And so made significant . . .

around the world, and through the centuries

12 April

1772
Count de Benyovszky,
soldier and explorer

‘On the 12th, we anchored at the Island of Madagascar, where I went on shore at Fort Dauphin. Some particulars of information I had received from the Governor of the isle of France, induced me to wish for more ample information, respecting this fine and extensive island; but unfortunately for this purpose, I could not prolong my stay.’

The king of Madagascar

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1852
Polly Lavinia Crandall Coon,
teacher

‘Our brother Ray left us this morning - It was with deep regret and tearful eyes we left him to plod on alone towards his home. We feel sad that we leave him behind but hope another year will bring him to Oregon. This after noon it is quite pleasant except the chilling winds which sweep furiously across the endless praries of the state of Iowa. All well and judging from the talking and laughing we hear from the adjoining tent all are in good spirits. The roads continue very bad otherwise we get along very finely.’

We hope for better times

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1911
Sydney Moseley,
journalist

‘(The Old Victoria Park) I should really be in bed but here I am! Been too busy to write these notes; it seems as if I have made a really good start on the Evening Times. Given a chance at last I am seizing it with both hands. Despite my column stories I am none too confident. I’ve already has some experience of the vagaries of journalism, thank you! It is very easy to slip. Have ordered suit, overcoat and writing desk. The Census job fairly unnerved me. Had to go into terribly poor quarters of the East End slums. St Peter’s Road in Mile End, where I lived, was a paradise in comparison - with trees and a church at one end, and the Charrington brewery at the other! What terrible lives some people endure! I thought I had seen enough! Dead people . . . dying people . . . starving people. There was a beautiful slut sitting beside a coffin. Beneath her rags and dirt was a queen. . . Wrote an article on my experiences which will be published - I hope!

Today I put 10s down as ‘extra’ expenses, and it’s going to Watney for his OK. Careful my lad, careful!’

Saw television!

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1998
David Kim Hempleman-Adams,
explorer

‘It is Easter Sunday and once again for both of us it is a wrench being away from home. All our thoughts are with our families. It is at times like these - birthdays, anniversaries and family holidays - that the homesickness is most acute. I must strive to be at home for more of them next year. ‘My mama and papa will be out skiing on the fjord right now,’ Rune says. ‘I would like to be there, but I have something else to do.’

We are two and a third miles behind schedule and wake up an hour late. It is the first time we have overslept on the trip, and we cannot understand why. Outside it is a beautiful day, there is not a cloud in the sky, and we have high hopes of a good mileage today.

Almost immediately things go wrong. First the wind picks up and it becomes much colder, then the bindings on my skis, which were mounted in the wrong place, begin to work themselves loose. Whoever fitted the bindings to the skis did not use enough glue, or the glue resin is losing its adhesion in the cold. Every time I stop I have to take off the ski and tighten the screw. It is a tedious business.

We come to our first open lead after only half an hour and walk west until we find a crossing place. Unfortunately it is not a straightforward crossing. Instead of one simple route across we have to negotiate several stretches of open water and leap from one rubble island to another, using them like giant stepping-stones. I am about two thirds of the way across with another fifteen feet to go when Rune starts to drift away from me on an island of rubble that is only nine or ten square feet in area. The danger becomes more acute when the rubble island I am standing on starts to sink. I am very scared, even more than when I fell in the water as I am out of Rune’s reach and it will be very difficult for him to rescue me from his island of equally precarious ice. I make a jump for Rune’s floe and get my foot wet, but he pulls me to safety. We then cross some porridgy steel-ice to the far side of the lead. I am mightily relieved not to have fallen in.

Within half a mile we come to another lead, so this time we walk west to find a crossing-point. We cross the lead and head east, only to meet another lead after one mile. We then turn south, find a crossing and head northwards again, but within a couple of hundred metres there is yet another lead. These leads are sending us on a wild goose chase. There seems little hope of making any headway northwards. We are walking at sea level and cannot see more than about a quarter of a mile ahead, so it is very difficult to see where the leads lie. I reckon we must have crossed around 500 of them so far.

To make matters worse, we both feel ill. I am swallowing pain-killers like smarties to cope with my back pain and Rune’s navigation is off today. He does not know whether it is the compass that is playing up or his solar navigation, but we will have to sort it out tonight.

By the time we pitch camp we are two miles behind schedule and have managed only six miles to 87° 06' 40" North and 71° 00' 25" West. It is a shame as I had hoped we could do as well as yesterday, but luck was against us today. Maybe we shouldn’t have been walking on Easter Sunday. Rune agrees with me and rustles up a special Easter dinner of lobster pate, sent to us on the resupply by Thierry, and an Easter egg for pudding.

We have a radio schedule with John who tells us that the Girls on Top are having problems after they lost their tent in high winds, and they need to be rescued. All round a terribly depressing day.’

Walking on thin ice

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In general, these diary extracts are quoted as given in the published (book or online) source referred to in the reference articles. Each extract may be all, a large part of, or a small part of the complete entry for that day. I have tried to indicate where text has been removed from within a quote by the use of trailing dots in square bracket.

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