Al, our GA, warned us that the first thing we will notice when we get back to Rothera is how much easier life is there than at camp. And indeed, it is all these little “nothings”, all these things we do without thinking at home or at work, that take most time here at camp.

Melting snow for drinking water

Starting from making our own drinking water: the first thing we do every morning after emerging from our cosy sleeping bag is to light up our tent stove. It is an old Primus, also popular among Bedouin communities (from one extreme to another), which is the key element to our survival here. We use it to melt snow for drinking and to rehydrate the “manfood”, these dehydrated meals that keep us going. No shower or bathroom sink here, so one can have a little wash using baby wipes that have to be carefully kept warm in the sleeping bag during the night otherwise they can be frozen solid in the morning! The last thing we do before leaving the tent for work is usually to fill up our flasks with hot water and cover our faces and hands with a thick layer of sunscreen in order to avoid dangerous burns from the sun.

Lunch is either taken far from camp or in the clam tent. Today we got lucky and enjoyed thick slices of bacon on biscuits brown in the clam tent, but typically we would have an unusual but surprisingly delicious combination of peanut butter and jam on biscuits brown.

Depending on the program of the day we try to finish work between 7 and 8 pm. And the routine resumes. Stove on, melt snow, and rehydrate the meals. Our GAs know how to keep us entertained by delivering some goodies to our tents every now and then such as cheese or pickles that are as valuable as gold here in the field. When the temperatures get too low in the tent we can light up our tilley lamp, which provides both light and heat accompanied by a comforting hissing sound. Finally before going to bed we fill up our plastic bottles with boiling water and push them down to the bottom of our sleeping bags. This guarantees a good night of sleep and warm toes until the morning!

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