Friday 24 December 2010

Prison Christmas Pudding

Last Monday I decided to go in search of a special Christmas pudding.  No, it wasn't the much hyped Heston number with the secret orange from Waitrose (completely sold out and now selling for ridiculous sums on eBay).  This one is even more special, because it's made by prisoners.

So I made my way in the snow and caught the train to Sutton in Surrey from where I hopped on a bus directly to prison (didn't pass go and didn't collect £200).  I was quite surprised to find that on arrival at Belmont Prison HMP High Downs, that I was not alone when disembarking from the number 80 bus.  Hoardes of passengers were also getting off and by the look of them, I was quite sure they weren't on a pudding mission.  I followed everyone into the visitors centre, which was heaving with various friends and relatives of the prison inmates, all waiting patiently for their moment to catch up with their loved ones 'inside'. When asked who I was coming to see, I explained that I wasn't actually familiar with any criminals, and was in fact there to collect a Christmas pudding.  The bemused woman then pointed me in the direction of the main reception area.  This was even more intimidating and actually quite fascinating, watching all the prison staff returning from their lunch breaks.  You definitely have to be a certain type of person to work in a prison and they all looked friendly enough but you definitely wouldn't want to get on their wrong side.  I told the security officer about my pudding collection plan and he made the call to 'The Clink' restaurant.  A short while later, a dashing tall man called Kane Sterling (yes, I know, what a great name) soon arrived with a brown paper bag containing the pudding.  I paid him £14.95 and in no time, Pudding and I were heading back to the bus stop.  I was very tempted to take a few photos for the blog, but as prison isn't a tourist destination, I thought that would be in bad taste.  Let alone all the cameras and scary high wire fences, I was worried they might come and arrest me and I'd spend Christmas doing a stretch inside!

The good thing about this pudding is it's made by the prison inmates who are training towards their City & Guild catering qualification.  It's is now on its way to be consumed by the family over Christmas.  I'm wondering if we might find a few nail files, hair pins and 'help' notes inside...

The Clink also has a restaurant open to the public for lunch.  For more info, check the 'Did You Know' section of my website.

Merry Christmas to you all and here's to a cracking 2011!

Miss Immy x

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