Lodge visit to Romania
Blog by Bron Liles
We arrived in Bucharest on the Greek Orthodox Easter Festival weekend. The temperature was in the high 20 and most of the citizens of the city had taken to the hills or the coast for the holiday. The wide roads of the capital were almost car free and lots of restaurants and shops closed.
Our guide for the week, who was quite short but very cute, had to change our itinerary which seemed to be a theme of the holiday. Either the sights were closed or we were upstaged by important dignitaries with marching bands.
On the third day we headed for the snow covered mountains of Transylvania in search of Dracula but all we saw was three Greek Ordodox churches, a high Gothic cathedral and the battlements of a strongly defended church - plus magnificent scenic views a bit like Switzerland.
The men had two meetings the first they finished on time and we all went to eat at a typical Romanian restaurant. The menu of most meals was cold meat, fish pate and cheese starter, then cooked meat, potatoes and salad or pickled vegetables or both. The pudding was always apple, with sponge or pastry or crumble. Plum brandy liqueur was on offer at special meals.
The second meeting the men kept the ladies waiting for an hour, so we had to seek consolation in the bar. Joyce I owe you for that glass of wine!
Naunton and I were the first to leave on Friday morning and thankfully returned complete with our cases to a freezing Heathrow. I'm sorry for all the people who landed without their luggage but hope the few who didn't get their cases until three days into the holiday were luckier on the way home.
Thank you all for a lovely holiday - we were a very well behaved group weren't we?
Lodge Visit to Romania
Blog by Alan Wyer
The Romania Adventure.
I use the word adventure advisedly for no-one could envisage the experiences that would occur on and between the 3rd and 10th May 2013. We were exposed to the cultural diversity of a fledgling democratic country emerging from an oppressive and revolutionary past and seeking now to establish its credibility within a 21st century world.
The week was divided into three parts :- Friday (arrival) and Saturday in Bucharest; Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday travelling to, in and around, then back from Transylvania; returning to Bucharest on Thursday and depart at various times on Friday.
Our arrival and welcome address at the Novotel Hotel in the centre of Bucharest was in complete contrast to the atmosphere of our Welcome Gala Dinner at the Jaristea Restaurant. It was a step back in time, to the 1920's. (and it wasn't a themed pub either). This was our first opportunity to sample the mysteries of organised Romanian cuisine - typically plates bearing cheeses, meats, limp salads or bowls of pickled vegetables, with lamb served in various forms, all served at indeterminate times and in random order.
Being able to choose our lunch-time snacks ensured a measure of sanity.
Saturday May 4th
Saturday being a public holiday, Bucharest was deserted and allowed us to wander at leisure through the empty streets, being careful to correctly observe the pedestrian lights lest the stray (race)car should hurtle past. Sorin, our English-speaking guide, filling our ears and hearts with the historic significance of the personages and architecture we came across. This was to be the pattern throughout our visit. After lunch the afternoon coach took us to a couple of palaces (Mogosoaia and Stirbei) and a stroll round Herastrau Park.
Sunday May 5th
Sunday found us heading north through the southern flat plains towards the mountains of Transylvania. It was quite unusual to see mountains rise so abruptly after travelling many miles of unbroken level land. A visit to and lunch at Peles Castle in the hills of Sanaia broke our journey to the 4* Piatra Mare Hotel. Although parts of this latter establishment were lavish there were elements throughout the stay there which dimmed the stars somewhat.
Monday May 6th
Monday started with a trip to Rasnov Fortress. Built on the very top of a hill by the locals to provide shelter and defense against the invaders from the north. It was one heck of climb but the view of the surrounding countryside against the backdrop of the snow-covered mountains was well worth the effort. Bran Castle, the home of the Dracula Legend was the next stop. The tourism hype was a distraction, but hearing about links to the activities of Vlad the Impaler gave some understanding of what inspired Bram Stoker to write the novel in the first place.
Tuesday May 7th
Tuesday saw us returning to the flat lands just south of Transylvania to view the impressive walls of Prejmer Fortress, a high, thick stone ring guarding the simple but beautiful church. Then back to Brasov in time for a guided tour of the Black Church. After lunch we returned to the hotel to prepare for our Masonic which consisted of a demonstration of their elaborate opening and closing ceremonies and a series of presentations and speeches in between. The meeting was followed by a combined dinner with our Ladies.
