Throughout a days work at Port Lockroy we are fortunate enough to meet a wide variety of people ranging and including spontaneous trips South, doctors considering career changes, those on a trip of a lifetime and everything in between. Some of these guests have more of a link to the site and the history of the Base. We welcomed two such visitors this week Jonathan and Myra Walton, whose father had links to operation Tabarin, the original British military operation to set up Bransfield house and Port Lockroy. To spend time with them on base and onboard the ship post-visit for food was a truly rewarding experience. To look back to your tiny isolated island from the deck of a ship, whilst in the full throws of a BBQ, listening to music, eating ice cream and drinking hot wine with newly made friends was a fantastically surreal experience. Such a contrast to what has become normal for us. This exemplifies that theses histories, which are narrated and displayed within the museum are stories that both strike a chord with many that visit, some of whom have an even more personal link, whilst also bring people together through a common interest.
During the course of the week, we have conducted our first beach survey of the season, on those areas that are snow-free on Goudier Island and Bills Island. Fortunately, we found very few objects that are new pollutants to this environment, however, this may be as a result of the microclimate that we experience here or the fact that it is the start of the season. Fingers crossed we continue to keep the tally of what we find low throughout the season on our monthly beach surveys. Any items alien to this environment, Vicky will record any that are of significance and then they will be disposed of in an appropriate manner. We hope that by doing this we can continue to reduce any pollutants that may impede wildlife and prevent them from getting into the food chain, thus helping to preserve this pristine environment.
Following a full day of ship visits, after the traditional Port Lockroy waving game with the last zodiac (which we have not lost yet), we sat and basked in the sunshine. The conversation swiftly turned into a confession session of funny mistakes made through-out the past few days. Numerous grievances were admitted to at ‘confession rock’ with all owning up to committing a ‘Kit special’ - scanning the bar code of an item and ringing it through the till at $50 billion. At this rate, by the end of the season, Port Lockroy will have the worlds largest economy... To distract from the imminent corrections that would be needed to be made on the till in the region of hundreds of billions of dollars (Kit had been having a particularly special day) we decided to dip our feet in the water and relax. Unfortunately, one of Lauren's boots decided that it didn't want to miss out, and decided to join our feet in the water. When you see your colleagues boot slowly fill with water and begin to sink into the crystal clear Antarctic waters, there isn’t much you can do other than laugh and attempt to fish it out. We would like to commend Bekina on the waterproofing of their boots! as they not only keep the water out but also in, as the waterfall pouring out of the boot once rescued could attest to.
On Saturday we received personal post and the long-awaited internet hub. We were also delighted to receive a surprise care package from one of the last year's Port Lockroy team, Hannah Johns, who is now working in South Georgia Heritage Trust – almost a neighbour. Owing to her multi-season experience as the Postmistress she is acutely aware of the luxuries that Lockroyans crave and that our lives would be absent of, over these 4 months. This along with an Antarctica day card, from Kirsty, and visit from Gui, who also provided a treasure hunt, have made us feel very welcomed by last years team, a member of which, Heidi, will soon be the final member of our team.
These kinds of gestures are a small example of the plethora that we have received in the short time we have spent down here, from countless sources, guests, ships staff, friends and family. This emphasises the strong sense of community and goodwill on this continent. For those of us that are new to this community this it has been a humbling welcome and we already feel like we are part of the family.
On a final note, our joke of the week from our wonderful Cambridge team was:
'I always knock on the fridge door in case there is a salad, dressing...'