Letter from Lockroy - 20 November 2010
The Team has had an eventful and productive seven days since the last diary entry. Our week began with a mammoth digging session, as a stairway to the chains landing had to be cleared of snow. The results were truly spectacular, and were quickly nicknamed the second 'Stairway to Heaven' (those who have lived on base will know the first one well). The team also set about clearing the roof of Bransfield House of snow, but didn't manage to finish before yet more settled. Other snow antics this week included digging platforms near the boat shed in preparation for the impending cargo, creating verandas, as well as finally clearing the entire roof for the first time this season. Ylva earnt the nick-name 'the human JCB' due to her efficiency at shovelling!
On the wildlife front, a lone Adelie penguin and young bull elephant seal were spotted. One pair of penguins had managed to produce an egg, but their nest was flooded by water. The high snow fall has meant that conditions have been difficult for the penguins this year, and we suspect it will be some time before most of them can start laying. The weather has been variable, with a lot of snow fall, but also on Monday a rare half a sunny day to enjoy. The weather lifted everyone's spirits as we prepared for cargo day. On Tuesday, the Fram visited, dropping off 22 cubic metres of cargo, which was unloaded by Tudor, Nikki, Michael and Liesl, as well as crew from the Fram, including the Captain! Thanks to them all! The Fram also brought Donald Lamont, a UKAHT Trustee and Conservation Committee Chairman. Hen was keen to show him around Base A, the shining glory of which was the newly fitted-out bunkroom, which had been painstakingly painted by Michael, Lisel and Tudor. Donald was impressed with the newly-uncovered murals and had a go at trying to identify a few of the ladies. The day ended with an unexpected turn, when a gusty storm blew in. It was then all hands on deck to move the cargo from the 'verandas' into the boat shed, Bransfield House, and the Nissen hut in high winds and horizontal snow. We finished at 9 o'clock at night and ate a welcome hot meal speedily prepared by our Base Leader, Nikki.
The days following the cargo drop-off were also busy for everyone. Hannele, Ylva, Nikki and Hen concentrated on re-stocking the shop and post office, while Michael, Liesl and Tudor created magic in the Nissen hut, painting and building a kitchen for us! Wednesday also brought a surprise visit from the Chilean navy, with their vessel the 'Lautaro'. Several officers came ashore to look around the shop and the museum, and then the team was kindly invited aboard for beer and a barbeque. Unfortunately we were feeling a little worn out and still had tasks to complete, and so politely declined. However, the Chileans would not take no for an answer, and sent in their secret weapon in the form of Captain Pablo, who charmed us into agreeing! Nikki, Hen, Hannele and Ylva went aboard, and a good time was had by all; we left the ship with laughter ringing in their ears and a special bottle of 'Lautaro' wine! The next morning, the ship sent fresh bread ashore for the team, which was gratefully received.
Thursday was our first 'two-ship' day, with visits from both the Ushuaia and Ocean Nova. Both visits went well, and Nikki, Hen, Hannele and Ylva swopped tasks to become familiar with what each other has been doing up to now. The Ushuaia also brought with them a museum expert from Buenos Aires who was enchanted by the bunk room paintings, and gave us some tips on how best to uncover them. We were then invited onboard for a delicious barbeque and gluhwein. Unfortunately, Tudor, Michael and Liesl were still working hard on the Nissen hut flooring and so were not able to attend, but Hen, Nikki, Hannele and Ylva were all grateful for fresh food and a warm shower!
The team made the most of a rare few ship-free days to crack on with essential jobs about the base, with the Nissen hut being transformed. We now have a fully-functioning kitchen 'bedroom' thanks to the hard work of Tudor, Michael and Liesl. Meanwhile, the shop was re-stocked, Hannele got to grips with the particular philatelic mail requests, and Hen unpacked the new artefacts for the museum displays; including possessions from George Lewis (former Lockroy resident), and the Stevenson Screen with thermometers (beautifully restored by Alan Carroll). The week ended with another call on the radio from our Chilean friends aboard the 'Lautaro', who then dropped off an amazing parcel from Palmer Station. Zee, the station's maintenance co-ordinator, had put together a wonderful food parcel containing fresh bread, home made cakes and cookies. We were just reeling from the very thoughtful gift when Captain Pablo radioed our Base Leader to confirm what night we would all be free to join them aboard for dinner – and a date was set! Read next week to find out what happens.....