star wars

The Saturdays by Jerry Gillham

During the summer season we crowd around the dinner table at meal times, discussing our day, points of interest and news from home. In winter however, when it's dark from early evening and there's only four of us, things get more informal. TV dinners become a regular thing and meal times vary depending on when people fancy eating. Routine though is the best way to stay sane so we keep up our formal three-course meals on Saturdays.

It's nice to be able to put more thought into what you're making, maybe try something new for starter, put aside a day to preparing a memorable evening. Here's the menu from my most recent Saturday cook:

Starter: Italian-style spring rolls.

Slightly odd, they were inspired by a Gino D'Acampo recipe and by the fact that I had some spring roll casings that I'd managed to bring from the Falklands (I've never seen them anywhere else but there, they sounded like a good idea for something different).

They didn't necessarily turn out as I'd intended. One of the problems was that when dropped into the fryer the air inside them expanded rapidly and burst them open.

A few exploded spring rolls.

A few exploded spring rolls.

One of the better ones. There was enough for one good one each (which was roughly a 30% success rate - don't think I'll be opening my own Chinese / Italian restaurant).

One of the better ones. There was enough for one good one each (which was roughly a 30% success rate - don't think I'll be opening my own Chinese / Italian restaurant).

Main course: Gnocci roasted pumpkin and tomato sauce and chorizo (or chorizo-style quorn). Garlic bread.

This was a course I had much higher hopes for. I've made my own gnocci before but only about once a year because of the huge faff it is, despite taking as many short cuts as I can (mash tinned potatoes in the blender, mix with flour in the bread maker). Nevertheless it does allow you the joy of brightening up the meal with food colouring.

Tri-colour gnocci in the collander.

Tri-colour gnocci in the collander.

Ok, I was pleased with how this course turned out.

Very happy with this meal, however I won't be cooking it again for a while.

Very happy with this meal, however I won't be cooking it again for a while.

Dessert: Double chocolate brownie in white-Russian ice cream.

We've been experimenting a bit with our ice-cream maker this season, and what is more natural to make into ice cream than The Dude's drink of choice? Like many of our attempts I didn't leave it long enough to freeze properly so it was better the next day, that that was left over. The brownie recipe is heart-stoppingly calorific, so just a small chunk is enough, and it makes a great snack for taking into the field on subsequent days.

You have to spend all day exercising to work off a piece this size (that is a normal size bowl and teaspoon).

You have to spend all day exercising to work off a piece this size (that is a normal size bowl and teaspoon).

 

Entertainments

It is the responsibility of the chef to come up with the entertainments for the night too. Often this will be a board game or a quiz... something to bring everyone together having a laugh. We have variously appropriated Monopoly, Cluedo and Guess who to give them more Bird Island relevance.

Recently Tim hosted a Saturday Nintendo night, with a set of challenges based around wii games and costumes essential.

Usually Saturdays require a more formal attire, but rules can be waived in special circumstances. [Photo by Ian Storey]

Usually Saturdays require a more formal attire, but rules can be waived in special circumstances. [Photo by Ian Storey]

We had to wait a while for the new Star Wars film so its screening was always going to be a special occasion.

We had to wait a while for the new Star Wars film so its screening was always going to be a special occasion.

Up above the clouds. by Jerry

Here's a few picture updates of what's been happening:

The Southern Giant Petrels are just starting to fledge.
The white morph was still there today but who knows about tomorrow.

Visitors from colder waters... the return of the Leopard Seals.

And visitors from warmer climes... a few lost Cattle Egrets.

More Elephant Seals hauled out.

Weird weather; low clouds rolling across the sea and engulfing the peaks and ridges.

A rare opportunity to get up above the clouds and look down on base.

May 4th be with us for Star Wars Day.
I attached this picture to a few emails to friends and have not heard from any of them since.

Jerry.





The Empire Strikes Bird Island by Jerry

This weekend saw the annual Antarctic 48 hour film festival. Across the continent and outlying islands bases of various nationalities put aside their work (although we still managed things like the daily Leopard Seal round) and became writers, directors, actors and editors.