Wednesday May 8th
Today we are scheduled to return to Bucharest via Curtea de Arges and a visit to Basarab Church, 14th century edific build in stages by the Basarab dynasty. Changes of plan during the day altered the schedule and the church visit became over-extended resulting in a late lunch (nearly 90 minutes waiting for a pizza). Our late arrival meant we were unable to visit an art exhibition to which we had been invited. Many of us took solace by having dinner at the Military Club nearby.
Thursday May 9th
The morning highlight of Thursday was the visit to Parliament House, a grandiouse pile of 1,000 rooms built by the dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. Second only in size to the Pentagon its main high-ceilinged marbled rooms with lavish chandeliers being renamed to blot out he existence of the country's executed Leader. The Masonic meeting in the evening followed by a Gala Dinner with our Ladies created an much more happy tone. The Third Degree Ceremony we witnessed was an education in itself - diferent to anything any had witnessed before. I must get an English translation !!
Throughout the whole trip our hosts made all efforts to ensure our expectationes were met. Our guide, Sorin, was at pains to explain the lengthy history and recent upheavals which he and his counrtymen were anxious to put in context in their bid to become full partners in a modern world. The tortuous routes through the Transylvanian mountains on poor roads did lengthen the journey time somewhat. These however ensured we saw the changing face of the countryside and its peoples and were rewarded with some spectacular views of snow-covered mountains, sun-lit woods and meadows. It will take more than one visit for anyone to uncover the true character and friendliness of this country and about fifty years to learn to speak their language !! I, for one, will be quite happy to return in the near future.
My blog - John Dutchman-Smith
Wednesday 1st June
The alarm woke me at 2.30 a.m. and I left home at 3.00 a.m. for an hour's drive to Liverpool airport where I checked in for an uneventful 6.00 a.m. flight to Amsterdam. I had a two hour wait for my connection to Minneapolis which was just as well since I had to queue for over an hour to pass through security at the gate. This made me wonder what my experience of "Homeland Security" might be on arrival at Minneapolis. I need not have worried because I cleared immigration and collected my luggage in less than 15 minutes and met Frank Harris who kindly drove me downtown.
Frank left me as he had more passengers to collect and after settling into the Radisson Hotel I went out to explore. I didn't get very far as I was tempted by an open air bistro on Nicolet Mall where I sat for an hour in the sunshine sipping Newcastle Brown ale.
On my return I met up with Alan Wyer and the two of us strolled down Nicolet Mall to Frank's condominium where we met up with Jim Hogg and his host Paul Kraska. We contacted Roy Morris who had arrived at the hotel and the six of us met up for dinner at McCormick and Schmicks - Frank's recommended fish restaurant where we had an excellent and convivial meal, and so to bed.
Thursday 2nd June
I woke early and went for an early morning stroll finding first a Starbucks and then the light electric railway station. On the way back I came across a really excellent Farmer's Market. The six of us reconvened for a leisurely breakfast at the hotel.
After breakfast Alan, Roy and I took the electric train to the Mall of America (or Mega Mall as it is known locally). Whilst this mall is enormous the only thing that sets it apart from any other is the enormous Disneyesque amusement park all under cover in the centre of the mall. We didn't buy anything except lunch after which we returned to the hotel to prepare for the evening's outing.
During the day there had been more arrivals and so by the time we assembled to board the bus to the BBQ we were joined by Chris Malpus, Richard van Doren, John Belton, Alvin Benemerito and his wife, Shanda, Alan Tibbetts and his friend Delbert Ross, Caid McKinlay and number of members of Sir Winston Churchill Lodge. We were transported to the home of Bro Andy Rice the Worshipful Master of Sir Winston Churchill Lodge where we were greeted by Andy and by the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Minnesota Most Worshipful Brother Tom Hendrickson and many members and wives of local lodges.
An excellent evening ensued with dry weather, cold beer, hot food, and best of all a very warm welcome. Later round a smoky fire we chatted and exchanged experiences before reboarding the bus back to downtown. A quick nightcap and then zzzzzzzzz
Friday 3rd June
Breakfast and off to our first visit to the Scottish Rite Temple where we were to give our demonstration of an emulation ritual third degree ceremony the following day. We arrived at around 9.30 a.m. and commenced by working out what changes would be needed to accommodate the different arrangement of the furniture with the Worshipful Master, the Immediate Past Master and the Chaplain being seated together on an elevated stage. Fortunately the large altar which in American lodges is situated in the centre of the room was on castors and could easily be moved to a position more convenient for us. The main room in the temple is capable of seating over 1,200. We were expecting over 200 to attend the demonstration and we had decided that the majority would be spectators and that we would set up a virtual lodge in the centre of the room for the participants.
