It’s been a frustrating 24 hours down here in Antarctica. Yesterday afternoon’s fierce wind carried on through the evening and through the bright, sunny middle of the night, and when I made breakfast it was still blowing hard. The noise is never the whistling sound effect that Hollywood adds to anywhere cold, buy rather a booming and rumbling of wind on drum skin-taut fabric mixed with the hiss of spindrift that sounds like heavy rain in a fast-moving car.
After solemnly chewing my way through a bag of cashew granola, dreading the day ahead and pondering my options, I decided to sit this one out. To stay in the tent and have a rest day. This is a weighty decision to make on your own, with a colossal mileage yet to cover and a sledge with an ever-depleting supply of food and fuel. Am I being lazy or prudent? Am I setting a dangerous precedent or am I acting with wisdom and forethought?
The roaring continued until about 3pm when it settled to a sunny, fine, blue-skied afternoon and I spent a few minutes berating myself for taking it easy before a familiar rumbling started again in the distance, and soon the tent began shaking again like I’d pitched it on the roof of a lorry driving down a motorway.
I spent the day napping fitfully, carrying out some small repair jobs (mostly sewing with dental floss), cutting my nails and the bits of my moustache that were trying to get into my mouth, starting Robert Wright’s The Moral Animal, writing a few emails, and reading out the pirate jokes I’d been sent (thanks Ed!) to boost morale…
Why are pirates pirates?
Cos they just arrrrrghh!
What did the pirate say when he turned 80?
As I type this it’s still blowing hard, and I hope it softens a bit to let me sleep properly before dying down to a gentle breeze for a decent day’s travel south tomorrow. To further boost morale in the face of unlikely odds, I’m about to make one of my favourite firepot meals.