At Davis this week: Auroras, Bandit’s, Mother’s Day and birthday cakes.

Auroras abroad

This weekend, during a trip to Bandits hut Angry, Linc, Brigid and Jan took in the night life. It is always a bonus to not only be off station for a few nights, but to then have an aurora on top of that. Some people get all the luck!

Sojourn to Bandit's

Angry, Linc, Jan, and Brigid headed off on Friday for a few days up at Bandits hut, their first time this winter through Pioneer Crossing and up Tryne Fjord to the hut on quads. They drilled along the way to make sure the ice was all above the required 40 cms for quad travel. For the most part it was above 70 cms, most not melting out over the summer.

At Bandits they took the opportunity to explore the surrounding territory, the dark, hard rock a contrast to the dust and dirt surrounding Davis at the moment. While out ,they also spotted some wildlife: snow and Antarctic petrels close to bandits and a Weddell seal near the tide crack at the Long Fjord narrows.

They also relaxed and enjoyed playing scrabble, knitting up a storm and doing crosswords. It was good to see Brigid out of that kitchen for a while. They returned Sunday afternoon just in time for chocolate overkill, but that is another story.

Mother’s Day high tea

For most of last week, every evening Mel was in the kitchen baking sweet and savoury things for a Mother’s Day high tea she had planned for Sunday afternoon.

Some of us were lucky enough to get a cooked breakfast in bed and that was plenty to keep us going until those off station had returned and the cakes and champagne were served. 

Birthday celebrations

This week, Chris our carpenter celebrated his birthday and that was good for everyone. A birthday generally means there will be cake, and we weren’t disappointed!

It was chocolate and it had everything:  icing, chocolate biscuits, and even more icing. Just have to keep in the back of your mind that it will be weigh-in again soon and the doc has to win sooner or later. Maybe not!

Doc’s Dozen with Rob ‘Angry’ Cullen

Rob (Angry) Cullen

Plant Inspector / Seal statistician / Fire team / Hydroponics team / Station yogurt maker

Angry, I know that you have previously wintered at Casey, what is it like being the Plant Inspector here at Davis?

It’s great most of the time, but sometimes I feel like a sleep deprived zombie chained to a computer that is trying to drive me insane.

What has been your best job as PI?

Just being at Davis with a great bunch of people. Counting seals every day was good, but like all good things it came to an end.

Best experience in Antarctica?

They are so many and varied it is hard to pick. One time we were checking out the Weddell seal pups near the Browning Peninsula and this emperor penguin walks up from who knows where to come check us out. He hung around for a while ‘till he got bored with all the cameras pointing at him then walked off to who knows where. He seemed very unimpressed with the people and the quad bikes.

What have you learned living in a small community?

Don’t push the pencil too hard, fly under the radar and don’t upset the chef. Brigid is unflappable but it’s still a good general rule.

Who inspires you?

People who have been dealt a hard hand in life but get on with it without complaining. There are so many unsung heroes out there who have gone through the equal of Mawson’s ordeal without any credit.

Angry, if you were a car, what would you be?

(Now this guess is going to be very tricky…do I go for high end precision engineering or something you can fix with one spanner and your eyes shut? Does John Deere make cars?)

I’d hate to be a car if you couldn’t pick your owner. Fancy waiting for Goldie (plant operator…see Doc’s Dozen 13 April 2012) to open the garage door every morning. You would know sooner or later, it is going to hurt.

What is your favourite machine here at Davis, and why is that so?

The Colchester VS2500 lathe. You can make just about anything on it and plant operators aren’t allowed to touch it. (I feel a theme emerging here!)

If you could be someone else, who would it be?

Bill Gates. He wakes up laughing every morning. Squillions of dollars for rubbish.

How did you get the nickname “Angry”?

I can’t really say, but it seems to have stuck.

What makes Angry, angry?

Since you asked…any computer that runs on Microsoft (also I could name a certain asset management program that really presses my buttons), smug comms gurus saying the problem isn’t with the computer, most electronic things especially the ones that beep if you don’t do what they expect you to do even if you have a perfectly good reason for doing it, people making the desert spoons co-habit with the soup spoons. How much time have we got? (Actually Angry, I think we’ll move on now)

Do you have any personal projects here over the winter?

I had good intentions at Casey but soon found out that there are so many things to do in your spare time that it’s best not to be too ambitious. I am working on growing lots of hair as it is good insulation but it’s not growing where it’s supposed to.

What is your favourite past time back home and what is in store when you get there?

In the past I haven’t appreciated what a good pastime sleeping is. I would like to do more of it when I get back in between lengthy bouts of putting the feet up with family and friends and playing with the grandchildren. Also, I will finish all the jobs that I left unfinished, mow the lawn and get the chainsaw out.

Thank you for your time Angry, it has been a pleasure. (…phew…thank goodness he didn’t bring up the unfortunate ‘doctor caught hooning and jumping blizz tails in the chef’s ute incident!)