Saturday, June 26, 2010

10th August (Only 7 days left!)

Today was the second and last R & R so we got a nice lie in until 10:30 but nobody but me seemed to have a clue what the time was... For breakfast, we decided to open the massive tin of rice pudding and have it for breakfast, and lunch, and tea. I mixed it with hot chocolate powder and made something that resembled mushy coco pops.

Everybody was meeting at the tring at 11:30 to discuss what we were doing on the 3rd phase of the expedition and Mark attempted to emphisise the importance of Reflective Journals, a bit late now though. It was between mountaineering, kayaking and a cultural phase. The cultural phase involved a trek over the Finnmarks Vidda which is a flat plateau before reaching Kautokeino, which is one of the biggest Sami settlements in Norway. We were handed a sheet of paper with our names on it and we were to put our preferences for each phase. By the time it got to me it seemed that everyone wanted to do cultural but there were only ten spaces, the likely hood of Gabby, Natasha and I staying together was very unlikely, even more so that Gabby and I put mountaineering second but Tasha put kayaking...

We were meant to be meeting back at the tring at 2pm as if we were doing mountaineering we would have to pack up and be ready to leave basecamp forever at 7am tomorrow. However this was delayed until 2:30 as they were still deciding, great we had tome to wash our hair! Going back to the Tring was very nervewracking, Gabby, Tasha and I walked down together arms linked as a force. Mark wasted no time in naming exactly who was in each group. He began with mountaineering. Neither me or Gabby were named. Then Kayaking. Tasha was not mentioned. Somehow we still couldn't believe that we had actually managed to ALL get into cultural, AND GRIBBS?! Unfortuneatly we had to settle for Alistair(minus Callum) but I couldn't really care as I was on cultural and all four of us got on it!

We had a short and sweet meeting about the trip, but they didn't actually know much about what we were doing yet. The rest of the day was spent as an R&R day as we weren't leaving until Wednesday.

Everynight since "the flood" Tasha had been getting up at 2am after dreaming it was happening again. We devised an elaborate plan to make her dream a reality, but with a sarcastic twist: Gribbs and I kept Tasha distracted by writing the weekly blog while Gabby went to get the props for the attack, life jackets. As Gabby reappeared over the hill as a lifejacket tree the leaders were giving her a funny look as by now Tasha had crawled back into the tent with a sore head. This may have foiled the plan and so we smuggled them into Gribbs' tent. After tea of veg chili, Tasha still looked dazed so we decided to wait for another day. We spent the evening whittling wood and Nahom made me a keepsake wooden penis and Gabby made an impressive dolphin.

August 9th

IT was our last morning of kayaking and it was an early morning as we aimed to leave at 9:30, evveryone had packed up and were ready to go at nine, except ffor Mike and Reg who only began packing up at 9:15 so we only got away an hour later. Everyday we have had a daily leader and today it was my turn, I had planned to do today as today there was only a 1.5 hour dreach paddle back to camp, so there wasn't much to lead. We were all very excited to get back to camp and see everyone again from the other fires and the other leaders. Because of the mixed up tides recently it was a very, very low tide so we actually reached our destination much earlier than expected, but it also meant we had to carry our boats in further. The most sensible option in Alistair land was to put the two boys in the group of three and make all the girlls carry the boat in twos, Tasha had already been banished to collect fire wood. Fit Chris came to help carry the boats which was appreciated when carrying my hiefer of a boat. Reg made us take a cheesy group photo and an even more cringeworthy video of a forced group hug.

We still had two boats to carry in when the other fire came powering in like an invading army and the boys happily carried boats in between twos while the girls took the kits. Where is the justice?!The spray decks and life jackets were washed in the stream and taken to the van before we ate the pollack Alistair caught last night, the only thing he is actually useful for. After refueling we had to ferry the kayaks back up and the "strongest" people had to go in the middle of the line. Our "strongest" however thought he would be more use if he took all the featherlight paddles up to the van. He could nto be more useless if he tried, plonker. He also stole my shepards pie FOR NO REASON! Guh. Well, after that fiasco we gave the kayaks a sponge bath and began the firsst run of kit back to camp. The kayaking had obviously bulked up my arms as carrying my bivi bag full of crap was less of an annoyance, unfortunately the hill hadn't changed much. It began to rain on the second run and to the surprise of everyone we could see Callum carrying the stuff Gribbs had left for the next stage, whats the bets Alistair told him to pick it up...

