We celebrated the 2017 centenary of the Women’s royal Naval Service (WRNS) with lunch for former Wrens and women still serving in the Royal Navy in Virginia Beach, USA. This was an impressive group of women who upheld the very best traditions of the navy by throwing a fabulous party. Catch a glimpse of the fun (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9k2mN2ea7oA).
Virginia Beach is just a stone’s throw from Norfolk, the largest naval base in the world, and lots of the former wrens had met their husbands while serving in NATO – especially in Naples, Italy.
That was the story of Jo who was hosting Toby and I throughout the stay. She and I had originally done our WRNS officer training at the Britannia royal Naval College in Dartmouth back in the dark ages of 1978. I went out to work in Naples and when I left (exceptionally, without husband), she took over from me three years later and met Nick who whisked her out of the WRNS and back to the States.
The stars of our celebration lunch were fellow Commander David and his wife, Fran. She had done all the organisation and devised the menu:
Salmon with Sundried Tomatoes & Goats Cheese
Chicken with Lemon, Garlic & Rosemary
Warm Peaches with Honey and Rum
Lemon Choux Buns
Cheese & Biscuits
Coffee & Mints
Originally, I was due to cook with a US Navy chef but, at the last minute, her admiral boss needed her for entertaining his own lunch party. So David stepped in to the breach and, although not a regular cook, proved just what is possible with good preparation.
Our early task was to make the choux pastry profiteroles for dessert – and I have to confess that the first batch was an utter disaster! They were flat and limp and totally impossible to stuff with lemon cream. But they would have made excellent blinis (if we’d left out the sugar) topped with smoked salmon.
And, while we cooked hard, the noise level of our guests rose in proportion to the amount of Prosecco being consumed. They were all having a wonderful time but we needed to start feeding them soon … More of the dishes next time.