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Halley Diary — June 2008

Hello and welcome to the Halley June Diary. June is a very important month for all those wintering in Antarctica. This is because we celebrate Midwinter, this is our Christmas, but more about that later.

June started quietly as most people were locked away trying to finish midwinter presents, and in one case getting them started!!

Bryan and Les were down the Laws tunnels carrying out essential maintenance on the flubber walls. This had to be carried out before they could fill the flubbers. Flubbers are basically fuel tanks 30m under the snow surface. The Laws Platform has 2 flubbers and each contains approx 45 days worth of fuel.

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Scotty has been his usual busy self down in the garage. Taking care of the vehicle fleet, and our Fire alarm drills!! Martin will be glad to know, that the new member of the fleet was out working at –45. All it needed was a quick push start.

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A new phenomenon has hit Halley this month, Armchair Golf. Joe and Dean clearly have too much time on their hands. As the holes in one prove, do some work!!

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I am still the best though, as I always win.

We had the first of our TV Quiz nights, first up Bull’s-eye, with me playing Jim Bowen. This game tested our ability to play darts, as well as our general knowledge. It proved that 2 brains are better than 3. “ Chalk and Cheese” Joe and Hannah convincingly beat the “ All-Stars” Dave, Dean and BC Ags.

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On Thursday Hannah the Doc has been working hard to teach us in our weekly Doc school. We had lessons on Advanced Breathing and Circulation, and carried out the Tracheotomy Procedure.

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Hannah has become an expert at making body parts out of plastic ketchup bottles, a’la Blue Peter, and here's one she prepared earlier.

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Halley went Swiss on Saturday night, for a Fondue night. This went down a storm with the entire base!! Only downside was, the whole platform smelt of cheese for a few days, even the pit rooms, though in some pit rooms this was probably an improvement. In true Halley style we had to improvise to make a Fondue set. It’s amazing what nightlights, 2 roasting trays and a couple of wire racks can do.

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For Midwinters the whole base gets a week off to rest and play. As I have already said this week is an important mark for winterers in the dark cold days, as midwinter marks the half way point in there winter season. For months people have been working tirelessly to make presents for their nominated person. These were picked out of a hat way back at the First Winterers Dinner.
For some reason midwinter’s week was bang in the middle of a very cold snap, with temps not raising above –40. We managed to hit –49.9, but it was teasing us, as we all wanted to hit the magic mark of –50, we maintain that it probably did!!

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The night before our holidays Dave held “The Simpson Office Party”. Which was held in possibly the smallest office ever. It was a good night. Dave had laid on a great spread of nibbles and beverages, but we seemed to have an unknown guest in our mist!!
Still can’t decide whether they are male or female. Also Dave’s taste in music leaves a lot to be desired!!

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The first day of Midwinters week, we all had a deserved day off to rest and recharge the batteries, and do any panic stricken work that was left on our presents. I myself had had already been working tirelessly for 3 days on my Midwinter menu. This menu was an 11-course feast. I had plenty of helpers happy and willing to jump in the kitchen, to give me a hand.

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Friday the 20th June saw Joe and Bryan play the role of projectionist. Halley has an old projector and a library of old cine film. We had set aside Fri to watch some of these of old classics. We watched vintage footage of Antarctica and its past heroes, such as Fuchs, and their trips. There is everything on these films from the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth to the first Le Mans race, first Grand Prix and the Isle of Man TT. This got all the petrol heads very excited, so excited I thought the Doc would need to get the oxygen out.

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Friday night we had a “ Feierzangenboule”. This is a traditional German mulled wine, where a sugar Hut is placed above the hot mulled wine and basted with Brandy. This is very sweet but had the taste and feel of Christmas.

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Finally after all the waiting Midwinters day had arrived, all seemed to be up early, even after a late night!!
There was a good buzz in the air, and that had nothing to do with the espressos, unless you were Hannah. Never seen anyone so hyper after 1 espresso.
I was flat out all day putting the finishing touches to the menu, as well a organising the kitchen. Rich, Hannah and Ags did a fabulous job of decking out the dining room for this special meal.

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A few of the more hardy lads did the now traditional naked run around the Laws platform. They were not hard when they got back. I would put up some photos but they might need to be censored.
We sat down for dinner at 5.30 after a Canapé and Champagne reception in the bar. I was already to go with the help of my waiters Bryan and Les.

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Around 8pm we all headed to the Mid-Winters Tree and began to open our presents one by one. We had to correctly guess who had made your present before we could move on. The standard and quality of presents amazed everyone, even those who made them.

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Just like to say cheers to Bryan for mine, they are brilliant.

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Then it was back to the table for more food.

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Around 9.30 we broke off from the meal, to the bar to listen to the BBC World service Midwinters broadcast. To hear messages from loved ones and friends back home, brought a smile to all. Our base song for the year was Kaiser Chiefs “Oh My God”, never been this far away from home.
Again it was back to the table for more food, finishing with dessert and coffee.

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For some it was outside for Brandy and Cigars.

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The day after Midwinters we all rose very slowly. We had an easy day organised. We watched “The Thing”, another Halley tradition. Things started to heat up in the evening with our Mid-Winter Bowling Competition, thanks to a Nintendo Wii. All the games were high scoring before “Lord” Bryan Brock took the title. He claims he never played before.

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As it was so cold outside everyone let their hair down, or should I say freeze their hair. This involved putting your head in a bucket of water upside down, and then it freezes within seconds. I would have done it but I have no hair.

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The winner for best hair do was Dave.

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“Death by Chocolate” was on everyone a mind, who was the KILLER!!
Dave had been hard at work setting up a murder mystery night. Dave as an Actor, played dual roles of the Detective and the Waiter, and did a brilliant job. Everyone involved played his or her characters superbly. Even Rich the GA, who was dressed as a girl!! The worrying thing is that it all looked quite natural for him???

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And the killer was ………………… not going to tell you, just in case you’re down here next winter and play it.

The final day of Midwinter was the Biathlon. A game of deadly accuracy and stamina all played on skis. It came as no surprise that Scotty won, but he was pushed all the way by Rich.

So after a busy week of fun and games, all were glad to be back at work for some rest and relaxation. The rest of the month was quite slow, as a mixture of high winds, blowing snow plus very poor visibility, made it impossible to do much. Apart from one important thing. Melt tank.

Now that we are past Mid-winter we are waiting for the first glimpses of red in the sky, which indicates the sun is on the way back from the north.

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All the Best

Pat Power Halley Chef

Pictures courtesy of Rich B, Dave S, Joe C, Les J, Dean E and Myself