We had our midwinter celebrations this week. It also marks the half way point for some of us who came in early, as we are now 8 months in with 8 months to go. In some ways it has flown by and in other ways not. But here we are at the end of June, in the darkness and experiencing our coldest temperatures so far (- 55.7 C).
Sunday the 21st saw our main midwinter celebrations and it’s somewhat like Christmas in ways. I started the day in the kitchen, of course, but midwinter brunch responsibility fell on our winter base commander Tom Welsh. We gathered together in the bar for a relaxed brunch complete with bubbly and freshly pressed orange juice I had put away in the freezer months ago.
Then it was on to our winter gift giving/opening (Bescherung). I’ll explain this a little bit here…
Months ago, at the start of winter, we each drew a name out of a hat who was to be the recipient of a gift we had to make ourselves. Some were kept more secret than others. I shut myself in my room for a long time stitching my fingers to the bone to complete my embroidery piece for Tom W. I enjoyed it…until probably the last few hours of work, which nearly broke me!
The gift given to me was made by Dave – one of our science team here and the youngest member on base. Thanks so much for your efforts – greatly appreciated and I will make sure to look after it and treasure it.
It was great to see what everybody had come up with and hear their stories of success or woe in the making process.
Thanks Tom Welsh for the photo
After the gifts I hopped straight back into the kitchen to sort Midwinter’s dinner out. This had taken the last couple of weeks and some late nights in the kitchen to prepare for, so on the day it was pretty straightforward. But it still meant many hours in the kitchen making sure it all worked out alright. I was pretty happy with how it turned out in the end, and I hope the rest of the team was too.
Thanks again Tom for the pic.
After dinner I could finally run and grab a shower, change into my glad rags and join the others in listening to the BBC World Service broadcast. Each base selects a song to put on, requests a guest speaker to say a few words, and then gets a message or two from loved ones back home (thanks lots Mum, Dad, and Becky). We also had a quick conference call with last years’ winter team, who were having their own solstice celebrations back in the UK.
After all of this we managed to fit in some more food in the way of cheese, homemade crackers, and a Christmas cake (Dave’s granny’s recipe, made by Dave…expertly, or NOT, iced by me – in the shape of Windy Bay with the penguin colony) and more drinks.
We all had the rest of the week off and filled it with a mix of doing absolutely nothing, and some organised traditional events. The Halley Olympics was pretty funny and got everybody out and about. The events were a hammer throw, jumaring in the garage, man hauling team members on the kiddy sledges, mass egg and spoon race (with orange golf balls instead of eggs), curling under the modules (with heavy pans and brushes), team table tennis, table football and ending with the corridor bungee. Good work everybody…. especially the team I was on…who won!
Later in the week we had a base pub-crawl. Most of us came up with a drink and a bar that we set up in our workspaces and it was a good change of scenery to our usual bar. Some drinks were nicer than others…
I chose to make good use of the copious amounts of processed tinned meat we have on station…
And then we had the crazy golf tournament set up around the place by Pete and Ian. Most of us made our own clubs for the occasion. In case anybody needs this advice for the future – the dough hook from the mixer strapped to a ski pole does not make the most accurate golf club. Now you know.
And so it’s back to work. It’s come around so soon, as it always does. Our next week off will be our second round of winter trips somewhere around October. That seems way off right now, but I am sure it will be here in a flash.