Hello from jolly ol’ England!!
I’m here with Mark for a family reunion on his Burmese side of the family.
Mark’s uncle Myoma Lwin served as commanding officer of the RML (Rescue Motor Launch) 526 Fairmile B in World War 2 in the British Royal Navy. He took command at the tender age of 19! I barely took command of my college courses at the age of 19, much less a rescue boat saving thousands of lives during the war… so I am duly impressed at his leadership and personal fortitude… and proud to be part of this family.
This rescue boat is now being restored as a fund-raising vessel to support young veterans of today’s wars. To raise funds for her restoration, a charity gala dinner was hosted aboard the HMS Victory by The First Sea Lord Admiral Sir George Zambellas, and Mark’s uncle was the guest of honour.
What an amazing experience to not only tour the British Royal Navy’s oldest commissioned warship and hear her most famous war stories, but also to eat a festive dinner with the highest ranking officer of the British Royal Navy, next to whom our uncle was seated. I think they shared war stories the whole time! How could they not- the dinner took place on the Victory’s lower gun deck, with tables set up between her 32-pound cannons. It was a truly unforgettable evening.
I started my day in London, where we are staying with Mark’s lovely cousin Sanda & her beautiful family. I woke up far too early (I’m still jet-lagged from Manila time) so I occupied myself with my email, a cappuccino and a couple of these raw bars. They are so good that I’m gonna try to replicate them at home. I’ll let you know how it goes…
Later in the morning I was hungry for real breakfast, so I had sourdough toast with avocado & cherry tomatoes. Alongside was some fresh mozzarella with balsamic glaze. And organic yogurt with local honey. The food is so good here!
We took our lunch on our road trip down to Portsmouth, where the HMS Victory is harboured. Sanda & I shared this vegan Moroccan wrap that had chickpeas & spinach & yummy spices, and also a red pepper & goat cheese quiche. The wrap made for great road food, but unfortunately the quiche was just too crumbly… We also shared some salads from Ottolenghi (green bean with dill dressing, roasted sweet potatoes with tahini dressing, and roasted peppers with goat cheese & basil.) These did not get pictured as I juggled containers in the car… but at least we ate our veggies!
We also shared some fresh raspberries all around.
We arrived in Portsmouth in time to check into our b&b, get all decked out in our black tie outfits, and have a celebratory glass of champagne in the b&b wine bar before heading over to the event.
During the tour, we heard fascinating and personal stories about the HMS Victory, such as exactly how & where Lord Nelson was shot during the battle of Trafalgar (there is a plaque embedded in the deck), what the daily rations were (porridge and stew), and how long it takes a good surgeon to amputate someone’s leg (about 90 seconds.)
Dinner was lovely: terrine of sea trout (unpictured), followed by this beautiful sea bass atop fresh spinach & tomato confit. Dessert was a trio of English trifle, treacle cake, & apple crumble ice cream. It was all fabulous and made even more fabulous by the thoughtfully paired wine courtesy of Hattingley Valley.
We lingered as long as possible, talking with family and other guests, taking one last picture!! until finally we had to secede to the ship’s curators and say our goodbyes. It was a magical evening and one I will never forget.
Happy weekend, everyone!