breathing, circulation, how to do an emergency tracheotomy, and how to insert venflons and take blood. I’ve also started doing Spanish lessons this month so there are lots of people thpeaking in thtrange acthenths and repeatedly asking each other how many brothers and sisters they have. Simon our GA has been doing tent maintenance and is still taking a yoga class once a week where we bend ourselves into unimaginable positions, and if that’s not enough you can go to Mark’s Guitar lessons, and do the same with your fingers. Nicola the Chef ran a series of food hygiene sessions so that when it’s our turn to cook we don’t poison each other, although I’m not sure a higher level of hygiene is going to make what I cook taste any better. samba and bridge sessions are still ongoing as well.

We’ve had two birthdays this month, Andy early on, and Brian’s a couple of weeks later. Andy had a cake with a person climbing through it reflecting his love of caving and generally squeezing in to tight spaces, whereas Brian had a huge bowl of jelly reflecting his love of, well, jelly. Brian has been locked in a battle of wits with the hot water boiler most of this month but has emerged victorious, for which we are all very grateful.

Weather has been quite changeable this month, we’ve had a couple of auroras to see, but also some very heavy blows resulting in catenaries and masts being buffeted about, but Jules our Mast Officer has ensured everything stays upright. Walking home has been very dramatic on some evenings when the wind gets up to 50 knots. Luckily we have ropes between buildings to guide the way but even so it is a bit daunting trying to navigate while being constantly buffeted and barely able to see your hand in front of your face. Our intrepid Met team of Fran, Kirsty and Andy inform me that this month we may have broken the record for the highest wind recorded at Halley. Norris McWhirter would have been proud. The high winds have also meant things getting blown about on the container line so a posse was formed to go and retrieve various items before they got buried.

Obviously with less light during the day we’ve had curb our skiing and kiting activities and turn to alternative indoor methods of keeping fit, a good example being our darts match with Bird Island base. In the past this has been done over HF radio, but we thought we’d modernise it a bit, so thanks to the wonders of laptops, webcams and MSN Messenger we had a tense match, narrowly won by Bird Island. Rather more active than the darts was Club Nido, where the garage is turned into an impromptu nightclub, made all the better by a lack of surly bouncers and not having to pay £5 for a bottle of water. The frenetic dancing (mainly by other people) was interspersed with games of Twister, keeping up the Olympic theme.

A couple of times this month things have been returning to the old days. We had no internet or phones for four days due to work being done at Cambridge, and we’ve also had a FIDS theme evening. The dining room was decked out with a pair of snow shoes and a dog sledge, everyone dressed up as gnarly old Antarctic heroes, or cats according to preference, and we had reel to reel cine films and slide shows, although sadly we couldn’t get the record player working.

Next month we’re looking forward to another darts challenge with Rothera, and the midwinter celebrations so stay tuned.

Hello to everyone back home, enjoy the summer.