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17 September 2014
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The team's campsite
Island life diary

Read producer Nikki Waldron's dispatches from Deception Island:

Food, water and the environment are key concerns for a film shoot in such a remote location.

Day 10: First full day on Deception

Woke up stiff and tired thanks to yesterday's luggage haul. It was about 7am and no need for a torch inside my tent. Rummaged through my bag and pulled out my decent thermals and scarf to protect my chapped face. Opened up the inner zip on my tent and got a fresh blast of the smell of the colony. Not too unpleasant, but you know it is there. Unzipping the outer I was very surprised to see beautiful sunshine. I had been warned that Deception was almost permanently shrouded in mist and cloud, and it rained more often that not. This was a real treat!

Wrapped up in all my layers, I went for a walk with the bucket down to the beach, and found a perfect spot just out of the wind. Settling down to the morning's ablutions, I did catch myself laughing out loud at where I found myself... Antarctica, sunshine, beach, penguins - what an experience! Dodging the surf, I emptied the bucket out to sea. We have to be very careful to keep any rubbish (including used loo paper), and swill any 'grey water' and human waste out to sea below the high tide mark.

Day 15: Mucking in, mucking out

Inside Nikki's tent

Tried my hardest to get up early and check the elusive early bird rush hour - but struggled to get out of a warm sleeping bag. The wind was howling around the tent. I think I dreamt that I got up. Did manage to surface by 6am. Porridge and tea for breakfast again - seems to do the trick of filling us up quickly. A wet mist hung about everywhere, so Steve spent some time putting the waterproof covers on to all of the gear and cleaning the lens from yesterday's foray into the outdoors. Most things have some smearing of penguin guano on by now. It is a good job that I don't mind being filthy!

I carried the tripod up for Steve, and then came back and prepared a sauce for dinner and washed out the pans as best I could. The sun was out now and sitting in the porch of my tent, away from the wind, was beautiful. I caught up on my diary and updated our shotlist, then set about recording some sounds of the penguin colony.

Day 20: I spy strangers

Steve woke me up with his usual shout that he was going down the beach with the bucket. He then radioed a few minutes later to say we had visitors! I quickly got up and dressed, feeling very sleepy and with big bags under my eyes. Clearly not looking my best to greet tourists who had landed on the beach!

I wandered down and met a small army of people (about 100) in matching red wet weather suits walking slowly in single file through the penguins and looking about them in awe! I cheerily said "Hello," and got a few surprised looks. I don't think they were expecting any residents beside the feathery ones! They had seen our camera jib up by the pool, so I introduced myself and explained what Steve and I were doing, and everyone seemed very pleased to meet us. It was certainly strange after 11 days with just Steve and me here, to be faced with so many people. I had my photo taken as if I was one of the attractions!

Day 21: Cold but clean

Steve went to finish some stuff at the nest and I seized my moment to go for a wash at the beach. After much consideration of the hows (buckets, thermoses flasks etc), I nipped off in a bit of a rush with just a bucket, soap and flannel... and forgot my towel! The glacial meltwater is far too gritty to use for washing, so I stripped off and dashed into the surf to get a bucket of sea water. It was cold, but I've swum in the UK in January, so it wasn't too bad. However, after throwing several buckets over myself to try and wash my filthy hair, my scalp was numb and I had to laugh out loud to stop myself shaking! I flicked the water off as best as I could with the flannel, and climbed back into the clothes I'd stashed in a bin bag to keep off the snow. (Did I mention that it had started snowing?) I then used the bag as a turban to stop my wet hair soaking my clothes, and hurried back to camp for an enormous hot chocolate!

Day 23: Ain't seen nothing yet!

I washed up all of our pans using the snow drift next to my tent, and I think it is the cleanest that they have been for a while. Made a miscellaneous sauce for lunch out of what's left in our food box, and carried more weights up the hill towards our final jib location. I kept falling in holes covered over with snow. It can carry a penguin's weight, but sadly not mine! I also climbed up higher than I had been on the glacier side of the valley. Looking over the top towards the snow fields, it is amazing just how many more strips of colonies and nesting birds there are.

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 In From the field

Life diaries

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Chinstrap penguins and other polar creatures.

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Play science officer aboard an Antarctic voyage to discover how temperature and salinity control ocean currents.

 Elsewhere on the web

Entry for Deception Island.

British Antarctic Survey
About Antarctica, its wildlife and geography.

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