To mark the halfway point and add some excitement to the darkest days during the Antarctic winter we celebrate midwinter’s day with a whole week off. It started with a bar crawl of sorts where we turned rooms around the station into themed bars. The night started in the surgery where catheters full of Guinness made for some bizarre photos. Next up was the science bar in the field prep room, where our talented science team had made pouring contraptions and glowing ice sculptures refill our drinking beakers. Finally, upper obs allowed a more relaxed atmosphere for the end of the evening with a sky bar complete with air traffic control, radars and coded weather reports doubling as a cocktail menu. It was a great night which marked the start of a week of celebrations.
Midwinter’s day itself was relaxing for most, I was on met duty as ever, and kicked off with a call to the UK to speak with the winterers from 1966. There were holding a reunion of their own and were delighted to hear how life at Halley is like today. They were most interested in how we communicate and send data back to Cambridge, whereas our team was transfixed by the dog sledging days. First of all they made regular trips to the continent and even as far as the Shackleton mountains, whereas nowadays we can’t find safe routes across anymore, but also they had dogs to keep them company during the cold dark days of winter.
We nibbled on delicious snacks coming from the kitchen during the call and then sat down for dinner proper. A full 7 course meal with lobster tail, terrine, springbok, sorbet, trio of desserts followed by mince pies and Christmas cake made for a feast fit for kings. Defeated we had an intermission before finishing dessert and later watched the original movie “The Thing” which is based in Antarctica as is tradition to finish the day.
The traditional midwinter presents made in secret by each winterer for each other were proudly presented and displayed with an extraordinary high standard. It is difficult enough to make something from scratch, let alone be limited to the few tools and materials available on station.
The rest of the week we relaxed and watched more movies. A valiant attempt at some winter Olympic games was made, but sadly an unfortunate slip in the snow put an end to that. Thankfully everyone was happy enough to relax and enjoy some well-deserved time off.