Friday, February 09, 2007

Summer time........

.....and the livin' is chilly.

Well relief was as hectic as we expected. When the ship finally broke free of the sea ice and managed to get to Halley all on board were keen to get started unloading and getting supplies up to base. Like relief last year, a lot of my time was spent in the Comms office flight following and handing over to Dean the Comms Manager for the next year. The relief site was N9 again, which is the furthest away of the regular relief sites and normally means a longer operation. This year the plane did quite a few rotations to the ship and back which reduced the workload on the snocats somewhat, but also the vehicles section had a new secret weapon, in the form of very large Challenger vehicles and converted John Deere tractors. These are able to pull much heavier loads than the snocats and at faster speeds so relief was all over in 7 days. Luckily Dean picked up the flight following pretty quickly, so I got to copilot a couple of flights over to the ship. It's been a year since I was any more than about 20 feet above ground so it was nice to get up in the plane again. Everything looks very different from the air, with the base looking much more spread out than it feels on the ground, and having got used to being confined to the same couple of square kilometres it's a very liberating feeling being up in the sky. The flagged roadway from the base to N9 was already looking very well worn, and we took the opportunity to buzz a couple of snocats on our way over.

Snocats taking cargo to Halley

The ship looked much smaller than I remembered, nestled into a cove in the ice shelf and dwarfed by it's surroundings. We were picking up a variety of cargo from the ship so were met at the skiway by a snocat and sledge full of cargo handlers. I had the strenuous and very responsible job of holding a calculator and totting up the weight of everything as it was loaded onto the plane, calling a halt when we got to 1200kg to ensure we'd be able to take off again.

The Shack at N9

The rest of relief consisted mostly of moving boxes, moving barrels, or opening large crates and moving the contents. At the end of the week the ship headed north again, along with Vicki, Fran and Anto, the first of our wintering team to head off. It felt very much like the end of an era as they left so we were all up at the skiway for an emotional farewell.

Leaving committee at the skiway

And then we were full swing into the summer. The base takes on a very different feel, not just because the population has gone from 16 to about 60, but there is definitely more of a buzz and a sense of urgency about the place. That's not to say we didn't do any work over winter but things are definitely a bit more relaxed in the dark months. Luckily even in summer Halley is still small enough that you get to know everyone on base pretty quickly so there's still a bit of a family atmosphere. The main focus of summer for outgoing winterers is handing over to their replacements, ensuring they know where everything is and going over the finer points of the job. Dean comes from an IT background like me, making that side of things an easy handover, so after a quick run through the radio equipment and a tour of the HF masts and the comms container he was pretty much up to speed allowing to me to leave him to it and put my feet up for the summer!

Unfortunately we had a couple of projects to complete so my smug feeling of relaxation was short lived. First to be tackled was the install of a new Dartcom, which is a satellite system giving us images of the ice shelf and surrounding area. The existing Dartcom lived on the Simpson and was largely held together with gaffer tape and wishful thinking, so a shiny new one had come in to be installed in the Laws. Having found all the boxes we unpacked it all in the gym to try and see what was what. The internal equipment consists of a rack full of impressive looking computers, while on the roof there's a dome housing the satellite dish, and also a GPS compass. Everything had been meticulously labelled in the UK before being shipped so it all went together fairly easily, the hardest part being getting the dome equipment up onto the roof and aligning the dish with a compass bearing. The whole system is up and running now and giving very clear images, hopefully it will survive the winter just as well.

We started with a large collection of boxes

Shiny new computers

Jim and Terry lay the foundation for the dome

Dish installed and ready to go

Ready to withstand the winter

All our highly efficient handover work in the Comms department meant I was suddenly free to help out with some other base tasks.
"Morning Dave," said Pat. "You're going out in the plane today with John and Nic."
"Great," I thought, "off on a jolly."
"You'll need spare warm clothes and a shovel."
Our job for the day was to fly out to Site5 and raise a fuel depot, so with barely enough time to pack a bag and make some sandwiches we were off to the skiway. The flight was about 3 hours, with a stop on the way to refuel at Bluefields, a nice little spot by the sea. Site5 itself was rather more typical of an Antarctic fuel depot, a couple of flags and a post in the middle of a large flat white expanse. The depot turned out to be not too badly buried and after about 4 hours digging we'd raised the 6 full and 30 or so empty barrels to the surface, loaded a few empties onto the plane and were away. Well almost. We were bimbling merrily along at take off speed but the plane remained resolutely on the ground despite much yanking on the controls by Ian the pilot. It turns out that very soft powdery snow can be a problem for aircraft as it rides up over the front of the skis preventing take off, so we taxied back and forth over the same tracks a couple of times to compact the snow and had another go, this time sucessfully as the plane grudgingly got airborn. We got back to base at about 11pm after a good day out, and rewarded ourselves with a lie in the following day.

