Kara Owen, the UK’s High Commissioner to Singapore, appeared quite bemused when she was warmly welcomed as the guest of honour at the Baltic Exchange’s cocktail party in the Asian city-state on Wednesday. The venue — Eden Hall — she pointed out, was her home.

The mansion, built in 1904 for an opium merchant and the residence of British high commissioners since 1957, is frequently made available for UK-linked companies looking to offer some distinctly British flavour to their social gatherings.

And, as one of the first major stand-alone social events in the Singapore shipping industry’s calendar since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic at the beginning of 2020, it attracted a large gathering of attendees from across the industry spectrum.

Shipowners mingled with operators, brokers, cargo owners, bankers, lawyers and senior executives of the Singapore Exchange long into the night.

Everyone said what a pleasure it was to be able to catch up with friends they had not seen in more than two years, or finally to meet with people they had only seen on a computer screen.