MUSEUM ASSISTANT JEROME ON SNOOZY ELLIES AND ILL TEMPERED FUR SEALS
December is the month when fur seal puppy numbers exploded between Grytviken and King Edward Point with numbers rising from 32 to 204 in a month! We even witnessed a pup being born and we have our very own blondie pup!
The weather was very clement for a week and we made the most of our cruise ship free days doing some maintenance work outside. The Museum Assistants worked hard sanding then painting the museum entrance stairs and banisters and painting all of the wooden supports under the artefacts outside. The two propellers at the front of the museum have been treated against rust and painted in red oxide. The elephant seal weaners really like the new colour and love to sleep jammed in between the blades. The rust had got quite a hold on the portable forge so it has been moved inside and prepared ready for painting. The rail tracks of the Guano shed have been cleared of stones and weeds in order to bring them back to life. It has been really lovely to be able to work in the sunshine, enjoy the fresh air and the incredible scenery whilst keeping an eye out for the ill-tempered fur seals.
Jayne, our Curator, gave us an artefact handling course before we started deep cleaning the museum display areas. It was so interesting to get a feel of the artefacts, handling objects that have been used by men a long time ago. We used soft goat hair conservation dusting brushes and a tiny hoover to suck up the dust particles. Jerome had the task of photographing all of the natural history objects from rocks, mosses, eggs and bones to dried crabs, taxidermy pintail ducks, petrels and albatrosses, strange deep sea creatures in jars, a humpback foetus and other beautiful taxidermy fish.
December was very busy with 2400 cruise ship passengers in Christmas week alone. Passengers enjoyed spending time and money in the Christmas-decorated giftshop, and it was a very good opportunity to sell some exquisite South Georgia Museum crafts. Despite being very busy the museum team enjoyed a plethora of social activities! Hannah represented us in a game of football that we unfortunately lost against the Government team. We invited everyone over to enjoy mulled wine, mince pies and sausage rolls while adorning the church interior with Christmas garlands and baubles.
Christmas festivities carried on with a wonderful carol service in the church led by Hannah, both KEP chefs and the doctor; instruments included a guitar, ukulele, tin whistle and keyboard. It was really nice to experience the atmospheric head torch-lit church and listen to our angelic voices echoing in the eaves. We worked on Christmas day, but thanks to the generosity of one of the cruise ships, we enjoyed a lovely evening with mulled wine and dancing outside the Post Office. We officially celebrated Christmas at home on the 27th of December on a day off. It was so hot and sunny that some of us even wore shorts! The day began with a treasure hunt searching for a flask of Shackleton’s replica whisky which meant that we could make a Christmas toast to ‘The Boss’. We had a lovely and rather filling three course meal and ate the last of the South Georgia reindeer including roast potatoes that didn’t even come out of a can! For dessert we pimped up an old Christmas pudding with some nuts, fresh orange zest and lots of French Brandy! After dinner we gathered around the Christmas tree and opened our presents. We had all made each other secret Santa presents. It was so nice to actually make something and not just spend money on a gift. It had been a unique South Georgian Christmas. Sadly, the end of year meant that Pat has now left the team to start his next job working on a cruise ship. He has been tremendous help with the new till system and we shall miss our IT guru.
Looking ahead, January will be our busiest month not only for cruise ships but also with three birthdays in ten days in our team of five. What a great start to the new decade!