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Saturday, October 4, 2008

Life at Ullenwood 3: breakfast

Excavating a hillfort can be hard physical labour and a good breakfast was essential fuelling for the work that lay ahead.  Some exceptionally peckish (or greedy) people even occasionally went for three courses at breakfast. The menu varied little: the first would be a bowl of cornflakes with milk and sugar.  Then came the cooked second course: sausages, bacon, fried or poached or scrambled eggs, plum tomatoes, baked beans, and, very occasionally, mushrooms.  Any remaining hunger could be assuaged with bread or toast, brown or white, accompanied by marmalade or jam from catering tins. All washed down with tea, coffee, milk or water swigged from ancient mugs, both plastic and china, and duralex glasses. The metal sinks and drainers would ring with plates and cutlery being stacked for later washing up by the chores team.

Thus fortified it was time to get up to site.  The usual method was a lift in Lofty's bus with "Swanbrook Coaches" emblazoned on the side. He'd signal imminent departure by shattering the peace of the morning with a long blast on the horn. This was the cue for last-minute-bolting- down-of-breakfast followed by a mad scramble to get on the coach. 

Sometimes Lofty's horn would be the wake-up call that dragged a few exhausted or hungover diggers from their slumbers and you would see the odd unhappy face contorted with the effort of finishing getting dressed while running for the bus. Experienced practitioners could incorporate a spin through the mess hall swiping a couple of slices of bread and marmalade into the dash for the bus. The less practised went hungry.  

In the early years there were relatively few people who had cars, so anyone who missed Lofty's bus had to throw themselves on the mercy of a car owner or have a half hour walk and be late for site.  PWD used often to take pity on a straggler or two and give them a lift in whichever van or Landrover he had at the time.

Steve Vaughan writes: "Far be it from me to contradict Crickley Hill Man, but this posting fails to bring out the key point of Ullenwood breakfast - it was back-to-front. For those who had not gone to bed unreasonably early, getting-up was delayed to the last possible moment. This meant that, to guarantee cooked breakfast, one joined the queue for that first. Cereal then followed. Fishcakes and baked beans was always my selection.... "

Contradictions abound in this world: surely my memory is at fault - I had overlooked and indeed cannot remember the fishcakes, which is strange as I am rather fond of fishcakes? Perhaps I was better at getting up than Steve as I have no memory of reverse order breakfasts or maybe I put all of mine in one bowl to save washing up?  Ugh... then again maybe not ...

1 comment:

Steve Vaughan said...

Far be it from me to contradict Crickley Hill Man, but this posting fails to bring out the key point of Ullenwood breakfast - it was back-to-front. For those who had not gone to bed unreasonably early, getting-up was delayed to the last possible moment. This meant that, to guarantee cooked breakfast, one joined the queue for that first. Cereal then followed. Fishcakes and baked beans was always my selection....