Needing to visit the North of England, when you live in the South West, makes you realise that actually, this little isle is quite big.
After, what seemed like hours in the car (probably about an hour in real time), we were all keen to get out and have a coffee. So, pitstop at the next service station. This proved to be so packed with people that we had to queue to get into, and out of, the toilet facilities. Any shout of “Fire” would have been catastrophic and with the deep fat fryers of all the fast food outlets on max, this might not have been as unlikely as you’d think. So we left. Another long drive brought us to a slightly less crowded second choice.
On our return journey, we were able to sample the delights of the “other side” of the motorway and relative peace. At a cost. As you’re held hostage by the food retailers, prices are reassuringly high. Having said that, I was so desperate for a Starbucks coffee and a slice of rocky road, I would have paid…Oh…a lot.
Service stations have improved a lot in recent years, with Marks and Spencers and Waitrose opening mini-marts alongside the burger providers. I still think others are missing a trick. People get bored driving and in that frame of mind they’ll consider buying anything. I spent some serious time looking at a pottery mug, super sized to wastepaper bin capacity (I’m not joking) which clearly had “Buy me” written all over it (I was dragged away, minus mug). So why not add clothing? I’ve never seen anything except the odd Cotton Traders outlet. Why not Joules (yes, please)? Or a Joules discount outlet (it gets better)?
I doubt whether these places will ever provide motorists with a silver service dining experience, in the same way that I never expect anyone will ever be allowed to picnic on the central reservation of the M1. But why not look at making these necessary service areas a bit more … well, fun?