MUSEUM ASSISTANT HANNAH EDUCATES YOU IN THE LOCAL LINGO
As a language teacher in ‘real life’, I’ve become aware of the many terms that we use here in our daily lives in our own South Georgian dialect. Therefore, I’ve set myself the challenge of teaching you some of them as an insight into our latest month of work and life.
Already over halfway through our six-month season, January has been the busiest month of visitors in SGHT history as we welcomed 25 vessels into our bay. Our island community has now grown to its maximum capacity of almost 50 people, double its normal number, as the BAM team (Bataafsche Aanneming Maatschappij in Dutch) arrived to begin their project to rebuild the wharf at KEP (K-E-P – King Edward Point) to accommodate the new BAS (British Antarctic Survey) research ship, the SDA (Sir David Attenborough). This means the whole community now lives in high-vis, and there are a lot more people to say hello to! We had a special Burns’ Night supper to get to know each other, and we all especially enjoyed our plant training: not a lesson from the weedies (the team here to control the 40+ invasive plant species), but a chance to operate a whopping 48-ton excavator!
Our other work this month has included strimming and painting in the cemetery where Shackleton rests, completing the restoration of an old mobile forge, and working on a V-tipper truck which was used to transport materials around the whaling station. Jérôme has been photographing lots of interesting old slides from the museum archives, and he and Hannah, the MAs (not the qualification, but the job title of Museum Assistant), refuelled the tank with remaining helicopter fuel from the rat eradication project. Jayne was lucky enough to be able to assist in Gennie (Gentoo penguin) weighing with the scientists in their colony beyond the nick-named Puppy Lake which is now full of frolicking furry (fur seal) pups creating a frothing furry soup.
As summer moves into autumn here (despite a huge dump of snow one day recently!), our weaners (ele (elephant seal) pups) and their parents have now gone to sea, along with the majority of the furries, meaning walks no longer necessitate the carrying of a bodger (wooden stick for keeping the wildlife a pole length away). The museum team have been able to join in with some boating trips with the boaties (boating officers) this month, including dropping off the scientists to count Geeps /G-Ps (Giant Petrel chicks), and visiting Husvik and Ocean Harbour, other SG (South Georgia, of course!) whaling stations. But daily routines continue too, from ‘shopping’ for frozen cheese from the cheeser (cheese freezer), and putting food waste down the muncher (sink waste disposal unit), to enjoying smoko (tea breaks) or a cheeky G&T (no explanation required!) on the mast (the now horizontal mast of the Albatros, an old whaling boat). And this month, Jérôme and Hannah completed REDFAM (‘Run Every Day For A Month’) in training for next month’s half marathon. It’s not all recreation, however, as you can often hear the phrase, ‘Who’s got the Car(r) keys?’, meaning the keys to the Carr Maritime Gallery (named after long-term museum custodians, Tim and Pauline Carr), where our beautiful replica of the James Caird (the boat used in Shackleton’s epic 800-mile crossing from Elephant Island to South Georgia) sits. After every ship visit we do turnaround which means cleaning the main museum, Carr, shop, and public toilets ready for the next guests.
I do hope you have enjoyed learning some SG lingo this month, and I leave you with the allure of Jayne’s blog next month on ‘our real life at a whaling station’ to look forward to. Hannah