What I’ve been up to recently…

First of all, a nice pic of a sun halo I saw yesterday, with a column of light coming from the sun. Pretty!

Sun Halo and sun column

Since the Ship and the last planes left it’s been fairly hectic here. The winter is here and the temperatures are falling. Because of this it’s a good idea to get as much work done as possible in preparation. One of the tasks is getting the fuel up to the station. When the Shack arrives it brings with it enough fuel to keep the base running for the next year, plus extra just in case. A lot of this is in Bulk tanks, these can be brought up to the base and fuel pumped directly into the base tanks. It’s pretty straightforward and we try to save these bulk tanks for when we are deeper into winter and it’s cold and dark outside. The other fuel we have is in barrels. These are stored in fuel dumps, with barrels stacked on top of each other. These dumps will get buried in the accumulated snow over the year. We have to dig out the buried dumps, load the barrels onto sledges and then pump them individually into the base tanks. Now this is quite a bit harder so we try to do this early and late in the season when the weather is slightly better, leaving the bulk fuel till we absolutely need it. Digging out fuel drums weighing 250 kilo at -20 degrees, when they are buried in solid ice can be a bit of a nightmare, but also quite good fun – although perhaps that’s the wrong word. It’s really hard work and can also be dangerous but it is cool being outside grafting away with a frozen beard though.

Lifting fuel drums

Lifting fuel drums in antarctica

Lifting fuel drums in antarctica

Other fun stuff. Well, shutting down the Drewry building – which is the extra accommodation building we have for summer. Everything needs to be cleaned, anything susceptible to cold needs to be removed and all the pipes need blasting clean of water plus lots of other little jobs to get it ready for its winter hibernation where it might get down to -50.  The building has its own melt tank. The way we get water down here is by melting snow in a big tank, the main modules have two and the Drewry has it own. Before we close it down we have to empty and then clean the tank. So, it seeming a waste to just get rid of that nice hot water we have a melt tank party. This is the only chance any of us will get to have a bath for about 15 months so you might as well take advantage. Now, 12 blokes in a big metal bath ain’t the nicest sight so I’ll spare you any photos. You jump in the tank, then get out and go for a run round the building in -20 degrees and then jump back in. Great fun! You just have to either get dressed or get back in the tank before your shorts freeze solid and you can’t walk. Making snow angels were optional but painful.

Bread Making Lessons

One of the good things about where I live is the fact that we have a resident chef to make sure we don’t starve. Gerard, this years wintering chef is really good, if it wasn’t for the fact that our house has a fully equipped gym I think I’d be getting fairly round by now. And that’s accounting for the extra calories you need when you out in the cold. Some of the food we eat is amazingly good and Gerard, being the sort of chef who seems to really love what he does, is keen to share his knowledge. So this week we had  a bread making masterclass.  A few of you back home will know how much I love bread of all kinds so trying to make some really good bread was brilliant. The evenings lesson included making rotis – an Indian flat-bread, muffins, a nice white loaf, a no-knead loaf and my personal favourite – foccacia. The foccacia tastes amazing, looks amazing and is odd as hell in the making. The dough is mixed really wet before kneading to a glutenous mass of olive-oily dough that, in Gerards own words “is more animal than dough”. Like something out of a 50’s b-movie in a bowl.  I forgot to get a picture of the dough (I’ll try next time it’s on the menu) but here are some pics of the results:

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All, turned out delicious!

There’s a link to Gerard’s site here:  Clicky

I won’t bore you with the other worky stuff I’ve been up to, more of the interesting bits to come though..

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