Heacham electrician celebrates Midwinter’s Day in south Atlantic

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Today in West Norfolk in the longest day of 2015 and this Wednesday, June 24, is Midsummer’s Day.

But, for one resident of the borough, today will be a very different experience as he marks Midwinter’s Day instead.

Ray Thirkettle in Antarctica ANL-141121-145727001

Ray Thirkettle in Antarctica ANL-141121-145727001

Heacham electrician Ray Thirkettle is four months into a 13 month stint working with the British Antarctic Survey on South Georgia. Here is his latest diary from the south Atlantic.

“Midwinter week starts in early June, stringing up flags and streamers in the dining room. A Christmas tree was put up and balloons etc stuck around the place.

“Midwinter week is a long standing tradition in the Antarctic. There are photos of Captain Scott celebrating Midwinter with flags and bunting

surrounding the dinner table.

“We have planned a week of celebrations climaxing on Sunday 21st, Midwinter’s Day.

“Activities have to be planned around essential work: it is a busy week for fishing vessels and we have to provide boating support for the Government Officer’s  and fishery officials.

“Activities planned are: a treasure hunt. Base Olympics competition, Pub crawl, we all pair up and make up a mock up of a bar, pub games. A crazy golf game - all have to make up some sort of hole, who is going to do the windmill?

“We will then have a film day, where we will watch our favourite movies and that will bring us to Midwinter’s day. The day starts with a breakfast cooked by Ian, the Station leader, bacon, eggs the whole works, then HORROR! a dip in the sea!

“There is plenty of ice! Temperature about Zero! Then straight into the sauna to stave off the hyperthermia. We will then listen to a BBC World

Service broadcast.

“Each BAS station has a celebrity reading a message and some piece of music request is fulfilled. Our request is Fisherman’s blues, Waterboys, good tune and appropriate as we are primarily a fishery research base.

“Next, we will start preparing the celebratory meal, we each do a course or some element of preparations and all muck in with the washing up, There will be many courses and it’s similar to a traditional Christmas meal in all respects.

“The final excitement is exchanging midwinter gifts. We have all spent hours making something for a gift, the standard of crafstmanship is high.”

So, happy er ‘Christmas’, Ray.

These things are made from wood or metal and made under close


Happy er ‘Christmas’ Ray from all at the Lynn news!