Nights and Darkness

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Summer 07
Winter 07
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  Back Outside
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I'm back on nights, and for the first time in a few months we have something like darkness. The sun set for the first time a couple of week's ago, and each passing day sees our firey light spend an extra twenty minutes beneath the horizon. The sunsets still linger, and with the open water spread around the sun has plenty of puffy clouds to play with, and the whole sky to fill with its dazzling effects.

The start of the winter has also seen the first samba session since Dave left on the ship. He's passed the baton (well, whistle) on to me and we shall see how much I and the other remaining winterers can remember, or pretend to remember, as the year goes by. The first bash went pretty well, considering, and we got a good driving rythym set up by the end of the session, so I'm pretty sure that Drumline will continue to keep the rest of the base awake on Thursdays.

Nightwatch is a repeat of the previous weeks. I fill my time with reading, writing, cleaning and cooking. My breadmaking is now pretty good and, importantly, more efficient, leaving more time for fun in the kitchen. Each night I get to cook a little meal for myself, a pasttime that usually made pointless by the excellent work of Anthony, or on his days off by the pressing needs of seventeen other hungry people, and the industrial cuisine that requires. Each night I can settle down quietly with a warm pizzas, feta-stuffed peppers, roasted vegetables or the king of foods -- a freshly baked roll with bree, bacon and cranberry sauce. Tasty good.

Along with the bread I've been playing with croissants. These have always eluded me, and usually end up looking a little like they should, but with the wrong taste and texture. Previous attempts have resembled butter-soaked-biscuits or doughy dumplings. Still, always ready to experiment I had another couple of goes this week. The first batch failed, probably because I'd killed the yeast at some critical point hours before. For a second try I attempted a new recipe and this, thankfully, has freed me from my curse, and produced a batch of pastries that was entirely vanished by the time I woke at tea time the following day.

Other than that I've been devouring the new films the Shackleton delivered back in November, filling a few hours counting all the stamps in the post office (as exciting as it sounds), and making a start on planning the holiday I'm due this time next year. I'm not wanting to leave Halley yet, of course, but I do like to make voyages of the mind through countries I've only ever barely heard about before. By the end of the week I'll have a firm enough plan that I can spend the rest of the year subtly altering it to fit the mood of each passing month. Eventually I'll have to book things and spend money, but that has to be put off as I've little idea exactly when I'll be leaving Halley, or even which port I'll be delivered to by the big red taxi.

I do enjoy doing nights but I think I'd go mad if asked to do more than a week at a time. I live out of sync with everyone, mostly filling the gap between them sleeping and waking, so it's quite a lonely existence. I have to be careful not to be too cheerful in the mornings as everyone wakes up and passes from slumber into sentience. But then it's the same with me around dinner time, as I sit and sip a coffee quietly amidst the jokes and chatter that my sleeping mind can't quite follow. The disconnect is made clearer this week. As Dean, the comms guy, is away on his trip I must print out our paper which needs a witty headline. Usually difficult, but harder still without any knowledge of the preceding day's events. Like artists of old painting elephants they'd never set eyes on.

We've been having some pretty grotty weather this week. Since Saturday the wind has barely dropped below 20 knots making it difficult to get much exercise outside. The first field trip managed to get away just before the wind got up but have spent their time stuck in their tents. Partly I'm envious, as there's nothing so nice as being forced to sleep and sit and read and think, but I'm feeling fairly cooped up and I'm only stuck inside on base. I've been sitting in on the daily 'phone calls, though, and so far their spirits seem high. I'm hoping the weather clears soon, both because the chaps in the tents probably want to get a shower, and because I'm scheduled to head out on the next trip, and cannot do that until the last lot are back. As ever we must remain content as we contend with the fretful elements...

Whistle and Repinique
Whistle and Repinique

Atomic Sunset with Tamsin and Dean
Atomic Sunset with Tamsin and Dean

Flags collect rime ice
Flags collect rime ice

Staying awake the Italian way
Staying awake the Italian way

Croissants ready to rise
Croissants ready to rise

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