Under the direction of Alan Wyer we then rehearsed those members of Sir Winston Churchill Lodge who were to represent the body of the lodge during the demonstration in the UGLE signs of the three degrees.
Those members of Internet Lodge taking part were
- Worshipful Master Chris Malpus
- Immediate Past Master Alan Tibbetts
- As Chaplain Richard van Doren
- As Secretary Frank Harris
- As Senior Warden Alan Wyer
- As Junior Warden Roy Morris
- As Senior Deacon John Belton
- As Inner Guard Jim Hogg
- As Director of Ceremonies John Dutchman-Smith
- As Assistant Director of Ceremonies Alvin Benemerito
- As Steward Caid McKinlay
We were assisted by several members of Winston Churchill Lodge.
- As Junior Deacon Ted Martz
- As Tyler John Gann
- As Candidate Mike Ordorff
It wasn't an easy practice as it was our first time working together and we were in a strange environment but we got through without any major issues though I'm sure that it must have looked a little disjointed to our American on lookers. It was my first time ever as Director of Ceremonies and it was the first time that my assistant Alvin Benemerito had even seen a UGLE ceremony. Alvin did a great job the whole weekend and it was obvious to all that he really took it very seriously and especially that he really enjoyed it.
After the practice which didn't end till after 1 p.m. we retired to a local diner for lunch before heading back to the hotel to prepare for our evening outing.
The weather was quite hot and very humid as we set off mid afternoon to visit Stillwater prior to our cruise on the St Croix River. The journey in the bus to Stillwater was prolonged by the congestion caused by the one way lifting bridge in the middle of the town. Many of us together with our American hosts passed an hour in an Irish pub sampling Guinness and alternative beverages. We then moved to the jetty where we boarded our river boat and set sail. There has been much snowmelt this year and the water in the St Croix River which soon would join the Mississippi was about 15 feet above normal level. A very enjoyable cruise ensued during which an excellent dinner of either pork or catfish followed by apple crumble was served. Our return to Minneapolis allowed sufficient time for a nightcap in the hotel before retiring early in order to be prepared for the next day.
Saturday 4th June
The "big" day dawned and we had a 7.30 a.m. breakfast before leaving for the temple for a morning practice which started soon after 9.00 a.m. This one went very well and we were all pleased to be free to relax around 11 a.m. by which time many of the audience were already arriving. A snack lunch at a local cafe and we returned fully charged to take our seats in lodge whilst Sir Winston Churchill Lodge opened and then called off. It's time for us! A first for all of use is that we were all fitted with remote microphones before we started. I'm pleased to say that the demonstration went extremely well and was very well received. Everyone had worked very hard and it showed. The organist provided by our hosts was excellent and the sound engineer and lighting engineers both did a great job using a copy of our script. How many UGLE lodges have sound and lighting engineers? The ceremony was followed by a long question and answer session which continued right until we managed to leave the building to move to the Minneapolis Club for the Festive Board.
The Festive Board (see here) was another very different but splendid occasion.Fabulous food, much wine taking accompanied by Masonic Fire, excellent and short speeches all contributed to a marvellous evening. A poignant feature of the Festive Board was the table with one place setting in the centre of the room at which no-one would sit, this being in remebrance of absent and departed brethren. Both National Anthems and other singing all brought to a fine conclusion by the Tyler's toast given by our Tyler of the day John Gann. Bernie from SWC drove us the short distance back to the hotel and despite losing Alan Wyer on the way we all eventually reconvened there. As we retired to bed feeling very satisfied with our day we said our goodbyes to Caid and to Alvin and Shanda who were to depart early Sunday morning.
Sunday 5th June
After a leisurely breakfast we said goodbye to Alan Tibbetts and Delbert Ross who were driving back to Ontario. The four of us remaining in the hotel Chris, Roy Alan Wyer and I went for a stroll down to and along the Mississippi where we saw some pretty enormous fish cruising the banks. On the previous day we had been invited to go to the installation of Lebanon lodge which were pleased to attend. This was another new experience for us all as it was an "open" installation with ladies and children present. The ceremony was little different to what we would see in England except that no signs or words were used. The installation was followed by lemonade and cake and we were then invited back to the new master's home for further refreshment. Roy was flying home that evening and so since it was convenient to our hosts we were all given a lift to the airport where Roy checked in and Chris, Alan and I returned downtown on the light electric railway. We dined again at McCormick and Schmicks and retired to the hotel.
