No sooner has one service station featured on these pages, than we feel compelled to write about another.  The new Gloucester Services on the M5 is run by the Westmorland Family group who also run Tebay Services, serving home made food from local producers.  Currently the services are only open on the northbound side, but the southbound will be opening next year.

The vegetarian and vegan food is being supplied by The Parsnipship, a great, Cardiff based company, producing unique seasonal food.  In-house bakers have also apparently perfected a gluten free Chocolate and Almond cake – check out the recipe on their blog.

We haven’t had the chance to visit yet, but that all sounds like a services should, and the pictures show a lovely, inspiring design, making for a relaxing break.  We can’t wait to go, but if you get the chance, let us know what you think!

Gloucester Services, between J11a and J12 on the M5 northbound (sounthbound 2015)


We don’t often cover motorway services on this blog, but the original Offmotorway website was created because of the dire state of the food (particularly vegetarian food) served at the UK’s motorway service stations.  The site existed to recommend getting off the motorways and finding alternatives, which is still largely to be desired of course.  However I do occasionally cover interesting developments when something pops up!  And in this spirit, I finally made it to the new(ish) services at Beaconsfield, Junction 2 of the M40.


The services caused a stir when they opened earlier this year as this is the site of the first pub allowed at a motorway services, operated by JD Wetherspoon.  But that aside, this is a slightly different service station, which makes for a pleasant stop.  It feels more like a shopping centre than a services, with a large, airy interior.  There’s a huge selection of food outlets, so no shortage of veggie options, although they are all chains.  Patisserie Valerie are there, a favourite still, despite it’s expansion over recent years to near ubiquity in every town in the country!

What sets this place apart though, is the outside space, with a lake, small walking trail, picnic area and children’s play area.  All free to use of course, even if you bring your own sandwiches and flask of tea.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of having a pub at a motorway services, at least here there is evidence of careful thought having gone into the design.  And you can take a proper, relaxing break here if you want to rather than just be ripped off buying terrible food!

Date SlicesI discovered these sweet treats in a gorgeous book called Lost in London, which is all about finding green and wild spaces within the capital.  The book is full of wonderful hidden spaces, and it includes articles on food foragers and producers who are all finding ways to live the good life in the most urban settings.

I used gluten free flour, which works perfectly.  I also followed the suggested amount of sugar and they were seriously sweet, so you may want to reduce the quantity a little!

Date Slices – by Chloe Coker and Jane Montgomery

Date Paste
250g chopped dates
150 ml water
Zest of 1/2 a lemon (or splash of lemon juice)
1 tsp real vanilla extract

Oat Slice
225g butter
150g light brown sugar
3 tbsp. honey
250g gluten free flour
250g rolled oats (gluten free)

Preheat the oven to 170C.  Grease and line an 8 inch square tin (or similar).

Place all the date paste ingredients in a pan and simmer until the dates break down and start to form a puree.  Stir well, or blitz in a food processor.

Melt the butter, sugar and honey in a pan over a gentle heat and stir gently until the butter has melted and the sugar dissolved.

In a bowl, mix together the flour and oats, then stir through the melted butter mixture until well combined.

Spread half the oat mixture in the base of the lined tin.  Dollop the date mixture around the tin and smooth to an even layer.  Spoon the rest of the oat mix on top and press down to a firm layer.

Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the oats have started to brown.  Cool slightly before cutting into approximately 16 squares, then leave to cool before lifting from the tin.

The reason I ended up writing ‘Early Vegetarian Recipes’ was because of a lady called Florence George, a cookery teacher and writer from the early 20th century.  She just happened to have a been a teacher at my old school (slightly before I attended.  Obviously), who wrote a book called ‘Vegetarian Cookery’ in 1908.  It was while looking for her book in the British Library that I discovered the other wonderful vegetarian writers of the time.

I’ve now discovered a book, published by the school (King Edward VI High School), which looks at the life of Florence George and the history of cookery teaching in schools.  It’s a fascinating story as Florence was one of the first teachers to attend the National Training School of Cookery in London.

A large portion of the book is devoted to recipes, including a section of vegetarian recipes.  They are mostly simple recipes as you would expect from a school collection, but there’s plenty  here for adults looking for something quick and easy.  These tasty chick pea croquettes fall into that category.


Chick Pea Croquettes

1 1/2 lb cooked chick peas
2 cloves garlic
2 tblspns chopped parsley
1 medium potato, cooked
1 tblspn soy sauce (use tamari for wheat free recipe)
squeeze lemon juice
flour for coating (use gluten free)
vegetable oil for frying

Mash the chick peas with the garlic and potato.  Add parsley, soy sauce, lemon juice and seasoning and mix well.

Roll the mixture into croquette of fritter shapes, then into the flour.  Cool in the fridge for 1 hour if possible.  Fry the croquettes or brush with oil before cooking under the grill.

Recipes for Success: 125 Years of Cookery at King Edward VI High School for Girls by Sally Huxley

Last Saturday I attended an event organised by the Vegetarian Society, with Philip Lymbery talking about his new book Farmageddon: The True Cost of Cheap Meat.  Philip Lymbery is the CEO of the charity Compassion in World Farming, and for this book he has travelled the world and seen some of the truly horrific animal suffering involved in the mass production of meat, dairy and eggs.  This is not a vegetarian or vegan manifesto, but it certainly is a call for a complete change in global farming practices.  Philip argues that so-called ‘cheap’ meat is not feeding the world, but is in fact depleting the world’s resources at an alarming rate and destroying wildlife, as well as causing the intense suffering of countless millions of animals.  The book is easy to read, even though the details are hard to stomach.  Anyone who eats (oh yes, that’s all of us!) should read this book!

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