Site5: There's drums under there somewhere

The team in full swing. Photo by Ian.

Drums raised. Photo by Ian.

As it turned out I should have paid more attention at Bluefields when we stopped to refuel as I was soon going to become much better acquainted with it..... This time it was to be just John and I spending a couple of days raising the depot, so the following week we were going out with tent, food, radio and of course plenty of spare shovels. Bluefields was a larger depot, about 200 drums according to the plan, and was buried deeper than Site5, with the drums under a couple of feet of snow. We went out with Bob and Ian on the plane, the plan being for them to drop us off and head back to Halley. I hadn't realised that the plane couldn't leave until we had established contact with a base, so after a frustrating hour trying to raise people on HF and Iridium we finally got through to Rothera and set up our sched times, and Bob and Ian left us to it.

The plane departs

When the depot had been built last year someone had thoughtfully left behind a skidoo so we were saved quite a lot of manual labour. Having dug down to the first row of drums we created a ramp, and then after persuading the frozen barrels to separate were able to attach ropes and pull them out with the doo.

Drums ready to come out

Pulling out with the skidoo. Photo by Bob.

After a few attempts we had perfected a technique and were soon working well, although even at peak efficiency we were probably only getting out about 10 barrels an hour. The work was pretty hard but we were rewarded with a lovely view out to sea and the monotony was broken by the odd visit from aircraft.

The view from the tent

Ian and Bob came back several times to pick up barrels, as well as another plane that was working nearby at a different depot. The weather was somewhat warmer than it had been on our winter trips so the tent was plenty warm enough and after a days digging we certainly slept soundly. Well I did, John just got an introduction to my now legendary snoring, but that's all part of the Antarctic camping experience.........

After a long day. Photo by Ian

At the end of day 3 one of the planes brought us a drum crusher for the empties. Crushing the drums reduces them to about a third of their size and means we can fit many more onto a plane, which means less flights required to get them back to Halley.

The drum crusher in action. Photo by Bob.

After 4 days of digging, dragging, swearing and crushing we'd raised all the drums and rebuilt the depot on the surface, so we struck camp and headed back to Halley for a much needed shower to try and get rid of the all pervading smell of avtur.

The finished article

Loading the plane to go home

Unfortunately I was going on to a week of nights so I needed to try and stay up as long as possible. I made it to about half past five in the morning before collapsing into bed. For the next few days I ached. A lot.

Being on nights meant I neatly avoided the drama of raising the satellite dome. This houses the dish that gives us all our communications with the outside world, and we were a bit apprehensive about raising as it means switching everything off, and last year it took a week to find the satellite again. This year we were luckier and had everything back up and running in a day, thanks to Dean's expert work with the spectrum analyser (that's techspeak for accidentaly tripping over the satellite when he least expected it).

As the summer is a busier time there tends to be a bit less going on leisure-wise, although this year has seen a huge rise in the number of kiting enthusiasts, on a good day there are about 10 of them out whizzing up and down on skis and boards. We had high drama in the annual doubles pool competition, with the last few matches going down to the wire, and we've managed a couple of musical evenings to give people a chance to showcase their talents. We also had the traditional soccer match, with the traditionally liberal interpretation of rules, and a very good BBQ. The vehicles guys also extended an open invitation to anyone who fancied having a go at driving the new Challengers and John Deeres so a few of us went down and grinned like idiots for half an hour or so.

The answer to all your commuting problems

In action towing the garage to it's new location

But now the season is almost over, the ship is due back next week for second call and those of us who are leaving will be off back to the Falklands and then home. I'll leave with mixed emotions, it's been an incredible year down here and I'll be sad to leave, but I'm also looking forward to seeing hills and trees, scenery that isn't white, and catching up with friends and family back home. In the meantime there is a very good article here with advice for those of you awaiting the return of someone from the Antarctic.

