Thursday, 27 October 2016

First Icebergs!

Hello and greetings! My apologies for not posting yesterday; I managed to exhaust myself and was tucked up in bed (and no doubt snoring) by nine o’clock! I do snore; it happens, I think, when I’m so tired that my soft palate simply can’t be bothered to maintain muscle tone and instead flutters about like a sheet in the wind. My other half likes to pretend that I make occasional lady like snuffles, but having woken myself on occasion, I like to think of them as a full-on throaty roar.

But why, I hear you asking, was I so tired? Well, the patchwork blanket that I’m making for the friend and colleague who will be in Rothera is proceeding full-throttle, and yesterday I had reached the quilting stage. So I spent most of yesterday, hunching over this blanket, picking out a dragon-fly motif in white cotton thread and swearing fluently and enthusiastically. I haven’t ever reached the quilting stage of blanket creation before and I find that the creative process is helped immeasurably by free-flowing invective. I also hadn’t realised that apparently when quilting, an embroidery hoop is necessary to stretch the material taut and make it easier to I’ve improvised and stretched the blanket over the bed-rails of my hospital trolley instead. Definitely not strange!

There was a great deal of excitement today however. We have spotted our first ice berg! And then our second! At breakfast this morning, we were told that there was an ice berg over the starboard (that’s right as the ship goes forward) side so we all scurried outside into a rather bracing wind. There, in the distance, gleaming whitely against the grey seas, was our ‘berg. Its peaks were sharply pointed and it looked suitably craggy as the morning sun gleamed off it.

 I took hundreds of photos (actually hundreds; I’ve spent the last hour editing- read deleting- them) and then returned to my cabin for a shower. This was slightly awkward as our giant steward hammered on the door minutes later to let me know that there was another ice berg off the port side. I poured myself into my warm outdoor gear, and mindful of my wet hair, put my buff and my hat on and raced outside. Well. It was beautiful. Like someone had carved a chunk from the white cliffs of Dover and dropped it into the ocean. It was bizarre to see something that vast, that enormous, floating so serenely and calmly on these rough seas. It was still more astounding to consider that the greater part of its mass was lurking beneath the waves.  Apparently the largest iceberg on record was 31,000 square km spotted in the Southern Pacific in 1956. That iceberg would have been larger than Belgium!

I decided to loiter outside for awhile with my camera. Whenever possible, I like to kid on that I might actually know what I’m doing with the thing. I went up to our top deck- monkey island- and took photos of the bow of the ship crashing through the waves. The volume of spray raised is phenomenal. As the ship moves through the water, all the cold air rushes along the lower deck, hits the glass windows of the bridge and is forced upwards onto monkey island. I can say now, with the benefit of experience that sticking one’s face over the parapet and into that stiff breeze is definitely unwise! It’s about 2 degrees Celsius out there at the moment but the windchill makes the temperature feel significantly lower; I went inside fairly swiftly in case I had to email my boss and say that I was really sorry but I seemed to have frost bite...

I didn’t disappear before I had taken many, many photos of the scientists and crew hard at work though. I do like to watch other people working. I was very impressed by their stoicism as within the space of an hour it snowed, hailed and then became sunny. But always complete with a howling wind. Mum...send earmuffs!

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