My last event for November was to attend a wonderful Sri Lankan Curry Lunch with a lovely group of fellow Tylers and Bricklayers. This has become a regular event in the diary of the T&Bs, an excellent addition to our events list. The lunch is organised by the City University Club who bring a top chef from Sri Lanka to the UK each year to prepare the amazing food. Sri Lankan curries are quite different from the traditional North Indian and Bangladeshi curries that we have been accustomed to, the flavours being more pungent and aromatic.

A group of 18 very jolly Tylers and Bricklayers and guests turned up for the lunch which was held at the City University Club in Crutched Friars. We were welcomed with a nice cold Cobra beer and wine and settled down to some conversation in the warm and comfortable lounge. At 12:30pm we were taken to a private room that had been set up for our own exclusive use which made it very special for us.

We dined on a huge variety of curries including, cashew nut curry, beef pol kiri, devilled king prawns, tempered dhal curry, pineapple curry and many others, with plenty of accompaniments. All the while we were kept fully supplied with beers and wines.

It was a delight to meet the Chef, Krishna, who works for a very prestigious hotel in Sri Lanka, the Heritance Kandalama. We all thanked him heartily for making such wonderfully tasty food.

This was yet another very pleasant luncheon where we were able to chat amongst friends in a private room and enjoy each other's company, wonderful.

This evening I was invited by the Chief Royal Engineer, Lieutenant General Tyrone Urch CBE, to the Royal Engineers Excellence Awards Dinner at the Institution of Civil Engineers. These awards demonstrate the extent to which Royal Engineers offer the best in engineering expertise, academic excellence, individual endeavour, trade craft and operational success.

I was welcomed by the Lieutenant General and introduced to other members of the Corps, some of whom I had met at Brompton Barracks at a previous event, so it was really nice to catch up with them. Two of the special guests this evening were Julian Fellowes and his wife, Lady Emma Kitchener LVO, the great-great-niece of Lord Kitchener.

Following the reception we marched in to the Great Hall for dinner and the awards ceremony. I was sitting on a table with current serving and retired Royal Engineers who all made me feel very welcome indeed. The evening was very cleverly designed as we had a short break after each course at which several awards were announced. We dined on asparagus wrapped parma ham with a warm poached egg, followed by roast rump of lamb and a selection of canapé desserts, all accompanied by fine wines. It was truly a pleasure to see all ranks of servicemen and servicewomen receive their well deserved awards to rapturous rounds of applause.

Following the awards, the Chief Royal Engineer gave an excellent address and we then proceeded to the Loyal Toast. The evening closed in traditional fashion with every single Royal Engineer present rising and singing their wonderful anthem, "Hurrah for the CRE". Another inspirational evening.

Tonight I was delighted to be the guest of The Master Pavior, Ms Susan Illman, on the occasion of their Autumn Livery Dinner held at the magnificent Goldsmiths’ Hall. On arrival I was greeted warmly by a member of the Court of the Worshipful Company of Paviors, who looked after me and introduced me to Past Masters and other Court Members.

I was very honoured to be seated on the top table, next to the Master, which enabled us to engage in interesting conversation and to get know each other better. We dined on spicy tiger prawns with a chilli lime dressing, duck ballontine with cranberry and pistachio stuffing and a dessert of apple tarte tatin with bay leaf ice cream, a wonderful meal accompanied by fine wines.

Following the sung grace, the Master proposed the toasts to the Queen and the Lord Mayor, after which we performed the ceremony of the Loving Cup, to the merriment of many guests. The toast to the guests was a wonderful piece of poetry written and performed by Assistant Caroline Dwyer which amused everyone, and the guest speaker was Dr Amanda Clack who spoke enthusiastically about diversity in our industries.

The Master closed the evening with a wonderful speech and invited guests to join her in a stirrup cup, ending another delightful and successful event.

Today Maureen and I attended the mysteriously titled event “A is for Arsenic: the Poisons of Agatha Christie” which was hosted by The Mistress Apothecary. The event was held in the wonderful ancient Apothecaries’ Hall, the oldest extant livery hall in the City of London.

We were welcomed with a glass of bubbly and were given the opportunity to mingle with the other guests during which time we were all allocated to our tables which were, unusually, not numbered, but identified by names of different poisons! Maureen and I were allocated to Morphine table, adjacent to Strychnine, Digitalis and Arsenic! There were small bottles of pills on our tables and some strategically placed chocolates, which nobody dared touch.

All was revealed when our guest speaker was introduced to us – Kathryn Harkup, the author of the book entitled “A is for Arsenic: the poisons of Agatha Christie”. Kathryn gave a fascinating talk about Agatha Christie's life and writings. She had worked as a pharmacy assistant at University College Hospital, London, during the second world war, acquiring a good knowledge of poisons which feature in many of her novels. The audience picked up many tips about various poisons and their horrible effects on the human body, possibly not the best way to tempt the appetite before lunch!

Following the interesting talk and questions, we had an excellent luncheon of smoked haddock and spinach florentine with poached hen's egg, chargrilled aubergine paupiettes with puy lentils and rainbow brassica, followed by coffee and petit fours. The food was delicious, but we ate with some trepidation as we found notes scattered about, taken from Agatha Christie's books, such as "Don't eat the Plum Pudding, as one who wishes you well!". To add to the fun of the day each table had a quiz about various poisons to complete and I am happy to report that Morphine Table came a very close second place.

The luncheon was organised to raise money for the Master Apothecary's Fund which supports medical students throughout the UK who are in danger of dropping out of their courses due to extreme financial hardship, a very worthy cause.

We all had a wonderful time at this event and Mistress Apothecary closed proceedings by thanking everyone for attending and paying particular thanks to Kathryn Harkup for her fascinating talk about poisons.

The Duke of Gloucester Awards recognise the skills of craftsmen and craftswomen who have gone through a recognised apprenticeship for their craft, achieving a City & Guilds Craft and Advanced NVQ Level 3 at an approved college, and have between two and nine years post qualification experience.

I was very pleased to be invited to attend the awards presentation ceremony at Mercers’ Hall in the presence of Prince Richard, The Duke of Gloucester KG and the Master Mason, Christopher Radmore. On arrival I was greeted warmly by our own Dr Christine Rigden who is currently Upper Warden of the Worshipful Company of Masons and was pleased to meet other members of the Worshipful Company, as well as Simon Martin, our Upper Warden.

There were two awards presented tonight, to Paul Synan, a stonemason working at Gloucester Cathedral and Catherine Martin, a stonemason and sculptor working in the heritage sector. Their work was described as exemplary by their sponsors and they were well deserved winners of these awards.

After the ceremony there was a reception with fine wine and canapes where we all had the opportunity to mix and meet with the winners. Another very successful and joyous occasion.