06 Weekly News 18 december 1998

Dear All

We did eventually get away for our break back in the civilised world of Husvik. The RFA Gold Rover came round with the army boat aboard, on a windy horrible day and took us round the two bays in about twenty minutes, compared to the five hours it takes us to trek. Sadly the weather was so foul they didn’t have much chance to explore so everyone came indoors for endless coffees and teas with the fire lit to thaw everybody out.

Now we are back to the sooty corner of a warehouse which serves for a home in Leith. We are no longer just the two of us. Back at Husvik we found Nick and Paul who are working on a project known as the Dan Plan. These two are specialists in oil contamination and environmental pollution. They are also decent fellows whose company we are thoroughly enjoying, so much so we have persuaded the Captain of Endurance to let them stay ashore for Christmas. Old Halley mucker Phil Anderson will also be joining us…so much for the Christmas I had envisaged where for the first time it would be just the two of us. On boxing day our three will get picked up by helicopter, and a small group from the garrison including Paul, Pat’s replacement ,will walk in from Carlita Bay for another party. It should be fun, especially as the pilot of Endurance’s helicopter took a huge list of booze we would like. I think the Captain is so pleased we are taking all his civvies off him he would do anything for us. They have agreed to lift our tools over to Stromness on the 22nd, where they can stay until we are ready to do some work again after the festivities. Oh yes, I also asked for a chicken. We haven’t got any way of cooking a turkey, but my one tin of chicken I had put by will not go far between five!

The walk back to Leith from Stromness was positively enjoyable. We picked some higher routes and were able to look down on the fur seals and call “yah boo sucks”. This was a huge improvement on the beach route and doing battle with territorial males. The bit in to Stromness through tussock on a steep slope at two hundred feet was more stressful. No easy way and leg shakingly precipitous. Maybe the fur seals were the better bet here, especially as the tussock route took a lot longer. At Stromness we met up with the lads again who looked at us like we were mad when they saw we were walking in wellies. There are several streams to cross and plenty of boggy ground so nothing else seems very practical.

Walking on to Leith again, the top route was a dream, but to our amazement we met a little black fur seal pup two hundred feet up a scree slope above the beach. Cute now but not behaviour to be encouraged – don’t want the wretched thing blocking the high road when he gets older. Goodness knows what it thought it was doing. As we got to Leith we encountered a large herd of reindeer who seemed so unconcerned at our presence that we could walk to within ten feet of them before they would stop grazing and wander on a few yards.

Work continues well, though we could do with some sunshine so I can start painting the concrete headstones. With the rain preventing use of power tools outdoors, Pat has been digging around in the town cemetery and has unearthed a few concrete grave surrounds, one of which had a bronze plaque which has not seen the light of day for decades. With the lift of tools to Stromness organised for four days time, we are keeping our fingers crossed for a good day or two so that we can get the necessary drilling done before the generator gets helicoptered away.

At Leith on a still day the all pervading burger and onion smell of the bull fur seals hangs over everything. As I write the all pervading smell of smoke hangs over everything. The wind is in the North and the stove is blowing back.

One more message from us before Christmas…hope you are all going to lots of parties and carol concerts.

Tonnes of love Sarah and Pat

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