Why a website, and now? After a week or two at home, under lockdown for the coronavirus, I looked for something new to try. Endless suggestions from experts on TV, such as learning to speak a new language. Trouble is, I’ve already tried that with half a dozen and although they’ve all been interesting I haven’t really become competent in any of them. How about a different kind of language, like HTML, and that would really need CSS to go with it? The proof of the pudding would be if I could use them to turn out a website.
What would I put in it? Nostalgia is the obvious one – with my age closing in on 80, I’ve seen quite a lot of history go past me! Quite a few experiences are rare, if not unique – how many others have tried putting a battery to the leads of a blasting detonator, to see what would happen? Or made sandwiches with boiled emperor penguin eggs? I not only know how the rules of the school playground game of rabbit (or hasie, in Afrikaans), but I’ve had great fun playing it.
Some of those are for later. To get this started, I’ll be raiding my stock of items already written, some for other websites and some for friends. So, here we go.
31/12/20: The end of the year, and so far I've managed to add at least one new page per month. Time to ease off, so no promises from now on. With luck, the new vaccines may allow us all to get back on to our more normal activities!
Logos and icons
22/11/20: This website began as a learning project to pass the time during the coronavirus lockdown of early 2020, and the learning process continues. I’d heard about “favicons”, but what were they? It turns out that they’re the tiny icons one sees on the tab at the top of an open web page, to the left of its title or name. The obvious question, could I include one for the pages of this site?
That leads on to a wider question of icons and logos. When I began setting things up, I had visions of creating a logo based on a photo of a distinctive Antarctic mountain. That proved impractical, so I needed something simpler and quicker – and when I saw how that turned out, I liked it. That explains the snowflake logo that I use on this site to divide or end pages.
For a first try at a favicon I used that, and the detail became invisibly small. So, time to simplify even more, and I’m now down to the single snowflake from the centre. That’s good enough for me.
6/5/20: I began this website with a joke about a child’s ball that had landed in our garden and I’ve written to friends about the lockdown in a light-hearted style. Yesterday, an email told me of the first person that I know directly who has died of Covid-19. I hadn’t seen him since I retired twenty years ago but I remember him clearly as someone I have chatted to, both about work and hobbies. Jokes have their place, to keep spirits up, but we must not forget that there is a grim reason for the present restrictions.
31/12/20: Back in the early 1980s, the country was still wondering whether to dig a Channel Tunnel or build a bridge. On a family holiday in Kent, we tried a service that was available then - the hovercraft crossing.
31/12/20: In the Post-War years we had a boat on Durban Bay and went fishing regularly. On one memorable outing around 1960 we encountered a group in a less seaworthy craft.
20/11/20: The British Antarctic Survey provided boxes of sledging rations in earlier years, designed to meet a high calorie requirement while keeping the cargo weight down. For workers in the field, these boxes and their contents were a major aspect of their daily lives.
14/10/20: This website was started to pass the time during the Covid restrictions but we also had an outdoor project. Could we remove a huge tree stump in our back garden?
6/9/20: Some crazes and pranks at boarding school, in the 1950s.
9/8/20: The ball in this tale is anatomical. If that might offend you, give this page a miss!
2/7/20: Some items ticked off, and still plenty to look forward to.
1/6/20: If you have an unidentified device with electrical leads, surely the obvious thing is to connect it to a battery?
20/5/20: Sometimes pages are more convenient to read if they’re in PDF form, so some pages will now have that as an alternative. For those pages the same link will lead to both versions.
12/5/20: Munro Sievwright, who took some of the photos I’ve used in these pages.
4/5/20: Two local trips near Halley Bay reminded us that Antarctica can be a dangerous place.
17/4/20: Can one grow diamonds without high-tech equipment? My father claimed it could be done.
16/4/20: A rare visit to the eerie ice-cave above the roof of a hut buried deep in the snow of an Antarctic ice shelf, as a PDF.
16/4/20: Link to British Postal Museum website, for article on mailbags used while sledging.
16/4/20: Link to the Zfids website, with much on Halley Bay.
15/4/20: Posters for our Golden Wedding anniversary in 2017, as a PDF.
4/5/20: My initial aim was to get this site launched before the end of April, and I managed it with a few hours to spare. Next target, to add at least one new page each calendar month. I’ve already got May sorted out, but how long can I keep it up?