It was a starry night and battling through ice, snow and sub zero temperatures the intrepid explorers (or as I like to call them the Provincial Officers of the year) accompanying our leader Nanook of the north (W Bro Jim Steggles DPGM) to Peace Mark Lodge high in the Pennines at Uppermill.
We were met with a very warm reception by the brethren of Peace Lodge, and after a few warming drinks we were ready for anything.
Our Obergruppenführer for the evening (W Bro Steve Littlewood) complete with DC’s wand that matched his hair colour, soon had us standing in our correct positions for the escort. Then after several changes as to where we should stand, mainly because one of our number was running late (no names mentioned), W Bro Lance Milburn appeared and it was back to plan “A”.
To say the ritual in the Temple was different is an understatement. Even Billy Connolly would have blushed at some point. However having said that, it was delivered with sincerity and meaning, I’m sure the candidate enjoyed it.
Now we turn to the festive board, which was a veritable extravaganza and a myriad of flavours.
For starters we were treated to a magnificent soup made from vegetables hand picked that morning by local maidens only wearing clogs and flat caps.
The main course was roast beef and all the trimmings. The beef was specially selected from the herd owned by the Lodge and kept in a corral in the IPM’s back garden.
The Lodge DC (W Bro Bev Heywood) marshalled his troops, with shouts of “they haven’t got any veg on this leg and do you not have any gravy on here” (all said with a slight Lancashire accent).
The Christmas pudding and rum sauce was something else, it being 95% proof, however disappointment clouded the expectant faces of the guests when no sixpences were found, this only went on to prove how careful the Lodge Treasurer is with the Lodge finances.
The coffee was made with freshly ground beans gathered from the slopes of the area know locally as Diggle.
And finally the cheese board was magnificent. The cheese had been brought in by sledge from the four corners of the Pennines.
The speeches were very funny led by that well know Uppermill double act of Morecambe and Wise; you might know them as the WM and the IPM. At one point I was concerned for the well being of W Bro Duncan Smith who was laughing so much and was red in the face, I feared he might burst a blood vessel and we would have to call in the paramedics.
Nanook, sorry W Bro Jim Steggles, thanked the Provincial Officers of the year for battling through such adverse conditions and supporting him on the night. He also went on to thank the members of Peace Mark Lodge for clearing the snow from the car park, feeding the husky’s and providing us with sledges for the homeward journey.
The evening concluded with hearty good wishes, and here is your shovel, blanket and rock salt just in case.