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A particularly gluttonous weekend

There is a group of women I know through work (though through a combination of the Three Rs – Retirement, Redundancy and Resignation – only one of them is still there) who have a standing arrangement to go away together once a year to a meeting of The Pudding Club. This year, for the first time, I was invited to join them. The core group have been attending for the past dozen years or more, so they have a well-polished set of rituals they have worked out to make the most of the weekend away.

This year, there were seven of us in the party. Five of us live close to Malvern, so we all met up at 09:30 on Saturday morning, and piled into a car for the drive to Stratford. There, the first part of the weekend ritual became apparent – coffee, toast and croissants in a particular coffee shop off the high street. This was followed by an hour of light retail therapy in Stratford before lunch. I did think of spending the time going round one of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust buildings, as it’s many years since I’ve been there. However, the entrance fee was £14, and though the ticket covered three buildings I didn’t expect to have enough time to see more than one. So I told them I simply wasn’t prepared to pay that much and walked back out! There were large parties of Japanese tourists though who seemed totally prepared to cough up the money.

We all met up again for lunch at the same pub the group go to every year, and were joined there by another two of the group who live further away, plus a third ex-colleague who joined us just for lunch and brought her extremely well-behaved baby along too. We had a major gossip over a long but very light lunch of sandwiches, as we knew we’d all be pigging out later.

After lunch it was time for more retail therapy in Stratford. I’m not usually a big one for recreational shopping, but I really needed a new sweater as I’m about to wear through the elbows of my current favourite. So I was very pleased to find a very soft cashmere sweater at better than half price in the sales, which it would have been a crime to leave behind! The other women did rather more shopping than I did, and it was a bit of a struggle fitting all of the bags into the car boot!

Then we drove in convoy out into the depths of the Cotswolds to a very pleasant hotel which is the home of The Pudding Club. Having checked into our rooms, we all then met in the bar for a further gossip and drinks. Then it was time to get changed for dinner. I had been warned of the absolute necessity of wearing something loose or elasticated around the waist, as closely fitting clothes would be disastrous at the latter stages of the evening! So although I very rarely wear a dress, I thought it would be the most comfortable option under the circumstances….. The next part of the evening ritual then unfolded, as we all met up in one of the bedrooms, bringing the toothbrush glasses from our bathrooms with us, for some pre-dinner bottles of wine.

At 19:30 about sixty people all met up in the residents’ lounge to be welcomed to The Pudding Club and have the rules explained to us. There was a choice of very light main courses, not much more than a starter really, followed by the main action. This was a choice of seven traditional British puddings, and just three rules:
1. You could only approach the pudding table when invited to, one table at a time, by the host
2. You could only choose one pudding at a time, though you could have them in any order
3. Most importantly, you could only go back up to the pudding table for more if you had completely cleaned your bowl from the previous helping.

The puddings vary according to the whim of the chef, and last night were: Vanilla Charlotte, Sticky Toffee and Date, Jam Roly-Poly, Very Chocolate, Jam and Coconut, Ginger Sponge, and Bread & Butter pudding. There was also a choice of jam sauce, chocolate sauce, cream, toffee sauce, and of course gallons (literally!) of custard. I managed a total of five portions of pudding, namely the first four in the list, with a double-sized portion of Sticky toffee and a second helping of the jam roly-poly. They were absolutely delicious. Between us, the seven of us managed to put away over forty portions of pudding! We were lightweights though compared to some people on other tables – there was one man and one woman who each managed twelve helpings! Then there was a vote, taken by show of hands, for the best pudding of the evening. Each person was allowed one vote, except that if you had eaten more then one portion of a pudding, you could vote for it that number times. It was a very tight vote, with bread and butter pudding being declared the winner by just one vote – which was entirely due to my colleague who had eaten three portions of it and so voted for it three times!

On Sunday morning we had a huge cooked breakfast at the hotel, then we said goodbye to the others and the five of us drove to the Cotswold village of Broadway to continue with the weekend’s ritual. This involved coffee (and in my case a completely unnecessary toasted teacake) followed by investigating several of the shops. Although it was a Sunday, Broadway is such a major tourist destination that many of the shops were open. It was a filthy day though, pouring with rain, and with snow forecast for later, so we weren’t really in the mood for a massive attack on the shops. In fact, the regulars said that they couldn’t remember when they’d bought so little in Broadway. Then it was time to come home, and think about having a very small dinner indeed…..

All in all, it was a very enjoyable weekend away. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, as I think did everyone. I can see why the group makes such a point about going there year after year – it was really fun, and a totally self-indulgent occasion.

{ 1 } Comments

  1. Q&J | 11 February 2013 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    Sounds great! Will you be walking to work to shed any excess weight? Walking back would be good exercise!
    Makes my frequent tea and cake meetings seem positively tame!
    I updated my blog yesterday – must be more methodical like you! Keep my readers happy too? (If there are any!)