After all the excitement from my first few weeks in Antarctica, it was time to settle into a rhythm and start working on the TAE Hut. This week I thought I would describe my normal routine, to give you an idea of what my typical working day is like, and an insight into living at Scott Base.
6.00am: Wake up, circuit, shower, breakfast. My bunkroom has 4 beds each with their own closet, a desk and a small window with shutters, to block out the 24 hour sun. When you are walking around the bunkrooms you have to be really quiet and tip-toe through the corridor, as many of the scientists and staff all work various hours with different schedules. I am staying in a bunkroom with three other roommates. On the bottom bunks are Laurine and Joanna, who are scientists working with the hot water drilling team looking at the marine geology. Opposite me isLauren, a DC-3 Basler host from Canada working with a team flying scientists to and from their sites. Breakfast is served between 6.00–8.00am with a selection of cereals, yogurt, fruit and toast. I must say I have become very good at making poached eggs in the microwave.
7.30am: AHT morning meeting in the lounge, along with a cup of coffee. Here everyone discusses their work plans for the day, how the previous day went and any safety concerns. We have a team of 8 including myself which are divided between conservators and carpenters. Ciaran and Sue work alongside Lizzie, conserving all the artefacts from the hut and returning the objects back to their original nature. Al, Martin, Doug and Geoff are our handy group of carpenters working towards restoring the hut back to its original look.
This week I have been cleaning up all the gear used out in the field, and assisting Doug and Geoff under the hut with the foundations. We are replacing the Jarrah sleepers with macrocarpa beams similar to the original foundations when the hut was first built. I have been taken under the wing of the carpenters as their new apprentice. My name pronounced like ‘any-car’ was proving too difficult as a site name so as there was an agreement that my new on-site name was now Bob. And the quote of the day was ‘sent here as a girl… going home a man’. Although not too sure how my family would feel about that.
10:00am: Our daily ‘Smoko’ out in the container workshop. The chefs prepare an amazing range of muffins, fruit, pizza bread, scones with cream and jam with the occasional mince pie and chicken nuggets. I consider this my second breakfast along with some great discussions before getting back to work.
12:00pm: Lunchtime. I feel like it is impossible to go hungry down here as there is always so much food. Lunch is ridiculously nice including a hot meal and choice of salads and what is left over from the previous night. Very little is wasted down here and any waste has to been sent back to NZ so the biggest rule is only take what you can eat but going up for seconds is always very welcome.
5:30pm: Time to knock off, quickly get changed and get ready for dinner.
6:00pm: Dinner time. Gary and Mike the chiefs are amazing and I always wonder how they can cook such fantastic food for more than 60 people in such a small time frame. Similar to lunch you have a choice of meals, normally with 2-3 options with a variety of salads topped off with a delicious dessert. Friday nights are fish and chips and Sundays are roasts. There also has been a dessert competition every Sunday where the base is divided up into teams and has the opportunity to create a master piece which is then judged by a scoring system at the end of the night. This week was ‘blue group’ with their plated chocolate on chocolate on chocolate special. Considering all aspects, I gave it an overall 8 for the fantastic presentation and my love for chocolate.
7:00pm: My favourite time of day down here. There is always something happening every night and there is always not enough time to fit in everything.
From kite skiing to bouldering, fat biking to walking the Ross Island trail system, movies to dancing, there is so much to do and is the perfect playground for anyone who loves adventure! Having constant sun allows you to fit so much into your day and also makes you feel like you don’t need sleep. On Wednesday nights the National Geographic team have been showing their new series Continent 7: Antarctica based on Scott Base itself! It’s very entertaining watching this while you are sitting next to the stars in each episode.
Bedtime: This is the most changeling part of the day when it’s bright and sunny outside you don’t feel tired at all. You have to look at the clock and put yourself to sleep. Although once you eventually head to bed and close the shutters it’s not long till you fall asleep.
This weekend is a long weekend (We get Saturday and Sunday off) in recognition of Thanksgiving! Saturday morning started off with the Turkey Trot, which was a dress up 5km run from MacTown to Scott Base and back. There was 120 very keen, fantastically dressed competitors and the kiwis represented Scott Base well. I put on a bright pink and blue spandex with a blow up floaty ring with some classic sunnies, lined up ready to race. The race was even streamed to Times Square in New York! In the evening, Scott Base was invited to join the Americans in their Thanksgiving dinner. And what a dinner it was! I even got to try Pumpkin Pie which was surprisingly really nice. The Americans take thanks giving seriously, with lots of amazing food and amazing generosity. This made for one fantastic night!
BLAKE Antarctic Ambassador 2016