Tuesday, December 16, 2008

And even wilder scenery...

From the window of the plane when I was lucky enough to venture further afield:

Happy Christmas and a very Merry New Year!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

A 'Dingle Day' at last!
When the sun finally comes along and lights up this place after days spent under a giant white blanket of cloud and snow, it feels like the curtain has been lifted on a world inconceivable only hours ago. Days like today are beyond description in English but in Antarctican we call them 'dingle days'. When the snow sparkles and each face of a mountain is glowing in a different shade. The sea shimmers and, around the base of icebergs, takes on an incredible turquoise colour that could never be mixed. When everywhere you look, you find yourself staring transfixed and unable to take it in. When the thin strands of high ice cloud appear as if they are trying to frame the view. When nothing quite looks real. When the scene in front of you is so breathtakingly beautiful that you can't think beyond the present moment.
I set off from the base, below, to marvel at the raw beauty that surrounds it...

A lonely penguin dwarfed by the icebergs that act as a safe haven for it to escape the lurking leopard seal.
A seal sunning itself on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
After a day out enjoying the stunning weather, including carving some turns on my board at the local ski resort - Vals, I prepared for a night spent weather watching. The recent bad weather has left us with a back logs of field parties to fly out so today 24 hour operations were called for. I'm duty met tonight and it suits me just fine as I can enjoy a few more shades of magic as the light slowly shifts and the clouds start to roll in. Soon the splendour will be hidden behind a veil once again so I'm happy to catch every moment.

I'll try and write a bit more about my job here soon.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Underground, Overground...

Welcome to the one or two extra followers my blog seems to have aquired of late, hope you enjoy a glimpse of this slightly otherworldy corner of the earth.

After all those photos of the mindblowingly beautiful crevass just up the hill from Rothera, here's a photo of me slithering my way through said ice cavern:

Below you see me making the most of a sunny interval amidst what seemed like a neverending storm. The high winds that day were creating some excellent flying saucer like 'lenticular' clouds over the ridge behind the base. I skied out for a spot of wildlife watching around Rothera Point and bumped into (almost literally) a few cuddly Weddell seals and some Adelie penguins, waddling their way through life in what appears to be a charmingly oblivious fashion.

I'm currently featured on a women in science blog, have a look if you want to find out how I ended up here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Easy Come, Easy Go

My first voyage to Antarctica involved 10 weeks on board a ship, crossing the equator then on southwards via various little known islands and eventually bashing through ice nall the way to the ice cliffs of mainland Antarctica. This time, I left the UK on Wednesday afternoon and touched down on the Antarctic Peninsula in time for lunch on Friday.

The photo above shows the Dash 7, the British Antarctic Survey's 'passenger jet' that brings people in and out of Rothera Research Station from late October to early March. It lands on wheels on a runway kept clear of snow and can even make it further south to land on blue ice runways. This morning the Dash 7 left Rothera bound for Punta Arenas in southern Chile. Amongst it's 14 or so passengers and crew was Matt Balmer, who's just finished 2 and a half years working as an electronics engineers down here without once leaving. When the plane returns tomorrow morning, it will bring the Dutch crown Prince and Princess, on a weekend trip south as part of their world tour monitoring the effects of global climate change.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Where am I?

On my way south again!

Punta Arenas is a small city on the southern tip of Chile, that's where I'm staying at the moment whilst I wait for the weather to fly across the Drake passage to Rothera Research Station on the Antarctic Peninsula. As you can see from the map, I'm not going as far south as I was last year at Halley. In the rest of Antarctica the peninsula is known as the 'banana belt' as it's actually not that cold at all! Summer temperatures rarely drop far below zero and even in winter (winter temperatures have risen by almost 6 degrees Celcius over the past 50 years or so) it's often warm enough to safely lick metal. Is this the real Antarctic? Who cares...it has mountains a plenty and I've packed my snowboard...bring it on!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Pole to Pole
I've swapped penguins for polar bears this summer and am currently camping in the Arctic. I'm on an island called Spitsbergen, part of a group fo Norwegian islands called Svalbard, about 600 miles from the north pole. I'm a science leader for a group of budding young meteorologists on a BSES (British Schools Exploring Society) expedition.
You can see updates on the progress of the expedition over the coming month here, click on Svalbard summer '08.
Enjoy the summer!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Something to listen out for...

For those of you who might be interested, fellow metbabe Dave Evans and I will be on radio 4 tomorrow (Tuesday) at 9.30 in the morning.

The programme is called Team Spirit and it's all about team dynamics.

Anyway, if you miss it you can listen again on the BBC website.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Zebra crossing...
Possibly my favourite photo so far!
The lazy lions who kindly refrained from eating my tour guide as he jumped out of the truck right infront of them to rescue my sunglasses, fallen from my clumsy head. Cheers JoJo.
Pretty (and slightly scary) thunder cloud
Muchos giraffes
Above- Crazy Namibian rocks, Below- Crazy Namibian skies
Namibian Rock Art

Susie chimney head in Barcelona

Some building I quite liked

Me escaping a city, as usual

You may have noticed a change of scenery in some of these photos. Yes, I am now in the continent I call home and have met up with one or two friendly faces. Ieven made it out to the hills of Andorra for some gravity assisted snowboarding but I was far too excited to take any photos. After a few more days in Barcelona I´ll be off to Northern Norway to talk about ice and snow, then Austria to play with ice and snow, then finally home (I´ll be in Warkworth on the 13th April with photos of ice and snow a plenty). I´m thinking of meeting up in Newcastle/the Masons the last weekend of April and London in early May but I´ll keep you posted. Can´t wait to catch up over a pint!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

A totally surreal, empty but amazingly beautiful country from what I've seen so far. In one week we've covered a lot of ground from swimming in the Orange River at the border to the adventure capital Swakopmund where I finally got to do some gravity assisted sandboarding.
Dead trees in the Namib desert. My god it was too hot for my poor Antarctic adapted body but it was stunning.
Below: Looking back up at the best dune running slope ever and all the people about to follow in my footprints...
Watching sunrise up Dune 45 in the Namib desert, a well deserved rest after a hard climb (well worth it for the run down)
Namibia's national tree: the quiver tree

Just before sunset at Fish River Canyon, the oldest canyon in the world and it certainly felt like the hottest too (although apparently it's 10 degrees hotter at the bottom!)

Saturday, February 23, 2008


I haven't updated my blog for ages. That's because I've been ...

Watching buffalos and warthogs drinking at a waterhole,
chilling on a beach on the deserted Wild coast,

trying not to get eaten by an Elephant,

Canoeing down a stunning gorge,
Resting my weary backside after pony trekking to a remote village in Lesotho and...
looking back over the Drakensburg mountains from half way up the Sani pass that crosses the border to Lesotho.
I've also been playing with cute Basotho kids that loved posing for photos,

launching myself down a waterfall zipline course,

Riding an elephant
Making mud bricks and smearing them with cow dung,
And kite surfing...look, I'm actually standing up (it's harder than it looks).

enough excuses.

Off to Namibia tomorrow so will try and update in a couple of weeks time. After Namibia, Barcelona...see you soon!

Thursday, January 31, 2008

On holiday
Just a few quick snaps to give an idea of the things I'm up to. Went Paragliding over Cape Town yesterday. The real world continues to surprise and delight me (apart from the traffic jams!).
Wine (and cheese tasting). I went round the cheese tasting 3 times.

Sunset from the Lion's Head next to Table mountain. This is where I went paragliding too.

Never frozen cheese tastes oh so good.

A lovely refreshing break from the 43 degree heat that I could never even have imagined a month or two ago.