We got camp set up in the rain and moved into the tipi where we were reunited with our hold alls and got changed out of our wetsuits. This instantly turned to tipi into a tip. After Ratpack dinner, Nahom came round and the amount of innuendo's increased dramatically. Gribbs then offered Gabby and I a bite of her mars bar, little did we know it tasted like petrol. The fuel for the stoves must have spilt on it, if I get cancer i know who to sue... The combination of Nahom and petrol must have had an effect on us as Gabby, Gribbs and I were very hyper and ended up being covered in crude slang in permenant marker.

Friday, June 25, 2010

August 8th - " Your burps are very Homer Simpson esc, they are beautiful but have a rough edge like a diamond."

The familiar stuffiest of the tent was actually a relief compared to the chill of last night. We threw our clothes on and went to meat on the beach to discuss today's plans, which was to head 12k back to Nuvsvagsfjord and spend a night there before doing the midnight paddle back home. For once, we were actually packed up and ready to leave on time however the rain also started to fall for the first time on the whole trip. Thankfully the paddle was lightened by cags, pogies and singing. We made one science stop but it was not kind to Laura and I's stomach's as we began to feel nauseous.

It wasn't long before the next campsite but the other fire had steamed ahead and actually pitched up and the campsite the leaders said we should have as it was easier to reach. Also, as a funny addition, in this final stretch a milk carton bobbed past us and I happened to notice that is had Alexander Rybak's beautiful face on it. Therefore it is fate and I must keep it as a souvenir. It was hard to get the boats ashore against the slippery rocks and lack of flat land. Camp was set up in the persistent rain and tea consisted of very watery veg casserole. We spoke to Nahom and Emma from the other fire briefly as we collected water but but was still greatly frowned upon. We then had to seek shelter in the tents for the rest of the night as it was decided that the midnight paddle would not be worth it in this weather, we had practically paddled at midnight anyway!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

7th August

Instead of the pleasant beep of Tasha's alarm, we were woken this morning by the freezing cold and Laura and Gribbs shouting, "Guys, the tents are flooded!". Naturally, this was followed by a procession of blasphemy as we saw our stuff floating about in the porch and our thermarest's were being used as lilos as I opened the porch door. We all frantically moved everything further in shore, we were not the worst off as our sleeping bags were still dry. Gribbs, Laura and Katies's tent on the other hand was ankle deep in water by the time they had moved most of their things. The tide was still rising so we took all of our gear and tents to a river terrace which was situated well above what seemed to be a delta.I should have realised that the presence of river terraces meant that the river rejuvenates itself under a high tide meaning water is flowing in from the sea and out from the river. We opened our tents up to air them out and once our kit was safe we thought we should check on the kayaks which also needed to be hauled up the shore, thankfully not at such an extent as the rest of the campsite. Next we had to decide how we were going to sleep. One theory was to use the remaining dry thermarests and sleeping bags fro 8 people by doubling up but then most decided to bivi as we had brought them all along just in case, now being the case, and suddenly the -22 degrees sleeping bag was a great idea!

We got to bed at 4am only to get up again at 10:30 when we were meant to get up today and Tasha headed over to tell Mike and Reg what happened as they had camped in a different area, which we were suspicious over after yesterday's antics in case they were seeking some sort of revenge... Turns out they were genuinely shocked and had no idea so after breakfast we were allowed to go back to sleep until one o'clock when we were woken by rain so we ran into the inners of the tents and literally just through the outers over and collapsed.

