I have just returned from a lovely couple of days away at Amport House in Hampshire. It’s a lovely setting near Andover where the Armed Forces Chaplaincy Centre is housed. I spent time there on an ACO Personal Awareness Course. Although the course is based at the chaplaincy centre it is a non-religious course which is probably just as well for me as I am completely not-religious and verging on anti-religious. However, the centre made sure that my bedroom was closest to the chapel and my door was literally next door to the chapel organ.
There were a number of cadets there from all over the country. It was a good mix and they all got along quite quickly. This bonding does tend to happen as they already have a common interest. The whole weekend was non-uniform and first names only, even for staff-cadet relationships. This made it an environment suited for the discussions we had. The aim was to raise the personal awareness of the cadets in an intra and inter-personal way. They were tasked to think about dealing with others but also knowing themselves. I am sure all the cadets got a great deal from the experience and it is unlike any other course available in our pseudo-military organisation.
The house itself has been in the military since the second world war. It has always been used for the chaplaincy and is currently the centre for the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force. The gardens were designed by Lutyens and Jekyll and are grade one listed, they are lovely.
Part of the garden was the oldest pleached limes in the country. These are lime trees which have been trained over many years to provide a hedge. These particular ones are designed so that courting couples could walk in privacy between the trees but the chaperones could see their feet and ensure they didn’t get too close to each other from outside the centre walkway.
It would have been nice to see these in bloom and leaved but maybe next time. On the whole it was a good weekend and I really enjoyed myself. Sitting outside during a break ready a book surrounded by such a wonderful setting was delightfully relaxing.