I’ve wanted to write a blog about my favourite service stations for a while but I always thought to myself it’s not really relevant to magic but I’ve finally decided, to paraphrase Lesley Gore, it’s my blog and I’ll write what I want to!
Service stations are a multi-million pound business that started when someone on a long journey decided they really needed a poo and an over-priced pie. They are now an integral part of any long drive and, as I regularly gig in every corner of Britain, an integral part of my life as a magician. To be honest it can often be one of the parts of my job that I actually look forward to, especially the late night coffee. Although, unless you want to take out a mortgage, I’d recommend finding a service station with a McDonalds as Costa coffees Costa fortune – but they do have a nice selection of cakes! Also, I personally avoid Starbucks due to their tax arrangements but that’s just me.
I’ve not been to every services but these are the top five pitstops that I look out for.
- Cambridge A14
This services has SO much choice! Fast-food shops, American diner, Chinese food, Cornish pasties, luxury pastries and more! The only thing I think it’s missing (off the top of my head) is a healthy option.
- Killington Lake M6
I’ve just noticed that all my top four have something in common: a lake, or at least a pond! Killington Lake has a lovely view and a name that sounds like a cheesy horror film, what more could you want!
- Annandale Water M74
Annandale Water is pretty similar to Killington Lake. On a nice day it’s lovely to have your food outside or even go for a nice walk around the lake.
- Tebay M6
Tebay only has a pond rather than a lake but instead of the usual fast food chains it provides freshly cooked and really nice food at a reasonable (for a service station) price. The whole services has a fresh, modern yet rustic feel, like some kind of space-age barn with a kitchen in it. The pond and surrounding countryside provides a nice view while you’re eating your red dragon pie.
Perth A9 – Not really a services but there’s a good Harvester next to a Travelodge, a McDonalds and a petrol station
Lymm M6 – The shops aren’t all in one internal space so it’s more like a mini high street. There’s also a barber which, even though I have no hair, sets it apart from other service stations.
Chester M56 – A great stop off on the way to North Wales. Has a good Spar as well as the more ubiquitous WH Smiths and has a healthy(ish) food shop as well as the usual McDonalds.
OK Diner A55 – an American 50s style diner complete with rock n roll music and bottomless coffee. My favourite is the cookie milkshake!
And my number one is…
- Gloucester M5
Similar to Tebay (they’re owned by the same company) with the fresh, decent food but WAY bigger. It is also an architectural marvel as it is actually built into the countryside; think a Teletubbies house if the Teletubbies were premiership footballers – it’s pretty huge! There’s showers, family toilets, a quick food counter (for sandwiches, soup and pies), a café (for proper meals) and a big farm shop. There’s also a large seating area with a patio next to the pond.
As good as some services are, in general I’d recommend heading to a supermarket with a café. Pretty much every town has got one and you can find toilets and decent food for a good price as well as any other extras you might need for your journey. My favourite is Morrisons where you can get a lamb shank with mash, peas and gravy, a cup of tea and a slice of cake for about £6 if my memory serves me.
Do you agree with my list? Or do you not like the services I’ve picked? Can you recommend any other service stations? I’d be genuinely interested to hear about them, let me know in the comments. As always please feel free to like and share, and remember: life is about the journey, not the destination.
North West Magician