Burial at sea today.


Tuesday 21th February 1956 to Friday 24th February 1956.

On Tuesday an Antarctic blizzard blew in. We gamely battled on with our quest to unload the ship but in 40 knot winds the biggest impression we made was in memberships of the swimming club. We were deluged with new members.

Once the winds exceeded 60 knots we accepted defeat but we hadn’t managed to get off the ship when the gusts began to exceed 95 knots. At that speed the wind is strong enough to hurl rocks through the air, so we made a hasty retreat.

On Wednesday 21st we were blizzard bound all day but our spirits were elevated (possibly to hysteria) when Mack attempted a new culinary dish for lunch.

I’ve hinted in previous posts that Toad in the Hole is part of Antarctic heritage.  Mack is Scottish so he was attempting a cross-cultural exchange and he produced something that was uncannily similar to door mat.

I’ve put some recipes up so you can all have a try at this peculiar, traditional English cuisine. You vegetarians aren’t spared (that wouldn’t be fair). You’ll see that during the first world war, this was one of the scandalous ways housewives wasted lentils!

Eight intrepid expeditioners rose to the occasion and declared our lunch worthy of burial at sea. Out we went, into the howling wind and pelting snow. We read a passage from The Admiralty Manual of Seamanship with the ‘body’ sewn up in a tea towel covered in an Australian flag. With a three gun salute affected by busting three inflated paper bags, the body was reverently nudged off the cutting board and we all hurtled back inside before we got frost bite.

Then we plied the chef with generous lashings of Scotch and Carlsberg. The poor man was in grief! He was down on his knees howling beside the stove … although it could have been the grog he consumed while we were freezing our ears off on the deck.

The latest weather bulletin has the barometer steady with the wind at 65 gusting to 80. I hope we can get a bit of unloading done tomorrow. The clock is ticking and Hans Christian is pacing ominously.

Here’s to Toad in the Hole … long may it sink below the frozen ocean and let’s hope dinner is better (although with the state Mack’s in there is some doubt there).

Possibly as part of the civilian duty to sacrifice creature comforts for the war effort, Toad in the Hole recipes abounded.

In WW1, possibly as part of the civilian duty to sacrifice creature comforts for the war effort, Toad in the Hole recipes abounded.


About lynettefinch

Dr Lynette Finch. Once I was a poster designer and illustrator. I ran a small poster business called Mantis Prints, specializing in political posters during the odd days of the Bjelke-Petersen Government in Queensland. I’m told my posters hung on the walls of Rizhsky railway station in Moscow, although I’m not sure about that. They are in the collections of the Queensland Art Gallery, on several on-line websites, and in the following book: Lynne Seear and Julie Ewington, eds. Light II, Contemporary Australian Art 1966-2006, Queensland Art Gallery Publishing, 2007, pp. 110-117. In my next incarnation I was a senior lecturer in history. I published books and articles on urban health and feeding people in modern industrial cities, on the Queensland home front in the second world war and the role and history of war propaganda. Sometimes I wrote about Marxism and its impact around the world as well as intimate oral histories of communists in Australia, their experiences in conservative society, their role as social and political radicals in small towns and cities. Once I went through a death phase and wrote about the role of the Coroners Court in colonial society, about abortion and infanticide in nineteenth century cities, and about the role of gossip in policing. My research took a decidedly happier direction when I was granted an Arts Fellowship to Antarctica in the 2007/08 season, as research for a biography about Antarctic surveyor and explorer Syd Kirkby. I bunkered down in a blizzard in Brooke's hut near Davis station and imagined what it was like for Syd, caught for twelve days in a 150-knot blizzard, high in the plateau beyond Mawson in 1960. Some of my books: Australia’s Frontline: Remembering the 1939-45 War. With the rapid escalation of the Pacific War in 1942, Queenslanders suddenly found themselves perilously close to the frontline, especially those in the far north. The book is based on interviews of men and women who worked their farms in the north, some of them Italians and Germans who were interned as enemy aliens. Nevertheless, the book is essentially a story of courage, of community spirit and neighbourliness, and of the public and private war effort of a community facing crisis and loss. Dark Angel: Propaganda in Modern Warfare. This book traces the origins and development of propaganda and media manipulation from the 1800s to today’s ‘spin’ and ‘false news’. Why have governments at war allocated resources to propaganda leaflets, broadcasts, movies and art during major military conflicts? Read the book. You’ll find the answer. The Classing Gaze: Sexuality, Class and Surveillance. Concepts like sexuality and class share the same moment of birth during the nineteenth century as social inquiry turned to analysis of the workings, population growth, thought patterns, economic systems and internal bodily workings of humans (or Man, to be historically accurate). How did these ideological concepts impact in the real world? A great deal, is the short answer, outlined in this book. Young in a Warm Climate: a history of childhood in Queensland is an edited volume about childhood on the Queensland frontiers, at school, at home, in hospitals and other institutions. Fixing Antarctica: Mapping the Frozen South. In 1956, in the height of the cold war, the biggest wintering expedition that Australia had ever sent to Antarctica set out to map the great frozen landmass of Antarctica, driven by official fears that the Soviet Union meant to take the continent for themselves. The fourteen scientists were chosen from a field of hundreds of applicants. The surveyor, the central character in Fixing Antarctica, was Sydney Kirkby. Over the next twenty years, Syd Kirkby explored and map more unknown regions in the world than any other person in history. Earth, Wind and Fire is essentially twelve generations of my father’s mother’s family but it’s much more than that. It’s kind of Game of Thrones without the dragons. It starts with a kidnapped girl in Shelford, Nottinghamshire in the east midlands of England in 1618 and follows an unbroken chain of recorded births, deaths and marriages which spans four centuries until, six generations later, her descendants flee their farms in Ireland and join the diaspora to Australia. Using family stories, family photographs, published diaries and official documents, it’s the interwoven stories of five families struggling to survive amidst the most tumultuous times in European history. What’s next? I’m wandering into the boggy territory of creative fiction, writing a series of crime stories set on King Island, a beautiful windy island in the Bass Strait between Victoria and Tasmania. I’ve finished the first draft of Book One, The Rock. There will be seven, I think. I’m also writing a stand along novel, called The Key Collector. It’s about a World traveller, Angela who settles in a Tasmanian village near her daughter and grandson where she witnesses a car crash that kills three women. Convinced the collision was an act of murder, she digs into the tragic lives of the victims and is mired in a mystery stretching across three continents and reaching into the second world war.

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