Firstly may I wish you and all your families a very happy and healthy new year as we start 2015.
There will be many amongst you who have found that this year’s honours list has brought you an unexpected pleasure and I congratulate all who are to receive appointment in or a promotion in or to Provincial Grand Lodge at our next meeting on Thursday May 7 at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool.
For the first time ever I saw the New Year in 2015, away from home, as Maureen and I celebrated the coming of the New Year on the Isle of Man, in Laxey with our daughter Tracey and her husband Peter.
We had a wonderful time and had the opportunity to visit many friends on New Years day. We were able to enjoy a few days relaxation before returning home on the boat from Douglas to Heysham on Tuesday 6 January. In Time for my first official Masonic duty of the year and my last official duty for the month, as on Thursday 8 January I attended the Installation meeting of The Lodge of Triumph No1061 at the Palace Masonic centre in St. Annes. It was my first visit to the Palace as PrGM and since the alterations had been carried out. I have to say I was most impressed and must congratulate the friends of the Palace for their attention to this work.
I was accompanied to the Installation meeting by many senior brethren of the Province, including David Winder, APrGM, Stephen Reid, PAPrGM, along with the Provincial Wardens Peter Pemberton and Martin Lockyer, together with Keith Kemp and David Thomas, the meeting was extremely well attended and I was most impressed by all who took part in an excellent ceremony.
The following day I tried to catch up on all those matters which I need to complete before departing on our Special long planned holiday to Australia.
After departing Manchester airport early on Saturday evening 10 January on a long tiring, but enjoyable flight with Etihad Airways, we enjoyed the excellent in flight service and entertainment provided for our comfort during the flight to Singapore with a short stop at Abu Dhabi. We arrived quite late in the evening at Singapore and we transferred directly to our overnight hotel down on the river front. After a wonderful night`s sleep Maureen and I enjoyed the delights of the breakfast before setting off to explore Singapore for the day. Following a very exciting and most interesting but very hot and exhausting day, we returned to our hotel to freshen up and make our way back to the Airport for an over-night flight, to Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
We were met at Brisbane International airport in glorious sunshine by our daughter in law Dorothy and our youngest grandson, Matthew, who immediately drove us to their home in Marrumba Downs about 30 minutes north of Brisbane on the Sunshine Coast.
Upon our arrival we were met by the rest of the family, our son Mark and the other two grandsons Daniel and Jake. It was wonderful to see them all again after such a long time since they all left our British shores almost 10 years ago.
It took a while to acclimatise to this extremely hot weather of 40 plus degrees every day even on cloudy or rainy days for which we were very grateful as it gave a slight relief from the intense sunshine.
After a week of enjoying the local area and spending time with our grandsons we all left home for a family holiday at Storm King Dam in the Great Divide mountains East of Brisbane.
It was here that we were to spend the next week in luxury log cabins on the shores of the Storm King Dam, having driven up from Marrumba downs with two cars, each towing a boat so that all the family could enjoy the water sports and fishing readily available to all holidaying in this idyllic holiday location. For some anyway. I believe that the mosquitos knew that I was from England and they just love sunburnt Englishmen and women, for it was only Maureen and I that seemed to attract these little pests and we were both very quickly covered in bites, which took several days to subside.
However, it did not spoil any of our enjoyment with our family during a wonderful week`s holiday offering us a variety of weather fronts including a little rain, which was gratefully received, among the extreme heat. Using the cover of a cloudy day we travelled home to Marrumba Downs for the last week of our visit down under.
Back at Mark’s, and it being Australia Day, we enjoyed a family weekend around the pool, but unfortunately Mark and our eldest grandson Daniel, had to return to work, however, Dorothy took us around the area showing us all the lovely places of interest, the sandy beaches and off shore Moreton Island and Bibie Island.
One of our outings took us to Sandgate, near Redcliff and Scarborough, here I had the opportunity to look at the Queensland Masonic Welfare home and Hospice, supported by the Masons of Queensland and the State of Queensland, a truly magnificent Masonic structure.
Our last week end with Mark and all the family gave us the opportunity to meet with some of the family friends, which they had made following their arrival here in Marrumba Downs. We enjoyed a typical Australian Pool Barbecue. Plenty of Steaks, beer and wine in the company of typical local Aussies. What an experience, thank you guys.
During this last week we have had to keep well into the shade as the temperature has been reaching 50° Celsius 120°Farenhite, far too hot for us Pommies!
Sadly our day of departure came and we had to say farewell to our loved ones, as it will be some time before we will all meet up again. We left for the Airport knowing that they were all well and enjoying themselves in their new lives down under.
Our return to England was again with Etihad Airlines and we retraced our steps back to Singapore for an overnight stopover and again enjoyed our visit to this truly International city before the long flight back via Abu Dhabi to Manchester.
Would you believe that the only hitch in our travel arrangements was upon arrival at Manchester Airport, when we went for the train to return home to Morecambe, no trains were running and we had to get on a bus!
This was not a busman`s holiday but a most exciting and enjoyable adventure for both Maureen and I. We are both glad to back home and look forward to meeting with many of you in the coming months ahead.
Provincial Grand Master