Late on Friday we got sent a list of five elements, picked by last year's winners, that we were required to put in our film. These were; a ping-pong ball, a bathtub, the line 'voulez vous couche avec moi, ce soir?', the character of 'the gingerbread man' and the sound effect of an actual sneeze. Steph bravely supplied the latter by selflessly standing with a dictaphone and throwing pepper in her own face. The others required some creative thinking and alternatives (no, we don't have a bath tub).

We had a few Star Wars costumes hanging around from a fancy dress evening and thought it'd be fun to put them on and play around. So we quickly knocked up a story, recruited some animal extras and built some props.

Steph and Craig filming the opening sequence with a home-made Tie fighter.
 There was loads of snow over the weekend and with temperatures below -5C we were well wrapped up, usually with costumes over the top. The wind has now changed direction and just four days later it's back up to summer temperatures of 4C.

Gingerbread Star Wars characters.
Friday evening was spent writing the script and putting together costumes. Then on Saturday we got up early, got dressed up and started running round like fools. By the evening we were done with our filming and moved to the arduous task of editing. This took up most of the following day too, with everyone getting involved with certain scenes, but by tea time on Sunday we were done. One group viewing on the big screen and I started uploading it to the competition site.


I think you can see how much fun we had making it by the barely suppressed grins and giggles. A good number of blooper scenes made it into the final edit and, despite how many times I've seen certain scenes during the editing, there are bits that continue to make me laugh.

I hope you enjoy it too.


Jerry

'Do a force and that', like it says in your film. by Jerry

Star Wars Day

The 'any reason to celebrate' theme continued on May 4th, being International Star Wars Day. After a day out setting up a camera at an albatross colony, taking in electronics from a penguin colony and checking on fledged geeps I returned with little time to work on my costume.

A Tusken Raider, Darth Vader, Darth Maul and Porkins celebrate Star Wars day. 
I never fail to be amazed at the creativity of people when properly getting into the swing of fancy dress. Unfortunately, Darth Vader, Porkins and I were all rather warm and facially challenged when it came to eating, so the costumes didn't stay on too long.
'Don't play with your food'.
'But it's pasta Jedi knights'.
Amazingly, Craig had cooked a Star Wars themed meal - pasta in the shape of Jedi knights, TIE fighters, Millenium Falcons and Death Stars (alright, that's an easy one).

Darth Maul playing detective in a respectable English country mansion.
Following a game of Cluedo we sat down to watch Star Wars Uncut - the brillian fan remake. 


Some actual work

As usual, the first of the month saw the Wandering Albatross nesting survey. Again I headed east to the end of the island and meandered back again checking on chicks. Happily almost all of them are still alive and looking fat and fluffy enough to give encouragement for their winter chances.

Wandering Albatross chicks appreciating the good weather.
Adult Wandering Albatrosses overlooking Bird Sound. 
Albatross not yet decided whether to creep past or take off.
While out and about I was also checking on rat-boxes. These are specially designed boxes with bait balls that I have to check for any signs of nibbling to ensure we keep the island rat-free. It's well documented how much chaos and devestation rats can cause to ground-nesting birds and Bird Island is lucky in its inaccessibility that it's never been home to rats. Well one of these rat boxes made a good nesting spot for a pair of Storm Petrels, whose fluffy chick is growing up nicely in there.

Fluffy Storm Petrel chick in a rat-box.
I also managed a bit of exploring - down to the coast by Mountain Cwm which is open now the seals have mainly departed.

Find of the day; a good quality volleyball. Made in China, shipped to Argentina, played with by beautiful South Americans on a beach (I assume), lost at sea, washed up on Bird Island.
Interestingly the O has been pecked out in each spot, geeps trying to peck out its eyes perhaps?
Natural Arch, still home to a few seals.
Gentoo Penguin playing with rocks. They've been engaging in a bit of nest-building. Not seriously, but just keeping their spots looking smart and owned.
Skua washing itself.

Jerry.