The first week working for BAS has just flown by – we’re half way through the second week in Cambridge, and this is the first chance I’ve had to sit down and update the blog.
I arrived in Cambridge last Sunday, and met Chris, my new boss, and Ian, who will be my opposite number at Halley Station. Chris has very kindly offered Ian and me a couple of rooms in his house to save us looking for temporary lodgings in the area, since we’ll only be around for a couple of weeks before heading off on courses.
No sooner had I taken the last of my bags out of the car than we were off for a ‘welcome’ curry in the village. Now, those who know me will know that I Don’t Do (tm) curry, but Chris had arranged this in advance, so I ended up getting Indian 101 with a chicken tandoori and some onion bhajis, which surprised me by not tasting of onion in any way. I might have to try being a bit more adventurous next time…
Monday was an endless succession of names and faces as Ian and I were taken on a grand tour of BAS and introduced to just about everyone. I’m hoping that some of the faces will start to stick as we meet people again in the next few weeks; I’m afraid most flowed straight over me as we were asked “So, who’s going to which base?” about 300 times.
Turns out Chris has a sideline as a canoe and kayak instructor, so to try and regain a bit of sanity after the madness of the initial meeting-and-greeting he took Ian and me out onto the water for a few hours after work on Monday evening. Fortunately I didn’t take my camera along for the ride – we took some open canoes out, and everyone ended up getting very wet practising capsizing and rescues. The highlight of the evening was seeing Chris roll an open boat; very tricky, and much slower than a kayak, but impressive when it works.
Tuesday and Wednesday were mainly spent booking our travel and accommodation for our forthcoming training courses. Ian and I will be spending most of the time between now and when we head South on courses of one kind of another. The courses are spread around the country, from Aberdeen to the Isle of Wight, and co-ordinating how we are both going to be getting around the place and where we will be staying is a lot more work than it might sound!
Thursday brought a very early start! BAS operates two icebreakers: the RSS Ernest Shackleton and the RSS James Clark Ross. The JCR is currently in Portsmouth Naval Dockyard undergoing her annual refit; this year the refit includes a complete overhaul of all her radio systems, so we were up at 05:30 to beat the traffic on the M25 and pay a visit to the ship. We were met by Mike Gloistein, GM0HCQ, the radio officer on board, who arranged a tour of the ship for us. Since the ship was in dry dock, we also got to have a walk around underneath her – not something you do every day, but quite worrying when you see all the holes that have been cut for transducers and other scientific equipment… Despite that, seeing the ship made everything seem a bit more real, and I’m sorry that I won’t get to sail to Rothera; a few weeks on board would be a great introduction to my time down South, but it seems likely that I’ll be flying to Rothera via the Falkland Islands, courtesy of the R.A.F.