Whether at home or down south, it’s nice to take a weekend break away from work and the commitments of day to day life. Last weekend we took a recreational trip to Béchervaise Island (locally Béche, pronounced Baesh) to wind down and chill out. Béche research facility is about three kilometres from station, and is accessed over the sea ice through winter, and by boat or helicopter through summer. Once summer rolls around the Adelie penguins start returning to breed, and where the penguins lead the boffins (scientists) follow, but until then we get the facility to use as our own little holiday home.
Accommodation on the island comes in the form of a melon and an apple. There is also a storage shed and another melon which the boffins use as their laboratory. The melons don’t look particularly expansive from the outside, but inside they feel quite roomy, and are easier to get around inside of than our usual shipping container huts. The living quarters has a well stocked kitchenette for the scientists return, three beds and a large table. The apple is substantially smaller, and from what I saw was mostly full of jerry cans for water storage.
After arriving on site we completed the usual ritual of unpacking all our kit, setting up the hut, and stowing the Hägglunds, our big tracked over-snow vehicle. All but one of our party — he stayed behind to have stern words with a recalcitrant door handle — went for a short walk to the peak of the island for a look at the view and some snaps of a horizon that was burning with sunset, but the wind was quite unpleasant at this point so we didn’t stay long at the top.
Back inside again, we settled down for a novelty card game (Munchkin, a RPG for those in the know) that I, facilitated by my 'Really Impressive Title', dominated in short order. After the game, I noticed that there was no more wind noise outside so I elected to go out and play with some long exposure shots of the melon while the others prepared dinner. The air was dead still and probably around -15°C so it was pretty pleasant outside, and when I came inside the results of my labours prompted the other guys to have a go themselves. Robbie lost track of time and was out until 2300 fiddling with his camera!
After a good hut sleep-in (BYO ear plugs) we had a late breakfast and then set about shutting down the huts. We took off onto the ice, travelling the scenic route to get back to station where I had just enough time to rectify the hydroponics disasters that occurred during my absence before getting down to balloon launch time.
Holidays are never long enough, are they?