Monday 6th June
After breakfast Chris returned to the airport to pick up his rental car for the rest of his stay whilst Alan and I strolled down to Frank's condominium where we met up again with Richard van Doren and John Belton. The weather was fabulous and the temperature eventually reached 98 degrees Fahrenheit. After catching up on each other's news and reflections of the day Frank kindly took us back to the Scottish Rite temple where we had an excellent tour of a wonderful building. This was followed by a trip to a giant computer store where Richard researched his next computer and then lunch at another local diner. Alan and I were then dropped back at the Radisson in order to get ready for the next outing, this time to Lake Harriet lodge No 277 where we were to witness a double ceremony of raising USA style. Chris collected us in his rental car and we then sampled the delights of a totally congested freeway. Lodge was due to open at 4.30 p.m. and we got there with seconds to spare though the start was slightly delayed. There was a break for a superb home cooked steak dinner and the very thespian ceremony then continued until 10.10 p.m. We were invited back for more refreshment but politely declined as Frank was to drive Alan and I back downtown whilst Chris set off on his travels to the west. As we got into Frank's car late that evening the temperature was still 87 degrees. Back in the hotel Alan and I had one final nightcap before retiring ready for the journey home.
Tuesday 7th June
Alan and I - the remaining green bottles - met for breakfast and since we were both ready to depart went for a short stroll round the city centre. We were collected by Frank our tireless taxi driver at 11.00 a.m. Frank had already been to the airport earlier in the morning to drop off Richard van Doren and John Belton was with him as we three were travelling at similar times albeit by three different routes. Their first flight (to Newark) departed first and so we said our goodbyes at their gate and I, having been the first of the party to arrive in Minneapolis, was the last to leave. As I left the temperature outside was 102 degrees Fahrenheit.
An uneventful flight to Amsterdam got me there a little earlier than planned
Wednesday 8th June
Last leg of the journey and I flew on time to Liverpool. I arrived with the temperature barely 50 degrees and the rain bucketing down. The ground staff obviously decided that our luggage needed a wash and so they left it on the tarmac for 20 minutes in the torrential rain. It all arrived dripping wet and the contents did not escape. The final straw was that the prepaid parking ticket did not work and I was at first asked for a further 120 GBP which I negotiated away. Happy homecoming!
We had an excellent trip and were very well looked after. I believe that our visit has produced more members both for Internet Lodge and for Sir Winston Churchill Lodge. We also raised 400 GBP for our charity account thanks mainly to Caid McKinlay. My favourite memory is seeing acting Assistant Director of Ceremonies Alvin Benemerito leading the procession out of lodge. He was superb and looked pleased as punch as well he might
Sadly we never saw Frank Harris again. He was called to higher service on the 24th February 2012 less than a month before his next intended visit to the lodge.
Frank Harris 9th March 1927 to 24th February 2012
One of nature's true Gentlemen
Look-see trip to Malta, November 2011
Arrived late on Saturday with the DutchmanSmiths to be greeted by Larry and Jaqui Porter and welcomed to their apartment.
Sunday we started on the itinerary set for me, to review all options for next May! Off to the Saluting Battery in Valetta and then to the "Malta Experience", an excellent introduction to Malta and its seven thousand year history. After lunch took the ferry across to Sliema and then a tour of the Grand Harbour.
Monday started in Mosta market followed by the "miracle" of Mosta Dome .. a bomb came straight through the dome in 1942 and failed to explode as two others landed outside and also failed to explode. Lunch in Rabat with a "Maltese Platter" and then round the "silent city" of Mdina, Malta's old capital city. In the evening we enjoyed a Perfection ceremony at Rose of Sharon Chapter RC, for a first taste of Masonry in Malta.
Tuesday booked into the Hypogeum for an underground tour of this ancient necropolis dating from 3600/3000 BC. Then drove around the north of the island Golden Bay, Melihia and the Red Tower .. one of the Knight's watch towers built in 1649 for Grand Master Lascaris.
Wednesday more relaxing with a walk from the Blue grotto past the ancient megalithic temples of Hagar Qim and Mnajdra, to Ghar Lapsi for lunch and check the restaurant. Dinner that evening at Ta' Marija in Mosta for the Folklore show.
Thursday tried the bus services .. now run by Aviva! - into Valetta to explore St John's Co Cathedral - built 1573 to 1578. and the War Museum, in Fort St Elmo- a fascinating insight into why Malta was awarded the George Cross in April 1942.
Friday started at San Anton Gardens around the Presidential Palace then to Sliema to visit our chosen hotels and to St Julians. Evening at Ars Discendi Lodge for a brilliant third degree ceremony and the Walking Charge by our very own Larry.
