- 13 Dec 2010 2:00 AM
But last Friday the diplomatic corps were invited by Foreign Minister Martonyi and the Mayor of Godollo to come and see how work on the new facilities is progressing. And it is astonishing how much has been done to renovate this wonderful, historic Grassalkovich building in just a few months. Indeed, EU co-funded activity throughout Godollo testifies to the fact that this attractive town is about to become famous again. Several of us took up the invitation to strike the World Peace Gong in the town centre - if only to keep ourselves warm in wind-chilled, sub-zero temperatures.
The place is redolent of history. Among the figures that spent time at the Royal Palace (including HRH Edward Prince of Wales and Lord Baden-Powell of scouting fame), the iconic and much-loved Queen Elizabeth of Hungary ("Sisi") comes first to mind. But I am sure that her well-known dislike of state protocol will not be reflected in the warm welcome that EU Ministers will receive when they arrive here.
There is still plenty to do before Godollo opens for EU business in January, but we were assured that the restorers will be working through Christmas to ensure all is ready. Having had so much experience over the years of Hungarian governments pulling rabbits out of hats at the last moment, I feel certain all will be well on the day!
But when I go to read a lesson at the joint Anglican/Presbyterian annual carol service later that night, I offer up a prayer of encouragement, just to be on the safe side."