View Full Version : Motorway Services

4th Sep 2005, 09:30
I had to drive to Manchester and back the other day. It was 17.30 and, having left from work and not had time for lunch, I decided to stop at the Knutsford Services on the M6. I went into the eaterie on the bridge which sounded (from its name) to be quite nice. It was actually just a bog standard self-service caff but no matter - the food sounded ok.

After waiting at the food counter for several minutes, a woman came out to serve. I chose chicken caesar salad from a fairly varied menu. That menu is not available - we only have pizza, she said. When will it be available I asked, thinking I would wait a bit. We've just stopped serving it, she said. :confused: Obviously they stop serving the full menu just before dinnertime!

So I went to buy an M&S pasta meal from the place next door but my son wanted a hot meal so he moved on to the Harry Ramsden counter, only to be told that it would take at least 20 mins to cook his order. (Fast food - not.)

So we went down to Burger King where he ordered his food and we went to sit down to eat. Out of 20 tables (and not another customer in sight) there was not one clean one. They were all covered in crumbs, spilt drinks, used cups, etc. It was disgusting. Then my son opened his food bag only to find that they had got his order wrong.

I thought motorway services were supposed to have improved in recent years but I was obviously very wrong. The whole place was a depressing shambles and I really don't know what tourists must think of it all. :(

4th Sep 2005, 09:32
Thank God for that British enthusiasim !!

Jordan D
4th Sep 2005, 09:32
You've got to pick and choose I've found.

Drove up from London-Edinburgh yesterday and we once again stopped at the same services as we always do because we know they are good. So marks are awarded to Tebay (M6) &
Annadale Water (A74(M)). Parents are going back to London and they'll stop at Killington Lake (M6 Southbound). That one is the best services anywhere.


4th Sep 2005, 09:37
Jordan D

You just know you were heading South at the time :ok:

4th Sep 2005, 09:42
It's sad, isn't it, that we still can't get this right ? I know from my travels that some service areas are very good and well managed, yet others have reverted to the awful state they were in during the late 60s/early 70s.

My experiences in Europe show that the German 'Rasthaus' are fantastic, with beautifully presented food and drink, pleasant, spotless facilities clean toilets, eager-to-help staff - a pleasure to take a break. The worst I've ever seen (including Watford Gap in the 70s) is a place in Belgium. I actually couldn't face using the loo, it was so disgusting, but chose to wait until we'd got to the ferry terminal at Ostend instead (travelling with 2 young children).

I can only urge you to find out the company who own/manage this facility and repeat verbatim the awful experience you've detailed here, with day, date, time & place. I'll certainly give Knutsford a miss in future!

The Odd One

4th Sep 2005, 10:46
Biggest problem I had recently (first time in years I'd used a motorway service area) was with the level of Neanderthal encountered in front of and behind the counters.

I pondered as to whether the human race was sliding backwards at an increasing rate or whether service areas simply attracted Neanderthals. Chavdom seemed to have a majority presence.

The visit to the loo was as brief as I could mange to make it (or endure). Neanderthals seem to have poor aim and to produce exceptionally foul odours.

I bought a sandwich and a soft drink (subject to delay whilst those ahead in the queue went through childish and/or moronic behaviour) and ate in my car.

As I continued my journey, I tried not to think that I was sharing the road at high speed with these people. :uhoh:

I'm far from being a snob, but I guess I could be accused of such based upon the above........and I don't care. :mad:

Krystal n chips
4th Sep 2005, 11:00
Tart1 / The Oddone-----sorry, but you couldn't have picked a more atrocious M' way Services re Knitsford--not an sp. mistake btw ! The site was actually featured on a BBC prog about 18months ? ago dealing with just such the issues you mention--and the charming :mad: who liked to spit on customers food ( it worked ar B'King) if they "annoyed" him.

Frankly, whilst the standard varies across the UK, if you are heading North or South on the M6--and this is from somebody who has to drop into the places on a daily basis--albeit as infrequently and for the minimal period unless I have to stop overnight due to my working day, I would only use Stafford N & S, the new one at Norton Canes on the M6 Toll and, further North, Westmoreland near to Shap.

Elsewhere, Oxford services--for the Red Hen chain--excellent breakfasts ! :ok: and that's about it. I would suggest, and I will try and find a link, that you use the "just off the motorway" site which offers some great alternatives--if you have the time--to the :mad: service and food / facilities offered on our wonderful Motorway network-----if they ever get to the standard of the Dutch / Danish and certainly German rest areas--then they may have some credibility---until pigs fly however, the captive market will continue to get abused by the operators who simply feel that a few " Welcome / Thank you etc" signs constitutes service to the public.

PS edited to support Jordan D''s post in part--not Annandale Water though----ever since they actually ran out of fuel !!!!

4th Sep 2005, 12:46
Well that's very interesting KnC. Not being a tv watcher, I missed that prog. You would honestly think that they might try to improve things after such bad publicity.