Monday, January 01, 2007

A white Christmas - in the middle of summer

Happy New Year! Hope you all had an excellent Christmas as well. It's been a bit strange here, not being bombarded by the constant Christmas advertising since September it all tends to creep up on you quite quickly.

The beginning of December saw us all out and about doing more preparation work for the summer season. We had more fuel raising to do, and this time I managed to avoid knocking any teeth out. It was a lovely day to be outside and we were soon down to shirt sleeves, which seems a bit bizarre when you're surrounded by snow. It was still very warm work under a fleece lined hard hat though.

Anto backs the crane up to the buried fuel drums

The drums are hooked up to be plucked from the snow...

..and then dropped onto a sledge

Halfway through the pile

The operation in full swing

We also raised a posse to help Jules with a catenary raise, which involved pulling about 40 enormous wooden stakes out of the snow, only to bang them straight back in again, and reattach a cable on top. After that I volunteered to help Liz with her legs...... Well actually the legs of the building. Like everything else here the Laws building has to be raised to keep it above the snow, so Liz and I were up ladders manhandling steel plates and then raising the building on a giant hydraulic jack built in to the leg. Unfortunately the jack needs about 60 pumps to raise the building by 20mm so it's a fairly long job.

Pulling catenary stakes out of the ground

Planting the Halley orchard

Putting the finishing touch

The following day was another chance to visit the penguin colony, which has changed dramatically since the last visit. The penguins are now much more spread out across the sea ice, and where previously we saw adult penguins with some eggs and the odd tiny chick, now there are huge grey balls of fluff wandering about bullying their parents into feeding them. The penguins seem to be a lot less interested in us now as well, so there were no curious groups coming up to say hello. There were other interested parties about though, as we saw a handful of skuas flying about and a couple of petrels. Sadly the skuas seemed more interested in picking off underfed penguin chicks.

Very spread out penguin colony

A skua pauses to see if Bob is edible

Some chicks are as big as their parents

Others have a bit more growing to do

Spot which ones have been taking growth hormones

We've had more planes through as a German Dornier came on it's way to Neumayer base, where 3 of our summer team were waiting to get here having travelled via South Africa, then Novo and Sanae bases. When they finally got here the fog had closed in a bit so the plane was forced to land out on the Windy drumline, a couple of kilometres away from base. Our rapid response refuelling team was immediately sent out to meet them - in a dozer that averages about 5km per hour. Eventually the plane got bored and decided to taxi towards us instead.

That signalled the beginning of summer, no longer are there just the 16 of us here. We've now got a BAS plane stationed here as well, which brought a couple more people over from Rothera. It's nice to see some new faces though, and hear some different stories to the ones we've been telling each other for the last 9 months. The last week or so it's been touch and go as to whether or not we'd see any other faces at all though. We've been following the ship's progress through a combination of position reports and the blogs of people on board. All was going well until the ship got close to Neumayer base and then appeared to come to a shuddering halt. Although the Ernest Shackleton is an ice strengthened ship it's not an ice breaker, which is a crucial difference when faced with sea ice several metres thick. The ship spent a nerve wracking 10 days trying to find a way through the ice. Initially it just seemed like a minor irritation to add to an already interesting summer season, but then we started getting concerned about the lack of important things like fresh food and post. And the minor stuff like fuel to run the base. But as a result of the ship being late we did manage to have a relaxed Christmas meal and some celebrations which was a nice change from last year when the festive season seemed to pass us by altogether.

The relief operation is slowly starting to get underway now, the first couple of snocats have arrived with cargo from the ship and the plane has been back and forth a couple of times. Soon we'll be in full swing with a whole host of new people to get to know, and tell vastly exaggerated stories about how tough the winter was.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The end of winter approaches

Sometimes we need a reminder of what life is like in the real world, just in case we start to think that what we have down here is in some way normal. To this end Simon gave an interesting talk and slide show at the beginning of the month, showing us shots from various canoeing trips on the rivers of Scotland, and a ski touring holiday in Austria. OK, so the ski touring photos were quite similar to here, but the rest was a good opportunity to see some green scenery and trees.

Then a couple of days later to further highlight the changes happening here, we all had a trip on a cruise ship. Well not quite. In order to celebrate Vicki's birthday we decided to do a murder mystery party for dinner. If you've not done one of these before, everyone is given a character to play, and with the aid of a few clues and hints has to work out the identity of the murderer, usually good fun and a chance for everyone to bring out their inner sleuth. Ours was set on a 1920s cruise liner, and after much costume making, overacting, and accusations and counter-accusations, it turned out Simon was the dastardly murderer.

