2004 Expedition Blog - Day 1

Date:

Friday, 10 September 2004, 23:30

From:

David Buckland

Expedition:

2004 Expedition

Subject:
Friday afternoon and at last we arrive in Longyearbyen
Attachments: 1 image

Loading the equipment aboard the Noorderlicht in Longyearbyen Friday afternoon and at last we arrive in Longyearbyen after a day of flights. Last night we stopped in Oslo where we were guests of the British Council, which gave the whole Cape Farewell team a chance to get to know each other (12 of the team sailed together on the last Cape Farewell expedition). I spend a very enjoyable evening with Sarah Prosser, the director of the British Council Norway, bring her up to date with Cape Farewell aspirations and reviewing ways in which we could perhaps work together in the future.

Friday seemed to be a day of loading and unloading our copious amounts of scientific equipment and video and sound cameras on and off airplanes. Longyearbyen was a very landing with more loading and unloading onto buses and finally the glorious sight of the Noorderlicht and crew.

Finally all is stored away and we repair to base camp for a welcome beer and finally a superb dinner on board supplied by Anna the cook. Plans for the next few days are drawn up, our education program discussed at length, a double film shoot schedule is drawn up (we are shooting both an education film directed by Colin Izod and arts documentary directed by David Hinton) and artists discuss their work and make plans. The evening finally gets dark after the longest dusk I have ever witnesses and bed is very welcome.

David Buckland

Date:

Friday, 10 September 2004, 23:22

From:

Michèle Noach

Expedition:

2004 Expedition

Subject:
Greetings from the extreme far North
Attachments: -

Well, as you say, greetings from the extreme far North. I'm tapping away on a kindly gentleman's laptop (Thomas Hardy eat your heart out) and it's 2 degrees on deck but the hot butter teacakes are compensating nicely. We are being fed as if there was no tomorrow, which I really hope is not the case. We got here by three flights into increasingly white lateral light.

First to Oslo, where we ate some Turkish food and slept. Then onto Tromsø and its airy clean superScando airport where we boarded the plane for Longyearbyen. This was a tiny airport with a yellow line a metre away from the baggage carousel with strict instructions not to breach this line till you identified your bag. The SECOND the carousel cranked into action all one hundred passengers surged forward and no-one could see any bags at all. There was a great deal of broad smiling going on.

Outside it was snowing wetly, sideways and in a minus fashion. We were bussed to our elegant schooner and forming a human chain quickly loaded the squillion bags and boxes in the icy wind.

We were told we had a few hours off so we trundled on foot along a long bleak road to downtown Longyearbyen. I don't think it's called long year for nothing. After brief shopping in the micromall where Anita Roddick's fine products could be purchased, (but no Starbucks yet)I waited outside while everyone piled into a skin and fur shoppe. I know it's absolutely part of the deal up here and have no ideological problem with it; it just seems icky. And that's as academic as I can get just now.

We had a drink séance-style in the bar Base Camp, around an Arthurian table with the seats lined in reindeer skin. My red wine lit me up like early Northern Lights and whilst grappling with Quentin's microphone and minidisc I attempted to interview Sarah the Oceanographer (National Oceanography Centre, Southampton) who is a friend of Nemo's, and Mike (Head of the Science Faculty at Riddlestown School in Purley). He peered out through the glass walls and suggested that the tiny cemetery over the tarmac was where they recently exhumed some sailors who had died in the Spanish Flu epidemic of the First World War. They were perfectly preserved and therefore possibly useful for vaccine research. We found out the next day that this as indeed the case.

During dinner Heather and I devised a new and surely foolproof way to avoid polar bear attack. This involves stopping in your tracks whilst being chased by the bear and suddenly breaking into a striptease whilst barking/woofing. This is based on science. Polar bears are fascinated by bits of clothing and confused by barking. What's not to trust?

We're about to have a polar bear lecture and then go on the ice to look at the ice polygons. Oh yes.

That's enuf (Ed/Skipper).
To be continued after these messages.

Michèle

2004 expedition route map