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Scott's Last Expedition

Thursday, January 19th 1911

The hut is becoming the most comfortable dwelling-place imaginable. We have made unto ourselves a truly seductive home, within the walls of which peace, quiet, and comfort reign supreme.

Such a noble dwelling transcends the word ‘hut,’ and we pause to give it a more fitting title only from lack of the appropriate suggestion. What shall we call it?

‘The word “hut” is misleading. Our residence is really a house of considerable size, in every respect the finest that has ever been erected in the Polar regions; 50 ft. long by 25 wide and 9 ft. to the eaves.

‘If you can picture our house nestling below this small hill on a long stretch of black sand, with many tons of provision cases ranged in neat blocks in front of it and the sea lapping the icefoot below, you will have some idea of our immediate vicinity. As for our wider surroundings it would be difficult to describe their beauty in sufficiently glowing terms. Cape Evans is one of the many spurs of Erebus and the one that stands closest under the mountain, so that always towering above us we have the grand snowy peak with its smoking summit. North and south of us are deep bays, beyond which great glaciers come rippling over the lower slopes to thrust high blue-walled snouts into the sea. The sea is blue before us, dotted with shining bergs or ice floes, whilst far over the Sound, yet so bold and magnificent as to appear near, stand the beautiful Western Mountains with their numerous lofty peaks, their deep glacial valley and clear cut scarps, a vision of mountain scenery that can have few rivals.

‘Ponting is the most delighted of men; he declares this is the most beautiful spot he has ever seen and spends all day and most of the night in what he calls “gathering it in” with camera and cinematograph.’

The wind has been boisterous all day, to advantage after the last snow fall, as it has been drifting the loose snow along and hardening the surfaces. The horses don’t like it, naturally, but it wouldn’t do to pamper them so soon before our journey. I think the hardening process must be good for animals though not for men; nature replies to it in the former by growing a thick coat with wonderful promptitude. It seems to me that the shaggy coats of our ponies are already improving. The dogs seem to feel the cold little so far, but they are not so exposed.

A milder situation might be found for the ponies if only we could picket them off the snow.

Bowers has completed his southern storeroom and brought the wing across the porch on the windward side, connecting the roofing with that of the porch. The improvement is enormous and will make the greatest difference to those who dwell near the door.

The carpenter has been setting up standards and roof beams for the stables, which will be completed in a few days. Internal affairs have been straightening out as rapidly as before, and every hour seems to add some new touch for the better.

This morning I overhauled all the fur sleeping-bags and found them in splendid order – on the whole the skins are excellent. Since that I have been trying to work out sledge details, but my head doesn’t seem half as clear on the subject as it ought to be.

I have fixed the 25th as the date for our departure. Evans is to get all the sledges and gear ready whilst Bowers superintends the filling of provision bags.

Griffith Taylor and his companions have been seeking advice as to their Western trip. Wilson, dear chap, has been doing his best to coach them.

Ponting has fitted up his own dark room – doing the carpentering work with extraordinary speed and to everyone’s admiration. To-night he made a window in the dark room in an hour or so.

Meares has become enamoured of the gramophone. We find we have a splendid selection of records. The pianola is being brought in sections, but I’m not at all sure it will be worth the trouble. Oates goes steadily on with the ponies – he is perfectly excellent and untiring in his devotion to the animals.

Day and Nelson, having given much thought to the proper fitting up of their corner, have now begun work. There seems to be little doubt that these ingenious people will make the most of their allotted space.

I have done quite a lot of thinking over the autumn journeys and a lot remains to be done, mainly on account of the prospect of being cut off from our winter quarters; for this reason we must have a great deal of food for animals and men.

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