Letter from Lockroy 28th Feb - 5th March
The start of this week felt slightly absurd as Ylva and Hannele had to say goodbye to Nikki and Hen on Tuesday morning when they got onboard Fram to sail away from our little Goudier Island. We had spent four incredible months together, practically in each other's company 24 hrs a day, and now it would be just the two of us left. How strange!
The weather that morning was absolutely gorgeous - just for a little while but long enough for Nikki and Hen to be able to take the last minute photos of the fluffy penguin chicks and the scenery that was bathing in sunshine. The early morning (and previous evening) had been spent packing everything ready for Fram who were kindly taking away the Post Office stock and used gas bottles to deliver to Stanley as well as the Port Lockroy team members' personal boxes to be transported to London where the ship is due in May. We are all very grateful to Fram for their kind assistance, as we had all managed to gather quite a lot of things over the season - T-shirts, baseball caps, patches, books etc kindly given to us as gifts - and were worried about exceeding our luggage allowance on the way back home. Nikki and Hen were genuinely sad to leave the island (and we were of course very sorry to see them go and the team break up).
Ylva and Hannele were thus left alone on Goudier Island on Tuesday afternoon. We were laughing at the fact that it was the two non-Brits (a German and a Finn) that were left behind at a British base! Our first task that afternoon was to salvage the Union Jack. The weather had turned really windy, possibly the windiest day of our stay here so far, and Ylva suddenly spotted through the boot room window that the flag was about to be blown away. We ran out to rescue it and managed to save it, just in time for the cruise ship Sea Spirit to appear in the bay. Unfortunately they were unable to make a landing that day because of the heavy wind but at least the flag was looking good. It was actually so windy that we had to tie down all loose artefacts on display outside to stop them blowing away, including the sledges and the Stevenson screen door.
That evening the ship Expedition also arrived in the bay, bringing back to Port Lockroy our Detaille team Anna, Michael, Liesl, and briefly Dave who would be continuing his journey north with the ship. The team came ashore the next morning (due to the weather constraint the previous evening), and Ylva and Hannele were absolutely thrilled to see their smiley faces again. Anna couldn't wait to see the museum (and especially the newly restored bunkroom) and the Nissen hut, and we could judge by her face that she was very impressed indeed. The team settled in very quickly and our daily life has since continued at Port Lockroy as per normal. Ylva and Hannele have been excited to hear stories from Detaille and seeing all the amazing photos members of the team have taken. We've also been really impressed by the great work they have done on 'Base W' and can only admire their good spirit and high energy levels after such an intensive work session south of the Antarctic circle.
Meanwhile, we have learned that the end of season logistics have slightly changed again, which is of course no surprise as anything can happen in Antarctica. Hannele is now leaving in a week's time - on 11 March - onboard Marina Svetaeva. Ylva, who has assumed the Base Leader duties in Nikki's absence, is staying until the end of the season with Anna, Michael and Liesl. They will be closing the base and leaving Goudier Island onboard the Antarctic Dream on 16 March. We all have, however, plenty to do before then. Stock taking is continuing (the Bransfield House workshop is in turn next) and we have all started to prepare the final reports. We are also eagerly waiting for any sunny spells in the weather as we need to get on with the final painting jobs before the end of the season. The weather has continued to be rainy or snowy on most days, but let's keep our fingers crossed for the sun to come out soon.
The week ended nicely with Hannele's birthday celebrations on Friday. She already received some lovely presents at breakfast and in the evening we continued the festivities over a delicious roast dinner cooked by the rest of the team, with sparkling wine. What an amazing place to celebrate one's birthday! It will be a day long remembered.