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Posted by Pen Hadow

Saturday, 14 Feb 2009 00:00

Water Water Everywhere – But Where Exactly?


I know I must be travelling somewhere because suddenly I don’t even know how to extract water from a tap.


If you’ve stayed in hotels, you’ll know where I’m coming from, if not where I’m heading with this. The baggage porter asks, as he departs from your room, if you have any questions.  In your long-haul flight-induced state of torpidity, you think how many questions could I possibly have.  It’s just a bedroom.  Sometime later you decide it’s time for the bathroom and bed.


Having eventually worked out where the light switch is to illuminate the scene, you notice how incredibly modern – ie minimalist - all the tap fittings seem to be compared to home.  What a luxury!  But without any familiar instrumentation it becomes increasingly obvious that an above average IQ would be handy.


No capstans on the tap heads, no ‘red and blue’ markings for ‘hot and cold’, no flutings to suggest ‘grip and turn’ here, just a sparkling pipe which for more sophisticated arrivals mean water.  Refusing the humiliation of being driven to call reception for a few clues, I turn my attention to the shower/bath ironmongery.


Massively over-estimated the complexity of the bath-plug, based on recent experience with the basin (it’s a push-in, pull-right-out affair), I force what I had thought until recently was an above average creative mind to reveal to me some options about how to turn this water on … any temperature … let’s just get some flow.  So not for the first time in my life, I got hit between my fully-dressed shoulder blades by a powerful jet of cold water from the shower head above as I leant over the edge of the bath and experimented with the only unlikely possibility.  I know of no combo bath-shower system that gives the faintest indication whether you are about to launch the tap or the nozzle. 


Up on the Arctic Ocean, life may be harder, but at least getting water is more straightforward.  Add snow to a pot and apply heat till liquid appears … though I concede bathing is less straightforward, I grant you.


Category: Team

Send-Off Party
Posted by Dominic Hilton

Monday, 09 Feb 2009 00:00

The Ops Room here at Leadenhall Street played host to about 140 guests last night for the Catlin Arctic Survey send-off party. The team fly out tomorrow morning and will arrive in Resolute Bay in the Canadian High Arctic on Saturday. The team are likely to be dropped onto the ice on 27th February (weather permitting), giving them 10 days to acclimatise and make any last minute adjustments to kit and clothing.


Having worked very closely with Pen, Ann and Martin over the past 18 months it will be a strange mix of emotions waving them off at the airport tomorrow morning.


Category: Team

Royal Reception
Posted by Gaby Dean

Thursday, 05 Feb 2009 00:00

Today has been a very special day for the team and many of our special guests as we gathered for a Royal reception at Clarence House, hosted by our patron, HRH The Prince of Wales.  The event started at 9.30am with a special introduction with His Royal Highness and to enlighten him on some of the finer details of our expedition.  It was a really exciting day and we were made to feel really welcome by all of the wonderful team at Clarence House.  When we arrived we had tea and coffee with of course a selection of Duchy Originals biscuits!


After the introductions we filed out into the gardens where we had the opportunity to get some great shots of our sledge in some of London's last remaining snow as Prince Charles handed Pen, Ann and Martin a rather special Royal Pennant.  Not since Queen Alexandra gave a Royal Pennant to Shackleton has a polar expedition been privileged with a sledging flag from a member of the Royal Family so this indeed marked a really special event.  


Our bespoke flag has been designed by Graham Bartram, the Chief Vexillologist from the Flag Institute and then very aptly made by Andy at Flying Colours, the Royal flagmakers.  

Category: Team

Mission driven
Posted by Pen Hadow

Monday, 02 Feb 2009 00:00

Of a bewildering array of thoughts swimming around in my head today, one has struck for the surface, indicative of the gel that holds us together.


A few months back Chip and I were being given a tour of Pinewood Film Studios in west London by one of our supporters. Located in the grounds of a once-smart country estate, an assemblage of old Nissan huts, vast film-set hangars, higglety-pigglety offices, artisans workshops and editing studios are now the only visible legacy of some of the best-known British films. In a private cinema there we saw a short film about Pinewood.  And in it was one particular interview with a modeler who made buildings a 1/100th scale … and I remember him saying:


“I love working here, it’s been my life.  Pinewood may not look much on the outside, but it’s the people that have made it. We are sometimes given projects to do that are unimaginably ambitious, the film director knows exactly what he needs, but relies 100% on us technicians to create the vision he’s after.  And there’s always a deadline – film day for that bit. And you know what?  Everyone here, EVERYONE is mission driven.  It simply has to work on the day. The day the film crew and actors are scheduled to be on set.  And being a part of that creative energy, that focused commitment, on getting the end-result is what I LOVE.  It’s an unbeatable buzz.”


And I remember thinking at the time, how similar pioneering expeditions are to the film-making industry. It’s the mindset of the team that is one of the defining factors of a successful outcome – not just the more visible team on the ice, but equally, if not more importantly, the team backstage.  And the Catlin Arctic Survey has such a team, which is good to know because we have some hills, and possibly the odd mountain, to climb backstage before Film Day.


The other thought is about how all the bigger projects I’ve been involved with have developed their own catch-phrases, their own jokes, their own ‘language’.  Some corkingly funny ones have sprung up from our escapades in Eureka, Little Cornwallis Island and now Broughton Island.  To be honest, they’re not funny on the page.  It’s all about the timing, the intonation, the mood of the moment.



Category: Preparation Team

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