In the Wake of Scott and Shackleton: Ross Sea, Antarctica

“The most extraordinary experience of my life”

“I am so sorry it has taken me this long to write to you all and thank you for the most extraordinary experience of my life. I traveled with Samuel, Agnes, Helen, David, Andrew, Connor, Matt and Dr Pat and Leanne of course, to the Ross Sea back in February this year. My husband James and our friends (it was their honeymoon) have not stopped talking about our time on board the Akademik Shokalsky - the pancake ice, sun dog, seals, whales, penguins (Royal, King, Adelie, Yellow-Eye and even Emperor), pack ice, southern lights, katabatic winds, albatross.... Though for me the historic huts were the absolute highlight. (I made Helen and Samuel promise to drag me up the beach to see them even if I was half dead). I can't tell you how I felt standing at Cape Adare, Cape Evans and Cape Royds. It was the fulfillment of a lifetime's ambition. I only wish my father were alive today so I could have the pleasure of telling him about it. He took me to Annascaul far to the west of Ireland when I was a small girl to show me Tom Crean's pub 'The South Pole'. He was fascinated by the Scott and Shackleton stories having grown up in the 1930s when both men were the epitome of heroism. I wish I had paid more attention then, but you never do when you are young. He died many years ago and would have been completely astonished if he had had even a glimmer of a notion back in 1970-something that his little girl would one day stand where those great men once stood. Probably the most mind blowing thing for me though was being able to get to 'Inexpressible Island' - thank you thank you Samuel and Capt Igor - in a tiny break in the weather. I have a dear friend who went to a very good school during the 1940s. The school principal was none other than Raymond Priestly. She met him many times and describes him as a courteous, kind and very intelligent man. You should have seen her face when I told her that I had actually stood by the slope where his ice-cave had been dug 100 years ago. I can't tell you how thrilled she was to see my photographs. So the upshot is that I have caught the Antarctic bug good and proper. Do you remember our fellow passenger J.J. , Leanne? She told me that some people catch it and if they do it's incurable. I have it. ”

Kathleen

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