The Society for Nautical Research annual dinner was held aboard HMS Victory tonight. Because we enjoyed it so much last year, we invited Dawn and Nicktor to join us for the occasion. For reasons known only to the shortly to be found extinct gods of spelling, their surname was down as Carsfield.
Dawn quite liked it while Nicktor claimed it was because he had to use an alias given his recently acquired award winning fame. (He wrote a piece about pensions that was entered into a competition along with five big corporations. They had massive backing and contributions by all and sundry. Nicktor had a pencil, tissue paper and his own musings. And he won the trophy. We were all rightly proud.)
Surnames aside, we all had a marvellous time made a little more special by being elevated to the heady heights of the Top Table this year rather than among the ratings gathered around the cannon. It was a bit tight and cramped and the table was very skinny but it felt a bit like being an officer.
I’m not sure if you can tell by the photo but there were a lot of glasses for each person…which is a nice way to segue into the next photograph. Our newest acquisition:
We’ve been wanting a glass cabinet for ages. Firstly because it would be handy to free up a cupboard in the kitchen and secondly because we thought it was very good idea. Mirinda found the funky little retro Modernist 1950’s number above on ETSY and we snapped it up at a bargain price. It arrived this afternoon and I very quickly loaded it up with all of our glassware.
It also gave us somewhere to use the runner we bought at the market in Cenac-et-Saint-Julien quite a few years ago. It has been packed away just waiting.
But, back to the Victory Dinner…
Obviously there was the lovely wander over the ship during which I staggered everyone with my lack of knowledge about it. I explained that a lot of my maritime expertise is for the period between 1811 and 1912, most notably from the advent of steam. They laughed at this fobbing off. All they wanted to know is why it’s called the ‘poop deck.’ Mirinda was concerned it had something to do with the toilet facilities.
(The Poop in Poop Deck is actually derived from the French word for stern, la poupe and is the name of the highest part of the rear of the vessel usually forming the roof over a stern cabin. In the case of the Victory, it forms the roof of Hardy’s cabin.)
Something we were told, which formed the basis for a good deal of hilarity, was that there is no squid in the Mediterranean*. We were astounded, wondering how the Greeks were so well known for calamari when they couldn’t catch any in their closest body of water. The chap who told us this extraordinary news didn’t know. He then told us that if a giant squid came up from the bottom of the ocean (where they live) it can explode as the pressure equalises close to the surface.
This made me wonder whether ages ago, Greek chef Costas Calamari was happily having a barbeque when a great lump of squid fell on his hot plate. He fried it; he tasted it; he decided to add a bit of batter; he named it after himself.
Anyway, we all had a jolly good time. The food and wine were delicious, the company a delight. We even managed to convince the Carsfields that moving to France for two months was a fabulous idea.
One rather odd thing though. The meal was delicious (even Dawn’s vege option) but the coffee was served cold. I’m not talking hot coffee that’s left to go cold because it was made a long time ago. This coffee was intentionally cold. After the initial shock of it not being hot, it wasn’t actually that bad and the lower gun deck was so hot and stuffy that a cold coffee rather hit the spot. It was just odd that they didn’t warn us first.
It was probably the newest (yet oldest) method of coffee brewing, the Cold Brew. It’s ground coffee that’s been…well, if you really want to know, it’s all explained here.
* Having had time to research the squid question…it seems the chap was wrong. The type of squid that the Greeks use for calamari does, indeed, live and breed in the Med. Most notably the Loligo vulgaris which is quite abundant.