When I was asking for help with my Baking Blind tour (https://youtu.be/Fhqz-h0ESag), Jo popped up. We had last had contact nearly 40 years ago when I waved goodbye to my first naval job in Naples, Italy, and to her too as she was taking over from me. After all those years, we re-kindled our friendship when she hosted me in Virginia Beach, USA.
We first met at the Royal Navy College at Dartmouth in the UK back in 1978. We were training to become Women’s Royal Naval Service officers. There were about 12 of us on the course and we knew that not everyone would get through.
It was freezing at times and we spent many frantic minutes putting on and peeling off thermal underwear, chattering with cold while getting lost on Dartmoor and wailing in the dark of tents pitched on the soggy moor. Lots of the others went running, swimming and more while I discovered the delights of the shooting range: a soft mat to lie on and an electric heater. No wonder I became an ardent shooter with both pistol and rifle. Even more amazing, I ended up shooting for the college and was the only Wren to win “colours”. But in those days, when Wrens had only been at the college for four terms, they still hadn’t adapted to having women amongst the men. So I was the proud recipient of a “colours” tie – heaven only knows when they thought I’d wear it.
Jo and I didn’t meet again until three years later when she came to take over my job with the NATO naval intelligence section in Naples. She settled in so quickly that she met and married US Navy Commander Nick while she was there – hence her move to Virginia Beach. We had whole lives to catch up when we met again all those decades later.
She invited all her friends to meet me over brunch and, despite declaring herself to be an enthusiastic non-cook, produced an excellent pumpkin bread (http://www.bakingblind.com/pumpkin%20bread.htm) that would be perfect for anyone at Halloween.