Ware very fortunate in having travelled to some remote and exciting places over the years, but Hazel, my wife, has always hankered after seeing the Antarctic. Whilst I delight in snorkelling in tropical waters, she prefers the comfort of a cagoule to a swimming costume.
So we booked a three-week voyage on MS Hanseatic, a German ship which, in exchange for the cost of my first house, offers first-class comfort and the chance to enjoy this little-visited region.
After a brief call in the Falkland Islands, Hazel spotted the first hint of what lay ahead on the horizon.
What looked like a long cloud was actually a six-mile-long iceberg, a sheet of ice which had broken away from Antarctica and floated northwards, causing us to divert slightly to reach South Georgia.
Captain Cook discovered South Georgia Island, naming it after the King, but many nations have used its natural harbours and inlets for commercial whaling and smaller-scale seal fur and oil production.
When Norwegian whalers searched for a base, they discovered six old pots used by sealers to render down blubber and named the bay Grytviken, which means Pot Cove.
Our first landing was at Salisbury Plain beach, filled with delightful king penguins, the adults beautifully marked with yellowy orange and black heads, their young in various stages of downy disarray as they preened away their juvenile plumage.
On this kind of vessel, shore landings are by zodiac boat, which proved accessible even to those unsteady on their feet. The staff are used to older passengers and getting in and out is made painless with their help.
Up on the beach, the penguins didn’t seem aware of the five-metre limit we were asked to observe, coming up to get a closer look at these red-clad interlopers.
The beach looked delightful in our uncharacteristically lovely weather, with the sun glinting high on a glacier, whilst illuminating the hatchery extending high up the hillside.