Spinning Yarn: Knitcola and the Spinning Shop #97

July 25th, 2011 by Marion

 Ashford is a worldwide and famous spinning wheel company, very popular with all spinners, and, located in Ashburton, on the way to Christchurch, I fully intended to stop and visit, telling them about Antarctica and my spinning adventure. It was 4pm when I arrived, and the sign on the door said closing at 430pm. Whew! Just in time!

 Nicola is a lovely lady who has a long association with Ashford wheels, and who now runs the on-site shop stocking wheels, accessories and fibre of all kinds. We had a great chat about all things spinning and she gave me a tour of the shop. It was 530pm when I left I left happy, more informed and with a much needed spinning boost!

Posted in Antarctica, Spinning Wheel, Spinning Yarn, Uncategorized

Spinning Yarn: On the way to Christchurch #96

July 12th, 2011 by Marion

Following the well marked highway, I viewed the spectacular coastline all the way to Palmerston, where I just had to stop and walk along the beach. Looking out over the Southern Ocean I raised my hand in a fond greeting to the Frozen Continent 4 days sail away and turned my attention to walking the tideline, where, tangled in the washed up seaweed, God gave me a Paua shell! Whole and complete! What a find! (I collect seashells, and have done since I was about 6years old, living in Nova Scotia).

 Under a bit of time constraints, I gave myself only an hour at the beach. The shell safely tucked in my pocket, I could hear the car, and the highway, calling me on to the next stop.

Posted in rock formations, scientific experiments, wildlife

Spinning Yarn: How Far toChristchurch? #95

July 8th, 2011 by Marion

Leaving the ship was not a complicated as it could have been. We said all our passenger goodbyes the night before and had only to wait for our bags to be put on the dock. Some passengers had hotel reservations for Dunedin, some had planes to catch, others had more local sightseeing to do…And me? Well I needed to hire a car – one way —to Christchurch.

The car rental company I spoke to before I left Melbourne told me to call them when I arrived in Dunedin – and I did – but they were not open for the public holiday! Nor were they available the next day, so I boarded Orion without having booked a vehicle. Upon our return, a Saturday morning, I called again. They were open this time, but sorry, they do not do one way trips. (They could have told me that in Melbourne!) Obviously, I was not happy, but I was not worried, either. …..Faith…..

 Out on the wharf, the car rental companies and taxis waited for us to farewell the Expedition Team, lined up to wave us off and give us our parting gift of a  souvenir photographs CD. The Lady from the local rental company very kindly drove me to the tourist bureau, where another learned lady located the rental car I was to have – right in town! Within 40 minutes of leaving Orion, I was back on the road and away on the next leg of my adventure – A drive up the East Coast of South Island.

 Maybe I should have asked for a map…..Nah…..

Posted in Cold Temperatures, geology, History, Icebergs, landscape, rock formations, Spinning Wheel, Spinning Yarn, Uncategorized

Spinning Yarn: Last night Entertainment #94

July 6th, 2011 by Marion

 Cathy and Terry, the entertainment coordinators, organized a show for us, using the multi-talented crews, both Ship and Expedition. Minimum resources brings out invention, and we marveled at the song, dance and acting skills of each and every person.

  The Expedition Team and the Ship Crew exposed their fun side and the fact that they too could spin yarns, when the re-written words to “I am Australian” became “We Shared Antarctica” and the costumes matched each person’s specialty as well as each verse! Alasdair McGregor became explorer Dumont D’Urville by draping tricolour cloth and wearing a simulated tricorn hat; Dr Alex Watson, draped in white cloth and properly coloured makeup around his eyes, became the only known species of Antarctic bird who wears glasses! David Sinclair donned his penguin hat and waddled around with his camera….

 The Zodiac drivers, the kitchen staff, the hotel staff all took part – lots of singing and dancing and wild applause! Most enjoyable and well thought. Such hidden talents behind the scenes!

Posted in History, Uncategorized, wildlife

Spinning Yarn: What a Swell Ocean This Is! #93

July 1st, 2011 by Marion

 The weather had certainly been favourable for our whole trip, so these 10m swells were a special treat. Orion is a small ship by comparison to some who travel the Southern Ocean, certainly with only 100 passengers while other ships take several times that, so I am not so sure that the Captain thought it was such a special treat. Orion is a well-appointed and courageous little ship, ably captained and engineered. Stabilized and making good time, we left Campbell Island behind and made way for Dunedin, sad to be ending the adventure, but glad to be almost back on land again.

 Lisa and I took time to do more spinning and knitting over the last few days and she was pleased with the result of her efforts – a gorgeous scarf of exotic Llama fibre, in two colours, spun by hand, knitted by hand (using chopsticks!) and worn by neck.

 You remember the song? I hope Fred Astaire will forgive my paraphrase of his line, “What a swell party this is”.

Posted in Antarctic clothing, History, Spinning Wheel, Spinning Yarn, Uncategorized

Spinning Yarn: Campbell Island #92

June 29th, 2011 by Marion

 The high seas of the last few days had not abated by the time we reached Campbell Island, and it was not safe to take Orion into the harbour. We used the Island body to shelter on the lee side, and broke out the Zodiacs for a bit of an ocean run.

