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Contributed by Alan Wyer

As an unseasoned travellers Pat and I found the 2002 Ladies' Festival Weekend at Leiden very much exciting and event-laden. (a pun IS intended)

Reversing all the points of the compass the scattered company first assembled on the Thursday for an informal lunch-time buffet at the Masonic Hall, Hull. The spread was an excellent indication of the time to come. The afternoon's Regular Meeting topic introduced us to the history of Dutch Freemasonry, the remainder of the time spent in a conducted tour of this historic & atmospheric hall.

The irregular convoy then made its way to the dock for the overnight trip on the most modern of P.& O. Ferries. The novelty of dining, being entertained, sleeping, breakfasting on board will long be remembered.

After landing in Rotterdam on FRiday morning we were whisked away to sample architectural culture of The Hague which included a visit to the H.Q. of the Grand East of the Netherlands. The afternoon found us sampling the sights of the unique Mesdag Panorama, a 360-degree painting of the village and its shoreline.

At long last they let us clean up, dine and sleep at our accommodation, The Golden Tulip, in the historical, university town of Leiden, a miniature but up-market version of Amsterdam, with its fine old buildings, extensive canal system and yes, at last, windmills.

Saturday morning and early afternoon saw the party split into two, Ladies to visit the Het Loo Palace whilst the Brethren made their way to the Masonic Hall at Arnhem to witness a Dutch Initiation Ceremony in English, to be followed by a traditional Dutch Festive Board. The interior of the Temple may be modern but I was blown away by the atmosphere created by the highly imaginative use of modern materials and lighting. Bro. Larry Porter, acting as Candidate will never forget this experience. The organised military "masonic fire" was an ideal companion to the traditional Dutch fare and hospitality.

The evenings' Formal Ladies' Evening was held in the foyer of Leiden Museum, in front of the rebuilt Egyptian Temple of Taffeh. The banquet was styled on a traditional Dutch Indonesian-style "Rice Table". To dine on a selection of spiced dishes whilst being serenaded by an Egyptian Priest singing the praises of the Aten, then distributing the Ladies' gifts was a memorable touch.

A busy and eventful day meant an early night and a sound sleep for Sunday would find us touring Amsterdam's harbour facilities which including the Maeslant Surge Barrier. As this was the last day of the Ladies' Festival, those returning home were brought their luggage with them. Initially we were directed to a rather sad-looking launch which seemed to be our days transport. Ah no - our W.M., Ab. Goedhals, having planned everything to the last detail, quietly directed us to board the "Vasgo da Gama", un up-market launch which would have accommodated twice our number. This was memorable day which included a superb cold buffet which appeared out of the floor of the lower saloon, an opportunity to fly our Lodge Banner from the masthead, and throughout the day a series of unforgettable sights as we leisurely made our way around the extensive waters of the harbour. To finish we tied up alongside the P.& O Ferry which would take those whose time had come to an end, back to the U.K.

The happy few, ourselves included, to continue a most memorable holiday boarded the coach to take us back to Leiden.

Much detail can be found in the WebPage which is still attached to the Lodge's history.

Alan Wyer
March 2003

Contributed by Vic Dorman

Whilst the Ladies' Festival was held in Leiden, the meeting with Lodge L'Age D'Or 235 was held in the much bigger Lodge Room at Arnhem. I well remember the demonstration of a Dutch first degree ceremony translated and carried out by Ab Ghoedals.

Having given the appropriate password, we went into the Lodge room where the Lodge was opened. Gradually, as the opening progressed, the lighting became brighter. W. Bro. Larry Porter was "initiated" in a splendid ceremony in which most of those present took part. To mark the occasion, Bro. Larry was made an Honorary Member of Lodge L'Age D'Or - a fitting ending to an excellent meeting.

Vic Dorman
March 2003