My Christmas day started (once I’d made my breakfast and hot drinks for the day) with a satellite phone interview with BBC Breakfast. I was on hold for a few minutes before the piece and caught the end of the weather forecast (conditions in Scotland and the north of England sounded less pleasant than here) and a nice story about Euston station serving Christmas lunches to more than 200 homeless people today. They interviewed Pip first (she called in via Skype so viewers saw her but I only heard her voice on a crackly line) and she became quite emotional after the last question. Then it was my turn, and despite a pang of guilt for putting Pip through all of this I tried to sound upbeat and cheery and festive. I think it went well.
A few minutes later, my beard got stuck in my zip as I donned my final Canada Goose layers to leave the tent, which was a first for me. It struck me – as I teased hairs out of plastic teeth – as quite a Christmassy problem to have; the sort of thing Santa must deal with regularly.
The forecast today was for fog and low cloud, but the weather could not have been more glorious. And for the first hour or so the surface was wonderfully flat too, until acres of minature sastrugi started popping up. The sunshine was the best Christmas present I could have hoped for today (except perhaps for a pop-up Italian restaurant at 89 degrees south) and the light was very special indeed. Someone left a comment a few days ago asking if I’d seen something Shackleton observed, ‘snowflakes yet that are finer and more like strands of hair’, and I think today I realised what both the commenter and the Boss himself were writing about, as the wind carried tiny ice particles through the air at speed, glinting and sparkling as they caught the sunlight. If I looked directly up at the sky, they occasionally appeared to be long, fine strands, but I’m almost certain this was an optical illusion. Either way, it was stunning; something I’ve never seen anywhere else on the planet, and it went some way to compensate for the effort and suffering it’s taken to get this far south.
Thank you for so many lovely Christmas messages – Pip emailed me many of your comments, and some of the familiar names in her message I haven’t heard from in two or three decades, so I’m glad you’re following on, and I hope you’ve all had a warmer and less laborious day than me today.
Lastly, the very best of luck to Kate in holding on to the Queen Mother trophy(!) and thank you to Belinda for your wonderful note in today’s food bag. It brought a lump to my throat, and I’m sending love and hugs to everyone at Manor House!