Saturday to Ta'Qali craft village and Valetta Glass then Rabat to find the Catacombs closed! In the evening we were invited to the Supreme Grand Lodge of Malta with the UGLE District Inspector and to the social board which included Ladies and no speeches. IL 9659 was represented by Porters, Dutchman Smiths, Whites, Brewards and me.
Sunday up early for a visit to Marsaxllok fish market to see the incredible array of fish on display and then to Ghar Dalam Cave , which contained the remains of over 7,000 animals. A farewell dinner in the evening at the Barracuda in St Julians where we were also joined by the Tibbetts , just back from Tunisia. Monday a final look around Rabat to St Paul's Grotto, where St Paul lived for three months after being shipwrecked on Malta and to St Agatha's Catacombs and museum. Then reluctantly back to Manchester , convinced that we will have a great week next May, aided by our "local guides" who are even learning Maltese!
Sahha (goodbye) till Il-Gimgha (Friday) Erbgha (fourth) of May 2012.
Senior Warden and Master Elect November 2011
From Stephen and Kath Nicholls
Hi Uncle Joe ( a reference to the song Uncle Joe's Mint Balls),
I go to Spain soon so have been busy, however it would be remiss of me as a first timer not to put something together.
Having been a member of Internet Lodge for some years and being unable to make a meeting, Malta was my first opportunity to put faces to names. Arriving early in the day to the Palace Hotel it was a shame that we did not know who else was with our party, however as we met in the bar in the evening and alcohol was introduced it was as though Kath and I had walk into a room full of friends.
We were made most welcome by all and thoroughly enjoyed the experience and would commend all who have not been from wherever they may be in the world to come and enjoy the fellowship that is in abundance.
I cannot better Alan Wyer's report or that of Vic Dorman which explain all the events of the week, all I can say is a big thank you to Larry and Jacqui Porter for all the hard work and sleepless nights they must have put in to make what was a slick well organised event. There are others who need thanks, such as our Assistant Secretary John and our Treasurer Brian who also put in a lot of work to make a success of the visit for the rest of us who just tagged along.
The only down side to the week was that Chelsea won the FA Cup.
Thanks to all for your company and hope to be at the next meeting."
From Paul M Carroll and Darleen L'Heureux
I have had a wonderful experience with the brethren due to the meticulous planning and agenda of the organizers. The timing of each event was well laid out and left sufficient time so that a small amount of time could be used for rest and refreshment.
The sights that were planned for a visitation, and were very much in keeping of what might be expected of an Island that has over 5000 years of various nationalities serving as the ruling political party of their era
Of keen interest to myself was the fact that we managed to attend not one but two Lodge meetings of different Grand Lodges.
The churches and catacombs that we visited were unique unto themselves and lent an interesting take of how people lived and died in ancient times
One of the most gracious moments was the reception of the Porters to their home, where we all met in an informal get together without outside influences.
Wor. David Starbuck and in particular the Porters are to e commended on excellent planning and execution of a fabulous trip'
Although I travelled from the United States and paid a handsome sum of money for this trip, the rewards and friendships that were further cemented by the common spade far outweighed the monetary cost
I genuinely believe it will be extremely differcult to match this wonderful and enjoyable trip
Cordially and Fraternally
Brother Paul M Carroll and Darleen L'Heureux
Thursday 4th May 2012
After an excellent flight Barry and I arrived on time in beautiful sunshine on the lovely island of Malta on Thursday, 3rd May. After sorting out the mix-up with the taxi, the Grayshons, Gregory's and ourselves headed for the Palace Hotel, Sliema. We hastily unpacked and met our friends on the roof terrace for lunch and some sun.We were invited to the Victoria to meet Jaqui and Larry at 5o'clock and had a happy reunion with them and Brian and Ann Cozens too. We read our welcome pack and the history of the island prepared especially for us. We were all set for our island adventure. Ann and David Grayshon persuaded us to walk down the hill to the promenade to find a suitable restaurant for dinner, which we did, but what huge portions! We returned to our beautiful room on the 7th floor with that amazing sea view and slept like babies.
Friday 4th May 2012
On Friday, we sat on the roof terrace again and badly burned ourselves in the sun forgetting that the breeze hid the heat of the sun. Later we joined other lodge members in the Victoria Hotel after being hi-jacked enroute by the Welsh contingency for liquid refreshments on their balcony. We enjoyed our dinner on the terrace and caught up with old friends and made several new ones.
