Archive for December, 2011


A message from Rocky the Penguin to P2M

December 20, 2011   

I was given the below message for the boys and girls at Edinburgh Academy by an Emperor penguin called Rocky.


Dear P2M Boys and Girls,

Thank you so much for making my last few days before I headed home so enjoyable. Where should I begin, well the P1/2 nativity was spectacular, the ‘Penguin Party’ for Alex’s 6th Birthday was amazing…I’ve never known a penguin party could be so much fun and then you invited me to your own Christmas Party – I thought it was great fun and I could see on all your faces that you were enjoying it too! Well done for playing the pass the parcel game so well as I know you all wanted to hold on to that present until the music stops– I think I will introduce that game to all my friends and wrap a fish in baby penguin down feathers!

As you can see from the pictures attached, I have now arrived safely home in Antarctica and I have gone through a major change since you last saw me. I have lost my down feathers and have matured into an adult Emperor Penguin – it feels so good to not look like a big grey fluff ball!

I would like to thank you so much for everything you have done since I first stepped into your lives all those weeks ago. You cared for me so well and I learnt so much from watching you work so hard in the classroom. The adventures I had when I left your classroom for home will stay with me for the rest of my life and I can’t wait to tell all the other penguins about the truly amazing stories I have witnessed – I bet they won’t believe half of them.

You are all a fantastic bunch and I hope you all have a super Christmas holiday and work hard for the rest of P2!

Love you lots,



P.S I will email you later in the year to hear how you are getting on!

South Georgia Farewell Dinner

December 18, 2011   

Gentoo Pie – obviously without real gentoo!

The amazing menu Sam put together.

The table setting was beautiful with the SG flag flying on the back wall.

Tussock floral arrangements.

Tussock spears with dip as a nibble.

Gin and Tonic penguin jelly.

My boots are well and truely worn in! The stitching is now all gone so it is a good thing I am leaving the Island.

Busy Friday


Penguins in the early morning as we arrived back at base at 7:00am from camping.

The boys loaded the helicopters that Matt and Graham had packed into the containers onto the FPV. While I got Pipit ready for HMS taxi duty. Matt had left with Prion and Alert to finish up the two mapping sites at the Busen.

The HMS Montrose came to anchor so I took James and Pat over to go aboard and sort out the logistics of their visit. This picture shows their helicopter which was taking aerial photos for mapping and our jet boat acting as a taxi. We landed around 140 people during the day for a brief visit.

I had to fully clean my room ready for the next person. Including taking apart the drains and getting them all spick and span.

Just before dinner we had time for a quick walk to Grytviken and over by the Albatross there was a kelp gull chick hanging out in the rocks by the water.

Yet another newborn along the track still with umbilical cord.

Last Thatcher Summit

December 17, 2011   

Up early to get some fudge made for christmas presents for those on base. White chocolate and baileys and a plain chocolate one. Then I was able to pursuade John to come for a walk with me to ‘the lump’. That is the unamed peak between stenhouse and Harpon. My last peak to climb on the Thatcher.

On the way down the track we said hello to the ever growing number of pups.

We stopped for lunch on a windy Pinnacle Pass with an awesome view of Cumberland West and East Bay.

Our objective – The Lump.

John contemplating the beautiful scree slope!

To our delight we came across two small gentoo colonies on our way to Harpon from the lump. So it was like going to Maiviken as well which was perfect to spend a little time with the chicks.

We even got some Kings in a river between The Lump (in the background) and Harpon hut.

Third time lucky. Finally made it overland to Harpon Hut. There were two Giant Petrels nesting next to the hut. Made just enough time for John to have his cup of tea and then it was a fast trip back to base in less than two hours as we needed to make it back in time for a South Georgia themed dinner prepared by Sam.

Last Camp

December 15, 2011   

It was windy all day but at 5pm John, Tommy and myself headed off to Maiviken Cave for a last camping trip for myself. We stopped off at the hut and picked up some old wood for a camp fire and headed on down to Papua beach which was teaming with seals. John hasn’t really found his love of them however, I am sure that will change!

The view from the cave was beautiful. Tommy and I decided to bivvy outside the cave but Tommy was scared he might wake up with a furry breathing down his neck so he created a fortress with wood!

We arrived just in time for scheds and dinner. I cooked up some of the chilli that I dehydrated a few weeks back. It was much better than the freeze dried pack n go’s. Off to sleep early as we had to get up at 5:15am to get back for work at 7:15. I will miss the easy camping trips.

