I was sad to read that the MoD had asked RN commanding officers  to stop holding  the reception parties which they have traditionally held when on official visits to foreign ports.

This has been a tradition since the days of Lord Nelson and has been regarded as an important diplomatic tool in forging relationships with local dignitaries, businessmen and ex-patriots. They are there representing the UK and the Queen. They are welcomed in most parts of the  world and have have done much for international relations. It also gives the sailors a welcome break from their more onerous duties.

When I was working in Ulleval Hospital in Oslo, in the 1960s, the Fishery Protection Squadron paid us a visit and I was lucky enough to be invited to one of the receptions.

We went to the party on the Bronnington. The upper decks were decorated with flags  and we were very well looked after by the officers and crew. I do not remember much about the buffet except that there were English sausages, which was wonderful to an ex-pat, (I do like breadcrumbs and herbs in my sausages :)) In exchange for a package of said sausages we agreed to take two of the young officers sightseeing the next day!

The total bill for these parties is about £50K -£60K a year which is a paltry sum relative to the MoD budget and now, thanks to the penny pinching of some petty bureaucrats, they have been cancelled. All that goodwill to be discarded. I hope they will be just as  rigorous about their own expenses.