Saturday 5th May 2012
On Saturday, we shared a taxi to Valletta to meet David and Co. at the Cafe Cordina for lunch where we all sat in the largest outdoor cafe in Malta. We didn't visit the Malta Experience or Museum this time as we had visited them on previous visits. We were lucky enough to get seats on the coach for our return to the hotel after visiting the gardens and enjoying the magnificent views from the walls several feet above the bay. We all met at the Penny Black Bar that evening before dinner and it was obvious we had all had a great time.
Sunday 6th May 2012
On Sunday some of us went to Marsaxlokk harbour but we couldn't make such an early start so we retreated to the roof terrace again, but sat under the umbrella this time. The coach journey to Hagar Qim was interesting and the guided tour of the Temples was interesting and educational. This was followed by dinner at the Blue Creek Restaurant which was a delicious meal in a lovely setting.
Monday 7th May 2012
On Monday, we walked down to the harbour to board Captain Morgan's boat for our Grand Harbour tour. We did this tour many years ago but it was even more enjoyable this time as our guide gave a very comprehensive description of the historic areas we sailed by. The men went off to their meeting in Valletta while we went by coach to Casa Rocca Piccola in Valletta. This 16th century Palazzo, the home of Baron Budach and his family was filled with the loveliest furniture, paintings, silver and antiques which were shown to us by the baron himself. Afterwards we were served wine on the terrace and later dined in a small restaurant full of character where the food was excellent and the Maltese wine even better. Our newest member delighted us all by saying a few words in English and had made Jaqui's night with her splendid faultless effort. Jane welcomed a further three members who had received their Lily pins making the grand total of 53.
Tuesday 8th May 2012
Tuesday was a very full day with a 9am coach ride to view the palace gardens before arriving at the magical walled city of Mdina. We went our separate ways around the city to discover its many secrets such as the Carmelite Priory, cathedral, views from the walls, cafes and shops.
We then boarded the land train for our visit to Jaqui and Larry Porter's for lunch. What a fantastic time! The buffet was amazing as was the wine which never ceased to flow. The views again from the lovely apartment were breathtaking. At 4o'clock we boarded our coach after thanking our hosts and returned to the hotel. We all met again at the Penny Black bar before dining at leisure. What a perfect day.
Wednesday 9th May 2012
Wednesday was a relatively free day, so we ventured forth up to the roof terrace again to enjoy the sun and the pool. Later that afternoon the men went to their second meeting and the ladies went to the Palazzo where we enjoyed a selection of tasty Maltese titbits alfresco style.
Thursday 10th May 2012
Thursday was our last full day so we soaked up the warmth ( sitting in the shade ) on the roof terrace, and David Starbuck joined us for a sandwich lunch. Gradually most of the party joined us to reminisce about our lovely, interesting and unforgettable week, and enjoy their last afternoon in the sun. We then prepared for the Gala dinner, and, Barry sporting pink bow tie and cream jacket ( James Bond would have been green with envy ) and I had a great time. Before the meal, Jaqui sang Jerusalem to us in her beautiful voice and John Dutchman - Smith gave an amusing rendering of that popular verse about Uncle Joe's mint balls. We then enjoyed a fantastic meal in the Palazzo di Capua which was part of our hotel.
Friday 11th May 2012
Sadly we made our farewells and left the hotel on Friday morning for the airport. This was a brilliant week when we renewed old friendships and made several new ones. We can't all get to every meeting for various reasons but the power of the Internet helps to keep our friendships alive and a week like this has so much to commend it.
Thanks to the organisers, Jaqui and Larry, and to David Starbuck for foreseeing what a wonderful week this could be, and to the hotel staff and the Maltese people for making us so welcome. It certainly was a happy and memorable week.
Thursday 4th May 2012
We left home at 03.15 on the Thursday morning for our Easy Jet flight to Malta. We arrived at 11.20 to be greeted by a taxi from the hotel which was a good start to the trip. The room was not ready but they let us have a shower and freshen up, and a sandwich in the bar till it was ready.
Friday 4th May 2012
After breakfast and a short walk we had the morning by the pool on the 9th floor, We met for the first get together on the Friday night in the Victoria hotel and then on to Palace hotel for a very good meal at the Temptasians Restaurant of Thai food, what a brill night was had by all and set the tone for the rest of the trip.
