King Edward Point Diary – July 2010

31 July, 2010

“Oh! Ma ma ma, Oh! Ma ma ma, Oh! Ma ma ma- My July” Fellow Irishman and musician from County Offaly, Mundy, and his song “July” is the first thing that springs into my mind as I go to write this diary. Unfortunately, the tune is firmly rooted in my head now and team tech has to listen to my not so tuneful humming in the office.

July 1st is the 182nd day of the year (183rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 183 days remaining until the end of the year, and also the end of my contract with the British Antarctic Survey. What a daunting prospect — the “real” world beckons…

The 1st of July for us, was just another Thursday here in sunny South Georgia. As we still are experiencing a lack of the white stuff, we started the day with a presentation on avalanches, in the hope it might encourage some more snow fall. It had the opposite effect and still to this day, we are waiting patiently on some good piste conditions.

We all had a bit of a celebration on the 8th, as the second team from KEP finished the “Race to Antarctica”. They made an inspirational push in the closing days of the race, and even with a worn out rowing machine giving up the ghost 3 days off the finish line, they made it with a few hours to spare. Well done Ali, Richy, Susan, Robert, Kicki and Martin. The other team, who had been doing their best to match the fast and the furious team 1, managed a graceful but fashionably late finish the following week. There is nothing like a bit of healthy competition on a small base!

On the 13th, we welcomed back Pat and Sarah Lurcock, who were dropped off by the Pharos but much to my disappointment only stayed alongside for 10 minutes, the meter was definitely running that day but we only had to wait 5 days for the ship to return with its precious cargo of one handsome chief officer!

Pat and Sarah fell straight back into the host and hostess with the mostest role, and we all enjoyed an appetizing Ghurkha Curry in Carse house on the night of a special occasion for the couple, their wedding anniversary. We relished a traditional potato dish called “alludan” on arrival, and I would be here for far too long if I was to mention all the tantalizing dishes produced that night.

That night also marked the beginning of the 48 hour Antarctic film festival. It is an event organised by the McMurdo station on an annual basis, in which we must write, produce and edit a 5 minute film in just 48 hours. The winners of the 5 categories from last year choose the elements we must all use in the making of our film. This year’s elements were, a mop, a grumpy mechanic, the sound of a siren, the line “Has anyone seen my chicken?” and a bottle of mouth wash. It sounds like quite a random array, but we surprisingly came up with some weird and wonderful ideas over the weekend. The film evolved over the 48 hours, and resulted in a comical thriller. There were 27 entries from the bases scattered around Antarctica and the Sub Antarctic Islands. When the golden envelope was opened, we were all over the moon to hear that we had won the “Best use of elements” category and came second in “Best film” and “Best screenplay”. The satellite phone hasn’t stopped ringing from Hollywood. “Mission Unmoppable” will be coming to a big screen near you… If you can’t wait for the big screen release, you can watch it at the below link.

Watch “Mission Unmoppable” (Has mild adult content)

I hope ye enjoy them as much as we did, and the laughs we had creating it.

Another date in my diary as I look back is the 19th, with the grand unveiling of a superbly designed and crafted bench. The piece was commissioned by the outgoing commissioner Alan Huckle for the BAS base. Local carpenter extraordinaire Thies Matzen created the “proven to be sturdy” bench as you can see from the photo below. Not a drop of gin and tonic was spilled in the process.

This month, we had a visit from HMS Portland, a type 23 frigate. She stealthily entered the waters of Cumberland bay on the 23rd. The crew enjoyed the sights and sounds of Grytviken and KEP until the 26th. The majority of the crew got to stretch their legs ashore, and a very light hearted jovial banter was enjoyed between locals and crew. Some BAS staff and government officers were lucky enough to enjoy some of the culinary delights that HMS Portland had to offer, with Sarah Lurcock returning the hospitality with a hearty Sunday lunch for a select few.

Some of the team here also ventured away from base on camping trips this month. Matt, Jon and Susan escaped to the Greene Peninsula, that was all too green for their liking, and elected to leave the skis at home. George, Luke and Richy decided to chance it and lugged the skis to the Barff where good skiing conditions proved to be as elusive as for the other holiday makers, so alas the skis were never unpacked but everyone thoroughly enjoyed their time away.

Another date worth mentioning is the 29th. This was the day that Jon, George and I heard the good news that some of photos we entered into a postcard competition earlier in the year, had been chosen to create stamps and feature on a first day cover due to be released later in year. I never believed any of my shaky photos would make it to a stamp, and was delighted to hear the great news from Sarah the post mistress. There will be a sudden influx of penguin stamped postcards hitting the mail box for Kildorrery in the coming months.

Well, well, well, how could I forget the momentous occasion that took place on the 4th of July. It was the Doc Susan “Scooby snacks” Woodward”s birthday. A birthday party was planned at Maiviken hut, a place the doc holds very dearly to her heart and for one night only, it was transformed into a big kids disco/party. There were face paints, balloons, party hats, puttanesca, and dancing but not enough people for Susan to collect all her birthday kisses. The sweet docile tones of Hallelujah I’m sure could have been heard drifting down the beaches of Maiviken, along with the slightly croakier “Don’t stop believing” and “Put your hands up”. It was a great night, a one I won’t forget in a hurry.

That just about concludes the happenings of another terrific month here at KEP. The months are flying by too rapidly and some of us only have 4 months left on this breathtaking island. Our replacements have been chosen and are preparing for the same exciting journey South we undertook this time 2 years ago. It’s been a whirlwind of fantastic experiences, and many many thanks to one and all, both here and at home for the fun, the support, the craic, the love and the laughs. Mammy dear, I will be home for Christmas…

Paula O’Sullivan — Boating officer