Ok! Here I am, back at Halley, my part in the Amderma relief - and all relief - has come a close for this season. Rich, my comrade-in-arms, continues to toil upon the ice shelf, hauling in stuff and soon hauling out our crap to the Shackleton, who will hang around for a few days. Meanwhile, the Amderma sails off into the blue.
A funny incident occurred on the weekend. We were just suiting up after lunch when we turned on our radios to hear "forward slash...s...h...underscore..."
Turns out that the captain of the Amderma wanted to see his ship on the Shackleton webcam, so he asked the Shackleton captain for the address. And there are no direct communications between the two ships, other than radio. Of course, they probably could have e-mailed it or skyped it (or Googled it). But, when sounding out the address over the radio proved cumbersome, they decided instead to write it on a piece of paper, give it to me, scoot me over on a skidoo, attach the paper to a 40 tonne crane, and crane the piece of paper up to the captain.
As a person sent to the Antarctic to set up a sophisticated high-speed solar-powered digital communication network, something in me died that day when I saw that web address paper affixed to the crane. Especially since it was probably faster than setting up Skype addresses on both machines.
Anyway! The call came in shortly afterwards - I was getting replaced on sea ice duty on Dec 31. So, I hopped on a German sledge and made my triumphant return to Halley. And I got back to a nice surprise! Rooms had been reshuffled and Vicky casually mentioned that I was out of the containers - that is, the Annex - and back into the Laws building. Hooray for me! My roommate is Lance, my roommate from Rothera, who I get along with just fine. So, all will be well on the accommodations front.
New Years itself was fairly uneventful. We replaced the flag at New Years, a break with Halley tradition. Usually, the old flag is lowered by the oldest winterer when the sun sets, sometime in April. A new flag is then raised by the youngest winterer, when dawn comes again (September?). However, this one was getting pretty ratty, so the ceremony was repeated for New Years. The controversy abounds among the veterans about the appropriateness of this act. However, there is going to be a lot of film footage this season, so I can see why a new flag is necessary.
And now, I'll be rummaging through all my boxes that have arrived. Some science, some personal. Stay tuned for what I may find!