It’s blogtime again! I’m sailing on the RRS
Ernest Shackleton from the UK to Antarctica via Uruguay, Falklands, Signy
and South Georgia. We left yesterday and are due to arrive at Halley around
Christmas. And that’s just the journey to get there! We all have different terms
to serve on the base but mine is for 16 months, followed by another month or
two to get home, which brings me back to the UK in a year and a half: April
2005. It’s not that long really, considering all that I’ll see and do along
the way, but I know that others in the outside world think I’m crazy. Fair enough.
A long as we’re all happy with our own lives.
So Felix, my brother (for those of you new to the site), is nagging me for
news from Immingham. He’s quite right: best to document the lows as well as
It was actually really exciting for Mum and me as we drove around, dwarfed
by Huge Lorries, past lots of Big Ships and Big Cranes next to the Big Train
Carrying Coal and other Real Things that I have only ever heard about in history
lessons about the Industrial Revolution. It was all so real, and made so much
sense compared to the gazillion office jobs out there. If you worked here you
could answer the question ‘but what do you actually DO all day?’ with a clear
conscience and simple response. But Immingham itself is fairly barren and grey
and I’m sure not at all exciting to a seasoned visitor. So we went out to Grimsby
for our final pints on Monday night instead.
There were several delays to the ship’s departure meaning that we were summoned
for Friday, and then Monday, afternoon but didn’t leave until Tuesday at 4pm.
The main dissapointment with this, of course, was that no-one was waving us
off as we left. As it turned out, that was probably a good thing since it was
cold and dark and rainy when we did finally leave and it took an age for us
to move from the quayside to the open water. I was glad that my mum wasn’t still
waving an hour and a half later (as I know she would have been) when we finally
got out of the lock.
I had been surprised at my lack of excitement with the lead up to departure.
Even when they raised the glang plank my tum was calm. As we pulled away from
the concrete wall, however, and saw a gap between Immingham quay and the side
of the ship, a surge of excitement flodded through me. WE’RE OFF! WE’VE LEFT!
HURRAH! GOODBYE IMMINGHAM,GOODBYE UK* goodbye Mum, waving me from her garden
in Cambridge, goodbye Granny, good bye friends and family and 30th birthdays
and weddings and babies and other events I’ll miss, goodbye shops for my favourite
food, goodbye long walks, goodbye anonymity, goodbye phone, goodbye independence.
It was exciting, yes, but we have months to enjoy the future and that moment
was a mix and a muddle, then it rained and got colder and we all decided that
above all, we were glad to be leaving Mingingham.
If you want to email me, leave a comment below and the email response
you get will give you my email address. Otherwise, write to rhian(at)felixsalmon(dot)com.
NO ATTACHMENTS OR PHOTOS PLEASE!!! I can also get POST if you
write to Rhian, Halley Base, Antarctica c/o BAS, Stanley, Falkland Islands,
South Atlantic. Look forward to hearing from you! Rhian.