Saturday 5th May 2012
While the rest of the group went on a trip to see The Malta Experience we had a lazy morning. Then got a taxi with Ann & Barry to Valletta where we met up with the group at Cafe Cordina. After lunch, we had a look round the Barracka Gardens where I stayed for two weeks when I was on a course in the army. We then managed to get a lift back on the coach with the rest of the group
We went down to the Penny Black bar to watch the cup final where there was a bit of rivalry between Jaqui and Kath with Jaqui being the very lucky winner, but it was all good fun. Then out to the harbour front for a spot of dinner
Sunday 6th May 2012
After a good breakfast, a good long walk along the harbour front, back to the hotel for more sun, and then a rehearsal for the Second Degree which was almost perfect just a few little errors ? Then down to the bar to see a proper football team MAN CITY , then after a great result off to Hagar Qim to the temples. It was a long walk down to them but it felt a long way back with no stops for oxygen ,then off to the Blue Creek for a very good meal plenty to drink, which put us in the mood for a good old sing song on the way back
Monday 7th May 2012
We had an early breakfast then down to the harbour to catch our private boat for a trip round the Marsamxett and Grand harbours. Iit was such a good trip, after a spot of lunch back to the Hotel to get ready for our Lodge visit to St John and St Paul No349 where a team from Internet Lodge performed the Second Degree Ceremony which was a good deal better than the practice
The Ladies went to the Casa Rocca Piccola and by all accounts had a very enjoyable evening.
Tuesday 8th May 2012
Today we went to the St Anton gardens which is the home of the President of Malta, followed by a trip to Mdina which was such a lovely old fortress town with a lot of history behind it. Then on to the noddy train to our hosts apartment for lunch, where we were treated to fine food and lots of wine. It was a most splendid afternoon and many thanks to Jaqui and Larry for their hospitality. After all the wining and dining and with full bellies, it was back to the coach for a trip to Mosta Church where we were all looking for the bomb hole in the dome but what a beautiful place it was. Then it was back to the hotels where we wer notified on the coach that we had all be invited by our Romanian brethren for a drink with them. We met in the Hotel Palace at 18.00hrs under the banner of the INTERNET GRAND MARSHALL (J.D-S ) where we proceeded to the Regency hotel or was it the Plaza. We went in one then the other but no sign of them anywhere till they were spotted across the road. We took our places on a long table so when you was in you was in. Tony Porter and his good wife decided to play charades (to the great escape) and disappeared under the table and got away. We took our leave and went to a very nice Maltese Restaurant with very good company and it was the perfect end to a very perfect day.
Wednesday 9th May 2012
A nice and lazy morning after the night before, a late breakfast, a little walk, then up to the pool to relax, then at night a visit to the Ars Descendi Lodge No6 Sovereign Grand Lodge Of Malta who were doing a 3rd degree ceremony by the Grand Master Of Malta. It was a lot different to what I had seen before but really enjoyed it, and 12 members of Internet Lodge took part with all praying that J.D-S got it right this time, which we knew he would!
Thursday 10th May 2012
Today was a free morning & afternoon so we decided to get the number 12 bus to St Georges but were so engrossed went right to the end of the line, so we stayed on and went to Valletta we got to the Palace at just the right time for the dancing water fountain, then back to the hotel by water taxi that was a ride and a half, just got back in time to say a sad farewell to our Welsh friends what a great bunch they were and a big thanks to Royston for the tablets . The evening was the farewell Gala dinner where we meet in the Victoria for a musical recital by Jaqui which was fab, then we had the Wigan anthem by J.D-S of Uncle Joes Mint Balls, then into the Palazzo Di Capua for a fantastic meal, it was the perfect end to an excellent time in Malta
A big thank you to Jaqui & Larry and to the W.M David Starbuck for all their hard work in putting it all together, Good luck to Jaqui in her forth coming op and hope all goes well
Dave Grayshon and Ann O'Neill
Friday 4th May 2012
Our Internet Lodge Event in Malta didn't get going until 7.00 pm on Friday Evening. Before this, people had arrived in dribs and drabs over previous days, some at the stultifying time of 1.30 am (Malta time). But 6.30 pm saw the great majority of us crowded noisily and happily in the bar of the Victoria Hotel, which is twinned and joined to the Palace Hotel. At 7.00 pm we trouped equally noisily to a function room to be met by our hosts for the week, Jaqi and Larry Porter. After being regailed with 60 minute lively and informative presentation of the goodies in store for us we repaired to the roof restaurant of the Palace Hotel where we dined in noisy and regal splendour on a fine selection of Asian cuisine.