I had stopped there before a few times to pick up a quick snack in the M&S shop - at least you're fairly safe with them - but this was the first time in years that I felt the need to eat a proper meal at a services.

The whole point of services on the m'way, presumably, is to offer food/meals to people who are travelling a long distance, who may not have much time and who may also be eating at odd times of the day, due to their schedule. This establishment fails dismally to fulfil this need. :{

acbus1 - you are quite correct in your summing up of service station users. I'm not a snob either - it's just the truth. :rolleyes:

4th Sep 2005, 13:02
I refuse to use Mway services these days except for the toilets. I agree that Tebay, Westmoreland and Killington Lake are miles ahead of the rest, but certainly not outstanding. Their prices for both fuel and sundries are incredible, but they are at least clean and the food from memory was OK to good, but nothing fantastic.
Maybe it is because of people like me who only use their facilities that they charge so much, but that is no excuse for all the other things wrong with them.

Tart1 you are right that outside "normal" eating times these places that call themselves 24 hour facilities are woefully inadequate. Having used similar places in the States, Australia and France there is just no comparison (again these places aren't brilliant, they are convenient, clean, reasonable prices, and the food is edible).

I would much rather stop at a truck stop. These are usually fairly close to the motorway. Food is cheap and loads of it. There is a thread on here which discusses these places. Will try to find the link

here it is (www.transportcafe.co.uk/cafelist.html)

4th Sep 2005, 13:26
Used to be you could find a good motorway cafe who would do you a fine full breakfast. During fairly recent trips to Wales with my last aunt and uncle we would stop just before the bridge for a snack in one of those motorway service places. We brought our own sandwiches and tea and just used the parking lot.

Onan the Clumsy
4th Sep 2005, 13:50
I thought motorway services were supposed to have improved in recent years From your post, it sounds as if they have :}

Jordan D
4th Sep 2005, 15:00
RAC/OPS - I'd agree with you on the price (thankfully a stop at Tesco's to top the tanks up before we leave always is enough!), but the views at the three I mentioned are excellent and that along with cleanliness are the reasons we stop there!


4th Sep 2005, 15:57
I generally take a Good Beer Guide when travelling.

There are many pubs just off main roads and motorways that do excellent food; and they're usually chav free.


Krystal n chips
4th Sep 2005, 16:47
This link may be of interest :


Tart 1---there was a bit of "cosmetic soul searching" after the prog. The truth of the matter is that for the organisation(s) involved, they really don't give the proverbial--they are not accountable other than to share holders, have a captive and in many cases sheep like market, and the odd bit of bad publicity ??--well so what--soon blows over and the public have the attention span of a dead gnat anyway------NOT my sentiments btw, just my take on theirs.

Rolling Thunder---re breakfasts---if you can find a Red Hen outlet--eg the on the M40 or at South Mimms on the M25--trust me here--the breakfast is well worth getting---it saves my bacon ( sorrrree :O ) once a month at least when I am returning North after a long night delivering a group to and from a regular gig in London--and beleive me, neither myself or they are willing to part with the 's for rubbish.

4th Sep 2005, 16:54
Thanks for that KnC - it's a good link and I will keep it on my favourites for future journeys. :D

Of course, the trouble is - and I'm sure this is the case for many people - I didn't plan my stop that day and wouldn't have had the time to look anything up anyway.

They've got the busy, hurried, over-stressed public right where they want them, haven't they? :ugh:

shut that door
4th Sep 2005, 17:09
Apart from the need for the loo on a long drive, I'm totally aghast that drivers would want to use these motorway services.

Are you all too lazy to make sandwiches, thermos of coffee/tea and some fizzy drinks for the kids?

You all seem to have more money than sense!

4th Sep 2005, 17:17
std (oops - sorry!) ........ I totally agree with you and under normal circumstances I would either have made sandwiches/stopped only to use the loo/avoided stopping at all ........ but I was in a hurry, knew I would have to spend the evening in a meeting/argument in Manchester (with no refreshments available)and then drive back and grab a little sleep before getting to work very early next morning.

I'm sure that many people often find themselves in a similar pressurised situation and just want to stop quickly for sustenance during a long journey.

It's not laziness - just convenience. :uhoh:

shut that door
4th Sep 2005, 17:22
So what would be the fastest.... Standing in a line waiting to be served, or opening a lunch box (no jokes) with your sarnies?

If you were my lass, I'd have you pulling in the purse strings.

4th Sep 2005, 17:27
This is silly!

It's not the opening of the lunch box which takes the time but the preparation of the contents!

I am the original take-your-own-food-instead-of-buying-rip-off-stuff girl which is why I don't find myself doing this sort of thing very often. But, on this occasion, I did not have a single moment to spare to prepare a feast.

If I was your lass and you demanded that I pulled in the purse strings, I'd tell you to :mad: :mad: !!


4th Sep 2005, 17:37
shut that door

There are lots of reasons why it may not be possible to "self cater" when undertaking a long journey by road, or indeed by most forms of public transport in this country.