Straight from an Agatha Christie novel......... - Photo by Anto

Having had a fairly quiet week on nights (although we're now well into 24hr daylight), I was taking advantage of some good weather to raise a few catenaries when I was interrupted by John asking me and Jules to go and check the skiway. Skiway is a bit of a grand term for a line of drums in the snow marking where the planes should land, but nevertheless we checked they were still all there as we were due to have to some unexpected visitors. It turns out that the DC3 that had visited the previous week had run into difficulties and a search and rescue plane was coming through on it's way to help them out. Luckily no-one on the DC3 was hurt, they had just landed on some unexpectedly rough terrain and hit a large sastrugi, breaking a wheel strut and a propeller. Luckily there are agreements in place between the various Antarctic operators so in the event of a problem help can be called upon. In this instance a Twin Otter run by one of the tourist companies was coming through, so we had some more new people to meet, and had a very good evening entertaining the Canadian crew.

ALE Twin Otter at the skiway - Photo by Jules

The good weather continued for a while so I took advantage and spent a couple of pleasant hours sitting outside reading and enjoying the sunshine. It's a bit strange having the smell of suncream in the air but still wearing several layers of clothing and not being on a beach. Vicki and I also managed what seemed like a mammoth ski out to the 5k marker and back. Luckily we made it back in time to finish cooking dinner.

Preparation for summer is picking up pace now with more base jobs to do. One of the main jobs is cleaning the melt tank. This involves everyone having the luxury of extra long showers (a whole 4 minutes!) in order to use up the water so that people can climb into the melt tank and give it a good scrub out. Once this is done we should be able refill with water from the Drewry melt tank, but unfortunately this time there were problems with frozen pipes so we spent about a week doing daily water runs from the Drewry to the Laws in order to maintain a workable water supply. Luckily the tech services guys here pulled out all the stops and got things working again fairly quickly so we were able to do some washing again.

Filling a transit tank with water to take to the Laws

Also on the list of base jobs has been getting the Drewry, our summer accommodation building, fit for habitation as it is shut down for the winter with no heating so requires a bit of fettling and a good clean out to get going again, and various bits of sledge clearing and drum raising. As a result I've been frantically trying to locate all the bits of IT equipment that I took out of the Drewry at the end of last summer to make sure they still work, but I think I've found them all now.

All that was left to complete our preparations for summer was our end of winter celebrations. As usual on special occasions Nic produced a fantastic spread for dinner, and then we got the various instruments out and had a musical evening in the bar. Luckily we got a lie in the next day as we changed our clocks back to GMT -3 to put us in line with Rothera and the other bases. All that remains now is for the summer people and next year's winterers to arrive. Due to various logistical problems things are running a bit behind schedule but we expect to see the first summerers later this week, with most people arriving on the ship around the middle of December.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Winter trip II and new faces

Having not had an entirely successful first winter trip back in March, although we did get a couple of days away in a caboose, I was hopeful for better luck when the second round of trips came along. The second trip is usually longer, at about 10 days, which gives more opportunity for exploring and also more leeway in the event of bad weather. Luckily this time the weather was good enough to get away on day one. Simon and Vicki headed out to do some GPS work at the new Halley VI site in the morning, and in the afternoon we headed out. Taking four people on holiday for 10 days here involves a bit more than packing a couple of suitcases. We had four skidoos loaded up with bags containing rescue gear and spare clothes, and spades, ice axes and snow stakes all bungeed on to the back. We also had four sledges carrying tents, stoves, cooking equipment, food, p-bags (consisting of sleeping bag and liner, sleepmat, sheepskin), radios, fuel, utensils, medical supplies, and enough rope to keep Houdini busy for weeks. We had decided initially to go to the Rumples and set up camp there. The Rumples is an area near the coast where the ice shelf flows over ridges in the sea bed causing it to rise up and break apart causing a, well, rumpled effect. This is a favourite trip destination as you get to see some scenery other than the flat white vista we have become used to.

