Driving as I do around 20,000 miles/year sadly I am sometimes forced by circumstances to stop at these appalling places. My childhood recollections are of stopping late at night often on the way back from football games at wonderful places such as Barrow ( and I mean that, Barrow is a wonderful proper real football ground, the simple fact that it borders on Mordor and takes weeks to get there should not detract too much from that) and finding cold service stations, long queues and smelling vividly of fried food. Sadly not much has changed except two things. In the main they are all outlets, Burger King, Costa ,Waitrose etc, they are all incredibly expensive, but the queues have gone as no-one wants to or can afford the extraordinary prices.
Today typified things. Mug of tea 2£. Served as tea bag floating in mug. Go on a hunt to find milk, spoons etc. Served by the eternally damned or at least they look that way. No hello, no smiles, no thankyou’s. The atmosphere was dire. The tables looked like they had been sourced from a car boot sale selling ancient tables from a closed down club. Dirty. Smelly. It must have taken the last 20 years to extract every last ounce of atmosphere, pleasure, call it what you will. These places are devoid of anything resembling humanity.
Then the shops. Selling a selection of things that non-one in their right mind wants or needs. Buy a paper and one gets asked if one wants to buy two packets of chocolates for £4. The petrol station. Anywhere on this island diesel costs around 133.9-135.9 pence/litre. The more greedy local garages might ask for 137.9. The service station today was asking 144.9 pence/litre. This equates to an extra £7 a tank if I were to buy there.
Service stations are doomed. Only the desperate stop there in increasingly smaller amounts and the reasons above are why. Either charge a fortune but serve excellent stuff or charge reasonable prices in a reasonable atmosphere. Doomed unless you fancy buying one of these nice coats for sale in the shop. I am being serious…….