[ I N D E X ]

June




By Jon Seddon (Electronic Engineer)

The big event in June was the Midwinter's celebrations. June 21st was Midwinter's day in the southern hemisphere. Since the start of the last century, when Shackleton and Scott spent some of the first winters in the Antarctic, Midwinter has been a time of celebration. Many of the traditions that they started continue today.

Sharpy cutting Lyndsey's hair Jon's hair after the Midwinter hair cut

We all had the week off work as far as possible - we still have to keep the science experiments running, take regular met observations and keep the buildings running. At the start of the week a couple of us had a Midwinter's haircut. Lyndsey's been cutting most people's hair throughout the winter and I decided to go for whatever Lyndsey fancied. I think that I did quite well out of it. Lyndsey let Sharpy do what he wanted with hers and the results were interesting!

There were events organised on most days of the week. The dining room was transformed into a Jazz bar and we spent an evening chilling and relaxing in there. There are several Scots here and they organised a ceilidh on the Tuesday evening. The dining room was stripped of chairs and tables and we were taught some of the easier dances. It was excellent fun even for people like me who are hopeless at dancing.

The Jazz bar
Mickey diving for the palm tree in the bungee bar

A regular Midwinter's event is the pub-crawl. The Piggott platform became a twister bar and the Simpson platform was transformed into a beach. Steve and Duncan, our Field General Assistants, set-up a bungee bar in the corridor of the Laws platform. The aim was to run down the corridor and try and pick-up the inflatable palm tree before the elastic pulled you back down the corridor. I found that a good scream as you ran along the corridor seemed to help.

Throughout the week we received emails and faxes offering Midwinter's greetings. They came from other Antarctic bases, ships, people who have wintered in the Antarctic before and the HQ staff in Cambridge. We also received faxes from A.B. Vajpayee (the Prime Minister of India), two ministers of the Indian Government, President George Bush and 10 Downing Street in the UK. The messages filled both sides of the door into the dining room. It was amazing receiving so many messages - thanks for them all!

The highlight of the week was Friday 21st June - Midwinter's day. Traditionally on Midwinter's day the Base Commander makes the breakfast and serves it to people in bed. Steve only managed to serve a couple of cups of tea; he had been dropping hints about his cooking the day before, which may have helped. The first event of the day was the streak around the main Laws Platform (this probably isn't one of the original Midwinter celebrations, but is still a good laugh).

Once we'd warmed up we gathered in the lounge to give out the presents. In April we'd each picked a name out of a teapot and then made a present for this person. In the weeks before Midwinter, people had been sneaking in and out of the workshops making their presents. Mickey, the carpenter, gave excellent help to many of us, but everyone had put in huge amounts of effort and our presents will remind us of our time here for ages.

The presents made for Midwinter
The dining room decorated for dinner

At 5pm we went through to the dining room. It had been decorated ready for the meal. Stuart had cooked an amazing seven-course dinner. We had a few fresh potatoes and onions left, but all of the other ingredients were either frozen or dried. The meal could easily have been served in a good restaurant though. After dinner the BBC World Service broadcast a program for everyone wintering in the Antarctic with BAS. They read out messages from our friends and relatives and played a song that each base had chosen - ours was Wide Open Space by Mansun. It was brilliant to hear the messages and the voices of Rod Arnold and Mandy Willis who we know from our training in Cambridge and the summer. We still haven't been able to find out if it was really Rolf though!

In the rest of June we have continued with our usual work. There was a blow at the start of the month with the wind reaching 40 knots. Two of the antennas for the radar that I look after were damaged and so I had a couple of days outside fixing them. Mark Stewart kindly volunteered to do the night watch over Midwinter's week - making sure that everything's safe while we were asleep. We owe him a huge favour for doing that. Cathy, Annette and Elaine have been continuing the regular met observations, launching balloons every day and have also calibrated the Dobson spectrometer that is used to measure the amount of ozone above us. At the start of the month Kev and Andy had a couple of cold days outside topping up the fuel flubbers that supply the generators on the Laws and Piggott platforms with fuel.

Sharpy has PAT (Portable Appliance Test) tested all of the electrical equipment on base to make sure that it is safe - a monster job! Mickey was on nights before Midwinter's week and has also been busy helping us with our presents. Ben has been busy in the garage winterising the last of the Snocats and servicing skidoos. Ben's also been making socks to keep the exhausts of his poor Snocats warm. Stuart spent loads of time planning and preparing the Midwinter's day meal and all the other excellent meals. Lyndsey has continued with her sleep research and has been running regular first aid training sessions for the rest of us. Doug has been busy looking after the SHARE radar. Mark Ryan has been busy with the computer systems, running radio scheds with other bases and keeping us fit with circuit sessions in the gym. Steve and Duncan have been fixing tents and tarpaulins ready for the summer field projects.

Duncan repairing tarpaulins

Ben making socks for his Snocats


Me doing the monthly checks on the AIS radar

Hellooooo to everyone back in the UK and elsewhere!

Jon