At 2pm, just like twelve hours earlier Laura woke us up, at least this time we weren't accompanied by icy cold water. We began to pack up camp as we had to make some kind of movement today and aimed to head out at 3:30m, but that wasn't going to happen. Katie seemed very dosy and was also feeling very homesick so we were allowed to take as long as we needed to make sure we were all fit enough. We finally left the floody fjord at 4:30 and were heading to at least bergsfjord. Gabby and I passed the time by talking about important issues such as religion, abotrion, family histories relationships, cheating and school, it sure made the 11k go fast as before we knew it we were at the headland we passed at the beginning. On the last leg we all lost our adrenaline and it was approaching 9pm but we had to find a suitable camp.

We camped in the same area as the other fire but had to "stay away" again even though they tried to help us pull in the heavy boats. The original plan was to bivi to save time and just set up one tent for those without bivi bags but that was only Gabby and Alistair and for her safety I was not letting that happen. It would be against the expedition rules anyway, so the tents went up. Unfortunately we pitched our tent on the bumpiest stretch of the coast possible... I had lamb pilaf for tea and chocolate porridge for pudding and found tasha an antler on a walk from the toilet, which was much more productive and safer than the usual ones... Inspired by one of our leaders, Reg who was planning to cook an omlette in several places before a certain landmark birthday that was approaching, Tasha Gabby and I discussed several things we could do...

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

6th August

"Woke up around 8am and headed straight for the loo before attempting to move anything."
This is the first thing in my journal for today, I must have really needed the toilet. Then again with Tasha around, it was always a mountain to climb...

We were all fed and everything was packed away - but not necessarily in the kayaks- by half nine and so the deadline of a 10:30 set off was in our reach. The plan for today was to go to Langsfjordham and walk up the mountain to inspect the glacier for the third phase of the expedition. The walk looked like it could have been amazing but I had done the good deed of lending Danielle my Scarpa's meaning I couldn't go up as my trainers were not suitable. Thankfully the mighty cripples that are Tasha and Gribbs also couldn't go up.

As we arrived in Langsfjordham it seemed very derelict but there was the occasional passer by that looked intriegued. We were given the job of looking for any camping areas, ferry times, public toilets and any for of medical help while the rest went up the hill. To begin with I stayed in the kayak and did some temperature readings to map out the bay and attempt some fishing, which was unsuccessful, while the other two wrote their postcards.

Suddenly we began to notice the tide getting higher and higher and we started moving the kayaks further up the beach Being the three original cripples the likely hood of one of us getting hurt was very high. Of course the one who actually did hurt themselves was Tasha who actually managed to dislocate and relocate her knee, AGAIN! It must have hurt being the second time in two weeks so she was banned from kayak hauling duty. After that "faff" and the ever advancing sea, we decided to raft the boats up together and tying them to a rock involved the least risk of a further injury. Using our mountaineering knowledge, Gribbs tied a thread while Tasha threaded the kayaks together using a figure of eight and a double stopper (on the bite) to keep them sequre. Wouldn't Howard be proud! I just stood and watched by the looks of things...

Once we were sure they were secure we carried on with our original task, good job we didn't start earlier! I had spotted the post office symbol from the beach but the closer we got to it the less it looked like a post office and more like someone's porch.we also found a school meaning this must be a permenant residence rather than the "ghost town" it appeared to be. Considering the ratio of children to adullts that we had seen in the town(2:1), a school was necessary...

Further along from the school there were more houses that seemed a bit more active and some kind of fishery. However we could not find any of the things we were told to find, even with the help of my phrase book... So without any luck we headed back to check on the kayaks and I neatened up the science results and added to my reflective journal before everyone headed back half-an-hour later than expected. immediately Mike got mad at us for not having the stove on ready for them when they came back with some tea on and then got even worse when we said we hadn't found any services. It wasn't our fault they were late and this village has nothing(thats all it has when you are not fluent in Norwegian...). As we went to put water on he kept making sly comments about us doing nothing but little did he know about the dislocation and didn't seem to notice or appreciate the fact we had saved the whole fleet of kayaks from drifting back to base camp. This is our leader, infact the whole expedition leader, a "brew" should not have been more important that appreciating someones innitiative?

