Somehow something was different in Britain that made more people than ever before want to travel halfway across the planet to one of its most remote places. Or, looking on the bright side, more people have become attracted by the idea of life in Antarctica than in previous years.
Out of this vast number of applicants, just four people were chosen by the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust to count the penguin population on Goudier Island, just off the Antarctic Peninsula, and run its post office.
Conservation biologist Mairi Hilton, who lives in Scotland and has never been to Antarctica before, has a fairly obvious reason for wanting to go. “Personally I can't wait to see the penguins and other wildlife like seabirds and whales,” she said.
For the first ten weeks, the team will be joined by Vicky Inglis, from Aberdeenshire, who worked there as a general assistant in the 2019/20 season and will help them settle in.
She too has a good reason for making the long journey. “Port Lockroy [on Goudier] holds a very special place in my heart,” she said. “Having spent five months out there before the Covid-19 pandemic, I'm excited to be travelling with the new team to introduce them to the magic of the Antarctic.”
The world’s pristine wildernesses, these most natural and least ‘human’ places, really do have a sense of ‘magic’ for many people. And, when thinking about life in the UK, we should bear that in mind.