Feuerzangenbowle and Frozen Hair

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Summer 07
Winter 07
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Simple things, they say, amuse simple minds. Down here, surrounded by bleak darkness (albeit scattered with stars), sometimes we have to make our own fun. Taking advantage of another cold spell, the major feature of this winter being the huge number of cold spells, we decided it would be a giggle to dunk our heads in a bucket of water then stand around outside at -45 to see how long it took for our hair to freeze.

The results formed a style all of its own. I managed a credible mad-professor, Kirsty and Tamsin grew sculpted cones and Neil a quiff of astounding dimensions, fringed with thin white ice. Standing in the cold breeze on purpose without a hat did horrible things to my ears, which only really warmed back up after half an hour inside. The hair itself stuck solid in moments, making my head feel heavy and, well, not quite its usual self. Room temperature slowly helped it to wilt, but I was ducking to go through doors for ten minutes as I thawed.

Wet hair freezes at 40 below
Wet hair freezes at 40 below

The crazy-hair-gang
The crazy-hair-gang

As well as freezing our hair, the low temperatures cause the air to deposit hoar frost on everything left outside. Usually the buildings become coated with Rime, essentially droplets of fog that drift onto solid objects then stick there. Once the temperature drops below about -40 water is able to freeze directly out of the air, so grow filigree crystals of ice, like searching snowflakes.

As midwinter approaches everything on base becomes about midwinter. Hours are spent working away at presents, and a Decembery sort of Christmas feeling grows on everyone as we plan the entertainments for the week. Tom, our German UAV specialist, added to this by serving the traditional pre-Christmas German treat of Feuerzangenbowle (Fire Pliers Bowl). Mulled wine is heated, then a sugar cone is suspended above the bowl, soaked in rum, then set on fire. The sugar burns to a slight caramel and drips as droplets of blue fire into the wine below. The result is mulled-wine-plus, producing a powerful warm feeling in the stomach when drunk.


Also, I should plug Ice Station Antarctica, an exhibition put on by BAS at the Natural History Museum. It is aimed at children and sounds a tiny bit exciting. They're using a few photos of mine and might, if I'm unlucky, feature me in some video diaries we made here last year. The exhibition is running until April next year.
prev: Auroranext: Midwinter

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