All of us pretty sour, thankfully everyone else appreciated our help, we headed out of Langsfjordham at 4:30. None of us were in the mood to comply with Mike so we went the full 10k to the next campsite. The time flew by as we were all singing but Alistair began to lack lustre(more so) as the jelly beans ran out. We saw a river at the bottom of Bergsfjord and decided to try paddling upstream to reach what looked like the perfect campsite. As soon as we landed camp was set up incredibly fast as we were all starving. Reg and Mike began cooking fish but the Gribbs' empty stomach had obviously effected her drugs as she was acting like a drunk 5 year old by stealing chocolate...

The highs and lows of the day were discussed and Tasha was the only one to put Mike in his place and the reconciliation led to another hour around the camp fire with a leisurely chat before bed.

5th August

One thing was on my mind when I sprang up at 5:26am this morning:"results today." When Tasha's alarm went off at 7:15 I was already out of the sleeping bag and tent attempting to light the stove. I tried to disract myself by going for a wee wash and packed away our tents and gear. The half hour countdown to 9am was spent eating breakfast. My phone buzzed at 9:03am and it was a dichotomy between wanting to know but too scared to find out. In the end I plucked up the courage and opened it and was pretty damn chuffed with 3A's and 2 B's. I got distracted and started texting people and phoning mum. Soon enough though I had to get back into BSES mode by helping take down the kayaks and pack them up before setting out to do some science work.

We paddled down to the other end of Silda and did a camera drop where we saw our first sea urchins which was very exciting. WE then paddles east to an smaller unknown island and did another test, but more excitingly, when we looked up, we saw a white-tailed sea eagle. it was amazing being so upclose to it and to appreciate it's greatness. We were across from the town on Bergsfjord which was quite bustling despite its rural location. Around the corner there was a small beach and we all decided to stop for lunch. Lunch consisted of a cuppa soup and a dairy milk, which had to be eaten with a spoon as it was so melted. Remember, this was a trip to the Arctic.

At 2pm we headed back out on the road, eh I mean, sea and as we did Katie managed to catch a fish. However she managed to sufficate it as she didn't want to bash it over the head but it took too long for Reg to come and do it for her. Should have just put it out of its misery Katie...

We paddled on down Langsfjord which provided some of the most spectacular scenery and thankfully the weather complimented it. There were a few drifting problems but soon the currents stopped and paddling became a lot more enjoyable as we came into the sheltered end of Langsfjord. We saw the opposite side of Oksfjordjokelen which looked much more spectacular than the side we had climbed up.

The town of Langsfjordham was at the bottom of the fjord and was meant to be "derelict" but as we paddled up we passed two passenger ferries and several small personal motor boats heading that way. To keep the "isolated" nature of these expeditions we stopped at a small coastal area about 100m from Langsfjordham. The other kayaking fire had landed in the same bit but Mike gave the impression it was forbidden to interact with them. So they stayed at the hill so we were going to camp on the bottom of the hill on the otherside of a glacial stream, just to make it difficult to speak to them. After disembarking at one side of the stream someone decided it would be a better idea to take them up a kind of natural slip pier. This was not a good plan,, Tasha attempted to walk over but didn't think it would get that deep and got soaked and I had to tow her in the end. Although the slip pier was a good idea for the first three boats it wasn't prepared to facilitate ten kayaks.

The evening began by setting up camp and washing our kit before cooking Katies fish over a fire and discussing today and tomorrow. I also let katie use my phone to find out her results where she did a clean sweep with the ones. Today I really enjoyed myself at points that I would have previously pushed me over and it was probably due to the good start I got at the beginning of the day and the fact that the one thing that was worrying me was over. I could now solely spend my time on enjoying the ride.

4th August

Today was the first official day of kayaking non-stop and the weather was still pristine so was going to make this an enjoyable experience. After Breakfast and a short chat about where we were heading Gabby and I were already saddled up and out taking temperature measurements at 10. This also got us out of clearing away camp and hauling down the canoes... As professional as we thought we were it turned out the thermometer wasn't working so we had to start again but Mike's patience didn't let us finish. So much for the extra science element...