The trip out was about an hour ride by skidoo, initially just towing a sledge each, but as we got nearer to the Rumples and the risk of crevasses increased, we roped the skidoos up in pairs, the theory being that if one disappears down a big hole the second should prevent it from being completely unrecoverable. Skidoos are a great way to travel down here and will happily pull a loaded sledge at about 20kph, but can be a bit chilly as you're open to the elements. I'm always grateful for heated handlebar grips when I'm out on the bike in winter in the UK, but they're definitely an essential item down here. I suppose in a way it would be nice to have the romanticism of travelling with dogs like in the old days, but this may be outweighed by the hassle of carrying several hundred tins of Pedigree Chum instead of a couple of jerries of fuel.

Simon picked a path through the crevasses to the camp site and we spent a couple of hours setting up. The pyramid tents we use are pretty rugged and fairly easy to set up, but positioning needs to be thought about so it doesn't get snow blown straight through the door or end up acting as a giant sail in the first high wind. Once you've got all your sleeping gear, primus stove, tilly lamp, pots box, food box and tent box all set up inside the accomodation is pretty compact, but there's still room to move about, do your cooking, and hang clothes up to dry. The camp consisted of two tents with two people per tent, but in the evenings you tend to all end up in one tent playing cards or chatting. With the tents up we made sure all the other gear was easily to hand outside, covered over the skidoos and looked forward to a first night camping out on the wilderness.

Camp site with the Rumples in the background

Day 2 broke with a very cold tent and ice everywhere. Most people sleep with just a tiny hole in the top of the sleeping bag to breathe through and everything else well covered. There then commences a battle of wills, or a battle of bladders, to see who will break first and emerge from their cocoon to get the stove lit and put some snow on to melt. Once the primus and the Tilly are on the tent warms up pretty quickly and breakfast can be considered. We opted for a fairly leisurely morning, then went out for a stroll after lunch in the vicinity of the camp site. We found a crevasse so took the opportunity to explore it. First Simon cleared a couple of man sized holes in the top of the crevasse, then we set up the ropes and abseil point to head in. I'm not great with heights and all this abseiling malarkey still involves a fair bit of trepidation, but nevertheless I was determined to go in and have look. This involves a normal abseil down, but as there is no guarantee of a floor to stand on once inside, you then have to change from abseil equipment to jumar equipment to enable you to climb back up, all the while dangling on the rope hoping fervently that you did your harness up properly. It's all worthwhile though as the crevasse was beautiful inside. All of a sudden you're out of the wind blowing on the surface, and everything turns very blue. Looking down I couldn't see the bottom of the crevasse, so I didn't look down for very long, but all around were wonderful crystals and formations in the ice, and silence apart from the faint tinkling of ice falling below, or the puffing and swearing of the person on the other rope trying to climb back out. As we've all had a bit of jumaring experience by now on penguin trips the climb out wasn't too bad, especially with the addition of crampons to get a good grip on the ice wall. Having explored the crevasse we headed back to camp for tea and medals.

Mark disappearing into a crevasse (on purpose)

Vicki heading back up

You may remember my midwinter present was a patchwork wall hanging
depicting the view out from a crevasse. Turns out it was pretty accurate.

Me trying to look relaxed. Photo from Vicki.

Day 3 brought with it lousy contrast so we weren't able to go out, instead content to sit in the tent reading, eating and dozing, just like a holiday back home really. When field parties go out on trips like these there are always daily pre-arranged times for radio contact with base to ensure everyone is safe and well and catch up on any news and gossip. On this occasion there was an event going on in the UK to mark the 50th Anniversary of the building of the first Halley base, so there was a big posh dinner going on back at base with a video link up to the UK to let all the old FIDs who've been down here before say hello, reminisce, and tell us all how it was much harder in their day. We contented ourselves with vodka and cards.

Day 4 had better weather so we decided to go and explore the Rumples, which had been sitting there looking invitingly interesting for a couple of days. We found a route in and walked up to the aptly named High Point from where we could see Halley in the distance. I don't think it was actually that high at all but when you're used to a complete lack of geographical features you take what you can get. We then headed further out towards the coast, seeing some incredible formations in the ice and peering in to a couple more crevasses. All the walking on the ice shelf is done as an alpine four, with all of us attached to the same rope, again so that if one person falls down a hole the others can haul them out. Luckily we didn't have to test this theory, but as you walk you are always looking around trying to see features in the snow which might indicate the presence of a crevasse underneath. Anytime your footsteps start to sound unusually hollow you wonder if it would have been a good idea not to have that extra bit of chocolate for breakfast. We explored another crevasse on the way back. This time my prussic device, which is supposed to act as a sort of handbrake while abseiling, decided not to be very effective, so I had a slightly nervy time changing over to jumars but managed to get out unscathed.

