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Headline Test
Posted by Pen Hadow

Sunday, 15 Feb 2009 00:00

You know you’re making progress North when …


The aeroplanes get smaller with each flight in the sequence from our London HQ to our polar base at Resolute Bay in northernmost Canada, via Ottawa, Iqaluit, and Nanisivik.


This fact is apparent less from the external dimensions of the plane as viewed from outside, as from the experience inside.


Meal plans become more muted in their culinary ambitions.  The range of proffered drinks becomes less comprehensive, with ice soon a distant memory. The washroom/loo/toilet/restroom becomes less a room and more an upright cupboard only to be entered if the occupier is desperate, or bizarrely flexible, as devotees of extreme yoga or pilates might be.


Seats shrink, pre-flight briefings feel increasingly personal, and more and more old acquaintances are bumped into.  The stop-overs shorten from overnighters, to hours, to stay-on-the-planes.  Breathing feels asthmatic as lungs struggle to make the switch from the excessive dry heat of the plane cabin to the shocking cold of the outdoor walks from the plane to the airport terminal. Nostril hairs crinkle on these walks.  Airport buildings, encrusted in frost and snow, emphasise the absolute difference between the heated sanctuary it offers to travellers and the certain outcome if no such building was there.


But the flight sequence to our Survey’s start point out on the Arctic Ocean will not end till we have made three more flights via Roberts Bay and our Floating Support Base.

Category: Preparation

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

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