Happy Midwinter

Midwinter is always a special time, and this year – for some of us – especially so. Today is the tenth anniversary of our midwinter at Halley. Happily, it seems we must have had a good time as most are still eager to stay in contact, even if we’re not always that regular at it. Two of us now live in New Zealand and we just had a skype call with another seven who have gathered in Yorkshire (along with their families), and one who joined by skype from a north sea oil rig. Of the other eight, I still hear from three of them and I wouldn’t be surprised if the remaining five maintain contact in their own ways.

Some of the stories and memories are vivid, but others needed jogging. I was reminded of little things, like when we tried to make ketchup, got over-excited by our first storm (and told off by the base commander), when the girls got snowed-in the caboose, the smell of Nido (I was living quite happily without that recollection) and sound of squeaky snow under foot.

I loved the winter and I’d do it again if I could guarantee the same crowd, or similar, and the same base – which now no longer exists, and the same people in the larger project, and the same naivety (only allowed once). All those have changed. But the essence, I hope, is the same. The stars and aurora, sastrugi and fogbows, mirages and ever-lasting dawn…. when it eventually arrives. Those long, long shadows.

I don’t follow the blogs of people who are down there now, and I rarely follow stories of current Antarctic science or adventures. I like to keep my own untarnished, rose-tinted, memories sealed in a very precious, and only occasionally opened, box.

Everyone looked and sounded exactly the same. Despite the arrival of new partners and kids, houses and jobs, responsibilities various. At heart, we’re still the same people, and our Halley – as we knew it – is unchanged.