 Campbell Island is another Albatross colony cum sanctuary. There is one species, Dr Alex Watson told us, that lives only here. 

 The picture I took from the Zodiac, showing the rocky outcrop that stands off the coast of the island proper, circled by the “Campbell Island RAF”, shows a busy airport with flights arriving from all over the island, a variety of planes in all shapes and sizes, and an assortment of colours painted on the fuselages. Identity markings….

 The many birds were enjoying the edible bounty that the rough weather had brought to the surface, and the winds, and updrafts, playing with flying – circling and daring each other. I do not think that was my imagination! Birds dogfighting! What next!?

Posted in Archaeology, geology, landscape, rock formations, Uncategorized, wildlife

Spinning Yarn: Marion meest Clancy of the Overflow! #91

June 25th, 2011 by Marion

Actor Jack Thompson is a man passionate about Australian History, as evidenced by his portrayals of Australian historical figures. He has brought to life such characters as Clancy of the Overflow in Man from Snowy River, The head shearer in Sunday Too Far Away and the Defending Lawyer Major JF Thomas in Breaker Morant. He is well-known also for his heart connection with the explorers Burke and Wills. It is no wonder then, that he was a guest speaker at the Mawson’s Huts Foundation Luncheon in Sydney, recently.

 Mr Thompson has lent his distinctive voice and heartfelt passion to a specially made documentary presentation, to be screened later this year, about the famous Antarctic explorer Sir Douglas Mawson, and his expedition to the Southern Continent, last century.

 Imagine my thrill in meeting such an amazing man, listening to that magnetic voice, and spinning yarns of history with him! At the podium on stage, his yarn was one responsibility – that it rests on all of us to ensure that younger people know of the courage, strength and endurance of the men who gave us our nation and its territories. He fully supports the work of the Mawson’s Huts Foundation.

 And so do I.

Posted in Antarctica, History, landscape, Mawson, Mawson's Huts, Ninnis, Spinning Yarn, Uncategorized

Spinning Yarn: Mismatching Plates #90

June 24th, 2011 by Marion


Plate tectonics is the science of studying the movement of the Earth’s crust. We learned a bit about this on this trip.

 Macquarie Island, Campbell Island and New Zealand are all on the edge of the same plate, which is moving towards the Austral plate.  Usually one of the plates tucks underneath the other one, and slides below, but these plates are meeting edge on. The islands are a result of the meeting edge being lifted out of the water. Confirmed by geological study and observation, the islands are expected to move accordingly as the plates continue their journey.

 The whole area is volcanic. Antarctica itself is granite. The islands have visible and colourful layers of volcanic activity showing on the exposed surfaces and cliff faces. Age is apparent also, and it was good to have John McDonald with us to explain it all.

Posted in Archaeology, geology, History, rock formations, scientific experiments, Uncategorized, wildlife

Spinning Yarn: Flying through the Southern Ocean #89

June 22nd, 2011 by Marion

 Orion has stabilizers – the wings that extended below sea level, to help balance the ship – so our ride might have been a bit more exciting than we had expected with the high rolling seas, but it was also quite comfortable. As I lay in bed trying to sleep, I imagined any number of wooden ships of the last century – the Discovery, the Endurance, the Aurora, the Terra Nova – all loaded to beyond the crates lashed to the upper decks, ocean water streaming in over the sides of the ship, determined to stay on course and arrive safely in both directions. I imagined the sounds of the creaking boards, the shifting loads, the howling dogs, the scuffling and scrambling of horse hooves, the shouts of the crew, the barked and hurried orders from the Captains, and then heard our own Captain over the PA announcing that the stabilizers needed to be re-set so please either sit or lie down until this had been done by the hardworking and efficient engineering team.

 The rolling seas had exposed the wings, the Captain told us, putting undue twist on the engine when the water took away the resistance. Ten minutes was all the time needed to make the corrections and extend the wings once more. The wooden ships were not so well-equipped

 It was lovely being rocked to sleep.

This is the french barque BALEM from the cover of “sail.ie” , but you get the idea……..

Posted in Antarctica, History, Mawson, Orion, Uncategorized

Spinning Yarn: Off to Campbell Island #88

June 19th, 2011 by Marion

…..which gave us our next destination: Campbell Island. The great walking track that goes all the way to the top of the island is supposed to be pretty spectacular. The harbour is a bit tight for the Orion, but manageable and we would be there for the day before turning our bows to Dunedin once more.

Travelling on the ocean can be an eventful experience at times. When we left Dunedin all those days ago, we had a 3m swell. Reaching Commonwealth Bay generally and Boat Harbour in particular, we had a calm, flat sea. Heading north again, the wind and weather was behind us pushing us forward. And now, on the way to Campbell Island, we had 10m swells. All still in possession of our sea legs, we enjoyed the rolling and swaying – the teenagers on board playing “chicken” with the huge wave coming in over the stern of the ship! (Go figure….) The captain had the doors locked once he ordered them inside.

 I believe the kitchen did not have a good time, however. We heard lots of breaking dishes at the extreme end of several rolls of the waves, and we had to catch our dessert before it literally, hit the deck.

Posted in landscape, Orion, Uncategorized