Mark and Vicki at High Point

Simon and Vicki

Me doing my invisible man impression

Sledge Happy looking gnarly. Photo from Simon

The plan for Day5 was to head out in the opposite direction and explore some larger cracks in the ice with a view to abseiling down to the sea ice and having a wander about. We walked quite a way, investigating a few potential abseil points before Simon found one he was happy with. Unfortunately on the way down I was so busy concentrating on my prussic, hoping it would work this time, that I managed to get my abseil device caught on the cornice at the edge of the drop, which then flipped over the wrong way trapping the rope and leaving me hanging, unable to go up or own. Luckily for me Mark and Vicki were still at the top so after my vain attempts to extricate myself had failed, they managed with superhuman effort to haul me back up. By this time we'd walked further than anticipated and were all a bit knackered so we decided discretion was the order of the day and headed back to camp.

Me at the beginning of the abseil. Photo from Simon.

Day6 arrived with no contrast in the morning, so we made a plan to break camp and head over to Creek 2 caboose in the afternoon and stay there for the remaining days. Having spent a couple of hours packing up it was a short skidoo ride over to the caboose, during which we had a petrel flying alongside us for a while and then were treated to a very impressive display of the sun complete with sun dogs, a halo, and a circumzenithal arc (I think.....). Setting up at the caboose is much easer and quicker as there are no tents to erect so we were soon settling down to dinner and a book for the evening.

Day7 was my birthday! This will definitely be one to remember, it's not often you get to celebrate a birthday in a place like this. The day started very well as I managed to abseil down to the sea ice without getting anything wrong. We walked along the sea ice for a few kilometres looking in at the various creeks as we passed. It was very strange to think that last December we were in the same place, but on the ship looking for a place to moor up for relief. We found a few leads or cracks in the ice but none of them went down to water so it was obviously very thick. We also met a couple of penguins who had wandered away from the main colony, causing much speculation as to wether they were heading somewhere specific or just looking for open water. Eventually the contrast disappeared again so we headed back up onto the ice shelf and walked back along the top of the cliffs to the caboose. In the evening I was treated to everyone at base singing Happy Birthday to me over the radio, with Kirsty even giving a rendition in Spanish.

Penguins on a search for open water

Sledge Happy on the sea ice

On Day8 we were hoping to go over to Windy caboose and see the main penguin colony, but unfortunately the weather turned against us on the way over so we headed back to Creek2 and spent the afternoon learning to play Backgammon and reading.

We got up on Day9 hoping for an improvement in the weather to get to Windy but it never came so we packed up and headed back to base after lunch for a much needed shower!

All in all a fantastic holiday. It's always nice to get off base for a while, but to have the opportunity to do all these things is one of the real perks of being down here, and it's an incredible privilege to have seen places that very few others have seen.

We got back just in time for the weekend, and on the Saturday Nic cooked a wonderful spread of tapas for my birthday meal, just what was needed after my somewhat dubious attempts as making Pina Coladas in the bar beforehand. I also received what is probably the largest chocolate cake ever created in the Antarctic, but I was very good and shared it with everyone else.

Antarctic birthday cake

The other big news is that we've had our first visitors since March. Much as we all get along very well down here, we were all very excited at the prospect of seeing some new faces, and had been looking forward to the arrival of the BASLER plane for some time. It also heralded the arrival of fresh fruit and vegetables which is something that is definitely missed at the end of winter. After a couple of false starts due to weather, the plane left King George Island at the top of the peninsular at midnight, which meant I was up all night flight following until it arrived here at 5 in the morning. We laid on a cooked breakfast for the 3 Canadian crew and their 3 Russian passengers, who were on their way over to Novo, a Russian base on the Dronning Maud Land coast. The plane is a DC3, which looks a little out of place here when you're used to seeing the little Twin Otters, but they were only here to drop of the freshies and take on fuel, so after a brief tour of the base they were off again. One of the crew got a nasty shock when he came back to the Laws to pick up a coat he'd left behind, only to find 6 of us in the kitchen staring at the fresh veg and giggling insanely to ourselves. I never thought lettuce would have that effect on me.

Green things!

DC3 refuelling at the skiway

Now that the excitement of the first plane is over we start gearing up for the coming summer season and the influx of people in December. Meanwhile I've got another week of nights starting tomorrow so it's back to baking and cleaning for me.