This week at Davis: 18 December 2015
Davis expeditioners undertake a cooking class, take a dip in some icy water, welcome Chinese visitors and decorate for the holidays.
Cooking class for the chefs
The kitchen at Davis is no different to any other kitchen, it is full of kitchen utensils and equipment. One piece of equipment in the Davis kitchen is a Thermomix, a kitchen aid that can apparently do about eight things at once. So what happens when one of the helicopter engineers on station declares he is an expert in the use of a Thermomix? Well, he holds a cooking class for those that are interested in seeing how this apparatus works. The most interested were the station chefs Lesley, Jarrod and Sebastian.
In only a matter of minutes Kimba, our helicopter engineer, had whipped up pizza dough, followed by a dip, then came sorbet which was followed by a beautiful hot custard. Every one was pretty impressed not only in the apparatus but the fact the Kimba knew what he was doing. In the end, even Sebastian had to give his approval to the dishes that Kimba had prepared.
The best thing was we all got to eat everything that was created.
Davis summer swim
Davis is widely known as the 'Riviera of the South' with its fine and sunny conditions: below zero temperatures but at least with clear blue skies. This year Davis has also experienced some very good ice conditions late in the season. This, coupled with the fact that a large percentage of our summer team were shortly departing back to Australia, prompted a summer swim. For most it would be their first or last opportunity to have that Antarctic experience of a swim inside a hole dug in the ice.
After ensuring suitable safety precautions like the doctor's medical briefing, blood pressure checks, steps created to get out of the ice hole, a safety harness, suitably equipped and trained lifeguards, hot tea and coffee, instructions for controlled entry into the water, and a suitable warm place to get changed, nearly 40 intrepid expeditioners took the plunge for that million dollar photo opportunity.
The water at the time was a mild -1.2°C but that did not stop a single expeditioner from taking the plunge. What a great evening at Davis! For the swimmers, it is the a memory of a life time, but for those watching? A laugh a minute. The expeditioner stories in the mess that night about their swim were like fishing stories, they just got bigger and bigger.
A night like this doesn't just happen and takes a lot of work by a lot of people to make it work safely. A special thanks to Goldie, Klaus and Mark who spent a lot of their own time drilling and preparing the ice hole, and Marty and James for ensuring the safety of the swimmers.
Chinese visit to Davis
Davis received two visits this week from our Chinese counterparts who are based at Zhongshan station, about 80 nautical miles from Davis. The first was a fleeting visit by the Chinese Basler plane which was flying from Casey to Zhongshan and was giving a ride to some Davis bound passengers from Casey. The plane landed on the see ice ski landing area out the front of Davis and it was a magnificent sight to see it take off on a sea ice runway when it departed.
On Sunday, Davis was visited by a Chinese delegation who arrived by helicopter. The delegation consisted of Mr Shi Jianzuio (General Director, 32nd CHINARE), Mr Qin Weijia (Voyage Leader, 32nd CHINARE), Mr Sun Bo (Vice Voyage Leader), Mr Tan Yongxiang (Station Leader, Zhongshan) and Mr Tijun Zhang (Head of Expedition and Operations, Polar Research Institute of China). They were accompanied by a Chinese media contingent.
After the mandatory cup of tea and official welcome, there was the station tour and an opportunity for the Davis expeditioners to interact with the Chinese expeditioners. These visits always represent a great opportunity for both communities to get to know each other. On departure, the Zhongshan station leader offered a formal invitation to come and visit his station.
Being away from family and friends over the holidays can always be difficult. The best way to address that problem is to ensure that we have a great Christmas here as well. So it was all hands on the deck this week to erect a Christmas tree and put up decorations. The chefs are also busy in the kitchen preparing for our upcoming Christmas dinner.
This year Davis will also have a 'Kris Kringle', were each expeditioner pulls out a name out of a hat and then provides a Christmas gift to the person whose name has been drawn out. Some of these gifts are currently being lovingly made in the hobby hut and others had been pre-purchased as the Kris Kringle was announced prior to departure.
When Santa arrives on 25 December, he will then individually hand out the gifts and we all will feel a little bit like we're at home with family and friends. It is hard not to enjoy Christmas here as there are not to many places in Australia where you can have ice and snow on Christmas Day, and be in the company of so many friends.