Tuesday 26th June

Wed 27 Jun 2018 13:58

Tuesday 26th June

78:58 N 12:03 E Ny London

Back to guest author Mary....(thanks from Virginia who has been too busy cooking and planning to write today!)

We are now anchored in 1.6m water in the perfect cove at Ny London. The Birds are ashore exploring in peace and quiet and the dream team of Kirsty and Peter are cooking up a risotto ‘ svalbardese’.

Much sleeping was achieved in the calm harbour at Ny Ålesund. Virginia and Mary did another quick walk around the town first thing (ie 9am) and picked up the sign boards we missed last night. Breakfast was awesome - Patrick’s eggy bread.

Ny Ålesund is a great place when there are no cruise ships in. Everyone you see seems to have a purpose - from setting off in a rib to do some science, to manning the shop or cleaning the excellent toilets.

We had made a date with the shop keepers to come and spend our money at 11, and returned just as a small expedition yacht crew were leaving so had the shop to ourselves. There were many gorgeous things for sale all adorned with ‘Ny Ålesund 79deg’. As the guidebook says this merchandising will allow for a few millimetres of Atlantic drift over the next millennia until that latitude is actually achieved, but we will allow them some rounding up from 78 deg 57 mins currently.

After filling up with water we set off across Kongsfjorden through the islands towards the Kongsfjorden glacier. This is the first time we have had to keep watch for icebergs and many small but impressive ones floated by, some suitable for the gin and tonics we don’t have. We do have the lemons, though! We got close enough to the snout of the glacier to see the scale of the front wall and chaotic crevasses. Not somewhere you want to get too close to. Interestingly the number of birds increased markedly near the snout with many kittiwakes, Little Auks, fulmars and eider duck. Close to Blomstrandbreen and between the island of Bromstrandhavoya there was pack ice across the gap.

We headed towards the cove at Peirsonhamna which resembled a well organised evacuation from Dunkirk with about 50 passengers off yet another cruise ship. They were all kitted out in red and black waterproofs with guards in yellow jackets with their guns stationed on several of the surrounding hills.

By the time we had reached the beach and sorted ourselves out the last group had left and we had the cove to ourselves. It is another fascinating example of a mining venture - this time marble, and never successful - where some serious engineering equipment was shipped in from Leicester and probably hardly ever used. Peter, our resident engineer, pointed out the high quality components that had not rusted like the rest of the equipment. We also peered in the windows of one of the London houses. It looked like it’s one of the cabins used by residents from Ny Ålesund for science or leisure trips.

We walked up the east side of the island to a small pool with a couple of islands being used by arctic terns for nesting. We had watched them diving in the sea and catching small fish and then saw terns delivering food to the nest. We couldn’t see if the food was for chicks or the females. Arctic tern deliveroo!

Returning to the boat to swap over we found the Birds had not been idle with tomorrow’s meal prepared and planning for the rest of the trip up until our turn to Longyearbyen. Dinner was a delicious risotto followed by custard and Lorna’s cake....we have been very restrained in making this last thus far. No shops for another week, but supplies seem to be going well.

Jamie - Good luck for your trip to China.  Sorry not to be able to text you direct but no signal even at Ny Alesund where it is reserved for scientists not trippers!  Have a great time!  Love Mum 

Lizzie - we all hope your internship is going well and you haven’t got culture shock going from Svalbard to London on 48 hours.  And thank you for use of your waterproof jacket.  It is a better fit!

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