As we headed out of Ullsfjord we, amazingly, met a local who told us about a German gun emplacement from WWII further around the headland, only I managed to spot it since Orkney is surrounded by the frigging things. Nature also provided some sights as dolphins or porpoises were jumping in the distance reminding us we are in the open sea.

We stopped for lunch at a small beach and I spent my time reading the Shore and Pond Life guide in the Science pack Angelica had given us. I now know about different crustaceans as well as the habitats and ecology of the monkfish. Another thing I noticed on this remote beach was the amount of rubbish that had been washed up on the beach. There were some settlements nearby that might explain it but surely there should be no litter washed up at all to preserve this area?

Until now we had forgotten to do a camera drop, or Mike couldn't be bothered to wait about while we did it, so we had our first drop after lunch. Gabby was given the main job of holding the camera and looking in, I did the paperwork, plungline and GPS and everyone else helped set up a sturdy raft. We then carried on round the headland to try and find somewhere to refill our water bottles but the waterfall seemed further than expected before not actually exsisting. There was talk about crossing straight across to the island of Silda and the dehydration and sunstroke had obviously kicked in since I agreed that this was a good plan. I must say I felt better as this crossing provided one of the most spectacular views of the whole trip, south into Langsfjord, I suppose Gabby(and Callums) singing helped a bit...

As we approached Silda we headed towards a patch of snow on the hill and then a house, which actually looked very lived in which concerned everyone, but Mike. According to Norwegian law we are allowed to camp anywhere for a night as long as it is about 150m from any residential areas, but Mike told us it was 50m. Since he was the leader we headed into the shore after a final camera drop. Just as we got the tents up and changed a speedboat came roaring into the shore which obviously belonged to the people who where staying in the house we were camping outside. When they all got to the shore the adults came and spoke to Reg and Mike and must have formed some sort of deal, but later on they did not seem to pleased that we were there.

Reg had managed to catch a fish for tea and as we got a fire started we discussed the highs and lows of the day, mine were pretty obvious, and the plans for tomorrow. Mike gave us a fish gutting lesson and the freshest tea we had had in a long time followed. The rocks managed to kill Tasha again but this time not on the way from the toilet. However when she did go to the toilet her and Gabby managed to bring back parts of a reindeer skeleton including the pelvis, head, jaw and spine. Gabby only actually wanted the teeth and antler which was probably the least gruesome parts since the skull itself actually still had hair on it. I decided to use this as a chance to use several of the parts of my Swiss army knife. First i played doctor, amputating the antlers off with the saw and then playing dentist by pulling the teeth out with the pliers. It was terribly satisfying.

As we headed to bed I had just enough time to realise the amount of sunburn on my arms and applying a sea of cocoa butter before passing out for the night.

Monday, June 07, 2010

3rd August

Today we were actually going somewhere and leaving base camp and we began packing as soon as we were up putting everything into dry bags. The rice pudding, mushroom soup and pitta bread for breakfast suggested we weren't going to be eating for a long time, we were right. Before we left Angelica gave us a talk on the science work for this part and we all stared in awe and fear at the expensive underwater camera. Gabby and I got a special thermometer to measure air and sea temperatures in the fjords.

Everyone was 45 mins late packing up and it was a horrible walk down as I had such awkward bags to carry but the stars that are Will and Mark helped me. Another thing that cheered me up was a collie that walked past which looked just like Bonnie who I was missing severly (Notice how the "isolated" theme of expeditions did not apply to this one...).

There were more problems with lazy boys when the "strongest" "male" in our fire decided carrying the kayaks was too much for him so he would take some paddle. GRRR. The other fire had lunch an we didn't. That was a particularly unfair half hour of the trip for us girls.

Packing took forever considering we started at about 11am and only headed out at the back of four. Even still we managed to be short of enough rat packs for everyone. Gabby and I went in search of a place to change and found a convinient spot in a bunch of trees, next to the main road. At 4:30 we set off in our boats in a half-hour dash to the shop but still managed to miss it. Instead some people wandered further to the petrol station in search of real food. The rest of us stayed bobbing on our kayaks with a mars bar spotting starfish. We bonded with the other fire but soon we were going to go in opposite directions, i quote my journal: " WE HAD TO SAY GOODBYE. IT WAS SO SAD BECAUSE OF THE DREAD OF 24/7 CALLISTAIR."