Christmas has come

December 14, 2011   

My big taxi has arrived however, I am determined to get into the christmas spirit before leaving KEP hence the santa hat!

We decorated the Church and KEP bar today with the OTEP crowd coming to help.The museum folk did a great job of making lots of tasty goodies and mulled wine was served to keep everyone happy. What we need is someone to donate some tasteful decorations to the church as some of the ones we have are a bit cheesy! But it got lots of people together and was still great fun. Ali did a timelapse like last year which I am sure he will post on his website soon.

Ali was wrapped by Katie in decorations!

The boys helped to decorate the gingerbread house. Thank you to Mum who sent down the sweets to put on the house. I made the house from scratch and it was a bit draughty kind of like South Georgia huts!

Sarah and Sally came to help as well. The end result was not as ordered and beautiful as last year but it will be fun for everyone to break it on christmas day.

Our bar nicely decorated. The base decided on a single tree this year instead of a forest!

Hide and Seek

December 12, 2011   

So picture of a cupboard! Basically the FPV needed to do a stoaway exercise and I was asked to hide so the guys aboard could try and find me. They didn’t despite opening the cupboard door.

Tom’s cupboard was full of camping gear so I jumped into his sleeping bag and put myself under the bags etc. The guys opened the door twice and the second time actually patted me on the head. I had to stop myself from giggling.

Me inside the sleeping bag! Stuart the 2nd mate had to come and yell that it was time to come out and I had to get him to open up the door to let me out! The day went downhill after that with more report writing!

After work it was time to climb Duse and rush down in time for my last cruise ship dinner aboard Plancius.

Rainy Maiviken

December 11, 2011   

No one else was into going out on Sunday as it was raining and blowing however, Ali was heading over to Maiviken for work so I tagged along.

It was raining and a bit blowy but great to see the chicks at the gentoo colony and the beach full of furry pups.

Busy Boating

December 10, 2011   

We have Adrian Fox at base he came in on the Plancius on Thursday to map the Busen and Barff Peninsulas. Adrian is head of MAGIC which is the mapping division of BAS. Basically he is ground truthing the aerial photos that were taken by a military helicopter. The way he does this is to find easily reconizable featuers on the photos and then we take him there by boat.

At each site he sets up a tripod with a GPS which looks at 12 satellites over an hour. It logs the positions and after this is inputted into a program the position given is accurate to within 5cm. Normal handheld GPS’s are accurate to within 5-10m.

Friday and Saturday we boated for about 5 hours and then 9 hours. Today (Saturday) we went on an extended trip to Stromness Bay.

The wind was around 25 knots in the morning outside Cumberland Bay and it built to 40 knots in the afternoon. We were lucky enough to be going downwind coming home in 2 meter swells.

The beaches were very furry and after two seal bit incidents in the last 3 weeks everyone is a little bit less cocky around the furries. I only went ashore at Husvik as we were at anchor where as the other two sites this afternoon were not anchorable coves so instead we drifted with the engines off to save fuel.

Last night after a long day where we got back at 6pm I was on cook so I made a choice of steak and chips, beer battered fish and chips and toothfish fillets with cajun seasoning grilled and a clarified butter and lemon sauce on with bell pepper sticky rice. A dessert of lemon tart. It was a bit of a rush to get it ready for a 30 minute late dinner time of 7:30.

We then went out on a night trawl for the benthic science program just off base so didn’t get finished till past 11pm by the time the boats were away. We were up and working at 7am as we needed to finish getting the boats ready for the trip to Stromness.

Tomorrow is a day off and I hope to get to the last peak on the Thatcher if I can persuade someone to go with me. Tommy is off with Kalinka and Katie at Harpon and Rob has gone for four days to Fortuna to help with the rat catching OTEP work.

Emptying the cupboards

December 8, 2011   

I spent the morning helping Sarah out at the museum emptying all the cupboards over there of excess outdoor equipment much of which is very outdated being from the early 80’s.

It seems such a shame to be throwing out all the military snowshoes and skis. In fact I am bringing a set of each home as I can’t bare to see them be thrown in the tip. Maybe when I have a house they will look good above the fireplace. When the military garrison left it seems they left behind a full set of skis and snowshoes. Sarah kept a certain amount of military gear as it will soon be considered artefacts for in the museum.

I was able to snag a hard ski transport case which will be useful to get my skis home in one piece and also a few other bits and bobs including some arctic warefare tent booties which after a wash will be perfect to keep my toes warm up Aconcaqua.

Yet another stunning morning giving way to rain in the afternoon. I am trying to savour as much of my time left on this amazing island.