Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Operation Bassingbourn.

Today's post comes to you with an extra umph to the military theme. Last weekend, I travelled from Lampeter to Wiltshire, and then on to Bassingbourn, to attend the passing out parade of one of my best friends. Francis (or Tpr Osborn as he is now known) had completed his phase one training in the army and invited me to his parade at ATR Bassingbourn in Herts. Given that that is a whopping six an a half hour drive from my university, his family were kind enough to let me stay over at theirs for the weekend and travel with them down from their house.

This is a typical house in the village of Sandy Lane, about ten minutes from Francis' house.
I arrived at 5pm the night before the parade and was greeted by Francis' father, his sister and their AMAZINGLY delightful dog Fifi. I got a little bit of a crush on her, I must say. She nearly came home with me...
Fifi! What a face!
His father had cooked a gorgeous feast for us all. There was beef and mushrooms that had been in their AGA over night, dumplings, vegetables, the biggest bowl of fruit salad I have ever seen in my life, a Bakewell tart with quince instead of strawberry jam and a chocolate torte. The torte was amazing. It was from a French recipe I managed to photograph before I left. It's made from something like 80% cocoa, contains no sugar and is incredibly rich but delicious. I'm definitely going to give it a go one day. Eating all of that in front of a log burning fire was surreal.

The gap that is missing was enough for three slices. It's seriously rich.

The following morning we awoke at 5am to get ready for the parade. When we left the house at 7am, it was -9 degrees Celsius and barely light. We all clambered into the family minibus (yes, they actually own a minibus) and set off on the two and a half hour drive to the barracks.

The parade was lovely and Francis did me massively proud. He looked so smart and professional - kind of hard to believe from the Francis I know and love. And he won't even mind me saying it. Needless to say, we were all so proud of him and the journey was well worth it. 

Is Annabel stunningly beautiful?
Francis is in the middle at the back.

After the parade itself, we spent the afternoon in the bar on the barracks, the Memphis Belle, before Francis collected his belongings and returned his rifle to the armoury.

After what seemed like forever, it was time to head back home and we eventually arrived back (courtesy of snow and traffic) at 8pm. Another lovely meal was ready and waiting - a dish called Bean Jar which I believe is of origin in Guernsey - and we headed to bed not long after. I had a lovely weekend with the Osborns and I'm so grateful to have shared such a lovely and important day with a great friend.

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