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Where Caithness Folk Went  

British Antarctic Survey Web site

5 January 06
Mairi Nicolson From Wick Returns To Antarctic
Once again Wicker Mairi Nicolson is back on the adventure trail in Antarctic.  this time she has a new job and is in  Port Lockroy on Goudier IslandYou can keep up with some of what is happening out there via the online diary at the Antarctic Expedition web site

Mairi Nicolson In Antarctic

Rothera Base

Mairi Nicolson Has Returned to Antarctic in October 2002
Go To her New Antarctic Pages

Next Instalments of Miari's Antarctic Trip
February 2002

December 2001
October 2001 Letter From Mairi

Fire at Rothera Base 30 September
Mairi and everyone else at the base are OK following a fire which destroyed a lab. Scientists and support staff used a snow blowing machine and a small fire engine in an attempt to dowse the flames at Bonner Laboratory at Rothera Research Station.
Mairi from Wick is working in Antarctic for two and a half years.

Efforts to put out the fire at British Antarctic Survey's Bonner Laboratory at Rothera Research Station have failed. Scientists and support staff used a snow blowing machine and a small fire engine in an attempt to dowse the flames.
More on British Antarctic Survey Web site
6 September Skiing Round The Coast
6 September Mairi about to dive Under the Ice
Skiing      21 June 2001     7 July 2001     20 July 2001

Mairi Nicolson's Mum & Dad who still live at Newton Hill, Wick contacted Caithness.org about their daughter Mairi - we think you will all enjoy looking at her pictures and emails home.  We begin in April and will gradually catch up to date in coming weeks.

Mairi who has been in the Antarctic since Nov 2000 doing a two and a half year stint with the British Antarctic Survey team as a Terrestrial Field Assistant at Rothera Base on Adelaide island on the Antarctic peninsula.

She went to school at Pulteneytown Academy and Wick High School then graduated in Micro Biology at Aberdeen University.  She worked for a couple of years with the Scottish Crop Research Institute at Invergowrie before joining BAS.
She is loving it and finds it a most awesome and beautiful place. 

The Canadian aircrew finally flew out of Rothera today, after returning from their successful South Pole rescue mission. It had been a busy week for the base, but it was nice to see some new faces after spending a month on our own. To thank us for our hospitality they gave us fresh fruit and vegetables, a real treat when faced with six months of frozen and dried food.

It was a gorgeous day and to celebrate being left on our own again, we headed up to Val’s for an evening of snowboarding. On our return we were crossing the runway and we spotted an emperor penguin (like the ones on the biscuits). It's very rare that we get them, so everyone was immediately out with cameras and videos. They're not afraid of us and it's quite easy to get very close as you’ll see from the picture.

Friday 27th April
I have a field site on Anchorage Island that I visit once a month, to download the weather station data. We were half way to the island but had to turn back when the wind direction changed and started blowing ice into the bay. We weren't disappointed though, as we turned the boat around, two humpback whales surfaced near us. You see and hear them give big blows when they break the surface to breath, and when they dive they flick their tails out of the water. They can dive for between five and twenty minutes and we were able to see them surface three times, it was wonderful to watch. My afternoon working in the microbiology lab just couldn’t compare with watching these huge mammals.

Friday night is badminton night, with about 10 people playing now it's great fun. We play in the hangar with no heating so you have to run about lots to keep warm.

Saturday 28th April
I spent most of today organising my Ceilidh for Asty's 40 th birthday. Keith, our chef, produced a Scottish menu with Scotch broth, steak Culloden (steak and whisky), clapshot and millionaire shortbread. I have a funny video called "The Big Scottish Ceilidh Dance Party" which was made in Glasgow. We put it on the big screen for background music while we ate and I hoped everyone would pick up some tips for the dancing. I decorated the bar in tartan shirts and my Scottish flags and everyone dressed up in what they thought was Scottish outfits. We have B.A.S. issue tartan shirts on base to make kilts out of, but some outfits were more dubious than others! The best-dressed prize of course had to go to Tom from Mull. Tom had taken is kilt with him and was looking very handsome in full Highland dress. After much badgering I managed to persuade Stephen to wear a wig and sash so we could have four girls for the set dances.

I made a CD of ceilidh dances, mostly set dances, so no one would feel awkward as there are eighteen men and only three girls. They were a great success and we also did a Gay Gordons and Canadian barn dance for any couples willing to dance. I walked them through all the steps twice and then let them go for it with me shouting the odd order, "forward, no backwards, clap, spin, no not him” etc. It was a great success especially as we had an Orcadian strip the willow to finish.

Sunday 28th April

Amazingly I managed to get up at 9am today and I had a very relaxing day reading. I did consider going skiing but my legs were sore from all the dancing and my head was a little sore from having a few whisky’s. We watch films on Sunday night and it was Dave Molyneaux’s turn to choose.

Monday 29th April

A windy, cold and snowy morning. I was happy to watch it fall and blow around, from the comfort of my nice warm lab. Better weather came in the afternoon and I walked round to East beach to replace some experimental equipment I had just repaired. We have these plastic boxes, called cloches, which house experiments on the beach. I found several of them smashed last week, the Fur seals had failed to read the “Bio-site - Please Keep Off” sign!

Tuesday 30th April

After the excitement of the South Pole rescue we thought we were on our own for the next 6 months, but today was yet another exciting day for Rothera International Airport. Jenny was just going to put the 50 metal drums back onto the runway lights when we had a call from two German helicopters. The German research ship, Polarstern, was anchored at the other side of the island and they were using their helicopters in our local area to go whale spotting. We gave our visitors a tour of the science facilities, Jenny opened the shop and sold some t-shirts, and an hour later they were gone. It was nice to have visitors again and they were all very impressed with the base and the science facilities we have.

After a day spent servicing science equipment, I was glad to relax at night with a game of Mah Jong. Mah Jong is a Chinese game that is similar to Rummikub but more complex. We even have a computer program on Jenny’s laptop to help work out the scoring. Jenny and I are mad on games and Mah Jong is definitely our favourite for this winter.

Wednesday 1st May

It was another science day today and I was setting up some microbiology experiments. I am working on some cool pink, yellow, white and orange bacteria just now. Tonight is video night but I may go to the chippy shop instead and do some sanding. Picture frame number two is starting to take shape, I hope you've got lots of room on your walls? By the end of 2.5 years who knows how many I could produce!!

So that's it for this week, I'll write soon.

Lots of love

PS. The emperor penguin has been here for seven days now. He is just moping about, wandering around the buildings, sleeping and giving the odd call. We've called him Billy, as in Billy-no-mates, but we hope he’ll find his friends soon

Mairi Appears in the May 2001 diary of Rothera

Rothera Diary April 2001 Pete Milner

Spot Mairi In March Diary

February 2001

January 2001 From Rothera

December 2000

The British Antartic Survey Web Site



Adelie Penguins

Mairi Gets To Work


Rothera Base

A Seal

The Hat

Billy No Mates

Chinstrap Penguin

Mairi At The Office

Another View