So this was a surprisingly memorable weekend that I will cherish forever. It wasn’t just about George passing out the first phase of the Royal Navy, although this was very cool to witness, it was also a weekend surrounded by family (Dad, Nanna, Auntie, Uncle and Cousins). Weekends away with my family are currently a luxury and will not happen very often once I (hopefully) move back to Canada. So I will make the most of them whilst I’m home.
The journey to Plymouth wasn’t as lengthy as I was expecting. It is very, very south from Hull, on the South West coast. We arrived just in time for a Chinese takeaway in our holiday rental. It was a 3 bedroom terrace house among a row of pastel painted homes. After food and a few drinks, we hit the hay in preparation for an early start the following day.
Six of us took it in turns to use one bathroom. That was a military operation in itself. Anyways what I was expecting to be a long, drawn out day ended up been very enjoyable and interesting. We took a short ferry ride across to Torpoint to arrive at HMS Raleigh for 9am. The first hour was taken up by refreshments and exploring the gift shop. I’m regretting not purchasing the baby pink Royal Navy hoodie now. From here we went into a small auditorium for the presentation. They played a video of what happens in the 10 week training George had just endured. It was interesting to see what each week involved and how hands-on the training is. We got to know more about the different officers that had trained the students and a load of history about the base. Then one by one the new recruits marched across the stage to receive their epaulettes; the badge they will later attach to their uniforms. You were encouraged to embarrass your family member when it was their turn. I think George got away lightly. After the presentation, we got a chance to view the accommodation. The only upgrade it has had in the past 35 years is new carpet. I was quite surprised at the state of the accommodation, although George has never said anything bad about it. I certainly admire anyone who can sleep in a room with 20 plus other people and on a mattress which was probably thinner than a deep pan pizza.
It was lunchtime, the morning went quick. We still hadn’t seen George properly, just from afar. We wouldn’t get to congratulate him until after the parade. We ate at the café on site and meandered around until it was time to take a seat and watch the choreographed parade. I’m so glad the sun decided to make an appearance so we could enjoy this to the fullest. We sat in the stands and admired the orchestrated moves. It was very impressive to witness; I can only imagine how difficult it must be to get a bunch of people to move at the exact same time. I wish they put the bloopers on so we could watch their practise sessions. It was majestic and mesmerising to watch. It made me feel incredibly proud to be British and proud of our Georgie Porgie. I must admit though, I found it somewhat comical. Not in a taking-the-piss kind of way, just how orchestrated each movement was. For example the shuffle move had me laughing out loud. They shuffle to get into line and it was just the funniest thing I’ve ever seen. You could see the audience chuckle whenever it happened. The ‘stand at ease’ movement was also a crowd pleaser, it just reminded me of how a gangster would stand but in slow motion. I’ve never met a real life gangster so I am only associating it to what I have seen on the big screen.
After the parade, we finally got to see George and congratulate him. We had a few beers on site, met a few of the officers who had been his mentors over the past 10 weeks. I tried his hat on for an obligatory photo sesh. It was a great atmosphere and everyone in the room was wearing a smile. This was George’s last day at HMS Raleigh so he packed up and we brought him and his belongings back to our temporary home. We took some time to relax and freshen up and then the drinks started flowing. We went to the local Spoons (Wetherspoons for those who don’t get the reference) and it wasn’t long before the jagerbombs were ordered. The night ended at a burger van outside the nightclub we had just frequented. Time flies when you’re having fun.
Lucy left to embark on her summer abroad in Spain. And the rest of us walked around sunny Plymouth, with a minute hangover. A lot of people were sporting pirate costumes; we soon discovered it was a Pirates Weekend. Why are pirates called pirates? Cos they aarrrrrrr. Stripes and eye patches everywhere. It was great for people watching. It’s an extremely beautiful place, lots happening and steeped in history. We wandered around the Plymouth Hoe and somehow stumbled upon Wetherspoons again. We spent the afternoon in the beer garden, later on having a Mexican feast at a local restaurant.
We packed up and hit the road. I bloody love a good time and this was one of those weekends. It was unexpectedly awesome in every single way; the company, the location and the events. I had no idea what to expect so I’m very thankful that it panned out to be one of the best weekends ever. Congratulations George!