See you in spring / by Jerry

Last minute things: check I've got my passport. Check I've got my travel documents. Check I've got my... ah, I'm sure it'll be fine. The main job now is to pack it all into a couple of bags and fill any remaining space and luggage allowance with luxuries (not necessarily those defined as such by UK tax).

I've done some saying goodbye to people, but others get missed as proposed last-minute get-togethers fall through, so a 'bye' email or text will have to do.

My final few bits of training and meetings have been carried out these last few days at work and I'm pretty confident I've done everything on my list (though I have lost the list so can't be 100%). The last few weeks at BAS HQ have been a little strange as the building gets less and less busy with people departing southwards. The most frequently asked question around the canteen is 'when are you off?' as people get impatient, seeing photos and updates from friends already down there.

The next few days will see me get a minibus from Cambridge to Brize Norton, plane via Ascension down to the Falklands, then join the ship, the RRS James Clark Ross. My previous experience on the JCR is a happy one with minimal sea-sickness. However other travels have indicated that this may have been a fluke, so I'll be taking myself a sea survival kit; scopoderm patches, bottle of water, packet of biscuits, plenty to read, watch and listen to. Fingers crossed I'll be able to get out on deck, looking out for albatrosses and whales, but I'll be prepared for spending a lot of time lying in my bunk.

On previous trips down I've been straight in to Bird Island, a three day crossing, but this time I'm excited to be going via Signy, the British Antarctic Survey's station on the South Orkney Islands. It'll be as far south as I've been and I'm hoping to see loads of ice and some new penguins. The base there is summer-only so we'll hang around while they get it all up and running again, which will hopefully give us some time to experience the area a little.

Then it'll be up to Bird Island, maybe calling in at King Edward Point, South Georgia on the way to say hello to a few friends.

I've been spending the last weeks before departing doing all the stuff I won't be able to over the austral summer; running and mountain biking in the hills (, getting my culture on (galleries, gigs, plays) and eating fresh fruit and veg.