4th to 6th November
We're on our way south. Three years ago, when first starting with the British Antarctic survey, it was only once I was actually on the ship and leaving the Falkland Islands that I felt it was really going to happen. Until that point it all felt a bit like a dream or a mistake. This time it's equally exciting though feels a lot more familiar, like returning home.
Our epic journey started on Wednesday with an immediate hold-up. Severe weather in the Falklands meant our flight got delayed by nine hours so we were put up in the basic hotel at Brize Norton for the night, rising by five the next morning for an early check in. I'd travelled down from Cambridge with another ten, mostly bound for the science cruise that the ship will undertake around dropping summer staff on the islands (or we'll get dropped off around the science cruise, relative importance of each depends on who you are talking to). Between us we had a huge amount of extra luggage; massive bags and boxes full of personal gear and science equipment that hadn't been ready to put on board when the ship left the UK in September. With all the extras I'd accepted I checked in my own body weight in luggage.
The journey down to the Falkland Islands is two nine-hour flights with a short stop off at Ascension Island to refuel. This is the first time I've been through Ascension when it's not been dark or foggy and even though we were not allowed to leave the departure area, 'the cage', I could enjoy the strange views over the bleak lowlands and artificial cloud forest higher up.
The view from the cage out at Ascension Island.
It was midnight by the time we arrived in the Falklands and three by the time we'd retrieved our mountain of luggage, loaded it onto the minibus and got to our B&Bs in Stanley. That night in a comfy bed was luxury.
The next day we moved onto the ship, the RRS James Clark Ross. With a crew change as well as us arriving it was a hive of activity. Luckily I had no duties so wandered into town to enjoy an ice cream in the sun.
A military band playing under the whalebone arch in Stanley.