Party on the Pudge

We had travelled down to Maldon in Essex, to see our friends boat, "The Nobby Empress". On the Friday night there was a launch party for the boat, which was attended by the shipwrights who had worked on the boat, members from the Nobby Owners Association, friends and family. Steve the owner of the Nobby Empress, did a presentation which was a celebration of the workmanship and craftsmanship that is available in Maldon.

The workmanship that Steve, particularly pointed out was the hanging knees which had been individually carved and fitted into place, the teak deck, which is a delight to see and a laminate, which had been curved to create the back of the cockpit. Looking at each of these items, you can see the care and attention that has gone into each individual piece. After the presentation there was an excellent buffet, provided by "The Blue Boar Hotel", where we were staying for the weekend.

The next day the twelve guests who had travelled down for the weekend, went aboard the Pudge, which is a Thames River Barge. Beverley and I got roped in to doing the cooking along with Karen, who had helped us cross from the Isle of Man. So we managed to watch the boat slip its moorings before we went down to prepare a three course meal.

Beverley had decided to cook a mushroom soup, which was made harder by the fact that there was no electricity on board, so she had to use her skills with a knife, to create the soup. When we get, back to the lass, I will get her to do a video, for the soup. It is an incredibly simple soup, but it is delicious.

Karen was on a lemon chicken with roasted peppers, while I created an incredibly simple pudding which was cheats Banoffe pie. I got loads of compliments and it is certainly something that I will do again as it can be pulled out of your bag of tricks within minutes. Once I had put my pudding in the fridge to cool, at least we had a 12v fridge, I helped out, setting the table and cutting more mushrooms for Beverley's soup.

During lunch, we played a murder mystery game, it was a right laugh, with plenty of twists and turns along the way. Everyone had a motive to kill, the murder victim, it was just a case of who had the opportunity. I was well off course, but there were a few of us at the table who need to take up amateur dramatics, there performances were fantastic, I really believed that they were the characters in the murder mystery.

Other members of the group, did the washing and drying up, so all the cooks got a chance to go out on deck, find out about the boat and enjoy the cruise. There were lots of fascinating things to see, like the ship which was called MV Caroline, the third in actual fact, that had been used for pirate radio since 1964. There was also an island called Osea island which had been a treatment centre for drying out from drugs and alcohol. From the talk of the crew, I was led to believe, that it was one of the first drying out centres, but in actual fact, they only started treating people for alcohol abuse, since 2005.

As it was an all day cruise, later on Beverley and I helped Karen put on a simple salad for tea. After over 12hours out on the water, two incredibly good meals and a murder mystery, Beverley and I were tired, so we went to bed, while others in the group carried on socialising in the bar of the Blue Boar.

The next day on Sunday, we finally got to see the Empress. It was everything that Steve had described, in his presentation and the workmanship was superb. The location was also idylic and we got invited onto another wooden classic, this time a small wooden steamer. Drinks and nibbles were provided, so yet another fantastic sociable time. Soon it was time to go, but not before we called it at the local clubhouse and saw two white horses pulling a carriage for a wedding.

For more information on the Pudge which is for hire visit their web site at

www.bargetrust.org

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