Posted by: travelrat | December 28, 2017

Motorway Services

Forton Services

It seems a shame to end the year on a Rant, so I’ll call this a Suggestion, just in case anyone who can do anything about it reads these words.

Anyone who reads these pages knows I have a very poor view of the motorway Service Areas in Britain. Dismal, soulless places mostly, although they do seem to improve the further North you go. In all areas, though, you can get fuel at a somewhat inflated price; the wise motorist fills his tank before entering the motorway. Food, of course, mainly franchises, which is sometimes acceptable … and, in some cases, downright good (take a bow, Charnock Richard). But, the main purpose of a visit … well, can you drive long distances without the need to ‘water the horse’ at some stage?

These days, it’s not as simple as it sounds. On leaving the motorway, you follow the blue sign which says ‘Services’ … and drive for another mile or so, deciding on the way whether or not you need fuel, whether or not you’re an HGV and whether or not you want to stay at the motel. Finally, you reach the car park, and enter a complex that could give the O2 Arena a run for its money … and proceed through the milling crowds, past the retail outlets, past the restaurants, past the slot machines, past the writing on the wall … (sorry, wrong joke!) … and finally reach the toilets, usually tucked away in a discreet corner, which you use. And, probably, by the time you reach your car again, you might find you need them again.

Now, they do have similar arrangements on the Continent … but, there are also areas which consist of no more than a car park and a toilet block. Sometimes, there’s somewhere you can get a coffee and a bite, and some have picnic tables. Either way, you can just park up, do what you have to do, and be on your way again with the minimum fuss or hassle.

However, having said all this, they’re an improvement on the ‘good old days’ … when you looked for a lay-by with a convenient hedge behind it.

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