Saturday, April 29, 2006

Scattered showers in the south

The weather is playing an ever increasingly important part in our lives these days. We have various instruments here that measure temperature, pressure, wind speed and direction, and the output from these can be viewed on a PC, so we usually have a couple of screens around the base constantly updating this information. Often you'll see people looking anxiously at the weather monitor to see if it's suitable to go outside, climb a mast, go kiting, or just sit inside and hide from the elements. We've seen winds up around 50 knots and temperatures down to about -40C in the last couple of weeks, which means you have to think much more carefully about what you're going to wear if you venture out. Overalls and a hat just aren't enough any more, so it's extra neck protectors, balaclavas, goggles, fur hats, insulated boots, two pairs of gloves and enormous goosedown jackets these days. It may take you 5 minutes to get dressed before you go out but it's certainly worth it. Even the breath inside your balaclava freezes, and touching anything metal seems to suck the warmth out of you. We can't complain though, this is the reason most of us came down here, to experience something different, and it's a lovely feeling to be in the nice warm bar in the evening when blowing snow outside makes visibility about 10 feet and the building is shaking. On the other hand, we do get some incredibly beautiful sunrises and sunsets, and weather phenomena that you just don't see at home like sundogs and diamond dust. We've also had our first glimpses of aurora, a faint whitish green light moving eerily in the sky. I tried to get a few photos but I think I need to read the camera manual a bit more to get better results.

The view from my office window

Snow and rime covers everything now

I've also had my first week of nights this month. Every week someone is allocated night duty, it's mainly a safety thing, making sure someone is up and alert overnight to listen out for alarms and ensure the building doesn't burn down. Nightshift also involves a few cleaning duties, and breadmaking. This was something very new for me, but with the aid of an industrial mixer and some very detailed instructions I managed to produce some loaves and rolls, and even criossants! Just call me Delia. It's quite strange having the whole building to yourself once everyone has gone to bed, but it's nice to get some time on your own, which isn't always easy here as we all live and work together. Luckily there were no disasters during my watch, just a couple of science alarms which were easily fixed by Jules, and some exciting weather. Nightwatch also has to make a weather observation at 3am, making note of cloud cover, visibility, and any fog or snow that might be around.

Night chef hard at work

The final results

Other than that it's been fairly normal lately. (Now there's a worrying thought, when did I start to consider this as normal?) Simon has started giving yoga classes so I'm aching in places I never knew I had, I've had a go at playing bridge, the samba band is progressing in leaps and bounds, Mark has been giving guitar lessons, and I think I'm due to start Spanish lessons next week, been out skiing a couple of times. It was my turn to cook again on Thursday, which I didn't realise until the day before, so hurriedly raided Nicola's collection of cook books for easy recipes. I managed to knock up home made burgers for lunch, and a casserole for dinner so luckily no-one starved. The only slight blot in my copybook is managing to break the towing eye on one of the crane sledges (obviously a faulty design, couldn't possibly have been my fault), but Anto has fixed it already so I think I can relax again.

All wrapped up.....

.....heading into the sunset


Anonymous Dean said...

Hola Dave, you dont know me, but you will come summer time - as you'll be training me in all coms managerial type stuff!

You, I'll be your eventual replacement, I've got a whole bunch of questions that I want to annoy you with, any chance of getting your email address?

Excellent blog btw, needs more updates tho, 2-3 a day will suffice :)

12:17 pm  
Blogger Dave Down South said...

Hi Dean,

Congratulations and welcome to the fold. Drop a line to and I'll try and answer any queries you've got.

3:31 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


While scanning, I just found your blog.

I am sitting in my office in San Francisco, California. It is foggy and 52 Farenheit.
Your detailed experiences are amazing and I have realized how comfortable I have it.

Anyway, just wanted to say hello and encourage you to keep your blog updated. It is truly an interesting journey.

Keep posting photos.
And keep smiling (kidding, I'm sure you have had enough tooth jokes).


4:01 pm  

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