A steady pace was set as we went along the headland but once round it Reg and Mike upped the pace and soon him and the boys were far off in the distance. Much worse than the "hard shoulder of the M25." What happened to the teamwork of the mountaineering team? We only landed in a fjord at about half nine and we were all tired and hungry. gabby put on the stove and Natasha and I took the boats in. This probably wasn't a good idea since we are both cripples. This proved true when I slipped while pulling CALLUM's stupidly heavy kayak making me turn on the waterworks becasue I was so tired and frustrated and they were hard to stop for various reasons. Thankfully I have made some really good friends on this trip who comforted me making feeling shit not too bad. Reg made me some hot chocolate and then we all had tea. Mike spoke for a long time and even then, let alone now, I had no idea what he said. However, Mike picked up on Callistairs uselessness and told us that "If Will was here he would sort him out because he actually does things we ask him to do!" Maybe this guy has an inch or sense.

2nd August

Two new leaders were coming for the kayaking phse, Bill and Reg. We had met Reg at the briefing weekend in April but we had no idea who this Bill bloke was. They were arriving at 11 so we got up at 8:30 to get ready to be paddling when they arrived. We met at staff camp at 9:30 only to be told that their boat was at 4 so we had a whole day to pretend to to kit checks and practice pack. Claire even offered to take (two?) people to the shop in the van and so they took orders. Unfortunately one of them was Alistair, at least it got rid of him for a while. We only headed down to the kayaks at 4:30 and that is all my journal says for today...

Sunday, June 06, 2010

1st August (16 DAYS LEFT!)

The sun was a very efficiant alarm clock again and forced us not only out of bed but out of the tent. we had base camp porridge for breakfast that was actually worse than the ratpack cereals dur to the authentic camping stove flavour.

Today we were starting phase two of the expedition. Those who spent the past week mountaineering were now going to spend the next week kayaking and visa versa. therefore we were kayaking this week and so today was a training day telling us the basics. We were to meet at the staff camp at 9:30 to be briefed and then head down to the bus at 10:15. We got divvied out life jackets, spray decks and paddles and passed the kayaks down to the beach in an assembly line which was meant to be an easy way of doing it but sand wasn't the grippiest of all surfaces and the lack of male help wasn't great either.

For the kayaking part of the trip we were going to be seperated into our fires completely. Tasha, Gabby, Gribbs and I were not quite ready for this. It started early when we were split into our fires to begin kayaking, thankfully we got Mark as a leader so it wouldn't be dire. We also talked about Michael Jackson and mark came out with more facts in that it has been said that MJ may have had more memory neurons that normal which meant he could copy people perfectly, hence the dance moves.

First we were stripped of our paddles and told to use our hands to steer the boat, I think this was to show how important it is to use the rest of your body along with the paddles. Once they thought we were competent enough paddlers we got to kayak to the beach and jetty we were at yesterday but using the layout having a person at the front(point), at the end(Sweep) and at the side(flank):

Point-------------------Sweep
\---------Flank------------/

The other fire suggested a kayaking race but since our fire was all girls I don't think we could hack the humilation and instead our fire finished very early at 3:30pm and gave us plenty time to wash ourselves and our gear in the stream before it got crowded.

Tasha, Gabby and I all went to our new "me time" spot we had christened "Reflection Rock" and has a wee snooze in the sun, which was probably because me and gabby had just spent the past half hour pretending to be superheros using towels as capes. Must be something in the water...

Tea tonight was a fancy affair as I still had some real food left from my trip to the shop yesterday. All of a sudden I had a lot of friends. For starters we had mushroom soup with croutons followed by pasta and bolognaise with real cheese. That evening Ruth was given cocodamine so she was more excitable than usual...

