Our final pre-departure rendezvous in August, organised for us by Dick, was a special tour of the Polar Museum in Cambridge. It was fascinating – well worth a visit. Amongst the many polar artefacts and papers housed there we saw Oates’s sleeping bag, pitifully slit down one side so he could stick out his gangrenous leg, and the actual sextant used by Worsley in his amazing feat of navigation. It’s moving to see the pencil-inscribed original letters and papers laid in banks of drawers, and to make a mental comparison of the orderly sotto voce calm of the museum with the circumstances under which some of them were written.
The James Caird itself can usually be seen at Dulwich College, Shackleton’s old school.
We were joined by Ian Calder who did the South Georgia excursion with Skip and Stephen last year. ‘I’m very glad to have done it’, he said enigmatically.
Dick and his wife Celia generously gave us dinner afterwards at their house. In the morning, we said goodbye and went our separate ways for the rest of the summer.
‘See you at the airport’, we told each other.