Catering Tales

As you all know I worked as a health care assistant at the Royal Surrey County Hospital for many years before I retired…but they were not all on the nursing side of it. When we moved to Guildford and hubby found work I thought it would be a good idea to see if I could find a part-time job at suitable hours so that when hubby came home I would do something somewhere.

The “somewhere” came a part-time post in the kitchens of the said Royal Surrey County Hospital.I was accepted as a part-time general assistant in the hospital kitchens.My hours were 5.30 till 8 pm…..plating up the patient’s supper tray. It is all done very differently now. These meals were plated up on what is called the “Ganymede” system….don’t ask me to explain but I am sure you can google it.It basically was a moving belt where the trays went down and people at stations along the side would place salad, sandwiches or hot meals as the plates moved past you. and also soup and desserts would be added.At the end of the belt, a person would check if everything the patient was there…. covers any hot food with a lid then pass it to the kitchen porter that would place it in a trolley. When the ward was done the trolley would be pulled up to the correct ward by a hospital porter.

Afterwards, you had to clean your station, and while we waited for the trolleys to return we would wrap up six trays of cutlery ready for the breakfast trays the next morning.
We then had to empty the trolleys, get rid of the stuff left on the trays and feed the used crockery through a dishwasher machine where it came out clean at the other end.

That is the simple explanation of how it would work… but it did not always go like that.No always just leftover food would appear on the tray and as we worked at a speed you need to be quick-witted and always keep your eyes on the tray. Used cutlery was dumped in a tank of hot water to soak. I have seen spectacles, false teeth (one never to be forgotten moment when the false teeth disappeared down the drain and we heard the crunch, crunch before the machine stopped.We also have jewellery hearing aids etc. And also disgusting stuff. All had to be reported back o the ward.

One job that was had by all was cleaning the trolleys…..all to be wiped down…easy enough but those trolleys were big.

Often disaster hit and the dishwasher would break down.The dishes still had to be washed and yes….they had to be done by hand.Hot and wet and very sweaty.The floor used to get soaking but they got done with a lot of laughter….a lot of memories.

Sometimes I did extra sessions in the daytime.I have made salads and sandwiches working along sides the chefs.I worked in the coffee lounge (as was)….first with a lovely lady Jean (RIP Jean)Then I ran it on my own for a while before I went upstairs to be the health care assistant.

One aspect I did not enjoy was having to clear the stuff from the smoking part….yes is that long ago!!!!It was the most disgusting thing I ever had to do especially as I am a non-smoker.

No1 son worked a little while alongside his mother in the general kitchen which I think we both struggled with. (there were occasions! Tee Jay)

I met and remember many people some of who are friends here on Facebook …..hello Darrin W and Kevin B. some of who have passed RIP Cliff and Taff. People I still see about Jan, Pat H, Janet J. I remember Peggy, Joan and Joyce’s sisters, Princey, and Pili. I remember chefs Vincent, Lee, Peter, Gary, Jamie…I am sure there are more.

I had a break in the kitchens and spent 6 months as a domestic on the wards but I never really settled into that and went back to the kitchens before going to the ward eventually as a health care assistant.

Bye Bye