Stuart was waiting for me at the train station in Kilwinning, we drove back to his house where he kindly put a clothes wash in for me while I had a shower and ironed my shirt and trousers in preparation for the meeting. He then cooked us a lovely meal before driving us to the Lodge and weirdly, all the way there I was becoming very nervous and dare I say it, even anxious. I hadn't been to a Lodge meeting for some time and possibly, because the past few months, my daily living experience was so far removed from my usual existence, I felt very odd. Just to put a shirt and tie on felt weird... Stewart was the perfect host and introduced me to lots of guys when we arrived but I was stressing out in a big way and I had no idea why.
Perhaps it was because I was tired, perhaps it was because I knew how strict they were in this Lodge at ensuring that every visit was either properly vouched for or was rigorously tested to ensure they were indeed a Freemason. I was feeling so out of place I was seriously doubting my ability to pass the test and I think this is why I was feeling incredibly anxious. Needlessly of course, Stewart vouched for me, the Lodge was opened and I was privileged to be invited as as Past Master to sit in the East. It goes without saying that the ceremony was a pleasure to witness, it's always fantastic to watch a new member being Initiated into a Lodge but with the history and reputation of this ancient Lodge, there was so much ritual I'd never before witnessed, it was truly mind blowing.
It was incredible to see that this was the fifth lodge I'd visited that is the proud home of a Brother awarded with The Victoria Cross and the evening just kept getting better. I was completely gobsmacked to be presented with a special gift to mark my visit. Iain had been asked by Brother Bill Bailey to present me with a beautifully hand crafted fountain pen, turned by Brother Bill on his lathe from a piece of Acacia wood from the Isle of Arran. The timber having a special significance in Freemasonry and my passing through Arran being so memorable after Stewart B's unfortunate mishap... Sadly Brother Bill wasn't able to be at the meeting but I've spoken to him since to thank him personally for the lovely gift which I will be using to sign a copy of the book, when I've written it which I hope to deliver to him in person.
A cracking Scotch Pie and few pints were well received at the Harmony following the meeting before Stewart drove us back to his house, I was completely shattered, overwhelmed by the experience but we still managed to sit up chatting over a beer until 1am... I left Stewart the following morning at the train station, him heading to work in Glasgow and me heading back to Troon to continue walking, cheers Stewart for your hospitality, we met as strangers only a few days ago, attended an incredible lodge together as visiting Brothers and have parted as good friends. I look forward to seeing you again Sir, be that in Lincolnshire or back in Stevenston/Kilwinning.
Once back in Troon I walked along the beach to Ayr, sat for an hour to watch a couple of young lads repositioning the beach !!! I'm guessing a council run job using a telehandler and a tractor towing a tiny trailer... seemed to me like a complete waste of time, money and effort, by the time they'd shifted the tiny amount of sand each day, the very next tide will have put it back... 😬
I also had a visit to the Lodge St James No. 125 in Newton upon Ayr, another very old lodge.
Narrowly avoiding Kamikaze granny when I left the lodge I walked up the beach for a mile or so and found a wild camping pitch on a small piece of grass, a lot of Freemasonry in the past few days so time to get some miles in, still a long way back to England.