Monday, 10 October 2016
Flying Fish and Chocolate
No land has been in sight for days now and today I’ve seen no sea life other than flying fish. I’ve seen them several times which is exciting. They look, to me anyway, just like humming birds. They zoom out of the water and then coast along for several feet just above the surface of the water before diving again. I think it’s a survival mechanism to try and evade predators, but it’s really wonderful when you see a school of them leaping out of the water, moving in tandem. They skim along for far longer than seems possible; they really could be mistaken for little birds!
Other than these piscatorial wonders I have very little new to share about life at sea today. Therefore I thought that I might discuss my packing. What does a sensible person bring for a nine month sojourn aboard a ship destined for the Southern Ocean? In my case, I bought nowhere near enough clothing, as I imagined that my cabin would be going for a Spartan aesthetic. I bought seven tops, two pairs of jeans and some shoes. Oh and a dress. I was told a dress would be important for the nice dinners. But as it happens, I have far more space than I anticipated. I’m fairly lucky amongst the crew and scientists in that I don’t have to share a cabin and that despite not sharing, my cabin is fairly spacious. In fact, it’s significantly larger than my university halls room was! The only irony is that the large orange life boat is right outside my window. So even though I’m at sea, I still don’t get a sea view! To be honest however I think I prefer my view as it is. Things will have gone badly wrong the day I have a pleasant view of the ocean!
I have done my best to fill the space with other things. I’ve got my Kindle, some books and some DVDs but the majority of the space is filled with crafting stuff. Not as in dodgy films from the nineties with that girl from Empire Records, but as in knitting and sewing stuff. I’m working on a patchwork quilt at the moment and knitting myself a snood. It’s definitely provoked some raised eyebrows in the bar but I figure if a girl can’t knit in a bar, then what is the world coming to? And having sharp needles in my hands is always good for encouraging people to attend their medicals. But I was very pleased to find out that sewing is working well aboard the ship. I did have images of my poor little sewing machine ending up covered in rust and us moving about so much that I couldn’t cut fabric in a straight line. Which would very awkward as I’ve been foolish and promised the Rothera doctor a quilt when I see her! She’ll be at Rothera for 18 months and I thought it might make her room a wee bit more homely and welcoming. A bit wierd? Probably. But I think you have to take things that will keep you happy and keep your mind ticking over.
My other requirements are coffee and dark chocolate. I brought 9 bars (say it with me, nine bars!) of Lindt and Tesco Finest dark chocolate with me. And in the three weeks since I’ve been at sea...in my weakened state...longing for home...I ate them all! And there is none on the ship!!!! The bond only supplies milk chocolate! I have not played my hand well. Rationing is a skill that I lack. I’ve let myself and everyone else down. When I get to the Falklands I will be discovered in a supermarket rolling in the aisles, smearing chocolate over my face and giggling to myself. I just hope the Islanders are ready for this.
Hmmm...so what else went in my bags? My camera obviously. I am slightly concerned that it may totally outstrip my abilities to use it and I’ve bought myself a text book on taking decent photos. People have kept telling me that it’s impossible to take a bad photo down South. I’m sure that should be reassuring...I just don’t want the ignominy of being the first!
Most of the other gear that I need for the cold weather has been supplied by BAS. So I have two boiler suits, salopettes, a fetching high visibility coat, a fleece, a jacket, steel toe capped boots, gloves, a hat, a helmet...the list goes on and on. Getting kitted out in Cambridge was one of the most exciting experiences ever! It was like expedition shopping without the horrific price tag. (And why is that, may I ask? How is outdoor wear as expensive as it is?) Sadly I have to give my toys back after I’m done playing with them- BAS were pretty emphatic about that- but it was still the first time in the real world where I actually felt like this might really be happening!