London, September 14th, 2017
As you can see, we’ve rechristened this box from “The Latest” to “Palin’s Posts”, to reflect the fact that these are my own, personal updates. If you want to know the very latest then “News” is the box to go to.
I write this as the summer seems to be disappearing fast. I hope you’ve all caught up with it, somewhere, in some shape or form. Rather perversely, I found myself, at the height of August, in one of the coldest corners of the globe, way above the Arctic Circle, on a journey through the North-West Passage.
I set out from Resolute Bay in Nunavut, Canada on a chunky Russian vessel whose name, Akademik Sergey Vavilov, tripped off the tongue. It was a very happy ship, chartered by One Ocean Expeditions to take myself and 95 other Polar pilgrims into the remote area where Sir John Franklin’s expedition disappeared 170 years ago. Despite temperatures hovering around zero most of the passengers had booked way in advance to have the privilege of seeing the high Arctic before the waters freeze over again. They managed to squeeze me in – in the Pilot’s cabin!
The network of islands in the Canadian Arctic looks small and intricate on a map, but once on the ground the size and scale of the sea channels and the frozen desert land-masses is immense. We had 25 sightings of polar bear, none of them quite close enough for my iPhone to do them justice ! They’re big beasts and move with Fred Astaire-like ease and elegance, conserving energy for the chase.
In my ten days on the Sergey Vavilov I made some good friends and learnt a lot more of what it must have been like for HMS Erebus as she sailed, ever more slowly, into the advancing ice, all those years ago.
August was a month of hot and cold treatment, as I flew back from frozen north to the sweating south, for a week with the family in Majorca.
Now I’ve completed the major research trips, I must disregard my itchy feet and stay home and get some writing done.