Saturday 5th May 2012
After much counting of heads outside the Palace Hotel, the coaches (one large and one mini bus) headed for Valletta. We were treated to a private showing of "The Malta Experience" an audio-visual delight charting the history of the island from circa 5,000 B.C. to the present day. Suitably informed we were let loose on the unsuspecting populace with the rallying cry of "The Worshipful Master will be lunching at Cafe Cordina at 12.30 pm", and "The coaches leave at 4.00 pm prompt". Left to our own devices after our return to Sliema, 10 of us elected to follow the "Guru of Sliema" Alan Tibbetts, and dined noisily and well at Geogio's on Marsamxett Harbour promenade.
Sunday 6th May 2012
An early-bird coach load-headed for Marsaxlokk harbour and market situated on the south east edge of the island. The market, reputed to stretch the whole length of the waterside was conspicuous by its absence. Unknowingly, we had chosen the one day in the year when the local "worthies" addressed the villagers and handed out awards. The absence of the market provided the bonus of being able to view, unobstructed, this pretty fishing village, with its host of gaily coloured craft bobbing daintily on sheltered blue waters. One had to ignore the power station which occupied one flank and the container port which occupied the other. We departed in due time after drinks and chat, to the brass band playing "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" amongst other tunes of more elegant note.
Lunch was followed by one of the most hilarious "rehearsals" of the Second Degree ritual I have ever taken part in. I was still chuckling when we headed towards Hagar Qim and the prehistoric temples. Larry Porter assured us that they were NOT closed for cleaning and maintenance. After being suitably overawed by scale of the building materials we repaired to to northwest side of the island to dine at the Blue Creek Restaurant at Ghar Lapsi.
Monday 7th May 2012
The morning was taken up with a boat tour of the Marsamxett Harbour and Grand Harbour, the two waters being either side of the promontory on which stands Valletta. That morning a handful of Brethren were to witness Bro. Stephen Wall admitted to "Preceptorie Saint Frant le Vaillant, No. 15" as a Knight Templar at the Masonic Hall, Marsamxett Street, Valletta. The majority of the Brethren attended this Masonic Hall later that same evening where we were hosted by the Brethren of The Lodge of St. John and St. Paul, No. 349 (E.C.) and for whom a team of Internet Lodge Members were to perform at Second Degree Ceremony.
Meanwhile the Ladies had a coach trip to the Casa Rocca Piccola, followed by dinner at Trabuxu Restaurant.
Tuesday 8th May
The morning was taken up with a visit to the San Anton Gardens, being the official residence of the President of Malta, followed by a trip to the ancient fortified capital of Malta, Mdina. This treat of flora, fauna (the birds were very friendly) and history was followed by a short trip on a "Land Train" to the home of our hosts, Jaqi and Larry Porter who delighted us with a buffet lunch of fresh salmon and coronation chicken, washed down with liberal amounts of various pleasant liquids. Who would have thought that 60-plus people could fit into an apartment and still have room to move around freely! Heading back towards Sliema we stopped at Mosta Church which boasts one of the biggest domes of any church. During W.W. 2 was pierced by a bomb which landed amidst the assembled congregation but failed to explode. There were no casualties.
Wednesday 9th May 2012
This was to be a free morning and afternoon, so after a leisurely breakfast I took the large ferry across to Valletta with the express intention of visiting Saint John's Co-Cathedral, the appearance and content of which beggar's description here. It is simply the one place that anyone who visits Malta should visit as many times as possible. This and the treasurers of the adjacent cathedral museum are stunning, a true feast for the senses. I was not alone for long, others had the same idea and so formed a happy group for lunch, and where else but at the Cafe Cordina. A visit to the State Rooms and the Armoury completed a full but relaxed day. We returned via the ferry to gather our strength for the return to Valletta and the Masonic Hall by coach. Our hosts this evening was the Ars Descendi Lodge, No.6 of the Sovereign Grand Lodge of Malta. We were to be treated to their version of a Third Degree ceremony, which had a great deal of affinity to the American story. The ceremony was conducted by the Grand Master of Malta and the twelve members of Internet Lodge enjoyed the priviledge of taking part in the second half of the ceremony.
The Ladies' evening was spent at Palazzo Parisio at Naxxar where they had dinner.
Thursday 10th May 2012
This was to be my last day, having made a mess of my booking dates. I was thus unable to join in the farewell Gala Dinner. I am sure everyone who attended had an excellent time.
None of this would have been possible without the foresight and hard work put in by our W.M., David Starbuck and by Jaqi and Larry Porter who, without any coercion, readily agreed to arrange the trips and venues and shepherd us so joyfully each day. We owe them our sincere thanks for a week to remember.