For starters, how about someone travelling between two points without catering or kitchen facilities at the starting point?

I realise tart1 started from home, but she may well have had a very tight deadline, with insufficient time to make the sarnies, tea, buy fizzy drinks etc. before departure. We don't know the circumstances, and I think your comments were ill advised.

The ideal situation you propose may be unrealistic or downright impossible!

shut that door
4th Sep 2005, 17:43
Presuming your not a veggie, and to test the making of sandwiches (experiment) it has taken me 30.1secs to make four rounds of Shippam's beef spread. I shall keep the said sandwiches for my flight tomorrow. As the crew food is c**p

As far as our hypothetical "purse strings" :mad: :mad: I'm not that really tight. I'm all for women's lib and letting you have the vote. :{


Are you some sort of cyber pal to tart1? You say my comments are "I'll advised" Jezz man! were only talking about sandwiches, get a life!

4th Sep 2005, 17:54
I shall keep the said sandwiches for my flight tomorrow. As the crew food is c**p
Given the contents of said sandwiches, it certainly will be! Do you have any idea what goes into that stuff?:yuk:

Krystal n chips
4th Sep 2005, 17:56
30.1 secs for a "slop n glop " style sandwich?? ---ok--now time yourself to make a proper sandwich--which includes preparing the contents first --the minor things like the meat, salad etc. before constructing your culinary masterpiece. The Guiness Book of Records may await you ! :E ---although if you seriously intend to take a day old beef paste sadwich on a nice warm a/c--then a little diversion to A n E may precede your entry I feel. :rolleyes:

shut that door
4th Sep 2005, 18:00
Beef (65%)
Soya concentrate
Beef stock
Potato starch
Mustard seed
White pepper
Malt extract

Yum yum only one 'E' in the whole jar!

Krystal n chips

We have a Hotpoint larder fridge aft of the fight deck. Hey Krystal, you concerned about me (I see you don\'t want be to become ill) maybe a PM after Tue? :ok:

Krystal n chips
4th Sep 2005, 18:14
So the there will be no fluctuations in said sadwiches ambient temp en-route to the a/c fridge then ? ?----look forward to the PM ! :ok:

shut that door
4th Sep 2005, 18:20
I was thinking more of you PM me :O

If a woman wants me she has to work for it. :=

4th Sep 2005, 18:41
And there was me thinking that Krystal n Chips was a man. :uhoh:

4th Sep 2005, 18:43
shut that door, you're making too much of a meal of this.

Fact is, one sometimes finds time and energy in shorter supply than cash.

Krystal n chips
4th Sep 2005, 18:44
I think Ms K n C could confirm that Tart 1 :E :ok:--and one, who, strangely enough is allowed into the kitchen--albeit under supervision due to all the sharp objects in there--and the fact I haven't signed the insurance forms for her benefit yet ;) :ooh:

4th Sep 2005, 18:46
Actually Krystal, I think you've pulled! :} :}

4th Sep 2005, 18:47
little bit drunk, but mate went to a motorway service station and the bird behind the counter kept upselling him and he thought he was in. he then got to the check out and it cost him 9 quid!!! when she kept saying another piece of bacon,thick sod kept saying yes thinking it was a freebe!!!!!

Krystal n chips
4th Sep 2005, 18:53
:confused: :confused: :confused: :ooh: :ooh: :ooh: Ah the joy of web dating !

4th Sep 2005, 18:56
Haven't got time to answer now, shut that door - got to go and cook some dinner.

I really can do it you know! :D:D

8th Sep 2005, 04:23
make four rounds of Shippam's beef spread

I worked in a Shippam's spread extraction facility for 9 days ... those Knit/Knutsford services sound great.
I could give you a detailed account, but suffice to say most of the contents is the bits that can't be displayed in public. The seafood product is mostly ground shell, so that's probably good for the calcium intake, and you get your RDA of mercury and/or assorted coliforms on half a round ....

yum :hmm:

8th Sep 2005, 06:12
Those motorway service areas are the main reason why I use the A1 to visit Mam and Dad. You can't beat a pub lunch. Especially when Mrs B takes the second leg...

'A' roads. The civilised way to drive. :ok:

8th Sep 2005, 07:02
Those motorway service areas are the main reason why I use the A1 to visit Mam and Dad. You can't beat a pub lunch. Especially when Mrs B takes the second leg...

Couldn't agree more. Plenty of off-route options for meals and sundry breaks in the journey. Always found major A roads to be more stimulating for the driver too, in comparison to motorways.

8th Sep 2005, 12:17
Shippam's spread extraction facility

The clue's in the facility's name. . . :yuk:

8th Sep 2005, 13:06
Methinks "shut that door" equals "scrubed." ;)

If motorway services are "too expensive" then you probably shouldn't be able to afford the journey you are on either.

For those who are not going to go bankrupt over a cup of coffee, like others I endorse Annandale Water, Stafford, Norton Canes (Imagine complaining about the price here!! LOL) and Oxford.