Once upon a time in a land far far away (64 degrees south to be precise)
a base leader had a dream that was here to stay.
She dreamt of adventure in wide-open seas,
of waves, of penguins and most of all to be free….
So here begins the tale of Lucy’s one Christmas wish,
you’re in for a treat you don’t want to miss this….
The weeks leading up to Christmas many visitors asked us what our plans were for the big day. Initially, we had one mission; to source real potatoes. The weeks of smash and tinned potatoes in many forms were not going to cut it for Kit on Christmas day, we needed the real vegetable in all of its golden glory ready to be roasted and drowned in gravy. Whispers of our mission traveled through the Antarctic breeze and sure enough with Christmas spirit covering the continent and the generosity of ships, our mission was complete. Interestingly potatoes were as far as we had thought, our entire focus had been on these small round wonders so when visitors asked us what our plans were we no longer knew but we were looking forward to whatever magic came our way.
Christmas eve graced the island bringing with it the news that our Christmas post sent in early December had made it home! Taking approximately three weeks it was a Christmas miracle and it brings your thoughts back to those in Operation Tabarin, whose loved ones only received letters twice within a seven-month period due to the Post Office at Stanley burning down and very few visits from the outside world. As well as letters the team at Port Lockroy in 1944 would also send home lumps of rock so they could send the largest possible number of stamps back to their philatelist friends in the UK. No need for panic from our friends and family, only stuffed penguins coming your way! As well as the excellent postal news, two chinstrap penguins arrived on the island along with new life with fresh fluffy faces. It was a day busy with visits from ships, yachts and a quick stamp collection all generously bringing us Christmas treats. We finished the last ship visit and were kindly offered by the team on Greg Mortimer to come on board for a Christmas eve dinner which we gladly accepted. Dinner onboard a ship is an exciting experience, not only for the fresh food but we get to see the incredible vessels that visit us daily, (it also means whoever is on cook gets out of that as well as washing up!) It was a wonderful evening and when back home we decided to open the fun wrapped parcels left by Lizzie and Sophie on their departure as well as some from the previous year’s team. Feeling full and festive we all fell into our Christmas eve nests, alarms off, ready to make the most of our Christmas lie in.
Christmas day arrived and we were gifted an appearance from another elephant seal! This huge animal was basking on the rocks enjoying the tranquillity of such a calm day. The team took inspiration and all took walks around the island, absorbing the reality that we were in Antarctica for Christmas. Now, remember Lucy’s wish? Well, it was on one of these walks that it began to grow.
A few weeks earlier and a few degrees more North discussions were had about activities down South and Lucy had expressed her desire to kayak around the island on Christmas day, or in fact any day, but a desire to see the island from the sea would be sensational. Whilst on her Christmas walk National Geographic Orion was spotted in the bay giving their guests a Christmas day adventure…on kayaks. Lucy raced back inside whilst the Christmas dinner preparation was underway and exploded with excitement about her Christmas wish to have the potential to become a reality. Discussions were had between her and Doug, the expedition leader, and it was confirmed that there would be enough space for the team to go kayaking. The potatoes were abandoned, clothes were thrown on and we fell out the door shaking with excitement headed straight to the landing site. A quick zodiac trip to the ship and we were paddling away! Surrounded by the blue glaciers, porpoising penguins and icebergs the team couldn’t keep the smiles off their faces. We managed to circumnavigate the island and see every angle Port Lockroy had to offer as well as visit our neighbours, Boogie, and Woogie. A Christmas wish come true!
Returning from our big adventure we continued the cooking that we so rapidly abandoned. Potatoes were roasting, peppers were stuff and Yorkshire puddings were rising, a true Christmas feast! Whilst we patiently waited for the food it was time to partake in a Port Lockroy first: Antarctica VS Scotland, the ultimate Christmas quiz. Weeks of planning and organisation, Vicky and her Dad scheduled both teams to play against each other in real-time. It’s surprising how much harder family Christmas games are when you have no possible way of cheating. Many rounds were played including a fantastic Antarctica round and we shortly after received confirmation that we won! Vicky is now officially Queen of all knowledge in two continents.
So, to all the visitors who asked us what our plans were for the big day:
· We slept
· We ate chocolate for breakfast
· We phoned home
· We kayaked
· We cooked together
· We laughed a lot
· We quizzed
· We all took a moment to appreciate where exactly in the world we are and we all had day an amazing day.
Everyone is looking forward to the new year and ready to celebrate Antarctica 2020!
So here ends the tale of Christmas at Port Lockroy,
Full of food of gifts and most of all joy,
Thank you to Lucy for her wonderful idea
We wish everyone at home a happy new year