The Provincial Grand Master, R.W.Bro. Eric John Rymer, accompanied by Robin Stanton, Adrian Hutt and Dean Clarke with their wives arrived in Bucharest at about 14:30hrs. on Thursday 10th November and by 19:00hrs. were at La Mama Ateneu for the welcome dinner. Our Romanian hosts were extremely hospitable and as always, the meal started with PALINCA, setting the scene throughout our stay. Whilst there we experienced the unbelievable traffic jams in Bucharest, the vagaries of Romanian timekeeping and an enviable age profile in the 17 Mark and 2 RAM Lodges comprising the new District Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of Romania.
The next day M.W.Bro. Prince Michael of Kent, Grand Master was present for the Consecration of the MMM Lodge No. 2044, named in his honour, and attended by about 350 Mark Master Masons. Our own R.W.Bro. Francis Charles Spencer, Deputy Grand Master was the Consecrating Officer with M.W.Bro. John Herbert Prizeman, Pro Grand Master, the Installing Officer of the Primus Master, R.W.Bro. Derek Thomas, P.Prov.G.M. (Monmouthshire).
Our ladies had a separate entertainment programme with a cultural visit to the National Museum of Cotroceni, a traditional Romanian lunch headlined as ‘culinary virtuosity’, followed by a magical evening provided by the George Enesco Philharmonic conducted by Gabriel Bebeşelea at the stunning Romanian Ateneum concert hall. The star of the evening was the clarinet soloist, Valentin Uryupin, who received a standing ovation and was called on for 2 encores.
On Saturday 12th November in the presence of our Grand Master, the District Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of Romania was Constituted by the Pro Grand Master. V.W.Bro. Cristian Mihutoiu was Installed as the District Grand Master, W.Bro. Florin Serban as Deputy District Grand Master with W.Bros. Daniel Dumitras and Vladimir Rachieru as Assistant District Grand Masters. That evening a black tie Gala Dinner, including our ladies, provided yet another opportunity to partake of the inevitable PALINCA, in this case specially commissioned for the event. In replying to his toast the Grand Master thanked our hosts for their unstinting hospitality and heartily congratulated them on the very significant progress that they had made since the consecration of their first Lodge of Mark Master Masons – Alexandru Vaida-Voevod No. 1988 – on 3rd March 2018.
Sunday was a ‘rest day’ with coaches leaving the hotels at 09:00hrs (!!) first for a city tour then on to a guided tour of the Brâncovenesc Palace. The grounds were magnificent and the singing in the highly decorated church was beautiful. A drive out into the countryside brought us to the Dealu Mare wine region for yet more traditional food, a 4-hour wine tasting experience and of course, PALINCA.
Monday was back to ‘normal’ business with the Consecration of the first 2 RAM Lodges in the new District, followed by a joint Festive Board which perhaps reflected more the Romanian way with less formality and a self-service buffet – and interestingly NO PALINCA.
I think that we all appreciated the involvement of the ebullient Paul Rowlands, variously wearing Worcestershire, Warwickshire and London hats, and an occasional standard bearer, as he co‑ordinated, cajoled, contrived and corralled us all to ensure that we were where we needed to be and when.