Heidi Hi! 19/01/2020

Hi all, its Heidi here. I’m sitting on the back deck of the Nissen hut writing this blog. I have the towering Mt Luigi and the Seven Sisters in front of me, their peaks covered in snow that sometimes makes them look like part of the clouds. I have missed this view.

I joined the Port Lockroy team just over a week ago and have been settling in and learning the routines again. For the ones that have just started to follow the blog this year I’ll quickly introduce myself. I was lucky enough to spend the 2018-2019 season at Port Lockroy as Base Leader. Many of the people who find their way to Antarctica say it gets to your blood and pulls you back. I am extremely happy to say that I have joined this group of people now. I had a great season last year living on this tiny island with hundreds of penguins, eight pairs of cheeky snowy sheathbills and four people that I now consider family, not forgetting the over 18, 000 people who visited us. I knew already before we left last year that I will be returning to Antarctica one way or another. I ended up working as an expedition guide for Albatros Expeditions onboard Ocean Atlantic, one of the ships that visited us last year. When the Trust asked if I would like to join the team at Lockroy for the second half of the season and the ship offered to drop me off here on my last voyage with them I couldn’t really say no, could I? It was meant to be.

I spent a week with the team in Cambridge in September for training so I wasn’t too worried, I already knew they were all amazing people. It’s a really important quality to have when you are spending a long time with people in very close quarters! I also visited the base twice with the ship before I came to stay and of course had to challenge them in the famous Port Lockroy waving came.

It’s a funny feeling when you are so familiar with a place but still have to learn so many things from scratch. It is very much the people that make Port Lockroy and every year each team creates their own routines and ways of doing things. The past week I have been trying to learn the routines of the team that they have created over the two months they have been here. I am glad to let you know however that I have brought some new knowledge to the team, for example how do you mop…

It is not just the scenery and wildlife that pulls people back to Antarctica, it’s also the people who come and work here in bases, on ships and small sailing yachts. There really is a sense of community in Antarctica that is hard to find anywhere else in the world. Last year I met many amazing people here and am very excited to meet them again when they come to visit us. I was treated with relatively relaxed first week back however as many of the ships scheduled to visit us had to cancel their visits due changes in their timetables.

This gave us a good window to welcome yet again two new people to our island home. Geoff, the Trust's Heritage Program Manager arrived on board Hamburg, a Plantours Kreuzfahrten ship, to continue some of the conservation work on the historical buildings he started last season. He will soon continue his tour of the historic huts in Antarctica when he heads out to Base E on Stonington, Base Y on Horseshoe, Base W on Detaille and Base F on Argentine Islands to survey the condition of the huts and to do some emergency repairs for winter. Our other visitor Callum arrived from the Falkland Islands the day after Geoff. He is an electrician from the Falkland Islands Company who is rewiring the Nissen hut so we can get the full use out of the new solar panels set up by the conservation team last year. We are very excited for the new lights in the Nissen hut, they will be needed soon when the days get shorter and evenings darker. We might even be treated with electric kettle!

When you are reading this blog Callum will have already left the island and the new Hurtigruten ship Roald Amundsen has brought Nathan from British Antarctic Survey to join us for the week. Nathan will be doing photogrammetry of the historical buildings on Goudier Island and 3D laser scanning the interiors. This will make the future conservation work much easier providing detailed planning for our architects to utilise in Cambridge. After a week of Lockroy life Nathan will be joining Geoff at Base F on the Argentine Islands.

For its size Port Lockroy is a busy place and it is a privilege to be part of the important heritage and conservation work that goes on here. In the end it is this work that has enabled all of us to travel here and given us an honour of calling Antarctica home for a short period of time. It is an opportunity many will never have so I am counting my lucky stars to be here again and ready to get stuck in on all the work ahead of us. And maybe show the team few other tricks I learned last year!

I would like to thank the two snowy sheathbills for their companionship while writing this blog. They haven’t left my side the whole time. Maybe they have never seen a computer before…


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