There is a lot to write about mid-winter, from the fabulous meal we have, to the traditional screening of John Carpenters “the Thing” to the BBC world service mid-winter broadcast but I’ll jump into posting about my favourite – and the one thing that has been occupying everyone on base for months now: the making of midwinter gifts.
It is a long-standing tradition that at midwinter we all give and receive Gifts – as you would at Christmas (indeed, as we don’t really have time to celebrate it, this time of year is our Christmas) The person you make your gift for is chosen out of a hat and then kept secret until the big day. The sound of people squirreled away around base, industrially beavering away at their present has been getting steadily louder and louder as we approached the deadline, with people doing their best to keep their gift, and who it is for, a secret.
The big day arrives!
Me, I got our met babe Richard “Captain Awesome” Warren. I wanted to make something that would test me in terms of the limited skills I have and hopefully be something that, way into the future, someone would look at and say “yeah, this is what was made for me in Halley 2014” That would be what I would love to get and what I would want to give. On base we have limited materials and tools, everything that was done was made by hard work and creativity as opposed to pure skill and experience, something which I think makes the standard of things that were made even more incredible. Everyone was just blown away by the gifts they received and I can see why it has become such a big tradition.
Some proper quality on display, with some really inventive use of materials and really well planned ideas.
My pressie for Richard: A folding knife and display case with his initials stamped in and some brass work and veneering. The wood in my gift- like quite a lot of peoples came from an old sledge that was to be “retired”. The sledge N71 (also called Myrtle) had had a long career South and had seen time at Rothera before coming to Halley and is a real part of Antarctic history. Everything apart from the knife blade itself was made with good old fashioned elbow grease, sawing, sanding and polishing. The blade was handmade too – just this required the use of the bench grinder! It came out pretty well I think- and the knife shaved the hairs off my arm easily enough when I was testing it! Learning how to veneer was quite fun too. I fancy having another crack at knife making so I might write more about this.
For my gift I got Nick, fellow member of the tech services team. Nick and I work quite closely together so he’d done a great job of keeping things under his hat – I was a bit gobsmacked to discover who had made something for me. Then, I was a bit gobsmacked again when I saw just what he’d knocked up. Nick had made – from bits of metal and wood lying around, A replica of a nansen sledge, with ropes, brakes – everything really, right down to the smallest detail. It really is amazing! Something that will be treasured and talked about for a long time to come.
Mental innit? It’s sat on a plinth made from the sledge it is a replica of, along with a brass plaque saying HALLEY VI 2014 and also has the map of Antarctica acid etched into brass! It’s well good man.
Also made were some Crackers, each with jokes, hats, riddles and small gifts.
I made Al a little Copper Z6 keyring
And Silver knocked up this photogenic fella for Mike
next up is the food!!