Port Lockroy blog 7: Season’s greetings from Goudier Island

From a midsummer feast to a Christmas miracle, museum manager and postmaster Laura Büllesbach reflects on a festive season like no other.

Port Lockroy blog 7: Season’s greetings from Goudier Island

From a midsummer feast to a Christmas miracle, museum manager and postmaster Laura Büllesbach reflects on a festive season like no other.

Port Lockroy blog 7: Season’s greetings from Goudier Island


From a midsummer feast to a Christmas miracle, museum manager and postmaster Laura Büllesbach reflects on a festive season like no other.

The Port Lockroy team sends our supporters a warm and wonderful season’s greetings! 

Following a couple of weeks of festivities, we are now stuffed with mince pies and German Christmas cookies – and we even got some special Christmas gifts. Two new team members have moved into the Nissen hut and the first penguin chicks arrived on the island!

Our celebrations started on 21 December. While this date marks midwinter and the darkest day of the year in the UK, it is midsummer in the southern hemisphere. In honour of the day, Bridie decided to recreate the Bransfield House Midwinter menu that is on display in the museum at Port Lockroy

Then and now (Credit: Laura Büllesbach/UKAHT)

Between the 1940s and 1960s, when teams were stationed at Port Lockroy the whole year around, midwinter celebrations were a way of bringing joy into the darkest and coldest time of the year and welcoming the forthcoming longer days. This year, we decided to do the opposite and celebrate the endless light that makes the glaciers and icebergs around Goudier Island shimmer and sparkle! 

While the wine, tinned vegetables and gravy we had matched the menu of the past, we of course replaced the seal meat and penguin eggs the previous teams occasionally ate! As an alternative, Bridie cooked chicken soup and spam shaped with penguin cookie cutters. We even created a motto for the night, inspired by our gentoo neighbours: ‘Though flightless, we soar’. What a delightful evening!

Menu de Jérôme (Credit: Laura Büllesbach/UKAHT)

A few days later, Christmas arrived. Thanks to the generous donations of passing ships, we experienced no lack of Christmas food. By Christmas Eve we had gathered 8kg of turkey, 10kg of Brussels sprouts, bacon, sausages, champagne, a gingerbread house and lots of other fresh vegetables. What a joy! 

To my particular delight, we received a few bags of German treats including stollen (fruit bread), zimtsterne (cinnamon star cookies) and butter biscuits. Eating them was paired with a lesson on how to pronounce their German names which was a lot of fun and brought some memories of home to Antarctica. 

Chef Jérôme (Credit: Laura Büllesbach/UKAHT)

On Christmas Eve, we began the preparations! Jerome expertly cooked the turkey which barely fit into the oven! Potatoes were peeled, carrots glazed in honey and pigs in blankets turned into Antarctic ‘sausages in double duvets’.

When the preparations were finished, we decided to go for an evening walk and thank goodness we did, because that’s when we were surprised by a Christmas miracle: Shabs found the first gentoo penguin chick on Goudier Island! 

New arrivals! (Credit: Laura Büllesbach/UKAHT)

After having observed the penguins so closely since they placed their first pebble for a nest, the arrival of the first chick made us all feel quite teary and emotional. It was so fluffy and small and looked like a baby dinosaur. We could have watched it for hours! After a while, however, we went back inside and before going to bed, we left an offering to Santa under the Christmas tree (homemade mince pie and tinned carrots!)

Santa visited Port Lockroy (Credit: Laura Büllesbach/UKAHT)

Upon waking up on Christmas Day, we found that the offering was successful and there were lots of gifts under the tree! The fruits of our Secret Santa efforts had paid off and everyone started to unwrap their gifts. There were friendship bracelets in Antarctic tartan, a ‘Race around Goudier Island’ board game, a wonderful watercolour painting of penguins, sewing and punch needle works and half a knitted scarf. Lisa gifted us all penguin felting kits, so we all started to excitedly felt away. The mood in the Nissen was celebratory and we continued the day with a wonderful lunch, board games, an impromptu carolling session and many walks to check in on our new chick.

Christmas dinner (Credit: Laura Büllesbach/UKAHT)

In the evening, another gift awaited us – two new team members! Pete and Al, our two heritage carpenters, were dropped off in Port Lockroy and we welcomed them by singing ‘Silent Night’ on the rocks. Soon, the hut was filled with laughter and new stories! Over the forthcoming weeks, Pete and Al will be doing conservation works on our historic Bransfield House and we are so looking forward to having them here!

Pete and Al have now arrived at Port Lockroy (Credit: Laura Büllesbach/UKAHT)

Despite Christmas being very different this year (it is surprising how endless daylight and the lack of darkness influence our perception of the festive period) and we all missed our family and friends a little, we had a glorious time. Our team has become like a little family and sharing these new experiences and our various Christmas traditions was an absolute joy.

We wish you all a very happy New Year from snowy Port Lockroy – where we will be eating Christmas leftovers for weeks to come!

– Laura Büllesbach, museum manager and postmaster, Port Lockroy

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