Monday, 3 October 2016

Day 4 Arctic Expedition: waiting to leave Longyearbyen Oct 3rd

A very quick post as we await the minibus to transport us to the ship.  
I awoke to a white world this morning, with sun glinting off the snow covered hills around the hostel. 

A magical world in which to walk. Have been out trying to draw... but the world was slowly obliterated as the snow began to fall again.

 So instead I thought you'd all like to see a polar bear in its native landscape:
Probably the nearest I'll get to seeing one.
I'm now sitting surrounded by luggage which is growing by the minute as more is added by people returning from shopping trips with last minute purchases. I scored a 2.5L plastic container and set of a mass purchasing of them. And bought another sketch book - just in case...
Back on-line again on Oct 17th when we will be in Longyearbyen for a day or so before I return to Somerset.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Day 3 Arctic Expedition - Longyearbyen Oct 2nd

It's raining, but it shouldn't be - we're in the High Arctic. It does demonstrate the general warming up of the climate.
It also creates rather atmospheric mist on top of the surround hills:

The Polar Museum in town was my destination today - has lots to say about attempts to reach the North Pole by air - both by hot air balloon, but mostly about trying the reach it (or rather failing) by airship and the ensuing arguments between the Italians and the Norwegians.
Then there's also a whole of lot of stuff about a red tent in the middle of the Arctic - yet another an ill-fated expedition to the North Pole in 1928, and a rescue operation, all of which seemed to go on for some time (both in reality, and especially in the museum). There are several bad films made about this event, one of which has Sean Connery playing the role of Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, who dies in the rescue attempt. Have just googled Red Tent and discovered that the film is the 'true story' about the mission to rescue Umberto Nobile and the other survivors of the crash of the Airship Italia, who have obviously taken refuge in a red tent.
The museum is a far far too wordy-a-place.  And there was not enough about the hot air balloon attempt by the Swedish August Salomon Andrée, about whom I was most interested.
Adrée's balloon shortly after take-off and before losing the steering ropes
But I did find a fragment of his hot air balloon:
I am still confused about who was the first to reach the North Pole. But I imagine that in reality it was the Inuit - but they clearly don't count! 
Escaping the walls of words I left and took shelter from the rain behind the museum in the carpark, and in the slowly fading light and general murkiness of the rain, attempted to draw the imposing hill looming up behind the hill - not particularly successfully as my paper became fairly quickly sodden and covered in rain drops.
View of one of the hills above Longyearbyen

Tomorrow we leave here to board the Antigua - which will be our sailing boat home for the next few weeks - and we set sail for the seas north of here. There will be no internet during the sailing, so my next Blog posting and update will be on return to Longyearbyen. For anyone who wants to see where we are you can follow this link:
I will be plotting our passage and making lots of notes as well as artwork.
See you all then - as long as we don't get frozen in...

Update: It's snowing! Huzzar!