Friday, June 04, 2010

31st July

Today was a "R&R" day(being Rest and Relaxation" ) however the lie in that was on offer was interrupted by the intense Arctic heat. It was so warm we actually chose to cool ourselves down in the glacial stream which was followed by a relaxing morning sunbathing in our sports bras. Rob left at 12:30 to go back to the UK for a family event which was a shame as he was one of the favourite leaders which could be seen as everyone wanted a hug and a photo before he left.

Since we had all signed up to go to the arctic, I think the last thing we thought would be on our itinerary would be going to the beach. However, this is what the leaders had in store for the afternoon. Now, it wasn't the tropical beaches we are used to on holiday but a bit more grainy, still there was a nice cold sea and plenty of sun and no wind to spoil our fun.

After they had disappeared earlier that morning, the boys came strolling along to the beach clutching what looked like steak. Meat had been a rare site on this trip and the sound of it sizzling was just too much to bare, so Izzy, Ruth, Clem and I donned the scarpas and decided to go in search of this magical shop. It was so warm we ended walking along in our sports bra's and thermals, this understandably attracted a good bit of attention from the locals of this rural fishing village: a man driving a van that was not afraid to take his eye of the wheel, the Norwegian equivalent of a cruiser who was on a quad bike and of course the classic "Hello Sweetheart" from an elderly man on his porch.

After using our limited Norwegian to realise a restaurant was in fact not open and was not where the boys got steak we found a more convincing shop. The words "Coop" had never excited me more. The shopkeeper must have thought we had been deprived of everything as we stood in awe for much longer than normal. We were buying the basic staple foods that we took for granted at home: bread, cheese, apples, lettuce and some kind of meat(we were hoping it was going to be reindeer). We wanted to get a few more things like watermelons, and more importantly; razors, but we couldn't quite work out how much everything was going to cost. Before we headed back to the beach we stopped on a bench and had a cheese and lettuce sandwich. I have never liked lettuce much but this lettuce was the best thing in the world. It was crunchy, fresh, cold and didn't involve adding boiling water into a bag.

Back at the beach everyone tucked in straight away but amazingly there was still some left for later to sell on the black market within the camp. The "steak" was to be cooked on the BBQ later, when I say BBQ it was more a portable pizza oven as the plan was to make some arctic pizza. We all went for a well needed splash in the sea, which was pretty damn cold, but once you got past estuary of the glacial streams you entered a still patch of sea that was surprisingly warm. Howard then helped us catch some mussels that were growing all over the place. Shellfish are practically growing in my blood so I enjoyed this part as I showed my natural skill at picking mussels. I got bored however and tried to catch a fish with my bare hands as they were all over the place. Having failed, Will had made a makeshift fishing rod and a group of us headed over to a quiet jetty and attempted to get some fish. Nahom had the first catch and although he may argue, it was a tiddler. The whole time I was just dying to jump off the jetty...

Back on the beach stomachs were rumbling again and pizza's were being prepared, mussels were frying, Frisbee's were flying and the sun was still high in the sky(and probably be for a long time since this is the land of the midnight sun, still it fits the scene). The leaders had brought the laptops down and we were able to write our first blog to our parents. This was taken more seriously than others,*cough* Nahom. The word that comes to mind at our day at the beach is revelry and I don't think anyone will disagree.

After a final Frisbee match with Tim, which i epically lost, we tidied up and headed back to base camp to get back to the normal routine and rice pudding. To make us feel even more at home, Howard had whapped out the full body mozzie suit. It was probably one of the lasting images of the trip, for the boys as much as the girls. The girls toilet was also being emptied (I think) so we girls had to use the boys toilet. It was less than pleasant since it actually faced the path into base camp so you had to be as quick as you could without the risk of sprayback...

Anyway the other notes I have for today are:

- My head torch, I think this was to do with me saying I could having it "erect" or "flacid" and that Gabosha(notice what i did there) love a good innuendo. Why I had my head torch out though I do not know.

- Spilling Jelly beans. Now I am pretty sure I spilt jelly beans and they were Callistairs pride and joy so there was great hilarity in the fact I spilt them and put them back in the bag. Please correct me if I am wrong.

Maan, its sad that I can't remember some of this...