Sunday, 6 February 2011

Just Been On Holiday...

Just back from a cracking 5 days walking, looking, thinking, photographing on the Barff Peninsula, about 30 mins boat journey from base. See a photo a day at my 365 project site, and a little king penguin snap here... St Andrews Bay is a huge King Penguin colony at the confluence of 3 great glaciers on the north coast of the island. Inspiring all round - incredible collection of some of nature's finest works. King penguins in the their hundreds of thousands, gentoo penguins, elephant and fur seals, reindeer, shags, sheathbills, terns, giant and storm petrels, skuas... the list goes on. Awesome, in the true sense.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Blog Not Really Working Out...

Friends, colleagues, countrymen - I am afraid that due to shameful lack of updating on this blog, and no sign of the promised improvements in frequency by the blogmaster responsible, I hereby ditch this blog in favour of a new and more dynamic photo-based project.

I hope that you will enjoy seeing 1 photo for every day of the year, with a short comment on the day or the picture. It won't necessarily be a great picture, but more likely to be something which captures some aspect of daily life on South Georgia. And beyond... but thats a bit too forward thinking. For the moment, have a look at the above link and see if i do better at updating than before.... For now, I leave you with an image I took a couple of days ago of the elusive Leopard Seal relaxing on a small piece of ice a few kilometres from the base.

Hasta pronto. Rob

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Happy Christmas!

Happy Christmas to all! Here are a few pics from the last couple of weeks...

Gentoo penguin colony - if you look closely you can see their chicks nestling at the feet of some of those on nests.

Seal specialist Alastair looking down upon the bays and beaches of Maiviken with the entrance to Cumberland Bay behind.

Looking back towards the 2 Petrels & Mt. Hodges from Mt Narval during the day a group of us completed the infamous 7 Peaks Challenge in one breezy but gloriously sunny day a couple of weeks back...

Descending Number 6 - a deceptive number given that you have to descend to sea level and walk several kilometres to begin on the 7th and final peak - Mt. Duse...

Thursday, 2 December 2010

The Last Few Weeks...

Blooming heck... time is currently moving faster than me, for the pictures below are taken up to (a number) of weeks ago! I am very aware that the photos are mostly of hills and some are even of me with other people in pretty places - and that readers may want some more meat on those bones. But right now I need to catch up. The boating trip that provided the pic below was for the dual purposes of training on the harbour launches and to take our plant expert and Government officer round to Stromness Bay to inspect the area around Husvik - one of 3 major whaling stations that used to operate in the fingers of the bay. Stromness (seen here behind me) is falling to pieces now sadly, and we are not allowed to approach it closer than 200 metres on account of the danger of inhaling airborne asbestos. But it was a pleasure to get to see it from the boats on such a beautifully clear calm day. This station is most famous back home as being the place where Shackleton's epic journey to self-salvation ended when him and his 2 companions arrived nearly dead at the Manager's Villa.

If you know where to look (and now I do!) you can see the last ridge crossing and descent made by the 3 toward the station where they heard the morning wake-up horn and knew they were going to keep their lives. It's actually a pretty powerful thing to think about when at the spot - perhaps the greatest story of human vs. world survival stories, made real by the immediacy and severity of the distance and nature of the nature involved.


Friday, 19 November 2010

Last Weekend

Last Saturday, I went up the hill right behind the base with Alastair and Ashley; a beautiful day again - we tried to remake one of the most famous images of Shackleton which was taken right at the spot where they are standing above... The results are pretty excellent - Alastair took the shot, and i'll get a copy from him and post it with a link to the original.

From the top of Mt. Duse, with the base and King Edward Cove in the back and belowground. The lake on the right is good to run around, apart from the left hand side which is boggy and covered in plants with little spiky balls on them which attach to your socks and are reluctant to let go (burnet)... By the way, its not all walking, running, jumping, smiling and eating over here - there is plenty of working, thinking, organising, scientific endeavouring, boating, mooring, un-mooring, loading, unloading, shifting, looking, remembering, enjoying, noticing, writing, cooking, cleaning, representing, communicating and a little bit of blogging happening too. More on all that in the near future.

Walking back from a ceilidh practice in the Grytviken Norwegian church, the cove nicely reflected the hills and clouds in its glassy surface. Boatman George plays fiddle, seal and penguin friend Jon plays bodhran and we will be playing for entertainment and dancing next Friday evening. The acoustics in the church are very nice, echoey and full with a good solid wooden floor - ideal for dancing on we hope. I'll attempt to record some of the sounds of that ceilidh and post here.

Readers who followed the blog from my 27 months in the Antarctic will be gladdened as I have been to see genuinely GREEN things here in the Sub-Antarctic islands. Lots of them - mosses and grasses, lichens and seaweeds. The place is teeming with plant and animal life which is a welcome change from the almost total barreness of the continent of Antarctica. And flowing water! Water in it's liquid and most drinkable form! Plenty of that too, as the snows of the upper slopes continues to melt fast in the tropical heat - we've hit 12 degrees celcius in recent days...

Well, thats all for now - I have this week been lucky enough to be involved in a long boating trip round to Stromness bay to take the Government Officer for a work trip, and also a plant expert to do some work around the abandoned whaling station of Husvik, whilst we did some boat training and I drove round Stromness and Leith whaling stations which are now sadly falling apart and can't be approached closer than 200m by order of the South Georgia Government. Pictures from that to follow soon, and some general base and work related posts eventually.

Thanks for reading,

Saturday, 13 November 2010

To King Edward Point - Music

My first piece of music since arriving on South Georgian soil is here:

(right click, then save as...)

It is made using a combination of various sounds recorded along the route to South Georgia from Kingussie in Scotland, including birds singing in the back garden of my parents house, sounds of the creaking of the ship on the sail over from the Falklands, and some sounds recorded on bonfire night by the base here at KEP - not necessarily in the order of the journey, though... The rest of the sounds are made electronically using synthesizers and played using a mini-keyboard, and the whole thing is mixed in Logic Pro 8. Imagined as the start to an eventual whole album of music inspired by the island. Comments welcome... Rob

p.s. i wil be changing a bit the sound of the electric piano as i have just listened on a a few different sets of speakers and found that it sounds a bit too harshly "attacky" in places...

Tempo Fugit

Hello again - time flies and here i am already more than a week past the last post... plenty has happened, a lot of it quite difficult to explain unless you know the setup here. Ive been doing quite a bit of running - the place is ideal for it; so much space and certain really good routes that you're able to run by yourself if the weather is good and you take a radio. So fitness is back on the agenda. I had my first bit of training on the jetboats which form the main part of our boating capability, along with 2 rigid inflatable boats (RIBs). They are amazingly agile in the water, so much so that you can move sideways as well as forward and back, and can steer the boat with out using the "steering wheel" / helm. Very interesting. It is in the interest of the base for as many people as possible to be competent or even skilled in the use of these boats as they are a main part of our search and rescue capability if something bad was to happen. Which it won't, but it's nice to know we have such quality resources. Pictures of such things will no doubt appear soonish...

Anyway for now here are a couple of photos: of the view over to Grytviken:

Above, almost the same view last night and this morning - as you can see beautifully calm, just stunning! The pic below i took last night when a few of us were invited on board the small cruis ship the "Polar Star" for a barbecue, which was pretty impressive. The fruit carving skills of the chefs on there are unrivalled...

There was a coolish shelf on the end of the barbecue which was a perfect place to rest my camera for a bit of interesting photography after the food had departed onto plates and into stomachs... An exposure of about 4 seconds.

More soon! Rob