A trip to Suffolk

This weekend, I went to visit my dear grandmother who lives in the small village of Hundon near Cambridge. Gran had a contacted an old friend of hers, who is a lecturer of history at the University of Manchester and who just so happens to own a house a mere 5 miles from Hundon. And he proved willing to take me along to East Anglia, since he was going there anyway for the weekend.

A true English university Don, he is also the warden of the only remaining all-male hall of residence at the University of Manchester, and I went there to meet him a few weeks ago. It seems to be one of the few places that still carry on the ancient traditions of proper English university life of which Dr. Mawby obviously is quite fond. All of 110 students living in the hall gather in the dining hall at six o’clock, all wearing the proper black cloak, some wearing the official tie of the hall to match. Standing behind their chairs they wait while a tutor fetches the warden and his assistants. Dr. Mawby, a balding man in his late sixties, enters, and it is not until he speaks a certain phrase in Latin (which I couldn’t quite decipher) that people are allowed to be seated.

It was quite interesting to talk with him, and I plenty of time to do so, as it’s a 5-hour journey from Manchester to Hundon. He’s of South African descent, only moving here to study at Cambridge, and specializes in the racial and economical politics of southern Africa. He is also a keen veteran car hobbyist, being member of two specific clubs for different Rover models. Unfortunately, my complete lack of interest or knowledge about cars left this topic mostly unexplored, though I could feel his enthusiasm every time a Rover or a MG passed us on the motorway.

Anyway. We arrived safely in Hundon, a quite typical English village. Where all inhabitants are either pensioners or commuters. A view of the city centre is something like this (with the small primary school “off screen” to the left, and the local pub “off screen” to the right:

downtown Hundon

as you might expect of such a village, at least if you have stereotypes of British village life in order, the houses and gardens are meticulously wellkept, though I was impressed by the creativity that had gone into the gardening here:

they look a bit like mushrooms, don't they?

Some years ago, the village had no shops at all forcing all the locals to drive 4 miles just to buy milk or toilet paper, the locals raised a 1000 £ and the town council matched that with another 1000 £, and they opened a cooperative local shop. A non-profit, volunteer-driven business.

Shop local!

That is Mrs. Daphne Lloyd in front of the shop, yes.

I had a very nice time in Hundon with my dear grandmother. We looked at lots of family photos, and she told lots of stories about our family: How my greatgrandfather had survived the First World War because he was with the artillery rather than in the front lines, how she had met German POW’s in Birmingham after the war, how she later had gone to visit them in the ruined city of Hamburg, and about how she had been in charge of a school kitchen delivering meals to 250 school children in a school in Pietermaritzburg when she was in South Africa with my late grandfather in the 50’s.

After lunch on Sunday, we had Steamed Ginger Pudding for dessert which prompted this story:

When she was coordinating the school meals in South Africa, there was quite a lot of supplies going missing, and the School Administration would, as tradition dictated, suspect the 60 black servants that did most of the cooking and cleaning about the school. The rumour went that every Sunday night, the servants would fill a cart with various supplies and drive it off to the nearby villages.

Mrs. Lloyd was given the job to find out exactly how these supplies went missing, and where they might go. What she did was to measure out exactly how much of the various ingredients would be needed to produce the food planned for the menu of the day. That day, the dessert was to be Ginger Pudding, so she measured enough to make one (large) Ginger Pudding pr. table (each with 10-12 children) and then another two in reserve, if anybody would want a second helping.

But when the dessert had been eaten, and a few children went to ask for second helpings, the african cook said there wasn’t any left. Mrs. Lloyd knew very well that there would be at least one or two puddings left, without a word to the cook she sneaked into the servant’s quarter’s to find the missing pudding.

At that time – the mid-50’s – Apartheid was well in its place, and you didn’t just cross the racial threshold and enter the domain of the other unannounced. Many whites of that time would think extremely dangerous and foolhardy to risk such a venture, but not Mrs. Lloyd who found her way in and happened upon a room where two of the women who did the laundry (all by hand back in those days) were sitting at a table, a huge ginger pudding between them. The women were quite big themselves as they did like their food, and it was obvious that they were going to eat that pudding all by themselves.

Before the women noticed her, Mrs. Lloyd quietly closed the door and found her way out of the servant quarters. She returned to the cook and sternly told him that she would not accept any more puddings going missing. Instead of making a big fuss and an angry confrontation, she resolved the matter in a quiet, Quakerly fashion that she was quite proud of.

I suspect that this Quaker tendency towards non-confrontation is still rather dominant with the Lloyds, for good or for worse.

Proud pudding

that is the ginger pudding pictured on the left, with my grandmother and an old friend, John Grylls, on the right.

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